Watching the trends on Twitter during the latest Tweet Tasting organised by The Whisky Wire, I couldn’t help but become a bit unpatriotic (to Canada, mind, not England).
You see, as a host of whisky loving individuals gathered on Twitter for a tasting of four releases by Berry Bros & Rudd and, soon after, began trending on Twitter as one of the hottest topics in the UK on the night, we also looked likely to overtake that horridly annoying yet world dominating singer, Justin Bieber. The fact the Biebermeister is also a Canadian didn’t factor into my favouritism – I was for whisky, all the way.
And, you know what? An hour later, we did it – we beat the Bieber into top spot as the number one talked about thing on Twitter.
Now, for those of you that don’t use Twitter because you find it annoying, perturbing, unexciting or daft, this will probably mean little. To those of you that do use it, you’ll know it means a lot more.
And so, a night that was all about special whiskies became even more special for helping to promote whisky to the masses.
I’ve written about Steve Rush’s Tweet Tastings before on Miss Whisky (read about the one on Old Ballantruan here) but for those of you that don’t know about them, they basically bring a group of whisky loving people from around the world – each of whom has the same set of samples to try – together for an hour or two on Twitter to taste and discuss the whiskies on offer.
The latest featured some real whammies all bottled by Berry Bros & Rudd as own-label offerings, including a 1973 North of Scotland, a 1976 Jura, a 1989 Bunnahabhain and a 1992 Littlemill.
We started with the Littlemill, which was possibly my favourite of the night. On the nose it danced with notes of white chocolate, nougat, blanched peanuts and a hint of damp pine wood. I agreed with @BBRobb (Berry Bros’ spirits buyer Rob Whitehead) that there was also a faint hint of the white chocolate covered balls you get in Muller Corner. On the palate, I picked up a delightful mix of peach cobbler, pineapple upside down cake, bubblegum and bitter lemon. @TheWhiskyBoys, meanwhile, got “citrus fruits (mostly lemons), chocolate buttons, way in the back there is a little peat smoke” while @AnneEJones picked up “definite apple sponge upside down cake, but also melon, white fruit.” I really enjoyed this first dram and it was hard to beat for me on the night, although other tasters definitely preferred others. This 54.6% whisky costs £79.95 from Berry Bros & Rudd.
The second dram was the North of Scotland 1973, a grain whisky coming in at 46%. To me, this smelled of “Christmas morning” (a difficult thing to describe in full), along with shoe polish, Christmas vanilla candles and some sort of 1980s cologne. Of my compatriots, @EdinburghWhisky picked up “Maple syrup poured over a tropical fruit salad. Toffee sweetness too!” while @WhiskyDiscovery found “leather armchair, polished wood, old library books [and] bourbonesque” notes hidden in its depths. On the palate for me this was “super woody and bourbony – like licking a wooden chest carrying vanilla incense”. @OliverKlimek got “dark caramel, vanilla, apricots and apples, lemon zest, nutmeg, hints of cardamom” and @Whisky4Everyone found “creamy, plenty of vanilla, honey, freshly sawn wood, green apple, cinnamon bark & orange peel” notes on the palate. For me, this whisky smelled great: I loved every inch of its nose. But I found it too harsh in the mouth with a bitter, licorice finish that I’m not a massive fan of. Many of my fellow tasters loved it, however, so it’s definitely one to try if you like the sounds of it. It retails at £125.
Next up was the 1976 Jura, a mahogany coloured 53.5% whisky. This I can only describe as bizarre. It was, I tweeted at the time, a whisky with a nose of “Big, bold, chewy sweetness (leather dipped in brown sugar) to start, but with underlying kalamata olive and chorizo notes”. @LRWhisky suggested it reminded him of “rich Victorian smoking rooms, oak panels and a real life game of Cluedo,” while @weheartwhisky commented: “Someone appears to have replaced my Jura with Ribena. With a garnish of smoked ham.” The palate was intense, to say the least. My comment at the time: “Woah! BAM! Palate smacks you in the face: lemons, smoke, pine, asparagus water, Brussels sprouts, sour mix, cigars, chillies.” Others found a slightly softer taste. @cowfish said it was “quite perfumed (sandalwood soap?), with pungent leather and tobacco, orange peel, brown sugar and damp wood.” This, for me, was a bit too intense. I like strong flavours but I was overwhelmed by it. I think I need to go back and re-try it but for now, this was probably my least favourite of the night. It costs £200.
We finished on my other top choice of the night, the 1989 Bunnahabhain. It was “all about the caramel apples with a dash of marzipan and sea salt” on the nose. @TheWhiskyLounge found “Over-ripe banana, slight marzipan, cold salted butter packet, orange pith” in it while @SohoWhiskyClub said: “Wow! lots of peach, watermelon, rich exotic fruits, grapes, bit of green apple, with some burnt ash type stuff.” On the palate for me, I quipped: “A beautiful bundle of honey, hickory wood chips, green apples, sea salt and pistachios.” @abbeywhisky said: “Lovely smoky flavours, vanilla and again almond, marzipan.. Slight brine coating, but in a good way.” All in all, this was a special dram. It had so much going on and I can’t wait to try it again. It costs £89 (although, during the tasting there were only 16 bottles left so there’s no promising it’s still available).
And as another successful whisky Twitter tasting came to an end, I could only thank the team at Berry Bros & Rudd for exposing me to some fantastic new drams and to Steve for organising a top event!