Monday, February 25, 2008
Auld Reekie 12yo
(Vatted) Malt Scotch Whisky
Duncan Taylor and Co.
Had a series of mystery malts from McClelland's last week and will start this week of smoke and peat with another unknown malt from independent bottlers Duncan Taylor & Co. This Auld Reekie whisky is a new expression (Jan 2008) and replaces the 12yo that was sold for a while(and was actually made up of mostly 15yo Caol Ila). This is not a single malt but all the constituents are from the island of Islay. Blended malt, vatted malt, or what DTC has gone for: Islay Malt.
The city of Edinburgh acquired the affectionate nickname "Auld Reekie" back when chimneys spewed coal and wood smoke in the heating of its inhabitants' homes. At this same time Edinburgh had become a 'hot-bed of genius' that "coincided with drinking on an unprecedented scale."* There were 8 licensed whisky distilleries but Hugo Arnot, in his "History of Edinburgh" (1779), estimates that there were over 400 illicit stills operating in Edinburgh. Scottish Enlightenment, perhaps, but Auld Reekie was reekin' drunk.
Today, Edinburgh still has a reek about it, but it is the heavenly sweet aroma of barley mashing blowing in from the west(North British), not chimney smoke. In whisky terms, Islay is the capital of smoke (peat) and this release captures that character. I know the Hallowe'en font of the bottle text is a bit off-putting for some, but I am sure this whisky could scare a few folks. Let's taste.
* - Charles Maclean, "Scotch Whisky: A Liquid History" p. 62 (1988)
Lemon meringue, smoke, honey, sesame snaps, more smoke. The peatiness definitely leads, but there are plenty of sweet aromas in there as well.
Simultaneously gentle and explosive. Coal, butter and flour roux, lemon zest, gummy fruits, some sea salt, and a touch of spicy cinnamon like gum, Big Red. Long coppery finish with peat, earth, wood and a lingering saltiness. Some minutes later, public swimming pool impressions still linger.
Pretty exhilarating stuff. A pick-me-up quality about it among clouds of peat and industrial smoke. Relaxing but recharging and the abv is at an ideal level for both high drinkability and impact. A quality drop that deserves a better label, in my mind.
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