The Exceptional Grain
Don Sutcliffe, an American who lives in California has over 35 years in the spirits business with a background in Cognac and with his longtime friend Willie Phillips (managing director of Macallan from 1978 -1966) have created a range of small batch Scotch whiskies.
Don has a connection with Scotland, initially through ancestry and then over a lengthy working relationship through the whisky industry. Initially the two friends were looking to purchase a independent Scottish Distillery but unfortunately the deal fell through. This was due to the whisky stock they were looking to purchase as part of the deal with the distillery dramatically increasing in value making the deal unrealistic for the seller.
Years later with purchasing a distillery almost an impossibility the plan to make a whisky that suited their ideals and tastes grew. With the contacts made through Willie’s term at the Macallan, the usual problem of obtaining whisky was not an issue and quality was the absolute key. The remit of both partners was a whisky that had character and individuality not another blended Scotch whisky. The first whisky has balance, sublety and finesse and not a whiff of Peat as Don’s passions are for Speyside and Highland Scotch whiskies and that peat hides the true flavours.
The initial produced whisky, The Exceptional Grain is a blended Grain whisky using whiskies selected from several different distilleries. The whiskies are sourced from a remarkable selection of older barrels from North British, Loch Lomond, Strathclyde, Cameronbridge and Caresbridge with ages ranging from 8-30 years old whiskies blended and matured in first fill Oloroso Sherry barrels. This blend is a result of a long process of nosing and tasting a range of potential whiskies before deciding on the final selection. Initially planned as a 3000 single bottling but one of the distilleries didn’t have the promised amount of barrels available, so rather than change the blend the decision was made to use what was available and keep the quality with a smaller bottling of only 1200 bottles.
Tasting note :
First nosing suggests lemon meringue and toffee apple, followed by apple, cinnamon on the elegant palate. The finish is long and lingering with notes of apple pie, cream and butterscotch. The addition of 3/4 drops of water open ups the creaminess and depth of flavour. The lingering clean tastes stay for minutes and blows away any thought of blended whiskies lacking subtlety.