Hidden Gems: June 2021
At The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, we are on a passionate pursuit of the world’s most unique spirits. Over the course of what has now been 38 years, we have uncovered thousands of remarkable casks from nearly 200 different distilleries, each with their own characteristics and individual story to tell. More than just bottling whisky of exceptional quality, it is the uniqueness of each cask and its contents that has excited me the most.
This month there has been no shortage of remarkable whiskies to discover. And as luck would have it, I’ve managed to taste almost all of them! The objective? To identify the “hidden gems” that may have been overlooked since their release. These hidden gems frequently come from lesser-known distilleries or appear relatively unassuming on paper. Yet when finally uncorked, the spirit will thrill and delight unlike anything before it.
So without further ado, I present to you my Hidden Gems of June:
Having grown up in the Midwest, I’ve come to appreciate that different flavours, both in food and drink, can be paired with each of the four seasons. With the first day of summer just a few days away, I’ve turned my attention to the lighter styles of Scotch whisky. Cask 9.187 Transcending realms is my official gateway to Summer 2021. It’s a bright and fruity Speyside whisky with notes of dried banana, mango and malted cereals and an exotic array of sandalwood and fragrant Indian spices. The texture is thick and oily, making for a ridiculously long finish that will carry you through those long summer evenings. Sublime.
If you tuned into our June Outturn preview tasting on YouTube, you might remember just how hard I fell for this whisky. A relatively young (11 years) spirit from Islay, this Lightly Peated cask differs from any other we’ve seen from distillery 53 this year. You see, when we think of Islay whisky, we often think of big, bold smoke bombs with explosive aromatics and polarizing flavours. This one is unique. It’s unmistakably Islay, but somehow the intensity of the peat smoke has subsided after just 11 years. In lifting the veil of peat so to speak, what we’re left with is a cold, coastal spirit that evokes the feeling of standing along a rugged coast line, smacked in the face with freezing rain and a waft of sea foam.
And now for the whisky I can’t seem to get enough of. Cask 95.46 Earthy and mysterious is a bright and lively whisky matured in a red wine cask released for the Speyside festival last month. 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.