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That Boutique-y Whisky Company 19 Year Old Highland Batch 2

“From the dawn of time we came; moving silently down through the centuries, living many secret lives, struggling to reach the time of the Gathering; when the few who remain will battle to the last.”

Stirring stuff. The opening title sequence from the cult classic film “Highlander” as narrated – rather incongruously in a thick Scottish accent – by the immortal Spanish/Egyptian swordsman, Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez.

The character Ramirez – played by Sean Connery, hence the Scottish accent – is absurd. He wears a hat and cape adorned with peacock feathers, sports a Don Quixote-esque goatee along with black eyeliner and a pearl earring, was supposedly born in 896 BC Egypt, and also fought alongside the Spartans at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC under his original name, Tak-Ne. Picture a hastily thrown-together “Conquistador meets Cleopatra meets Captain Hook” drag act and you’ve essentially got it.

Quite the image, and the backstory, much of which has been expanded and added to over the years by later-developed fan fiction and tie-in media. It’s a process that’s true of most things that go on to achieve the feted status of “cult.”

And it’s partly Connery’s wonderfully ham-forward performance (described by film critic Alex Stewart as “so far over the top it’s practically in the next trench”) along with Christopher Lambert’s gallant yet comical attempt at portraying a Scotsman, that explains how such a seemingly bad film could go on to become part of cultural folklore for an entire generation. I’d wager that anyone reading this between the ages of 30 and 50 is basking in the warm rays of nostalgia right now.

Much like Ramirez, the mercurial status of “cult” is itself a shapeshifting idea rather than a neat and concrete concept. What is it that makes something cult? What do cult films, bands, books – or, indeed, whiskies – have in common that drive such enduring appeal and devotion amongst fans? Instead of the time-consuming task of searching out and reading the musings of cultural theory wonks – although I did briefly enter an enjoyable Mark Fisher rabbit hole – I just asked ChatGPT.

It turns out there are indeed some defining characteristics and categories of cult. Highlander sits firmly in the “so bad it’s good” bucket. Cult whiskies, conversely, are idolised because they are perceived to have certain qualities that are “relatively unknown or underappreciated by the masses.”

With the launch of their latest cinema-inspired series, cult indie bottler That Boutique-y Whisky Company is smashing these two worlds together, matching iconic whiskies with iconic films. Is iconic the same as cult? Who cares.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the launch event – or should I say Gathering? – in East London a couple of weeks ago, and I managed to swipe a few samples to take home… legitimately, I should add. The one I was most looking forward to trying was an unnamed Highland distillery bottling. Its label – brilliantly crafted as ever by Emily Chapel – features a candle-clutching wildcat set against a Scottish highland scene illuminated by a “quickening” style lightning bolt. The film reference is clear and there are no prizes for guessing the mystery distillery. There can be only one.

Apropos of nothing, Clynelish is your paradigmatic cult whisky. Most whisky drinkers have never heard of the distillery, but for those in the know – the initiated few – it’s fetishised for its waxy character, limited availability, and legendary unofficial bottlings.

Could this anonymous Highland offering be a contender for cult greatness? To find out – and fully immersive myself in the experience – I decided to rent and re-watch the film whilst enjoying the whisky.

Slightly anxious that my limited streaming set-up wouldn’t stretch to Highlander, I hesitantly spoke the word into my Amazon Firestick. It turns out my Firestick isn’t Alexa-enabled, but I was able to find and rent it – for a mere £3.50 – using the onscreen keyboard. To paraphrase Patrick Bateman, relief washed over me in an awesome wave.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company 19 Year Old Highland Batch 2 – Review

This batch was bottled from a single hogshead laid down in August 2000, around the time Coyote Ugly (cult classic? discuss) was unleashed into the world. 48.1% ABV. £124.95 from Master of Malt.

Colour: Straw.

On the nose: Full of tropical fruits. Banana – reminiscent of the Tobermory 24 TBWC bottling – very prominent, along with pineapple, coconut, and vanilla. A bit doughy and biscuity mixed with pre-rain musk.

In the mouth: The fruits are greener and more citrus on the palate. Apple and lemon with a bit of green olive brine. The trademark waxiness is there and it’s wonderfully chewy and grippy. There’s a hint of smoke and a bit of spice that’s a bit like chili marmalade. The finish is dry and long.

Conclusions:

If this whisky were an immortal warrior travelling through time, it would be chopping heads off all over the place. Price-wise – compared to other similar aged small batch releases of a certain waxy wildcat whisky – it also feels pretty reasonable. I shall be purchasing a full bottle.

Score: 8/10

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