Yorkshire based Independent bottler Claxtons Spirits have featured quite regularly on my site. I’ve always been impressed by their releases, not just in terms of price but in terms of quality too.
This collection of recent releases include single cask releases from Auchentoshan, The English Whisky Co, MacDuff, two Glen Keiths and a Glen Moray.
Auchentoshan, IB (Claxtons) 26 y.o, 54.1%abv, official sample (available here)
This particular Auchentoshan was distilled in 1991 and was matured in a sherry hogshead.
Initially it feels a little woody with some nice chocolate and new leather notes. There are some fruity notes here, notably strawberries and a good hint of tobbacco. Underneath there is a slightly earthy element.
As with the nose it is pleasantly fruity. Redcurrants and perhaps blackcurrants. Hedgerow jam if you will. There is a wave of vanilla here and there but there is a strong drying and tannic spice creeping in as it turns ever so slightly buttery.
The oak returns for the finish but does not dominate or overpower. There are some great chocolate notes here but it is definitely dark chocolate rather than milk. Again the tannins are strong reminiscent of black tea. The leather of the nose makes a reappearance with a small twist of pepper.
I really enjoyed this. Its a bit of a odd sherry bomb in the way that it feels like a light spirit in a heavy finish. It feels quite light in the mouth at all times but has taken much from its sherry maturation. Very drinkable indeed.
English Whisky Co, IB, (Claxtons) 6y.o, 60.5%abv, official sample (available here)
This English Whisky Co expression was distilled in 2011 and has spent 6 years in a rum cask.
Appearance: Golden syrup in colour and leaves quick and thin legs.
The nose is light with elements of powdered sugar, foamy banana sweets, vanilla and a light touch of green apple. There is a touch of lemon juice somewhere here too. Very sweet.
Light and zesty here with quite a malty backbone and a definite hit of custard cream biscuits. There is a refreshing burst of vanilla with some apricots and light wood popping up. I couldn’t quite pinpoint it but there is a certain underlying ‘funk’ here that i just couldn’t place, but once I had noticed it I couldn’t let it go.
On the finish there are some drying spices I wasn’t expecting after such a sweet start. There is quite a creamy taste here too, which is quite pleasant. The mouthfeel is a little on the thin side and the finish just cliff-edges and disappears rather suddenly.
Not so keen on this one. The rum cask has certainly lent an interesting sweetness to the dram, however there is the lingering funk and the cliff edge finish that leaves me wanting a little more from this dram.
Glen Keith, IB, (Claxtons) 22y.o, 49.2%abv, official sample (available here)
This particular expression was matured in a refill hogshead for 22 years.
Appearance: Light Gold, thick legs and slow drops.
The nose is initially zesty and malty with strong hints of lemongrass and over -ripe pears. There are some raisins and banana bread notes, there is a slight hint of pear drops and a faint but perceptible soft oak element.
Orchard fruits, lime juice and some vanilla mix with a white wine crispness to give a fantastic fresh feeling. There is a string hint of apples, which seem to alternate from red to green.
Amongst the gentle wood there are some lovely touches of tobacco, soft spices and a gentle pepperiness.
Light, fresh and zesty. Cracking stuff.
and while we are here lets compare it to the other Glen Keith in the collection…
Glen Keith, IB, (Claxtons) 23y.o, 51%abv, official sample (available here)
This one was matured in a bourbon barrel and was distilled in 1994.
Lightly coppered with thick, medium quick legs.
Vanilla, sultanas, oak and touches of light brown sugar mingle alongside red apple and some old furniture polish.
There are a few woody notes initially which are on the verge of being overpowering. The apples and vanilla return but there is a slight leathery element here too. Quite spiced with solid cinnamon notes and perhaps even some mild allspice. The abv seems a little higher than it actually is so a few drops of water and it is definitely improving.
The wood is softer and the calming vanilla emerges. Soft scoop ice cream (for those who remember it) and a twist of gentle ginger. Given time there is a faint but perceptible butteriness emerging.
Tangy and perhaps even mildly orangey. The spices (after the addition of our water) are gentle and warming here. Little bit of butter pops up here too.
Decent dram on its own but opens up, softens and improves massively with a little water. Takes a little time but it grows on you.
MacDuff, IB, (Claxtons) 14y.o, 55.9%abv, official sample (available here)
This MacDuff was distilled in 2003 and spent 14 years in a Sherry Butt.
Golden straw in colour, medium to thick legs.
Green fruits, pineapple leaves, syrupy fruit cocktail, lemon sherbets as well as touches of tobacco and spice.
There are some rather tangy citrus intermingled with some soft chocolate and perhaps even a faint coffee note. After a while it begins to feel ever so slightly malty with a faint wisp of sulphur mixed with a mild floral note.
There is quite a strong wood influence here. A resin infused oaky dryness prevails over some spices and a tannic twist.
Bit on the average side. Pleasant enough but not exceptional.
Glen Moray, IB, (Claxtons) 10y.o, 54.5%abv, official sample, (available here)
Matured for 10 years in a first fill bourbon barrel. Distilled in November 2011.
Lightly golden with thick slow legs.
The nose initially is all about that vanilla, very fresh and clean with a tangy and fruity undertone. There are hints of Battenberg cake, crisp green apples and the slightest touch of fruit cocktail. A faint sweetness comes and goes in amount the custard powder and the faint honey.
Again there is vanilla but it is not long before the palate opens up. There are raisins, crumble topping, butter and as well as some faint muscovado sugar. Given time and a few drops of water then the fruitier side emerges. Tinned pineapple, custard and a little white chocolate appear. 54.5% is a bit higher than my usual preferred range so a few drops of water and it opens up beautifully.
There is a definite turn to the spiced side here. The palate left a sweet taste but the finish becomes ever so slightly drying. Some tangy oak, pear drops and a sprinkle of cinnamon on soft or perhaps even warm melted butter.
Expressions like this are precisely the reason I love bourbon cask matured whisky.
Normally I’m a refill kind of guy but this…
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