It’s a funny old time right now. Due to the pandemic, the regularly scheduled whisky festivals have ceased, some moving online though others disappearing until further notice.
Now, while normally that would stop us whisky lovers meeting, a few industrious folk have started online groups so we can continue to chat about and enjoy whisky from the comfort of our own homes whether that is on the couch, on the bed, or on the toilet. I am lucky (?) enough to be part of a particularly… interesting motley crew calling themselves ‘The Whisky Circus.’
Ringmaster Sorren (otherwise known as @OCDWhisky, or some less delightful terms) has managed to bribe, threaten and extort many a fine folk to come and chat with us all, and as a Brand Ambassador for The English Whisky Company, he has managed to serve us up a fine sample of something new from that delightful little company. While I am quite late in my review and the whisky has been released, I kept a small touch of the whisky to share with Somewhiskylass when I next saw her. Now that both of us have sampled the whisky, this week’s World Whisky Wednesday will be looking at The English Whisky Company 11 year Old Whisky (referred to afterwards as the sound that some folk make when hearing the English make whisky, TEWC).
I’ve looked at TEWC before with a bottle of their Smokey that I downed after watching a political debate (I’ve not looked recently but I’m sure politics is better now), leaving me in high spirits. Clean, crisp and smokey, it was everything I love about a whisky. However, the 11 year old is a bit different.
Built on the previous NAS whisky from TEWC, the 11 year old is their first batch whisky to carry an age statement (previously there had been a 10 year old as a single cask), and what an age statement it is. We see 10 year old, 12 year old and so on, but 11 years seems to be an odd number. It stands out. You scarcely see 11 year old whiskies when wandering through stores. It has been mentioned by TEWC Managing Director, Andrew Nelstrop that ‘the English-11 yr is a fantastic example of the work that is being done in our cask warehouses ensuring a generational supply of English Single Malt Whisky.’ A colleague told Somewhiskybloke that the thought process behind the ageing is that the whisky just tasted better at 11, as opposed to 10 years old – though, it does stand out from the crowd on shelves be they in a bar, a shop or your home.
But, the number also pays a homage to something else in the bottle.
The whisky is a batch of ex-bourbon matured whisky (the casks coming from Jim Beam), and holds a small amount of peated whisky. Not much, not much at all, but around the ratio of 10:1, non-peated to peated casks. If we try hard enough, there’s an 11 there too.
So, 11 years old, ex-bourbon barrel matured, majority non-peated with a touch of peated. Natural colouring, non-chill filtered and dropping at 46%, lets find out what its like in the glass.
And, as I am able to taste this whisky with Somewhiskylass, we have her notes here too.
Somewhiskybloke nose: It starts with a floral sweetness, some lavender and light rose petals and then some eggs whites whipped hard with castor sugar. Flaky pastry, croissants topped with almond flakes and a hint of frangipani. Then we move onto some white chocolate and coconut, bounty bars and lambingtons. The coconut gets stronger with every whiff, and then some vanilla wafers. Its all very natural on the nose.
Somewhiskylass nose: vanilla, apple, bananas which are super ripe and almost brown. Soft, not too disinfectent-y (not gonna blow your nose off with a sniff), tiny whiff of 60p shop bought own brand lemonade, nice and sweet.
Somewhiskybloke palate: It starts with rambutan, vanilla pudding, some custard and pear drops before moving into white chocolate and a touch of sooty iron and rusted pipe water. Raspberries and lightly singed vanilla beans on crepes with lemon juice and sugar follow before the smoke of pipe tobacco soaked in American bourbon, and then a singed lavender finish that’s quite short with some metallic hints.
Somewhiskylass palate: lemon, feels quite woody, burnt metal, not for Somewhiskylass. There are hints of dark chocolate and it feels like I’ve inhaled petrol, something else in there, brown grass and fungal. N.B. not to be had with nicotine.
There’s a pretty clear divide there.
I enjoyed the whisky, while I’m not the biggest fan and definitely want to see more on that smoky vanilla side. Somewhiskylass was not impressed, though it says a lot about the whisky. A drink does not taste the same to everyone and a whisky such as this encourages discussion amongst drinkers for what it is to them, and that’s something that we are sorely missing at this point in time.
So, grab a bottle of this whisky, crack it open, and talk about whisky.
At the time of writing, TEWC has 28 listed on their website for sale. If you’re curious about this whisky, follow this link, support the small guys, support local, pick up a bottle and sit down with your partner.
This review is not sponsored or endorsed by any whisky or distillery, TEWC/St Georges Distillery or otherwise, and is entirely the thoughts and opinions of the authors Somewhiskybloke and Somewhiskylass.