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Heroes and who?
It’s not often someone gifts me whisky from a bottler I’ve never heard of but that’s exactly what happened with the subject of today’s review. My brother-in-law and his wife presented me with an attractive sherry-matured Glentauchers called The Falls of Caledonia that had been bottled by a company called Heroes & Heretics.
This bottler has passed me by completely and that struck me as rather exciting so off I went to visit their website. It became apparent pretty quickly that this was a business targeting a certain crowd. A crowd that I, at 41 years of age, am probably older than. The website had a lot of content without giving a great deal of information. It asked me to consider whether I was a hero or a heretic, suggested that I might like to join their Tribe and even mentioned working with someone from Made in Chelsea. Needless to say, I moved on swiftly from that section. The word disruptive seemed to be a fixture. Now I’m certainly not against upsetting the norm, in fact I encourage it but there are so many people now claiming to be disruptive that I find myself asking if being disruptive is in fact the status quo and therefore, no particularly disruptive.
Digital content aside, their “diverse range of single cask or small batch whiskies, rums and hard seltzers” sounded very appealing and I was keen to find out a little more about the company but I struggled in vain to find an About Us section anywhere on their website. As far as I could see, it didn’t mention the owners anywhere. Still, this cat wasn’t about to subdue his curiosity any time soon so I went on a bit of a deep-dive into the murky depths of google.
From what I can gather, Heroes & Heretics is the bottling arm of HAH Whisky Ltd. HAH also appears to own and operate The Cask Reserve, a company that specialises in matching up private investors with casks of whisky. Prior to HAH Whisky Ltd, directors Craig Chidgey and Leo Scott-Francis ran a business known as The Whisky Market. Chidgey had previously worked for estate agency Foxtons but became involved with wine when a wine investment company used by his Father ceased trading. Chidgey contacted Scott-Francis, whom he already knew and the pair helped the abandoned customers sell on their wine.
From wine, the two turned their attentions to whisky. They founded The Whisky Market in order to help investors buy and trade casks. What happened next is a little unclear but The Whisky Market name is no longer in use and nothing has been posted on their social media pages since 2018. It seems likely that at some stage, it changed to, or became part of, HAH Whisky Ltd.
Today there are two sides to the company, The Cask Reserve looks after cask investors whilst Heroes & Heretics bottles a unique array of spirits. Combining the two, investors can even sell their casks back to the business to be bottled in the Heroes & Heretics range.
Now, I’m no investor but I’m certainly a drinker and this Falls of Caledonia bottling has piqued my interest. Though, it has to be said, the name isn’t exactly original and the back label takes the cheesy concept to the nth degree. Did you know, for example, that Glentauchers was perfectly framed by evergreen forests? And that the surrounding air is scented with caramel toffee, almond fudge and raisins?
For a supposedly disruptive company it’s all a bit old-fashioned and twee. Also, as a Scottish native, I can confirm that there is no part of our countryside that smells of toffee, fudge and raisins. There’s an entirely different array of aromas to be, ahem, savoured, in fact.
Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.
The Falls of Caledonia is a 6-year-old single malt distilled at Glentauchers in Speyside. The whisky was matured in a sherry hogshead and bottled at 54%.
Smell: Lots of the dried fruits notes you’d expect from this kind of sherry maturation. Raisins, sultanas, currants, figs. New leather. Tobacco leaves. Walnut. Brown sugar. Cinnamon. Dark caramel. A splash of water settled the prickle of the young spirit heat.
Taste: Rich and medium-bodied with a bit of spice. 54% isn’t too extreme but it comes across a wee bit hot at first albeit with plenty of those syrupy sherry notes. Balsamic. Raisins and sultanas. Prune juice. Black peppercorns and chilli spice. Cloves. Deep oak and more sherry on the finish. Water brought out some chocolate almonds and cherry.
Thoughts: We’re very much in sherry bomb territory here so you’re not picking up a lot of the Glentauchers distillery apart from a little bit of youthful fire. Nothing wrong with a big old sherry bomb though. Especially at this time of year, when there’s fruit cake and mince pies to be had on a regular basis.
Interesting that the bottle doesn’t say cask strength. I’m guessing it’s been reduced a little to get to 54%. Otherwise there have been some pretty greedy angels at work here, assuming, of course, it was filled into cask at 63.5%. 54% is still a good, meaty strength though and the dram carries plenty of intensity.
It’s young but the onslaught of sherry does a good job of masking any immaturity that might be in evidence. At the end of the day, you know exactly what you’re getting with a whisky like this.
Value for money: Sherry-matured, 54% alcohol by volume, un-chill-filtered and less than £50 a bottle? That’ll do me.
For more on Heroes and Heretics visit here.