Quick, find a map. Got one? Good. Because in the great tradition of Mel Fisher and Indiana Jones, we’re about to embark upon a lucrative quest—treasure hunting.
But not just any mere treasure. The bounty: a truly stunning line of Whiskies that rival the finest collection of gold jewels and doubloons in the land. And to find it, we’ve got one very simple clue: “ex” marks the spot. “Exceptional,” that is. Are you ready to taste the equivalent of liquid gold? Grab your sable fedora—the hunt for The Exceptional is underway.
Our quest begins with two Whisky-lovin’ mavericks: Don Sutcliffe and Willie Phillips. Don, the managing director of Craft Distillers, decided to pursue a life-long dream to create the most interesting Scotch Whisky in the world. He then teamed up with The Macallan’s former managing director Willie Phillips to make a line of small-batch Whiskies that would rival drams from some of the finest distilleries out there. They dubbed this intrepid new line: The Exceptional.
To assemble the blends, Don traveled to Scotland and worked with both Willie and Master Blender Bill Arthur to select whiskies from several different distilleries. Each barrel was chosen for its distinctive and memorable characteristics. Once the blends were assembled, they were finished in first-fill Sherry casks.
There are a few different types of Whisky you’re going to encounter here—a malt, a grain and a blend. In the past, grains were typically used to add some body to a malt. It was rare thing to have them stand on their own merit. In fact, some people continue to argue that single malts are the only Whiskies worth savoring. But in our opinion, single malt snobbery has no place here.
Plenty of countries are innovating with grains and blends, and they’re creating some pretty spectacular drams. In fact, to make a truly sublime blended Whisky, it takes the immense expertise of a master blender to create a balanced and harmonious drink. How do you like ‘dem grains now?
And now, the time has come, ye thrillseekers. The taste of treasure is just beyond the horizon. The question is: are you ready to seize it?
1) Blended malts account for about 8% of the Scotch Whisky market. Blended malts are a mix of malt Whiskies (made from malted barley only) from different distilleries.
2) Speaking of single malts, most people tend to think that they’re the product of one cask. But they’d be wrong—it’s actually the product of a single distillery and may come from several casks there.
3) A crystal decanter of Macallan Imperiale ‘M’ Whisky scooped the prestigious title of world’s most expensive Whisky when it sold at auction in Hong Kong for $628,205 in 2015.
4) What’s the difference between a grain and malt Whisky? For that, you’ll need to look to the ingredients. Grain Whisky is made from any grains, including but not limited to, wheat and corn. Malt Whisky, however, is strictly made from malted barley.
5) A blended Whisky is a mix of many different grains and malts from a whole slew of distilleries. And while single malt gets a lot of top billing these days, the interplay between grain and malt Whiskies in a blend can provide a different kind of depth to your dram.
6) 90% of all Scotch Whisky released in the market is a blend. That’s a hell of a lot.
Rumor has it that fictional treasure hunter Indiana Jones had a low tolerance for alcohol. But when he did mosey up to a bar, his poisons of choice were Whisky and Tequila.