Up and running

Up and running

Our would-be blenders try to find their direction

Production | 21 Mar 2018 | Issue 148 | By Rob Allanson

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George Keeble

Oh, how the months relentlessly fly by. So much to do and so little time! Although Nectar d’George has come a long way, the whisky still lacks Lowland and Campbeltown components. But before I add them, I must decide the direction in which to take my blend. In order to do that, I must re-sample…

On the nose, well, the extra addition of peat from the Ledaig, coupled with that of the Port Charlotte, has transformed my whisky into one smoky little devil. Though, combined with the veritable explosion of honey from the mead seasoning, it is actually rather well balanced. How the Loch Lomond Single Grain continues to shine through with its verdant grassiness is simply beyond me! The sherried deliciousness from the Bunnahabhain comes through too, though in neither a dominant nor feeble fashion. The palate tingles with woodspice, orange sherbert and a most satisfying degree of peat. The finish is long, with a wonderful warmth of smoke, a bouquet of botanicals and a cornucopia of spices. It’s delicious.

It was halfway through last year’s challenge the thought of a mead seasoning first struck me. I can recall being excited by the idea of experiencing the honeyed flavours of mead in a peated whisky and that is exactly what sits in the glass before me, a meaded peated whisky. Eureka! Regardless of who wins, I can hold my head high in the knowledge that I have created something rather exquisite.

If I had it my way, I wouldn’t change a damn thing about my blend. But rules are rules, so continue I must. I’m going to take a gamble by lifting the sherry notes up a notch, with Glen Scotia Double Cask! It’s a wonderful, rich whisky and in my book one of the best value for money malts on the market.

Now for the Lowland malt. I don’t want to add anything too powerful, as I’m rather taken with my whisky as it is. It needs to be something light, something not too overbearing, something, like Auchentoshan American Oak! Yes, that will do nicely.

My blend is now near completion. There is only one final whisky to add and it can be any type of whisky from anywhere in the world. Though I’ve had one whisky in my mind since day one. This one bottle – the wild card…

Lyndsey Gray

It’s time for Rooster’s next couple of instalments and I’m a bit nervous as it’s time to get my smoky on. Earlier this year I decided to tick some distilleries off my list and headed up north. When I arrived at Clynelish they were under a massive refurbishment and the woman behind the counter seemed anxious to tell us that they weren’t doing distillery tours but instead would be doing a historical visit around Brora Distillery.

JACKPOT! Where do I sign up?!

This was literally one of the best tour experiences that I’ve done in the past few years simply because it focused on what makes Brora and Clynelish different from other distilleries – their history. I find it frustrating hearing the same routine at each distillery when each has its own fascinating heritage that seems to be forgotten about. I understand, as an ex-tour guide, that it’s important to get the process across but I still remember the first time I went around a distillery. It went in one ear and shot out the other. It was refreshing to watch our guide, Daisy, be so openly enthusiastic and passionate about the history of Clynelish and focusing on its stories and the people that really make the place what it is today.

The fact that I must start my blend with Clynelish meant that it was simply appropriate to celebrate the announcement of the reopening of Brora by using Caol Ila for my smoky element. Not only that, but it has a scrumptious charcoal and chimney soot smoke that will go stunningly with the mix of caramel and herbal tones that I already have within my blend. I’ve decided to go for Caol Ila Moch as it will perfectly balance and enhance these flavours.

For my Campbeltown addition, I’ve turned to the good fellas at Glengyle to give my blend a nice oily and oaky oomph with Kilkerran 12, a whisky that is deservingly grabbing people’s attentions. With the addition of some sherry casks used in this edition of Kilkerran it will add some more body and subtle tones of cherry and lemon sweetness to elevate my blend from the caramel overtones it currently has.

On another note, I’ve been informed by my colleague, Mark, that Rooster is the bad guy in Annie... My favourite musical. That’s a lie. I can’t stand Annie. Not one bit. I am currently looking at my cask at the end of The Quaich bar with a hint of regret. I apologise to all the Annie fans out there for this random outburst of realisation. I won’t let this deter me from the task ahead.
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