Gone Fishing

I personally find it perfectly natural to have both a sense of want and belonging. Sometimes they can be connected, sometimes they’re not. In the last decade you only need to see the sheer level of fervour when the latest smartphone is released, for example. People that were perfectly happy with their current £700 handset and tied into ridiculously priced contracts, suddenly decide that its now only worth sticking in the drawer with various dead batteries, old currency, and half used Bic pens as they queue in all weathers to get hold of that latest piece of technology.

Keeping up with the Jones’ isn’t a new concept. Far from it – this is something that has been built into the human psyche for centuries. Whether this be wanting to blend in, be one of the gang or have the same – if not more – than your neighbours. For many this mentality is the signal showing to all that they are successful and content.

Whisky is no different. I’ve already beaten this particular horse to death but FOMO is a very unhealthy thing. Sometimes you only need to look at some of the vitriol that is spread around the fields of whisky social media that is perpetuating some frankly unhelpful and, in some cases, harmful opinions. For example, let’s talk about an email that I received today. This email was sent from Bimber distillery to their Bimber Klub membership – exclusively sent to those of us who have seen both potential and joy in what has so far been produced and in the manner in which is has. What a shame it was then to see that the email was highlighting abuse and negative interactions that had been levelled at Bimber staff as a result of their recent (and massively popular) Spirit of the Underground series. Some people missed out, I missed out, but to sink as low as to abuse staff of a company that worked hard to bring to market a product that you wanted but just couldn’t get on the day because it was popular? Have a word with yourself, move on, breathe in the life in the air around you. Also don’t forget to have another word with yourself whist you’re at it. You’re part of the problem as well as the thousands of others (including me) all chasing that same bottle.

As a result of some of this nonsense, the distillery have enacted a lifetime ban and refund of membership for those who have been found to have sent messages/calls/emails to staff with any form of abuse of harmful content. In addition, all future limited releases will be issued via a weighted ballot to make things a little more balanced. In a widely welcomed move, Bimber have also stated that anyone found to have flipped (their definition being sold within 12 months of purchase) a bottle of a limited release, will also be barred from purchasing directly from the distillery in future. This will take a lot of work to track, and I certainly don’t envy the person responsible for this undoubtedly hellish Excel spreadsheet. You know who you are.

I must take a second here to apologise in advance, as just like those long drives back from family road trips – we’re not stopping yet.

I’ve always been an advocate of drinking what you want how you want to and an anti-snob. I really don’t care if you prefer your 30 year old Glendronach with a splash of vanilla Coke, nor is it any skin off my nose if you’re perfectly happy drinking a £9 bottle of supermarket own label blended whisky. Deep down within me however, is something of a scrap book of various things that I’ve seen said about certain brands, distilleries and whiskies be it reviews or offhand comments. I’ve not necessarily regurgitated these opinions but they have inadvertently had an impact on my shopping habits. I’ve almost been trained to overlook some offerings from this unconscious bias.

One of the whiskies that I’ve long ignored is Speyburn. Could it be the big flopping salmon on the label or is it because you could argue that Speyburn is the runt of the Inver House stable? Competing for space with Balblair and Pulteney would never have been easy, although given the recent revamps to these two ranges; some light finally made it onto the forest floor that has allowed Speyburn to grow more into my consciousness.

In one of those ‘why not’ moments that I think we all get from time to time with online shopping – I picked up a bottle of Speyburn 10yr old. One of the main reasons being it had been reduced to £24 which is well down from the usual £34 RRP but also something in me just gravitated to it for the first time.

Speyburn 10yr old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – 40% –  Chill Filtered – Added E150 Colouring – RRP £34

Yes so already this is chill filtered and contains E150a colouring. Are we surprised at this given the price point. Are they the only company to do this? No. So let’s move on.

On the nose there’s initially from white wine like acidity. This softens slightly with sugary cereals, green apple, honey and vanilla. There’s also a slight fustiness in there too which detracts from the previous freshness a little. So far a little reminiscent of the many supermarket own label Speysiders. Towards the end there’s a touch of spice and candlewax.

The palate texture is pretty average but again I’ll allow it. We open up proceedings with more apple, vanilla custard and crumble topping. Basically a poncey deconstructed apple pie from some gastropub that’ll no doubt charge you £12 for the privilege of keeping all of those ingredients separately. I digress. Toffee comes through with a little spice and milky porridge with honey.

The finish is short to medium length with boiled sweets and more of that apple crumble.

Whilst this may sound like I’ve been spending too much time in local orchards, I was pleasantly surprised by this and is nowhere near as ineffectual as I was led to believe. This is a whisky that I’m happily drinking during these warmer days, or at least when they decide to turn up. For me, this was yet another reminder that there are plenty more fish in the sea.

Score: Good

Fancy some tunes? The Malt Music for this dram is ..well.. this.

Holy Grail – Indiana Jones himself can only hope to find such a treasure.
Unbelievable – Among the best I’ve ever had. Must be tried at all costs.
Outstanding – One you should try to get hold of. Qualities in abundance.
Very Good – One to have on the shelf regularly. Provides consistent enjoyment.
Good – I’d happily drink this. One to buy at the right price.
Solid – No particular flaws but no wow factor either.
Fine – There to take the edge off. Good for highballs and won’t need much thought.
Meh – Somewhat flawed. More of a chore than a pleasure.
Oh Dear – Consistent flaws. Gets you where you’re going at the speed you want to get there.
Please Make it Stop – Not one to seek out. Hope for a gift receipt.

2020 Summary and Whisky of the Year

As 2020 draws to a close, I thought I’d record a summary of the year as well as plans for 2021. and, a first for me, my whisky of the year!

Whilst this year hasn’t been fantastic, it has allowed me yo make new friends, and in some ways, recharge. I’m aiming to carry renewed vigour and hope into 2021, not just for the blog but other areas as well.

If we don’t speak beforehand, I hope that you and yours have a fantastic and prosperous new year and I’ll certainly be going into the early hours with a dram in hand!