As part of our celebration of 30 years of the Scotch Whisky Experience, we’ve curated a very special flight of whiskies that take you right through the decades to the present day. We asked Visitor Experience Manager Jim Allan to talk us through the tasting notes.
To win a flight for two people, just comment below this blog post and tell us which is the oldest distillery in our selection!
Terms and conditions apply, and we’ll reveal the winner on Monday 21st May 2018. Good luck!
A birthday dram
It’s your birthday or anniversary, so how do you celebrate? With a cake, a party or a dram, or maybe all three?
In May 1988, on Castlehill, Edinburgh the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre opened its doors for the first time. Now 30 years later, now known as the Scotch Whisky Experience (SWE), it’s time to celebrate our 30th Birthday or Pearl Anniversary.
Every month, SWE provides Whiskies of the Month across its two whisky bars, offering visitors a selection of whiskies representing the different regions or styles of Scotland. Perhaps it’s appropriate during the 30th birthday month, that we’re offering a selection of whiskies celebrating 30 years of Scotch whisky.
Choosing whiskies to celebrate such a momentous occasion was never going to be easy, but in the end, six whiskies were selected which offer visitors to the SWE a journey through three decades.
So what did we choose?
Scotch Whisky Experience 30 year old Blend
The first whisky of the six selected is a truly exceptional and unique 30 year old blended Scotch whisky. Limited only 550 bottles, the whisky was specially created for the Scotch Whisky Experience’s anniversary by Brian Kinsman of William Grant & Sons. A perfect edition, given that the Scotch Whisky Experience opened its doors back in 1988.
This 30 year old blend has Girvan grain whisky as the base, with most of the malt components coming from Speyside. A small amount of the whisky has been matured in European oak, but it is essentially an American oak maturation. The composition of this blend is 60% grain whisky and 40% malt whisky.
Balblair Distillery, located on the coast of the Dornoch Firth near the village of Edderton has been producing Scotch whisky since the distillery was founded in 1790 by John Ross.
Balblair bottle their whiskies as vintages, and the 1991 is matured in American oak ex-bourbon casks and Spanish oak ex-sherry butts, giving a malt described as rich and celebratory. A perfect dram to celebrate the 1990s.
This Vintage 2001 Glenrothes single malt was selected from a variety of casks to deliver a Speyside whisky which has a lingering, typically Glenrothes finish of soft spices. The Glenrothes Distillery, founded in 1879, is unseen by many visitors to the town of Rothes, hidden as it is from the main street. The distillery itself lies at the foot of the Mannoch Hills beside the Rothes burn.
The Glenrothes bottle can be described as rounded and understated, reputed to be based on the distillery’s classic sample bottle. The Glenrothes bottles typically carry minimalist labels, which are essentially a set of tasting notes.
The Benromach Organic was the world’s first organic single malt whisky when it was released in 2006. Benromach continue to produce and bottle this malt as vintages: in this flight you’ll find the 2010 distillation, bottled in 2017.
Benromach Distillery is located in the town of Forres in the north of Speyside and continues to make whisky today with what they describe as the classic Speyside character: “beautifully balanced with a light touch of smoke”. Benromach Distillery first opened in 1898, and although mothballed it was reopened in 1993 and continues to thrive under the ownership of Gordon and MacPhail of Elgin.
Aged single malt whisky will have individual characteristics depending on when it was distilled and the casks in which it was matured. Tomintoul Distillery, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the distillery which started distilling in 1965 released a very special and unique product, The Five Decades. Individual casks from 1965, 1975, 1985, 1995 and 2005 were chosen to represent the flavours from 50 years of craftsmanship at the distillery.
Celebrating the 30s
Highland Park Distillery was founded in 1798, and through its whiskies the distillery celebrates the island of Orkney and its Viking roots.
Highland Park 30 year old has been matured in refill sherry seasoned casks and is said to characterise the more mature Highland Park style. Dry at the finish, it leaves an aromatic smoky flavour and a mouth-watering hint of mild, salty sea spray – the result of 30 years’ maturation on Orkney’s windswept island environment.
Selecting any whisky to celebrate and anniversary is never easy, selecting six is a monumental task. It’s not possible to represent all regions or distillers in one flight, but these whiskies chosen are intended to give visitors the opportunity to sample whiskies from various points in the history of the Scotch Whisky Experience. Let’s raise a toast to the past 30 years, and here’s looking forward to the future!