I’m wary of independent bottlings, to be honest. I never know what to expect. There’s not a lot of information on most of them. And they can go horribly wrong. So when I happened to taste this with a friend I had no expectations.
Which I think is the best way to taste a whisky because if it’s not good you’re not let down and if it is then you’ve scored! And, luckily for me, this expression falls into the latter category.
This one was distilled on October 4 1990 and bottled from cask 22393 in April 2011 and is bottle #141 taken from a single cask.
Nose: Sweet, classic Speyside. Lots of vanilla, pudding and toffee. Sugared barley amid crumbly biscuits. Sprinkled with a touch of white spice and a garnish of mint.
Palate: Silky with a wonderful delivery. There is honey mixed in with the same butterscotch drizzled on green pears and a hint of oak with a touch of fennel shavings.
Finish: Spicy with sugared pears. A memorable end to this treat.
A lovely dram.
Distillery/Brand: The Lost Distillery Company
So here’s a nifty little trick. Find out which distilleries closed in the last 100 years or so never to open again. Do extensive research and get an understanding of what their malts might have tasted like. Blend some malts together to recreate that whisky. And then proceed to blow me away!
Thank you Lost Distilleries for what you have undertaken for it is nothing short of brilliant!
I will not go into the history of the Gerston Distillery (1796-1882 & 1886-1914) but suffice to say they ran out of business after a good long run. The distillery was located in Halkirk in Caithness – a remote area in the far north of Scotland. So expect a lot of salty and briny peat in the mix.
Nose: Wonderfully sweet with a strong salty peat lash. Some vanilla and tropical fruits in the second breath and then a long lasting rosemary, five spice and thyme combination that stays on for hours and hours. A lovely beam act between sweet and spice.
Palate: The robust spirit is confident in it’s maturity. I am told there are spirits older than 20 years in this bottling. They don’t mention it but I’m told. The chocolate honey is smooth and silky with a smear of spicy plum jam. Really quite well balanced and lovely.
Finish: Satisfyingly long and full of spicy cocoa.
This is a treat to drink and I’m pretty sure the original was no where close to being such a class act.
Distillery/Brand: The Lost Distillery Company
I was at this tasting recently and someone told me about The Lost Distillery Company. Quite genius actually. They literally imagine what closed distillery malts may have tasted like and go about recreating them. I think that’s one of the most creative ideas to come out of Scotland of late. And boy, do they do a good job!
This particular bottling of the Stratheden Distillery (1829-1926) is a throwback to the time the distillery served it’s whisky to smugglers and other illegal distillers in the area. Set in the centre of Auchtermuchty, the distillery was in the middle of flat farmland with the skyline dominated by the nearby Lomond Hills.
This one is made with a Lowland malt base and uses peat from Orkney.
Nose: Toffee sweet with a dominant creme brulee and butterscotch attack. Some dates, some almonds and a hint of something musky and floral. Quite generous in it’s approach.
Palate: Creamy smooth and is like stuffing your face with a fruit basket of apples, pears, oranges and bananas. All at the same time. Quite a colorful fruity pounding. One which puts a smile on your face.
Finish: Brilliantly long with a sugarcane essence.
These are beautifully crafted representations and, as I mentioned in another Lost Distillery review, there is no way the originals could have been this good.
Sampled at a tasting the night before I hadn’t really heard much about Wemyss other than they were an interesting independent bottler with none other than the great Charlie Maclean chairing their nosing panel.
The first in the series was the 12 year old Hive named for the flavor profile they were trying to create. In this instance something quite honeyed. And they seem to have succeeded.
Nose: Invariably sweet honey-comb and beeswax with just the mildest hint of spice and coastal sea-salt. Pleasant and uncomplicated.
Palate: Quite one dimensional with the same honey chocolate fudge quality to it.
Finish: A medium finish brings out, yes you guessed it, honey.
An early morning dram if there ever was one.
Colour: Pale Straw
Wemyss, as I recently discovered at a tasting, is quite an interesting independent bottler. They go about trying to create specific flavor profiles rather than accepting what ever it is that comes out of their casks. And they are ably helped by the great Charlie Maclean.
In this instance they decided to create a spicy spirit aptly named Spice King using mystery malts from the Highland and Islands.
Nose: True to their word, out from the glass sprang a multitude of toasted spices with a charry edge. Lots of cinnamon, coriander, thyme and rosemary. Like literally crashing into a spice rack and sending it tumbling into a pot of bubbling meat stew.
Palate: Sweeter with sticky toffee but the oaky spices come back to play quite strongly amidst a drop or two of lemon.
Finish: A lingering finish of licorice and anise make for quite an edgy malt.
I guess the reason a lot of us liked this expression was the use of Talisker as it’s base malt and you know you can’t go wrong with that.
This particular expression was third in line at a Wemyss tasting I attended recently. An interesting independent bottler which goes after a particular flavor profile rather than the other way around. And made all the more interesting thanks to the great Charles Maclean at it’s nosing helm.
Nose: The peaty nose has a lot of red apple sweetness sitting on a bed of oaky maple syrup. A quick breath and there is nutmeg and clove in the spice department. Interesting. Pleasant.
Palate: Sweet on the palate too, with it’s clove infused dark chocolate and purple fruits.
Finish: Nice, long cinnamon finish.
Magnificent? No. Pleasantly forgettable? Sure.