Whisky: Exceptions to the rule

Bar Manager Ian has rounded up the latest list of Whiskies of the Month – this month’s theme is designed to shake you out of your routine…

“Today is April Fools Day, but don’t worry because we don’t want to trick you here at the Scotch Whisky Experience! However, this famous date has inspired us to pick out eight different expressions that are a bit different to what you expect: April’s whiskies of the month are exceptions to the rule!

Lowlands: Glenkinchie 12

Most distilleries will look for what they would call a soft water source (“soft water” means that the water has a low mineral content), giving clean, pure water to make whisky with. Glenkinchie Distillery, however, uses a hard water source with a high mineral content from the Lammermuir Hills Spring. Does it make a difference to Glenkinchie’s final character? Well, that’s certainly up for debate, but it definitely makes Glenkinchie an interesting malt to try as a comparison!

The classic 12 year old Glenkinchie single malt is malty, grassy, and citrusy in character. If you decide to add a couple of drops of water to this malt, you’ll find that it’s incredibly refreshing with more of those fresh grass aromas coming through.

Highlands: Raasay While We Wait

What makes the Raasay distillery different is that they haven’t actually released a single malt that’s been made at the distillery yet! That will be changing next year, as Raasay will be releasing their first single malt from whisky distilled on the island, by the end of 2020! In the meantime, (or you could say, “while we’re waiting” for that day to arrive), they have released this expression that’s been made for them at an undisclosed distillery.

Raasay While We Wait is an interesting dram in its own right, considering that it contains a blend of peated and unpeated whisky, finished in Tuscan Red Wine casks. It’s light and fruity on the nose, but peppery, smoky, and spicy on the palate.

Speyside: BenRiach 10 year old Curiositas

When you think of Speyside single malts, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they are all soft and fruity. To be fair most of them are, but of course you will find exceptions everywhere. BenRiach is a distillery that has both peated and unpeated styles, and the BenRiach 10 year old Curiositas single malt is part of the peated range of whiskies that you will find from the distillery.

It’s intensely smoky, earthy, and floral but there’s also hints of vanilla and lemon kicking about in the glass too!

Campbeltown: Glen Scotia 15 year old

If you ever get to visit Campbeltown then you will find plenty of evidence of the area’s whisky history: in the 19th Century, Campbeltown was home to over 30 distilleries operating in this one small area! These days, the industry is a bit more modest and there are just three distilleries currently in operation. Glen Scotia is one if the three distilleries that has survived to the present day.

Glen Scotia 15 year old single malt is typical in that traditional Campbeltown style. Expect maritime notes of brine and sea spray, but alongside lots of vanilla sweetness as well!

Islay: Caol Ila 15 year old, unpeated

Islay is a regional whisky style that is famous for one thing: peat. Most of the distilleries on Islay have a reputation for producing whisky that’s big, punchy, robust, and smoky in character. But just like our Speyside whisky of the month, you will always find exceptions.

Standard Caol Ila expressions will have that typical “peat reek” but this 15 year old is unpeated meaning that you will get none of that! While still quite punchy (it’s cask strength, at 59.1% ABV), you will still find the Caol Ila 15 year old to be fresh, crisp, fruity, and spicy.

Blend: The Famous Grouse Smoky Black

Blended Scotch whisky has a reputation for being much lighter and easier drinking compared to single malts, and blenders tend to use peated single malts sparingly when crafting their blends, to avoid that smoky aroma overpowering the other flavours.

This is why The Famous Grouse Smoky Black really shows off the skills of a master blender: there’s a higher proportion of peated whisky within this blend, giving a distinct smoky edge which you normally wouldn’t get from your standard Famous Grouse! Although it’s smoky, you’ll still find it rich and sweet, with aromas of dried fruit, toffee, and spice.

Liqueur: Edradour Cream Liqueur

Cream liqueurs aren’t exactly unheard of but most Scotch whisky liqueurs tend not to be cream based. Edradour’s Cream Liqueur is probably one of the best of its kind: very easy going, with aromas and flavours of hazelnuts and white chocolate. Perfect over a dessert, or to make a Gaelic coffee with!

Luxury Scotch: Glenfiddich 21 year old Gran Reserva Rum Cask

You may have heard of Glenfiddich, considering that it’s one of the best-selling single malt Scotch whiskies in the world; but this one is a bit special. The Glenfiddich 21 year old Gran Reserva has been finished off in rum casks: rum casks for maturation isn’t completely unheard of but is still fairly rare, and gives this Glenfiddich an interesting flavour profile.

Your classic Glenfiddich character is here (lots of orchard fruits) but the rum cask influence gives this whisky of caramel and toffee sweetness, alongside tropical fruits and banana.

There’s nothing here on this list to fool you, but everything here is a little bit different from the norm if you’re in the mood for trying something unique! All of these expressions are available in both the McIntyre Gallery Bar and Amber Bar for you to enjoy a dram in Edinburgh, or you can purchase them by the bottle in our onsite whisky shop.

Slàinte mhath!”

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