After introducing himself and what he is doing, Alexander Huprich stated to tell the seven people in this Masterclass what the Single Cask Collection (SCC) does, despite everybody in the room knew what they are doing. That was the reason for booking this Masterclass I guess. But for those who don’t know, they are Austria’s first and biggest independent bottler for Whisky,. They have some Rum, Gin, Grappa, and so on too, but according to Alexander their main business is Whisky. These Whiskys are always at cask strength, even if you might doubt this sometimes because their Whiskys can be very gentle, non chill filtered and – of course – not coloured (I’ll write another article about these three topics soon)! Sometimes these cask strength Whiskys seem to be just overpriced and for collectors only, but this Masterclass will convince you otherwise.
Right after spotting Whisky number two – a 13 year old Teeling – Alexander was asked how this is possible, Teeling started distilling alcohol just some time ago, but definitely 13 years ago. That was an easy question for Alexander, as he elaborates that the distillery Cooley uses that name for a long time, there are not much Whiskys with that name on the market, but nevertheless they were and are allowed to use this name. But we will see soon some Whiskys from the newly erected Teeling distillery in Dublin. After answering that question the Masterclass took its way.
Everyone hoping for very old bottlings from the SCC will be disappointed. Older Whiskys tend to start incorporate too much woody flavours. Although they can be present in young Whiskys too, if they get to dominant – and they usually do with age – it can ruin an otherwise good Whisky. So the SCC likes to bottle the Whisky at the “right taste”, not at the “right age”. For that Alexander got approving nods from everyone in the room.
Independent bottlers have to buy the casks from various distilleries , quite obviously. Some of them just buy casks because they are “from THAT distillery” and hope the best. The SCC always tastes the Whisky (or New Make) before they buy a cask. With that procedure you can minimize the risk of getting a “bad” cask, but of course there is no guarantee it would not happen eventually. But since the guys from the SCC are (still) in business, they must be doing something right. Much more failure can happen, when you start finishing Whiskys. You’ll never know for sure how this particular Whisky will interact with that particular cask. Lots of experience is needed to minimize the failure rate when finishing. Of course it is easier for a big company to experiment and eventually fail as it is for a small business. Nevertheless the SSC does its own finishing!
The last dram wasn’t a Whisky, it was Rum. To be specific a Rum from Barbados! Both spirits share some similarities despite the fact, that the staring material is quite different. But the process of making alcohol and maturing it is quite similar (as it is with beer). And even the taste can be very similar. That is (one of) the reason, why they have to tell judges at a blind tasting, what spirit is in the glass, Whisky or Rum. A very good Rum can easily be misjudged for a not so good Whisky and vice versa. I had the pleasure to experience this at the last Rum tasting with the L&P Whisky Consultants and on other occasions where I tasted a Rum cask finished Whisky.
The tasted Whisk(e)ys:
The Golden Cask – 22yo Tullibardine (22yo; 54,9%; exBourbon Hogshead)
Nose: Toffee & honey, very fruity but spicy, faint oak and earthy notes
Palate: Very spicy, tingling and sweet (honey?), some oak
Finish: long & warming
Body: rich & round
Single Cask Collection – Teeling 13yo (13yo; 54,2%; exBourbon Hogshead)
Colour: light gold
Nose: some freshly distilled alcohol, but fresh, some toffee and apple
Palate: Pepper, but also tingling sweet, little bit numbing in the mouth
Finish: short & gentle
Body: faint & very gentle
Single Cask Collection – Tormore 20yo (20yo; 53,1%; exBourbon Hogshead)
Colour: dark gold
Nose: Fresh, little sourly and earthy
Palate: Toffee and pepper, some earthy and oak notes, fresh, some vanilla(?)
Finish: long & warming
Body: gentle & rich
Single Cask Collection – 21yo Miltonduff (21yo; 54,1%; exBourbon Barrel)
Nose: litte sourly, but fresh, some oak and banana(?)
Palate: Gentle, but spicy, toffee and (again) banana(?)
Finish: very creamy, gentle & long warming
Body: gentle & smooth
Single Cask Collection – Coal Ila 10yo (10yo; 58,2%; exBourbon Barrel)
Colour: light gold
Nose: Peat, smoke, a nice ocean breeze
Palate: Peat and cold ash, some salt and a fine sweetness from malted barley
Finish: long & smooth
Body: smoky but gentle
Single Cask Collection – Barbados edition 40 Rum (12+13+14yo; 40%)
Nose: Sweetness and bitterness from molasses, coconut(!)
Palate: Chocolate and coconut
Finish: short, but round & gentle
Body: smooth & gentle