So, after a solid 8 or so hours of sleep (while my room mate JB is still in deep slumber) I woke up with a bit of a headache (not enough sleep, and almost enough malts) , to wash up and get ready for day 2. Nothing is nicer on such a day than a big, nutritious and healthy Full Scottish Breakfast, which was exactly what Maltstock offers daily. The good lads from the Highlander Inn have prepared a lovely meal, for all of us to enjoy. Being an Israeli, it’s not easy to get hold of good bacon, and Black pudding, so this was even nicer for me.
After having a good measure of food, I was ready for our first master class that day , and one I was really looking forward to: Master of malt had something new planned for us, and it was exciting. If you are a whisky lover and you do not know Ben Ellefson (the guys who runs Master of Malt, as he presents himself) then you should! Ben is the brain behind Master of Malts crazy, unique and ever interesting new whisky, spirits and everything else releases including the mad professor Cornelius Ampleforth. (below me and ben putting our silly faces on)
Ben came with Cat as his aide, and Joel from CaskStrength.net and was supposed to present the full new line of whiskies he’s been working on recently (but due to some misunderstanding only 4 were presented , but more on that later) : That Boutique-y Whisky Company , which was to be announced that same day. Meaning : we were the first lucky bastards to have a go at those whiskies. Cool or what?
A little background about this new line of whiskies before we continue:
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Single Malt Scotch Whiskies represent the latest independent bottling by Master of Malt and are produced from hand-selected parcels of whisky from single distilleries. This new series is produced in small batches and are released in limited quantities. The first four distilleries represented in the range are Ardbeg, Macallan, Caperdonich, and Port Ellen.
Each distillery label has been whimsically hand-illustrated and individually numbered. The labels contain comic book style representations of scenes inspired by tall tales, inside jokes, and well-renowned collectors of the whisky industry. Each bottle is 50cl and hand-dipped in black wax. The rarity of the whisky itself and the unique design of the packaging make this series highly collectible.
These whiskies are released with no age statement as the age of the whisky within each bottling will vary from batch to batch, and new batches are not created until the best quality stock becomes available. By releasing a no-age-statement whisky, That Boutique-y Whisky Company aims to focus whisky enthusiasts on the flavor of each bottling rather than the age. Very interesting stuff. A Port Ellen NAS?! that’s a first methinks. I told you Ben is quite creative and his mind works in very very different levels than mine or yours. A cool chap.
We started with the Macallan :
The Macallan , 40.9% ABV,Batch #1 , £48, sold out
This glass had a very weird smell. At first I was not sure if I had been given the right one, so I sniffed the glass of the guy sitting next to me. Same things. A really strong kind of Fennell aroma was coming from the glass, that went away only after some time. After discussing it with my mate Sjoerd and Ben (after the fest was over, over a twitter session) it seems this is the logical explanation, since Sjoerd took a small sample and said it smelled entirely different at home. weird. Anyways,this bottle displays nice art with an odd guy ( some say he’s good looking, I beg to differ- pun intended) looking at the stills of the Macallan distillery.
My notes are totally different than the ones I’ve read, and since it seens the glass was funky, I will post my notes after I have a proper 2nd tasting,
Nose: Some smoke, Cigar leaves mixed with more fruity notes of apple, grapes and sultanas. a funky yet. very appetizing mix.
Palate:Very nice. Egg nog. Smoke. Tobacco , sherry sugars, with peppery and salty outline. quite unique and very well integrated.
Finish:Fruity, some smoke, and distant memories of firecrackers.
Moving on to the Ardbeg, again NAS.
Ardbeg , Batch #1 51.90% , £54, sold out.
Nose: peat reek. Big time quite Lemony and very Ardbegy. With ample Ash. Tar. Pine, some leather and malty backbone to support all this.
Palate: Big ash. Peat smoke, with a lot of Cinnamon spicy, sugar and lemon sherbet.
Finish: Salt, Ash, and Espresso. Bring it on!
A lovely dram! Ardbeg fans, you’re going to love this (sold out, bummer).
And last, and not least : the Port Ellen. I gave it 5 minutes to be sold out, and probably it was sold out in even less time. Lovely stuff there on the artwork with Jon Beach depicted on the bottle (and sitting there next to me, with the lemon drops and Chamois leather). Epic. [he was also my roommate as you can remember, but not in that way, you dirty old men!]
Port Ellen , Batch #1, 48.20%, £229, sold out (in a flash!)
Nose: Lemon pie, with whiffs of leather (you are right there Ben!), with gentle smoke, salt and dust, quite briny.
Palate: Very similar to the nose with the smoke, and lemon drops, then on to brine and something sweeter, maybe candy and malt.
Finish : salt, peat, and pinch of pepper, with the leather and some dough.
A wonderful dram, made in small quantities (25 bottles I think, and 2 were opened by us, so not that much left). I hope Jon got a few bottles of those, only fitting he would.
Great stuff. all over. creative, amazing art work, and most important – top notch malts!
If you remember at the beginning of the post I mentioned there were supposed to be more drams, but due to technical reasons we had those four? well, Turns out we’re going to be deciding what’s the future bottling is going to look like. The next dram in this series is going to be a Highland Park, and soon every participant of the tasting I going to get 3 different samples and vote on his favorite. then Ben is going to be bottling the one which is voted the best. In addition the label of that one is going to include US, yes, members of that master class, and to do so, after the tasting we all went out for a group photo in the nearby woods. Cool! (pic below, and I am sitting down in the 3rd row holding a bottle of that Ardbeg)
photo: Ernst Lindhout
So, expect more updates In that front.
On the next part of Maltstock 2012 report, the rest of the events of day 2 and some more master classes.and fun stuff.