Hidden Gems: August 2021
This month there has been no shortage of exceptional single cask whiskies to discover at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. As we near the conclusion of what has been a much-needed summer, I’ve begun to look ahead at what I view to be the prime whisky season.
To prepare for autumn and the colder weather to come, I sat down to revisit our ever-growing selection of single cask whiskies and identify the true hidden gems. Which of these whiskies were the most thrilling? The most unexpected? How about the best value? All these factors and more were considered in curating this short list of fantastic whiskies that should not be missed.
I’ve always gravitated toward the whiskies that are different. And of all the whiskies available to members today, this one takes the prize. Cask G9.4 Tiki bar delivery is a 20-year-old single grain whisky that spent time aging in two casks; the first 18 years in a bourbon barrel and a final 2 years in a refill Trinidad rum barrel. Those final two years have added a layer of bright, tropical notes to an otherwise old and mellow whisky. Coconut shavings, white chocolate and salted caramel are met with fresh lime juice and rum-soaked bananas with a fresh hint of papaya. One taste and it’s clear: 2 years in that rum cask was just enough to extract all the goodness without overpowering the underlying spirit. It’s a fantastic whisky that is certainly different from anything you’ll have in your home bar.
A gentler take on the traditionally bold and aggressive peated whiskies produced in Scotland, Cask 4.272 Puffs from a ship’s funnel is a fantastic choice if you are learning to appreciate smoky whisky for the first time. Originating from the Northern Scottish island of Orkney, this 12-year-old spirit offers a beautiful array of charred driftwood, cold ash, maple syrup, burnt orange peel and a hint of lavender. A cold wave of salty sea air rounds out a rather complex and moody spirit. While its profile may be gentler and perhaps more approachable than say a peated whisky from Islay, it still packs quite the punch. It’s strength of 61% ABV is not too be underestimated!
Cask 63.74 Straightforward shooting weekend
If you caught our August Outturn Preview Tasting on YouTube, you won’t be surprised to see this one featured. It was the standout cask for both my colleague, Tom Smith, and myself among a fantastic selection of unique single cask whiskies. Cask 63.74 Straightforward shooting weekend is an 18-year old whisky that has spent all of its years in a first-fill bourbon barrel. Taking what was one of the fruitiest spirits produced in Speyside and allowing it to age for nearly two decades in a fresh bourbon cask has produced a wild, explosive flavour profile of overripened pears, strawberry cream, grape juice and fresh fig. It is an absolute fruit bomb of a whisky with a profile that continues to evolve by the second. The spirit is creamy and lush and the finish is never ends. One dram and you’ll still be tasting it in the morning, teeth brushed or not.