The Masterclass Drams 2015

Given the extraordinary depth and breadth of variety of single malts that now grace our warehouses, it will always be difficult to select just six to showcase at our annual Feis Ile Masterclass.  For 2015, Jim McEwan, with Allan Logan and Adam Hannett, wanted to provide their guests with something unrepeatable, a truly extaordinary group of drams to mark Jim's impending retirement.  None of these whiskies have ever been released commercially in their present form.

Introducing the first, a magnificent unpeated Bruichladdich, now at 51.5%, that was distilled back in 1984, Jim was keen to highlight that this was an example of the craftsmanship of what we like to call the Ancien Regime, before the distillery was closed in 1994.  Superb spirit made by skilled men and matured here at Bruichladdich in a great Bourbon cask to provide us with the perfect example of what can be created by leaving well alone.

Age is not everything however, as we have always gone to great lengths to point out.  One of the skills of the blender is to be able to judge when a cask needs a hand to help it on its way.  The second unpeated dram was another that was originally distilled by the Ancien Regime back in 1992 but Jim and Adam decided to give it some Additional Cask Enhancement in a cask that previously held red wine from Chateau Lafleur, a Bordeaux wine from the commune of Pomerol. This is one of the rarest and most expensive wines in the world.  It was aced, i.e. transferred to the Lafleur cask, in 2008.

The third and fourth drams were heavily peated Port Charlotte whiskies distilled under Jim's watchful eye.  The first was distilled in 2002 and now stands at at 60.8% - matured full term in a cask from Chateau d'Yquem, the  world famous Sauternes that is the only wine of its type classified as  Premier Cru Superieur.  The second Port Charlotte, 61.3% and the fourth dram of the morning, was aced in a cask that once held a red wine made by the Callejo family in the heart of the Spanish wine region of Ribera del Duero. It spent six years in Bourbon before being transferred to Callejo four years ago.

The fifth dram was a monster.  An Octomore of Octomore.  Distilled in 2008 from the first harvest of malting barley to be grown by farmer James Brown, it had spent its whole life in a virgin oak cask and was registering at an extraordinary 64.4%. The cask was built in France at the Radoux cooperage from American oak and medium toasted.

For the Highland Toast to conclude the proceedings, they chose a dram with a most unusual provenance.  This was distilled in 1998 during the closed period of Bruichladdich when a team from Jura distillery came in and operated the old machinery for a short time to demonstrate that it was still operational.  The Budgie, now our senior stillman but then retained to manage the Bruichladdich warehouse stock, would have distilled the spirit.  Matured initially in Bourbon, it was aced in a cask that previously held rum in 2006.  It now has an ABV of 53.6%.

 

 

 

 

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