Our Scotch Malt Whisky Society coverage, rolls along nicely. With monthly outturns in excess of 20+ bottles, there is plenty to write about, if our pockets are deep enough. A challenge in itself, but the true test is keeping each article unique as a standalone piece.
A bottle might demand a single article, or if more commonly produced elsewhere, placed within a vertical line-up. We don’t immediately gravitate towards the big releases or names. Writing again about Highland Park is not a fun hobby, nor is the sense of having to produce to order. The SMWS outturns allow us the opportunity to try rarely seen distilleries. Such is the case with this release dubbed Masterchef final as 41.106, bottled at 59.4% strength. Distilled on 17 February 2007, before being bottled at 10 years of age from a refill barrel/ex-bourbon.
Heralding from Dailuaine on Speyside, this distillery has been notable recently for stepping into the void occupied during the Clynelish refurbishment. A distillery that we recently debated is still struggling to regain its classy waxiness. For Dailuaine this characteristic has always been present, but not as forward as its Brora based colleague. Tinkering meant that it could ease any production concerns for an important blending component. And currently, who knows how long it’ll have to provide support? We await the new modern Clynelish to regain some of its older charms. Future casks from this Dailuaine support period will be interesting to gauge in future years and hopefully, the SMWS can accommodate such an exploration.
Recently, I wrote about Glenburgie distillery and in particular the epic voyage of Alfred Barnard. He cared very little for Glenburgie with a short and sweet summary. As I stated there, he was easily swayed by his favourites or a setting. Some distilleries were granted a mere mention as a single page summary. Others received a lavish write-up and detail.
Dailuaine is a case in point. His visit is spread over 6 pages and reads more like a travel diary than a distillery summary. The beautiful setting, the historical importance of the area and his joy that a stunning Glen played host to a whisky distillery is evident. Even today, I have fond memories of driving into the glen and stumbling across the distillery that sits snuggly into the hillside and is encased in a thick forest. A beautiful spot to make whisky, with the ruins of smugglers bothies nearby highlighting its popularity to make whisky.
Alfred is clearly entranced by the distillery and the recent investment. The most intriguing aspects are that he reminds us of the kiln and malting performed on site – as it was and ideally always should be – that Dailuaine was lightly peated. As all malts were at one stage and not the domain of Islay. An abundant local fuel source, the use of peat provided a subtle aspect to the whisky, a foundation to build upon through the stages of distillation.
There is a sense of fun and adventure. By chance, the introduction of danger to a modern reader, as their guide navigates internal passageways with a mere light. This was the era of fires and destruction. A stray flicker of flame could and often did have tragic consequences. So it was with Dailuaine in 1917 when the original pagoda roof was destroyed. A national loss, as this was the first example of such an architectural feature that would go onto become the iconic sign of a distillery.
An aim for 2019, alongside revisiting some classic whiskies that featured early in my own whisky journey, is more double tasting notes with Rose. The SMWS offers us the opportunity to explore the same bottle on opposite sides of the world. United by a liquid and our determination to discover hidden delights, I find these articles hugely enjoyable to create and deliver. As always, Rose who you can find on Instagram as From Where I Dram, provides the photographs and her own intoxicating tasting notes. Together we both explored this release despite the intrusion of an 8 hour time difference. I always enjoy these experiences thanks to the wonders of modern technology. What better way to start the day than a cask strength whisky at 7am?
We picked out this particular bottle as it was at the cheaper end of the pricing spectrum and the prospect of a Dailuaine united us both. Did it deliver a masterclass of a whisky? There’s only one way to find out now isn’t there?
SMWS 41.106 Masterchef Final – Jason’s review
Colour: Builders sand.
On the nose: Coconut and a buttery French pastry with apricots. Lemongrass, pineapple and lime chocolates. A certain waxiness is in the mix alongside hemp at first then ginger beer? Nutmeg forms the main spice, then its oatcakes, a worn bannister and a pina colada. The addition of water reveals sawdust, cucumber, a woolly jumper and varnish with a touch of smoke.
In the mouth: A very fresh and punchy arrival. Green apples with a wax coating, more limes and then melon, vanilla caramel and almonds. Plenty of oak, then used tea leaves with a fresh citrus note towards the end with white chocolate and lychees.
This whisky took time to unpick, which partially explains why it’s taken so long, after being opened in October 2018. But things shouldn’t be rushed. and we enjoyed the pours over time. Neither should we give up. I’m pleased that is a good whisky and enjoyable, but its nothing more and nothing less. And that’s a trend that has continued with our SMWS coverage ever since. Good, average, mediocre and bottled too soon. Untapped potential, sold down the river for profit.
SMWS 41.106 Masterchef Final – Rose’s review
Colour: Faded gold.
On the nose: A marzipan filled croissant. Then fruity, like sun-ripened peaches baked into a cobbler with burnt butter and turbanado sugar sauce. Warm creamy oatmeal with a dusting of cinnamon and chopped walnuts. With water a peach marmalade and peanut butter sandwich made on cheap white sliced bread, buttered and grilled.
In the mouth: Initially I feel the heat of the 59.4% abv, so much so that its hard to distinguish much else. After that settles I start to get some toasted walnuts, even that pasty, drying tingly feeling you get from eating a handful of walnuts. A pungency that I can’t place, I think its marigolds. Not that I’ve eaten one. The barrel oak comes through but in the right amount. A mouthful of mixed up dry cupboard spices. I’m finding this whisky is a difficult one to pinpoint. My brain and senses continue to scan for my findings on the nose. At full strength this is it for me, aside from maybe some canned peaches and cigarettes on the finish.
Adding water results in the warmth of an oven opening in your face. Followed by the things that I’ve been scanning for. Fresh baked toastiness, melted vanilla bean ice cream, the mouthfeel has gotten creamier then goes back to that dryness something like a cast iron pan.
I’ve owned this whisky for quite a while now and have had lots of time to explore it. But its always whispered rather than shouted at me. Not a bad thing, I like subtlety and a challenge. It wasn’t easy to unlock its secrets especially for the purpose of tasting notes. All that said, I thoroughly enjoyed this Dailuaine and would buy another bottle if that was the way SMWS releases worked.