A whisky journey with EBS and SLTN

Recent trade tasting took participants on a virtual tour of four distilleries

AROUND 80 people from across the Scottish licensed trade got to learn more about some of the whiskies in Edrington-Beam Suntory’s portfolio last month as part of an online whisky tasting the drinks firm staged with SLTN.

Hosted by Edrington-Beam Suntory whisky specialist, Teddy Joseph, the trade tasting featured four whiskies: Naked Grouse; Highland Park 12; Bowmore 15; and Laphroaig 10. Participants had pre-registered for tasting kits through the SLTN website.

Introducing Naked Grouse as “a whisky that is more than the sum of its parts”, Joseph talked about the history of the brand, which was first introduced as a blended Scotch before the grain content was removed and the product relaunched as a blended malt. The whisky, which contains single malts including The Macallan, Highland Park and Glenrothes, is blended and then undergoes a second maturation period in Oloroso sherry casks for a minimum of six months.

He recommended the Naked Sour serve, mixing the spirit with apple or orange juice.

From there, the tasting moved on to Highland Park 12, with Joseph describing the Orkney single malt as having a “light sweetness” on the nose before the flavours of gentle peat, orange zest and “heather-honey sweetness” on the palate.

The single malt’s maturation is what sets it apart, said Joseph, with Highland Park maturing its spirit in casks selected from America and Spain which are then sherry-seasoned before being shipped to Orkney.

“That wood journey is about five years, six years,” he said.

“So when we look at a Highland Park 12 year old you’re actually looking at 18 years on the planet.”

From one distinctive Scottish island to another, participants then learned about two single malts from Islay.

Joseph described Bowmore 15 as “a demonstration in how to finish a whisky”.

The expression is aged for 12 years in ex-bourbon barrels before spending its last three in Oloroso sherry casks.

Joseph described the dram as “salty, kind of meaty” on the nose with flavours of treacle toffee and sticky toffee pudding; and he encouraged the group to embrace food pairings with Bowmore.

“We don’t really talk about whisky and food,” he said.

“Most times you think about it as an after-dinner kind of thing. But who’s to say that you can’t pair whisky with all courses of a meal? So whenever I’m talking in hospitality to people, if you serve food, what would pair well with this dram from your menu? Think about that when you get back to serving customers.”

Fellow Islay single malt Laphroaig 10 was described as “very polarising”, with its medicinal smell giving way to flavours of caramel, vanilla, spice and smoke. Joseph endorsed the dram’s use in cocktails, telling the group that cocktails containing Laphroaig are “100% something you should be doing”.

The session concluded with a lesson in how to mix a perfect Old Fashioned using Highland Park 12; each tasting kit included measures of orange and Angostura bitters, honey syrup and smoked sea salt. Joseph said the serve “amplified” the flavours present in the whisky.