Signatory session take two with cigars!

Quick before oxidation did too much damage, I wanted to share with the BMC lads a sampling from my earlier Signatory session.

However as whisky gremlins (aka friends and I) got into the Edradour and the Bunnahabhain too, it was clear augmentation would be needed to have sufficient for my sipping companions as we puffed on our cigars, post initial tasting. With this group, tasting is not the end, merely the selection process to settle down to savour a further dram or two with a cigar, some nibbles and convivial conversation.

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So what did I do? First began with what our merry malt men had to say about the whiskies…

We kicked off with the Speyside – Glenburgie 18 year (13 June 1995 / 20 Feb 2014) Cask No 6451, 391 bottles 46%.

  • Nose – Flowers, perfume, summer meadow
  • Palate – Surprisingly robust
  • Finish – Spice
  • Water – Adds ‘wood’ brought out vanilla and moss
  • Overall – Light bright and sprightly

Then followed up with the Islay – Bunnahabhain 26 years (6 June 1988 / 7 Aug 2014) Cask No 1874, 175 bottles 48.6%.

  • Nose – Varnish, lots of esters, pineapple, a flick of mint?
  • Palate – Smooth, a bit oily, tart granny apples…
  • Finish – Sits… very dry, black pepper
  • Water – Spicier, less acidic, brings out the peppers and even a medicinal quality on the nose. Then was that gasoline??
  • Overall – One commented the whisky made his lips numb! Certainly not a favourite (and yet the bottle was empty by the end of the evening… Oh the sacrifices these gentlemen will make!)

Closing our Signatory trio in the Highland‘s with the Edradour 10 year (2 Nov 2004/26 Mar 2015) Cask No 406, Bottle 440 46%

  • Nose – Very chocolaty, vanilla, prunes, fig newton, varnish, rum raisin
  • Palate – Very smooth, little pepper, lime?
  • Finish – Not long but rather pleasant
  • Water – Softens, mellows it out and makes it even sweeter
  • Overall – The kind of whisky to sip in a comfy chair, very palatable, well balanced and well rounded

Having tried all three before, I found the Edradour stood up best after being opened. Alas the Glenburgie had clearly lost some of its earlier nuances. And the Bunnahabhain? Let’s just say it is not one to sit in a bottle. The most expensive of the trio was also the most disappointing.

But what to sip with our cigars?

One already has clear sherry preferences. For him, he likes his whiskies robust and full of flavour. Aberlour just so happens to be a personal favourite, so it was only natural to introduce him to the gorgeous A’bunadh Batch 35.

For another, we earlier spoke of enjoying a good Irish dram – when in the mood for something a little simpler and sociable. He’d sampled Tyrconnel before – even has a bottle at home – however had yet to try the Madeira finish.

Now, another member knows his stuff and nothing less than a complex, nuanced and very special dram will do! I knew what remained in my whisky cabinet would not meet such standards. Closest was a few remaining rare Japanese whiskies yet only a single dram left – clearly insufficient to support a good cigar. So the Signatory trio would simply have to do.

And the last? I still haven’t pegged his preference beyond a desire to try something ‘different’. So added an unpeated Paul John Classic into the mix.

My experience pairing with the cigar? I initially thought the Edradour with its rich sherry notes would pair best with my robusto. Imagine my surprise to discover the delicate Glenburgie held its own.

Slainthe!

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Signatory’s Edradour 10 year (2004) 46%

Last in our Signatory session was a complete change of pace. From older, more nuanced whiskies, we boldly stepped into younger sherry territory.

For those not familiar, Edradour is one of Scotland’s smallest distilleries, controlled by the independent bottler Signatory. Edraour has been busy with a lot of experimentation. For such a small distillery, it has a classic range, cask strength, then wine finishes and even wine matured whiskies plus their Ballechin peated line.
This particular bottle shows off what Edradour can do in only 1o years – part of its classic range – that clearly provides details on when it entered and left its specific cask.

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As always, our original tasting group initially sampled this Edradour completely blind before revealing the whisky…
Edradour 10 year (2 Nov 2004/26 Mar 2015) Cask No 406, Bottle 440 46%
  • Colour – Deep ruby red
  • Nose – Holy moly! Rum soaked raisins, dried fruit, mincemeat Christmas tart, iodine, citrus lemon, port? Some toasted almonds, slightly sour, prunes
  • Palate – Smooth, sweet, very very rummy, caramel, a bit woody, thick and robust. One of those sherry bombs bursting with Christmassy character but a shade darker. Lots of rum soaked dried fruit particularly dates, nuts.
  • Finish – Rum finish, dry, slightly bitter and chewy
  • Water – Can add… but why bother. Most preferred it neat.
  • Speculation – Sense of being like an El Dorado rum. The colour was really quite unbelievable. Speculation it may even have gone through a force maturity with wood chips. Or possibly, could it be, a rum cask?
  • Overall – A complete desert whisky. The kind that would pair superlatively well with chocolate and oranges. And faaaar too easy to drink! As evidenced by it being the whisky most consumed that night.
And the unveiling? A complete surprise. Most of our tasting group previously had the pleasure of enjoying the robust Edradour 12 year Caledonia whisky. While it shared the rum-like quality, there was something quite distinctive about this 10 year and none made the connect.
It is such fun curating evenings like this – though we had all tried something from each distillery, sampling the selection of a single cask from Signatory made for a unique experience.
When I purchased the Glenburgie in 2014, I had no thought to hosting an evening that would focus only on Signatory whiskies. However when I bought the Bunnahabhain… the kernel of an idea began to germinate. The logical extension was to include Edradour.
Choosing the tasting order was also key.
In this case, I went by what I anticipated from the whisky profile rather than age. From the Glenburgie sampled til date, suspected it would be the most delicate, had high expectations that the Bunnahabhain would need more time and attention so perfect to follow and then closed with the boldest though youngest whisky.
It worked!
Our special Signatory session also featured:
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Signatory session with Glenburgie, Bunnahabhain + Edradour

Most single malts tell you surprisingly little about exactly when they began their life.

Sure – the bottle says 10 year but what that really means is the youngest whisky in that bottle in front you was matured for 10 years.

As for the year it was bottled? Look closely… many do not tell you this.

The key with most age statement whiskies is carefully playing around with stock to produce a consistent flavour profile. Which means more mixing and blending between casks than you might imagine to achieve that distinctive taste you have come to call a familiar friend.

However if you really want to explore the nuances of a ‘pure’ single malt, then a single distillation in a single cask preferably at cask strength is the way to go.

And no one does that better than some terrific independent bottlers who keep an eagle eye (or acute nose and taste buds) out for something truly special.

This is the territory that tells you when that whisky hit the cask, which cask and even how many bottles exist… perhaps your bottle even has its own number.

Over the years we’ve had some fabulous Gordon & MacPhail offerings, a few Douglas Laing & Co, however less from Signatory.

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So for three years, I’ve slowly acquired three distinctly different whiskies – two examples of Signatory’s independent bottlings and one from their own wee distillery – Edradour, each from a different region in Scotland.

What pray tell did I manage to track down?

It seemed a fitting trio to fete the beginning our fifth year of whisky tastings as a dedicated group in Mumbai.

Anyone have a favourite independent bottler? Or tried a particularly interesting Signatory bottle?

Slainthe!

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