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A little background information…
My relationship with Single Cask Nation is a bit unusual. I’ve known about this US-based independent bottler, even followed them, for years now but until very recently, I hadn’t tried any of their stuff. To begin with, that’s because I was on the wrong side of the Atlantic but even with the bottler’s expansion into the UK and other parts of the world, I never quite got round to it. I came close. I believe there was a Single Cask Nation stall at Glasgow’s Whisky Festival in 2019 but as often happens at such events, I didn’t make it round everything I wanted to see.
Like many whisky lovers, I’ve been following the exploits of Nation owner’s Jason Johnstone-Yellin and Joshua Hatton via their One Nation Under Whisky podcast. It’s long been a favourite listen of mine. Not only do they have great guests on, they’re able to give their own unique perspective to any given situation thanks to their position in the industry. I also enjoy the sheer volume of content they put out. During my own dalliances with podcasting I received a few comments that our episodes ran too long at 90 minutes. I dread to think what such complainers would make of One Nation Under Whisky’s run time. Certainly it has never been a problem for me. I couldn’t tell you how many dog walks have been sound-tracked by Jason and Joshua’s whisky talk.
The whisky scene is so gloriously vast, there will always be distillers and bottlers that escape your clutches, like the proverbial ships passing in the night but I’m pleased to say I was finally able to sample some Single Cask Nation bottlings at the return of Glasgow’s Whisky Festival in February this year. I tried a few drams but one that really stuck in my memory was their 8-year-old Dailuaine. I left the event empty-handed but within a few days I was online searching for some of the more interesting drams. When I saw how reasonably priced the Single Cask Nation Dailuaine was, I had to have it.
Dailuaine distillery fascinates me. It generally pumps out malt for use in Diageo’s blends with the only official bottling being a 16-year-old in the Flora & Fauna range. I’ve always felt it a shame that there isn’t more made of this single malt, however. It seems, at least in my book, to have quite a lot going for it. Fortunately, we have independent bottlers like Single Cask Nation who are willing to make some of it available for our enjoyment.
Distilled in August 2012, this single malt was aged for 8 years in a first fill bourbon hogshead. It was bottled in July of 2021 at a strength of 53.1%. It cost me £55 from Master of Malt.
Smell: Everything you’d expect from a first fill Bourbon. Vanilla. Caramel. New oak. Slight varnish note. Ginger biscuits and Custard Creams. Grassy barley. Cereal. Orange marmalade. Toffee.
Taste: Big chewy bourbon arrival with some warming oaky spice right from the start. Lots of rich caramel and vanilla. Malty and a wee bit nutty. Hobnob biscuits. Werther’s Originals. Butterscotch. A touch of citrus as it moves towards the finish. Wee bit of chocolate left behind on the palate with more of the grain character.
Thoughts: There’s mad viscosity on display here. It was a joy to pour a splash of water into this dram and watch the natural oils separate and glisten in the light. If we drink with our eyes, this dram looked delicious. The water almost seemed to intensify the bourbon notes and delayed the spice a little. Upon first sip the spicy heat arrived almost aggressively but with the water it warmed up gradually making for a more pleasant experience.
The dram is an exercise in simplicity. It is exactly what happens when you take good spirit and put it in an active cask and leave it alone to do its thing. I’m not saying I would like all whiskies to be like this but it shows that you don’t need trendy finishes or sherry casks with a few litres still sloshing around inside in order to make a good whisky.
Value for money: It’s getting harder to find single cask single malts around the £50 mark so it was lovely to find out that this whisky wasn’t only affordable but also really damn tasty. Exceptional quality for the price.
For more information on Single Cask Nation visit here