In spring 2014 we received a somewhat unusual phone call from our coopers: would we like to buy a bunch of experimental first-fill ex-bourbon casks? Hmmm, tricky question… “experimental” is not usually a word we like when it comes to whisky making! They quickly explained that only the size was experimental – at just 100 litres the casks were smaller even than quarter casks. The wood was absolutely first class, and the coopers had no doubt it would make a lovely dram. So we bought them – and the first 30 were filled with lightly peated spirit.
Fast forward to January 2017 – time to sample the casks and see how the whisky was shaping up. Boy did we have a surprise in store! The young whisky was truly, staggeringly gorgeous. Surprisingly sweet, beautifully smooth, with a long, lingering and smoke-infused finish, it was way beyond even Shane’s expectations – and he knows a thing or two about making good whisky.
In fact our initial intent was to use the lightly-peated whisky for vatting – i.e. it would be married with spirit matured in ex-bourbon barrels. But we quickly concluded that this would be sacrilege – we just couldn’t bring ourselves to tamper with it. The casks were laid down in Warehouse 1, Stow 28 – hence the name ‘Batch 128’. Those 30 little casks will produce around 6,000 bottles, due for release at the end of July. A certain Mr Fraser has already insisted on taking charge of the bottling line because, in his words, “Whisky this good should only be handled by a professional!” It’s a truly special drop of whisky; a rare treat this summer for those lucky enough to acquire a bottle.