As a small, independent company, we feel a lot of affinity to independent whisky bottlers. In fact, we’ve written at length about why we think more people should be seeking out whisky from these “incredible indies”. Not only that, but we also dedicated a past box to veteran indies, Douglas Laing. So here's the latest in our series highlighting the best independent whisky bottlers - all about The Single Cask.
Who are The Single Cask?
The Single Cask, for those that haven’t already come across them, are experts at seeking out unusual and high quality Scotch whiskies. Their independently bottled single malts (and occasionally bourbons) are guaranteed to expand your horizons. As you might have guessed from their name, they specialize in choosing unique and vibrant single casks of the best whiskies. Since no two casks ever age the same, even from the same distilling run, that means an ever-changing potential of flavour journeys.
Founded by Ben Curtis after he discovered a love for single cask whisky, The Single Cask initially began in Asia but recently came to the UK as well. They also have a hugely popular whisky bar in Singapore with the same name. Since every cask of whisky is different, The Single Cask release their limited-edition whiskies in batches throughout the year.
Last September we decided to treat our tasting club members to a selection of their most recent releases. While that box is now unfortunately sold out, you can have a look at some of our favourites from their range.
September Box - Incredible Indies: The Single Cask
Linkwood - 2011 Aged 8 Years
Speyside distillery Linkwood has had a storied past. One of its previous owners, Roderick Mackenzie, was so committed to keeping its distillery character the same that he apparently didn't even allow cleaning away of cobwebs in the still house!
Oak, rancio, vanilla, pear juice, white wine, green apple, walnuts, toasted almonds, lime. Medium finish, with bitter oak, green tea, walnuts and lime.
Benrinnes - 2009 Aged 10 YearsThe Single Cask Benrinnes 10 Year Old features in this month's tasting box
Benrinnes is one of the last remaining distilleries to use the old-fashioned worm tub style of condensers (which convert spirit vapour to liquid). These help give Benrinnes its meaty, weighty character. The only official Benrinnes release is Diageo's 15yo Flora & Fauna edition - making this bottling a rare treat. We found The Single Cask release to be much fruitier and sweeter - a great example of how different casks can vary so much.
Crisp green apples, nuts and sweet biscuits, a hint of apple turnover. Subtle savouriness underneath. Green grapes and ripe apples on the palate, gently dusted with cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper. A rounded finish with a waxy, creamy texture carries those flavours of green grapes, walnuts, and oak through to the end.
Blair Athol - 2011 Aged 8 Years
Just outside picturesque Pitlochry sits the Blair Athol distillery. Most of its malt ends up in blends like Bell's, but its single malts are highly prized by in-the-know Scotch aficionados.
Lively and robust. Full bodied, with aromas of limestone, grapefruit juice, floral elements, lime, oak, malt, white wine, pine resin and white pepper. Medium to long finish, with more flavours of citrus fruits pear juice, oak, honey and wood spices.
Caol Ila - 2013 Aged 6 Years
Caol Ila is one of Islay's biggest distilleries, but for some reason it's not as well-known as others. We think that's a huge shame - their single malts are fabulously smoky and a must try for any peat-head! Luckily, lots of great independent whisky bottlers like The Single Cask often bottle unique casks from them. Islay whiskies are known to peak at a younger age than whiskies from other regions, and this youthful 6 year old dram really proves that point.
Spirited, bit hits of peat, smoke, and sea salt. Shellfish, menthol, oak, vanilla, cinnamon and green tea come through on the palate. Medium to long finish, drying peat, sea salt, vanilla and oak.
Auchroisk - 2008 Aged 11 YearsThe Single Cask's Auchroisk 11 Year Old
Auchroisk (pronounced "orth-rusk") is one of industry giant Diageo's workhorse blender whiskies that is rarely seen as a single malt. It's usually much more commonly bottled by the smaller independent bottlers. It used to be bottled under The Singleton brand name - which is, admittedly, much easier to pronounce. But now you can impress your less knowledgeable whisky pals!
Sweet malt, pineapple, zesty lime and nutmeg, with freshly cracked black pepper. Rich gratings of nutmeg and some oak spice on the palate along with kiwifruit and lemon. Finishing long with more black pepper and subtle orange peel.
Girvan - 1990 Aged 29 Years
It's a well-established fact that here at the Dram Team we are HUGE fans of a well-aged single grain whisky, so this 29-year-old cask from Girvan is a wonderful treat. Picture gorgeous chewy tannins and inviting complexity, the sort that can only come with nearly 3 decades spent maturing in quality wood. Another reason we love independent bottlers - access to incredible grain whiskies like this that otherwise might not see the light of day.
Prickly, yet inviting. Alcohol, acetone, lime, oak, vanilla, almond tart, green tea, white pepper, popcorn, nutmeg, chalk and menthol. Fruity and vanillic on the palate with menthol chews, almond tart, and floral elements. Finishing medium, with more mint and vanilla alongside some oak.
Try some Incredible Indies
Just like the founders of The Single Cask, we at The Dram Team are all super passionate about whisky. We want to share that excitement with as many people as we can, and guide them to explore, learn, and have fun with whisky. That’s why every month we curate out-of-the-ordinary whisky tastings and deliver them right to your door.
Whether you’re a curious newcomer or a seasoned professional, we’re the best way to explore everything the world of whisky has to offer. Join the club today and save £5 off the normal box price, or give a whisky tasting box to the whisky lover in your life.
We also write regular emails to our members, which is the best way to stay informed on upcoming subscription boxes, plus loads of other must-read whisky info. You can get on the list by signing up here.