Lockdown seems to be looming once again, and with it comes the madness. Not that I went mad at the start of last lockdown, I maintain that giving myself a mohawk and dancing around in a tuxedo I’ve only ever worn once was a perfectly sane idea. My partner has different thoughts on that, but as she’s been known to change her hair randomly I think she’s just jealous at how amazing I looked.
Still, lockdown is again rearing its ugly head. Unlike others I won’t be taking a holiday to a warmer place as firstly I don’t have the money and secondly that would be an entirely selfish and irresponsible thing to do. I can do the next best thing though, World Whisky Wednesday means I can travel around the world through my glass. So today I’m be journeying to Spain with a drop of Santamania Whisky.
As some still seem to have the misguided notion that whisky can only come from the big five countries it may come as some surprise to discover that Spanish whisky is a thing, though why that should be surprising I don’t know. Most European countries have distillation heritage of some kind, Spain being no different, with Spanish brandy being known to have been distilled as early as the 16th century though second hand accounts point to as early as the 13th.
It was however much more recent that the country gained a whisky distillery in Destilerias Y Crianzas, founded in 1958. Their DYC whisky has seen growth through Spain and further afield, but Santamania represents Spain’s first craft whisky distillery.
Santamania broke onto the scene in 2014. Founded in Madrid the idea was to create Madrid’s first distillery alongside the countries first craft distillery, a feat them seem to have accomplished. Amongst their range they hold an impressive amount of rum, gin and liquors, but it’s the whisky we are concerned with.
Released under the Mentidero line Santamania currently has two whiskies, the Archetype and the G Edition. Today we’ll be looking at just one, and a flip of a coin decided that would be the Archetype. So what goes into the bottle?
Santamanias Archetype is a single malt offering, made from triple distilled 100% Castilian (Spanish) Malt and water from the Sierra de Madrid. For maturation the archetype sleeps in 220L American Oak ex-Rioja and ex-Pedro Ximinez casks, with different aged barrels being blended together for the Archetype, hence the blended cask labelling of the whisky.
Knowing what goes into the whisky is one thing, understanding it is another. So let’s sit down, sit back, and enjoy a bit of sunshine from our Spanish whisky.
The nose opens up a little bit soapy, some touches of coriander wafting through. It’s metallic as well, stainless clean vatting freshly cleaned, before some touches of cough syrup, mint and toothpaste. It then gets herby as some sage and nuts comes in, with grapefruit and foam bananas and a hint of elderflower cordial finishing off the nose.
It’s a clean palate, not in the sense of evenly dispersed flavour but just… well, clean. Spearmint chews and Listerine mint strips, little bits of fresh bay leaf and basil with touches of throat lozenges, Lemsip and apple. Like a trip to the dentists office, but one that leaves you tipsy after.
Quick and clean finish of fresh minty goodness.
I don’t know where to sit with this whisky. I wouldn’t give it to anyone new, as the taste is so unlike any other whiskies it’s unlikely to sit well with them. I would urge people who think they’ve tried it all to give this a shot and see what they enjoy. It’s so unlike any other whisky I’ve tried before that I think it could challenge many perceptions, and using it in cocktails could make for an interesting afternoon.
While normally those chemical, soapy notes are associated with poor whisky, this doesn’t feel like that flavour is coming from a fault in the production, rather an intentional design. They’re not poor, cloying or unappealing, just unlike anything else I’ve had before in a whisky.
So would I buy a bottle again? Don’t think I would, unfortunately it’s down to those flavours. While it’ something new and different and I’ll use the rest of the bottle to make…. Something, those differences are too big for me to justify the purchase of another bottle. I would however recommend for everyone to pick up a bottle, just so you can try something different too.
So now it’s time to relax with the rest of the glass and a tune, something fresh, minty, not for everyone but hits the spot at just the right moment.
This review is not sponsored or endorsed by any whisky or distillery, Santamania or otherwise, and is entirely the thoughts and opinions of the authors Somewhiskybloke.