Hutch’s Happy Hour – The Bimber Distillery Whisky Tasting Set
So, the happy hour is taking a slightly different tack this month, and I appreciate it’s going to divide opinion more than a cocktail might but this time I will be focussing on whisky. For those non whisky lovers, I promise next month is a real tried and tested crowd pleaser so bear with me.
You may remember my post on the Bakewell Bellini which was created after receiving a gift from one of our couples, containing a bottle of cherry infused vodka from Bimber Distillery. Well it turns out; they produce whisky too and as it happens are one of the first distilleries in over 100 years to produce it in London!
Whilst Bimber haven’t yet released their much-anticipated single malt, I believe it is due in the coming months, they do offer a Single Malt sample gift set which I just so happened to purchase. Now, I’m no whisky connoisseur so I’m not going to be describing to you if I’m getting notes of salted lemons on the nose, smoked orange rind on the palette or a finish of smoky wood and green pine cones. These are in fact descriptors taken from online tasting notes of Highland Park 12 year old which happens to be one of my favourite whiskys; and I have to say I’ve never noticed any of that when enjoying a dram or two of the stuff!
I’ll be the first to admit that I have a long way to go before I can live up to the likes of my father in law when it comes to picking out the intricate flavours and aromas contained within the liquid gold that is whisky. But you can rest assured I am working on it and believe the Bimber Distillery sample set is in fact a great way for the whisky novice, or even connoisseurs (why not eh? There’s always something more to learn), to better understand the differences a humble cask can make to the finished product.
The set consists of 6 x 50cl bottles of whisky; one of new make spirit, a 3 year old “signature” bottling and four 3 year old whiskeys aged in virgin oak, ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and re-charred casks. For those that don’t know, the new make spirit is essentially what goes into the cask at the start of the ageing process. To be called whisky, this spirit must be aged for a minimum of 3 years, by which time it will have transformed into the amber coloured liquid we all know and love. The “signature” I presume is a blend of the various aged whiskeys to create a specific flavour profile; so, for example, could be 50% from ex-bourbon casks, 25% virgin oak and 25% from re-charred. I’m sure you get the picture.
It’s the other four that really piqued my interest as a relative newbie to the world of whisky. Each one comes from Batch #001. I am guessing here but think this means the same batch of new make spirit will have been divvied up into different casks to age and then bottled accordingly into this set. Having tasted them all I can say they did not disappoint, and it was easy to pick out the differences between the four, albeit the exact flavours and aromas were as always difficult for me to identify.
One thing I have learned over the last few years, and a good piece of advice for anyone else starting out on their own whisky adventure…it is not sacrilegious to add a splash of water to your whisky. In fact, when tasting a whisky for the first time it appears to be encouraged and is particularly true in the case of cask strength whiskeys such as these in the Bimber sampling set. The amount to add is debated among whisky drinkers. Some saying 50% ABV is the ideal strength to enjoy a dram, whilst it has been said some master distillers will even dilute to 20% ABV when crafting their product. From my experience, just a few drops can make a significant difference to the experience, so when tasting a whisky for the first time it’s got to be worth giving it a go right? Who knows, it may unlock a world of flavour and aroma you never knew existed…at the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you…what really matters, after all the years of hard work put in by the craftsman we know as distillers, is that you enjoy what’s in your glass.
So, how about it…why not pour yourself a dram this evening, sit back, relax and toast to the weekend!
Until next time,