Lost Distilleries | Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog

Monday, 23 September 2013

Lost Distilleries

As the first whisky post for our blog, we thought it best to start with throwing lots at you at once.

Laura: To begin... a little bit of back story. We both LOVE whisky, to the extent that we went to Islay, the home of many a quality malt, on our honeymoon. So when a "Lost Distilleries" night was organised at one of our locals, three days after Jim's birthday, it seemed the perfect gift.

We began by a delicious Mexican meal out - food pairings had been advertised to go with the whiskies, but were described as "nibbles", so we thought it best to line our stomachs with something a little more substantial. The taco sharing tray we chose certainly sufficed!


Food: Amigos, London Road, Sheffield

The whisky night itself was based at the Broadfield in Sheffield. This is one of the great pubs owned by Forum Cafe Bars, an independent company that runs some excellent eat- and drinkeries around the city. The evening was hosted by Ed, the delightful in-house whisky connoisseur (follow @WhiskyCurator on twitter), and focused on Scottish distilleries that are now closed, most likely forever, so this night presented itself as the perfect opportunity to try a variety of whiskies more rare and special than anything we could afford a full bottle of.

Jim: I firmly believe that one of the best ways to try whiskies, especially great new ones, is on organised tastings. On the menu were 5 whiskies from around Scotland, each with a suggested food tasting for the separate drams.



We opened with a Caperdonich 1998, a 13 year old whisky bottled by Connoisseurs Choice. It was a florally smooth whisky with a delightful heather nose. This whisky was the weakest of the evening at a mere 46%. It was served with a chunk of shortbread, to complement similar tastes in the dram but also to highlight the warm spiced fruits through the taste.

To follow we moved on to the Imperial 16 year ,which on the nose was a lighter, more fruity whisky than the previous drink, this time bottled by Hunter Laing and Co. This whisky didn't have the burn that those used to cask-strength (50% in this case) whisky may expect, instead a warming smoothness of a vanilla, nutmeg custard, ending in a slight pepper finish. This lightness allowed this whisky to become one of Laura's favourites. We sampled this alongside oatcakes and Mull of Kintyre cheddar, which provided a great contrast.

Next to follow was one of the most notable whiskies for me - a 24 year old dram from Littlemill distillery, again bottled independently: this time by Berrys' Bros & Rudd. Littlemill is one of the most interesting distilleries, with one of the earliest stills in Scotland, and employing the first female master distiller in the UK. With regards to the equipment they were progressive, always searching for the taste of a better whisky, by trying out different shapes of copper still. This kind of experimentation is not often seen in the stills of Scotland, being more usually incorporated into the methods of the Japanese distilleries. But with all this it doesn't help or change the fact that the distillery was mothballed, leaving the occasional batch to be run just to check the machinery. However, from one of these runs came forth the evening's bottle. It was an exciting mix of gingery peach and creamy chocolate (white chocolate being the pairing) on the nose, with a taste of Caribbean fruits, and a punch of spice, almost the hint of an awesome rum but with the finish and flair of a long-lasting single malt.


Our penultimate whisky hailed from a tumultuous distillery; one that produced whisky for fewer consecutive years than the 20 year old dram we had our nose in. With one of the more interesting labels of any bottle on the market and it's turbulent past, this whisky could have gone one of two ways. The tickling heat  at the back of the throat and through to the nose politely informed you what the bottle had continued to say: that this was 57.5%. Pittyvaich certainly packed a punch.




Then came the final whisky.  I feel I should preface this next paragraph with some advice: A massive budget doesn't necessarily guarantee a great whisky. Spending money on whisky (for me) should be considered and thought out. But...

But... then I tasted Glen Mhor 28year. I have never sampled anything that has come close as far as distinction goes (save Bruichladdich Octomore, but that is for another time), with a smell almost of parkin, but with a vague rose water quality. In the mouth, all the flavours of treacle, toffee and liquorice swirled with the sense of tobacco and plums, ending in one of the longest, most pleasant and peppery finishes I have ever experienced. This whisky is divine; subtle and powerful in equal measure, livening the taste buds and awakening the mind with memories of bonfires. The only issue reigning me in from bathing in this divine spirit is none-the-less a big one... £180 a bottle...

...although, I don't need the TV...

Laura: Overall, the night was a great experience. The whiskies were delicious, the food pairings worked well, the knowledge of our host was exceptional and the atmosphere of the private tasting was cosy and made the event feel special. At £30 a head, it wasn't cheap, but this price represented excellent value. We had a fantastic time and will definitely look out for similar events in the future!


Slainte!

L and J xx

For more information about The Broadfield's upcoming events, go to http://www.thebroadfield.co.uk/