Flinging open February’s box!
February brings with it many things: the shortest month of the year, the season of love, Chinese New Year, and, in our case, another Pour & Sip box! We’re taking you to Scotland, India, and Japan, and then back to Scotland with these whiskies. I can’t wait to get stuck into this one – let’s take a look...
Kilchoman Machir Bay Cask Strength
You’ll find the Kilchoman Distillery on Islay, where it was built in 2005 at the Rochside Farm – the first distillery to be built on Islay in 210 years, no less! It’s also near the beautifully picturesque Machir Bay, after which this whisky was named. Kilchoman is unusual in that it grows and malts its own barley on-site, as well as maturing and bottling its whiskies on-site, too. You know what you’re getting with Kilchoman whiskies, which are only ever matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks – this Cask Strength edition is no different. The smoky whisky was bottled at a generous 58.6% ABV, and you’ll find that hallmark oily Islay peat balanced by green grassy notes, and tangy citrus fruit.
India might not be the first country that springs to mind when someone mentions whisky, but Amrut is here to change that. This whisky is called Fusion because not only does it showcase Indian-grown barley, but there’s some peated barley from Scotland in the mix, too! Because of the warmer climate, the Indian whisky isn’t matured for as long as its Scottish counterparts – as much as 15% ABV is lost each year to the angel’s share, so if it was left in the cask for too long then it wouldn’t legally qualify as a whisky (which has to be a minimum of 40% ABV). What’s more, there wouldn’t be much liquid left to enjoy, either! While sipping a whisky neat is a great way to get to know it, Fusion was even named best whisky for a Rob Roy in the 2012 Ultimate Cocktail Challenge, so if you were thinking of trying it in a cocktail that’s a good place to start. Fresh fruit, gentle smoke, and spices galore!
Arran Port Cask Finish
Found on the Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland, the Arran Distillery knows exactly how to make the most out of a cask finish. This expression, first released back in 2010, doesn’t have an age statement – though we do know that it initially spent around eight years in American oak before it was moved to ex-Port casks for its finishing period. The initial maturation adds those creamy, vanilla-forward notes we know and love from American oak, while the finish imparts bundles of jammy red fruit, all backed up by the savoury nature of the Island whisky itself – all those flavours are bumped up even more by a generous bottling strength of 50% ABV.
Mars Maltage Cosmo
A blended malt here from Mars Shinshu, a mountainous Japanese distillery which you’ll find at just over 798 metres above sea level, looking over Mt. Komagatake. It opened back in 1985, and while it was forced to temporarily close in 1992 due to lack of demand, thankfully it reopened again in 2012. Mars Maltage Cosmo was named as an homage to the distillery’s location, and the stunning night sky that can be seen from its mountainous location. Not a bad spot for a distillery, right? While it’s blended and bottled at the site in Japan, and does feature a proportion of Japanese whisky, you’ll also find malts in here from undisclosed Scottish distilleries. It’s a light and delicate whisky, with florals and honeyed fruit alongside a smidge of smoke.
Tomintoul Cigar Malt
While Speyside whiskies are generally known for being rather light, fruity, and gentle, the Tomintoul Distillery has even gained the affectionate nickname ‘the gentle dram’ because of its mellow flavour profile! Its Cigar Malt was designed to be paired with cigars (looks like the clue was in the name for that one), though that doesn’t mean it isn’t suitably delicious on its own. Rather intriguingly, master distiller Robert Fleming even added some rarely-seen peated Tomintoul single malt to the expression, so this is no ordinary Tomintoul. Meanwhile, all the malts used have either been fully matured or finished in Oloroso sherry butts sourced from Andalucia, Spain. Sherry casks and Speyside whiskies are always a winning combination, and this release full of creamy malt, chocolate, and a whisper of peat smoke further prove that point.
That's it for now! Let us know what you think of this month’s whiskies. Keep an eye out on Pour & Sip Digest for the rest of the month, because I’ll be taking a deeper look into Scotch and Japanese blends, while Kristy is looking back on her trip to Kilchoman, and we’ve even got an exciting interview in store. But we’re keeping that last one a secret – what’s the fun in giving it all away?