Bar Manager Ian Clement gives the lowdown on the themes of our Whiskies of the Month. Here at the Scotch Whisky Experience, our whiskies of the month focus on single malts from the five whisky regions of Scotland, a blended whisky, a liqueur, and a luxury Scotch. Read more about them below.
“First of all, a very happy New Year! Here in Scotland, we take Hogmanay very seriously and we have loads of traditions. For example, In Scotland we have a tradition of ‘first-footing’, where the first person to enter your household on New Years Day is said to bring good luck for the following year. Whoever is your ‘first-foot’ should normally bring gifts with them like coal, salt, a black bun, and of course a wee dram of whisky! These gifts mean that the household will be safe, warm, and have enough food for the year.
January is also the month of fresh starts and planning for the year ahead and that’s exactly what we are doing here at the Scotch Whisky Experience. This year marks 10 years since the World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky opened here at the Scotch Whisky Experience, and during January and February we’re working on the refurbishment of the collection to ensure it stays in fantastic conditions for decades to come. You can read more about the news here.
With that, our whiskies of the month for January all have a theme of “firsts” for the industry for you to enjoy…
Although Glenkinchie has been around since 1837, there are a lot of exciting new plans happening at the distillery itself this year. In 2019, Glenkinchie plan to open a brand new, and expanded visitor centre, which will feature a new bar and event area, a welcome lounge, tasting rooms, and a cask draw experience. All these elements mean it’s a great place to visit and see Scotch whisky being made in front of you after getting your expert education from us here at the Scotch Whisky Experience!
Glenkinchie 12 itself is a classic style of a Lowland single malt: very citrussy, malty, and refreshing. If you decide to add a couple of drops of water with this dram, it makes it even more refreshing and grassy!
For the Highlands we have more exciting news about another distillery opening up here in Edinburgh. You may associate the Crabbie’s name with ginger wine, however the Crabbie name has a very strong connection to the Scotch whisky industry. John Crabbie was based in Leith and was a whisky blender before moving on to create the iconic ginger wine that we know today. In fact, he was also the first chairman for the North British grain distillery based here in the heart of Edinburgh! This year, there are plans to open a new Crabbie distillery in Leith which will be located close to where John Crabbie used to make his own blended Scotch whisky.
While we wait for this new distillery to be built, we can currently enjoy the new Crabbie 12 year old: sourced from another distillery, the whisky is described as a Peated Island Single Malt. The whisky itself is malty, fresh, and citrussy alongside green tea, and very gently smoke.
Allt-a-Bhainne Distillery was founded in 1975 for creating single malt Scotch whisky for blending purposes; however it has recently released the first ever official bottling from the distillery. Unusually for a Speyside single malt, the first official bottling of Allt-a-Bhainne is peated which means that it’s smokier than a typical Speyside single malt. The whisky itself is very sweet with lots of honey, vanilla, toffee, and butterscotch, with a nice earthy and smoky edge.
The whisky region of Campbeltown, located on the Kintyre peninsula, was the first to be granted license as a whisky-producing town way back 1609. Indeed, Campbeltown was once thought of as a hub of distilling and was home to over 30 distilleries! Glen Scotia is one of just three remaining distilleries currently in operation in Campbeltown, and the whiskies produced here have a very characteristic flavour profile which sets them apart from the other regions. This 15 year old expression has lots of rich fruit notes with apricot jam, orchard fruit, and dried fruit alongside spices and that typical sea salt!
Interestingly, for an Islay single malt, Bunnahabhain (pronounced boo-na-hav-enn) is not ordinarily peated, so you don’t typically get that “peat reek” from this distillery compared to many other Islay distilleries. This particular expression is an exception: a relatively new release frome Bunnahabhain this whisky has been peated so it has that classic smoky aroma and flavour that many associate with Islay whisky. In fact, this is the second batch of this expression to come from the distillery and “Toiteach a Dhà” (pronounced toch-ach ah-ghaa) means “smoky two” in Scots Gaelic!
Not only is it peated, but is has also spent time in sherry casks meaning that it’s smoky and earthy, but also very rich with spices and dried fruits.
Of course, Johnnie Walker is a well-known blended whisky and an instantly recognisable brand. However, Johnnie Walker have recently released a brand new expression to coincide with HBO’s massive fantasy TV show Game of Thrones! This particular blend pays homage to the show’s main enemy and threat, the White Walkers: it’s recommended you drink this blend straight from the freezer to help reflect that!
Contrary to the fearsome reputation of its namesake, the White Walker whisky is very sweet and very refreshing with notes of icing sugar, vanilla, orchard fruits, leaving a nice tingly “sherbet” experience on the palate.
Liqueurs work perfectly as an after-dinner drink or an aperitif, since they are much sweeter and gentler compared to single malt or blended Scotch whisky. So, if your new year’s resolution for 2019 was to “get into” Scotch whisky, then liqueurs are ideal if you are trying it for the first time!
Glayva, which means “very good” in Scots Gaelic, is exactly that! It’s a liqueur made with whisky, honey, spices, almonds, and tangerines, giving a lovely sweet, spicy, orangey, and aniseed experience. Like we said, it’s perfect as an after-dinner drink.
To finish off our whiskies of the month we have another brand-new distillery to mention! Annandale is located in Dumfries and Galloway, one of the most southerly parts of Scotland. This distillery began operating in 2014 and we now have its first ever official release: a real chance to try a dram of whisky history.
Annandale’s Man O’ Words expression is very young and feisty, and also at cask strength (61.6%!) making it a very intense dram with notes of honey, caramel, orchard fruits and spices.
Which of these whiskies have you tried so far? All are available on Amber Restaurant’s world-famous whisky bar for the rest of January!