As members of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, we have access to the most diverse collection of single cask whiskies in the world. Yet while there are so many unique styles and flavours to choose from, many of us are after the “hidden gems”. These are the casks that may originate from lesser-known distilleries or appear relatively unassuming on paper. Yet when finally uncorked, the spirit will thrill and delight unlike anything before it.
This month I’ve tasted through the vast selection of unique whiskies available to Society members in the USA to uncover three hidden gems worth considering. All of these casks offer both a fantastic tasting experience and remarkable value.
Wow! This was unexpected. Cask 89.11 ‘A Kraftwerk orange’ is a 7-year-old Speyside whisky matured in a first-fill ex-bourbon hogshead. It offers a uniquely rich profile of roasted coffee, almost, and gentle tobacco with a surprising level of depth that you typically find in an older whisky. The Spicy & sweet flavour profile tends to be home to some of the most unpredictable spirits from within the Society’s stocks and this is a good example of that. I love the spirit’s thick, velvety texture and at 64.1% ABV, it’s been to experience new flavours as they emerge by adding a few drops of water.
I am continually impressed by the casks in our Juicy oak & vanilla flavour profile and this is a great example of why. There’s something about the bright and zesty character of a Speyside whisky matured in a fresh bourbon barrel that evokes a feeling of joy and happiness. That’s what we have here. Cask 41.131 ‘A wry smile’ offers a vibrant profile of fresh citrus, black cherries, eucalyptus and hazelnut. It’s a very viscous spirt, which makes for a lengthy finish. A classic Speyside spirit that packs a real punch.
Opposite of the old and elegant Speyside whisky described above is this: Cask 72.83 Raiders of the lost malt bin’. This is a raw and assertive spirit that quite literally smells and tastes like a working distillery in the Scottish Highlands! It’s a big and malty whisky with a wonderful undertone of breakfast cereal, dampened hay and eucalyptus. At 7 years young and 57.1% ABV, it’s surprisingly palatable neat. With fall now underway, this is the type of whisky that I like to bring with me on an outdoor adventure: bold and earthy with tons of personality. It’s a versatile spirit that more than anything, is just plain fun.