The whiskies of the March 2016 release have been a huge hit. After four blind tastings we’ve had strong sales for all of them, in particular the whiskies from distillery 3, 29, 41 and 121. Some of these will be shortly sold out. It is hard to pick a single favourite in this month’s lineup, even harder to rank them in order, as not a single one disappointed. Having said all that one of them did stand out for me…
The 24 year old whisky from distillery number 50, a beautiful old Lowland distillery the Society has not bottled much over the years. I’d love to tell you its name, but alas that is not how the Society goes about things! Founded in 1825 it was closed by Diageo in 1993 and then reopened by a Northern Irishman under strange conditions. Having discovered it on holidays Raymond Armstrong purchased it, but initially without permission to produce whisky. He eventually secured permission to distill a small quantity of whisky each year and the distillery operated on and off for a couple decades before it went into insolvency. In 2014 the distillery was acquired by an Australian businessman, and its future looks brighter.
50.46: Retro sweet hamper, is a fine older whisky, the 24 years it spent in oak having imbued it with lovely fruits, spices, soft leather and chocolate; I loved it. To date the best whiskies I had from this distillery have been matured in American oak. I’ve had a few matured in sherry, but as yet not a good one. This whisky seems to be following that theme! My other two favourites were the Starry, Starry Night, 3.221 and 41.68 a sweet 10 year old Speyside. Here is March 2016′s Outturn, with the quantity of each whisky remaining at the time of writing:
- 41.68: Liquified bounty bars – 61.6% – 11 Year – 1st Fill Barrel – Speyside – Outturn: 215 Bottles – Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla – “ Panel’s tasting note: “This opened with calming vanilla notes, unctuous pineapple and coconut shavings. Then, coconut oil was drizzled on fresh oak shavings, whilst lemon bonbons were shuffled in a white paper bag. Over time, rich and heady incense smouldered on a well polished desk as mixed fruits (cranberry, dark cherries, oranges) sat nobly in a fruit bowl. Bursting with mouth-watering juicy fruits, balanced with wood spice, the palate continued to delight with crème anglaise, rhubarb, a touch of lime basil and ginger and chili oomph! Water brought “liquified Bounty bars”, dark chocolate and dried heather notes. An incredibly juicy experience culminated in tropical desserts served on a freshly charred oak stave.” Drinking tip: “Try with Thai food” – $139.99 – Only 1 left!
- 50.66: Retro sweet hamper – 59.5% – 24 Year – Refill Barrel – Lowland – Outturn: 122 Bottles – Flavour Profile: Sweet, fruity & mellow – Panel’s Tasting Note: “We all had images of aromas from a variety of sweets all long gone by. Green apple chewing gum, strawberry foam mushrooms, pink and white sugar mice, fruit pastilles, ice lollies as well as fig roll biscuits. The taste neat was lively, hot and spicy but sweet at the same time like sour plum brown butter upside down cake or a Ferrero Rocher chocolate dipped in sweet chili sauce. Water released initially freshly painted drain pipes soon transformed into sweet popcorn, wine gums and sweet grape juice and the flavours of Jaffa cake, candied angelica with a refreshing bitter lemon finish.” - Drinking tip: “During a hot air balloon ride” - $232.99 – Only 6 left!
- 121.77: Dunnage warehouse orange boxes – 53.4% – 19 Year – Refill Hogshead – Highland Island – Outturn: 276 Bottles – Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet – Panel’s Tasting Note: “The nose had elements of oiled wood, linoleum, balsa wood and orange boxes, plus various sweet treats (brown sugar, toffee, sweet fig, chocolate and crunchy-nut cornflakes). The unreduced palate had spicy samosa heat to liven up the mouth; flavours included nutty (toasted pistachio, almond croissant) and sweet (bonbons, marshmallows, dark chocolate orange, sweet pastry). With water, the nose found syrup sponge and sugared almonds, with some new complications joining in to draw out a broader character – dunnage warehouses, burnt sticks, tobacco and ham. The palate was now a sweet and juicy pear flan with burnt edges – pleasant and nicely balanced.” Drinking tip: “Sunday afternoon – listening to your favourite music”- $196.99 – Only 6 left!
- 63.33: Rich, treacly and sumptuous – 61.6% – 9 Year – 2nd Fill Sherry Butt – Speyside - Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits - Outturn: 661 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “We found a nose that was rich and treacly, with brandy snaps, cinder toffee, Stroop waffles, dates, black tea, HP sauce, balsamic reduction, lavender perfume and unlit cigars. The unreduced palate was substantial and mouth-filling – flavours of sherry, leather, burnt sticks, creosote, marmite, ‘fly cemeteries’ and pain au chocolat, with some smoky bacon and dry-rub ribs as well. The reduced nose found rum baba, honeyed figs, aromatic duck, gingerbread, hibiscus tea and dark cherries in chocolate. The palate was now toasted coconut flapjacks, liquorice and prunes – dark and sumptuous, with good chewy textures; brown sugar sweetness nicely balancing the dry oak.” Drinking tip: “Your favourite armchair, by the fire, wind howling – nothing can touch you” - $124.99 – Only 7 left!
- 3.221: Starry, Starry Night – 54.2% – 19 Year – Refill Sherry Butt – Islay - Flavour profile: Oily & coastal - Outturn: 538 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “Childhood memories of airfix paint, Scalextric tires, linseed oil and caramel bars. Smoked duck breast and grilled oyster on the barbecue. To taste the panel found red licorice laces and burnt marshmallows. A big puff of peat, tarry rope and chorizo on the tongue. With water, we found it became fresher with aromas of menthol and English lavender. A crisp mineralic quality smoothed out the peat. It reminded one of ‘sooking spoots’ (sucking razor clams) from the shell. A clean and spritely finish of black pepper and sparkling water make this a perfect nightcap.” Drinking tip: “For a romantic liaison by the seaside” – $178.99 – Only 4 left!
- 66.73: Midnight feast at pony club camp – 61.1% – 10 Year – First Fill White Wine Hogshead – Highland - Flavour profile: Lightly peated - Outturn: 268 – Panel’s tasting note: “Imagine the excitement, staying up late at night with your chums. The aroma of ponies in a stable mingled with damp hay bales. Snuggled in camphor scented blankets they munched on bacon flavoured chips, chocolate salted caramel, Bourbon biscuits, butterscotch toffee and dried cranberries. They guzzled warm waffles thick with melting hazelnut and chocolate spread with lashings of ginger beer. One panelist explained it was like ‘licking a creosote fence’ and another found linseed hoof oil. Then a feast of beef Wellington (they were posh), nut loaf, date pudding and prunes, topped off with smoky grilled pork chop and hummus.” - Drinking tip: “A late nighter”- $132.99
- 29.165: Cigar-smoking perfumed nurse – 57.4% – 20 Year – Refill Barrel – Islay - Flavour profile: Peated - Outturn: 214 - Panel’s tasting note: “The nose wafted enticing tendrils of complex smoke, saddle soap, leather, straw, green olives, lemon bonbons, root beer, raspberry jam and a nurse in starched uniform giving out malt extract and vitamin c. The unreduced palate teased us with perfumed, fruity smoke, beach bonfire ash, sweet pears, walnuts and peppery, aniseed flavours. The reduced nose was wonderfully complex and balanced, with pot-pourri, wood shavings, antiseptic lotion, oil paint, vanilla slices and burnt heather, all woven around delightfully unobtrusive smoke. The palate was now fresh and tangy; pineapple, lemon, strawberry, mint and Edinburgh Rock candy, but also teasingly seductive, like a Sobranie-smoking, perfumed lady.” Drinking tip: “A dram to celebrate falling in love” – $204.99 – Only 3 left!