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Closing Off - Spirit Of Speyside

Author: Matt Wooler - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Thanks for attending

Wow what a showing at our recent Spirit of Speyside! Our first tasting for the year was a sellout and what a choice of whiskies to get started. This was also our first event to be hosted at Castle Hill Tavern.

Kicking off we began our evening with a toast to Speyside building a cocktail aptly titled Spey Lemonade. As guests arrived our signature started cocktail service needed to represent something that was coming on show later in the evening. Fresh, light and sweet with a gentle lemon zing. Freshness was in the beginning but it turned to a cold rainy day. We chose to follow on our cocktail with a palate starter and classic example of Scottish blended whisky with a welcome dram of the Chivas Regal Extra. Let us just say the crowd was pleased with our choices.

As the name suggests our theme for the day was Spirit of Speyside. That is to say, only whiskies in the lineup outlining the typical and unique flavours often profiled in Scottish Speyside whiskies. Pears, apples, floral grass lands, rolling evergreens and rich spicy sherry. Our line up saw some classics and new additions to what is typical of the region: The Singleton of Dufftown Spey Cascade; The Balvenie Caribbean Rum Cask, Glenfiddich IPA Experimental Series, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 41.80 Classic Barley Meets Oak (Dailuaine), The Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso.

With this full focus on just one region allowed us to explore some of the more historic notes of these distilleries and Scotch in general. Not to get too bogged down in tradition though we also made a point in selecting whiskies of cask styles that break the framework of their own history such as the Caribbean Rum Cask finish of the Balvenie 14yo, and the beer cask finish of the Glenfiddich IPA Experiment.

One of the special highlights was a special tasting of the Glenfiddich Brew Two Indian Pale Ale. This is the beer was used to season the casks that would finish the Glenfiddich IPA Experiment before bottling. Now this beer is not for sale and was specially imported for demonstrations such as these. The profile is extremely hoppy and oaky. The beer has taken on characteristics of the barrel and its previous contents (whisky) while still exploding in the herbal and malty elements of an IPA beer.

It was a buzzing crowd for sure with many questions and interesting opinions on some of the profiles. "It tastes like burning!" was one of the more interesting responses as an individual encountered a cask strength whisky for the very first time

This was also our first session at Castle Hill Tavern. Our space allocated was generous and with the comfy lounges to for guests to relax with their welcome drinks and the pool tables for the odd pre-event game made for a excellent venue. More events come with Castle Hill Tavern soon.

To get the full visual experience of the evening we have an album over on our facebook page.

See you at our next event.

Whiskies Tasted

Following are Dramnation's personal notes we supply at our tastings. We want to emphasis that we have listed, in many cases, ages for these whiskies even though they do not carry an age statement. This indication is an average only as a means to show how youthful whiskies display strengths and characteristics longer aged whiskies cannot. It is to be expected that these average ages will vary from batch to batch and year to year.

Chivas Extra

Distillery:  Various.
Region: Various.
ABV: 40%.
Age: NA.
Wood: Oloroso sherry.
Creamy & floral with notes of figs, red grapes, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, oak and malt.
Creamy, delicate and smooth. Tough not as assertive as a single malt the flavours mingle and balance easily.
  Slowly drying as oak elements appear. Lingers with lip spiking spice.
Other:  Released in 2014 this whisky sees anything from 30 to 50 various whisky expressions blended to make up the overall profile with sherry casks making up a good deal of the influence. A great alternative to the regular release of Chivas Regal.

The Singleton Of Dufftown Speycascade

Distillery: Dufftown Distillery.
Dufftown, Speyside, Scotland.
Various American & European Oak Casks.
Nose: Light in character that is fruity & fresh. Obvious cereals, apples, menthol, woody spice and dusty cardboard.
Smooth, sweet, creamy and light as minty spices prickle & pop before oaky sherried fruits are discovered.
Long, dry & fruity the freshness of mint and menthol continue.  Other: Part of the Diageo Classic Malts collection The Singleton also has 2 other distilleries sharing the title being Glen Ord and Glendullan.  

The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old

Distillery: The Balvenie Distillery.
Dufftown, Speyside, Scotland.
Age: 14yo.
Wood: Wood: Ex-bourbon previously filled with The Balvenie.
  Red toffee apples and warm toasted fruit pie crusted with raw sugar & cream.
Bright, vibrant & smooth. The silken effect expands to warm spicy vanilla oaks typical of an elegantly balanced Balvenie.
Long & high as certain sugary rum effects continue to linger well after the last sip is taken.  Other: David Stewart imports a special blend of rum which is used to season casks for 6 to 8 months before dumping the rum to refill with already aged 14yo whisky. The whisky is finished for an undisclosed amount of time in these seasoned barrels to give it its distinct apple & sugar flavours. The rum is sold back to the importer and it is not disclosed what happens from then.

Glenfiddich IPA Experiment, Experimental Series 1

Distillery: Glenfiddich Distillery.
Dufftown, Speyside, Scotland.
Ex-bourbon & European oak previously filled with Glenfiddich.
 Aromatic, fruity, zesty & herbal with notes of green pear skin, apples, leather shoes and old Glenfiddich oaks.
Strong & assertive up front, mildly creamy before elements of dry figs, golden syrup & oak complete the character.
Long lemon zest as it continues to remain herbal and a bit hot.
A craft IPA has been developed to season casks for 1 month that previously held Glenfiddich before dumping and returning the spirit back to the casks for a further 3 month finishing. The craft beer is called Brew II and can be purchased at various bottle shops.

SMWS 41.80 Classic Barley Meets Oak

Distillery: Dailuaine Distillery.
Region: Aberlour, Speyside, Scotland.
ABV: 58.2%.
Age: 9yo.
Wood: 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt.
Nose: Initially butter whipped with lemon zest & white sugar then rich cereals giving way to sugar glazed strawberry & custard tarts.
Taste: Oily, rich & spicy on delivery with a slight pop & fizz effect. Soon dark spicy Christmas or fig cakes take hold.
Finish: Long, extremely warming with a spicy poppy zing on the lips.
Other: For a first fill sherry but the colour is exceptionally shallow as is the saturation point many whiskies of this style display. A dash of water will relieve the zest for a time giving a much more obvious oloroso character less the zest finish.

The Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso Cask Strength

Distillery: The Glenlivet Distillery.
Region: Ballindalloch, Speyside, Scotland
ABV: 60.3%.
Age:  NA
Wood: 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry Cask. 
Nose: Explosively bold, saturated & rich. Hallmarks of dirty sulfured casks as oloroso envelopes the senses. Huge baked figgie spice.
Taste: Dense, deep & sweet with dark dates, fruits, blackberries & cherries all mingled over a warm buttered hot crossed bun.
Finish: Exceptionally long & spicy before really showing its true colours. Prepare to be assaulted & amazed at the same time.
Other: Batch number OL0615. This is, in our books, the best value OB (official bottling) exclusively aged Oloroso whisky in the market. Made in small batches this whisky comes & goes from the shelves at an exceptional rate. With the price of sherry sky rocketing & quality casks becoming more limited, this expression will always be limited. The expectation is that the price of $99AU a bottle to last.

Brew Two

Distillery: Glenfiddich Distillery
Region: Dufftown, Speyside, Scotland.
ABV: 6.2%.
Age: NA.
Wood: Ex-Glenfiddich whisky casks.
Nose: Rich amber malts, orange citrus fruits, green earthy hops.
Taste: Very much like the nose with amber malt, citrus and dry green hops. Notes of coffee ground bitterness.
Finish: Dry, spicy, oaky with a tang of metal and bitter coffee.
Other: This is the beer created to season the casks of the Glenfiddich IPA Experiential Series. This beer see one month maturation in ex-whisky casks before dumping and bottling. Made for the purpose of seasoning the flavour is so unique is the flavour it is not listed as for sale.

Introduction Beverage

Spey Lemonade

Whisky: The Singleton SpeyCascade
Ingredients: 700ml Bottle Bickfords Lemon & Barley Cordial, 700ml Bottle Spey Cascade Whisky, 1.7L Sparkling Mineral Water, Lemon Slices and Wedges, ice, dehydrated lemons for garnish.
Method: Chill all ingredients first. Blend cordial, whisky, and mineral water in a large container. Squeeze lemon and float slices until desired citrus zest is achieved. Load with ice large blocks and prep glasses for serving. Serve in a tumbler loaded with ice and float a fresh lemon slice or dehydrated to garnish.
Glass: Tumbler.

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