The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show is but a distant memory for most now, but of course the problem often remains that I never get a chance to catch up on all the lovely samples I end up with. However, thanks to a recent email from The English Whisky Company informing me of their newset batch of releases, namely the Founders Private Cellar Single Casks, I was reminded of the three samples I tried at the show. A quick scan through the old faithful Moleskine notebook revealed a rather well set out list of tasting notes (it must have been early on I tried them!)
James Nelstrop, founder and owner of The English Whisky Company, along with his team of distillers David Fitt and Iain Henderson have been carefully watching some selected cask of rather curious concoctions (more about that later)- but then they can do what they want cant they.
And thats exactly what they have done.
During the whisky show, David gave me a small bottle of new make spirit and asked me for my thoughts on it. It was (one of) Davids little experiment with, as he put it “anything that will go through the mash”. David used to be a brewer, so is pretty familiar with various barley types and the yield and resilience of them. It was just another day at the office for David when he was offered free range of the distillery to see what he could produce. He must have felt a little like a kid in a sweet shop which is probably why he chose chocolate malt as well as malted barley, crystal malt , oats, rye and wheat to make up his mad brew. If you ever get the chance to meet David and buy him a pint- As I have on many an occasion, he will probably go for a porter style ale- dark and rich in both colour and flavour, bursting with chocolate an coffee notes. So its unsurprising to find that the resulting new make was- to say the least, complex and delicious with heady notes of whole pears dipped in milk chocolate- I cannot wait to see how that turns out once its spent a respectable amount of time in oak- and I am sure the choice of cask will be just as experimental. Having tasted the new make, I would expect an ale or rum finish to partner well.
Anyway- at the show I also had the chance to sample the three new single cask releases which are just as “experimental” and as they were released on October 17th (yesterday as this blog was written) it seemed a good time to share my notes- well, except that the distillery have already sold out of all but the Peated Sauternes!
Cask No. 0116 Filled 12th Sept 2007
Bottled 19th Sept 2012
Appearance: Apple white with pale gold
Nose: (with water) Apple sponge cake with elderflowers and an undertone of malty warm buttered chocolate digestive. Elements of hedgerow and blackcurrant leaf with a slight eucalyptus oil rubbed into fresh oak.
Palate: At first, bright and youthful with vanillin and oak but quickly opens (with water) to reveal similar creamy notes found on the nose mixed with fresh, edgy herbs and fruit. Eucalyptus becomes more mild aniseed.
Finish: Rounded to the end with a slight coca feel and light oak.
Summary: Not for the feint hearted and certainly requires a drop of water before jumping in, but with this much going on at just 5 years old- it stands it in good stead for the future.
Peated Sauternes cask
Cask No.0787 Filled 12th Sept 2007
Bottled 1st Oct 2012
Appearance: Wet hay with yellow gold
Nose: Very savoury with acorn, mushroom, weetabix, and burnt toast spread with apricot jam. Brown wrapping paper. iodine and wet and dry sandpaper.
Plate: Creamy and initially sweet then driving peat powers through releasing delicious grippy spice. White pepper with burnt rubber and ginger root.
Finish: Lingering peat “bite” with earth tones dry the palate but leave you licking your gums for more.
Summary: A great balance between spirit and cask. Still available to buy at £125 RRP.
Cask No. 0859 Filled 20th June 2007
Bottled: 21st Sept 2012
Appearance: Pale marmalade with a rose hue
Nose: Jammy notes of blackforrest gateaux, kirsh and cinnamon. A “fresh” notes of cut nettle stems and perhaps tarragon before the plump fruitiness becomes darker and more straw-like.
Palate: Strawberries and cream with cracked black pepper. Cream vanilla fudge and an earthy note of mushroom butter. Light cinnamon spice helps dry the palate.
Finish: The fruit turns earthy, but in a good way, allowing the spice and vanilla to linger a little longer.
Summary: Soft, fruity, candied yet not overly sweet this is a perfect balance of cask and spirit.
I really like the mindset of this company, a simple approach to creating interesting products- unencumbered by tradition or bureaucracy they are chipping away at the traditionalists one by one who cannot deny that, it might not be scotch, but its a damn fine dram.