Whisky Tasting – Berry Brothers & Rudd

I feel as though I start my notes about tasting evenings with “not too familiar” or words to that effect. In the spirit of repetition, I’m, about to do it again…

Berry Brothers and Rudd. Yep. I’m not too familiar with them. I know the name of course. But I couldn’t have told you much else.

This tasting has come round quickly in March, however it was welcome respite from the nonsense of the day job.

Berry Brothers and Rudd (established 1968!) are perhaps better known for their wine. They are Britains oldest wine and spirit merchant. They’ve been supplier to the Royal Family since the reign of King George III. They have a range of over 4,000 wines and spirits.

Get the picture?

BerryBrosandRuddSo, the tasting was of their Own Selection whisky, meaning it was names we know – but hand selected by Berry’s.

Because of the rich heritage, it’s no surprise that the intro to the night was lengthier than at other tastings, however it was delivered in an entertaining, insightful and educated manner by spirits manager, Doug McIvor.

After the intro to Berry Brothers & Rudd, Doug led us to the whisky. Initially this was done blind, but he soon told us what we were tasting. This was quite an interesting approach as opinions were formed on smell, taste and debate – not value…

Whisky 1: Invergorden Grain
This was wonderfully rich and smooth with a caramel and butter taste, so didn’t surprise many that it was fresh ex-bourbon barrels.
A great start.

Whisky 2: Littlemill 1992
This divided the table immediately. Interesting because it’s from a little known (and now non-existent) distillery, this had a taste which took some getting used to. On the nose, much more subtle than on the palate; citrus (but bitter to me) and a long powerful finish. Love or hate stuff.

Whisky 3: Longmorn 1992
Lovely stuff. Very smooth and hints of the sherry cask it was matured in. Slightly nutty on the nose, and smooth and spicy on the palate.

Whisky 4: Glen Grant 1974
For some, this was the winner on the night. For me, a close 2nd.
Dried fruit, citrus and… coffee for some. Perhaps that is what didn’t sit comfortably with me, but there’s no denying this is big in flavour and is quite complex too. Lots going on, and many found it wonderfully rewarding.

Whisky 5: Bowmore 2003
This was instantly Islay but the very subtle peat and the powerful salt and iodine overtones put me initially to Caol Ila, but no – Bowmore it was. From 2003, this was quite fresh and more vegetal than a 12yo Bowmore I’m used too. Curious to drink and discover – very enjoyable too, although the word “farmyard” were attributed to the nose!

Whisky 6: Bunnahabhain 1989
Instantly drinkable. No peak or smoke for me (this one was supposed to be a little peated) – this had enough going on to hold interest – a touch of marzipan and cloves/spice too.

Whisky 7: Blue Hanger 6th Release
This curiously named blend was named after a loyal customer from the 18th Century.
A touch of peat, some smoke, vanilla and citrus too. Not my favourite, but certainly worth a try.

And that, was that.
Longmorn and Bunnahabhain were both revisited and all, in the main, were thoroughly enjoyed.

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