The latest Shedlines from the hottest Shed in town.
New bottlings arriving soon…
I know I keep saying that but they are. Genuinely.
We’ve been testing out one of them thoroughly – our amazing Aultmore 11 year old. A fine Single Malt from Speyside matured fully in a refill sherry cask.
Interestingly, at 7 years old it was pretty pale and had little cask influence. It was maturing more like a fairly tired bourbon cask but this was a refill sherry cask. I wasn’t worried though as it’s a lovely distillate and the cask was smoothing edges and taming flavours as you’d expect, it just wasn’t imparting any sherry notes. This was a curious cask indeed. A year on and it had started to take on some, if little, colour and it was the first real sign that this was in a refill sherry cask. There was a little of the sherry profile emerging but you had to look hard for it.
Yet only a few years later, it’s in the bottling queue as an 11 year old with a strong and obvious sherry influence. It’s burnished something or other in colour and is exploding with the dried fruits, spice and candied peel you’d expect from a sherry cask. And that’s casks for you. You think you know what you’re doing so they like to throw you the odd curve ball now and then, to keep you on your toes.
Suffice to say you’re in for a treat. But you probably knew that because all our bottlings have to be approved by Sarah which guarantees quality! Aultmore is a fairly delicate spirit but it holds its own, adding a touch of lemon meringue and a fizz of sherbet to balance the heavier flavours from the sherry cask. My sample is a whopping 60.7% and is about a month ahead of the bottling so there should be little if any difference to the official bottling. It certainly packs a punch but a few drops of water keeps it under control, pulls the fruit flavours froward and lengthens the finish. I’m looking forward to cracking a bottle with friends soon!
Joining the Autmore 11 year old will be the Ardmore PX finish 12 year old – the third release from a single cask(ish). So hotly anticipated that it could be a new series of Line of Duty. I know there’s a few of you out there that will be keen to grab a bottle so you can participate in a vertical tasting that will leave you fairly horizontal. I’m also aware that we wont have more than 60 or 70 bottles, so on this occasions only, I will put some aside for a few people (I think I know who you are but get in touch just in case) as I’d really like as many people as possible to be able to try all 3 expressions together. It’s not been an easy set to collect and there’s a lot of patience involved, so I want to make sure loyalty and patience are both rewarded.
Label sneak preview (abv is for demonstration only!)…
Err James Angus.
Oh right,. sorry, come on in. Thought you were someone else.
James Angus came a knockin’ on the doors of Shed Quarters recently and we were very pleased to see him. James can be found on social media channels and his own blog airing his views on all things whisky in his acerbic, no prisoners writing style. Somehow impressed by our foray into blogging – Shed Time Stories – he offered to write for us too. James made it clear that he answers to no one. He’s not a brand ambassador, he doesn’t get paid to review and isn’t angling for either of those things so he can literally say what he wants.
Here at Shed Quarters we have to be more careful with our words and in some cases, not say anything at all. Upsetting your suppliers has never been de rigueur and certainly not something we want to dabble with. James, on the other hand, can take anyone to task as he pleases, including us. But he also shares his big heart for those that deserve it. And he has dog called Mork which I think is great!
Not one to shy away from a contentious issue, check out his first piece on flippers here
And his reminder that blend should not be ignored here
In the Spot Light
Caol Ila 10 year old – single ex-bourbon cask – 60.1% abv
This whisky, along with our Linkwood 11 years old, was chosen to highlight the ability of single casks to present you with a familiar flavour profile but with more clarity, depth and finesse.
The Col Ila is very much in the house stlye, perhaps harking back to earlier days but it’s very ‘Caol Ila’. Smoked kippers, heather, floral notes, a touch of citrus and a healthy dose of sea spray. So why bother bottling it? The standard 12 is cheaper and pretty damn solid. Well the vatting of many casks to create, and create consistently, the standard 12 means you lose definition. The flavours of many cask merge together giving a thick flavour profile that fills the palate. Don’t get me wrong, it;’s thoroughly enjoyable, but there are greater depths to Caol Ila that don’t necessitate spending a 3 figure sum.
A single cask is different to a standard bottling. In some way it has less flavour components – there’s no mix of sherry and bourbon casks for example. So it’s a narrower profile in that sense. But its more defined. Without the different characteristics of many casks fighting for attention there’s a level of clarity you can’t get with a vatting of casks. It allows you to explore greater depths and get to grips with the cask type and the distillery character. You can pick out flavours with greater precision and that, for me, makes it a more evocative dram.
In the case of our Caol Ila you can taste the influence of being largely matured by the sea – a gentle salinity is evident on nosing along with an ozonic quality. The heather note is clear along with honeysuckle and a touch of damp earth. The smoke is ashy, like dying embers in a beach-side fire. There’s a real sense of being outdoors on Islay and taking a deep breath of Island air. It’s fresh, it’s clean, it’s costal and it makes you smile. The cask adds a layer of sweetness that gently wraps around the individual elements to bring it together and create the whole.
As a bottler were always trying to find the best examples of casks that we can. The distilleries and brokers know their casks and price accordingly. And without the economy of scale you get with a 20,000 bottle outrun, the price is inevitably going to be higher than a standard bottling. I think it’s well worth it if you’re a whisky enthusiast. You deserve to get your moneys worth and we think our single casks give you a whisky experience than more than pays for itself. In this case it’s a taste of Caol Ila that really defines the distillery style and character more so than their admittedly very good standard bottling could.
It is a case of horse for courses though. If you’re dancing to music at a party you’re unlikely to critique the stereo system. Or even think about it. As long as its providing those booty shakin’ vibes, we’re good. But there are times when you want to indulge in music and then the quality of that experience can be greatly enhanced by investing in some decent Hi-Fi kit. Same applies here. Grab a bottle of Caol Ila 12 – it’s great stuff. Enjoy it with friends and be merry. But for those times when you really want to get to grips with Caol Ila as a whisky, as a distillery and as a flavour experience, then we are hear to give you just that.
That’s it for now. We’re adding to the blog a bit more regularly now so keep your eyes peeled for new article, badly formatted of course and don’t forget to check out our guest writer James Angus.