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Watt Whisky was formed by Kate and Mark Watt in late 2019. Since then, the married couple have established their label as one of the most interesting independent bottlers on the scene.
Watt Whisky bottles single cask spirits (whisky and sometimes rum), sourced from distilleries across Scotland and beyond. What separates them from most other bottlers is their belief in letting the spirit speak for itself. In a market seemingly obsessed with whiskies that have been dominated by sherry casks and wine casks and every other kind of cask, the Watts’ approach is refreshing. Even when they have applied some finishes, they’ve done so with subtlety, often resting a whisky for no more than 3 or 6 months in the secondary cask.
Over the course of my next few reviews, I’m going to be tasting my way through the latest batch of Watt Whiskies. First up, a peated Loch Lomond and an old single grain from a lost distillery…
*Full disclosure: the samples reviewed in this article were sent to me free of charge. As always I will strive to give an honest opinion on the dram and the value for money it represents.
Loch Lomond (Inchfad) 5 Year Old Single Malt
Inchfad is a whisky produced at Loch Lomond distillery and is named after one of the loch’s many islands.
This Inchfad expression was matured for 5 years in a hogshead before being bottled at a cask strength of 58.2%. There are 300 bottles available. Retails around £60.
Smell: Grain-forward nose. Muesli. Grist and dusty smoke. Distant ashtrays. Vanilla. Oatcakes. Lightest cask interaction here with some very subtle oak notes. Some soft spices. Lemon curd on burnt toast.
Taste: Toffee. Digestive biscuits. Black pepper. Charcoal grilled meats. Vanilla ice cream. Lemon curd and marmalade. Salted caramel. Peppery spice and ashy smoke.
Thoughts: This is a lovely dram and it perfectly showcases that Watt Whisky style. Even though it’s “only” five years of age, the cask doesn’t need to swamp the spirit, it’s got more than enough character to carry things on its own. A powerful young whisky with bags of personality.
Value for money: There was a time I may have scoffed at paying £60 for a 5-year-old whisky but things have moved on. £60 almost feels affordable now. I also don’t think people view age as the indicator it once was. Quality of experience is the only way to judge a whisky and I certainly enjoyed this enough to warrant paying £60 a bottle.
Dumbarton 21 Year Old Single Grain
Dumbarton was a grain whisky distillery located around 20 miles from Glasgow. The whisky was a major contributor to Ballantine’s Blended Scotch until the distillery closed in 2002. Sadly, there is little remaining of it today.
Since the distillery only closed in 2002, there are still some casks around. This Watt Whisky expression has been matured for a total of 21 years – including 9 months in a cask that previously held an Islay single malt. It’s bottled at 57.1%. 222 bottles available.
Smell: Grainy. As you’d expect. Cereals. Corn Flakes. Crema Catalana. Custard creams and Toffee yo-yos (remember them?). Vanilla. Burnt caramel. Touch of oak. Subtle hints of peat but no more.
Taste: The smoke is more detectable on the palate but it’s still fairly light. Hard caramels like Werther’s Originals and suchlike. Some apple and orange. Subtle woody spice. There’s also a slight meatiness, possibly from the Islay cask.
Thoughts: This is not your typical grain whisky. Or to put it another way, it does many of the things you expect from a grain with some extras thrown in. Old grain whiskies can be fantastic but they can also be quite samey so anything that stands out from the crowd is to be treasured and there really aren’t many with a hint of Islay about them. Watt Whisky have put out something really quite unique here.
Value for money: There aren’t many 21 year old whiskies on the market for £80 and there are even less grain whiskies finished in Islay casks. One for those who enjoy the quirky and the unusual.
For more on Watt Whisky visit https://wattwhisky.com/