Master of Malt have long been pals of Dramatic Whisky and I’d like to think it’s because our two companies have the same outlook on the world of whisky- keep it fun. I would say that we both bring a youthfulness to whisky, but my graying hair might be evidence that I’m simply hoping to be included in that category!
Something thing they do which I think is ace is ‘Drinks by the dram’ which allows anyone to purchase miniatures of just about anything they stock. Of course, you have to pay accordingly and a 3cl sample starts at under £4 up to the current £209 for 3cl of Glenfarclas 1953. Fortunately enough they sent me a sample of that last one. See, I told you we were pals. This is a huge help to those who wish to try a broader range of whisky without forking out to do so.
They also have a new range of their own bottling under the name ‘That Boutique-y Whisky Company’ and yes, the “y” is hyphenated. Under this label the guys bottle single malts, grains and blends from a variety of renowned distilleries, each limited release 50cl bottle is adorned with various sketches and comic book illustrations which will no doubt help the already growing cult status of these drams. The range already has quite a number of releases in the range and when they offered to send me some samples, the ‘Drinks by the Dram’ creation came in handy. I have 18 samples to get through! so I am doing this in parts, this being part one. Selecting the first five was no easy task, but sticking to things such as Bunnahabhain and Deanston which I recently reviewed and Clynelish as another favourite plus Springbank and Braes O’ Glenlivet to round out a fine line-up. And I thought I would start with the lighter styles so the choices of my first five samples (part 1) are as follows:
Clynelish- Batch 1
So what’s the label all about: Clynelish was built after Brora closed and whilst it is a superb whisky, it is seen by purist (or should that be purrists) in this case as never quite being up to ‘scratch’.
197 Bottles RRP: £54.95 50cl
Appearance: Pale straw with white gold
Nose: Rattan fruit basket filed with tangerines, melon and peaches. Not immediately typical of Clynelish, less waxy but still has a coastal “freshness” holding the fruit down. Light spice on the nose, earthy vanilla pod and a bit of waxed church candle towards the end.
Palate: More of the expected waxy, creamy mouth-feel with stem ginger and vanilla before a hint of cardamom and cinnamon spice dusted over red berries mid palate. Faint salty element licks around the mouth bringing the earthy notes back to the fore.
Finish: Lingering citrus peel with a waxed edge. Earthy tones dry out the very long finish.
Summary: At first, not immediately recognisable as a Clynelish, them it bursts through with jubilant energy. Very good dram indeed.
Springbank- Batch 1
So what’s the label all about: Those cheeky chaps (bet they hate that tag) from Cask Strength, Neil and Joel twisting and shouting, trying to squeeze every last particle from a grain mill.
274 bottle release RRP: Sold Out
Appearance: Light Honey, rose gold
Nose: A sweet peat reek to begin, underlined with coal embers, brown paper, slices of start fruit and a hint of baby sick. Came back to this 20 minutes later and yup, still baby sick in there somewhere.
Palate: Light sweet peat smoke and a mineral iodine flare before charred cedar wood dries out the palate allowing the white fleshed fruits to emerge.
Finish: Turns slightly oily to the finish, with the white fruits flowing on for some time.
Summary: Once you have a note stuck in your head, like a bad song, it’s tricky to get rid of it and butyric acid is a tough tune for any spirit to hum (of). I just could get the nose to match up to the tasty palate and it stopped the enjoyment right there.
Bunnahabhain- Batch 1
So what’s the label all about: A picture tells a thousand words- well almost. Here we see an elevated depiction of the Bunnahabhain distillery itself with everything from rally cars to shark infested waters.
233 bottles released RRP: £51.95 50cl
Appearance: Pale yellow straw
Nose: Parma ham fat with white pepper over a piece of driftwood. Almost akin to reposado tequila, a definite vegetal nose with busts of coastal sea air. Samphire, turning to damp hay and deeper farmyard notes with a floral lift of violets at the end.
Palate: Creamy mouth-feel with liquorice root, milk bottle chews and vanilla before the salt washes through to leave chestnuts and buttery elements and peat water. Touches of ginger root and kippers keep the complex palate lively.
Finish: Dry spiced palate with tight tannin feel, lingering peat residue.
Summary: Being a fan of Bunnahabhain I was keen to get into this one and it didn’t disappoint. Complex, ever-changing and almost a challenge to the palate but in such an interesting way. Superb.
Deanston – Batch 1
So what’s the label all about: Deanston used to be a cotton mill before it was turned into a distillery in the mid 60′s, so it’s fairly ‘new” it whisky terms. According to MoM, hippies were around in the 60′s also although I doubt many made it to the banks of the river Teith.
218 Bottle release RRP £46.95 50cl
Appearance: Bright gold
Nose: Sweet apple sauce with perfumed vanilla and fresh ginger shavings. The up front nose calms to reveal quince, grape and yellow sultanas with a good beechwood background.
Palate: Rich, creamy vanilla to the fore with lighter ginger spice close behind. Over-ripe banana with flaked almonds and a leafy element towards the end.
Finish: Dries with good malty grip and clean spice.
Summary: Quite close to the Deanston 12 in character, but seems to have the volume turned up a touch. Good example of this new kid on the block.
Braes o’ Glenlivet – Batch 1
So what’s the label all about: The inspiration for the label was the fact that it was Braes o’ Glenlivet that drew the Master of Malt trio Ben, Tom and Justin into the wonderful world of whisky in the first place.
210 Bottle release RRP: £51.95 50cl
Appearance: Light straw, white gold.
Nose: Red berries mixed with poster paint, almond and lead pipe. Lets just say there is a lot going on in here. Varnished wood, bread and butter pudding, tinned pears and cherries.
Palate: Rich and buttery, again hints of bread and butter pudding spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon. Brazil nut and cherry bakewells.
Finish: Long and creamy, the bakewell lingers on.
Summary: A huge complex whisky, seemingly light at first but continues to develop and twist. A lot of fun and a great whisky.
So that is Part 1 done, as you will see the above limited releases are already selling out and I suspect this will always be the case. A great idea, executed with style and a good dollop of humour. Wish the rest of the industry could loosen up a bit like this.