The Expert Corner: Spirited Selections
April 8, 2024

Spirited Selections

In the world of whiskey, the journey of fermentation, aging, bottling, to finally being poured in your glass is a long road with many stops along the way. Each of these stops require a decision made by the distillery: What is the best temperature for fermentation? What grain mixture will give the best flavour profile? What type of barrels will impart the desired flavour profile? The answers to these questions each play a vital role in the final product. When considering the types of casks used for aging there is a great diversity of selection available.

For Scotch whisky most distilleries opt to use Sherry or Port casks as is traditional. These barrels are brought over from sunny Spain to the green fields and gray skies of Scotland. They are responsible for imparting Scotch with its classic notes of dried fruit, toffee, and baking spices. While Scotland is steeped in tradition there are some adventurous distillers cropping up using less traditional casks like Amarone wine barrels from Italy or Bourbon barrels from Kentucky. An even more exclusive type of barrel aging is garnering a formidable reputation: Single Cask bottlings.

These Scotches are ultra-limited edition as they herald from 1 single barrel rather than being mass produced. This single cask provides a rare and pure expression of the spirit creating a deeper tasting experience with highly concentrated flavours and aromas; filling your nose and blanketing your taste buds with notes grounded in space and time. In our world of mass production, the appeal of the single cask finish is fueled in part by a desire for a return to craftsmanship. To showcase the skills of the distiller and to remind the world why Scotch has earned its reputation as the global leader in whisky.

Hepburn's Choice Single Cask 12-Year Scotch

One example of such is the Hepburn’s Choice single cask 12-year Scotch from Tullibardine. Distilled in 2008 this single cask scotch whisky was aged in a wine barrel for 12 years before being bottled in 2020. Only 359 bottles were produced. On the nose aromas of chocolate, plum, and vanilla give way to a slight hint of herbs. On the palate notes of orange peel lead the way followed by spiced dark chocolate, black currants, and finishing with a honeyed malt character. With no chill filter the colour and mouthfeel of this scotch is naturally full. Don’t let the name fool you- this is not Audrey Hepburn’s scotch. These bottles were named for Scottish diplomat and scotch connoisseur William Hepburn.

Tullibardine 228

Tullibardine’s history goes back to 1488, originally opening as a brewery it gradually transformed into a distillery producing single malt in Scotland’s Highland region. Classically non-peated Tullibardine’s scotches are approachable for both your palate and your wallet. Their offerings of are a mainstay of liquor cabinets everywhere. One example is the Tullibardine 228, first spending its infancy in ex-bourbon barrels and later transferred to wine barrels to finish maturing. This scotch has the classic aromas of vanilla and toasted oak. While in your glass a fullness develops into sweet custard, baked apples, and orange blossoms.

If you are just beginning your journey into the world of scotch or if you’re looking to venture further paying attention to the types of casks used in the maturation process, whether it’s from a single barrel or otherwise will pay off with what ends up in your glass.

Written by Laura from our Hammond Bay location