It’s a short week, but there’s still plenty to talk about. Both in terms of what we tasted and enjoyed, as well as what went down on our blog. Starting with our April Fool. No, we didn’t really change our name to Masters of Malt, yes we did release a kick-ass Islay whisky. Which will taste even better out of our own branded hip flask. The Master of Malt merch range is here and it looks good. We’ve also given you a shot to win a year’s supply of Hotel Chocolat with Singleton. We really are spoiling you this week, aren’t we? Elsewhere, brandy month on our site kicked off with a Henry history lesson on Cognac’s British and Irish connection and Annie made one of the greatest Cognac-based cocktails of them all: The Vieux Carré. Adam then whipped up some desserts perfect for the Easter weekend and tasted some Daddy Rack deliciousness, all while reliving the glory of Whisky Live London 2023.
But the fun doesn’t stop there, here’s what we loved this week!
What Adam loved this week
Fettercairn concludes Warehouse series
Fettercairn Warehouse 14 is here! It’s the fifth and, sadly, final limited release in this series that has taken the Fettercairn tropical house style on an adventure through various cask styles and warehouse environments. For the first time, whisky maker Gregg Glass picked a selection of whiskies from within Warehouse 14, including aged first-fill and second-fill bourbon barrels and then finished them in a trio of beer barrels: stout, dark ale, and pale ale, before marrying the merry lot together. Bottled at 51.2% ABV, non-chill-filtered and with natural colour, this whisky has a medley of vanilla, honey and floral charm on the nose. To taste, there’s warm toasty maltiness, tropical fruits, and with layers of crème caramel as well as apricot tart, cacao, soft wood spices, and a pleasing nuttiness. A fitting whisky to conclude a fine range. We look forward to what comes next.
Well, well. The turn tables… whisky
From brothers Ally and Gordon Stevenson comes a new brand of blended Scotch whiskies: Turntable. Aiming to utilize their 20+ years of experience and to help broaden and deepen the appeal of the art of blending, they’ve kicked things off with three blended whiskers, each a different ‘track’ (Turntable is a music reference if you didn’t get that). Every whisky is left to marry for a minimum of three months before bottling and is all non-chill-filtered, natural colour, and 46% ABV in strength.
Track 01 is Joy. Discovery. Invention. It is comprised of Knockdhu Chinkapin barrel (17%), Linkwood virgin oak barrel (40%), Girvan red wine barrel (24%), and Strathclyde Cognac barrel (19%) and is full of tropical fruit, earthy vanilla, and chocolate. Track 02 is Firestarter. A blend of 40% Caol Ila virgin oak barrel, 23% Cameronbridge virgin oak barrel, 22% Benrinnes Chinkapin barrel, and 15% Invergordon virgin oak barrel, it’s a fresh and sweet and gooey dram with campfire smoke, vanilla, toffee apple, and pineapple. Track 03 is Purple Haze, made up of 44% Balmenach PX sherry puncheon, 42% Craigellachie oloroso sherry butt, and 14% Invergordon sherry barrel. It’s a big dessert of a whisky with bright berries, dark chocolate, toffee, dates, and cinnamon. We love when blends get their due, so any brand putting this much into the fine art has our attention.
Getting to know the Glasgow Distillery Company
The Glasgow Distillery Co. has been on our radar for some time but this week I had some time to sit down properly with a couple of its expressions and get to know it a little better. A key part of a new age of whisky distilling in Glasgow, the brand has two very good introductions to its range, a single malt and a blend.
The first is Glasgow 1770 – The Original, made from Scottish barley and matured in first-fill bourbon casks, before being treated to a finish in virgin white oak. I think the latter element has brought a robust element to the dram, with earthy vanilla and rich nutmeg spice. It has a creamy butterscotch note, cut grass freshness, and the kind of tropical fruit you get from long fermentation (the distillery ferments for 72 hours), but there’s also this really lovely note of stewed, sticky dried dark fruits, as well as some burnt sugar adding depth. Most prominent and enjoyable for me, however, is the thick orange marmalade flavour, something I soon learned was part of the distillery character. Colour me very impressed with this.
The second, Malt Riot, is made with a core of the distillery’s 1770 whisky as well as other malt whiskies from across Scotland. It’s raw in parts and I think it will become a better dram if the distillery can increase the average age as its stocks grow and mature, but there are a couple of things I really like about this. One, the blend is balanced well enough to allow the Glasgow Distillery’s influence to be front and centre, with more marmalade, floral vanilla, mango etc. Two, it’s a cracking Highball whisky. It’s got enough punch and guts to stand out, while the minerality of the soda water lengthens the fruity notes and makes it very refreshing.
What Henry loved this week
Shrub a dub dub
While gin producers like Gordon’s have gone all in on zero ABV versions of their products, I think the most exciting products in the no and low category are shrubs. These concoctions of vinegar, fruit, and sugar were enormously popular in the 18th and 19th centuries and are being revived to great effect by producers like Nonsuch. It’s the creation of Henry Chevallier Guild whose family until very recently owned Aspall’s cyder, a business that was also famed for the quality of its vinegar. I tasted through a selection with Guild and loved how versatile they are. Just a tablespoon full of the Nonsuch Blood Orange and Bitter Lemon makes a grown-up drink out of a glass of fizzy water, ice and a slice of orange. The vinegar gives it a proper cut that makes you sip slowly. They also make great mixers with alcoholic drinks too – add a little Nonsuch Wild Hedgerow & Rose Shrub to a London Dry Gin for an instant sloe gin. You really only need a tiny amount as the flavours are so concentrated so a bottle should last a while. Though not in our house.