Last Thursday evening, I made my way to Ruffians barbers for Edinburgh Whisky Blog’s (EWB) second annual Movember fundraiser. Last year, the boys from EWB took over Ruffians to raise funds for this great cause, and it was such as success that they decided to repeat it again this year. And although I’m not donning a ‘mo’ this year (I don’t think my colleagues could take a repeat of last year’s ‘attempt’), I was mo-re than happy to contribute to the cause by sampling some cracking whiskies.
The evening started with a whisky cocktail, designed especially for the occasion by Alan and Martin from Solid Liquids. The cocktail brought together Hankey Bannister whisky, sherry and bitters, before passing the mixture through cherries which had been soaked in Ablerour a’bunadh for around four months. The whole concoction was then infused with a blast of smoke. And by god it packed a punch! The smoky background contrasted with the sweetness of the cherries to produce a drink similar to an Old Fashioned. I’ll admit, it went to my head slightly, but the main event was yet to come.
The boozy welcome was followed by four fantastic – not to mention rare – malts, two of which had been hand-filled by the EWB boys. The first came from Balblair, which is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, dating back to 1790. The evening’s bottle had been hand-filled by EWB-er Chris at the distillery itself, from a cask distilled in 2002. Despite being a hefty 58%, it had a smooth mouth-feel, with creamy, vanilla flavours. The second bottling had also been hand-filled, this time by EWB-er Tiger at Glenlivet Distillery. Sitting at 18 years old, it was a great example of a Speyside malt, with a warming sweetness, alongside a slight hint of spice.
The third and fourth bottlings both came from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), who buy casks from distilleries across Scotland, before bottling them and giving each its own unique name. The first of these was a real treat and something I didn’t think I would ever taste. In its current form, the bottling is known as 25.65, or as the SMWS tasting panel has christened it, The Whispered Kiss. However, there was a ripple of excitement from the whisky geeks in the room upon hearing that it originated from Rosebank Distillery.
The history of Rosebank Distillery stretches back almost 200 years, however, Diageo decided shut the site in 1993. Any whisky from this site is something to get excited about, and tasting it makes it all the more astounding that Diageo chose the awful Glenkinchie to represent the Lowland region. The taste is typical of the Lowlands, with a fruity, freshness to it. However, it possesses the depth of flavour that Glenkinchie lacks. A real gem of a dram!
The second SMWS bottling came from a distillery with much less history but a very bright future – Kilchoman. This was a much younger whisky at just four years old, but weighted in at a massive 60.4%! However, the bottling’s name – ‘Unwind and set your watch to Islay Time’ – reflects the malt’s character perfectly. It has the smokiness you would expect from an Islay malt, but with a crisp freshness and hint of sea salt. I’d usually drink a whisky as strong as this with a bit of water but it was dangerously drinkable at its full strength.
Thanks to Edinburgh Whisky Blog, Ruffians and Solid Liquids for a great evening – both the facial furniture on show and the drinks provided were of an extremely high standard. And don’t forget, you can still donate to Movember, to help in the fight against testicular and prostate cancer, as well as men’s mental health issues.