WARREN BOBROW is the Food and Drink Editor of the 501c3 non profit Wild Tableon Wild River Review located in Princeton, New Jersey. He attended Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. He has published over three hundred articles on everything from cocktail mixology to restaurant reviews to travel articles. In addition to OKRA Magazine, Warren writes for Williams-Sonoma’s Blender Blog and Foodista.http://www.cocktailwhisperer.com
Imagine, if you will, a liquor company that is able to source a single barrel of whisky at a time. In an age where liquor companies are trying to produce more and more of their product to slake the thirsts of thousands of thirsty drinkers- there is one company that is decidedly set on satisfying only a couple of hundred- it that!
Enter the Blackadder. You many remember the BBC Television show by the same name. If you do, you’re half way there. The Blackadder was a dark comedy on British television and in many ways the philosophy of this television show is evident in every sip of the Blackadder!
There is stuff in every bottle of Blackadder. This stuff is from the inside of the casks! Blackadder is not filtered or blended. It is bottled at Cask Strength.
The Blackadder is a one of the most unique single malt Scotch whiskies that I’ve ever tasted. My friend Raj facilitated this tasting by sending me four hand numbered bottles.
1. Lochranza Distillery- 2011- Raw Cask- label reads that it contains its natural Cask Sediments as well as all the natural oils and fats. Mmmm, that’s what I like to hear. The Lochranza is bottled at 104.8 proof. At the bottom of the informative label it reads Sherry Puncheon. I suppose this means that the Scotch was aced (finished) in used sherry casks. Bottle 82 of 548, Bottled 14th of October 1996
2. Mannochmore Distillery-1999-Raw Cask- label reads that is also contains its natural Cask Sediments as well as the natural Oils and Fats. Label reads Speyside malt whisky- one of only 304 bottles drawn at Cask Strength from a single oak cask no.5400 bottled by Blackadder in November 2011. 121.2 Proof 12 years old
3. Blair Athol Distillery- 1999- 1st September 1999. Reads: This Highland malt whisky is one of only 462 bottles drawn at Cask Strength from a SINGLE REFILL SHERRY BUTT, marked bottle 66 out of 462. 114.6 proof 12 years old
4. Blackadder Smoking Islay- The Spirit of Legend-11 year old Islay Malt Scotch Whisky Raw Cask- 118.8 proof- Distilled 12th April 2000, bottled August 2011.
All the whiskies read that they are bottled from carefully selected casks. They do not chill filter or otherwise filter their whiskies through small filter pads to remove sediment. No two casks of Whisky are ever exactly alike because of the type of oak used and the conditions under which it is stored.
Like fine wines, these naturally bottled whiskies may throw a little sediment. Now we’re talking!
I love wines with stuff in them. Why not whisky? Why not!?
Tasting Notes: I did all the tastings in front of a blazing wood fire after eating a rib steak sandwich with Swiss cheese and grainy French mustard on Pechter’s Rye bread. I used a tiny bit of spring water to open up the Whiskies. No ice. A Maine tumbled granite sea-stone (frozen overnight) provided a bit of chill- to cellar temp. Truth is this tasting is highly un-scientific. You will never read scores from me. I find them incongruous.
1. Lochranza Distillery- I’ve woken up in a honey bee nest. My skin is covered in honey and the bees are giving me little tiny nips with their stingers. Not enough to hurt, just enough to know they are there. Pure smoke lingers on the periphery. It’s the beekeeper- smoking out the bees. It tastes of peat and smoke-honey and dark stone fruits. Luscious stuff- the finish just goes on and on.
2. Smoking Islay- the fire in the fireplace is giving off that tell-tale smoky scent of wet wood. There is the scent of wet-dog and wet clothing and wet leather. Spanish leather at that. What does Spanish leather taste like? Come off your horse in the pouring rain, the last thing you remember before you bury your face in the mud is licking your saddle on the way down. That’s what Spanish leather tastes like. Candy sugar on the tongue and deep inside my throat gives way to sweet honey and freshly cut grasses. There is some citrus in there too. Almost a wine like nose- if the wine was a very well aged Muscadet that is. I love this stuff.
3. Blair Athol Distillery- There is wind blowing through my hair- tinged salt water and more wildflower honey, a farmhouse comes into view and there is a fire in the chimney- yet the residents are not aware of the pending disaster. Approaching the house I realize there is no fire in the chimney, it is coming from a peat fire in the backyard. But no matter- there is fire and salt and smoke. Honey gummy bears on the tongue with little bursts of sweet rock candy in the finish. This is awfully sophisticated. Thick perhaps. Creamy.
4. Mannochmore- What can I say about perfection. With a splash of cool spring water I am transported to a foreign country without grasp of the language. This Speyside whisky is frightening in its depth and grip. I taste more honey and salt- smoke and smoked salmon- yes Scottish smoked salmon in the finish. Salty. Salty Salty. Golden honey in color- there is stuff in the bottle. Scotch is not usually my go-to on spirits but with bottles of whisky as sensual and delicious as these in my cabinet, the frosty winter winds may blow- causing me no immediate harm. Thank you Raj for being so generous with gifts of perhaps the best whisky you can find.