Whisky Magazine Issue 48
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Allied is rolling out its quarter cask range after the success of Laphroaig Quarter Cask. Dave Broom was given a sneak preview
THE LAST TIME Whisky Magazine encountered Allied Domecq's master blender Robert Hicks he was still laughing at the ridiculousness of the experiment – and the fact that his hunch had paid off.
The Laphroaig Quarter Cask is now a cult. But even on that day there were hints that there were other things in the pipeline.
What you must realise about blenders is that they have enquiring minds. While blending is about quality control and maintaining consistency it also requires you to think outside the box on occasion.
So, when the call came to join Robert, his assistant Sandy Hyslop and Allied's malts man Michael Cockram for a day “to have a look at some more things,” I was on that plane in double quick time. I mean, who could turn down the chance of a day trip to Dumbarton?
Robert and Sandy are inside their sample room (also known as ‘The Bubble') at Allied's bottling plant at Kilmalid. It is cluttered with the usual muddle of bottles. A space has been cleared for two dozen glasses on the central island.
“We figured we might as well extend the quarter experiment to the whole range,” explains Michael.
“Just to see what would happen,” adds Robert, who is already grinning. He's poured a control sample of the original vatting of young whisky from Scapa, Miltonduff, Glentauchers, Glenburgie, Tormore and Ardmore; then another glass with the same whisky that's been given a year's further aging in a standard barrel and then two cask samples of it after a year's aging ...