So last weekend (the first weekend of December), Durham had it’s annual Christmas market. This is a great event where a huge marquee pops up on palace green (our world heritage site) between the Cathedral (where I graduated) and the castle (where I lived ten years ago as a student). The marquee contains dozens of stalls selling christmassy food, drink and crafts.
One of the first stalls was a stall for the company that makes sheep dip, pigs nose and Edinburgh Gin. This company, Spencerfield Spirits, are a small company making a handful of craft spirits. Check them out. They make an excellent Gin, which I would review if this were a gin blog and I had any experience tasting gin, and a handful of blended and blended malt whiskies. Anyway, whisky, at a christmas market, brilliant idea! More indie bottlers and craft distillers should do this.
Here is Jane Nicol, one of the directors of the company, running this market stall with her husband (also a director). I find that so impressive. As a consumer, the personal touch really means a lot, and almost always leads to me parting with my cash…
I’ve tried Sheep dip and pig’s nose before, but havn’t had any to review yet and wasn’t really planning to buy any (though I was tempted by the twin pack of miniatures they were selling). I went to see Jane intending to hear how sheep dip were doing and to try the Gin, because I’d heard good things.
But then Jane said that they had a new whisky. Sheep Dip Amoroso Oloroso 1999. And quite the fascinating story it is too.
This is a blended scotch whisky, at least it was. It was 3 year old sheep dip, blended whisky that was then sent to Jerez where they put it into fresh oloroso sherry butts for 9 years. So, first things first, it’s not scotch. That has to be matured in Scotland the whole time. It’s also an unusual blend, because it been matured as a blend, in what are amazing sherry casks.
So I was pretty interested in trying this. One of the problems with trying whisky at a market or in many shops is that they use those mini plastic mouthwash size cap covers to give you samples. They can’t use glasses of course, with so many people coming by, so they use these. The problem for the experienced drinker is that they are almost impossible to nose from and capture any flavours.
Anyway, I gave this a cursory sniff, intending to get onto the tasting and really work it around the mouth. But I was blown away. Even in this awful plastic none-glass, the notes leapt out screaming “I’m one of the most unusual whiskies you’ve come across!” The taste bowled me over, I bought it and I now wish I’d bought 3. Here are the dramstats:
- ABV 41.8%
- Price £45 (at the stall)
- 3 year old blend matured for further 9 years in Sherry barrels
Nose: Wow! Is this really whisky? If this was in a blue glass, I might guess a new flavour of Baileys irish cream! Milk chocolate, amaretto (almond), juicy raisin, Nesquik chocolate milkshake, biscotti, egg custard tart. Truly wonderful!
Palate: Rich chocolate milkshake with almonds and raisin. Raisin-biscuit yorkie bar.
Finish: Nesquik with extra melted chocolate, raisins, fades like ovaltine.
Verdict: This is really terrific stuff. Unusual, delightful. At £45 it’s a frickin’ steal. Sheep dip’s last special edition was sold at £45 and is now worth more than £90. I wish I’d bought 3! Why didn’t I buy 3? WHY? After I’ve posted this I’m going to buy 2 more. I’ll drink one and, when the other is worth over £90, I’ll drink that too. This will be my Christmas Eve dram this year!