The Whisky Show 2022: Boutique-y

The 2022 Whisky Show starts on the Friday evening and the rain won’t dampen my spirits. I love this show!

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My mission this year is to keep notes concise and to a minimum. After all, whisky isn’t about listing descriptors. It’s about people, history, time & place,… With three days at my disposal, I envisage even more socialising than last year’s vibrant affair [WLP].

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I’ve less of a structure/plan this year, though sure, there are some particular drams I don’t want to miss as well as some must-visit stands. One of those stands is That Boutique-y Whisky Company, ‘a festival within a festival’. Before I can get there, I spot Balblair en route, the perfect whisky to calibrate my palate.

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Balblair 15yo [2022] Ob. 46% WB84.34[263] WF86 WLP84

  • C: Quality juice from dominant casks. Indeed, the spirit is caked in oloroso! Funny that, as when I last tried the official 15yo in 2019 [WLP84], I found it to be bourbon-cask-centric and distillate-led. This more [seasoned] sherry cask-forward version may well change over time in the bottle. Price is the other factor!

Scores 86 points

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Balblair 18yo [2022] Ob. 46% WB86.72[164] WF85 WLP85

  • C: I think this is the expression Roy [Aqvavitae] had commented on “as Balblair was”. Following on from the 15yo, indeed, this IS more like it. Fruity, a little waxy yet crisp, and with Balblair’s yesteryear fluffy bready quality, both the 15yo and 18yo realise two more points [from moi] in 2022. Shame then, that a bottle is £135 rrp [more like RIP].

Scores 87 points

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Gavin recommends I nip next door to the Pulteney stand to try their aperitif-finished single malt.

[Old] Pulteney Pineau des Charentes [2022] Ob. Coastal Series 46% WB82.67[5]

Apparently, spirit was left maturing in a number of these Charentes casks for far longer than originally planned – around 5 years. Fortunately, they at Pulteney were pleasantly surprised by the results.

  • C: More basic with water, but overall, this works very well – solid Old Pulteney with a twist.

Scores 85 points

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I finally arrive at Boutique-y’s HQ, celebrating 10 years. There’s plenty to try as per usual, so let’s crack on.

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Armorik 08yo TBWC Batch #3 10th Birthday [btl #100/405] 59.3% [500ml] WB85[1]

  • C: With a chouchen cask finish, Dave tells us it [chouchen] is a form of mead [wiki]. I wasn’t expecting such oily phenols. With echoes of Saillt Mor [WLP], this is kinda bonkers yet brilliant whisky with more to it than simply the shock/thrill factor.

Scores 84 points

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TBWC Birthday Blend 10yo [2022] Ob. Batch #1 [btl #311/350] 46% [500ml] WB87[1]

  • C: This one, we are told, is made up of 25yo Islay single malt and 10yo Edinburgh grain – so North British. Clearly grain-dominant, a 90/10 grain/malt split [at best] was one educated guess. Underwhelming [expectations!] yet perfectly decent and thoroughly affordable.

Scores 85 points

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Cameronbridge 39yo [2018] TBWC Batch #7 [278 bts] 44.6% [50cl] WB84[1] WF87

  • C: From a bearded man’s hip flask, savoury in style, this well-opened bottle is very decent indeed. Cambus-esque, I noted.

Scores 88 points

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It’s now 500ml stated on the labels instead of 50cl. Psychologically, does the higher number make us think we are getting more?

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Millstone 1996/2022 25yo TBWC Batch #5 ‘Fijne Verjaardag’ [btl #129/380] 46.5% [500ml] WB86[1]

  • C: Everyone’s talking about this all-sherry single malt that’s been aged in a ‘proper’ [+/-200yo] bodega cask since 1996. Think 1960s Macallan meets Nocino walnut liqueur [WF] with coffee syrups, some bitters and waxiness. It’s not overly whisky-like in all honesty, but with results like this, who cares? Different-world stuff, the consensus is generally positive all round. Where my exuberance wains is when I learn it’s £229 for a small bottle. Then again, I believe 1996 is Millstone’s oldest vintage release. Regardless of price, the juice itself scores 90+ in my book.

Scores 90[+] points

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Clynelish 25yo [2022] TBWC Batch #11 [btl #329/386] 47.1% [500ml] WB91.40[14]

I’m told this batch all sold out in a few hours of its release, such is the fervour for Clynelish. Perhaps it’s me that is at odds with the new-world-order pricing. This is Boutique[-y] whisky after all.

  • C: At €480 for a [500ml] bottle or one [£10] Dream Dram to try, you get complexity, mouthfeel, moreishness,… and repeat. Fabulous!

Scores 91 points

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TBWC Blended Grain 1976/2022 45yo Ob. Blend #1 Batch #3 10th Birthday [btl #369/406] 44.2% [500ml] WB91[1]

  • C: Made up of Carsebridge and North of Scotland, we’ve a harmonious marriage of grains. Super stuff.

Scores 89 points

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TBWC Blended Scotch 42yo Ob. Cutler & Stubbs Batch #1 [btl #5/490] 44.1% [500ml] WB79[1]

  • C: An unknown Edrington blend reminiscent of NNS’s 33yo Vega [WLP87] in moreishness. Here’s another blend I could glug if it weren’t £225 for 500ml – same old story! It is 42 years old, however, and very good indeed.

Scores 89 points

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TBWC Blended Scotch 32yo Ob. St. Thomas Batch #1 [btl #3/437] 40.1% [50cl] WB85[5]

  • C: Way more grain-based than the Cutler & Stubbs, I miss the consolidated nature of the 42yo in a side-by-side comparison. Decent though, one with a lovely [middle] heart. And would you look at that abv! Caught in the nick of time,… or blended up?

Scores 88 points

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Next [time], we’re off to the Whisky.Auction stand that I hear has already been severely hit, and we are only an hour [or so] in on day one!

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