Independent bottler The Single Cask has just released a whopping 40 whiskies in its Single Cask Family Series. Which is kind of crazy.
If that’s not something that impresses you then how does having to sample 25 of them in one sitting sound to you?
Nothing to it, it seems–at least to the patrons who showed up and proceeded to vat a delightful blend in their tummies that day. For The Single Cask, it seems that their whisky range is inversely proportional to the size of their bar.
Not that we’re complaining, however. The Single Cask Family Series range, as it is called, consists of several labels, each with its distinct identity: Scotch & Tattoo’s, a line from longtime collaborator Torsten Paul Whisky Co that also shows off the visual works of Scotch & Tattoo’s artists, and Explorations, featuring the selections of The Single Cask crew.
When it comes to whisky, ‘too many’ is just not something anyone complains about. And yet it proved too much for me and I couldn’t make it halfway through the selection of Scotch & Tattoo’s and do a proper tasting, having horribly miscalculated. But do keep a lookout for the next time they conduct a tasting like this; it’s great fun.
I apologise for the generalisation that what I managed to try were decent, safe buys, but at the same time, we live in an era where most single-cask whiskies are often in the same ballpark. We also have to deal with the ‘ignominy’ of having too many to choose from–what’s one Blair Athol to another, right? Well, what if they are finished in Laphroaig Quarter Casks and are gently imbued with a hint of Islay peat? That’s something you don’t forget to take note of, and certainly not something you see every day. If you’re looking for a Blair Athol anyway, then this pair is worth trying just for novelty’s sake.
Eventually, I did, however, got myself somewhat sober enough to give the Explorations range a go. Chee “Robert B.” Weide (my nickname for him), Kwek Yixian and Brendan Asher Pillai, the all-to-familiar faces at the bar, each picked a cask of their choosing, as well as one collective choice. For obvious (cop-out) reasons, I choose not to name a favourite and deigned to borrow a popular turn of phrase from the chess world in recent weeks: let the whisky ‘speak for itself.’
The Strathisla 11YO (#582) is certainly an interesting one; not many whiskies can feel light and heavy at the same time, and this example certainly feels hits home. It’s light enough to be drunk all night, but that blend of rich caramel and tropical fruits can be quite intoxicating.
For whatever reason, the Balblair 10YO (#800130) is very reminiscent of a Highland Park from over a decade ago, bringing back memories of whisky that’s dry and yet makes your mouth water at the same time. Light-bodied, chocolate sweetness and juicy red fruits.
I’m not exactly a Staiosha fanboy, but of late I’ve yet to try one that I didn’t like. The same goes for the Staiosha 7YO (#10411A). Over-generalisation notwithstanding, the only possible downside of having more Staiosha is that there’s less Bunnahabhain. Sweet and savoury salinity with a hint of pineapple, and fades gently into light peat, what’s not to like?
This Ben Nevis 7YO (#105) isn’t quite as dry as what the distillery has become famous for, but there’s an ethereal quality to this Oloroso-casked specimen; there’s even a slight buttered popcorn salinity. A nice middle ground that’s far from boring, which is probably the worst quality in a single-cask whisky in this day and age of near-limitless choices.
I much preferred the offerings from the Explorations range, though the Scotch & Tattoo’s selection makes perfect daily drinkers. If you’re interested, pop by The Single Cask; it’s very unlikely they won’t have them available by the dram.
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