Chieftain's Single Malt Single Cask tasting (Part 2)...

Continuing the notes of Chieftain's tasting hosted by Southern California Whiskey Club and moderated by Chris Uhde from where we left off (click here for Part 1) :

Mortlach 18yo 1997 (pedro ximenez cask finish) (46.0%): And now Mortlach: Yesterday's best kept secret, today's over-priced luxury product in a perfume bottle... Well, after the brand's re-launch in 2014 your best bet to get a decently priced Mortlach nowadays is scoring a bottle through independent bottlers. The whisky in this bottle is finished in a PX cask, so I am getting ready for a syrupy sweet, viscous, sherry bomb... Nose: Yep, here it comes: Oozing sweet Greek baklava syrup, honey nut crunch pie and liquid caramel. Sugar molasses, dark rum, chestnut honey and mild eucalyptus. Palate: Old leather upholstery, tobacco and beef stew. Zante currants and honey roasted pecans. Sulphur: Struck matches and raw milk. Finish: Long and sweet with caramel fudge. Overall: Well everything you would expect from a  PX finished Mortlach. Sweet, sticky and thick. A little too sweet for my taste but gosh it would be a great dram to end the night in front of a fireplace.

Glen Grant 20yo 1995 (bourbon finish) (55.1%): When I asked Chris what "bourbon finish" might mean he guessed that the whisky could be transferred to a more active bourbon cask at the end for a final kick. Sounds pretty promising... Glen Grant is the best selling single malt in Italy for almost 50 years and so far I know the only Scotch distillery owned by Campari Group. It has a massive production capacity of 6.2 million liters which makes Glen Grant the 11th largest distillery in Scotland. This time the whisky in the bottle is bottled at cask strength. Nose: Fresh spearmint leaves, wet malt and vanilla bean scrapings. Fresh pineapple slices, guava and chalk. Palate: Guava again, artificial vanilla extract, ground white pepper and extra strong old school English ginger beer. Finish: Medium long with more fresh spearmint notes and powdered cloves. Overall: Now this is my kinda whisky... Great bourbon cask notes, well matured but not tired. I wonder how much a bottle will cost. If it is not too expensive I might have the winner of the night here.

Fettercairn 19yo 1996 (oloroso sherry butt) (57.4%): Although Fettercairn has released a few official expressions  in last ten years it is extremely rare to see those bottles on the shelves especially here in US. The distillery is owned by Whyte & Mackay along with Dalmore, Isle of Jura and Tamnavulin distilleries. The whisky we are tasting comes from an Oloroso sherry butt and bottled at cask strength. Nose: Sour cream or heavy cream forgotten in the fridge for quite a long time. Raisins, vegetable stock and straight plain old good chilled Oloroso sherry. Palate: Wet cigar butt, brand new buckskin jacket and dried apricots. Subtle sweet spices: Nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. Finish: Long with red pepper notes. Overall: A good sherried malt with a rather thin texture than I expect from a cask strength whisky.

Among these six expressions we sampled on Sunday night my personal favorite was definitely Glen Grant 20yo cask strength. I was very impressed with the simplicity of the dram. Clean, mature and absolutely delicious. But without a doubt Linkwood 17yo was the runner-up with that gorgeous finish. It seems like Linkwood will end up being the more affordable bottle most probably between two but I will definitely check the prices of both bottles.

We didn't finish though: Chris Uhde had also a little surprise for us... We had the chance to taste a rice whisky from Fukano Distillery. The spirit is distilled only once from 100% malted rice in a stainless steel pot still and then aged in new oak barrels. There are only eight single casks found their way from Japan to the States. All of them are bottled at cask strength and delivered individually to different retailers. I am not quite sure which one I tasted that night but the barrel number was 297.

Fukano Distillery Single Cask Rice Whisky (new oak cask/barrel #297) (41.6%): Nose: Incredibly bourbon-like: Caramel, sticky toffee pudding, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Vanilla and Werther's Original hard candies. In a blind tasting I would put good money on it being a high wheat bourbon or an Irish grain whiskey. Palate: Cinnamon and cloves. Dusty and chalky. Some bitter woody notes and tannins I mostly associate with American whiskey aged in micro barrels. Finish: Sweet and syrupy. Not so thick though. Medium long. Overall: Very very interesting experience. Never in a million years I would guess that a 100% rice spirit will nose and taste like this after being matured in oak barrels and I am not totally unfamiliar with un-aged rice spirits. A must try for every whisky geek looking for a good challenge. Thank you Chris...

* distillery information sourced from Malt Whisky Yearbook edited by Ingvar Ronde