Well in advance of “needing” a resupply of whisky for various virtual tastings, I found myself stumbling on Whic.de “accidentally on purpose”, giving into the temptation to order a few whiskies. Happily it led to a wee bonus 3cl dram – which to me is the perfect size to be introduced into a whisky.
When I opened my shipment, I was amused to see they sent a Speyburn 10 year – quite a familiar friendly Speyside previously explored in Mumbai on three occasions:
From January 2016 – Sampled blind as part of a Mumbai tasting of lighter drams
However that was years ago and I re-glanced to discover the ABV was different – 40% not the 43% I’d experienced earlier. And when to try?
I decided – what better than a virtual “bar night” with the Bombay Malt & Cigar lads – now scattered around the globe. One of our members had hosted an evening with Stuart Harvey with the Speyburn well known. As each pulled out an open bottle from our respective whisky cabinets, I cracked open this mini.
What did I find with my revisit?
Speyburn 10 year 40%
Nose – Sweet cereals, honey, a bit malty, some nutmeg and vanilla… as it opened up became increasingly fruity with banana, mosambi, then shifted from citrus to hint of raisins
Taste – Honey water, toffee, fresh tobacco leaf, some more malt a bit of spice
Finish – Carries through with a bit of sweet, spice, faintly bitter
Did it live up to memories of past tastings? Yes indeed. I feared that at 40% it would be too diluted, however it remained what I expected – an ‘easy drinking dram’. No complaints and that wee 30cl bottle was finished far too fast!
It came across as primarily ex-Bourbon cask with just a touch of ex-Sherry, which could entirely be true as the Speyburn is matured with a bit of both.
As I’ve featured before what the Speyburn folks have to say, thought to share how the German distributor positions it:
A malty-mild Speyside single malt with a great price-performance ratio. Order this tasty aperitif whiskey.
10 years old: The 10 years of ripening ensure a pleasant fruity-malty bouquet.
Price-performance ratio fits: For its low price, you get a well-matured and tasty single malt whiskey with a solid indication of age.
Not smoky: In this classic Speyside whiskey, the malt is not kilned over a peat fire. Therefore this whiskey is not smoky. Ideal for beginners or as an aperitif.
Mild and tasty: If you’re looking for a mild and pleasant after-work whiskey, you’ve come to the right place. If you are looking for something deep and difficult, you should keep looking.
Great entry-level whiskey: With its light flavor profile and low alcohol content, this Speyburn is a great entry-level whiskey. Inexpensive and tasty.
I would completely agree! As for “inexpensive”, what does that mean? In Germany, it is a mere EUR 25, just over INR 2,000 – very much value for money. I’m not sure how distribution has been affected by these strange times we live in, however it was once available in the Indian market – naturally with all the customs duties and taxes added on top!
However don’t be fooled! Just when pegged into a particular ‘type’, purely for contrast, our host shared that when he’s had a hard day at work, only something a bit rougher, tougher and robust will do.
That’s when a Wasmund’s 12 month 48% was pulled out! Because we all need a little ‘bad boy’ to spice things up once and a awhile.
Me? I’m terribly mood dependant. Some could say I can’t make up my mind, but it is simply that I enjoy the range of profiles.
Stuart Harvey calls Speyburn a “surprising” whisky that is “hugely under-rated.”
We sampled the Speyburn10 year together with Stuart Harvey, master distiller with Inver House responsible for Balblair, Old Pulteney, AnCnoc and Speyburn whiskies – both at a sociable ‘home appreciation’ evening and then the next night at a masterclass.
Speaking about the Speyburn distillery, Stuart shared it is one of the 1st mechanical malting in the world, with an onion shaped still that produces heavy oils from its squat shape. The whisky is then matured in American oak bourbon casks, with some time in sherry butts for finishing.
Nose – Lots of sour honey, overripe bananas, fruity on the citrus side, light sherry notes
Taste – Bit chewy, buttery, toffee, coffee and caramel, bitter, slightly raw, yet full-bodied, a hint of salt. Spicy yet surprisingly light with a citrus twist
Finish – Quite peaty, a bit dry
Water – Smooths it out
Ice – Cranks up the sweetness on the nose, adds a freshness
Interestingly, it was the least expensive of the whiskies sampled with the Inver House folks, however it was also one which appealed to many at the ‘home appreciation’ evening… Partly as it works well with the desi style to drinking whisky… chill with ice and drown with water!
The next evening in the Masterclass it also held its own… It will be interesting to see whether Speyburn tickles the desi whisky palate and gains popularity. It certainly does well in the US, so why not India?
Here’s what the Speyburn folks have to say about the 10 year:
Nose – Fresh, clean with a hint of lemon
Taste – Medium bodied with hints of toffee & butterscotch and a long, sweet finish. A global favourite, Speyburn 10 year old is ever the crowd-pleaser.