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Hidden Gems: August 2020

When it comes to single cask whisky, I am continually amazed by the fact that the most memorable casks are usually the most unexpected. Quite often they come from lesser-known distilleries or appear relatively unassuming on paper. Yet when finally uncorked, these spirits will thrill and delight unlike anything before it. I love this element of surprise and find it nourishes my unending quest for new discoveries. As Society members, we have access to the most diverse collection of single cask whiskies in the world. Yet with so many unique styles and flavours to choose from, finding the “hidden gems” can often be a challenge, especially without first tasting them. To help you with your own selection, I’ve tasted through the vast selection of unique whiskies available to Society members in the USA to uncover three hidden gems worth considering. All of these casks offer both a fantastic tasting experience and remarkable value.

Cask 66.167 ‘Big and punchy’

What’s not to love about a young peated spirit matured in a sherry cask? Cask 66.167 ‘Big and punchy’ is just that; a bold and assertive, smoky spirit with elegant overtones of toffee, toasted marshmallow, and macadamia nuts. I find peated whisky from the Scottish Highlands to be a bit more approachable to that of the Islands. The type of smoke in this whisky is more reminiscent of a slow-burning, indoor fireplace as opposed to a roaring beach bonfire on a cold, rainy day. Combine that with a gentle sherry cask, one that imparts a luxurious hint of dark fruit, cinnamon and clove, without taking too much away from the ‘Big and punchy’ spirit beneath it. An absolute stunner. 

Cask 94.8 ‘From Cornwall to Madagascar’ 

These Juicy oak & vanilla casks continue to win me over time and time again. Cask 94.8 ‘From Cornwall to Madagascar’ should be renamed to ‘From Glass to Mouth’ because that is the only place this whisky is going from now on! There’s something about the bright and zesty character of a Speyside whisky matured in a refill bourbon barrel that evokes a feeling of calm and serenity. This one is all orchard fruit drizzled in honey with a hint of marzipan and toasted caramel. The gentler cask allows the spirit’s true character to shine through and more than anything, tasting this whisky transports my mind to a quiet forest in the heart of Speyside. A lovely whisky that under promises and over delivers.  

Cask 41.129 ‘Kicked in the coconuts’

Wow! This was unexpected. Cask 41.129 ‘Kicked in the coconuts’ is a 12-year-old Speyside whisky matured in a first-fill bourbon barrel. It offers a uniquely rich profile of marmalade, toasted coconut, and ginger with a level of depth I would expect from a whisky much older. The Spicy & sweet flavour profile tends to be home to some of the most unpredictable spirits from within the Society’s stocks and this is a good example of that. I love the spirit’s thick, velvety texture and at 60.3% ABV, it’s been to experience new flavours as they emerge by adding a few drops of water.