Seems like every day I open up my Instagram feed, I'm bombarded by a post that celebrates "National 'fill in blank' Day'. Who comes up with these declarations, I have absolutely no idea. And why do we need a special day to drink tequila anyway? You probably won't find me getting excited about "National Mulled Wine Day" or "International Vodka Day" (not sure those exist) - but one day I can get behind is any day that involves Whisk(e)y. So in the spirit of "World Whisky Day" on May 19th, I've selected a lineup of whiskies sure to please even the most seasoned skeptics like myself.
- Joshua Thinnes, Whisk(e)y Evangelist, PlumpJack Wine & Spirits
Kilchoman 'Red Wine Cask 2017'
A ruddy burnt orange, almost pink at times, this expression is something entirely different from the typical Kilchoman bottling. This whisky is loaded with the classic Kilchoman citrus sweetness and peat smoke character in the nose. It is further amplified by a buttery brioche-like richness, with hints of red berries and baked sweet pears. Licorice, rose, pepper and vanilla linger in the background with light brininess too. On the palate you’ll find more peat smoke and tarry notes complimented by a very creamy base. This is a big whisky! It gives way to a rich brown sugar like sweetness with cherries, hints of strawberry jam, and more cooked red fruits. The oak on this whisky really helps to substantiate the fruitiness and adds a layer of spices that is quite pleasing. On the finish you’ll find hints of salted butter and chocolate, along with more cooked red fruits with a long sweet and spicy decent punctuated with more ashy notes and tobacco. Try this whisky alongside a rich holiday meal or on the table afterwards to accompany an array of chocolate bonbons.
Signatory 'Inchmurrin 21yr PlumpJack Cask'
Signatory is an independent bottler of rare single malts. Their collection of single-barrel cask expressions represents an array of quality scotches from Scotland. The important distinction being independent companies that bottle their own products (Signatory, Gordon & MacPhail, Cadenhead) versus independent companies whose products are bottled under contract. This Signatory 'Inchmurrin 1993' was aged 100% in a hogshead (bourbon) barrel, #2848 to be exact, and yielded only 225 bottles. It was bottled to order for PlumpJack. After resting for 21 years in barrel, the angels had taken their fair share of drink leaving just 52.6% ABV at cask strength. The color is rich golden yellow and tastes just like it looks. Aromas of barley cereal, caramel, acacia honey, honeysuckle flower and orange zest burst from the glass. Upon aeration the aromas develop and deepen into fudge, chocolate and mild tobacco. The palate is translative of the nose with more cereal barley notes and a developed fruitiness of cantaloupe and citrus with a creamy lemon curd and nutty finish. It’s very smooth right out of the gate, despite being at a higher ABV. It would be a great ‘breakfast whisky’ as they say, but also would go well with deserts like Christmas cookies, pecan pie with a scoop of ice cream, or bread pudding.
Westland PJ Single Cask #711
This American single malt is distilled in Seattle using 100% malted barley. In this particular bottle, 90% is sourced from Washington State, and is comprised of 5 different types of malt: Munich, extra special, brown, pale chocolate, and Washington Select. Additionally, a strain of Belgian brewer's yeast is used. This whiskey is a great crossover for a bourbon drinker because like bourbon and unlike most Scotch malt whiskies, it is aged in new American oak barrels. The use of brown and roasted malts give this whiskey a nice rich chocolate flavor complimented by coffee notes. The Westland has a gorgeous mahogany color and great viscosity welcoming you with aromas of chocolate, caramel, bananas foster, fresh roasted coffee and malted milk balls. The palate confirms the initial flavors with big bold hits of roasted malt and spice finishing for days with more chocolate. At cask strength 54% abv, this whiskey is stout but smooth and great on its own. The addition of water opens up the flavors and mellows out the heat on the finish a bit. You may enjoy this whiskey on its own, but it is great with a spread of fine chocolate or even cheese.
Glen Grant 18yr
The Glen Grant 18yr pours a beautiful brilliant gold color. Initial aromas are shy and subtle, hinting at lemon wafers, white flowers, white and green tea, and fresh oak. With a little time they deepen into more pronounced aromas of vanilla beans, dried California Golden Raisins and Werther’s Original candies. The palate is exceptionally smooth and balanced, teasing at flavors of Walker’s Shortbread cookies, pistachio, and fennel biscotti, and toasty oak giving way to a gentle nutty marzipan finish.
Springbank '13yr Green'
This ‘Green’ bottling is un-officially organic, meaning they didn’t follow through with the permits and officialities. However, all the barley used is organically farmed in Scotland, mostly from local farmers in the Eastern portion of the country. Upon immediate inspection it has a gorgeous amber hue due to the exclusive sherry cask maturation, much darker and more inviting than the preceding 12year old expression of ‘Green’ matured in ex-bourbon casks. The nose is undeniably Springbank with fresh aromas of earth and seaside brine complemented by a wasp of smoke. More notes of leather, nutmeg and clove baking spices and rolling tobacco emerge. Upon re-visit the aromas brighten and tease at flavors of dried orchard fruits like white peaches and apricots. You may also notice sulfur notes, typical of a lot of Springbanks due to their distillation process. The palate enhances all these aromas, starting with the savory and earthen flavors, all delivered with rich and oily texture. Second impressions bring forward the zestier flavors of bitter citrus rinds like orange and lemon, followed by vanilla bean and honey covered cereal. The finish is prolonged with hints at lemon wafer cookie and more brine. This brininess of this whiskey makes it a fantastic pairing with freshly shucked oysters as well as richer dishes prepared with shell fish like a chowder of mussels, shrimp little neck clams.
Samaroli 'Miltonduff 1995'
Silvano Samaroli was born in Bologna 1939. In 1968 he founded the company with a mission to select the worlds greatest Scotch whiskies. His story is that of a fanatic – an entrepreneur with an almost savant-like knowledge and palate of the world’s finest Scotch whiskies. His focus was on selecting and bottling interesting, single cask whiskies from Scotland. One of the first to introduce secondary maturing techniques in the bottling world, he would re-cask the whisky into new oak to add layers of depth and flavor. In the late 1970s, he began sourcing rum from the best distilleries in South America and the Caribbean, then transporting those rums to his bottling warehouse in Scotland for further maturation and bottling. Miltonduff is owned by Pernod Ricard (Chivas Bros) and most of the production goes into the Chivas and Ballantines. Savory notes of cardamom and caraway seeds waft from the glass, along with some light fruit with a touch of spicy ginger. The palate is beguiling, with minimality, flavors of wet slate and cedar and warming all the way down.
Toki is a blend of Suntory’s Hakushu and Yamazaki and Whiskies from Chita distilleries. It’s an unique marriage of Hakushu American white oak cask malt Whisky and Chita’s heavy-type grain Whisky, resulting in a well-balanced and harmonious blend that is Suntory Whisky Toki. This is the perfect whisky for the classic High Ball cocktail.
Macallan '12yr Double Cask'
The Macallan Double Cask 12yr old is aged 100% Sherry seasoned American oak casks. That may seem confusing. It is. Picture an American oak barrel that they put Sherry wine into to season with flavor before aging the whisky. A touch less sweet than the regular Macallan 12yr, this whisky is loaded with sweet candied orange peels, ginger, raisins and a boat load of goodness.