Six people have found a seat in the small tasting room of the Leg Before Wicket Society. After a splendid dinner it’s time to withdraw to the whisky room. Here, the candidates are tested by the chairman on their overall alcoholic perseverance.
Four signature whiskeys are chosen as testing material: Asyla Compass Box blended Scotch Whisky (40% abv), Haig Single Grain (40% abv), Balblair 05 Single Malt (46% abv) and The Epicurean Blended Malt (46.2% abv). For some it is a first time experience. That’s why all the whiskies are non-peated, light of colour with a more or less Lowland characteristic and therefore easily approachable.
Asyla is part of the Compass Box Signature Range and has a sweet character. The other four range mates are: Hedonism, Oak Cross, The Peat Monster en The Spice Tree. But tonight the elegantly bottled Asyla is our partner. The single malts that complement this Asyla are: Teaninich (23%), Linkwood (22%) and Glen Elgin (5%). The other 50 percent is grain from Cameronbridge and leaves hints of Verkade coockies. No rough edges on the palate in this creation from rebel John Glaser. Its finish is subtle and well balanced.
Licence to distill
Being a whisky aficionado himself, writer Ian Fleming (James Bond) loved some money on the side and had his James run around with a bottle of Haig whenever possible. ‘Don’t be vague, have a Haig’, was one of his poster headings for Haig Distillers in the 1930s and 40s. Yes, number two in our tasting is the illustrious Haig Club.
It was launched by present Cameronbridge owner Diageo in 2014. And, yes, Cameronbridge is popping up again. ‘Cameronbridge was opened by John Haig in 1824 a quarter-mile (0.4 km) south of Windygates in Fife’ says the Gazetteer for Scotland. And it still is one of the largest grain distillers in Europe. Haig’s cousin, Robert Stein, was the inventor of the column still in 1826 and had it installed at Cameronbridge Distillery a few years later. The square bottle and luxury packaging was presented by David Beckham.
With 46% alcohol by volume and matured in American oak barrels our candidates are really put to the test. Although a bit too much alcohol for some, this beauty is in the runner-up position. Spicy notes of toffee and vanilla are presented by the makers of this whisky from the distillery in Ardmore, Tain in the Northern Highland region.
The Epicurean blended malt
Certainly the winner of the label design tonight. But also a fine mix of Lowland single malts. The colour is stunningly yellowish of fresh straw in sunshine (well, something like that). Epicurean meaning hedonist, a man who likes the good things of life, or as we say in Dutch, a ‘bourgondiër’. Probably a Glaswegian bloke, a party boy in the 1930s. Most certainly one of the CEOs of Douglas Laing & Co or even Fred Douglas Laing himself who founded the firm in Glasgow in 1948. Anyway, this 46% abv vatted malt is one that must be put on the top shelf of every whisky cupboard (I mean , within reach).
Doing a test and making the effort means getting a certificate to show your boss. To avoid any misinterpretations, this test and this tasting were not only about alcoholic perseverance, but also about enjoying each other’s good company and sharing stories.