Thursday, August 31, 2017

Stina's Indie Presents Night

The evening's line up of indie bottlings.
August's tasting took place on the last day of the month, and there was a great turnout of faces old and new to enjoy five independent bottlings selected by Stina.

7yo Fettercairn
We got started with a whisky brought back by club members who attended the recent Dramboree weekend. It was a 7yo Fettercairn, bottled at 46% by Mike Lord of the Whisky Shop in Dufftown.

There was a real sweet shop vibe about this one - one bizarrely specific tasting note even suggested pineapple upside down cake mix - especially on the nose. In fact, the nose got much better reviews than the palate which some found "a bit harsh" and betraying its relative youth. There were some Fettercairn sceptics among the membership anyway, but one conceded "This is the best Fettercairn I've had!" although this may have been a slight case of damning with faint praise. We paid £46.

Spice Tree Extravaganza.
Next it was Compass Box, and the Spice Tree Extravaganza. The original Spice Tree was fleetingly banned a decade ago because it breached Scotch Whisky Association rules, as the maturation process involved putting new bits of French oak into used whisky barrels, borrowing a technique common in winemaking. Instead, the Spice Tree expressions are now matured using specially-constructed barrels with French oak heads (rather than the inserted staves which proved controversial) and so everyone's happy now, apparently.

The Extravaganza version, a no age statement blend of again 46%, was very pleasant and smooth. It was considered more drinkable than the standard Spice Tree. But then, as well it might be for a £83 price tag (higher with some other retailers). While an undoubtedly nice drop, the consensus in the room was this probably wasn't worth that kind of cash.

A Small Glass of Happiness.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society provided dram number three, and in their tradition of giving their bottlings enigmatic titles, this was was called A Small Glass of Happiness. Underneath all that, it's a 12yo Speyside from the Dailuaine distillery, bottled at 57.3%.

This tasted like all of your favourite caramelised products. Someone offered those little Lotus biscuits you get with your coffee, and others thought toffee, crystallised ginger and even a bit of pineapple again. Costing £54.70 for those with a SMWS membership, there was a lot of love for this one.

18yo Arran.
After a half-time break and some Chinese baked products brought along by Katharine, we took our seats again for the last two drams of the night. Number four was from a bottler that we've not had at a tasting before, Rest and Be Thankful, which has close links to club favourite Bruichladdich. This particular bottle was from Arran and, at 18 years old, would have been distilled not long after it began production in the mid-1990s.

This was surprisingly light in colour for a whisky of that age, and it was certainly sippable, with a creamy sort of taste, and hints of baked apple. At 55.3% it was certainly strong too, but for some members it seemed to be lacking something, somewhere. It's £90.

As We Get It.
It was certainly a night of strong drams and Stina took things up even further on the last whisky of the evening, an Ian Macleod bottling of a Highland whisky called As We Get It, which clocked in at 65.1%. Funnily enough it didn't quite taste that strong, because it was quite sweet. Although not as sweet as the Fettercairn from earlier in the evening - "nothing's as sweet as that one" said someone - it was generally agreed this was sweet by the standards of a drink with 65% ABV.

Tasting notes included barley sugars and damson jam. It's undoubtedly good value at £45.

There wasn't much doubt that it was one of the top two drams of the evening, along with number three. But when it came to the voting, it was the SMWS A Small Glass of Happiness which won out, with 11 votes.

Thanks to Stina for putting on another great evening, and thanks too to all at the Britons Protection for hosting us once again.

Tickets are already available for September's tasting with Martin, which is going to be based around grain whiskies. And there's something special coming up in October too, which will be well worth keeping an eye out for.

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