Earlier on in the month, DTS & I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. This is, traditionally, the year for gifts along the theme of wood. We knew that finding one another gifts wouldn’t be a problem; as a matter of fact, my sole concern was that we would accidentally buy one another the exact same present, but, fortunately for me, DTS took the theme a little less literally than I did, focusing on gifts that had been aged in wood.
Ah, he knows me so well. A bottle of whisky and a book about whisky. Excellent! Both are additionally a bit special in that they’re collaborative works by our good friend, Neil Ridley.
The book, written by Neil and Gavin D. Smith, is a superb introduction to all forms of whisky and I highly recommend it if you’ve not got a copy already. There are some nifty diagrams of distilleries and an excellent telling of the story of the spirit. I loved the tone and message of the book, which encourages others to try, explore and share whisky; exactly what it’s there for!
But onto the whisky part of my present: a special edition of Cutty Sark Whisky produced by Neil and Joel of Caskstrength.com as a part of their enviable endeavour to produce an ‘A to Z’ of whisky bottlings (the ‘C’, obviously). Overseen by Cutty Sark Master Blender Kirsteen Campbell, they blended this whisky in time to release to coincide with the brand’s 90th anniversary and is, appropriately, 90 proof, or 51.4% ABV.
On its own
Nose: Lemon shortbread, fading towards a light, non-peaty smoke. An interesting combination of bright citrus notes and heavy butter to start, with hints of oat biscuits and that light smoke towards the end.
Taste: Incredibly buttery to start: rich and ever so slightly oily, with notes of dry oatcake, vanilla, and oak. The finish is clean and light, despite the alcoholic strength coming through with some some substantial warmth, and has a subtle, woody dryness to it. Hints of banoffee at the very end.
The vanilla, lemon and richness of the whisky combine perfectly with the spice and fresh tartness of the vermouth to produce a smooth, tasty drink with all of these flavours and a pleasantly lingering finish of walnut, hazelnut and creamy milk chocolate. Delicious!
Warming and, again, slightly spicy, with a distinct note of banana and toffee on the nose. There’s vanilla and light wood to start, followed by rich citrus (think lemon curd, rather than juice), and a strong finish of salted toffee or caramel with an oily nuttiness and intriguing hint of spicy celery.
A very smooth, almost creamy, start with more vanilla than ginger, followed by an intriguingly dry and creamy finish that is quite short, with hints of sharp, but creamy lemon (again, think lemon curd).
All-in-all, this is an interesting, rich and flavourful whisky. Straight, it was a little too confectionery and heavy on the citrus for me, but it really comes into its own in cocktails. The Whisky Ginger was different in the strength of its creamy, vanilla notes and both the Rob Roy and the Old Fashioned were delightful, harmonious combinations of vanilla, spice and lemon. The clear favourite for me, though, was the Rob Roy.
– Mrs. B.
Caskstrength and Carry On (Cutty Sark) is available for around £35 for 70cl from Master of Malt