The Glory of the Whisky Cabinet

Behold the Whisky Cabinet!

A polished, glass-fronted, back-lit, glorious receptacle of things whisky. And of all things around the edges of whisky.

The ideal whisky cabinet

I don’t know if this resembles yours – I would hope it might, but then again ….

When I talk about my whisky cabinet, I have to say that the term “whisky cabinet” sounds a whole lot grander in concept than in actuality.

In my mind, mine resembles the picture above.

In reality, it’s really a two-shelf, glass-doored cupboard (not back-lit), let into the bookshelf in the lounge. It is solely dedicated to things whisky, and I’m going to count it as My Whisky Cabinet.  So there!

What’s in it?

But appearance is not everything!  More importantly than how the cabinet looks is what it contains.

My cabinet houses my current crop of open bottles, all standing quietly at attention waiting to be picked out for consumption.

Ian’s Care Package has been lurking on the bottom shelf of my whisky cabinet, quietly whispering “Open Me” for some time.

There are five or six Glencairn glasses (what else?).   Some have stems, others are stem-less and with etched reminders of Dramfests past.

There’s a couple of lanyards for dangling the glasses on, which leaves your hands free to write tasting notes or for the wild gesticulation that tends to go with describing whiskies to your fellow consumers.

There are two or three plastic water droppers, kept there for experimentation purposes.

Most importantly, the cabinet holds the prized quaich that my wife gave me for a major birthday.

A small collection of bottled whisky samples that people have kindly given me is also there waiting to be tasted.  A good problem to have!

Ian’s Pirate Cove

Ian convened a “Pirate Cove” tasting.  Of rum-matured whiskies, me hearties.

Circumstance – and a steep flight of stairs – sadly kept me from the event itself.  However, Ian, being the thoughtful and generous soul that he is, sent me a Care Package of the highlights.

Do you remember me telling you that I (fortunately temporarily) lost my senses of smell and taste?  Timing is everything!

That terrible event coincided with the arrival of Ian’s Care Package of celebrated whisky samples from the Pirate Cove.

Such a Care Package obviously requires ones full concentration.  And full faculties!  Which is why I haven’t written about the contents of the Package until now.

The Care Package has been lurking on the bottom shelf of my whisky cabinet, quietly whispering “Open Me” for some time.

And, from my point of view, the “some time” has been well worth the wait!

Now, I didn’t know much about rum casked or rum-finished whisky.

I still don’t know much about them, but I have definitely added “Like Them” to my knowledge base.

Some Pirate Cove Whiskies
Ardmore 12yo Dun Bheagan

St. Etienne Rum Casks

ABV 58.6%, Age 12, Distilled 2002, Bottled 2014.

Nose: Raisins, Rum & Raisin chocolate, sweet and sherry-ish. Very dusty oak dust.
Palate: Hot!! (alcohol), sweet yet tannic.  Drying. Wide mouthed and oily.  The initial heat dies quickly to leave an oily, soapy feel and taste.  A second sip reinforces first impression, although the tongue heat stays.
Finish: soapy (not entirely unpleasant, but not great either).
Comment: Good, but not spectacular.

Auchentoshen 18 yo Caidenhead

Barbados Rum Cask

ABV 55%.  Distilled 1999, Bottled 2017

Nose: Bourbon?  Rich, brown, caramel.  “High-powered” vanilla ice cream, fruit cake and raisins.  A slight note, strangely reminiscent of new welding.
Palate: Hot and slight peat and maritime flavour (that wasn’t obvious on the nose!).  The underlying sweetness gets stronger and masks the peat.   Well integrated.
Finish: Sourish, peat lingers with throat heat.
Comment: Nice, very nice.  The peatiness jars against my sweet preference, but that’s ok.

Aultmore 11yo Caidenhead

ABV 64.1%  Distilled 2010, bottled 2021

Belize Rum Barrel

Nose: Bacon and sweetness. A note of slightly “off” ham.  Alcohol on the nose.
Palate: Serious peat, serious heat.  Throat-warming, an incongruous thinnish mouth-feel, then tongue heat. Sweet peat.
Finish: Peat lasts well into the distance!
Comment: Not my favourite style, but still a good whisky.  Peat stays.

Springbank 15yo

ABV 51%. Distilled 2003, bottled 2019

Rum Barrels

Eye: It looks a bit watery.  There are some legs but not much.
Nose: Bacon and pea soup at the seaside, peaty (not greatly so, but still obvious).  Alcohol and a bourbon-y note come later when a sweeter note emerges.
Palate: Wide mouth, hot, sweet and peaty (well integrated).  The peat starts to dominate.  Sour, with tannic tongue.  A second sip is sweeter, less peaty.
Finish: Fades off quite quickly.
Comment: Quite a nice dram.

Many thanks for these, Ian!

Some other tastings that happened my way ….
Benriach Single Malt Scotch Whisky

(from Pat’s stock)

ABV 46%, 22 yo

Moscatel Wood Finish

Colour: Dark with a distinct red tinge
Nose: Alcohol, Muscat raisins (not surprising, given the parent barrel!).  Sweet, fruit cake, a sour edge but acceptable.
Palate: Varnish, Oil putty, sweet and oily.  A bit of alcohol burn with bananas in a sugar icing.
Finish: Low-level warmth, gentle.  Tannin understated.
Comment: I would take one, happily.

Glenallachie 12 (Billy Walker vintage) 

Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky

ABV 46%, Age 12, NC2

Nose: Sherry, ripe apricots/stone fruit, a sugar sack with sultanas and faint strawberries.  Chocolate, golden syrup, orange zest and dates
Palate: Beautifully balanced, a bit of tongue heat but not too much.  Sweet Madeira fruit cake.
Finish: Sweetness and sherry
Comment: Typically excellent Billy Walker whisky.