Staff Picks: the Archie Rose Whisky Cabinet
We asked our Master Distiller, Venue Manager and Head of Hospitality to pick three whiskies they love on the Archie Rose back bar (we have over 300 of them!). This is the result.
Dave Withers, Master Distiller:
Bells Blended Whisky (bottled 1970s):
A great example of why blended whisky was king in this era. We often consider single malt whisky as being the pinnacle of whisky experience, yet countless examples of blended whisky prior to the popularisation of single malt speak to a very different reality. The fact remains that during the decades either side of the ’60s some of the best whisky made was earmarked for blended whiskies, such was the consumer demand for this type of whisky. At amazing value, this whisky shows an intriguing balance of fresh and dried fruit. A really magic balance of melons, tropical fruit, sherry cask influence, biscuity malt and just a touch of funk exemplifies this to be a remarkable whisky.
Ichiro’s Malt (Hanyu 2000):
The popularity of Japanese whisky has been widely reported with some whiskies having increased in value dramatically in the last few years. Such is the popularity of the category that many whisky boffins now see this type of whisky as belonging to the investor market. Yet this whisky stands as testimony to why the legend of Ichiro Akuto and his whiskies is so enduring and relevant. This whisky comes from the now closed distillery Hanyu which had its stocks rescued by the humble and hard-working Ichiro. It is among some of the last examples bottled from this distillery by a true Japanese whisky legend.
GlenDronach 18 Year Old:
GlenDronach is one of the last bastions of a truly rich, sherry-cask influenced style which went out of favour at the conclusion of World War II. This distillery is responsible for my ‘lightbulb moment’ with whisky. The rich and intense contribution from the cask it was matured in complemented by the boldness of the spirit makes it a remarkable example of whisky from a bygone era. It takes a very special type of spirit to stand up to nearly two decades of maturation in these types of casks but the result is quite phenomenal and I still enjoy GlenDronach for these reasons today. Many people talk about the great classic Sherried Macallans of yesteryear, for me whiskies like these are what sherry cask whisky are all about.
Jonathan Liu, Venue Manager:
Karuizawa 1990 Single Vintage:
I remember having one of these when a guest bought me a shot at 23, when I was working at the Four Seasons. Back then it was hardly popular, available at an affordable price, and only two guests ordered it over the year after seeing the bottle. Other than the usual big house brands such as Suntory and Nikka this was the first Japanese distillery which piqued my interest in the history of not only Japanese whisky but the history of all spirits. Imagine, you hear about Coca Cola and Pepsi - then another brand emerges so you question if there are others, right?
Lagavulin 8 Year Old:
The younger bottling has helped improve my understanding of Scotch Whisky maturation considering both climate vs time especially when the 16 Year Old was a signature bottling of theirs. You will find the 8 Year Old has a little bit more life / punch, bigger peat notes and less oak influence which is now my preference after working at Archie Rose. The younger the better? The new makier the bestest?
Ben Nevis 10 Year Old:
If you has asked me six years ago I would have completely turned the opposite direction with peat being the exciting flavour in a whisky, but with age and little more experience under my belt I’ve come to realise alcohol has its place at all times of the day. The Ben Nevis 10 Year Old is my ultimate breakfast, lunch and dinner drink. It’s the lasagne to my life - approachable and affordable and always satisfying.
Harriet Leigh, Head of Hospitality:
Belgrove Oak Whisky:
I recently popped down to Tassie and had a little sniff around Belgrove to check out the amazing things Peter Bignell is doing to grain down there. His Oat Whisky is still astoundingly good, it’s light and delicate, and reeks of crème anglaise, crème caramel, all the crèmes. It’s definitely worth spending an evening with.
Port Ellen - 17th release - OR NOT.
Look, it’s not often I feel like dropping $430 on a shot of whisky. Or even $215 on a half nip. But if I did feel like doing that at the Archie Rose bar, this is what I’d reach for. One of the best parts of my job is I get to taste whiskies without having to break the bank. HOWEVER, if you don’t get that perk in your job we have a great selection of Islay that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. For literally half that price you can have a Brora 34 Year Old, which might still bring a tear to the eye but is not a whisky you’ll forget any time soon. And for a fraction of that price you can snuffle up a Caol Ila 18 or Distiller’s Edition, a Bunnahabhain Ceòbanach, or even a Lagavulin 8 Year Old. which as Jonathan says above, is a whisky not to be missed.
Scotch Malt Whisky Society R6.1:
Dear Lord. What on earth has happened to me? I have always poo-pooed rum. It’s never been my bag. But then I met our Master Distiller, Dave Withers. Who among other nicknames, such as “nature’s gentleman” and “Schnitty” is a self-professed “rummie”. For a while I loved him in spite of this fact. But something about him has rubbed off on me in the last three years, the production of Virgin Cane, his passion for all things sugar cane. Dare I say it, I’ve developed a taste. The rather confusingly named Scotch Malt Whisky Society is an independent bottler of world renown, their National Brand Ambassador is the superheroic Matt Bailey and their drams are exceptional. Very occasionally they bottle things that are neither Scotch nor Whisky. This 14 Year Old Foursquare single cask is outstanding. And you should take my word for it because I hate rum.
Of course all of this is lies. My very favourite whisky that I’ve drunk at the Archie Rose bar is without doubt, and always will be, the latest cask sample made 3 metres away, aged in a cask beside me, and tapped by Schnitty.
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