Hidden Gems: Festival Edition
As we near the end of May and look forward to a long holiday weekend, I’ve been reflecting on the vast selection of special casks released in celebration of the Scottish festivals. May is undoubtedly one of the most exciting months for whisky lovers and this year’s homage to the different regions of Scotland did not disappoint. Being festival casks, of course, many of them came and went faster than you can pronounce “Ruadh Maor”. But in browsing the selection of whiskies still available, there is no shortage of amazing spirits to consider. With that said, I now present to you the hidden gems of our recent festival releases.
Speyside: Cask 95.46 Earthy and mysterious
There is something extraordinary about a young and vibrant whisky matured in a red wine cask. At 8 years old, this Speyside whisky was given enough time to extract all the glorious flavours of the red wine cask while still retaining enough balance between the wood and the underlying spirit itself. The result is a remarkable whisky bursting with zesty notes of prune juice, mulled wine and goulash over charred blackcurrant, creamy vanilla and dried cherries. It’s hard not to love a whisky like this and the value it presents.
Highland: Cask 66.189 A doric takeaway
As much as I enjoy a heavily peated island malt, in recent years I’ve also found myself appreciating the gentler, lightly peated whiskies from the Highlands. Balance is the name of the game with this unique style of Scotch, with a beautiful profile of charred oak dipped in honey, vanilla icing over burning heather, fresh lemon rind and a gentle plume of wood smoke. The thick and oily nature of the spirit makes for an everlasting finish, which is a major bonus when the flavour is this spectacular. If you’re just getting into peated whisky for the first time, this is a perfect place to start. Or if you’re like me and you regularly enjoy peated whisky but would like to explore something unique to what’s usually on offer, it’s hard to pass this one up. An absolute no brainer.
Islay: Distillery 10 Small Batch Smoky Maritime Hit
In celebration of this year’s Islay festival, Spirits Manager Euan Campbell chose to create a whisky unlike any we have seen at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. ‘Smoky Maritime Hit’ is a unique blend of casks produced at Distillery No. 10 on Islay. The casks themselves were a combination of re-charred American oak hogsheads and second-fill Pedro Ximenez and all contained a heavily peated spirit. The result is a complete explosion of flavour; raw, intense, and glorious in every sense of the word. It’s a wonderful symphony of grilled lobster, roasted duck, smoked marmalade, saltwater and fresh seaweed that simply delivers.