ABV: 51.3% Distillery: Glenturret Bottler: The Waxhouse Whisky Company Region: HighlandsAge: 8
Community has been, and still is, a cornerstone of whisky. From the creation and support of local employment through to bars, whisky clubs and festivals. Whilst the category is rich with history and craftsmanship – it’s the people who truly drive whisky. In Scotland alone, some 10,000 are directly employed by distilleries and within the supply-chain – expand this to the UK and the figure is well over 40,000. Historically, distilleries provided both a place of work and a focal point for the community – and in many places, particularly those more rural, this is still the case today – the sector, and the interest in it is vital to both employment and investment throughout the Highlands and Islands.
The growing global interest in whisky has resulted in new forms of communality – from physical, community-owned distilleries through to spiritual communities – extending throughout the Internet. But regardless of type - this sense of belonging, of coming together, and of being supported is both a both fundamental and a vital comfort in difficult times. It starts from simply sharing a dram with a friend, but its reach and potential impact far outweighs its simplicity as a concept – you can oppress a person, but never an idea.
The whisky community is strong. And for me it has become a second family. Even in times less uncertain, there’s a visible wealth of passion and camaraderie in equal measure. When compassion, support and empathy are all added into the mix – the combination is potent. Dram sharing was commonplace – now it's endemic. Digital interaction prevalent – now near continuous. Over the past week (like many of us) I’ve received a sea of emails and messages – and it warms my heart that as many of them are simply offering support and care as are offering raw live updates.
Whisky has its roots deep within community - and it’s now within that community that we draw our strength from. We are legion.
The Waxhouse Whisky Company is a yet another manifestation of whisky community. It was born out of St Albans Whisky Club (the name is derived from the Waxhouse Gate in the city – originally the site of a chandlery) with four friends taking the plunge into launching their own independent bottling company. Their first release (001 – which provides an adequate 998 more until a new numbering system will need to be introduced) was bottled last August, is from Glenturret in the form of Ruadh Moar – a name adopted by bottlers for the peated spirit produced at the distillery.
The expression was distilled back in March of 2011 and matured in a 2nd fill oloroso cask for 8 years. 380 bottles were produced at an ABV of 51.3%. You’ll likely note the unique labelling – certainly a standout visual feature. Though remember ‘x’ rarely marks the spot – despite a high level of immediate transparency it’s not the easiest to read. They’re still available directly (and I’ll also note that shipping was suitably speedy) from The Waxhouse Whisky Company for £65.
Nose: Wafting bituminous peat smoke – coal, BBQ briquettes, felt roofing and more than a hint of molten rubber. This is joined by a meaty quality - burnt ends, roast topside of beef. And a salty seafood aspect – smoked kipper and bouillabaisse. In the background – moist earth and smoked vegetation. Reduction diminishes the peat impact and reveals more fruity cask and distillery character – lime juice, apple peels and scattered red berries.
Taste: The arrival delivers a textural mouthfeel of oils and greases and a combination of medicinal and in-land peat smoke – floor cleaner and iodine alongside tarmac and smouldering wet leaves. This is supported again by an underlying meatiness – bacon lardons and beef dripping. Lightening the affair - tart and zesty limes with sweet white chocolate. The addition of water delivers an ashy quality – charcoal and spent fire hearths alongside ozone and waterlogged wood.
Finish: Quite long and still rather smoke-driven – coal dust and bandages with residual fruity sweetness and a final twist of cracked pepper.
Waxhouse Whisky’s first release confidently displays what peated Glenturret is capable of – an unexpected amalgamation of dirty but still clean spirit. Naturally this sounds like a contradiction – but it is simply a function of what happens when a well-made crisp spirit meets a roaring peat kiln. Here both facets shine resulting in a tasty, expressive whisky which is (in style) right up my street. What this release doesn’t display is the sherry cask – either through inactivity, of through the sheer weight of the spirit itself, the oloroso is but a footnote, offering the addition of sweetness rather than of overt sherry-driven flavour.
But don't take our word for it..
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