February 2021 - Our Very Own Tale of Cake
Another exciting lineup for this Zoom meeting, with a bottle that we were extremely lucky to find - Glenmorangie's Tale of Cake. I had personally missed out on this one myself, so when I found out this was in the offing I couldn't wait! - Just to sweeten the deal, a local cake baker; Escakeology had kindly given all of the participants a slice of delicious pineapple cake to pair with it, as per Glenmorangie's very own launch press releases.
1. Tomatin 19 Year Old, Cadenhead's Small Batch 1994
(70cl, 46.0% vol)
Back to the ever-interesting auction finds, this time from renowned independent bottler - Cadenhead's. This particular offering comes from the Highland distillery; Tomatin. In 1987 it was oft referred to as Scotland's largest distillery, however it has since reduced in size quite significantly. Although most of it's produce ends up in blends, this cask made it's way to the independent bottlers, and subsequently into our drams!
Nose: very fruity, bright fruits, apples, pineapple, citrus fruits and a little vanilla
Palate: Mango, Mandarin, Nuts in the background and lightly oaked
Finish: fresh, slightly tart, green apple, liquorice, fruit.
On the nose we got a nuttiness, apricots with cherry and a hint of mint, with a fresh palate that delivered slight citrus notes, with a light oaky vanilla. The finish although smooth, was rather short lived.
This went down well, certainly as the first whisky of the night - it's not going to blow you away but it was certainly a pleasant drink to sit and enjoy together.
2. Glenmorangie - A Tale of Cake
(70cl, 46.0% vol)
A recent, limited release from Glenmorangie, produced by Dr. Bill Lumsden (Glenmorangie’s director of whisky creation) - he decided that cake was a common theme from his most joyful memories and wanted to embody this within a dram.
Essentially the spirit is Glenmorangie 10 Year Old, so initially aged in Bourbon casks, then finished in
Tokaji wine casks - which is a sweet wine from Hungary and the adjoining Tokaj region of Slovakia. The sweetness is because the wine is made using using noble rot grapes which shrivels the grapes and concentrates the sugar content.
Dominique Ansel, a pastry chef hailed as “the Willy Wonka of New York” was enlisted to create a cake to pair with the whisky - he created a twist on a pineapple boat cake to bring out the best in the whisky. We were lucky enough to get a local interpretation of a pineapple cake to pair with the whisky, courtesy of Sarah at Escakeology.
We weren't doing our usual blind tasting for this, as everyone knew it was going to feature in the night, and with the cake being a big facet of this experience we wanted it to be an open tasting.
Tasting Notes (Master of Malt)
Nose: There’s plenty of classic Glenmorangie goodness here, orchard fruits, acacia honey and creamy vanilla initially, followed by stewed orange, golden sultanas and a little Amalfi lemon. Then there’s white chocolate and crème brûlee with hints of elderflower, a fresh wholemeal loaf and a little mint among an array of fruity elements like nectarines in syrup, dried mango and apricot yoghurt.
Palate: The palate is complex, tart and has some slightly tannic wood notes which cut through flinty minerality tones as well as tinned peaches, orange chocolate, apricot croissant and more vanilla. There are honey roasted almonds and a little dark fruit underneath.
Finish: The finish lingers for an age with notes of marmalade, honeycomb and some fresh pear.
We got a lemony, rich, cakey, sweet nose, with just a hint of pepper and mint. It was very unusual in that it seemed to transform quite rapidly and was ever-evolving in the glass. A real triumph on the nose, grabbing you to keep going back for more to see what else you can unveil.
“Odd, but a nice surprise.”
On the palate we have a fruity, sweet and cakey flavour - perhaps not quite as sweet as we expected, with a little hint of spice too. Onto the finish which has an almost brandy/cognac quality to it, and improved with time in the glass.
Now that we had tried it 'naked' we then paired with the cake and oh my what a difference - they both really complemented each other creating a wonderful experience. The pineapple was certainly a good pairing with this whisky. It did leave some questioning whether it would be as well received without the cake alongside it, but we did also have very high expectations of this whisky ahead of time, so this could have had an impact as well.
3. Ardbeg Wee Beastie
(70cl, 47.7% vol)
Onto the final dram of the night, a peated one - another newer offering from a highly esteemed distillery, but this time rather than being a limited release it is proudly joining Ardbeg's permanent lineup.
In the mission statement Ardbeg have outlined that they wanted to create the rawest, smokiest expression that they have every created. From a combination of ex-bourbon and Olorosso sherry, we get a very dramatic elixir with a very bold 5 year age statement.
Tasting Notes (Master of Malt)
Nose: There’s sea spray, rock pools, smoked malt and damp bonfire wood initially which waves of sweet and slightly vegetal smoke powers through. Hints of brown sugar, pear drops, a little vanilla and cooked apple add sweetness among notes of spare ribs, lemon sherbet, black pepper and wood shavings. I love this nose, it’s smoky and musty and like standing by a seaside bonfire.
Palate: The palate is very pleasantly sweet and salty. Citrus oils and orchard fruits are present along with an unmistakable dark berry tartness which is joined by plenty of damp peat and dry wood smoke. Adding depth there’s pepper steak, creosote and then some touches of clove and liquorice. In the back-end, there’s a juicy sweetness from lychee and peaches as well as just a touch of salted caramel.
Finish: The finish is exceptionally long and oily. It’s a bit like sucking on a lemon sherbet and taking a great big whiff of some freshly cut peat, to be honest. While standing on a beach. Lovely.
The 5 year age statement is a very commendable thing to announce - albeit that peated whiskies don't quite need that extra ageing to round them off, it is still one of the lowest we have seen - particularly in a market that is flooded with NAS whiskies these days and no-one would really bat an eyelid. However I think it was wise to include this, in regards to expectation management. You know it is going to be a little rough round the edges and perhaps have a brashness to it - although no-one guessed it was as young as 5 from the club!
On the nose we had peaty, mineral and very vegetal notes at the fore, but then reaching beneath that the sherry starts to shine through and you are greeted with sweet, deep berry and creamy vanilla, with a sprinkle of saltiness and salinity.
Palate was reasonably well peated, with sweet/salty flavours playing off one another creating a wonderful overall mouth feel, again that vegetal flavour coming in.
To finish it is a damp, cellar of sweet and savoury, with a peaty salinity and oiliness.
We thought that rather than being a young version of the classic Ardbeg 10, that this is an entity in it's own right, and a lot of us rather like it! Again as always, with peated expressions being quite a polar prospect, the rating was very mixed from 1s right up to 4.5s, resulting in an average of a 3 overall.
A sensational evening which really spanned some classic distilleries with some of their newer expressions, while also getting a rarer and slightly obscure auction find. Truly what the club is all about - trying whiskies that you either missed out on, can't get anymore, or want to try before you buy.
Roll on next month!