Malt whisky, this is a strong alcoholic beverage made from malted barley, water and yeast. What a cold description for something so evocative. What then is a better description of malt whisky? How about; Close your eyes and imagine you're walking along a quiet beach with the smell of seaweed and peat fires. Or, sitting on a hill above the river Spey and taking in the fragrant and clean air sipping deep fruity flavours of pear, citrus and honey. Alternatively you could be sitting on the opposite bank and getting rich fruit cake and raisins with a strong hint of sweet sherry. All this and we haven't even gone far yet, we still have journeys through the Highlands and down to the rich floral Lowlands to encounter yet. Get the idea?
When we sip a high quality malt whisky we are tasting a moment in time that has taken an age to get to. This whisky has been maturing in a carefully selected oak cask for many years and has been taking on the unique characteristics of this fine wood, its location and micro climate. This means that every single cask of maturing whisky is different from the next. It's true that the original spirit will have a particular style of its own, but then nature take hold and changes it.
However once bottled that's it!. The whisky is fixed, as the moment has been reached when the Master blender has decided the point of optimum maturation has been reached, a risky and difficult responsibility when you have waited anything from 12 to 30 years to decide that precise moment.
All of this makes the experience all the more special, we think of places we've been, friends we've met, food we've tasted warm and comfortable times.
A great example is The Glenrothes 1991from Speyside, an aristocrat among whiskies. Matured in a sherry cask this is dark and sumptuous. Its 'Christmas in a bottle' with rich fruit cake, raisins, some allspice and a smooth sherry kick. These Glenrothes vintages are limited but all the more special for that. The 1992 was a stunner, but hard to find now. This is a particularly generous and beautiful gift especially given its 18th century replica bottle. You can only hope you will be invited at its opening once presented! - or even better perhaps treat yourself as well?
Hutcheson Whisky Events provides malt whisky education, promotion and specialist retail in the South of England.
Tel: 07818 001 769