Five cask strength BenRiach samples
You never quite know what you’re going to get from BenRiach – the distillery has such a range of whiskies. But The W Club is planning an exclusive specially made BenRiach and these five samples are potentially the bottling’s component parts.
And they are superb. Two are described as ‘classic Speyside’ and are 16 years old and 21 years old respectively, but are destined for bottling after their 17 and 22 year birthdays in May. They are both sweet and fruity with honey and vanilla, as you might expect, but the first has a delightful fresh apple characteristic to it, and the second has a liquorice aniseed and oak combination from its age. Both are very good.
The third is 15 years old, finished in a Pedro Ximenez cask, and is set to be bottled as a 16 year old.It’s a big bold whisky with stewed plum, fig, date, mince pie and earthy, woody tannin notes.
But it’s the last two which are really exciting. They’re a year apart in age but will both be bottled as 17 years old. They are both finished in virgin American oak and the effect of the wood is all over them. These are dessert whiskies of the highest order. the first is cask 2775 from 1995 and combines banana split drizzled with caramel sauce, or soft toffee filled chocolates. There’s hazelnut in the finish, too. The second, from 1994 and about nine months older, is much sharper, spicier and woodier, but still has a wonderful vanilla and candy heart if you add water.
It’s no secret that I am a huge admirer of the works of John Glaser and that I love what he and his team stand for. John makes boutique whiskies with the finest Scotch and I’m delighted that they are a priority for The Whisky Shop.
The company’s whiskies fall in to two broad camps. There are sweet, gentle and easy drinking whiskies including two blends – Asyla and Great King Street, which I recently chose as the Blended Whisky of the Year in the Whisky Advocate annual awards; and a grain whisky called Hedonism. Grain whisky is soft and sweet and can be a bit characterless when young, but in this case it’s the whisky is delicious and refreshing. The other category hass more spicy, peaty and savoury releases and these include malts which are among my very favourites: The Peat Monster – have a guess – Oak Cross, which is matured in American oak casks with virgin European oak heads to give the whisky a spicy note; and best of all, The Spice Tree, which is feisty, challenging and a total treat.
Watch the news column for details of a marathon tasting tour with a difference featuring John Glaser.
The Dalmore Cigar Malt
I’ve already written about the return of this iconic malt and the changes that have been made to it. It’s an unusual Dalmore but a good one, and The Whisky Shop is the first British retailer to stock it. the first bottle sold went to a woman from Lincoln and was sold this week. Welcome back.
I went as a guest of Maxxium to Stockholm to join the Viking Whisky Festival Cruise but before boarding we were treated to a tasting by the highly impressive Joy Elliott, who treated us to, among other things, a stunning Highland Park 1978 Vintage, and, amazingly, the 60 year old plus whisky which makes up the Macallan Lalique. Joy claimed she didn’t have a wee taste while transporting the rare liquid to Sweden. If that’s true she’s stronger-willed than I am.
On board the cruise liner I met great people, hung out with the likes of Laphroaig’s John Campbell, Glenfiddich’s Ian Millar, Whyte & Mackay’s Richard Paterson and Glen Grant’s Dennis Malcolm, and discovered some very interesting new Swedish whisky. Poor John wasn’t well but managed to hold a tasting which included Ardmore 25 year old, and a new expression of Laphroaig, a 13 year old whisky called Brodir.
On a related note – I have supported Mackmyra’s whisks in tastings for six years and am a big fan of the distillery and its people. So I am delighted that the great Mackmyra introductory malt The First Edition is now available through The Whisky Shop.
What an amazing airline. Their stewardesses are the female equivalent of a box of Quality Street, a mix of races and all beautifully attired, very friendly and highly efficient. And if you managed to miss that they come from all over the world, the pilot lets you know just how many languages they can speak between them – about 12. The food is lovely, the planes spacious, and the entertainment amazing in its diversity. Thoroughly recommended.
This is a whisky film. Whisky is a big player in the plot, a force for good and bad, used as a weapon and as plane fuel, and a constant in this delightful animated film.