This was another fantastic night at Willow Park.
Jonathan Bray hosted a night dedicated to the tasting of some wonderful single cask bottlings from the A.D. Rattray line. For those unfamiliar with the concept of single cask bottlings, the long and short of it is as such…truly magnificent, but truly heartbreaking. Each cask is bottled as it stands…no marrying with other casks…no blending. In simplest terms, this means that however many bottles are in a cask are all there will ever be of each particular whisky. The exclusivity and perfection in these bottles are notable in that extra special attention is given to buying exemplary whisky and to maturing to the ideal age. These whiskies will break your heart though. When they’re gone…they’re gone. As was suggested tonight…buy two.
This was a night to leave the car keys at home (well…they all should be). Seven whiskies were on offer this evening, all but one being truly brilliant cask strength bruisers.
A quick rundown of what we sampled:
- Stronachie 12 y.o. – 43%
- Linkwood 10 y.o. – 57.7%
- Clynelish 10 y.o. – 59.7%
- Tobermory 11 y.o. – 59.9%
- Springbank 12 y.o. – 59.3%
- Caol Ila 13 y.o. – 60.5%
- Caol Ila 22 y.o. – 57.7%
Each had a unique character, and though one or two did not entirely suit my palate, I absolutely understand why A.D. Rattray saw something special in these whiskies. In particular, the Clynelish, with its rich toffee and caramel overtones, and all three of the last whiskies really stuck with me. Reviews of these gems will follow in the coming days.
Though the products, by nature, have a slightly higher price point, I highly recommend suspending your judgment on paying such tidy sums on a few relatively young whiskies until having tried them. These whiskies are all complex and developed beyond their years.
The event itself was highly entertaining. Jonathan Bray is an engaging individual with a gift for presentation. There is something infinitely likeable about a Calgarian from Australia in a kilt. A relaxed evening (something to do with the six drams of >57%?!?) was made even more enjoyable by an informal lingering discussion with all attendees after the presentation. Jonathan and Willow Park whisky guru, David Michiels, hung around up front chatting with the crowd and bantering a bit.
I will most certainly be investigating the Rattray line further.
A last note to mention: The Caol Ila 22 y.o. is an exclusive Willow Park bottling. I know there are a limited number remaining. If you are a fan of the Islay whiskies…think about this one. Mellow…rich…mature…beautiful.