Maltbarn Whisky Agency tasting August 11, 2016

On the evening of August 11th we hosted a single malt tasting showcasing the new KWM exclusive bottles from The Whisky Agency. This independent bottler has only become available to us recently so this was an excellent chance for the attendees to try some whisky that they have never tasted before.

There isn’t a huge amount of information available on the Whisky Agency and what they bottle. Their own website is just barely a half step passed “Under Construction”. What I can tell you (mostly thanks to the Malt Whisky Yearbook) is that one main people behind this independent bottler is a man named Carsten Ehrlich. Carsten also happens to be one of the founders of the annual Limburg Whisky Fair in Germany.

The Whisky Agency was founded as an independent bottler in 2008.

Bottlings come under a plethora of titles including:
The Whisky Agency
Maltbarn
The Perfect Dram
Sansibar
Liquid Sun
Liquid Library

How they choose the title to put the bottle under I am not sure. Perhaps it is a case of multiple groups or clubs sourcing different barrels to bottle. Or perhaps a dart board is involved? One thing about them is they seem to have some eclectic designs and art for their bottlings ranging from art-deco font-centric designs to compelling nature shots to World War II era propaganda posters.

EDIT – I have since been informed that I was wrong about the above. Maltbarn, The Whisky Agency and Sansibar are all separate entities and their own Independent Bottling companies that come to us from Germany.

For our tasting seven bottles were selected from the KWM exclusive Whisky Agency, Maltbarn, and Sansibar bottles we have available. The tasting lineup was as follows:

1 – The Whisky Agency Glen Keith 19yr  - 51.6% ABV – $240
Distilled in 1996 – Bottled 2015 – Refill Hogshead

This Speyside distillery was founded in 1957. It’s recent tumultuous history includes being mothballed in 1999 before being reconstructed, refurbished, and resurrected back to production in 2012/2013.

2 – Sansibar Tomatin 18yr – 50.6% ABV – $250
Distilled 1997 – Bottled 2015
For Heads & Tails Canada

Tomatin is a distillery in the HIghlands founded in 1897. For a period in the late 1970s to the early 1980s it was actually the largest production malt distillery in Scotland with a total of 23 stills. It produced as much spirits as a distillery like Glenfiddich does today. The company that owned it back then went belly up in 1986 and it was bought by a Japanese conglomerate Takara Shuzo. Over time production has been scaled back immensely.

#3 – The Whisky Agency Speyside Region 17yr – 50.3% ABV – $200
Distilled 1998 – Bottled 2015 – Refill Sherry

It is always fun to taste mystery malts like this one and try and guess which distillery it comes from!

#4 – Sansibar Springbank 22yr – 51.8% ABV – $600
Distilled 1993 – Bottled 2015

From Springbank Distillery in Campbeltown which is the oldest family owned distillery still in Scotland. Independent bottles of Springbank are getting difficult to find. This distillery produces three distinct styles of spirit:

  • The lightly peated Springbank which is distilled two and a half times.
  • The triple distilled and unpeated Hazelburn.
  • The double distilled and heavily peated Longrow.

#5 – Maltbarn Glen Garioch 21yr  - 52.5% ABV – $290
Distilled 1993 – Bottled 2015 – Ex-Bourbon Cask

#6 – Whisky Doris Glen Garioch 22yr – 51.6% ABV – $315
Distilled 1992 – Bottled 2014
For Heads & Tails Canada

Having been officially founded in 1797 Glen Garioch is one of the oldest operating distilleries in Scotland and is located in the Eastern Highlands.

It is always a pleasure to taste older single malt from this distillery. Before 1994 Glen Garioch Distillery had its own malting floor in operation and the malt and the spirit that it produced was lightly peated. Since then the distillery shut down this labour and time intensive operation and has gone to sourcing the malt they use. The malt is also now unpeated.

Bottles five and six are sibling Glen Garioch bottlings both show some peat in there makeup. It is more pronounced on the Whisky Doris Glen Garioch 22yr.

#7 – Maltbarn Ledaig 9yr – 48.1% ABV – $170
Distilled 2005 – Bottled 2014 – Ex-Bourbon Cask

This bottling is a heavily peated malt hailing from Tobermory Distillery on the Isle of Mull. Founded in 1798 – Tobermory was actually not in operaiton for a good amount of time in the 20th Century. It was closed from 1930 until 1972 when it was re-opened under the name Ledaig. In 1979 it was renamed Tobermory once more.

Two styles of spirit are currently produced at Tobermory:

  • The unpeated Tobermory.
  • The heavily peated Ledaig.

We had a fun crowd for this event that was more than happy to discuss the whisky as they tasted it.

Their Favorites of the night were:

#1 – Maltbarn Glen Garioch 21yr
#2 – Maltbarn Ledaig 9yr
#3 – The Whisky Agency Glen Keith 19yr

Thank you to to all who attended the tasting and a special thanks to Peasant Cheese for providing their always excellent cheese and charcuterie boards!

Cheers and until next time,

Evan
evan@kensingtonwinemarket.com
Twitstagram: @sagelikefool
Instagram: one part of @kwmwhisky

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