Review – Sutcliffe & Son, Exceptional Grain, Blended Scotch Whisky, 2nd Edition, (No Age Stated), 43%

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

20170213_200211I am, by no means, an expert in whisky. And I’ve never staked such a claim. Go anywhere you like within the confines of AngelsPortion and you’ll discover that I never even come close to hinting at such a title.

I refer to myself as an enjoyer—one who prefers whisky to beer, and a fine dram to a slender glass of wine.

You’ll notice that when you visit with me here in this place, you’ll rarely discover anything other than narrative reviews—stories—each one emerging from this or that corner of my imagination, all in place to help you in an original way to meet, remember, and perhaps choose this or that whisky.

Sometimes I’ll write a mildly tangential essay about something that interests me, such as ice in whisky as a sinless endeavor, or whether a Glencairn glass is actually better than a rock glass. I’ll even toss in a few short stories and a little bit of poetry just to keep you on your toes—but you won’t find articles, news items about distilleries or concerned dialogue expressing how Brexit is affecting the spirits market. When it comes to whisky, I would only be recycling what I’ve read as there are plenty of other sites that do this and with far better knowledge and skill. In fact, there are plenty of magazines and online news outlets to match and exceed them. I don’t like to re-tell the dry things. And I get the impression that you don’t need such information from me. Most folks who end up at my doorstep don’t require it. A singular stopover and they know that when they return, they’ll be welcomed to come right back in, they’ll take a seat at the bar, and they’ll choose from a selection of hundreds of yarns designed to do the one thing I told you already—assist in meeting, remembering, and choosing a whisky you will appreciate.

It is one thing to provide a litany of notes regarding congeners and formulas and processes and geography. It something altogether different when you’re standing in a shop and eyeing a particular edition on a shelf, and not only do you recall it being Darth Vader’s favorite, but you know why, and you know that it was a deeply emotional experience for the heart-broken Sith Lord. This stays with you. In the same way, it’s helpful for getting the upper hand in acquiring desirable whiskies when you know the latest release dates for the international duty-free shops around the world, but it is quite another thing to know that the whisky your friends sent you out to purchase was actually squeezed from the veins of the devil, and if you want to survive the night, you should choose another edition.

It takes a different sort of expertise to do this. This one I will claim. I am a story-teller. I adore language, almost as much as whisky, which is probably why I have invested such time and energy throughout the past few years into seeing the two of them married.

Some appreciate it. Others, as I know all too well, don’t. That’s okay. I’m not here to save the world. I’m here to make introductions. You can do the rest.

20170213_200247There’s a story behind this edition of the Exceptional Grain, but since I’ve already taxed enough of your time by way of explanation, I won’t give you the fuller rendition. Just know that there’s an authority that must come down from the realms of the divine before proprietors of such things have license to use the term “exceptional.” God does not deal lightly with the ones who steal it, neither does He forget to bless those who use it as He has afforded.

Rest assured that Sutcliffe & Son have a wonderfully gilded vellum, signed and rolled by the Lord Christ’s own hand, and wax-stamped and delivered by the Archangel Michael. Of course, I can only say that I know of it—particularly because of the whisky before me, now—but I cannot say that I’ve actually seen it. I know this much, that if anyone other than the recipient looks at it, that person dies. The Bible is pretty clear about the fact that the unrighteous cannot look upon the righteous and live.

Either way, I’m pretty sure the certificate exists because this is a righteously exceptional dram.

In the very first nosing, I took in some rather commanding peppermint notes. Once this was up and out of the glass, it was followed, almost rhythmically, by blood oranges and an emerging wash of vanilla. Some of it stayed for the first sip.

On the palate, there are cereal grains that emerge, and as they do, the citrus and vanilla return from their hovering realms, coming down alongside to flank as angels to the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. Again, another hint that Sutcliffe & Son have permission to do this.

The finish is medium in length—just long enough to usher out what was mentioned above and then gather a taste of the altar incense that is the sherry oak barrel used to bring this delightful dram to maturity.

If you haven’t yet, give the Exceptional Grain a try, because I dare say that if all those days sitting at the feet of that kindly old Sunday School teacher wasn’t enough to convince you of the Divine Hand so regularly and generously giving over to the realms of man, my guess is that you didn’t stick around long enough for her to pull the object lesson from the satchel behind her back.spinster


Thanks for sending along the sample, Scotch Test Dummies!