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Issue 118 - The Esssence of Speyside

Whisky Magazine Issue 118
March 2014


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The Esssence of Speyside

Our man looks to East Speyside for inspiration

The notion of terroir is an interesting one in whisky. Many try to group the whiskies by region stating similarities in terms of style and flavour. This continues with many bar menus, shops and retailers selling by region. Islays are presumed to be big, elemental and smoky, Campbeltown being licked by sea air, Lowlands to be grassy, light and floral and Speyside bringing orchard fruits and nutty richness.

As with every rule, there is always an exception though. In fact, in terms of Whisky, it becomes very hard to join simply due to location. Notably, there is the toffee-led lightness of Bunnahabhain on Islay, the cleaner, fruit porridge of Glen Scotia in Campbeltown and the peaty (but different to Islay peat) fruit tang of Ardmore in Speyside.

As always, I like to bolster a particular note, or showcase a hidden depth in a cocktail. For me it is the peat and fruitiness of Ardmore, the herbal notes of Fettercairn and the combination of all of these in Glen Garioch.

As with many whiskies, the styles of these whiskies have changed over the years. This is often due to influences from market demands in the case of single malts, and the blenders' desires and requirements. The most obvious of these is Glen Garioch. From the truly mind blowing fruit and peat editions from the early 70s through a more herbal stage and into the modern guise which not only has a wonderful distillate, but a great focus on good oak. The Founder's Reserve is an easy introduction, and with the extra...

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