To begin the celebrations, Signatory has bottled some very special whiskies for The Whisky Show’s birthday – all exclusively available from The Whisky Exchange. We’ve worked with the team at Signatory for years, and have chosen sister casks of three of our favourite whiskies that we’ve released with them previously – a Clynelish, a Glenlivet and an Edradour.
You can find more on our Exclusive Signatory Whiskies page.
When it comes to stocks of Clynelish, only distillery-owner Diageo has as good a range as Signatory, and they’re not bottling them as single casks. When I visited Signatory’s warehouses at Edradour back in 2013, we tried some excellent sherry butts, and ever since have been pestering owner Andrew Symington to let us have them as exclusives. He’s occasionally given in, and they’ve been the best sherry-cask Clynelishes we’ve tried for a long time.
Each has shown a different side of sherried Clynelish. They’ve gone from dark, rich, dried-fruit sherry monsters with a flash of distillery character, all the way through to waxy and fruity Clynelishes with a backbone of fruitcake and spice. This one sits bang in the middle.
Nose: Sugared almonds, honeysuckle and nectarines. The fruit continues, with zesty lemon and sweet apple fading to leave royal-icing sweetness.
Palate: Thick and rich, with more nuts and fruit: almonds and apple jam. There’s some light fruitcake, oat cake and sweet spice to start, with a sea of raisins and sultanas following behind. Floral notes float around above the whisky, unobscured by a rich base of spice and fruit. Citrus-zest notes build through the middle.
Finish: A burst of candied lemon, then liquorice, spiced fruit loaf and gentle barrel char.
Comment: Well balanced and mouth watering – loads of fresh and dried fruit with a distinctive Clynelishiness running throughout.
When I call a whisky ‘silly’, I mean it as a compliment. Recently, it’s been our run of youthful, high-strength, sherried Signatory Glenlivet 2007s that have been getting all of those compliments. They are very silly whiskies.
They’ve been getting more sensible as time’s gone on, but the latest is still quite silly. We started with a 10-year-old at 67.1% ABV, followed it with a 66.2% 11-year old and have now released a 64.3% 11-year-old. All three casks are from the same batch and are intensely-flavoured sherry monsters. However, this most recent bottling is my favourite of the bunch – it’s still big and sherried, but there’s a load more going on:
Nose: Fresh and glacé cherries to start, with toasted fruit loaf and spiced butter to follow. There’s a touch of pine in the middle, surrounded by gummi sweets: sweet and sour cherries and a touch of the tropical. Fragrant oak follows. Much more restrained than I expected it to be…
Palate: The shackles are off – restraint has been thrown to the wind. Intense and densely packed: raisins, sultanas and prunes compressed to a black hole of bittersweet dried fruit. More friendly fruit appears, with the cherries from the nose joined by dried apple chunks and a basket of dehydrated berries. Black liquorice sits underneath, and dark chocolate sauce flows through the gaps.
Finish: Loads of spice: cinnamon, nutmeg and anise. They fade to reveal sticky dates and prunes.
Comment: From the nose I thought this might be a more gentle dram than its ABV suggests, but the palate is intense and packed full of dark sherry flavour. However, it’s impressively well balanced, with lighter notes ensuring it never becomes too much.
Edradour distillery is owned by Signatory, so I’m including this as part of this clutch of new drams. We chose our first single cask of sherried Edradour on the 2013 trip I mentioned above, and have been going back for more ever since.
The folks at Signatory have access to some of the best first-fill sherry casks in Scotland, and Edradour’s spirit works incredibly well when filled into them. This is a pure, unmitigated sherry monster. For those who will inevitably ask, it’s clean as a whistle without a touch of sulphur. Sweet, rich, sherry cask all the way.
Nose: Raisins dusted with golden caster sugar. Touches of new and well-worn polished leather. The inevitable fruitcake sits in the centre, studded with cherries, and drizzled with orgeat and brown-sugar syrup.
Palate: Thick, chewy and sweet. Sweet fruit on top, damp earth and autumn leaves on the bottom balancing everything out. The brown sugar from the nose is back, with singed raisins and baked apples in tow. Then comes caramel, toffee and buckets of juicy raisins.
Finish: Buttery cinnamon toast and raisin jam.
Comment: Thick and sweet sherry-cask fruit with a touch of savoury earthiness to stop it all becoming too much.
You can find all of these and more over on our Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange page.