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Hidden Gems: February 2021

At The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, we are on a passionate pursuit of the world’s most unique spirits. Over the course of what has now been 38 years, we have uncovered thousands of remarkable casks from nearly 200 different distilleries, each with their own characteristics and individual story to tell. More than just bottling whisky of exceptional quality, it is the uniqueness of each cask and its contents that has excited me the most. 

Each month I am tasked with the unique responsibility of tasting through the selection of casks available to Society members in America. The objective? To identify the “hidden gems” that may have been overlooked since their release. You see what fascinates me most about Society whisky is that oftentimes the casks that turn out to be the most memorable are the also the most unexpected. They frequently come from lesser-known distilleries or appear relatively unassuming on paper. Yet when finally uncorked, the spirit will thrill and delight unlike anything before it. 

So without further ado, I present to you my Hidden Gems of February:

Cask 72.95 Barking up the right tree

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Juicy oak & vanilla flavour profile and this cask is a perfect representation as to why. Cask 72.95 Barking up the right tree is a bright and zesty Speyside whisky that evokes a genuine feeling of joy. Orchard fruits, cedar wood and fig give way to hazelnut rhubarb and marzipan in what I find to be a fun and uplifting flavour experience. The texture is brilliant and at 63% ABV, it packs quite the punch! It’s all too easy to like this one. 

Cask 53.351 Dr Reelgood

Islay whisky is as popular as ever so I was hesitant to feature a cask from the majestic island in this month’s Hidden Gems. Nonetheless, Cask 53.351 Dr Reelgood is a unique spirit deserving of the attention. Categorized in our Lightly Peated flavour profile, this particular cask offers a gentler take on the traditional smoke bombs coming out of Islay today. A cold and maritime character sea foam, smoked fish, and crab claws is married with a hint of iodine, vanilla custard and charred grapefruit. The peat smoke is present but only just, making for a well-balanced Islay whisky that might serve as a bridge to those new to this unique style. A real stunner. 

Cask 9.183 Eternal sunshine of the flawless kind

And now to the big one! Cask 9.183 Eternal sunshine of the flawless kind is a 24-year-old Speyside whisky that has been classically matured in a refill hogshead. I love the multi-layered profile of baked apple pie, poached pears, hazelnut and milk chocolate intertwined with fermented wine grapes and a hint of lemon zest. The spirit is thick and oily, lending for a long, mouth-coating finish. It’s extraordinary to find a whisky that has been matured for nearly a quarter century while still retaining a whopping 62.3% ABV. This one may be the most memorable yet.  

Slàinte mhath!

Ben Diedrich