The first bottling of English whisky for SMWS – what better place to start than with the English Whisky Company. This first experience is an 8 year old drawn from a 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel. Peated profile.
Nose: Dirty, but chiselled – chip pan oils, engine lubricant, diesel and coat dust. These sit with sharp minerality – limestone, beach pebbles and a stiff coastal breeze. The smoke here is almost impossible to define – wood fire, forest fires, coastal peat, heathery peat and farmyard – you try to square that circle! Dilution adds some sweetness – smoky bacon, jelly babies – as well as more interesting burnt matter – charred paper.
Taste: A big and powerful arrival packed full of bitumen, tar and engine oil – it washes in with a wave of intensity, assisted by punchy ABV. Once the wave has subsided, minerality is up next – wet slate, granite, and fish tank gravel?! Sweetness follows with jelly, sour lemons and milk chocolate biscuits, before a combination of savouriness (oats and crackers) and herbalness (mixed seasoning) lead us off into other directions. Water adds earthiness (pretty much the only flavour profile we’ve not touched on so far) – damp burning mosses, lichen and soils.
Finish: Long and smoky with menthol, camphor and ashiness.
Woah! This first bottling from the English Whisky Company is a rollercoaster of aromas and flavour. Reading my notes I can’t believe something this diverse would possible work. It does. Highly successfully. Whilst undeniably left-field this is an shapeshifting and powerful whisky with complexity at every junction. Being a .1 bottling, this is only available via a ballot – I’ll certainly be entering and strongly suggest you do so too (and then open this riot of a whisky).