One highlight from our Scotland trip was having a go at crafting my own dram! Spoiler alert – what I’m about to describe can’t be replicated however I would COMPLETELY recommend the “Malt Master” experience at Glengoyne distillery and see what you come up with!
So how did we go about it? I sat in a lovely room filed with a wall of cask samples… in front of me were 5 different casks. Each was numbered from left to right with the distillery tasting notes. The suggested process was to start first by pouring a portion into the small Glencairn glasses from the test tube to try each. Then begin to play around with crafting my own malt… So what did I discover?
#1 – Refill Hogshead Cask 24 (14 Jan 2004 / 2020) 57.8%
- Nose – Initially very pronounced pineapples, as it continued to open the tropical fruits shifted more into orchard fruits of crisp apple, pears, citrus, banana, light raisins, some candle wax, ever so slightly floral
- Taste – A bit of spice, grapefruit, pink peppercorns, a bit zesty, thin
- Finish – Hardly at all discernible
On its own, it was a pleasant way to begin, particularly on the aroma side, but incomplete.
#2 – 1st Fill American Oak Bourbon Barrel Cask 3553 (1 Dec 2004 / 2020) 56.2%
- Nose – Delightfully fruity with banana, pear, tropical fruits, citrus…. coconut oil, candy
- Taste – Sweet vanilla custard, banana cream pie, oak
- Finish – Lighty bitter
Initially I found it a bit too wood forward… however the aromas warmed up and became more and more enjoyable.
#3 – 1st Fill American Oak Sherrry Puncheon Cask 206 (8 Mar 2000 / 2020) 57.5%
- Nose – Chocolate, hazelnut, caramelized creme brûlée, strawberries and raspberries, rose hip
- Taste – Just a beautiful mouthfeel, rich, dark coffee, bitter chocolate, wonderfully balanced
- Finish – Lovely
What a fabulous single cask! It could easily stand on its own… my initial thought was keep it just as is – no need to add anything else! It was like an old friend with subtle different dimensions… sitting beautifully on the tongue.
#4 – 1st Fill European Oak Sherry Puncheon (light) Cask 934 (13 Jun 2001 / 2020) 56.8%
- Nose – Molasses, bitter orange marmalade, treacle, nuts
- Taste – Burnt sugar, oily, brazil nuts
- Finish – Lots of staying power
Whereas the 1st Fill Sherry in an American Oak had lightly roasted hazelnuts, here the nuts were a mix of brazilian, pecan, walnut and more. Interestingly, when I went back to revisit it was a bit shy on the nose. However the oily element on the palate added a solid dimension… and the finish? That was what this cask really brought to the party.
#5 – 1st Fill European Oak Sherry Puncheon (dark) Cask 1927 (2 Jul 1998 / 2020) 56.4%
- Colour – I just have to say upfront the colour was as intense as the whisky – dark ruby almost to chocolate
- Nose – RUM! Think rum raisin ice cream, crunchy red apples, dark fruits and berries
- Taste – Raisins, stewed fruits, lots of tannins and soft oak, drying
- Finish – Long and quietly sweet
This one could almost be too much of a good thing! Rich, dark and heavy… yet also a bit secretive. It had a wonderful warmth to the palate, yet such intensity I immediately knew this would be a case of “less is more”.
So… what did I decide to do? I began with #3 as a wonderful base (50ml)… however I wanted to bring a bit more fruit into the mix so added some #2 (20ml), a bit of #1 (20ml) to add a little zing, then #4 (20ml) for the oily palate…. swished is around, added more of #3 (20ml), up the fruit with #2 (10ml) before adding the intensity of #5 (20ml).
The aromas were classic, the palate had lovely balance and depth with a delicious long finish. And with that – I had my recipe!
I simply replicated the portions by half – just a bit lighter on the #1 and #2 – played around a wee bit more and there I had my (almost!) 200ml bottle!
I brought it with me to London where my host and I cracked it open one evening to see how it settled in…
Glengoyne 16 year “Carissa Original” Cask Strength
- Nose – Plum liquor, baked pineapple, sticky toffee, caramelized cream pudding, rum raisins, Christmas pudding, sticky pastries dusted with icing sugar, chocolate, dry herbs, light tangy element – almost a hint of dry mango, back to baked goods
- Palate – Really coats the palate, a nice oily element, rich plums, dense dates, a chewy combination of chocolate, raisins, nuts… wrapped in a rewarding spice
- Finish – Long, warming and dry – really lasts with a delicious dry sweet spice and slightly bitter wood
- Water – Really brought out the dried fruits, raisins, orange marmalade, some vanilla, a quixotic mix of berries and citrus… quite fabulous with water
Overall I was quite pleased with my creation. Heavier than I tend to prefer these days, it was truly a delicious ode to sherry.
I had planned to leave this as a treat for my host however he insisted I bring it back to Germany. I opened it again today and was surprised by how ‘tangy’ it had become on the nose… still great on the palate with a great chewy quality and holy toledo! What a finish… 10 minutes later and it was till very much there. What a treat to enjoy on my birthday in Nurnberg.
- 12% #1 – Refill Hogshead Cask 24 (14 Jan 2004 / 2020) 57.8%
- 16% #2 – 1st Fill American Oak Bourbon Barrel Cask 3553 (1 Dec 2004 / 2020) 56.2%
- 44% #3 – 1st Fill American Oak Sherrry Puncheon Cask 206 (8 Mar 2000 / 2020) 57.5%
- 14% #4 – 1st Fill European Oak Sherry Puncheon (light) Cask 934 (13 Jun 2001 / 2020) 56.8%
- 14% #5 – 1st Fill European Oak Sherry Puncheon (dark) Cask 1927 (2 Jul 1998 / 2020) 56.4%
What about other Glengoyne tasting experiences?
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