More Independent Singles
Tidings introduced its readers to the unique pleasures of independently bottled single malt scotch whisky in the September 2011 issue. These whiskies, procured by the cask, sometimes from mothballed distilleries that still have warehouse stock, are unique for a number of reasons.
“Firstly, an independent bottler is likely to bottle casks from some of the less famous of Scotland’s 100 or so distilleries, which despite being relatively unheard-of may produce some incredible whiskies.” notes Andrew Laing Director, Edition Spirits Ltd., whose whiskies have begun to appear in the Ontario market. “Similarly an independent bottler may be less concerned with bottling whiskies only at “round” ages – so we might see a 19 year old or a 23 year old bottling.”
Arthur Winning, Managing Director, James MacArthur & Co Ltd. adds that every cask of whisky differs somewhat from the next and independent bottlers take advantage of this situation, as it is one of the things that also contributes to the product’s particular signature.
“And when you have only 250/300 bottles from a cask and it is gone, then that’s it. The uniqueness lies in the single cask. All are different, although they come from the same distillery and were filled at the same time. When you taste two together they are different. Remember, we are not seeking uniformity, like a commercial bottler, who has to have the same taste for every bottle.” As with Laing, Winnings bottling are also appearing in Ontario under the James MacArthur’s Fine Malt Selection and Old Masters labels.
Most independently bottled numbers are also released at a higher octane rating (often cask strength) than their distillery bottled counterparts and are treated with minimal intervention.
“These bottlings are usually found at higher than normal strength (e.g., 50% alcohol) or indeed at natural cask strength which can in some cases be over 60% alcohol,” Laing confirms. “This allows the consumer to dilute the whisky, or not, according to their own preference. At the same time, independent bottlings are unlikely to have been artificially darkened with caramel, or chill-filtered, meaning that the whisky should have a more ‘authentic’ appearance and a richer, more pleasing mouth feel.”
Because of all this, independently bottled malts can allow drinkers to enjoy a distillery’s product in (arguably) its purest form – a good enough reason as any to give them a try.
Read through the tasting notes below to find the one that suits your taste. For more information on these or other scotches in this range contact Don Ackerman at Don Ackerman’s Wines & Spirits 416.930.2950
James MacArthur’s Fine Malt Selection Glen Ord 12 Year Old ($94.95, 45% abv)
At once delicate and complex, this malt offers up an expressive nose of toasted grains, mild honey, a whiff of smoke and some fruity notes reminiscent of pear. Mildly spicy on the palate, with sweet barley, vanilla, citrus and cocoa powder.
Old Masters Linkwood 12 Year Old (Single Barrel, Cask #11650, $136.95, 56.6% abv)
Earthy, slightly briny with overtones of smoke, tobacco, barley and cloves on the nose. Weighty in the mouth with layers of toasted barley, black pepper, baked apple and some grassy/hay nuances and a hint of anise. Finishes long and warm.
Old Masters Glendullan 12 Year Old (Single Barrel, Cask #5059, $127.95, 56.1% abv)
Fairly complex aromas sporting notes of roasted grain, beeswax, lanolin, lemon zest and vanilla with hints of cut grass, vanilla and white flowers. Assertive, malty/grainy flavours enhanced by some candied fruit that lingers into the peppery finish.
The First Editions Clynelish 14 Year Old (Single Cask Ref. ES 009/01, $137.95, 56.3% abv)
Aged entirely in sherry cask which accounts for some of the sultana/fruitcake aromas that intermingle with tar, smoke, dark chocolate and a kiss of vanilla bean. Viscous and fruity with traces of mineral and perfect balance. Very rich – like the malt version of a plush leather armchair.
*All bottles are 700ml