Notes

Whisky Tasting Treats

In recent weeks I’ve been the recipient of an array of whisky samples of for tasting so I’m feeling very spoiled but no time to taste them all. Instead I decided to taste just a selection and mention a little about them here. I’ll try to fit in more for December.

One received was the sample of Chivas Ultis I was promised. A whole bottle in it’s beautiful box with a dazzling video presentation about the selection of the whiskies for this, Chivas’ first ever blended malt. It celebrates the five men who have been the guardians of the Chivas house style over many decades, as master blenders, including current custodian, Colin Scott. A delightful piece of work.

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The liquid in the bottle was delightful too but no surprise as I wouldn’t have expected anything less. It’s been well-received by all, as far as I can see.  The five malts used are The Tormore (one of my old brands and good with certain chocolate desserts), Allt A’Bhainne, Longmorn, Braeval and Strathisla. So all Speysides and as elegant as you would expect such malts to be, alone or combined.

Nose and taste? Glorious. There are citrussy notes – candied peel I think, peach (an aroma found by others too I have since discovered), some oak vanilla and sweet cake spices (I’ve recently made my Christmas cake so these were top of mind) and a hint of ginger; some oak vanilla and cedary notes. The palate is fruity and juicy with a continuation of the spices on the nose as well as toffee/caramel notes. First fill US oak was said to be important here but no indication of whether that was bourbon wood or a US oak sherry cask. There are also sherry elements to the palate with a long finish. Not for the faint-hearted at around £180 per bottle from selected retailers and now that it’s open it will have to be shared!

I also tried a brace of Highland Parks – Hobbister which came out some time ago – and which I’ve mentioned before – and the new Highland Park Fire. Hobbister (51.4% vol) is the one paying homage to the peat on Orkney and indeed there is peat but refined and integrated, though stronger than usual in HP – not a peat beast. Fire (45.2%) came accompanied by a candle which is supposed to crackle like a fire when lit. Haven’t tried it yet but will do soon. If I set fire to my house, I’ll let you know.

FIRE Edition is a whisky which has been matured exclusively in refill Port wine seasoned casks and follows on from the release of ICE Edition earlier this year.  This completes the two-part series of special edition bottlings which celebrate some of the myths and legends emerging from the Viking age.

The crimson red coloured glass was specially commissioned to represent the fierce and molten world of the Fire Giants from Viking mythology.  The bottle is encased in a distinctive black wooden cradle with accompanying black wooden stopper.  A booklet which accompanies the bottle, recounts the story of the realm of the Fire Giants and their epic battle against the Gods to rule the world.

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The whisky itself was a little closed at first but came into its own with notes of creamy custard, candied citrus peel (a theme here for whiskies coming out near Christmas?!), fruit, wisps of smoke and fine vanilla. The port begins to emerge more with water, more toffee sweetness, sultanas and creamier. A refined palate with oak tannins, dried fruits, hints of smoke and heather. The colour is a fascinating, almost rose gold, tone.

Another Edrington offering was the new Macallan Edition No. 2. Wow, what a nose! A real toffee hit if nosed on opening the little sample and much more once poured. This one is richly coloured and glowing. The sherry clue of a touch of sulphur was there with rich fruit cake, glorious golden syrupy toffee; oak vanilla, candied peel (again!) More sherry notes and waxy with water, a touch of fresh citrus zest and – rubber! Lighter on the palate than expected but elegant and with the dryness that is often a sherry casked whisky feature.

Benriach 22 YO Moscatel (46%) was one of the many samples from Benriach Distillers. I tried this one due to the Moscatel finish (though matured first in bourbon wood) – a nose of dried fruit and a bit “grapey”; juicy and rich, spicy and sweet, candy floss. With water some orange peel and Clementine juice, wax and chocolate and some toasting. I did rather like this one as well as The Glendronach 25YO Grandeur Batch 8 (50.3%) Nose of pear drop, a fresh sharpness, warm oak, vanilla and fruit, leather, sherry nuttiness and with water, waxier, condensed milk, shelled nuts. Not as sweet on the palate as on the nose. There was a lot to savour in both and both definitely worth trying.

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In other news the Scotch Whisky Association has been in talks with the government about Brexit which is a good sign that they’re being involved. With their former CEO now an adviser to Boris Johnson, we can hope that his informed view will help there. They have been on the recent Prime Minister trip to India to talk trade there and are appealing the minimum pricing for alcohol ruling here in Scotland. That one has a way to run perhaps.

Anyway, I’ll be back before Christmas with another round up of samples and news – possibly some about a French graphic novel featuring whisky which is due to come out next year. Hope your present buying experiences are not too stressful.

Caroline

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