We live in cities you'll never see on screen,
I'm a big fan of Single Cask Nation, an independent bottling company with a sweet Hebrew flair (not a community requirement). I first met these guys at Whisky Live NYC in 2013, pouring away their first three bottles and generally having the time of their life. Less than a year later, I was privileged to represent the Nation and pour alongside co-founder Joshua Hatton at Whiskey in the Winter (St. Louis). I've also collected every single release SCN has put out. Believe me when I say to you that this is about as fun as whisky imbibing can get: cask strength, single cask, independent bottling. All of this time I have been asking myself, "Why haven't I reviewed these amazing drinks?"
Well, I'm a bit late to the game now. 4 of the first 6 bottlings have sold out (only available online), and as such are passing quickly into the annals of history. This particular cask, a 12 year old Hebridean malt, yielded only 277 bottles. The two I own will never happen again. When they're gone, they're gone! A whisper in the wind. This is the magic of single cask bottlings. They exist as a wrinkle in time.
I've chosen to review the Arran bottling first, because it's the whisky that won me over to Single Cask Nation. It was so utterly unique that I knew I'd never stumble across something quite like it again. This spirit was distilled in 1999 and spent its first 8 years in a first fill bourbon barrel. It then spent its last 4 years in a first fill pinot noir cask. "Whoa" is right. Check out what's happening in the nose.
There's an enormous, spicy, pungent hit of Brisa Tropical deodorant. This whisky's like a tweenager who still hasn't figured out how much cologne to wear to the dance. I know what song I'm going to use now (pastes the URL into the plug-in above). The scent lingers long after the whisky has left the room. There are some growing pains going on here, so strange for a 12 year old (whisky). The oily, pickle brine explodes from the glass. Underneath all this there's some soft, tumbling surf, sandalwood, and a distant hint of sun dried agave. It's been a while since I've really sat and nosed this one, but it never gets familiar. Let's taste it.
It's hot, as in oleo capsicum hot, but it's not all the 54.8% ABV. Hot pepper spices and cilantro rise up your sinuses, then unfold into something sticky and sweet on the palate - like a s'more with crispy burnt marshmallows. Kids and their junk food. You can still feel the chili heat on your lips, like when you get a little overzealous with the salsa in your scrambled eggs. Speaking of breakfast, here comes the blood orange marmalade. The finish is long and oily and no I will not drink water because I want it to last forever. I may just have to finish this bottle tonight.
I can't wait to review the others. Coming tomorrow, a very creamy delicious Glen Moray. I'll keep posting one a day until we catch up to the current inventory. Hope that Catoctin Creek travels quickly...
Tasting is a synesthetic experience. In this blog, every whisky gets a song - one that describes, suits, and evokes. I review any whisky that suits my fancy, and some that don't. I don't give scores. You'll know whether it's a winner or loser when we peel back its mysteries and start putting pen to paper.