I’d drink a good whisky out of a brown paper bag; the exterior doesn’t interest me in the slightest. However, I do appreciate that presentation and an eye-catching exterior is a worthwhile commodity when it comes to the avalanche of whisky releases that hit the shelves on a monthly basis.
Bottlers need to distinguish themselves in terms of presentation, quality of casks and pricing. In recent years, we’ve seen that symmetry tilted heavily in favour of the marketers, with whiskies developed with a concept in mind and then shrouded in the dark arts of waffle and old wives’ tales. Many consumers lap these up because they don’t know better, or put their faith in the evil ways of influencers on Instagram. The same individuals who claim the latest Glenrothes range is ‘great’ in public, when speaking off record, provide a totally different opinion.
So here is how it should work. It’s not the MALT-way, or even my way. It is simply the best way.
A new independent bottler arrives on the scene with some well-presented whiskies. I’m interested on all fronts. Unable to afford their entire initial batch, I pick out something of interest to me personally, which is also a distillery we don’t see too much of here on MALT. In the shop, I actually have the choice of two releases, and the Good Spirits Company is good enough to give me a wee nip of each to make a final decision. I purchase this myself and then set about this review and uncovering a new bottler and whisky.
Here we value our independence, transparency and ultimately, freedom. As the site approaches its second anniversary since re-launching in its current guise, we’ve achieved all of this thanks to your support and sticking to our guns. None of this “send us free stuff and we’ll give you a positive review alongside a 80-ish score that in reality means very little.” We’re trying to change opinion and the status quo; I know one of our writers recently had to explain to an independent that a 5 is actually a solid score. Are we so blinkered by the general press that we’ve forgotten what average is?
Today’s debut, then, comes in the form of the Infrequent Flyers range, so named because they represent distilleries that are unfashionable and lurk in the shadows. This doesn’t mean these distilleries are inferior, just that their owners remain content to take their produce for blends, or are fairly inept when it comes to showcasing their single malt wares, i.e. Chivas. There does seem to be a great deal of interest about this range, which is more affordable and better presented than many other incumbents. I know this because several have contacted me directly on Instagram. More than ever, it seems we are searching for value and a worthwhile experience.
The Infrequent Flyers has been established by the Alistair Walker Company. You’ll recognise the surname, and indeed, this particular Walker worked with the BenRiach Company for over a decade prior to the sale to Brown-Foreman. Deciding not to follow the path to Glenallachie, Alistair instead established his own company and series of independent releases that have just landed. The emphasis is on good quality casks and natural presentation, i.e. no colouring or chill filtration and bottled at cask strength. We’ll also see some finishes in future batches, as this is a particular interest for him, but for now this inaugural batch features variety. Distilleries such as Auchentoshan, Benrinnes, Cameronbridge, Croftengea, Fettercairn, Glen Keith, Islay, Orkney and today’s pick in Royal Brackla underline the theme of the range.
This 12 year old is bottled at 58.9% strength and was matured in a single hogshead (311985) that produced 304 bottles. Expect to pay £69.96 from Master of Malt.
Infrequent Flyers Royal Brackla 2006 – review
Colour: lime juice.
On the nose: An intoxicating mix of shortbread, toffee and a floral almost perfume freshness. There are green apples, lime peel, mint leaf, ground peanuts and almonds. Pine cones follow and time reveals pineapple, coconut, tablet and a chalky mineral aspect. Water reveals white pepper, pear drops, liquorice, basil leaf and passion fruit.
In the mouth: A nice slight oily texture heralds the arrival of a robust nature. Lemons, biscuits, vanilla sponge, green peppercorns and barley. Some spices linger but with this whisky time is key and some water. The addition of makes this very drinkable and unlocks white chocolate, green tea, more citrus and nutmeg.
I’ve spent most of this week with this Royal Brackla. It’s a challenging whisky and a chameleon in many respects. Score wise I’d pitch this between a 6 and 7. I’ve gone with the latter because I expect this will continue to entertain and grow, which are rare qualities nowadays. Either is a good score and don’t expect me to explain that to you!
It possesses a robust, distinctive, forceful quality. Very much an eclectic malt with a clean vibe and hidden rooms. Not for everyone, but I’m enjoying the ride and as such will have to check out more Infrequent Flyer releases when I can.
There are commission links within this article to allow you to explore this new bottler.