Monday, December 03, 2007
Blended Scotch Whisky
Another week of international whiskies here on the Malt Mission. Last week focused on two corners of the world that are not necessarily synonymous with "whisky", Kenya and India. This week the focus will start with two Scotch whiskies that exist on an international stage, ie. they are not often found on these shores, then we'll make a mid-week stop at a real American oddity, and then move to Japan. We will keep the focus on international whiskies into next week. Hope you continue to dig it.
Something Special is a "deluxe blended whisky" from Hill Thomson, the makers of Queen Anne. The blending company began in 1793 with William Hill taking up an office in Edinburgh on Rose Street Lane, at the time a dodgy stretch that is now littered with pubs and restaurants, tourists and business people. Hill moved to a more desirable location on Fredrick St and was joined by William Thomson in 1857. In 1884 a third William (Shaw) joined the firm and helped create the successful Queen Anne blended whisky, a slightly peaty malt with a Speyside core. Hill Thomson had interest in Longmorn Distillery and to this day Longmorn is an ingredient in Queen Anne and Something Special. Something Special was created in the first half of the 20th century and, as R.J.S. McDowall writes, "is really worthy of a better name."
Today, Something Special is mainly found in South America and South Korea, two markets where they are lucky enough to have Old Parr 18, Grant's 18 and Buchanan's 18, three brands unavailable in their country of production, and three blends that I would LOVE to get my hands on. Many thanks to Tante Anne who brought me this bottle from Korea. Let's taste it!
Hard, mineral, and clean corn whisky aroma with some vanilla and peach. Youthful vodka-like astringency barely saved by nutty malt and slight glimpses of stone fruits and whiffs of vanilla.
Smoky start that turns stale and dies mid palate. Some cocoa, but like instant hot chocolate made with too few scoops of powder... watery and only a faint chocolate presence. I cannot describe this as oaky, more like drywall and synthetic fabrics in the finish.
I am always suspicious of companies that call themselves BEST CAR RENTAL or AMAZING CLEANERS or PERFECT PLUMBING. In my experience, if you have to use the services of a company that feels the need to evaluate themselves in their company title, something is bound to go wrong.
Something Special this is not. This is a whisky to pour and leave for 10 minutes (at least) before drinking to allow the neutral spirit aromas to fly off. Even still, what remains is nothing to write home about (or fly home with... though I am grateful Tante Anne did). Hilarious retro 1970s bottle is about all this puppy has going for it.
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