I was privileged enough to go to the Toronto Whisky Society’s recent tasting, in which we were able to serve five different high end malts, all of which are available at the Kensington Wine Market, where a member was able to pick it up and bring it back to us.
Much like horror movies and going to team training exercises there’s an element of mystery and confusion with our next malt. Who will survive, and who will hate their life by the end? Who will be psychologically scarred? And will the two people who have sex first be the first to drop out?
Speyside 43 1973 The Whisky Agency is a mystery malt. While trying this, it was hinted at that this was brewed by Norman Bates… No, wait, I’m screwing up reality and my metaphor. It is hinted that this was Glenfarclas at one point, however either on purpose or by mistake the name didn’t keep up with the malt.
Oh, and it’s old as fuck. So let’s see if this is a trust fall or an ax murderer. I’ll let you decide which is worse.
Price: $619.99 CAD at Kensington Wine Market
Cask Type: Hogshead
Colour: 5Y 9/6
Nose: Fermented bean curd, smoked honey, mead funk, grapefruit, honey on toast with butter
Yes, I was told at the time that the initial nose was fermented bean curd. Then I went home and bought said fermented bean curd from one of the many Asian food markets near my house. And yeah, that was the smell.
There’s a lot of funk. There’s heat, somehow. Not spicy, but actual feeling of heat from fermentation or the feel of toast. There’s a lot of honey here, but it’s not just floral and sweet. It’s tied together honey with smoke, or mead.
Taste: Honey ham, candied almonds, chili chocolate, nectarine syrup, have a lemon pie that I actually enjoy for the first time*
Yes, I know, I know. It’s impossible for you to step into my shoes and have that amazing lemon pie that I had. It’s ridiculous. You can’t relate to that. Thus the star there.
So I want you to think of a baked good you don’t like. Yes, this is 100% first world privilege kicking in. Stay with me. Have one? Now imaging someone served you it, specially, going out of there way to find it. And you have some because you’re not a douchbag. And it was amazing. Now make that lemon pie. Boom, amazing.
There’s also a thick mouthfeel, lots of stone fruit, wonderful complexity, and a meatiness mixed with the aforementioned honey. A delight to drink.
Finish: Sea air, Normandy butter, caramel cashew chocolate, tangerine mousse, green apple, banana bread, being in a honey house
Yeah, being in a honey house. Go find one and go in. After asking to come in. Don’t play Pokemon Go and Trespass, or just Trespass. Unless you live in a country where that’s allowed. Then you do you.
Lovely butter notes that are huge. Wonderfully complexity. Nothing takes over too much. It’s chocolate in all the good ways, it’s still funky, and the honey ties it all together. Not to mention this finish lasts so long you need a break afterward.
Conclusion: Unlike a team training exercise, or any Alien film after “Aliens”, this did not let down. I’ve had old as hell malts, even recently, that weren’t amazing. And frankly I somewhat expected that going in.
It takes time, water, and effort to appreciate this dram. Don’t pour it if you don’t have a few hours to enjoy it. It’s complex, insane, memory inducing, and tasty. Not to mention affordable. It’s hitting that hard to explain, no one will believe you, Bill Murray totally showed up and stole my fry level.
This is a must try, and if I had the money, a must buy.
Scotch review #721, Speyside review #203, Whisky Network review #1192