Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Organic this and that, off-setting carbon footprints, recycling in Hackney borough... the world is changing and we are starting to realise that we are causing some of that change. But is this awareness just a fad? a trend? will it, as a concept, be commodified like everything else in this consumer culture? I remember back in 1989 when the world (at least my little 13-year-old world in one corner of Canada) went GREEN, every product was PHOSPHATE FREE, was BIODEGRADABLE, etc. The term GREEN sold well; Green Shampoo, Green Cereal, Green green vegetables. By 1994 the selling power of the GREEN "brand" had faded. Wasting no time to get in on the Organic game so vogue these days, Gordon & Macphail, owners of Benromach Distillery, have introduced an Organic whisky. (I am sure if there could be 'free range' whisky, someone would try to manufacture it)
As far as manufactring goes, Scotch whisky production is already way ahead of other industries in terms of re-use and recycling of materials and energy efficiciency/recycling. And as if the ingredients of Scotch whisky weren't natural enough, this whisky, the first certified Organic single malt whisky, uses pure spring water, 100% organic Scottish barley, organic yeast, and filled to organic virgin American oak casks from carefully managed forests. I think even the two men who work at the distillery had organic yogurt and porridge oats for breakfast each day of production after doing their yoga and reading chapters from Naomi Klein's new book.
Just east along the devil-horned bit of the Moray coast from Burghead, 4th-7th century Pictish capital and home of the maltings, is Findhorn, an appropriate neighbour to makers of the first organic single malt whisky. The Findhorn Ecovillage is a pioneering village of sustainable living that began back in 1962 with a bunch of optimistic hippies (teachers, scientists, musicians, artists), is one of the largest holistic communities in the world, has a eco-footprint HALF that of the UK average, and my friend HB was born there. Whisky casks, already a re-used product, are usually used to hold new spirit 3 to 5 (or more) times. The pic to the right shows a house at Findhorn made from ex-whisky cask staves when they were of no more use to the spirits industry.
For more distillery info and to see all Benromachs had on the mission click HERE.
Woody and warm, like a freshly electric-sharpener-sharpened pencil, with a whole fruit basket of aromas: hard pears, pineapples, green grapes, green bananas. Some instant coffee, very sugary tea, and Hershey's Kisses amid yet more oak, honey and nougat, and the smell of soil on your clothes.
Sweet like toffee that builds up becoming more oaky and toasty but is brought back down to earth with honey and the most robust barley taste of any whisky I have every had. Finish gets very grippy with oak, like bourbon, and dries with flavours of dehydrated apple and apricots, a bit of a lemony zest, and even more wood workshop.
Dave Broom has described this whisky as "edgy and plain with hard malt and freshly planed wood," (WhiskyMag Iss.58) and while I can understand where his desciptors are coming from, I don't see them as negatives in the least. I totally dig the nose with its distinctively barley-spirit tone just amped up with sanded wood and fruits, love the chewy mouthfeel and the flavour development from butterscotch syrup to hard oak and the richest and spiciest barley can get back to waxy American chocolate (box of Pot of Gold) and museli breakfast cereals to the finish which gets a bit too gripping with oak for my tastes (at least today) to make this a perfect drop. This latter point is a minor criticism, however, demanding that rather than not drinking Benromach Organic at all (which would be a major loss), we just drink it faster or alongside a refreshing lager or a pint of water. It is this drying effect that keeps control of the sweet chocolaty flavours creating a really wonderful balance. Absolutely delicious, in my mind, and without a doubt one of the best whiskies I have yet had on the Malt Mission.
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