New Year Dram: The Exclusive Blend 1980

With Christmas out the way, thoughts turn to New Years Eve or as we call it in Scotland: Hogmanay. Every year at this time I find myself faced with a very tough decision to make… What whisky should I bring in the New Year with?! We can’t just plump for any old swill here, this has to be something special, something delicious and celebratory… Something that sets the tone for the year ahead!

I thought it might be fun to make a feature of this. The site has only been live since the start of October but I hope it’ll be around for many years and it would be nice to mark the end of each year by reviewing something special that I’ve come across during the course of the year.

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This year I’ve decided to toast the arrival of 2016 with a blend from the Creative Whisky Company. Founded in 2005, The Creative Whisky Company Ltd specialises in bottling single cask whiskies. Named ‘Creative’ because of their willingness to experiment with cask types, their ‘Exclusive Malts’ have become a recognised brand to look out for. I’m going to review ‘The Exclusive Blend’ however. To be exact, I’m reviewing the Exclusive Blend 1980 – a blend of Highland and Speyside malt and grain whiskies, distilled in 1980 and matured for 35 years in ex-Sherry casks.

Way back in my first review I said that blended scotch can often have less character than single malts and while this can be true of the cheapest and biggest selling brands it’s not the case for all blends. When done right a blend can be sensational. The right combination of the right malts, the right grains and the right casks can come together to make something far greater than the sum of it’s parts.

It’s safe to say that what is going on here is the latter. On the nose there’s a lot of Sherry with dried fruits like Raisin and Sultana. There’s Almond and Honeycomb and it’s a wee bit Beefy… like a chargrilled Steak. Meanwhile on the palate, there’s Sherry again, Dark Chocolate, Highland Toffee and Brown Sugar. It’s got a satisfying oily mouthfeel and goes cloudy with water added – a sure sign that chill filtering has been avoided. This is not a blend made to appeal across the board, this is a luxury product with as much character as any single malt.

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Smell: 19.5/20. what a nose! A massive hit of beautiful sherry notes that gets the mouth watering long before you drink it.

Taste: 19.5/20. A big, rich, chewy sherry monster. Great stuff.

Value: 7/10. Comes in around £95 a bottle which I know isn’t cheap but having said that, it’s 35 years old. It was distilled in 1980 – the year I was born. For my entire life this has slumbered in wooden casks waiting for the right moment to be bottled and sold. £95 for something that takes that long to make isn’t asking a lot in my opinion.

Total: 46/50

It’s not every day I buy whisky for the best part of £100 but for something of this age and quality I think it’s well worth it. Try finding a 35 year old single malt at 46% for under £100 – that should highlight just how good a buy this is. In any case, whats a little indulgence at this time of year? Whisky was made for occasions like New Year… A dram raised in toast between friends is without doubt one of the finer things in life.

Before I wrap things up here I’d just like to end by saying thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read this, or any other blog I’ve posted. I appreciate every single visit I’ve had since the site launched in October and hope that you will continue to follow me on my rambling journey through the world of whisky in the months and years to come. I wish each of you a very Happy New Year and all the best in 2016.

Sláinte mhaith!

About the Creative Whisky Company

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