A new(s)letter from The Sipping Shed
You are here because you are one of a select bunch of whisky enthusiasts who’s interest in the aqua vitae goes far beyond the supermarket shelf and demands an altogether more interesting experience. At some point that’s led you to sign up for our news letter and you’ve since patiently waited, in quiet yet burning anticipation, for first contact.
We sincerely hope you’ve had better things to do rather than wait for our sage ramblings and you’re not too vexed by our unavoidable absence. But the wait is finally over and we’ve a plethora of badly formatted nonsense for you to get through.
So, grab a dram, keep your expectations low and let’s crack on…
First up, what we’ve been up to:
As an independent bottler of whisky we’ve not enjoyed the lack of movement and whisky shows. For me the whisky shows in particular are a great way to see the vibrant whisky community letting their hair down, giggling our way through master classes like naughty children with a slightly tipsy teacher and trying whisky few of us could find, let alone afford. Service is resuming though so once you’re feeling confident about getting out and about I’d recommend attending one. There’s very little in the way of pretence as few take themselves too seriously and there’s a lot of fun to be had. Top tip – try the good stuff first. You wont be able to taste much by the end of the session.
In the interim we’ve been schmoozing with distilleries and talking to retailers to get more fabulous whisky out into the wild. A recent encounter with a young distillery with 18th century heritage shows promise but that’s top secret for now. I’ll reveal more as we close in on a deal.
You can now find our fantastic bottlings at the famous Artisan Restaurant in Wishaw where Derek and Fiona Mather serve up fantastic food an curate one of the best whisky collections on Scotland, especially for fans of Bruichladdich.
Tyndrum Whisky at The Green Welly Stop is on board too. If you’re heading up the west coast of Scotland, chances are you’ve stopped for a leg stretch, refreshments and fuel at the Green Welly Stop. It’s also the home to Tyndrum Whisky where whisky veteran Craig Dearden host a generous selection of the very best whiskies. You’ll leave with more than a pair of green wellies that’s for sure!
If you’ve got favourite independent bottle shop you’d like to see on our list then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Little Dram – Glass with class
Earlier this year we met up with Pawel, founder of whisky glassware shop A Little Dram and set off to Roundhay Park to take some pretty amateurish photos of our fabulous whisky in his selection of premium glasses, each tailored to suit a different style of whisky. To be fair Pawel’s photo’s are really very good but my efforts, featured below, much less so – solid 8 out of 10 for trying. Pawel talked me through his 3 main different glass types, each designed to enhance light and floral, robust and spicy or smoky and peaty drams. They certainly looked the part but I was sceptical about having different glasses for different whiskies – after all, when has the trusty Glencairn ever let us down?
I put the Model G500 through its paces, its shape tailored to enhance peated whisky. It’s quite heavy and feels solid in the hand. There’s a lid too to catch vapours and keep your dram fresh. It’s very clearly a premium product. With peated whisky in mind it had to be our Caol Ila 10 year old in the glass though I failed to get any snaps such is my photo shoot competence level.
Straight off the bat more of the maritime elements could be detected as the peat was dialled back just a tiny bit giving a softer and saltier nosing experience to a standard Glencairn glass. Individual elements seemed easier to pick out with the alcohol pushed back a little. When I tried it with our 11 year old Blair Athol it had a similar impact, focusing individual flavours more, pulling back the alcohol and spice and giving a softer experience at cask strength and bringing the fruit notes further forward.
Don’t expect a completely different whisky to emerge when you use one of Pawel’s glasses, but the difference is notable and quite interesting. More akin to upgrading your hi fi than an entirely new experience – extra clarity and detail if you will. With that in mind I’d definitely recommended one of A Little Dram’s glasses, especially if you’re looking for a special glass to enjoy your top shelf drams with.
make sure you visit A Little Dram and explore their full range.
New Bottlings coming very soon:
Ardmore 12 PX finish
For those not familiar with the tale of our Ardmore cask 1313/2009 (ex bourbon) we essentially created/curated 3 whiskies from one cask. At 7 years old we decide to take some out of the original cask and pop it in a custom made 55 litre Oloroso sherry cask. It matured there for 2 years and was bottled as a big, brash 9 year old, sweet and smoky with bags of character. Fair to say it went down a storm!
However, the whisky in the original cask wasn’t ready for bottling. The small 55 litre casks move things along quite a bit quicker due to the increased contact ratio between cask and the volume of liquid. This applies to the whisky left in the original cask as the volume was now reduced but has a lesser impact than our 55 litre casks.
So, we left cask 1313/2009 to continue its slumber until it was 11 years old. At this point it was a beautifully smoky dram. The peat had been tamed by time in the cask and the heather, floral and grassy notes were unmasked by any sherry. It was an absolute treat so we decide to bottle. But. We like having fun. So we popped another 55 litres in a tiny Pedro Ximenez (PX) cask before bottling the rest.
That little PX cask has now been selected for bottling. At 12 years old this Ardmore has become even smoother and has taken on extra richness and spice from the PX cask. We love a PX finish but you do have to be careful not to create an overly sweet mess. This is nothing of the sort, so keep your eye’s peeled for the release date coming very soon.
Aultmore 11 refill sherry cask
We’re bottling half of this cask and letting the rest mature further so you can enjoy this whisky at two different ages. Aultmore is on the delicate side so a first fill cask would kill the spirit. A refill sherry cask works very well giving you those rich dried fruits and spice but complimenting rather than overwhelming the complex yet delicate spirit of Aultmore. If you’ve tried our Blair Athol 11 year old you’ll understand exactly what we mean.
We’re experimenting with new labels for this one and I hope to get you a sneak preview of the design before release.
Later in the year expect more fabulous Blair Athol to come but we’ll let you know about that closer to the time.
In the spot light:
Linkwood 11 year old. 59% abv. Ex Bourbon cask.
Pale is interesting as this complex yet elegant whisky proves. People often buy whisky on colour – the darker the better some would say – and that has led to this dram being overlooked compared to its peers. Make no mistake though, it holds its own and then some. That’s because this whisky was paired with an excellent cask but perhaps not the cask you’d expect.
Linkwood is prized by blenders for its mouthfeel and flavour profile. It’s used to add depth and complexity to many blends and for this reason Linkwood tend not to use highly active or first fill casks – the blenders don’t want lots of cask character. Our example demonstrates why.
In the glass the cask influence is there, smoothing the edges and adding touches of sweetness, dusty notes and spice but the unique Linkwood spirit is proudly at the fore of this whisky. The cask has played a vital role in the flavour if not a big one, delivering sweetness and vanilla. Stone fruit aromas mingle with the floral elements of the bouquet, there’s old fashioned sweets, mint toffee and more. So much just on the nose alone that you can easily forget to drink it and simply get lost in the aromas!
Add a dash of water to get the best out of this expression and release the full flavour. Do a ‘before and after’ and you’ll smell and taste the difference. Experiment to find your favourite sweet spot as this single malt hugely benefits from the careful addition of water. I’d be tempted to bottle this at a lower strength in hindsight – 50% to 55% perhaps.
The palate delivers the nose perfectly; this is not one of those confusing whiskies where the nose and palate seem like two different whiskies. No, they’re seamlessly integrated here. On the nose there’s an oiliness that follows through on the palate to give a wonderful sense of weight in the mouth. It’s really fruity, it’s floral, it’s complex and elegant – you can see why blenders don’t want too much cask influence. There’s so much going on but it’s well defined and a joy to explore. A medium length finish begs for another pour. I’ve never managed to have just one!
The lack of cask influence here is this whiskies strength. The cask has done a marvellous job and added some great characteristics, so this is not just a tired cask not worthy of the whisky, but it has stayed firmly on the back seat and let spirit do the driving all the way to Barnard Castle and back again.
Don’t get me wrong, anyone who’s tried the Gordon & MacPhail sherried Linkwood releases will know this is a whisky that works well in a sherry cask and I highly recommend trying one. But our Linkwood 11 year old gives you the opportunity to really get to grips with the wonderful Linkwood character. It’s an impressive whisky with so much to say for itself that it doesn’t need the cask to step in and do the talking. Cracking stuff!
Ah yes, the silly bit at the end of The News to flesh it out a bit more; tales of sponsored pie eating contests and cats stuck up trees. Fortunately, we can report that no cats have become stuck up trees in the vicinity of our Shed. Kevin and Bob, our Shed cats, are not the most nimble of felines so a fence is usually the maximum height they’ll entertain.
Cats aside, we still have stocks of Caol Ila 10 year old and Blair Athol 11 year old so fill your boots while you can. In the interest of transparency, there are 12 more bottles of Blair Athol than stated on the website. The intention is to hold back 2 cases until we bottle the rest of the cask so some of you can try them both together. We’ll split some bottles into samples too and bundle those with the 2nd release. I’ll be making that clear on our social media platforms too – we’re not trying to dupe anyone into a FOMO purchase!
We’ll have an in depth look at one of those whiskies next time but I’ll leave you to ponder the Linkwood for now. It really is a fabulous dram.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading our little newsletter and well done for making it this far. We’ve got more to wax lyrical about but let’s spread the joy out a little bit. I’m looking forward to telling you about our Glenshiel distilled at Loch Lomond distillery – fab little thing that we’ve had a for a while now and is progressing very nicely indeed. In our next instalment of badly formatted news we’ll have a preview of the Aultmore 11 year old to whet your appetite and more information on that top secret collab!
In the meantime myself and the Team here at Shed Quarters will be tasting, deliberating and talking whisky as well as cracking on with the paperwork. We hope you get to do the same. Minus the paperwork.