Ben Ellefsen, aka the guy who runs Master of Malt, aka Professor Cornelius Ampleforth came over with Cat Spencer (also from Master of Malt) and Joel Harrison (from CaskStrength.net) to host this tasting of supposedly eight whiskies. Unfortunately, something went wrong in the supply chain and only five were present at Maltstock.
Something Special. There was some speculation to what this would be, but it turned out they were launching a new Independent Bottler last Saturday, about half an hour after the masterclass. We were the first non-MoM people to taste the whiskies.
Most whiskies, as I was told, are reblended whiskies of old stocks, partial casks and other very limited sources. This also means that, most likely, from the Master of Malt stocks the not so popular bottles were opened and reblended for these whiskies too. A good idea if you ask me.
Macallan, 40.9% – That Boutique-y Whisky Company
A very fennelly nose to begin with. Some nuts, some pickling liquid (is that a form of vinegar?) and anise. I also get a hint of ‘cleaning spray’ but that’s gone quickly. The flavour is very nice with sweet Christmas cake. The finish goes back to the pickling vinegar again.
Caperdonich, 45.6% - That Boutique-y Whisky Company
Again, the fennelly nose. I started thinking there was absinthe in these glasses before or something. Here there is some tropical fruit and hint of dryness. Lots of licorice and fennel though. The palate offers light sherry with heaps of tropical fruits. Passion fruit, peach. Quite some old nuts too.
Ardbeg, 51.9% - That Boutique-y Whisky Company
A very light Ardbeg which smells like a mixture of old and new versions. Probably some nineties stuff in here. Rather flowery with salty dirt. All is very gentle and not like the current bottlings of just high ABV, high peat.
Port Ellen, 48.2% - That Boutique-y Whisky Company
Everyone was excited for this bottle. With Port Ellen it can go both ways since I find this a highly unpredictable distillery in what quality came from it. Light leather and lemon and a very light hint of peat. Not spicy which surprised me. The finish is a bit heavier and rather short to be honest.
BenRiach 16, 55.2%, #5614, PX cask – Cask Strength and Carry On
The ‘extra’ of the tasting offered by Joel Harrison. A bottling that has already been received enthusiastically by the ‘whisky press’. A very rich toffee flavoured whisky with many hints of oranges. A slight dryness too with Christmas cake and burnt caramel.
A very interesting tasting with, apart from the BenRiach, whiskies that noone has tasted before. That’s kind of cool of course. The fennelly hints in the sherried drams is something I’ve encountered before and I’m not a huge fan of that. The Caperdonich, with some time in the glass, is a stunning whisky though. The drawback so far is that all the boutique-y whiskies are reblended which means that sourcing them is expensive, and therefore the bottles are too.
On that BenRiach: that’s an absolute stunner. Get one.
I loved meeting Ben and his friends at the festival. It was good fun. Especially when he was very drunk the first night and just loved everyone and everything. As he said. Many times.