New Year, New Offerings

Happy New Year!

Whisky quarterly 2015-1

Last week, in London, I attended the launch of a new magazine, “Whisky quarterly” – they do use a small letter for the “q”. It’s a glamorous and cleanly designed publication hoping to attract the well-heeled or very eager whisky enthusiast – it does cost £10 per copy.  Amazingly – and happily – there was no presentation, just a party with great cocktails, wines and straight whiskies plus some terrific music from a band made up of people from the whisky industry – some from Wm. Grant & Sons. A really talented crew.

Anyway, the magazine is available by subscription only and Issue 1 contains some interesting pieces for those keen to learn more. It has a mix of established and new writers and I’m keen to see how it develops. An online edition of each issue will not appear until some months after the paper copy.

So what else is new? There are several new releases out already in 2015 and one or two samples are awaited. One I do have is from Glasgow’s own Douglas Laing & Co. Their newest expression is Rock Oyster made of maritime whiskies including Arran, Jura, Islay and Orkney.

Rock Oyster is at natural colour, with no chill-filtration and bottling strength of 46.8% vol. It’s very pale, which does put some whisky drinkers off but this is by no means insipid. Think Caol Ila – pale but with a hefty left hook. Anyway, what did I find in this one?

Appearance: Very pale straw with white rim. The “tears” are very slow and clingy- like watching canned peach juice. They start off quite close together then become more widely spaced.

 Nose: Fresh sea air, smokiness, still quite spirituous and “youthful” even if it’s not really (no age statement). A hint of salted potato crisps, a touch of citrus zest; some orange blossom and honey; oily notes too – almost like baby oil. With water more sea air and a bit of sea shore vegetation; slightly sherbety and soft sweets like Dolly Mixtures (do they still exist?), Soft barley notes.

 Palate: Unctuous and mouth coating. At first a slightly “perfumed” taste, at odds with the nose but very pleasant. Swiftly fades to give a roundness, peppery notes, smoke and peat but not harsh; fresh and clean tasting with a slight vegetal undertone plus fresh and toasted barley. Some salt but also grain sweetness and a soft wisp of vanilla. Not medicinal.

 Finish: Fairly long, smoke and salt, clean with some background grain sweetness but a dry, astringent, smoky and faintly tarry end.

I know there’s some guff talked about not pairing whisky with seafood or shellfish but I think this would work. I’m not at all an oyster fan myself but can see how this would match. Think too of other seafoods like mussels in rich tomato sauce; perhaps some more richly flavoured sushi or scallops with crisp bacon, a little slice of black pudding and some minted, mushy fresh peas . Maybe even some more strongly flavoured fish like herring.  A fine dram on its own and a fun one to play with in terms of food matching.

More newbies next month.






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