Master of Malt came up with yet another clever plot to extract money from us whisky lovers. This time they call it ‘The Reference Series‘ and market it as being educational. While I am always up to expand my knowledge in this area of interest, I doubt many people will agree this would be smartest way.
What they mean by the reference series is that they now have released three reference whiskies of different age categories, blended to a certain mix of young, old and very old whisky. It’s un-chill filtered and not coloured, of course.
In the future they will start releasing more batches of the same make up but in one they will change the balance to contain more sherry casks, one will be chill filtered, and in this way they will change more parameters to investigate what this actually does to a dram.
Of course, we whisky geeks think we know the way it should be released and to which parameters, but this series will be the first way to actually compare the differences between doing something and not doing something to a whisky. Interesting indeed!
Every time I think of this project, I have to think of the Single Oak Project by Buffalo Trace too. And now I think of that, I remember I still have a sample of one of the hundreds of bottles from that.
Reference I, mostly young whisky, 47.5%
Since it’s a Master of Malt bottling I was a tad scared of the fennel notes that seem to pester some of their releases, and in this case it’s present again. Well, it’s not as much the fennel note, but a raw, spirity note this time. So a bit of an unrefined start. The palate a lot better and is slightly warming with a greasy vanilla flavour to it. Some light wood spices too with oak and barley. The finish is spicy, peppery, but light. Some charcoal without the smoke. Vanilla and oak as it mellows.
Reference II, a mix of young, old and very old whisky, 47.5%
On the nose that rawness of the first one is present, but it’s less heavy and moldy. More fennel though. Luckily, with a minute of letting it breathe, that goes away quickly. There’s quite some fruit that appears then. I get pears, on a background of malted barley and sweet oak. The palate is warming with gentle vanilla, and a touch of pepper. A lot more wood than the first dram. Spicy with sweet pear. The finish then. It does have that raw feel to it again, but it’s mostly spices, oak and sweetness.
Reference III, old and very old whisky, 47.5%
What the heck is that note on the nose that they all have? It’s here too, but behind it you can smell there’s some good, old and gentle booze in hiding. You get the old oak, the gentle wood spices and some fruit to boot. It’s gentle and warming. On the palate the warming feel continues and you do notice the older whisky in this blend. I get some banana on top of the pear from the previous dram. Apple too, and fresh wild peach. A hint of spices too. The finish has that ‘old whisky’ feel to it. It’s still fresh, with soft oak, light spices and ginger. Later there’s more of a sherry influence to it, and the nose gets fruitier too.
I’m not sure what that fennel like scent is I get on the nose. I know I’m not the only one, and it’s not present in all of their whiskies. I found it for the first time in That Boutique-y Macallan they had us taste at Maltstock two years ago. I discussed it with Ben yesterday and he doesn’t have a clue what it can be. I can imagine him not giving it the highest priority since there’s not too many people getting these notes.
Than, the whiskies. Since they are meant as a base on which to continue this project I think they are very successful products. The flavours are all very ‘middle of the road’ and that is exactly what they are supposed to be. I can imagine changing parameters to more sherry, more first fill bourbon, and so on. This is a project to keep your eyes on since it’s looking to be one of the more interesting things available!
Thanks go out to Master of Malt for thinking of me when sending out samples. Always happy to taste them! Thanks guys!