Cellar Trends Masterclass
Ian Robinson from Cellar Trends ran a (mainly) whisk(e)y masterclass here today at Smokin’ Aces, so we thought we’d do a small summary of what went on for those who couldn’t make it.
Bourbon vs Scotch
Whisky Around The World
90% of whisky sold around the world is classes as “blended” whisky – a market led by Johnnie Walker and Chivas. Single Malt whisky is whisky which originates from one single distillery (but is still blended from different stock within the distillery).
Taiwan makes some incredibly good whiskies. Cellar Trends stock “Omar”, which means “Amber” in Gaelic. Distilled at the Nantou Distillery.
Omar Bourbon Cask
A single malt whisky, made using traditional methods and aged in (predictably) ex-bourbon barrels. The climate in Taiwan is much hotter than many whisky-producing countries, meaning the aging is vastly accelerated. Taste is very much a “Scotch” style, with plenty of vanilla and spice from the bourbon barrel. Retails from around £60.
Omar Sherry Cask
Made in exactly the same way as the Bourbon Cask, but aged in sherry casks (we’re assuming Oloroso). The sherry cask adds a dark fruit sweetness but it doesn’t lose the spiciness. Tastes young and vibrant. Retails at around £65.
Most Japanese whiskies are classed as blends. Blending is considered an art form and is not deemed substandard in any way.
A blended Japanese whisky, matured for a minimum of 5 years in ex-bourbon casks in a 361 metre-long tunnel which used to be a railway tunnel. It gives the perfect conditions for aging a whisky. The temperatures in Japan and Scotland are actually very similar and raging characteristics also share that similarity. Taste like sweet milk chocolate. Delicious. This whisky is in actually very decent supply, which is rare for a Japanese whisky. Retails at about £40. Available through Nectar and Matthew Clark extended range.
Akashi White Oak
A different style of whisky. Still a blend, from the White Oak distillery. 30% malted barley and 70% grain, then matured in American oak barrels – 3 years in hogsheads, then 2 years in white oak. Fresh and spicy – tastes young but in a good way. Retail prices is in the region of £30 (for a 50cl bottle). Available through the Matthew Clark extended range.
Whiskies. From Scotland. Simple really.
Aged in ex-bourbon casks for 5-8 years, at which point the entire batch is shipped to Jerez in Spain to be finished in ex-PX sherry casks, adding a ridiculously rich colour to this blended whisky. The difference in temperature from day to night in Spain speeds the raging process considerably. Tastes like a freshly opened box of Sunmaid raisins. Super sweet, luxurious and a thick mouthfeel.
Douglas Laing Vatted Malts
A range of blends from specific regions within Scotland. A great representation of the varied styles within the different scotch-producing regions. All aged in American oak casks, except the Scallywag, which is aged in sherry casks. There are only single malts in these blends – no grain whisky at all.
An all-Lowland blend of whiskies, highlighting the fruity, mild, delicate flavours which are synonymous with the Lowland style. Auchentoshan, Glenkinchie and a secret squirrel distillery from the Lowland area all provide malts for this blend.
Named after the mouse in a Robert Burns poem. This is a marriage of Highland malts, including Dalmore, Glengoyne, Glen Garioch, amongst others. Subtle, sweet, oaky with toasted cereal and fruit notes.
Inspired by Douglas Laing’s family of fox terriers. An all-Speyside blend, aged in sherry casks. Macallan, Mortlach, Glenrothes and Inchgower all find their way into this blend. Dark fruit notes, luxuriously rich and sweet with a long finish and thick mouthfeel.
An all-Island blend, with whiskies from the Orkneys, Jura, Islay, Arran and others. Salt and pepper, with some delicious peat smoke.
An all-Islay blend, with whiskies from Caol Ila, Bowmore, Ardbeg and the ridiculously rare Port Ellen. Plenty of sweetness to tame the peaty smokiness.
Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight
A wheated bourbon produced by the Rebel Yell Distillery. Named after a shout which was supposed to strike fear into opponents. They replace rye in the mash bill with wheat, adding a softness and buttery flavour to the spirit.
Rebel Yell Small Batch Reserve
Small batch designates a whisk(e)y which is made in batches of between 200-300 barrels. Bottled at 45.3%, which adds a healthy kick to the whiskey. Caramel, oak, vanilla and sweet notes.
Rebel Yell Rye Small Batch
Distilled from a mash bill containing 85% rye, adding plenty of intense spice to the spirit. Bottled at 45% abv.
Jefferson’s Kentucky Straight Very Small Batch
Named after America’s 3rd president. Jefferson’s bourbons are produced in very small batches. They buy small, esoteric batches of whiskeys from a variety of distilleries. These products are then expertly blended to create some unique bourbons. The four whiskeys in this bourbon redistilled from a mash bill containing 60% corn, 30% rye and 10% malted barley, then aged from between 6 and 10 years in light char barrels and bottled at 41.8% abv. Drier than most bourbons, with plenty of spice.
A marriage of four different recipes, aged from 12 to 17 years. Very oaky, with a tannic dryness and plenty of vanilla and spice.
An experiment to discover what would happen when bourbon is aged in an extreme environment. Aged on land for 7 to 8 years, then aged for 4 to 6 months at sea (three barrels at a time), crossing the equator 4 times (because why not?). Very different style of bourbon, with a saltiness and smoothness which is very interesting. Well worth a try.