Back in 2019, quite quietly, we launched a new range of whiskies. In the middle of last year, we released a second batch, also quite quietly. But now, with the launch of our latest whiskies, we want to make a bit of noise – please welcome The Whisky Exchange Single Casks Batch 3.
Where did these come from?
A bit of history. Back in the olden dayes – the early 2000s – The Whisky Exchange launched its first independent bottlings. These eventually led to three ranges of whisky – The Single Malts of Scotland, Port Askaig and Elements of Islay. As they got more successful, more people wanted them, and other shops started buying them – they were no longer special bottlings for The Whisky Exchange.
So, last year, Sukhinder Singh – The Whisky Exchange’s co-founder – decided that we needed our own whiskies again. While we have great bottlings that we’ve done with distilleries and independents from around the world, we didn’t have anything that was truly ours. He dug into his spreadsheets of casks, and chose a few, which were quietly launched at Whisky Show 2019 – a new range of single cask whiskies with our name on: The Whisky Exchange Single Casks.
Our second batch launched during lockdown and included an already sought-after Laphroaig 1998, as well as a miniature set of the whole range to date. With only a few bottles of those early batches left, it was time to bottle some more – five new whiskies: the third batch.
Caol Ila 2008 12 Years Old Cask #313261
A classic Caol Ila, maybe our favourite distillery – it’s definitely the distillery we go back to the most. Distilled in 2008 and matured in a hogshead for 12 years.
Nose: Incense, candied lemon and biscuity grain are joined by soft liquorice-root sweetness and earthy peat smoke. Notes of sea-spray, gravel and dark chocolate build, with toffee apples and lime following.
Palate: Chocolate limes and burning pine kick things off, sweet, smoky and citrusy. The limes are joined by charred orange peel, crashing waves, freshly spread gravel driveways, tarred ropes and wax-polished oak.
Finish: A touch of floral sweetness lingers, as burning rose bushes, liquorice and chocolate fade.
Comment: A classic, coastal Caol Ila, packed with citrus, minerality, sea-spray and tarry smoke.
Glenlossie 2009 11 Years Old Cask #6281
Not every distillery in Scotland gets its fair share of the limelight, and Glenlossie is definitely one that hides away a bit. It’s the style we focus on – it’s all about the distillery character. It’s a classic Speyside spirit, with loads of fruit, matured in a bourbon barrel for 11 years.
Nose: Butter icing and crisp apples at first, with sweet pastry, oatcakes and baked apples developing. Fruity caramel builds accompanied by crisp-but-sweet pear and sugared almonds.
Palate: Very sweet to start: apple-and-pear jam stirred through vanilla cream. Sharper notes of unripe apple, mango and pineapple build, along with green leaves, fresh-cut grass, sugared almonds and freshly sawn old oak boards.
Finish: Damp oak fades as apple pies and Granny Smith apples build. Oatcakes, digestives and anise linger.
Comment: Rich, rounded and malty, with a layer of fruit running through the middle.
Glen Elgin 2008 / 12 Years Old / Cask # 805343
Another fairly quiet distillery is Glen Elgin. It’s a bit more available than Glenlossie, but the official bottlings haven’t really been that inspiring recently. This single cask bottling is much more so – a balanced combination of fresh and jammy fruit, with an unexpectedly dark back-end. Distilled in 2008 and aged for 12 years in a hogshead.
Nose: A fruit bowl to start: pears and raspberries with some zingy redcurrants and zest lemons. Sweet butter and sugar sandwiches on white-bread are balanced by polished oak and woody spice, with barley sugar and lemon drops hiding at the back.
Palate: Thick and sweet, with the fruit from the nose alternately jammy and poached, with liquorice and damp oak sneaking in behind. Blackcurrant jam and mint cream notes develop, along with sweet, creamy custard and grated 100% cocoa dark chocolate.
Finish: Custard and jam lead to dark oak, gentle char and liquorice pastilles.
Comment: A big, fruity whisky which balances fresh and darker flavours against sweetness and oaky spice.
Bunnahabhain 1997 / 22 Years Old / Cask #5448
While Bunnahabhain is best known for its unpeated spirit, increasingly its smoky whisky is making a splash in the single malt world. However, it’s a relatively recent thing, with full smoky production only really starting in the past 20 years. This is a smoky spirit from before that time, which looks to have come from some of the experimental batches they did in 1997. Big and smoky, aged in a single hogshead for 22 years.
Nose: Damp fire-pits and last night’s burnt leaves. Fields of ferns are covered over with sweet smoke, as sea-breeze ozone and sticky liquorice notes build.
Palate: Rich notes of sweet malt loaf, raisins and liquorice sit alongside sea-wettened stones, burning pine and leafy herbs – mint and tarragon. Char and tar hide underneath along with soft spice and a hint of dark chocolate.
Finish: Damp leaves and polished oak linger.
Comment: A dark and smoky dram, with a slice of freshness and maritime character.
Ben Nevis 1996 / 23 Years Old / Cask #1709
When it comes to distilleries that are on the up at the moment, Ben Nevis must be in the top handful. Its own whiskies have been getting loads of love, and independent bottlings are being snapped up at speed, especially of 1996-vintage releases. This bottling – from one of the increasingly well-known #17xx casks – shows why: it’s a beautifully balanced and fruity whisky with loads of spice. It’s maybe my pick of the third batch. Distilled in 1996 and aged for 23 years in a hogshead.
Nose: Sweet, floral and fruity, with meadow flowers, Dolly Mixtures, candied orange slices and a touch of gummi bear. Dried pineapple and mango hide under a layer of apple sauce.
Palate: The fruit continues into the palate, with spicy gingerbread piled high with apple and pear jam. A touch of leafy mint floats over the top, with a river of raisins and currants following. Wax polished oak sits under it all.
Finish: Caramel- and chocolate-dipped apple slices on a freshly cut oak board.
Comment: Layers of fruit, spice and chocolate make for a rich and complex dram that rewards exploration.
You can find all of these whiskies over on our website – The Whisky Exchange Single Casks.
Originally published on The Whisky Exchange Blog – The Whisky Exchange Single Casks Batch 3