Celtic Heartlands Series
The legendary master distiller Jim McEwan celebrates the very finest Single malts he can find with the Celtic Heartlands releases. The second series released around 2002 had a 1966 Bunnahabhain selected. One of my favourite distilleries I always wanted to try it but not in a big line up or structured tasting. I wanted to experience it with a small group of Whisky lovers with a meal that culminates in a celebratory tasting of this venerable Malt.
This Thursday my wishes came true and I was joined by my fellow club members and loyal staff for such an event. The Chefs at Dida’s cooked a feast while we started off the night with the release of one of our latest Craft beers “Hancock & Co.”. The Grand Pale Ale with its big hoppy aromas and flavour was an instant hit, a bitter mouthfilling beer and then the Bismark Brown Ale which has the most amazing Malty hearty taste.
A fine meal must have some great wine and I chose the Isabel Estate Chardonnay 2009 and Pinot Noir 2006. These are current releases as they only release wines when ready. The Chardonnay with the scallops was my match while the Pinot Noir attracted the most attention with Zane Winskill from my team expounding its virtues. A Marlborough Pinot to convert the most one eyed of Central Pinot lovers over.
But now the main meal of short ribs and roast chicken had settled and we warmed up with the Bunnahabhain 12 year old, remember these are not your typical peated Islay Malts, they are very much unpeated with just a whisper of smoke. This is classic and at 46.5 ABV perfectly balanced. We had to give the 18 year old a try next and the length and power of this one was just what we needed to prepare for the Main event.
With the lights turned down and my usual mood music ” Brave Heart” playing I ceremoniously opened the 1966, with a good generous pour as there were only 18 of us to share the bottle we all sat there staring at this glass of golden spirit..
It was absolutely Shit Hot! Rich with raisin and sultana flavours also vanillan spice. It had been aged in an Oloroso Sherry Butt and a fine one it must have been. The colour of red rich amber and gold and as my good friend Roy Swensen beside me pointed out there was an olive green gold tinge showing on the fringes, a sure sign of high quality. Quality for sure the taste was such a pleasure revealing layers of complexity indeed I could detect a smoky note after a while and the malty characteristics as well evolved after the Sherry notes melding together into a truly harmonious and balanced malt. Over the next 30 minutes we quietly enjoyed the ’66 with each of us having a chance to share a few words about our personal impressions, this was a great thing to do as we all had a little bit to add to the experience.
This was a truely special night to remember and one of the finest single malts I have ever tried. Thanks to my friends for sharing with me and thanks to Jim McEwan for finding and celebrating this rare and exceptional old Single malt.