Being fifty-something, I love a story of long livedness. This past week I came across this story of Grace, a 110-year-old who is the UK’s tenth oldest person. Grace (known affectionately as Amazing Grace) credits her longevity to having had a night-cap of Famous Grouse whisky every evening for the last 60 years. Heartening stuff isn’t it?
And just one more reason to enjoy a dram or two of your favourite whisky.
My preferred tipple is single malt Scotch whisky, ideally a heavily peated dram from the whisky hotspot of Islay.
It’s an acquired taste but one that’s fast gaining popularity on a global stage. More and more, we come across single malt whisky tasting events and we’re rarely disappointed. It’s a great opportunity to sample expressions that are new-to-market or new-to-you.
Last night our local Dan Murphy’s hosted The Isles Whisky Discovery Workshop, one in a series of several events showcasing various world whisky regions and styles. We went along with some pals and met some other pals afterwards for dinner at our local Chinese restaurant. All within easy walking distance of home, meaning no taxi/uber fares or designated drivers. Win. Win. Win.
This is how it went down (notes via Dan Murphy’s).
At $20 a seat, it was a true bargain. Six whiskies from the Isles surrounding Scotland (excluding Islay, which is deservedly getting its own workshop at a later event). On arrival, we were each handed a $20 voucher to use towards any instore purchases. Can’t beat that. Virtually cost-neutral.
Holly from the Dan’s team was our host and resident single malt expert. She took us through each of the six expressions, providing background on the relevant island, the distillery and the expression itself.
The Arran Malt Lochranza Reserve
Created at the same distillery of Lochranza, on the Isle of Arran since it was built in 1995. Bottled at a higher ABV, with emphasis on sweet fruit notes which are the hallmark of the distillery. Taste: sweetness, citrus, spice and charred oak. Bottle price: $74.99
Jura Origin 10 Year Old
Produced in a small town off the west coast of Scotland on the Island of Jura, Scotland’s last wilderness with one road, one pub, one community and one distillery. Aged for 10 years in ex-bourbon casks, has a lingering taste of warming gentle oak, caramel, soft liquorice and roasted coffee beans. Delicate yet robust. Exceptional structure. Bottle price: $71.99
Talisker Port Ruighe
Double matured in port casks, this malt is a toast to the Scottish traders who braved the high seas and were instrumental in founding the port wine trade, shipping it to the world. ‘Port Ruighe’ (pronounced ‘Portree’) is the Gaelic spelling of the once bustling trading port on Skye. The Port finish combines Talisker’s powerful maritime character with succulent sweet notes of rich berry fruits for a superb contrasting taste experience. Medium bodied and softly textured, with sublime smoky and savoury flavours. Bottle price: $99.99
Highland Park 12 year old
From the Orkney Islands, Scotland’s most northerly land mass. The Highland style of Whisky is generally considered to be one of the most approachable styles. Deep gold in colour with a nose of heather and wood smoke Highland Park has a deceptively complex palate that ranges from sweet maltiness to smokey peat and savoury spices. Bottle price: $76.99
The Isle of Skye is the birthplace of the heralded Scotch Whisky house of Talisker. And it is this island that gives this remarkable and unique whisky its distinctive character. The power of the sea and the inherent rugged location give birth to a dram of complexity, nuance and strength. With a sweet warmth on the nose and front palate that gives way to a briny and peppery finish courtesy of the skilful balancing of differing aged Talisker casks. Available only for a limited time, Talisker Storm is a truly tempestuous single malt. Bottle price: $88.99
Ledaig 10 year old
Ledaig is a wonderfully distinguished single malt handcrafted on the Isle of Mull by the Tobermory Distillery. The only distillery on the island, Tobermory produces its only peated malt in this Ledaig 10 Year Old Single Malt. Sitting in the ancient vaults for 10 years and the use of superior oak wood casks, aromatic lochan water and the exclusively peat dried malted barley all go to producing a whisky of purity, power and vibrancy. The flavours and aromatics produced can’t help but bring you to the ocean side on the Isle of Mull with their floral and smoky tones. Non-chill filtered at 46.3%, Ledaig 10 Year Old will delight all true whisky drinkers. Bottle price: $79.99
My favourite? On tasting experience alone, my pick is the Ledaig for its lingering saltiness. The Jura Origin gets my nod for branding and creating a sense of mystery and the Talisker Port Ruighe is both mouth-filling and smoky. Talisker Storm is an old favourite … a reliable dram that whispers of the sea and its maritime origins.
Afterwards, we gathered around the tasting bar and enjoy a couple of complimentary drams of our favourites before heading to the single malt whisky section to ogle the possibilities. Kids in the candy store.
Inspired by 110-year-old Grace, I’m committing to a regular tot of scotch whisky on the promise of longevity. Unlike, Grace, I won’t be limited to one expression; I’ll be exploring and discovering the full depth and breadth of single malts on offer from around the world. And attending tasting events of this ilk until the very last dram.
To you Grace, my thanks for your fine example. Sláinte!