Sunday, 21 April 2013

Whisky Discovery #381

The Society's Special 14 Year Old (40% abv)
Blended Scotch Whisky
£25.00 100cl
The Whine Society's Special Highland Blend

This was my choice of whisky for the recent 12 Blends Challenge a group of whisky enthusiasts took part in during the first two weeks of April. You can read about that here.

This had been on my wish list ever since reading Ian Buxton's 101 Whiskies to try Before You Die. So the chance to share this recommended blended Scotch with eleven other whisky fans was too good an opportunity to miss and from their tatsing notes they really enjoyed it.

This whisky owes its origins to The Society's first Chairman The Macleod of Macleod (1874-1895) and it is the Macleod Castle, Dunvegan that is shown on the label. The blend dates from The Society’s early years when it was known as The Society’s Special Highland Blend and appears on lists more than a century old.

The actual blend is a closely guarded secret but consists of Highland and Lowland whiskies, and Ian's book tells us that Mortlach features prominently. The Wine Society is famed for is quality selection of fine wines and sherries, but they do have a limited selection of whiskies including single malts which change from time to time.

Although the origin of the whiskies may change the principle has not. It is composed only of malt and grain whiskies acquired when first offered by the distilleries and matured there in casks, including Sherry casks from The Society, until old enough to be blended and bottled.

In Ian's book it is labelled as The Society's Special Highland Blend Whisky, and Wine Society Members have been buying for more than a century, it being a blend unique to The Society. Recent legislation has forced them to remove the term "Highland" from the description as the blend is not from 100% highland whiskies. It is now known as The Society's Special 14-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky, but the blend itself has not altered, purely the name on the label. It remains a 14-year-old blended whisky containing first-division malts and grains originally bought from the distilleries and aged in Sherry casks before blending and bottling. 

So What Did I Think?

The colour of this whisky is a rich autumnal bronze colour, and naturally coloured I must add

As I was expecting, there is lots of sherry on the nose, Amontillado for sure! This has a lovely rich nose, there's sweet stewed apples, a touch of peppery spice to compliment the sherry notes. With time those sherry notes start to turn more Oloroso like, and some wood notes appear then there was even a touch of smoke under the sherry notes

In the mouth it's sweet initially, then builds with some peppery spice, before gently receding leaving a rich oily mouth-feel, sherried fruits prominent, apple peel, cinnamon, and white pepper.

The finish is spicy and warming, there is a touch of smoke and then a drying nutty note. You are left with a long peppery taste at the end, and the empty glass has a faint peak reek which suggests Islay malts have been used in the make up.

This is a really lovely blended Scotch whisky and thanks to Ian Buxton for introducing me to this. It has a really satisfying taste, and had been my 'go to' dram in the evenings since buying it. The mouth feel is rich and oily, and the peppery kick fades gently into the long finish suggesting that Talisker could have been used in the make-up of it. At £25 for a litre, I think this will become a regular feature of my whisky shelf. 

You have to be a member of the wine society to be able to purchase this, but it is fantastic value at £40 for life membership. They have a huge selection of wines and I have been working my way through their sherry collection recently, purely educational of course. If you are interested in finding out more get in touch with me, or check out their website.

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