If you like unusual whiskies, you may be interested in this small – but remarkable – bottle. The 33-year-old Caledonian The Boutique-y Whisky Company. There are a number of reasons that make it a certain unicorn in the world of Scotch Whisky.
The first is its sheer type. It is a single grain scotch whisky. Which, in itself, corresponds to an almost insignificant fraction of scotch whiskies. Single grains are produced in a single distillery, using whichever grains – and a small fraction of malted barley. They are usually distilled in Coffey Stills (a kind of column still). Although production is large, most grain whiskies are produced to integrate blends. They are only seldomnly bottled alone.
Another – and the main – reason is that the distillery – Caledonian – no longer exists. The Caledonian had long been the largest distillery in all of Scotland. However, due to a series of mergers and acquisitions, as well as an oversupply of grain whiskies on the market, the distillery closed its doors in 1988. Its interior was renovated and transformed into a housing complex. Its chimney, however – one of Scotland’s tallest Victorian towers – remains intact, and is considered a historic monument.
In fact, the label of this edition – bottled by the independent Boutique-y whiskies Company – makes an hommage to that chimney. According to the brand “Around the corner from Haymarket station in Edinburgh, you will find Distillery Lane and, next to some apartments, a huge chimney! That’s all that’s left of the Caledonian distillery now. Well, almost… a little bit of delicious grain whisky also survived! Climb to the top of the chimney and admire the view of the city to the Firth of Forth. But how dangerous (and naughty) that would be, we designed it for you. Be welcome.”
Since its silence, several independent bottlers have purchased barrels from Caledonian and have launched their own. As, for example, the object of this tasting: an edition of the Boutique-y Whisky Company, which yielded 144 bottles of 33-year-old Caledonian. The distillery’s only official launch, however, was in 2015. A monumental forty-year-old grain whisky, dubbed “The Cally”, and part of Diageo’s annual Special Releases for that year.
Sensorially, the Boutique-y Whisky Company 29-year-old Caledonian is rathes smooth and has a great influence of wood. There are notes of caramel, vanilla and coconut. In fact, a lot of coconut. It is a single grain that shows that grain whiskies can be exceptional and as complex as a good malt whisky. And a bonus – in addition to the wonderful whisky – there is a beautiful bottle. And a name we love (if you know what we mean), I don’t know why.
CALEDONIAN 33 YEARS OLD THE BOUTIQUE-Y WHISKY COMPANY
Type: Single grain scotch whiskey – 33 years
Aroma: vanilla, coconut, yellow fruits.
Flavor: very light and fruity, with coconut, salted caramel and vanilla. Medium finish, sweet and fruity.