New Kilchoman on Taste; New Benriach Collection; Spirit of Speyside 2022; Aber Falls Spreads its Wings; Tiree Progress; SWA GI Work
Less blog and more newsy bits this time as I wait for answers to certain questions.
A sample of the new Kilchoman Madeira Cask Matured mentioned in the last column arrived and has duly been tasted. Result?
Appearance: Unusual peach/apricot skin blush colour. A bit like ornamental quince blossom. Tears are slow to form and quite sticky.
Nose: Smoky embers and charred wood;peaty but with a sea air freshness; some sweet stewed fruit at the back; some floral notes too. Richly roasted barley maltiness; dark chocolate; cocoa covered truffle. With water, smoke and peat a little softer; dark fruit – blackberry notes; also a hint of orange oil; cocoa powder remains plus some vegetal aromas; sweet oak, earthy and some nuttiness.
Palate: Medium mouthfeel – lighter than expected; a slight oiliness and sappiness. Smoke; initial wood sweetness and char; a dab of varnish if it catches the throat; iodine/antiseptic – a touch of coal tar soap; cocoa powder. It has more on the nose than I could find on the palate.
Finish: Long, smoky, peaty with iodine and char.
I love peaty whiskies and there are certain Kilchomans I really enjoy but this one, on initial tasting, isn‘t amongst my favourites though I will go back and try it a few more times. Just a little too much smoke and toast – though not quite harsh – for my palate. Plenty of people will love it, though and it might be a different story trying it with certain foods. I do think it would work well with the chocolate they introduced as pairings with certain other expressions a while back, more particularly the Haggis Spiced Dark Chocolate – or even cocoa dusted truffles as I mention in my note here. Just as a reminder this one is at 50% vol, distilled in 2016 and matured for 5 years and 3 months in 46 fresh madeira hogsheads, before being bottled at 50% abv. It‘s priced at around £76 – £80 per bottle dependent on stockist.Pricing will vary by country due to local taxes.
Benriach, which houses some wonderful casks, has launched its latest single cask bottlings, Benriach Cask Edition Collection 2022. We‘re told, „…each of the nine expressions have been drawn from single casks, each chosen by Master Blender Rachel Barrie to offer a rare and unique insight into the versatility of Benriach cask styles. Limited to a few hundred bottles per cask, each Cask Edition is bottled at cask strength, its most natural and non-diluted form, providing an unadulterated glimpse into the spirit of Benriach Distillery. Age statements range on Cask Edition Collection 2022 from 12 year old to 27 year old.“ The nine expressions cover the cask types Marsala, Pedro Ximinez, oloroso, Barolo, bourbon, rum and virgin oak. I‘ve visited there before for tastings hosted by both Rachel Barrie and Stewart Buchanan and been massively impressed by the range and quality available to them.
Ticket sales have opened for this year‘s Spirit of Speyside whisky festival running from 27th April – 2nd May. The release advises, „Distilleries across The Malt Whisky Trail are rolling their sleeves up and preparing to fight it out at the ‘Battle of the Drams’…”
It continues, “Some of the world’s finest whiskies will go head to head in a showdown with attendees getting to decide once and for all, what is the best single malt on the Malt Whisky Trail at The Drouthy Cobbler in Elgin, on April 28th. Event-goers will be able to sip their way through the flavours of the Trail, with each distillery fighting it out to be voted the world’s first whisky trail’s top dram. On top of complementary welcome and leaving drinks, there will be opportunity to order from the new cocktail menu, crafted by the bar team at The Drouthy Cobbler. The tasting will include whiskies from…distilleries including Glen Moray, Benromach, Strathisla and Glenfiddich.“
Buy your tickets online at https://tickets.spiritofspeyside.com/event/959:2624/959:7163/ and see the full festival programme on https://tickets.spiritofspeyside.com/events/ . Get in fast as events sell out quickly. That timing also coincides with the delayed launch (thank you, Covid) of The Whisky Ambassdor Advanced Course so you can maybe combine attendance at both.
Welsh Whisky, Aber Falls, has recently announced expansion of sales outside the UK into selected overseas markets. Produced in the Welsh Village of Abergwyngregyn (I‘ve visited there and still don‘t know how to pronounce it but can hazard a guess), they are rolling out their single malt Welsh whisky to more than ten countries globally including Australia, Germany, Denmark, and Canada. I‘m sure there must be a Welsh diaspora in Australia and Canada but not so sure about the other two. Interestingly there are Welsh names to be found in South America, particularly Argentina (Patagonia) due to emigrants heading there in the 19th century. Maybe another market to aim for if it‘s not included in this first group? Anyway, the expansion is not at all bad for a distillery which launched its first release only in May last year. The roll-out will cover both on and off-trade so if you‘re in one of those markets, look out for it. There will also be educational material for trade personnel. No mention made of ambassadorial activity aimed at consumers but I assume importers and retailers may take that on at least to begin with.
I‘m eagerly awaiting a sample of new make spirit from the Tiree Whisky Co. (yes, the island name and the product are spelled slightly differently) I recently finally met the two people, Alain and Ian, behind the island distillery and look forward to tracking its progress and flavour/character development as the spirit matures into whisky. It won‘t be ready for a couple of years yet. Meantime they are producing some fine gins, one of which is shown here. They have a nice story to tell about the island and whisky in the past and are currently working on their pack designs for the mature product. There are no intentions, at present, to sell casks but to offer it in bottle when ready.
Last mention this week goes to a podcast. This popped up in my Twitter feed in a tweet from the Scotch Whisky Association. oriGIn interviewed women working on #GeographicalIndications around the world to talk about the challenges encountered & future perspectives. First person featured is Caitlin O‘Donnell, Senior Legal Counsel at the SWA. Worth a viewing. Find it on YouTube at https://twitter.com/oriGInNetwork/status/1501231178053210112.
That‘s all from me for now. Next column may well be posted from Paris as that‘s where I‘m intending to be at the end of this month – unless I manage to get it done before I go. It‘ll be interesting to see what Brexit has done, if anything, for whisky pricing over there.
Till next time, happy dramming.