I'm back at work now, but it's a pity I didn't get to the whiskey sooner. It's exquisite.
dry rye gin, an unaged, pot-stilled 90-proof rye whiskey finished with juniper and other botanicals typical of gin.
Likewise, the 30th anniversary single malt brings in an unexpected dimension. Finishing whiskey in casks once used for Port or Madeira, for instance, is not unheard of but the distillery here has taken advantage of its inventory of barrels that previously held its pear eau de vie. The result is a lush, heady, distillate; once I pulled the cork, its aroma filled the office. The pear is there as well as the malt, but roasted orchard fruits come through with an overall spiciness that suggests ginger and toasted nuts. Sweet, but not cloying. Despite the high proof (47.3% abv), it's balanced, almost — but not quite — as much a joy to inhale as to drink. Brendan Gleeson's line from 28 Days Later rises to the surface of my mind; Takes out the fire but leaves in the warmth.
A long finish lingers, lulling me into a contemplative, almost glassy-eyed mood, making me wish I'd started a fire in the hearth before I'd poured some into the tumbler. There will be no mixing cocktails with this one. Instead, I pull my sweater a little closer in a big, comfortable chair, bury my nose in the glass, and stretch out the moment as long as I can.
The release is limited to 715 bottles, so it may take some sleuthing to track down one for yourself. And it's not cheap: retail will run you around $400 for a 750ml. How to get a bottle? St. George's website advises: "Because of the extraordinarily limited nature of this release, we have had to allocate bottles to select retailers in the markets we currently have distribution. Please contact your favorite local retailers to see if they have a bottle or two. Many bottles have already been snapped up, but we know where to find the ones that remain…If you need assistance scoring a bottle of your own, please contact our office at 510-769-1601."
Goes well with:
- A Fistful of Pears, Bread & Gin's spaghetti Western-inspired take on a bittersweet cocktail using St. George's pear eux de vie and pear liqueur.
- Ernie Button's Vanishing Single Malt Scotch, in which photographer Button turns an eye to his dirty tumblers for an unexpected discovery.
- A persistent rumor holds that when a Scotch distillery replaces an old still, a new one — completely reproduced down to every last ding and dent — takes its place so the new spirit is unchanged from the old. The chairman of the company that has made most of the stills in Scotland takes issue with that and sets the record straight.