New Samples To Study!
The ‘Reference Series’ is the very first range of educational blended malt Scotch whiskies.
A ground-breaking idea and unique in the marketplace, these blended malt Scotch whiskies not only enable drinkers to learn the ins and outs of whisky production techniques, but also taste superb in their own right, making the learning process thoroughly enjoyable.
The initial 3 releases of the Reference Series comprises blended whiskies which progress from I to III with increasing levels of old, rare and more characterful spirit in the mix.
This will show whisky lovers the progression of flavour profile that comes with the ageing process – a hotly disputed topic which can be clearly understood and appreciated in a controlled manner.
The range will eventually expand further to showcase particular ingredients or production techniques on top of this initial trio, which will be indicated in the name.
‘Reference Series’ is named for the fact one can taste the later editions then “refer” back to the original I, II & III for comparison.
Over time, the series will offer more and more combinations of ingredients and techniques, eventually growing to become the ultimate learning resource to truly understand the production and creation of whisky.
The entire range is available in 3cl bottles from Drinks by the Dram (available now, exclusively from Master Of Malt), so each whisky can be sampled without the need to purchase a full-sized bottle.
Tasting Notes – Reference Series II
Reference Series II has a much higher proportion of very old single malts than Reference Series I.
Reference Series II
|Nose: Pale straw colour. Orange fragrances mixed with oak.
Palate: Spicy with zesty orange, sweet sherry and a slight hint of dryness but well tempered.
Finish: Peppery finish, grapefruit, satisfyingly long, oaky.
Overall: A great drinkable dram, well rounded.
Tasting Notes – Reference Series II.3
I’m tasting this out of order (what a rebel!) but this Reference Series just takes a portion of the Reference Series II blend and includes the colouring agent, E150a, also called Spirit Caramel.
Spirit caramel is used by distilleries and brands to achieve consistency of colour between batches whilst not affecting the flavour but this has been a matter of conjecture.
Reference Series II.3 allows you to form your own opinion!
Reference Series II.3
|Nose: Darker than II, more like amber. Minty, orange and caramel.
Palate: Fruity with sweet chocolate.
Finish: Spicy hit more pronounced, sweeter finish and grapefruit is still there.
Overall: Though it should taste basically the same I find that this seems sweeter, even icing sugary when compared to the II. Interesting!
Tasting Notes – Reference Series II.1
This Reference Series takes a portion of the Reference Series II blend and finishes it in a fresh 50 litre cask previously used to hold Pedro Ximénez Sherry.
Reference Series II.1
|Nose: Sweet, woody with a lovely chocolatey aroma.
Palate: Rich, sweet, sherried fruits.
Finish: Long, peppery sweet n’ spicy that goes on forever.
Overall: Amazing how much sweetness the sherry casks impart when compared with II. It’s achieved a pleasant softness that was missing before.
Tasting Notes – Reference Series II.2
This Reference Series takes a portion of the Reference Series II blend and includes 10% heavily peated Islay Single Malt.
Reference Series II.2
|Nose: Heavy peat, smoke and woodyness – basically dominating the nose.
Palate: Peat and smokey, sweet cake mixture and orange.
Finish: Long pepper spice, peat remains but not so powerfully.
Overall: The peats the thing with this dram but not so much as to totally swamp the blend altogether. Nice!
Once again, much food (or drams) for thought – it’s really quite a challenge for the tastebuds and a unique way to see how a whiskies flavour changes with staged additions.
My favourite is proably the Reference Series II.2 with the 10% heavily peated Islay Single Malt. Always a bit of a sucker for peated whiskies I found this to be a nice balance between the range.
But don’t take my word for it – get back to school and enjoy some in-depth study yourself!
Many thanks to @MaverickDrinks for the samples.