Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Speyburn 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

SpeyburnPour2For this special Spirits Edition of Tasting Notes, we settle into a rainy Tuesday afternoon with a proper dram of Speyburn 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Speyburn Distillery (Rothes, Scotland).

Speyburn 10 Year Old is a Single Malt Scotch Whisky made with the “crystal-clear water of the Granty Burn . . ., an integral ingredient used to produce the bold, bright, distinctive single malt whiskies of Speyburn.”  This “soft spirit” is then “matured in a combination of American oak, ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks” until it “marries with the gentle oak influence to create a balanced and approachable dram with hints of toffee, butterscotch and a long, sweet finish.”  Weighing in at 80 proof/40% ABV, Speyburn 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky is a standard that “exhibits the distillery character and house style of Speyburn.”

Speyburn 10 Year Old is available in 750ml bottles and in the Speyburn 10 Year Old Source Water Gift Pack – includes a 750ml bottle of Speyburn 10 Year Old and a 100ml bottle of Uisge Source Water – Speyside for the SRP of $30.  You can find both of these packaging options at fine liquor retailers located throughout the United States.

Now that we are all caught up on this whisky’s background information, we are actually going to crack open one of those Speyburn 10 Year Old Source Water Gift Packs to not only record some Tasting Notes on Speyburn 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky but to also experience how the Uisge Source Water interacts with the whisky.  This is exactly the kind of thing that rainy days are for, so let’s get to it!

Tasting Notes for Speyburn 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Speyburn Distillery

Appearance: This whiskey pours a beautifully clear, light honey brown in color.  When held to direct light, the yellows radiate softly and shift the appearance to more of a pale gold to straw yellow.  When swirled in the glass, the slick liquid coats the glass with a parabolic arc that eventually releases super-slow moving, teardrop-like legs that crawl back down into the pour.

Aroma: The aromatics introduce themselves with a bright burst of citrus (orange and lemon) and a gentle floral character.  The grains add a cereal sweetness that opens further to offer notes of honey, vanilla and caramel.  To close out the profile, a very subtle waft of smoke surfaces to balance out the sweetness a bit. | With the Uisge Source-Speyside Water Added: The vanilla-laced oak notes bloom a bit more with the added water, but the overall sweetness is tempered.  The only other noticeable change is that the added water actually brings more attention to the spirit’s booziness. Nothing unpleasant, just a surprising twist.

Taste: Just like the nose, the fruits take the lead with citrusy tones that are joined by nuanced notes of sweet apple, raisin, and a touch of red plum.  This fruit sweetness and a light floral breeze act as a sublime lead-in for the cereal grains and barrel character. We are talking about some seriously satisfying notes of caramel, rich vanilla, toffee and honey.  The smoke is light, but it envelopes all of that sweetness – especially the pronounced oaky vanilla note – to offer a hint of toasted marshmallow in the finish. | With the Uisge Source-Speyside Water Added: The water really coaxes out those caramel tones here and the lemony note is also more defined.  The finish morphs a bit as white pepper and anise bloom within the smoke to add an extra layer of complexity.

Mouthfeel:  Slick in texture, this whiskey coats the palate but dries out quickly enough to avoid being syrupy or cloying.  Although it is mostly sweet, the smoky, citrusy and floral notes contrast and balance well.  At 40% ABV/80 proof, it is wonderfully smooth and only supplies the smallest of slow burns in the chest.  Aftertaste is all vanilla, oak and smoke. | With the Uisge Source-Speyside Water Added: The added water dries out the sweetness even more, thins the body, and soothes the slight burn from the ABV.

Final Thoughts:  There are two common misconceptions when it comes to Scotch whisky:

  1. The only good Scotch is an expensive Scotch
  2. You must have a trained palate to appreciate Scotch

From top to bottom, Speyburn 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky proves that those are indeed misconceptions.  It has a great deal of the complexity you will find in pricier Scotch whiskies, but it retains approachability by offering notes that casual American whiskey drinkers are familiar with.  Combine that with the fact that this Single Malt falls within a $20 to $30 price point, and you have an affordable option that can act as daily-drinker for seasoned whisky drinkers and/or a gateway for those interested in learning more about Scotch whisky.

As far as the Speyburn 10 Year Old Source Water Gift Pack goes, it proved to be an incredibly fun experiment.  Although everyone here did enjoy the undiluted pours a bit more, we did appreciate how the Uisge Source Water brought out and/or enhanced certain aspects of the whisky and had a great time having it as a part of the experience.  There is no denying that this 100ml bottle of water is a fantastic conversation piece that will easily convince any whisky-lovin’ guest to sit down and enjoy a dram or two of Speyburn 10 Year Old with you.  Since it only comes in at a few bucks more than the standard bottle of Speyburn 10 Year Old, we suggest you pick up the gift pack if you happen to be faced with the option.

All in all, this was one hell of a good experience that has left us all fans of Speyburn 10 Year Old. Whether you are looking for a gateway offering that can ease you – both in flavor and in cost – into the world of Scotch or are just looking for a solid whisky to keep in your liquor cabinet, Speyburn 10 Year Old should definitely be on your radar.  Prost!