Wednesday, December 24, 2014
My procrastination extends to this blog too. I was at a whisky festival in late November and walked out of there bedazzled and gobsmacked by an incredible run of single and blended malts. I thought, I must write on that cold wintery night and let you know that there are still some stars twinkling in that inky, foreboding night whisky sky. Did I get that post out? Hell no! The black hole of procrastination bent back any ray of ambition I had.. Well, until now. I'm gonna tell ya all about it now brother! I have broken free of the gravitational, soul-sucking force of the collapsed dead star of my procrastination.
So, I was at this whisky festival and most of the tastings were OK, but no surprises, and well there were a lot of no age statement releases that left me wanting, left me with considerable Charlie Brownesque discontent. However, the last tasting of the night put a smile on my face like the rare one on Chuck pictured above.
Hart Brothers are independent bottlers. As you know, independent bottlers do not own a distillery and therefore do not actually make whisky. But, they inhabit a special place in the whisky cosmos where they have the uncanny skill to see merit and potential in unwanted whiskies of an established or even a mothballed single malt distillery. So, Hart Brothers, Gordon & MacPhail, Berry Bros, and others are constantly buying up the unwanted stocks of distilleries both famous and unknown. They do their own blending and wood management/aging, warehousing, etc and the end result can be pretty amazing at times. Needless to say, I was pumped to attend the Hart Bros tasting.
Lightly peated, rich yet restrained sherry notes, damp earth, a delightful mustiness too.
Concentrated citrus, apple juice, hay, honey, spiced marmalade.
Malty, sherried, raspberries appear, drying, pomegranate.
Wow! This is good! This is the reason why I like whisky and deep down believe Scotch to offer what no other varieties of whisky can: magical complexity. Specifically, there are mineral notes delicately weaved with honey, that delivers a fine mosaic of flavors. This is complexity, this is what great whisky is all about. But, this is not the whisky of the year. The others were good, but then I had my moment of oneness with the universe . . .
When I tasted the 17 year old blended malt with a port finish, I was stopped dead in my tracks. Atheists! Take note! Drink this and you may abandon your previous notions of a lack of divinity. This spirit has been touched by the hand of G-d.
I don't have a tasting note, but I can tell you this, it was incredibly complex, the port finish delivered what sherry never can, dark, rich fruits of plum, blackberry, logan berry and the best Christmas cake with COMPLEXITY. The tapestry of flavors woven so well, it left me at a loss for words (a truly rare phenomenon). Aging in port pipes is tricky and fickle business, but Alistair Hart and his team succeeded where many have failed.
While I don't have a tasting note written down, I and everyone in the room held their breath when they drank this blended malt. It was the best of the night and the festival. I was so in awe, I wanted my picture taken with Alistair. I mean, I wanted to stand next to the guy who had a hand in creating this masterpiece.
I tried to get Alistair to tell me what were some of the single malts making up this blended malt. With some prodding, he mentioned Glenfarclas. He also said that this and other malts were aged in first fill port pipes. No chill filtering and color added. This is the real deal.
I rarely get super excited about a whisky, but this is one, that I can say in the past year was the best.
You've got one day till Christmas, a few more till New Years, so do the right thing and pick up a bottle as a gift for that special person in your life!
Cheers! Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas and I hope Santa finds you!