Spirits Embassy: Exploring Speyside

Following neatly on from my last entry [WLP], here’s another Spirits Embassy tasting. £20 for 5x30ml [plus a bonus whisky-centric gin] is a fine price-point. Less fine are the plastic sample bottles. [Further reading: Greenpeace].

Miltonduff 2009/2019 10yo DT/Battlehill Sherry Cask 46% WB82.75[4]

  • N: With this contemporary-styled single malt, we’ve a malty fruity citrusy underlying spirit coupled with a firm raisin-y and slightly rubbery sherry cask influence.
  • T: Tastes as it smells. Arriving just fine, the sultana juice soon thins and passes briskly on through.
  • F: Malty~raisins & sultanas, slightly thin with a little freshening heat. Dissolves to dust.
  • C: Enjoyable enough, the sherry-prepared cask defines it.

Scores 80 points

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Glen Moray 2008/2020 11yo DT/Battlehill 46% WB88[1]

  • N: The invitingly floral Irish-esque tropical fruity > light waxy malty nose confirms the previous Miltonduff to be rather elementary. Nicely distillate-led [despite being just a year older than the Miltonduff], this would have been a stronger dram to start the session with.
  • T: Same fruity malty [almost honeyed at times] action as on the nose with more putty/clay than wax on the palate and quite some malty aniseed/minty citrus on the turn.
  • F: A milky malty slightly toffeed mouthfeel chew with more fruity clay/wax/putty touches by the tail.
  • C: Arguably a better exemplar of distillery [distillate-led] character than some in the official Elgin Classic/Heritage range[s], this very natural presentation displays balance, marriage, form and consistency. Recommended.

Scores 85 points

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Auchindoun 2008/2020 12yo DL Dimensions Sherry Cask #28900017 [288 bts] 54% WB86[5]

  • N: This is a blended malt [further reading: Aqvavitae]. Could this be a blend of the previous Miltonduff and Glen Moray? The first two drams of this flight would make for a meaningful lead-in, if this was the case. A lightly seasoned peppery leathery sherried raisin-led note allows glimpses of a robust oily bourbon-matured malt underside – Glenlossie, Linkwood, Benrinnes, for example – yet the balance is for now, erm, in the balance.
  • T: The result on the palate neat is a sweet tasty one, but the finish over-powers the spirit. Add water, and the scales recalibrate, somewhat. Then we’ve an ethanol-strong malty experience, at first. Give it an hour, however, and the sherry cask characteristics [now at the sides of the palate], are desirably drier, the leathery maltiness now bound with the sherry-syruped makeup.
  • F: Malty < raisiny soft toffeed slightly rubbery conclusion with just a hint of vanilla.
  • C: I like it. It’s not refined or complex, but a contemporary-styled treatment has worked for this single cask offering. If one were concocting a flight of whiskies to demonstrate balance, this could be an example of one skirting the edge of such a cask > spirit equilibrium.

Scores 82 points

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The Huntly 1997/2017 19yo DL Blended Malt cask #2213936 [101 bts] 52.6% WB86.33[3]

  • N: Another blended malt that has seen a 6 month sherry octave finish, though unlike the Auchindoun, this doesn’t smell like a blend of what’s gone before. Like the Auchindoun, [at 52.6%] this needs some time and some water management. I find it lightly milky/creamy, oily & nutty towards seed oils, certainly sherried yet thoroughly tempered, and [somewhat reminiscent of Glen Scotia’s 15yo] with a soft phenol suggestion – or is it simply the charring and ethanol combo? Overall though, it’s the aged maltiness from well-used refill casks that speaks the strongest. 
  • T&F: Ooh now that’s nice. After that Glen Scotia resemblance on the nose, perhaps we aren’t far from Campbeltown after all? With more of that faint toasted = > phenol hit, the raisiny/syrup consolidated fruitiness seeps out from underneath itself, likened to 15yo Springbank in part. Becoming more salivating by the tail, spirit, wood and > cask charring & previous contents all have their say, chatting away most congenially. Unlike the Miltonduff and Auchindoun, here, the 6 month sherry octave finish is exemplarily unobtrusive whilst remaining present and providing. Concludes with nutty oily spirit-driven/refill cask-driven sherry combos with every sip.
  • C: It’s easy to imagine the 6-month cask finish has transformed a rather uneventful refill-aged malt into something throughly more appealing. Good job.

Scores 85 points

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One more then, ‘the party piece’ – on paper at least.

Glen Grant 1990/2017 26yo DL Dimensions cask #16979 [99 bts] 47.5% WB89.33[3]

  • N: Like the Glen Moray, we have more tropical fruitiness,.. but with an extra 19 years in oak however, whilst the woodiness has remained supportive, the fruitier sweeter malty profile has become jammy, jellied, confectionary gelatine-d. Having said that, this isn’t a particularly fruit-abundant dram. Due to the inactivity and/or some faded maturation action during those 26 years, whilst nothing undesirable has occured, the fairies haven’t exactly been liberal with the magic dust.
  • T: On the palate then, we’ve a bourbon-matured fustiness, faded refill fruitiness, and a light malty chalkiness. It’s less tired, more stretched,… and a little aggravating heat confirms it. After all the sherry influence, this one is a savoury affair – which is just fine, though it’s difficult to find the thread.
  • F: Fusty, chalky, [balsa] woody/maize Wotsits-resembling packaging chips….. and just a hint of savoury-sweet bourbon-aged biscuity > honey-comb maltiness.
  • C: Despite the big ole number, it’s good whisky is all, no theatrics. And of distillery character? This could be from anywhere: Speyside, Highlands, Aldi,…

Scores 84 points

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SE: ‘We’re also including this delicious gin and whisky hybrid.  Made using Indian Summer Gin, it is then held in a whisky cask from 6 months to a year, to create a unique expression and a different flavour profile‘. 

Indian Summer Ex-sherry Speyside cask Gin CS 53%

  • C: As many of you will know, gin’s not exactly my thing. Having said that, this is very nice indeed. Perhaps us malt enthusiasts should be looking at these hybrids more favourably/ with more positivity?

[Not scored]

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END

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