Opening up October's Pour & Sip box!
It’s spooky season, Pour & Sippers! But there’s nothing scary about our selection of whiskies this month, from bold Speyside to smoky Scotch, and even a bourbon from California – let’s find out more.
A big, bold Speysider here from Craigellachie! The distillery was built back in 1891 in the village of the same name. You’ll often hear the word ‘meaty’ when describing the flavour of Craigellachie whisky – that’s thanks to something called worm tubs. We’ll be exploring these more on the blog this month, but simply put, a worm tub is made up of a long, coiled copper pipe (aka, the worm) that sits in a large vat of cold water. As the vapour travels down the ‘worm’, it condenses back into liquid form rather quickly. The speed of the condensing process is important, because it means the spirit has a shorter contact time with the copper which often removes impurities. This then means that some of those sulphurous, oily flavours remain in the whisky. However, thanks to long fermentations, the spirit itself is full of bright fresh fruit notes, which balance deliciously with those more savoury touches. Matured in equal proportions of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, this 17 Year Old balances tropical fruit, a whiff of smoke smoke, and waxy richness.
Founded in 1897, the ebbs and flows of Tomatin Distillery have often mirrored that of the Scotch whisky industry itself. It became Scotland’s largest distillery in 1974 with 23 stills (increasing from just four in 1965), but never ran at full capacity and went into liquidation in 1985 – it lost the title when 11 of the stills were removed in 2000. Up until this point, Tomatin malt was used solely for blends, but after it changed ownership in 1986 it began to be marketed as a single malt in its own right – as it should be! It also became the first Scotch whisky distillery under Japanese control, too. A classic combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks is generally favoured by the distillery, a duo which you’ll find in this 12 Year Old. It’s no wonder, as the two cask types bring out all sorts of tropical fruits and rich spices from the spirit.
One of Scotland’s oldest whisky brands, Black Bottle was originally created back in 1879. Its flavour profile has changed a few times over the years, and it was originally made from Speyside whiskies, with a small proportion of lightly-peated liquid in there, too. It then changed to an Islay-forward blend, with strong smoky flavours becoming associated with the name. In 2013, it was decided that the blend should resemble something closer to the original, lighter flavour profile – which caused quite a stir with peat fans. The Alchemy Series was unveiled in early 2021, with this Island Smoke edition harking back to the days of the strong, peaty flavours. A blend of peated malt and unpeated grain whiskies, 20 components make up Island Smoke, with a blended malt from 1984 said to be at its core.
Over on the South Funen Archipelago you’ll find Mosgaard, a Danish micro-distillery. Founded in 2015 with a focus on organic ingredients, the team took inspiration from traditional Scottish distilling methods, while still producing a distinctly Danish whisky. Its first whisky was only bottled in 2019, and here we have the eighth batch of its Pedro Ximénez Cask Finish single malt! Initially aged in new French oak casks, the whisky was transferred to these ex-sherry casks for between one to one and a half years before bottling. Pedro Ximénez is one of the most intensely sweet sherries around, though the spices from the French oak maturation stop anything from getting too out of hand.
Graton Distilling Company burst on the Sonoma County distilling scene in 2016 with D. George Benham's Gin, shortly followed by Redwood Empire Whiskey. Inspired by a stretch of redwood trees along the northwest coast of California, each expression from the range is named after a particular redwood tree – the bourbon you've got here was named after Pipe Dream, the 14th tallest tree in the world! The tree connections don't stop there, because Redwood Empire has partnered with Trees for the Future, so that for every bottle of Redwood Empire sold, a tree is planted. Maybe one day one of those trees will have its own name, and a whiskey named after it too… Anyway, Pipe Dream is made using a mash bill of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley, so expect a helping of peppery spice peeking out from the layers of vanilla and honey.