Friday, July 31, 2020

Elixir Distillers and the Single Malts of Scotland

It was another Zoom tasting
It was another Zoom tasting.

Our series of remote lockdown tastings continued in July with a selection of whiskies from Elixir Distillers. It's a London-based independent distiller known for being part of the Whisky Exchange empire, and for bottling the Elements of Islay and Port Askaig brands, both of which we've enjoyed at past events.

Julie Hamilton from Elixir took us through a set of five miniatures mostly drawn from Elixir's other main range, called Single Malts of Scotland.

Clynelish 8yo

We tasted them all blind, and the first whisky of the evening had a familiar taste about it. It was very pleasant on the nose, spicy with a hit of flavour although it did fade a bit after that. There was a bit of citrus or pineapple about it, although it tasted a bit different to what the nose would have suggested, with a certain oiliness. A nice easy drinker to start off the evening though.

Some of the club members rightly pegged it as something youngish, and it turned out to be an 8yo from Clynelish. It's 48% and costs £60.

Glen Elgin 12yo

Next was something that came over as very subtle, with pear drops and toasted cereal on the nose. Tasting this revealed a smoother drink with a longer finish than the previous dram, also a bit chewy with some drinkers picking up almonds, and bit of a spice and even bitterness at the back of the throat. Another tasting note was marmalade or orange peel, and those who added a bit of water felt that it softened things up considerably.

Again this felt a touch young, but it was in fact a 12-year-old from Glen Elgin on Speyside. It's 48% and £61.95.

Benrinnes 13yo

The third dram of the evening immediately smelt of peat, although not entirely meaning we doubted whether this was an Islay. Other notes on the nose included menthol or something medicinal, like Vicks rub. Someone else suggested Lotus caramelised biscuits, and we all agreed this was a bit of a mixed bag. It did start like an Islay on the palate but then changed, with a bit of a surprising, dry finish.

Certainly unusual, and our favourite so far, it turned out to be a 13-year-old from Benrinnes. Again it's 48% and £61.95.

Linkwood 12yo

After a short break, Julie invited us to open drink number four. There wasn't too much on the nose, but it had a lovely, sweet feeling on the palate. The sweetness put us in mind of golden syrup, maybe candy floss, and it certainly was very sweet. A bit of water actually unlocked the nose a bit more, although if anything it also served to lessen the palate.

This was another 12-year-old, although on this occasion from Linkwood. We certainly thought it was interesting the Single Malts of Scotland showcased a series of whiskies of similar ages and strengths, but which were all quite different. The Linkwood is again 48% and comes in at £66.95.

Port Askaig 12yo

For the final drink of the evening we moved away from the SMoS range and to Port Askaig, a brand named after a key settlement on Islay, and used to showcase Elixir's range of independent Islay bottlings. And this was unmistakably an Islay from the first nose. Very nice, beautiful and salty, we thought, and almost everyone enjoyed this very much, although one or two drinkers felt it was a touch too peaty for them.

This turned out to be what should have been the spring edition of Port Askaig, although the release was delayed by Covid. Perhaps surprisingly, this was actually less strong than the other drams of the night at just 45.8%, and it's £65.95.

In the dram of the night voting, it was the Port Askaig that took the honours, just ahead of the Linkwood and the Benrinnes. Thank you to Julie for taking us through another great selection of whiskies from Elixir, and to all club members who took part for supporting the event in such numbers.

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