Glenfiddich’s Experimental Series started with IPA, a whisky that surprised me. I thought it was a gimmick, but it turned out to be a winner in setting Glenfiddich in a new direction. The second release in the Experimental Series is Project XX (Pronounced: Project Twenty). Was this a clever marketing way to put the number twenty on the bottle? Perhaps, but the whisky inside has a clever story, and it’s a clever scotch, so let’s dive deeper.
J.P. Wiser’s Seasoned Oak is part of the rare cask series, an annual unique release that comes out in time for father’s day. Last year’s release featured Dissertation, a play on Dr. Don Livermore’s PhD. With Seasoned Oak, this is a further celebration of the flavours barrels bring to the whisky we enjoy.
Despite the claims on the website, this isn’t “scotch styled” single malt. It’s single malt, reimagined. The malted barley notes do come through, but this is a North American style single malt. I do hate going on about this point, but marketing needs to meet expectation, and this isn’t “scotch styled.”
I’m often offered samples of whisky from strange places. This sample came to me via a square glass bottle with a wide lid. On a whim, I poured the sample into a Glencairn glass and quickly started jotting down tasting notes. It was immediately captivated. The nose is beautiful with complexity, booziness, and intensity. The palate is even more impressive. My original writeup on tastings notes for the palate were two paragraphs long.
Glenfiddich IPA single malt scotch initially struck me as a gimmick. Perhaps it is, but it’s a tasty one. My internal monologue mocked it at first, though—why would the best selling single malt scotch in the world jump on a trend like IPA barrel finishing? Sure, IPAs are trendy, but will they sell more single malt scotch?
There are a few misconceptions around Scotch whisky that I still hear today. First, I often hear how scotch is ‘smoky’ with strong iodine notes, and therefore a big turn-off for whisky drinkers. In truth, most scotch sold contains very little in terms of smoky notes. The second misconceptions is, only Islay distilleries make peated whiskies. In truth, peat was a main fuel source up until the 1950s in many parts of Scotland and was commonly used in the whisky making process.
Unlike Colonel E.H. Taylor’s whisky cousin, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, CEHT Small Batch has a strong opinion on whisky. It’s maltier, grainier. It offers not only an excellent example of what a straight bourbon should taste like, but also offering an opinion on where the future is going. Sure, there’s a lot of woody notes here, but there’s also grainy notes that are allowed to shine creating a nice balance. Not everyone will appreciate the small batch; they might find it too acidic, or too forced on flavour, but an excellent whisky should either define the category or have a define an attitude. This whisky is the latter. Great price-point, and at 50% ABV, it will waken-up the palate.
Castle & Key Distillery is located in the historic Old Taylor Distillery, within Woodford County, Kentucky. The distillery, not yet opened to the public, is destined to become a popular tourist attraction. It’s filled with once abandoned whisky warehouses, an old train station going back to the 1900s, and a traditional water spring house that’s reminiscent of the Roman era. (Pictured below)