Sometimes whisky can mirror human development in that age and maturity don’t always go hand-in-hand. It’s all very well slapping a large age statement on a bottle, but that’s far from a guarantee that the liquid inside will possess the characteristics and nuances that one would expect and hope for. Tired old 4th fill casks won’t impart the level of influence on the spirit they once did. Highly active ‘fresh’ casks might well stimulate rapid and intense maturation, but if left unchecked can result in an eventual whisky that’s more akin to wood juice. There’s a fine balance – and that’s not even considering that some whiskies are inherently more suited for longer maturation than others.
This Claxton’s Teaninich was matured for 19 years in a bourbon hogshead that produced 255 bottles. It’s delivered at 53% ABV and comes with a sticker price of £109.
The often robust Teaninich gets a run out at young age. 9 years in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead. Light & Delicate profile.
All distilleries are unique. And don’t let anyone go telling you otherwise. But in terms of deviating from the ‘normal’ plant you’d find inside a distillery, the Highland’s Teaninich is most certainly a standout in terms of its distinctiveness. For starters despite producing over 4 million LPA the distillery possesses no warehousing on site (so any tasting notes of “dunnage floor” would be figurative, not literal) – all of it is taken away in bulk tankers to one or more of Diageo’s warehouse cities. Then there’s the actual whisky making process – and in that regard Teaninich is rather the outlier.
Much has been and will still be written about the modern trend away from spirit-led whiskies towards a greater focus on wood influence. This drift is not something which has happened over the last few years, nor it is more than a generalisation. But, over the past three decades consumer tastes for single malts have undeniable changed, reflecting a growing desire for cask finishes as well as a greater willingness to explore younger whiskies as the prices of older expressions have sky-rocketed. And producers are happy to oblige – producing wood-forward whiskies not only sates changing consumer preferences, it also allows for the use of smaller casks to ‘supercharge’ maturation – and push a narrative that ‘the wood makes the whisky’.
The barriers to becoming a whisky blogger are extraordinarily low. Nowadays, all that’s required is an Internet connection, some fingers to type with and some whisky to write about. But, at the same time, whilst almost anyone can (and seemingly does) write about whisky, to my mind, few seem to put in the effort to research and create thought-provoking content. And don’t get me started on Instagram ‘influencers’. Whilst many bloggers use the medium as an outlet for their passions and a way to connect with fellow enthusiasts, others seem to consider that they’re an integral part of the industry itself – self-important people – usually with an axe to grind. And then there’s press samples….