David's Drink Diaries - Issue 4

David's Drink Diaries - Issue 4

Fri, 12/01/2023 - 09:46
Bladnoch Alinta

Mossburn Distillery Collaborates With FourSquare

At the heart of Mossburn's whisky production is the art of blending. They are passionate about the craft of combining different whisky stocks to create harmonious and complex final expressions. They meticulously select casks from various distilleries, each contributing its own distinct flavour profile, and blend them to achieve a balanced and memorable whisky.

One such whisky is the recently released 12-year-old finished in casks previously containing rum for the famed Barbados distillery Foursquare. It is the first in their annual Cask Collaboration Series. 

Having started as a Speyside single malt it was aged for 12 years in ex-bourbon casks before being racked into 38 American oak casks that had previously contained mature Foursquare rums. I am happy to see this has been bottled at 57.7% retaining all the gorgeous rum flavours that come through on the nose and palate. Think citrus, bananas and vanilla followed by scrumptious rum baba sitting on a bed of pineapple and mangoes. Subtle spices complement the whisky, especially ginger. A perfect dram for autumn and winter. 

Whiskymaker, Neil Macleod Mathieson commented on creating this whisky that “Pairing casks to a whisky is a delicate business for Mossburn, we are looking to enhance the character of the chosen whiskies and add nuances from the spirit that the new casks used to contain. It’s all about balance. These Barbados casks complement rather than fight with our Speyside malt whisky blend and together they create a whisky both rum and whisky lovers will surely enjoy.”

It is younger companies such as Mossburn that drive innovation - they have the scale to do so, and the immediacy to be able to make decisions, free of excessive time-consuming meetings and sign-off from every department. They create a whisky that appeals to them, as much as they hope it will appeal to us, the consumers. This is to be celebrated. Only 1500 of the 10,000 bottles released are available in the UK, so if this sounds like your style of whisky, pick one up soon. 


Bladnoch Distillery Get Serious About Peat

Nestled along the tranquil banks of the River Bladnoch in the picturesque region of Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway, Bladnoch Distillery is a true gem among Scotland's whisky producers. Located 80 miles to the west of Gretna Green and directly above the Isle of Man, it has a rich history dating back to 1817. Bladnoch has weathered the ebbs and flows of the whisky industry, and its commitment to tradition and quality has earned it a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest remaining distilleries in the Lowlands. 

Bladnoch’s story is a tale of resilience and dedication. Established by John and Thomas McClelland, it began as a modest enterprise in the rural Scottish countryside. Over the years, it underwent various changes in ownership and experienced periods of dormancy, but it has always found a way to bounce back, much like the Bladnoch River that flows beside the 50-acre estate. In 2015 Australian entrepreneur David Prior purchased the distillery and went about an extensive refurbishment of it. 

The distillery's location in the Lowlands (it is the most southerly distillery) is a defining feature of its character. While the Lowland region is often associated with lighter and more delicate whiskies compared to their Highland and Islay counterparts, Bladnoch's approach, under the eye of Master Distiller Dr Nick Savage, showcases the grace and subtlety that the region is known for while maintaining a unique personality of its own.

Breaking from tradition is not something they shy away from with their first peated expression Alinta being released in XXX. This has now been added to a new Peated Collection. Speaking about this collection, Dr Savage commented, "The Bladnoch Peated Collection has been inspired by our 2009 stocks, which are uniquely 100% peated. Lowland single malt is not traditionally peated, however, the launch of Alinta had an amazing reception from everyone. I wanted to extend this limited but unique peated section in our portfolio for those who enjoy the smoky styles of Bladnoch. Our peated collection is an annual celebration of the extremely unique and rare 2009 stocks at Bladnoch.

The 2009 distillate would have been matured in one of the distillery's many warehouses, each offering distinct conditions for ageing. From traditional dunnage warehouses to more modern rack and pallet storage, Bladnoch takes advantage of the diversity of maturation environments to bring together such tasty expressions as these. 

Bladnoch Alinta 47% - £80

A fruity nose with a nice smoke and butterscotch. Peppery on the palate with heather, honey and smoke.

Bladnoch Alinta Reserve 46.7% - £120

Richer and deeper on the nose than the normal Alinta with cherry wood present. Slightly sweeter on the palate 

Bladnoch Peated Single Cask 2023/01 54.1% - £200

This has been matured in a rum cask which is evident on the beautiful nose. I found prunes, dried apricots and just a hint of smoke. In the mouth, it is full and rich with more pronounced smoke offset by the sweetness of the rum coming through. This is more the beginning of a fire than embers. Tropical notes weave their way into caramelised pineapple on the finish. 

Bladnoch Peated Single Cask 2023/02 58.3% - £200

The nose is an interplay between the smoke and aromas derived from the sherry hogshead. These are mango skins and dates. The palate delivers a mixture of smoke, raisins, muscovado sugar and brown bread. It hides the abv very well. 

Bladnoch Peated Single Cask 2023/03 55.9% - £200

This has been drawn from a Bourbon cask with typical vanilla notes on the nose, accompanying the smoke. I get orchard fruits and spice on the nose. The taste is spicy and rich, with creme brule, charred peaches and butter predominant. 

Kyro Distillery - Crafting the Spirit of Finland

Situated in the heart of the Finnish Lakeland, Kyro Distillery is at the forefront of Finland's burgeoning craft spirits industry. Established in 2014, this distillery has rapidly gained recognition for its innovative approach and is a distillery I would love to visit. I have been to Finland twice and have been captivated by its people, culture and landscape. It is something I want to experience again, but this time with whisky in hand. 

Kyro Distillery's story begins with a group of friends and entrepreneurs who share a passion for spirits and a vision to create something extraordinary. Whilst enjoying a Sauna and drinking rye whisky, they pondered why there was not a Finnish rye whisky. 

They set out to establish a distillery in their hometown of Isokyrö, where they could harness the natural beauty of the Finnish countryside and the pure waters of the region. It was an old diary that was being used as a car garage. Isokyrö, known for its pristine environment and clear waters, would become the soul of Kyro's whisky.

What sets Kyro apart is its pioneering spirit and unorthodox approach to distillation. The distillery is known for producing rye whisky, a departure from the more common barley-based Scotch whiskies or corn-based American bourbons. Finnish rye, with its distinct flavour profile, offers an intriguing and unique foundation for their spirits and quite frankly excites me. 

Sustainability is high on the agenda for Kyro, with a new distillery using biogas for energy, from otherwise wasted pork manure and waste. Currently, 99.9% of the energy in the distillery and visitor centre is produced through renewable energy sources. 

I hope to be able to visit in the near future and sit in a sauna sipping through their range, whilst chatting to the founders and learning more about them. 

Kyro Peat Smoke 47.2% - £59.95

Made with 100% Rye I found a pleasant amount of orchard fruit and butterscotch on the nose. This was followed by honey, crepe suzette-style orange sauce and even hints of chocolate. A gentle spice and peat ran through the whisky with a little ginger spice emerging on the finish.


Other Tastings

Whistlepig Library Series with Bordeaux Index Volume 1 59.8%

Bordeaux Index, one of the world’s most celebrated fine wine merchants and brokers have announced a 5-year partnership with Whistlepig, the celebrated makers of Rye whisky. This is Volume one, an 11-year-old from barrel 20832 and has a stand-out nose of chocolate, apricot coulis and vanilla. In terms of flavour and texture in the mouth, it could easily replace a pudding at dinner. It has a wonderful richness to it and takes me back to eating a chocolate marquis in a Michelin-starred restaurant in the 1990s. 

Highland Park 18 Single Cask Series for The Single Malt Shop 57.4% - €440

This single cask is limited to 515 bottles and as a lover of Highland Park was very happy to receive this sample. The nose is initially delicate but builds into a cacophony of heather, smoke, prunes, blackcurrants and vanilla. Taste-wise wise there is a sweetness, reminding me of a peach melba and vanilla ice cream. The flavours permeate for such a long time you only really need to sip every few minutes to gain maximum pleasure. 

Highland Park London Edition 58.8%

18 years old and again cask strength. I tasted this at the Whisky Shop, Piccadilly. Drawn from a sherry butt this is spice driven. Roast pork and quince on the nose with an oily and full palate with beautiful spice, pear, lemonade and smoke. It was balanced, with a long finish, integrated smoke and a powerful finish. 

Highland Park 1988 43.8%

What a nose!! So intense that I could smell it for hours. It was akin to premium vintage marmalade on steroids. Also present were apricot, stem ginger and overcooked tarte tatin. The finish had big flavours such as old leather and would be the perfect special occasion dram. It was complex yet showed younger than its years. 

Smokehead High Voltage 58% - £56

If you have tried Smokehead Original and feel like it would benefit from an extra dose of smoke and a higher abv, then this is for you. With it’s modern branding and warning that it is not for the faint of heart, you get an idea of how this might taste. A world of smoke, pepper and meat hit you on the nose. This is followed up with caramel and charred maplewood. The packaging suggests this might be aggressive on the palate but it really isn’t. In fact, and I hate using the word, it is smooth and very enjoyable. Rich, oily and everything you would expect. Exceptional value.

Heavens Door Rye By Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan, the legendary folk and rock icon, has extended his artistic prowess beyond music to the world of whiskey with Heaven's Door, a brand that blends craftsmanship and creativity. Launched in 2018, Heaven's Door has quickly gained a solid reputation. 

The brand's name, inspired by Dylan's timeless song "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," is not just a vessel for the amber liquid within, but a canvas for Dylan's own paintings and ironwork sculptures. 

Heaven's Door offers a range of expressions, including a Tennessee Bourbon, a Double Barrel Whiskey, and a Straight Rye Whiskey. The grains are sourced from diverse regions, contributing distinct flavours and characteristics to each variant. 

Beyond the liquid, Heaven's Door distinguishes itself through innovation. The brand hosts events that celebrate the intersection of art and whiskey, inviting enthusiasts to appreciate the craftsmanship behind both. The immersive experience extends to the distillery in Nashville, housed in a historic church, where visitors can witness the alchemy of whiskey-making in a setting that pays homage to Dylan's musical legacy.

Heavens Door Rye 46%- £65

This has been finished in oak barrels from the Vosges and has marzipan on the nose along with candied orange and lemon peel. The palate was nicely balanced but I would love to taste it at barrel-proof. Present were notes of lemon meringue pie, cinnamon and even grapefruit. The spice was quite delicate and not at all overpowering.