Whisky and I don’t always get on well together. A mere single measure has been known to result in a nasty headache. Consequently, much as I enjoy a dram, on the whole I have learnt not to indulge.
However, a few years back when visiting a distillery I was asked if I had ever added a few drops of water to my whisky, the guide explaining that it ‘rounded out the flavour’. I hadn’t, but I had read about it. Later at a tasting session he added five drops of water to my whisky. I liked it. And whether it was the quality of the whisky or the addition of the water I know not, but I had no headache.
Every now and again I throw caution to the wind and indulge in a small measure. But I do find that some whisky even with those five drops of water has for my taste a somewhat harsh edge to it. I was interested to see how I got on with Speyburn’s 15 year old single malt.
I loved its glorious golden amber colour and I liked its soft ‘Christmas cake dried fruits’ aroma. My tasting notes, I was taking my experiment very seriously, include words and phrases like ‘soft’, ‘hint of ginger’, dried fruits’, ‘vanilla(?),’ ‘like the after-taste’.
Wanting to learn more I turned to the Speyburn website, which told me quite a lot about how Speyburn make their whisky.
During fermentation both stainless steel and wooden washbacks, the latter made from Douglas fir, are used; and during maturation oak casks which had previously contained bourbon or sherry add aroma and taste to the whisky.
I discovered that Speyburn have been distilling for 120 years taking spring water from the local Granty Burn.
The company’s founder was John Hopkins who because there was not enough space on the Speyside valley floor for his distillery decided to build it vertically, so that today the building rises majestically above the trees. And instead of drying the malt on the floor as is usual, he opted to dry it on layers of suspended mesh.
I did enjoy the whisky. And if I were to wake up on Christmas morning to find that Santa had very kindly left a bottle of Speyburn 15 Year Old beneath the tree I would happily toast him with a dram or two; making sure however that enough was left to welcome in the New Year.
Offical website: speyburn.com
Stockists: Independent and specialist retailers, and masterofmalt.com.
RRP for a 70cl bottle: £60.