|The line up (minus the Buckfast)|
For our April tasting, we were back at the Britons for a selection of drams in honour of April Fools' Day. Club member Rich had picked out a selection of drinks with an unusual or surprising twist for us to get stuck into.
It was a Glenallachie 10-year-old, from a distillery and a town right in the heart of Speyside. But the twist here was the finish, in that it spent the last 18 months or so before bottling in casks made of Chinquapin oak. A wood sourced from the northern Ozarks in Missouri, this was the first time most of us had tried it. A great way to start the evening. The bottle is £60 and is 48%.
Back to the whisky itself, and it was a Defilement, a series available from Master of Malt in which various whisky 'rules' are broken. In this case, it was the use of a chestnut cask, rather than the oak which is typically used for maturation. It's an 8-year-old and it's still available for £49.
|Starward Ginger Beer|
And when we saw the bottle we realised it was: ginger. From Australian distillery Starward, this was their Ginger Beer Cask whisky. It spent three years in a mixture of Apera (Australian fortified wine) and red wine casks, and then six months in ginger beer casks. Fresh and fiery, this was a great drink. It's 48% and costs £86 for a 50cl bottle. A bit on the pricey side for most of us, but another example of the success of a whisky club like ours: a chance to try something great we'd never normally splash out on.
|The Buckfast whisky!|
And as it turned out, this really was something even more unusual than even a ginger cask. We got caramel and a real sweetness like cream soda, or Dutch stroopwaffles. Highly drinkable and very nice. But what was giving us that lovely flavour?
It was a finish in none other than Buckfast tonic wine. Beloved of drinkers in and around Glasgow, but created by monks in Devon, it's a caffeinated fortified wine. Here, it was used to add a bit of seasoning to some ex-bourbon casks. The whisky was a collaboration between Master of Malt and a thing called the Rhythm and Booze Project, which is run by a couple of guys who mix whisky, music and live events. It was £45 and came in at 46%. For good measure, we had a bit of Buckfast itself as well, for a treat.
|30yo April Fool 2021|
We were drinking the 2021 April Fool bottling from The Whisky Exchange, called 'Extremely Young, I Wish I Was Older'. The twist here being that it was in fact a 30-year-old. From an unknown Speyside distillery (although internet sleuths have proposed it might be Glenburgie), there were 869 of these and they all sold out within an hour even at the £150 price tag. It was 51.7%. We really enjoyed this one all round, so we were grateful to Rich for grabbing a bottle while he could.
|5yo April Fool 2022|
It was this year's follow up, the 2022 April Fool offering from TWE. This time around it had the name 'Extremely Old, I Wish I Was Younger' and it was just five years old. Matured in a range of first fill bourbon casks and peated ex-Oloroso hogsheads, the 1,575 bottles were gone in 45 minutes. It was £75 and had an ABV of 53.2%. We assume this may once again be a Glenburgie.
Which brought us to the dram of the night voting. A tough one as ever, it was the two TWE April Fools whiskies we liked the best. The last dram took top honours with eight votes, over six for dram five, but all except dram two got at least one vote.
Thank you to all club members and those from the waiting list who attended, and special thanks to Rich for putting on such a great selection!