Craft Distillers, a company specialising in many different forms of small batch and craft spirits, have recently released three expressions of The Exceptional Range.
This range falls under that Sutcliffe & Son branch of the company and has been developed by managing director and spirits marketer of 32 years, and Willie Philips, who was managing director of The Macallan for 23 years.
So it’s fair to say that they might have some knowledge of the industry between them!
With this combined time of 55 years, the two have created three incredible expressions in The Exceptional Range, including a malt, blend and grain.
These are wonderful explorations in flavour and complement each other perfectly. They have all been produced in small batches, and as such supplies are limited, so get your hands on a bottle if you can!
Each expression is a journey through different Scottish distillers, as well as some silent distilleries.
The Exceptional Grain Whisky is made up of a range of malts and includes a 30 year old from the Carsebridge Distillery, which has been closed for many years.
The nose of the grain begins delicately, with wheat and oats coming through. There is then a distinct character of lemons and summer berries.
Blackberries and crisp raspberries come through with a nice bite to the gentle opening.
The tang of the fruit acts perfectly in combination with the dullness of the grains.
On the palate, these are boosted by a delicious oaky texture, with vanilla and honey coming through. These give the dram a soft and smooth mouth feel and can be traced back to a barrel from the North British Distillery.
The Carsebridge barrel can be detected in a warming and sweet toffee and cream flavour. Again, these add to the soft mouthfeel.
The toffee is especially thick and acts as a sweet edge to the grains of the nose.
These malts have all been married in a sherry cask, which comes through towards the end in a sweet, dry palate.
The finish is long, dry and excellent, wrapping up this sweet, woody dram nicely.
Next we have The Exceptional Malt. This is a blend from a plethora of distilleries, including Glenfarclas, Westport,Ben Nevis, Kininvie,Speyside,Allt-á-Bhainne, Auchroisk, Balvenie,Glenallachie, Glenfiddich and Macallan
This is a blend full of saccharine sweetness, with a white sugar and dusty icing sugar flavour on the nose.
There is also a tangy citrus flavour, with crystallised orange and lemon peel and moist dried raisins and apricots. The fruits and the sugar mix wonderfully.
From the palate these flavours develop into a spicy sweet breads and nuts, such as pecans and hazelnuts.
The nuts tie in with a decidedly oaky note that makes the dram full bodied and rounded.
The tangy fruits work well alongside the nuts, with these opposite flavours creating a beautiful harmony of flavours.
There is a wonderful cinnamon spice that warms with the oak wood. The oak has spicier side to it that is perfect with the nuts.
The finish has a deep linger full of peanuts and caramel coated pecans. It is wrapped up with a great kick from the cinnamon.
The last in our line up is The Exceptional Blend. This is a blend filled with caramel, toffee and nuts.
The nuts lend a thick, chewy flavour and intertwine perfectly with the caramel. The dullness of the nuts gives the caramel a sweet tang.
It is refreshing on the nose, with lots of full bodied flavours coming through.
This leads perfectly into the palate where the caramel becomes a light honey flavour. The mouth feel is light and delicate and flows easily across the taste buds.
Strawberries and black berries come in mid way through and flood the dram with more flavour. The sweet tang of the berries and the caramel melt together delicately and are combined in perfect unison.
There is a slight hint of peppery spice that is wonderful alongside the nuts.
These follow through into the finish, were they wrap up with more caramel and one last blast of peppered spice.