Blends are back Babyyyyy
Ralfy said so, so it must be true.
Seriously though, I am definitely one of the malt-heads guilty of sleeping on the many blended bottles out there.
To be fair, I had a pretty good reason to. Up until I was about 20 in the late 90s, the only whisky available to me was Bells, Grouse, Teachers and Jack Daniels. They were all terrible and responsible for me thinking I didn’t like whisky.
[Note - skip down to the Tl;dr to avoid the waffle]
Like many of us, my interest didn't come alive until I was introduced to single malts.
My journey back to blends was most likely thanks to “Japanese” whisky and in particular Nikka Whisky From The Barrel, which for years maintained its position as my favourite blend out.
From there, I started getting interested in making my own using my collection of malts, with predictably mixed results until I figured out some ground rules.
I remember Cutty Sark as one of the first whiskies I ever tried: That yellow label inexorably linked with the memory of a burning tongue and a debilitating coughing fit. I hated it and I’ve never revisited the brand.
But now it’s 2022 and I’ve had more than a few stand out blends from the likes of Douglas Laing, Compass Box, TBWC, Single Cask Nation plus a raft of others and my once staunchly held prejudice is a remnant of an embarrassing past.
And I’m not the only one who has come around.
This iteration of Cutty Sark is seemingly angled towards the more experienced enthusiast, with 50% ABV and a proud declaration of Non Chill Filtration.
There's a huge amount of what Ralfy would call “flanel” surrounding the Cutty Sark brand and famed smuggler of booze, Captain William McCoy, but for me the most interesting thing about this whisky (apart from how much I like it) is it’s more recent history since prohibition was abolished.
Since the 1930s Robertson & Baxter - an early iteration of Edrington - have been supplying the whisky for Cutty Sark, even though the brand was owned by Berry Bros. & Rudd up until 2010, at which point Edrignton finally (but temporarily) snaffled it off them.
Edrington then refreshed the lineup, introducing Cutty Sark Storm in 2012 and this bottle, the Cutty Sark Prohibition in 2013, before selling the brand on to Glen Moray owners La Martiniquaise-Bardinet in 2018
There was an agreement that Edrington would still be the ones blending and bottling during the transition period, but no idea how long that period actually is/was.
No solid info on what's in this or the standard bottling, but otherpeople’s blog posts have said that the malt and grain blends are different in each. While still owned by Edrington, I found a post that confidently states the Prohibition is a mix of Glenrothes, Highland Park, The Macallan, Tamdhu, Bunnahabhain and Glengoyne, but I’m treating the claim with a healthy dose of scepticism as even if they were right, it could well have changed by now with the new ownership.
Having said that, I recently had an outstanding Edrington Blend and this is not a million miles away…
The last bit of trivia is that some of the component liquid is rumoured to be aged in American Sherry Barrels which apparently means Ex-Bourbon Casks that have been “seasoned” with Sherry. I’m not exactly sure what this means, but I’m guessing that sherry was pressure-forced into the first couple layers of the wood Paxarette-style, before the new make was housed in it.
With that all now out of the way - How was the whisky?
IMO, pretty damn good.
Factoring in the price I paid: £23.83, it's god-damn amazing.
The nose is all dark brown molasses with salty, caramelly nuts, dried fruit, spiked dairy and sweet, malted grains that (as pointed out in nearly every review- and I agree) leans more towards the malt than the grain.
A good, strong opening for sure and one that accurately reflects what’s to come, at that.
The palate continued on the dark and malty path, with toasted sugars and fresh brown bread tasking the first shift before exuberant cracked black pepper stepped up and ushered in more dark, but now bitter tones of rich, plain chocolate.
At this point, the peppery tickles of the ethanol started to pick up a camphor coolness and the wood-driven nutmeg and cinnamon paved the way for the tail to bring back the maltiness and dried figs, just as more rich, bitter-sweet coffee took over the finish and left humming chilies as remnants of the journey.
Not too young, too grainy, or too hot.
I’m kind of waiting for the catch…
Peat! Dark, salted caramel, molasses, candied nuts, dusty dried figs, brandy cream, sweet grains, flat discount cola
Burnt brown sugar, Malted and toasted bread, black pepper, grated cocoa, Ticklish ABV that fades into mildly astringent and menthol oak spices
Dried fruit, malt, coffee and birdseye chillies.