Guest blog #6: Whisky improved
The guest blog, “What Do YouKnow?” rolls on with Steffen Bräuner of http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.com/. Steffen explores the changes in whisky over time in “Whisky Improved”.
I have a range of favorite distilleries.
Everybody does I guess. For me this has clearly been affected by what’s available out there on the open market for us whisky consumers. When I started with malt whisky I was purchasing the major brands, but as I got in the know about where to find bottlings and located strange bottlings in speciality stores my preferences became more nuanced. Unless you live in a place where the available selection is very limited, I guess this goes for most of us.
I also have a range of distilleries I don’t like and have been avoiding. I tried their whiskies and found them not to my likings (Bad whisky?) or maybe the whisky I tried was just very very forgettable.
Well, avoiding distilleries as a principle might not be the best idea. The last couple of years I did decide to be more open-minded and retry whiskies I had a very set opinion on as being BAD! or BORING!
And I didn’t regret that!
Quite a lot of distilleries has improved their products a lot. Bowmore lost what seemed to me like perfume characteristic and has become “normal” a few years ago. I did look upon Isle of Jura, Ledaig/Tobermory and Fettercairn as producing a whisky more similar to sour socks than anything drinkable, but my recent retries of these malts has proved me wrong. I’d like to single out Tobermory/Ledaig which by going to 46.3%, 10yo age statement, unchillfiltered and probably also a change in production methods lifted their whiskies up to a much higher level. Burn Stewart did a similar thing with Deanston that improved a lot as well.
I didn’t have that high thoughts about Tomatin, but that changed dramatically when they revatted their bottlings last year (with higher ABV as well). Arran wasn’t really my favourite either, but this is an ugly duckling amongst the distilleries and as it has been coming of age, I have started to really enjoy their whiskies. It’s no secret I regard the Arran Peacock as one of the best malts of 2009.
Balblair, BenRiach and also Imperial has impressed me a lot the last years. Balblair due to their vintage series, BenRiach with a change of ownership and Imperial due to Duncan Taylor’s extra attention. (Duncan Taylor thought they were gonna buy Imperial so I stocked up, and what fine malts, quite young even, they released recently).
And who wasn’t surprised by the things BenRiach has been releasing since Billy Walker took over?
Moral: Be open-minded. Whisky changes, distillery changes, the people bottling the whisky changes. Things do improve.
Any distilleries surprised you lately ?