The majority of us have a commute to and from our place of work everyday, several times per week by various methods of transport. I’m sure there are more glamorous routes than others depending on which part of the world you’re reading this from. Around now you’re asking where is he going with this whisky piece? Well, let me explain.
My own piece of regular, mundane voyage is via train and while the great Fife distilleries are no more and Kirkliston distillery is but an extremely rare bottle in a fabulous collection, the train does stop at Haymarket Station just after passing by the distant silhouette of North British Distillery; Edinburgh’s last working example today.
The backdrop at Haymarket station is dominated by the remnants of Caledonian distillery that closed in 1987, which you can see in the above photograph on the left. Many of the original buildings remain and have been converted into residential accommodation and the site is dominated by the huge chimney that enjoys historical protection. It’s worth reading about the distillery which was spread out over a large site and originally called Edinburgh distillery.
Earlier this summer I took part in the first Jolly Topper walking tour of Edinburgh that comprised of various capital city influenced drams and visiting the locations of former distilleries. It was a rewarding experience and after starting off with the E10 blend on Morrison Street, we walked to Caledonian to enjoy a dram of G3.7, whilst hearing about its history.
This particular bottle was released by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, who are often the source of some well-priced grain. This particular one was launched in early 2013 after 30 years in the cask. I actually missed out on it not being a member at the time. Then a handful of unsold bottles suddenly appeared in July 2014 for just £78.40 each and needless to say promptly sold out.
From memory the group on the walking tour who numbered around 30, mainly enjoyed this whisky. A couple felt the wood had overtaken the spirit upsetting the balance; I can see why in all honestly. Still, very drinkable and a lovely piece of history from a distillery you don’t see many releases from nowadays.
Distilled: 17th November 1982
Bottled: after 17th November 2012 (30 years old)
Strength: 49.0% ABV
Cask: refilled ex-bourbon barrel
Edition: 117 bottles
Price: £78.40 (now sold out)
As much as I enjoyed the tour, it wasn’t the place for tasting notes so these were compiled in my home. Interestingly on the tour the ‘surprise’ dram was an old Glenkinchie 10 year old, which tasted much better on the streets of Edinburgh than it did when I last tasted it!
Nose: lots of coconut and vanilla; a really sweet nose distinctively grain. If you cream butter with castor sugar should during those initial stages of making a sponge then this is it in whisky form. A hint of lemon, pineapple and golden syrup certainly match up to the sun-inspired name the SMWS labelled this one with.
Taste: a very delicate dram which might have skidded towards the wood too much. There is much to enjoy still with light floral notes, Highland honey and more of that pineapple with lemon and lime toppings. I make a mean lemon tart if I do say so myself and this would be an ideal companion. The buttery richness of my pastry easily matched and the zesty filling not overpowered.
Very much a dessert whisky if I was to pair up drams with a meal at home, which I’ve never done surprisingly so far. Also it is worth noting a touch of water does bring out more sweetness but at 49% this is perfectly pleasant at cask strength. I’m more keen now to find further bottles from this distillery to see if this is a characteristic example.