Hidden Gems: July 2020
When it comes to single cask whisky, I am continually amazed by the fact that the most memorable casks are usually the most unexpected. Quite often they come from lesser-known distilleries or appear relatively unassuming on paper. Yet when finally uncorked, these spirits will thrill and delight unlike anything before it. I love this element of surprise and find it nourishes my unending quest for new discoveries.
As Society members, we have access to the most diverse collection of single cask whiskies in the world. Yet with so many unique styles and flavours to choose from, finding the “hidden gems” can often be a challenge, especially without first tasting them.
To help you with your own selection, I’ve tasted through the vast selection of unique whiskies available to Society members in the USA to uncover three hidden gems worth considering. All of these casks offer both a fantastic tasting experience and remarkable value.
I’m continuously enchanted by the Juicy oak & vanilla flavour profile. The casks that fall into this profile are boldly flavoured without being overly dark or rich. It’s a sort of in-between style of malt whisky that can be paired with nearly any occasion during any season in any environment for just about any palate. I also think the Juicy oak & vanilla casks offer some of the best bang for your back and this one is no exception. Just like the name itself, Cask 41.127 ‘Mind that big ginger fae’ Moffat!’ is a mouthful! A unique 13 year old Speyside whisky, this one spent its first 12 years in a refill Oloroso Sherry butt before it was transferred to a new oak puncheon for a final year. The combination of gentle sherry maturation and a final year in an active new oak cask makes for an unexpected tasting experience with a combination of toffee apples, Moroccan spices, ginger and odd-yet-satisfying pencil shavings. It’s certainly one of the more unique Society whiskies I’ve enjoyed this year and I find the profile continues to evolve every time I revisit.
From gourmet pasta to French fries to single malt whisky, truffle is everywhere these days! And while no actual truffle was used in the creation of this whisky, Cask 63.59 ‘Ultimate truffle’ offers an exotic array of hazelnut, tea leaves and wild mushroom that together evoke a gourmet entrée gently caressed by truffle. I’m a big fan of whisky that is simply different. I get a thrill when tasting something unique to anything I’ve had before. This is one of those whiskies. It’s an approachable spirit with soft, earthy undertones and a not-too-rough edge that invigorates the palate. More often than not, these Spicy & dry casks offer a ton of character and more than anything, it makes for a fun tasting experience.
Yes, that’s right. Out of the two-dozen odd casks in our shop today, few deserve the designation of a “hidden gem” like this one. Beachcomber is the 4th experimental blend to have been released to Society members in the USA and to me it’s the most impressive. A harmonious blend of Highland and Campbeltown whiskies, it represents a coming-to-age from Spirits Manager Euan Campbell and a real testament to the art that is blending. I’m enamored by the duality of a bright, malty and fruity spirit with a soft, maritime undertone evoking a gentle sea breeze. It’s wonderfully complex and offers plenty to be discovered when enjoyed neat or add in a generous pour of club soda and a bit of citrus and you have the perfect summer cocktail. Sometimes a whisky can be seriously good without being too serious. This has quickly become a go-to for me.