…at Trader Joe’s I saw this bottle of undisclosed-distillery 10 year-old from somewhere the Highlands (which describes, like, most of them) which has been “matured in oak casks” like… all of them… It’s 10 years old, 40% ABV, and costs $20. That’s pretty much all anybody knows about it.
Bushmills is an odd duck. One of the few remaining historical Irish distilleries (in fact the oldest licensed distillery in the world), Bushmills makes single-malt and blends it with grain whiskey in the Scottish style.
Sons of Liberty set out to create a whiskey that evoked refreshing summertime IPA beer by actually distilling an IPA beer wash, suspending hops in a gin basket during pot-still distillation, and then dry-hopping the finished (aged) whiskey! No sugar syrup, no weird chemicals, just artisanal ingredients treated with respect and using traditional brewing and distilling methods creatively to craft something innovative.
Uprising is an American single malt whiskey distilled from a stout beer using classic American ale yeast and the traditional stout malts: Pale Malt, Dehusked Chocolate Malt, Crystal 45, Biscuit malts, and plain roasted barley. The beer is then double-distilled in Sons of Liberty’s 250 gallon pot still and aged for under two years in new charred American oak barrels.
Battle Cry is an American single malt whiskey distilled from a Belgian Trappist-style beer made with 20% rye malt and the rest Pale and Honey malts. The beer is then double-distilled in Sons of Liberty’s 250 gallon pot still and aged for under two years in new charred American oak barrels that are “enhanced” with lightly toasted staves of French Oak.
The Fine Oak series, launched in 2004, offered a look at Macallan with some of the sherry stripped away. Like The Balvenie DoubleWood, the Fine Oak series is a marriage of traditional Macallan matured in ex-sherry casks, with Macallan distillate aged in ex-bourbon.
I did not expect this level of peat from Linkwood. While it teases on the nose, it makes itself felt once it hits the tongue. A nice example of the hay-and-heather style of Highland peated malt, which is representative of the style of Highland malt made before the advent of maltings with non-peat heat sources.
Turns out I wasn’t 100% off, as the sample turned out to be Té Bheag (pronounced ‘chey vek’), a blended scotch with a big peated malt component made by Pràban na Linne Ltd. on the Isle of Skye.
Who knew this was going to be a sherry-bomb? Sherry notes that I’d associate with a 20+ year-old sherried malt, meaty and resinous. The peat is nowhere to be found, or so outperformed by the sherry that it instead melds into the background. I would recommend this to sherry buffs, especially those who enjoy the meaty/rancio side of the sherry spectrum.
The book, as its introduction insists, is not a “best of” list, nor any kind of awards show in print. Mr. Buxton has chosen whiskies that he believes every lover of brown spirits should, at least once in their life, sample.