Part of Steve Rush’s enormously successful series of tweet tastings (follow him @thewhiskywire), this tasting was the second time the tasters had got hold of part of the Cutty Sark range of whiskies. This time, we would be tasting the blended whiskies Cutty Sark, Cutty Storm, Cutty 12 year old, Cutty 18 years old.
Cutty Sark is a very successful brand worldwide, but it is one of those blends that is not fashionable in the UK at the moment. Take a look at the blends in my local supermarkets and Cutty isn’t there. It’s very rare to spot it in a pub (unless it stocks hundreds of whiskies) and if you want to drink it here, you’ll have to go to a whisky shop or onto the internet.
I find that this is a shame because I like the design and I like the history. Of course, I buy most of my whisky at specialist retailers, but it would still be nice if more people over here were exposed to this excellent brand.
Before I report on the drams, it would be rude not to talk about the history I enjoy so much. Cutty Sark is the name of a tea clipper, “the fastest and most famous of all clipper ships”, back in the 19th century. There is always a picture of the ship on the bottle (I like ships) and, for me at least, this picture always invokes the fun part of the history.
During Prohibition, captain Bill McCoy (of a different ship) used to bootleg cutty sark whisky into America. He was teetotal and the whisky he bootlegged remained uncut. Hence the expression ‘The real McCoy”. Cool huh?
OK I’ve waxed lyrical about this brand long enough. Time to actually taste and review their whiskies. Here are the dramstats:
Cutty Sark Blended Scotch Whisky
Nose: Initially sickly peat turns zesty, with honey and pears.
Palate: Sweet arrival with vanilla, crisp barley and a very mild smoke.
Finish: Crisp, short and pleasant.
Verdict: This is very light and quaffable. A whisky I’d enjoy in the summer or just after work. It’s an entry level blend to be sure, but it’s definitely not over priced. I shall be picking up a bottle for the summer and don’t expect it to last very long when I do!
Cutty Sark Storm
Nose: Thick honey, touch of cinnamon and pepper, sherry, tabasco sauce and muscavado.
Palate: Treacle tart (made with real treacle not 100% golden syrup), bitter dark sugar and ginger cake.
Finish: Liquorice, rich muscavado, black jacks, coffee cream quality street.
Verdict: Delicious. Sherried but not fruity and I really like it. No qualms about the price. However, I may save up for one of the other cutty expressions…
Cutty Sark 12yo Blended Scotch Whisky
Nose: Sherried and spicy. There is a note of ragu, which I really enjoy. Salty, touch of smoke but light, old christmas cake, coriander, cardamom.
Palate: Briney, raisin juice, spicy with coriander.
Finish: Waves of grape and layers of raisin and barley keep coming. Excellent finish with a hint of that ragu from the nose!
Verdict: Tasty and different, enjoyable. I’m saving my money up though for the next dram..
Cutty Sark 18yo Blended Scotch Whisky
Nose: Chocolate, coffee beans, rich dark sherry, plums and jamaican ginger cake with almonds and soft brown sugar. This is an exceptional nose. Wonderful.
Palate: Pepper, ginger cake, very black cherries.
Finish: Dark cherry, long. Bitterness of very dark chocolate and freshness. Reminds me of Bendicts after dinner mints. Wonderful!
Verdict: As the last sip of my sample is gone and that dark chocolate mint note fades with the black cherry, I feel very sad that it’s gone. It’s like a blender has interviewed my palate for days before crafting a blend just to bowl me over. It is undoubtedly true that whisky is a drink meant to be shared, but ultimately the experience we have with each one is personal. This is the best blend I have tried. Thank you Cutty Sark! I will be picking up a 70cl bottle and I hope it tastes just the same as this sample.
Cutty Sark blend some terrific whisky. The standard blend is a great quaffable summer dram and the 18 is a really rich christmas treat. They might not be as popular as they should be in the UK, but they’ve made a convert out of me. Go Cutty!