I hate innocent smoothies. A multi million pound company, owned by coca cola, with more sugar than coke, wants to be my mate. It wants to talk to me in cutesy cool lanugage. It tells shit Dad jokes and they wore thin years ago. If it was a person it would, without doubt, be a knob. So botiquey whisky company tread a fine line with me. They have cool comic style labels. Some work better than others, but it’s certainly a welcome change from all the standard gumpf we’ve seen a million times. They bottle in 50cl bottles, which is controversial. They say that they bottle mostly in very small amounts and the smaller bottle size enables them to release more bottles. I can understand that, and whilst it doesn’t sit perfectly well with me, I guess I understand that rationale. They also claim that they reduce the price to make up for the missing 20cl. I’ve not done masses of research but a quick search shows that their prices for 50cl are pretty much exactly the same as other independent bottling companies charge for 70 cl (independent arran 19 – botiquey: £77, single cask: £78, hunter laing: £78). So either that claim is bollocks or at 70 cl they’d be circa 30% more expensive than other companies. Are they worth the extra? Let’s find out…
I love James Goggin. From his massive beard to the tips of his ultra cool East London approved trainers, he’s one of whisky’s good guys. From five minutes in when he called mentioning awards “getting your dick out in public” he had me. His presentation style was the perfect mix of informal chat with one of your mates with solid knowledge on everything presented, to the geekiest detail. He also had that seemingly rare characteristic of total and complete honesty. He was happy to talk about anything and be totally honest. I felt completly comfortable in asking some semi controversial questions and didn’t feel I got a corporate approved answer in return. He is the perfect embodyment of what I think botiquey wants to be and I certainly recommend attending any tastings you seem him offering, or just chatting at a whisky festival if you spot him.
We started the tasting with a 35 year old blend. Probably the oldest blend I’ve ever had. Botiquey were very proud to announce that this included a fair whack of Macallan. I can only presume that the Macallan had dropped below 40% ABV requiring blending to bring it back over the legal limit for whisky. If you’re blending 35+ year old Macallan that you could possibly be offered as a single malt you’re either ballsy as fuck or stupid. Probably both. The nose was sweet with banana notes, the palate viscous with sherry, heat, cherry and chocolate. I really enjoyed it. The ABV was decent at 46% but for me it lacked a little concentration, I wanted it bit more of a punch. Possibly related to the potentially sub 40% macallan? Or just the age in total? Don’t know. I’d love to try a younger version and see. 4/5
English whisky have never done anything for me. The botiquey was no exception. It tasted really young, which at 5 years old it is. Nail polish on the nose and thin and watery on the pallate, weird for a 49.5% but not one for me. 2.5/5
Millstone. I’ve never had a Dutch whisky before. The nose was… weird. There was a definite scent that I couldn’t quite nail, then my friend Matt got it… juniper. This is a whisky that smells like a gin! Parma violets, aniseed, liquorice, orange, lemon, the nose kept opening and offering more. Interestingly after I’d decided it smelled like gin James said that the distillery generally makes… gin! Some left over botanicals in the still flavouring things? Who knows. Certainly different but not unpleasant. Sadly the palate didn’t live up to the nose, heat but not much else going on. 3.5/5
“secret distillery”. Listed on the website under Glenmorangie, I’m guessing this isn’t the best kept secret! You never see independent Glenmorangie so this was a rareity. Sadly, I think my glass got compromised by the previous ginny dram because I was still getting some gin notes on the nose. Apart from that though this was classic Glenmorangie – non offensive. Soft, juicy, perfectly balanced, nothing really to fault it but also, kinda forgetable. 4/5.
Linkwood & Ben Nevis. I think my palate, my glass and my sobriety were compromised at this point so probably not fair to rate them (I’d guess at 4 for the linkwood and 4.5 for the Ben Nevis for what its worth). I’ve tried two batches of the Ben Nevis now and I love it, but I’m not particually familiar with the distillery so one I’ll have to get to know more in future.
Finally I managed to sneak a dram of the “Williamson” 6 year old. Hint: it’s got the same label as the laphroaig. It’s very young, there’s still plenty of new make notes all over it. Enjoyable, but not at £52 for 50cl. The ileach would be the one for me for a young, new makey Islay, however since my BFF Jim Murray gave it 97 points it’s jumped in price, but you’re still getting 70cl for £43. Also I’m fairly sure that’s lagavulin not laphroaig.