A sold out crowd of scotch enthusiasts sat down in honour of Robbie Burns last night and tasted through 12 drams of varying profiles of scotch with Sommelier Ken Bracke. Here's a list of what was tried. Along with the drams our guests enjoyed Haggis, Smoked Salmon, Spicy salami, Cheeses and Shortbread! Raise a glass to Robbie Burns!
- Highland Park 12, Islands, Orkney 43% abv. $71.99 750 ml. chill filtered, no coloring added
The most northerly distillery in Scotland (although Scapa is only a kilometer to the southwest), Highland Park is located on the Orkney Islands, off the northeast coast of the Scottish mainland. One of the fundamental flavours in Highland Park single malt whisky is the delicate, sweet, aromatic peat smoke, which has given Highland Park its unique character since 1798. The peat character is mild, however, as only 20% of the mashbill comes from Highland Park’s own floor maltings (and of that, only half is peated). The rest is unpeated malt imported from the Scottish mainland. Highland Park is one of only a handful of distilleries that still retains a traditional malting floor, turning each batch of malt by hand, in what is a physically demanding process. Another Highland Park signature is the use of predominately ex-sherry casks, without any finishing. Tasting Notes: Colour: Glowing amber. Nose: Heather-honey sweetness, peaty smokiness. Palate: Rounded smoky sweetness, full malt delivery. Finish: Sweet and lingering with heathery notes and subtle smoke.
- A.D. Rattray Stronachie 10 yr. Small Batch Release Benrinnes Distillery Speyside (Central) 43% abv. $76.99 700 ml. non chill filtered
A. D. Rattray, established in 1868, is an independent whisky bottler located in Speyside. Stronachie, a traditional Highland-style Single Malt Scotch Whisky, was in production until 1928 before the Stronachie Distillery was mothballed and lost to history. Whilst researching the history of closed distilleries back in 200, A. D. Rattray’s owner, Mr. Morrison, was surprised and delighted to discover a family link with the original distributor of Stronachie Single Malt and decided to look into bringing back the old brand. Having acquired an original 1904 bottle of Stronachie, A. D. Rattray sampled it and went about attempting to re-create the flavour profile using spirit from the similarly remote and high altitude Benrinnes Distillery. A. D. Rattray matures the spirit from Benrinnes in ex-bourbon or sherry casks before bottling in small batches as 10 year old and 18 year old Stronachie Single Malt. Distiller’s Notes: Nose: Soft honey, earthy heather and malty sweetness. Palate: Smooth with luscious honey and biscuits, then lingering pepper and cereal notes. Conclusion: A perfectly balanced and seductive dram.
- Gordon & MacPhail Distillery Labels Linkwood 15, Speyside (Lossie) 43% abv. $119.99 700 ml. non chill filtered, no coloring added
Gordon & MacPhail has almost legendary status in the world of Scotch whisky, with four generations of the Urquhart family heading up the business from its base in Elgin. At the heart of Gordon & MacPhail are its retail premises on South Street, which combine a delicatessen and wine merchant operation with The Whisky Room, where more than 1,000 malt whiskies are for sale. Linkwood distillery was built in 1821 by Peter Brown, the factor of the Seafield Estates of Moray and Banffshire, and is named after Linkwood House, the family home. Brown's son, William, carried on the business and rebuilt the distillery in the 1870s. Linkwood has built a strong reputation with blenders over the years and these days most of the whisky is used in blends; notably Johnnie Walker and White Horse. The majority of the malt whisky that is produced at Linkwood is still
used for blends. In partnership with each respective distillery, all whiskies in the 'Distillery Labels' range are uniquely labelled. Today these trusted relationships with distillers enables Gordon & MacPhail to bottle whiskies at various ages, strengths and vintages - all with their unique distillery label. Distiller’s Notes: Aroma without water:
Fresh and fragrant with heavy Sherry influences. More delicate fruity notes develop.
Taste without water: Heavy sweetness, very smooth and creamy, with a delicate spicy edge. Some nutty influences - Brazil nuts.
- Bruichladdie The Laddie Classic, Islay (Lochindaal) 50% abv. $67.99 750 ml. non chill filtered, no coloring added
Bruichladdich was built by Barnett Harvey in 1881. Five years later, the Bruichladdich Distillery Company was founded and renovation and refurbishment commenced. The ‘Laddie’, as it is affectionately known, is often considered to be the fruitiest, most inventive Islay malt and, indeed, there has been some contention as to whether it has truly attained Islay-status. The gentle character of the spirit is attributed by some to the milder weather conditions at Bruichladdich's locality, sheltered, as it is, from Mother Nature by the Rhinns, the rugged Islay mountain range. The Laddie Classic was created by Jim McEwan from whisky matured in American oak casks alongside Lochindaal, and chosen to represent the classic, unpeated distillery style. Bruichladdich'ssignature bottling is made with 100% Scottish barley. Tasting Notes (courtesy of the chaps at Master of Malt): Nose: Elegantly sweet with honey'd barley, boiled sweets and orange petals. Wafts of sea air. Palate: Red apples and white grapes, with touches of sweet cinnamon and brown sugar. Still softly coastal. Finish: Mineral-rich malt, with toffee and more honey.
- Compass Box Great King Street Artist Series Blend 43% abv. $62.99 750 ml non chill filtered, no coloring added
Back in 2000, John Glaser believed there were too many companies making and selling Scotch whisky ‘the same way’. An American, transplanted to the UK and working for a large distiller, he wanted to do things differently to bring the joys of Scotch whisky to more people. So, he set up a different kind of Scotch whisky company, based on the model of the Scotch whisky blending house. He originally launched the business from his kitchen, but today, Compass Box has an office and blending room in London, its own stocks of maturing whiskies in Scotland, and just over a dozen employees. The Great King Street whisky line is named after a street in the New Town of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Great King Street has been home to the registered office of the Compass Box Whisky Company since its inception in 2000. Artist’s Blend is a marriage of delicate Lowland grain and robust, complex Highland malt whiskies. Master Blender Notes: Soft, full and fruity on the palate, with flavours of baked apple, vanilla, spices and toasted oak.
- Balvenie Single Barrel 12 First Fill, Speyside (Dufftown) 48% abv. $124.99 750 ml. non chill filtered, natural color
Balvenie lies in the Convals in Dufftown. The distillery was built by William Grant just below Glenfiddich in 1892, both distilleries sharing the same water source, the Robbie Dhu Springs. It is one of the few Scotch distilleries to boast in-house floor maltings, utilising locally hand-cut peat. The floor maltings at Balvenie also supply neighbouring Glenfiddich. The Balvenie whiskies have a very definite distillery character. All the whiskies are sweet with honey and vanilla notes. This distillery character is then nicely combined with flavours of different casks. This marriage of fruity flavours with the honey and vanilla makes Balvenie a typical Speyside distillery. Distiller’s Notes: Nose: Bounty of sweet oak and spice. Taste: Rich and complex with deep vanilla oakiness. Honey notes will be overlaid with sweet fruits and subtle spices. Finish: Lingering sweetness.
- William Cadenhead 13 Yr. Single Malt Irish Whiskey Aberdeen 46% abv. $129.99 700 ml. non chill filtered, no coloring added
Independent whisky bottler Cadenhead’s was founded in 1842 at 47 Netherkirkgate in Aberdeen, a site the company traded from for more than 130 years. Today, the business is owned by J. & A. Mitchell and Co., owner of Springbank distillery in Campbeltown. It specialises in single cask malt whiskies that are neither chill-filtered nor coloured, and it trades in rum and gin as well. Tasting Notes (courtesy of Whisky Fun): Colour: white wine. Nose: Custard, green tea, hints of patchouli, hay. Palate: Grasses, melons, green tea, vanilla, hints of tangerine, pineapple. Finish: medium, fruity, fresh.
- Nomad Outland Blended Whisky, Speyside, Highlands; Jerez, Spain 41% abv. $63.99 750 ml. non chill filtered
Nomad Outland Whisky is González Byass’ newest venture. It's a creation and collaboration between their master blender Antonio Flores, and Richard Paterson, master distiller at the Dalmore. Nomad Outland Whisky is made by blending 25 single malt Scotch Whiskies, mostly from Speyside, and 6 Grain Whiskies, all aged between 5-8 years. After the blending, the Whiskies are further aged for 1-3 years in Scotland, and then shipped to González Byass Serry bodega in Jerez, Spain, for an additional 12 months of maturation in Pedro Ximénez casks. Nomad Outland Whisky boasts a quintessential Scottish character and a soul that is truly Jerezano. Distiller’s Notes: Bright, topaz coloured whisky. It has a unique aroma with malty notes, reminiscent of oak and sherry due to its ageing in American oak barrels. Smooth and elegant on the palate, with prominent flavours of raisins, honey and distinctive bouquet as a result of the finishing of the whisky in Pedro Ximénez sherry barrels. A long finish, pleasant, with hints of vanilla and dried fruits.
- GlenDronach The Revival 15 Speyside (Deveron) 46% abv. $119.99 750 ml. non chill filtered, no coloring added
From its hillside home in the Scottish Highlands, The GlenDronach Distillery has been creating fine richly sherried single malts for nearly 200 years. Originally, all of the workers at GlenDronach lived on site, including the distillery manager, staff, excise man, brewer and all of their families. To this day many of the old houses still remain.As has been the case since its inception, The GlenDronach Distillery patiently matures its single malt whisky in superior quality sherry casks. Their distilling methods may be old-fashioned, but they prefer to look on them as handcrafted techniques created through nearly 200 years of tradition. From the germination of the barley to the flow of the purest middle cuts of distilled spirit, every step in the GlenDronach journey is taken with meticulous care and immaculate timing. Distillery Notes: Appearance: Deep gold with a lovely mahogany heart. Nose: Incredible concentration of aromas. Treacle toffee and chocolate orange. Palate: A very dynamic and full bodied dram for its age. Chewy with coffee chocolate and treacle scones. Conclusions: A veritable feast to enliven the senses.
- King Car Distillery KaVaLan Solist Sherry Cask, Taiwan 57.8 abv. $179.99 700 ml. non chill filtered, no added coloring
Situated at the cross boundary of Yi-Lan mountains, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the King Car distillery has been creating something that many thought would never happen: Taiwanese whisky. Naming their brand after the indigenous people that original inhabited that area, the Kavalan, was a way to show how genuine King Car Group wanted to be with their new project. King Car Group is not a new company, although no one would blame you if you’ve not heard of them before. They have been producing food and beverages for over 30 years, but only produced their first bottle of whisky in 2008. Honouring the tradition of Scottish whisky production, King Car imported two copper stills from Scotland to distill their whisky, along with a master distiller to oversee the processes. While their equipment is conventional, their Kavalan is unusual as it matures in the cask quicker than most whiskies, due to Taiwan’s vastly different climate. Tasting Notes (courtesy the chaps at Master of Malt):Nose: Sherried oak and dried fruit - deep and brooding. Marzipan, nuts, dates, vanilla and spice. Palate: More of the same, full and extremely impressive. More mixed dark spices develop with cocoa. Finish: Condensed Sherried goodness.
- Laphroaig Triple Wood Islay 48% abv. $117.99 750 ml non chill filtered
Laphroaig Distillery is situated in the south of Islay and is one of the three "Kildalton Distilleries". The Gaelic name means "the beautiful hollow by the broad bay". Laphroaig is considered one of the most strongly flavored of all scotch whiskies. The distillery was established in 1815 by Alex and Donald Johnston. The 'Johnston' brothers were actually McCabes, of the Clan Donald, who changed their names following the failed Jacobite uprising, and settled on the Isle of Islay. Since 1994 Laphroaig has been the only whisky to carry the Royal Warrant of HRH, Prince Charles of Wales (the 15-year-old is reportedly his favourite scotch whisky), which was awarded in person during a visit to the distillery. The Triple Wood has enjoyed a triple maturation in 3 types of cask. Just as with Laphroaig’s standard Quarter Cask expression, the first maturation is in American oak, ex-Bourbon Barrels. Laphroaig then selects the most suitable of these barrels, containing a range of different aged spirit, and transfers this into small 19th Century style Quarter Casks for a second maturation. The final maturation is in specially selected, large European oak, Oloroso Sherry Casks. Distiller’s Notes: Colour: Bright gold. Nose: bonfire ash smell of earthy peat, a gentle mixture of sweet raisins and creamy apricots. Body: Powerful yet with a creamy consistency. Palate: With no water, a large initial burst of peat belies the slight lack on the nose but is gentled on the tongue by the creamier flavours of vanilla and fruit with just a suggestion of sherry sweetness. With a trace of water the peat reek is gentled, allowing the more complex flavours of citrus fruits and spices to come through. A slight tang comes from the European Oak balancing the creamier American White Oak. Finish: Mouth filling and extremely long but balanced by the sweet smooth caramel taste.
- Jura Prophecy, Highlands – Islands (Jura) 48% abv. $147.99 750 ml. non chill filtered
The Isle of Jura is nestled off the West Coast of Scotland. It’s only 60 miles from Glasgow as the crow flies, but 60 miles has never felt so far away. With only one road, one pub, one distillery and one big whirlpool, Jura is as beautiful as it is remote. George Orwell even went so far as to name it ‘the most un-get-at-able place’ while he wrote his classic novel 1984 here. The original distillery has stood in its spot since 1810 but fell into ruin. In 1963, the decision was made to resurrect it and with it, to revive the local community. The whisky distillery is the Isle of Jura’s one and only and underwent a substantial rebuild; nothing remained from the old buildings save for the walls. The name derives from the Old Norse for ‘deer island’, a reference, most probably, to the large local herds of deer, which more than outnumber the isle’s human population. Distiller’s Notes:
Colour: Fiery golden ambers. Nose: An exquisite burst of bonfire smoke slowly gives way to salty and spicy sea spray. Taste: Powerful peat smoke and spicy sea spray open up the palate, followed by flavours of soft liquorice, spicy cinnamon and nutmeg.
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