SWAG presents: The Whisky Baron

Where’s our host? Hey ho, life goes on!

1] Whisky Baron & Summerton Whisky Club Blended Scotch Whisky [2019] Ob. [btl #259/415 bts] 57.4% WB83.25[4]

We start tonight’s [host-less] tasting with a collaboration bottling between The Whisky Baron and the Summerton Club – a blended malt consisting of two single malt Scotch whiskies from the Speyside region. Namely, an 8yo Glenfarclas matured in a bourbon barrel and a 5yo Benriach from a sherry butt, both re-racked together in five oloroso octaves [for around 3 months]. This was one of Summerton’s first releases following their inaugural [online] festival [WLP].

  • N: Starting sugary/banana-y-sweet~sour, it’s rather new make-y with these coppery~bready and plump raisin/sultana notes,… leathery dried apricots also.
  • T: Again, sweet and coppery-sour, the youth-tempered spirit a little tangy and mildly puckering.
  • F: initially resinous and lactose-y, but the Glentauchers 6yo by comparison [coming up], puts that idea to bed. Remains coppery/new make-y, however, with soft floury banana-y/apple-y hues [at best].
  • C: Given I’m not overly fussed with output from Glenfarclas or Benriach of late, this one sits well enough as a ‘sighter’.

Scores 82 points

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2] Bunnahabhain 2002/2019 16yo Whisky Baron Founder’s Collection Ex-bourbon Hogshead #3186 [btl #191/255 bts] 51% WB87[3] WF87

  • N: A ‘natural’/candid expression that wouldn’t be out of place in a Decadent Drinks line-up [WLP], with a profile that speaks of sweet=vinegar/briny,.. oysters,… sweet-pickled sultanas/pickled ginger [less crystallised, more breadcrumb-y?] grapefruit juice,… “Grape Nuts” [the Foz]. pond water, yep.
  • T: Same again with regards to its natural murky cloudy distillate-forward presentation. With briny~sulphury~pond water [again] into sharp/fresh grapefruit, it’s clean/coppery bready-sweet yet also rather sour – pulling in both directions – followed by watery-lambs lettuce, sage, marjoram, vanilla wafer & sour cream,… a pinch of chives,…. you get the picture. Works even better with water.
  • F: Short, lactose-y sour coppery potato-clean finish,…
  • C: Very decent whisky, but the wow factor is the price – £150 no less!

Scores 86 points

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  • Foz: “Tell you what, smell the empty glass”
  • WLP: “I’ve got loads of those. I’ll go halves with you on an empty bottle” [if you like].

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3] Glentauchers 2014/2020 6yo Whisky Baron Founder’s Collection Sherry hogshead #9900329 [btl #140/280 bts] 62.5% WB85.502]

Next up, a brace of Glentauchers. This first one was added, compliments of the Baron himself to demonstrate the contrast between these two very different expressions.

  • N: A weighty sugary-sherried lactose~clotted cream-rich soft-funky number with zero ‘boing’ – heavenly. Even the sawdust is squidgy/sherry-soaked, and with vanilla cream, ginger biscuits,… all number of confectionary sweets,… Later, it’s simply the sugary fatty creaminess that appeals. Have I mentioned the saltiness? – salted peanuts, salted coconut fat,… Being very popular on the night, there are swathes of suggestions all round.
  • T: With more than a mere suggestion of the ‘Temptation to the Dark Side‘ from the SMWS [WLP86 & WLP87], it is a little boingy on the palate though well within acceptable limits. Indeed, we’ve a commendably controlled resinous exuberance throughout, the abv punch desirable, the power remaining even when watered down. Furthermore, those sherried salty vanillins and plump fruits continually make for a rousing show.
  • F: Lovely creamy salty peanut [brittle] caramel-cocoa vanilla barley sugar. It’s on the resinous lactose pongy edge for me, though still concludes towards barley sugar~icing sugar.
  • C: Some result after just six years, and now that cask is refill-ready for its next assignment.

Scores 86 points

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4] Glentauchers 1997/2020 22yo Whisky Baron Bourbon barrel #3884 [btl #41/124] 48.1% WB89[9]

Colour: murky green – from the barrel charcoal apparently. Charles Maclean explained the chemical reaction to me once, but for the life of me, I’ve forgotten it all [in my notes somewhere]. 

  • N: A different world to the 6yo, this is just the kind of [refill, surely?] oak-cradled fruitiness I love – [Mr Kipling’s] apricot tarts > jam tarts,…. a fusty spearmint touch and heaps more. Lovely delicate complex nose, occasionally spellbinding.
  • T: A beautifully soft/fragile yet sharp/acute/narrow arrival, bone-dry honeyed clean > dunnage.,… soft dry fruits all the way, wrapped around a dry husky cocoa centre. Plain sailing middle turning bitter yet desirably oaky, and with more fruitiness wrapped around it as if the oak is the stone of the fruit – the official tasting notes perfectly describe all the fruits: tWB. Any grumbles? It’s a little consolidated/stewed,.. all on oaked fruits which makes this one seem even older than 22.
  • F: Old bitter oak-supported tobacco-leaf fruity-laced spirit with a very soft menthol/spearmint/Thai basil freshness,… sweet grapefruit > pith, and more cocoa.
  • C: Refined if perhaps a little jaded and over-oaked. It’s so easy being a retrospective sofa-bound master blender now isn’t it? I spent most of the night with this one.

Scores 88

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Up next is the optional Springbank. There’s a story behind this one which I couldn’t follow on the night.

5] Springbank 1997/2020 23yo Whisky Baron Sherry Butt #289 [btl #203/553 bts] 54.6% WB90.17[44] WF90

  • N: This is sooo sherry-direct – like that young SWC ‘Oakwood Avenue’ Inchmurrin indeed [WLP] – uber-clean yet desirably fusty and stewed. After 2+ hours, the overt sherry has dissipated, a little, allowing for another wave in perspective. With time and then water, the fruits blossom with a Ribena > Um Bongo burst alongside cherries left in all old dried-up tin of shoe polish, heaps of barbecue vibes, and more besides – [check out WB’s notes on this which are spot-on]. With a lot more here than at first meets the eye, I could start to ask for that maltoporn number.
  • T: With a strange plastic-covered cardboard-y rubbery start, accompanied by a short peppery waxy fizziness, I simply find this too sherry-forward. A few hours later, however, I’m getting more an orange juice arrival which develops into orange juice mixed with pomegranate juice, maraschino chocolate liqueur,…. [on and on] though that [quality] sherry never lets up.
  • F: If not exactly developments, we’ve lingering subtle clean sherried echoes with a bone-dry barley sugar and slightly salty [in comparison to others tonight], flor-consolidated < sherry-sweet finish, and perhaps just a touch of the Mitchell funk.
  • C: A malt-based sherry, perhaps? Cask-wise, a wet one for sure. Best Campbeltown of the night!

Scores 87 points

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6] [Bruichladdich] Port Charlotte 2007/2020 13yo Whisky Baron Founder’s Collection Vosne Romanee Barrique #003 [btl #236/265 bts] 60.5% WB89[1] tWB

From the ‘Founders Collection’, our last dram of the night was matured exclusively in Fresh Vosne Romanee Barrique (#003) for 13 years. What could possibly go wrong?

  • N: With a congeniality that doesn’t detract from its vibrancy, this one’s got it all going on. Namely, salty [char~charred] meats, pork scratchings, port-infused cheeses with the crackers/fruits/dried mushrooms/oily entrees,… the whole hamper in fact! Then we’ve all the oily garage stuff, then the shoe polish~furniture polishes > and then there are the [grilled] fruits de la mer,… everything either grilled, charcoal-y, smoked,… sun-dried,… In 3 words: take your pick!
  • T: Though formidably unctuous, it comes in way softer than you might imagine [initially], with a pork crackling-saltiness. Then it drops – Chesil Beach styley [any anglers in?] – in intensity before plateauing out, following up with charcoal-ed [apricots] fruity [roasted] cashew nuts and all the hams – elaborated on with passion by fellow Swaggers. Now significantly gentler, it stretches out on a smoked cocoa powder meatiness, wine gums [WB], panettone – soft long travel – [bacon-wrapped Parma,..] pesto [WB on fire!],…..
  • F: An unctuous-dry barley-driven, cocoa powder/sawdusty conclusion.
  • C: £160, dammit [£10 more than the Bunna even!]. Dammit because I want a bottle, a lot of us do. On paper alone, there’s no way, but hey! Haven’t I paid more for [5yo] Octomore? Nearly into the wee small hours, I’m still wavering. CM: “If you are talking about it after two hours, there must be something about it”. Good point!

Scores 88 points.

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The votes are in and are conclusive. I spent most of the night enjoying the [22yo] Glentauchers but the Port Charlotte romps home. At £160, it’s a bottle-split only. Thank goodness for the club! We are certainly seeing a surcharge for certain independent bottlers – Decadent Drinks, Thompson Bros,.. Hidden Spirits,… It’s a very different feel with other IB’s such as Whisky Broker, for example.

Beyond these trivialities, tonight is another reminder of the importance of connections made and relationships formed. I’m off to Scotland in a few days to meet up with fellow Swaggers in Campbeltown before heading over to Lindores, and more besides. I’ll keep you posted!

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With thanks to SWAG for an excellent tasting where quality was high and the price of that quality, superb, given this flight collectively adds up to 85 years of maturation no less!!

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END

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