demeter collection ourwhisky foundation ardbeg ncnean hazelwood loch lomond crn57 atonia review

The Demeter Collection (OurWhisky x Whisky Auctioneer)

Unless you’ve been living in a permanent drunken haze of whisky, you must’ve come across the OurWhisky Foundation. This non-profit grew out of a movement started by Becky Paskin, and has since brought remarkable awareness to the inclusion and diversity of whisky makers and drinkers. The foundation’s latest project is The Demeter Collection.

This collection is a group of unique, rare whiskies from a range of brands and distilleries. Many of these are 1-of-1 bottles. Most importantly, all are made or inspired by some of the whisky industry’s most talented women. Partnering with Whisky Auctioneer, The Demeter Collection is dedicated to recognising the achievements and contributions of women in the sector.

The auction of The Demeter Collection runs until April 8th. All funds raised from the auction, including Whisky Auctioneer’s buyer’s fees, will be donated to the OurWhisky Foundation. High-profile projects of the OurWhisky Foundation include its mentorship programme, stock image library The Modern Face of Whisky and its surveyDo you even like whisky? The barriers holding back women in the industry’.

Dementer Collection Group Bar 1 scaled

The Demeter Collection consists of 19 lots, which you can still bid on here. Today I’ll be reviewing 6 whiskies from the collection. Other whiskies included in the auction, but not reviewed below, are:

  • Aberfeldy 40 Year Old
  • Arbikie Farm Experience + Hand-filled Rye Whisky
  • Cooper King Cask No. 1: Inaugural Release
  • Cotswolds Distillery One of One
  • JJ Corry x Tipperary: The Founders Bottles #1
  • Laphroaig 25 Year Old: The Bessie Williamson Story
  • SMWS Christmas on the Beach
  • Strathearn Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • The Borders Distillery IWD Quarter Cask
  • The Dalmore 44 Years Old
  • The GlenDronach 30 Year Old Single Cask
  • Wire Works Love, Sweat & Tears

Becky Paskin, founder of the OurWhisky Foundation, said: “Despite her important role within Greek mythology, Demeter remains one of the lesser-known of the Olympians, her story largely untold in popular culture. Yet her heroic tale of overcoming obstacles to support her daughter, all while sharing her knowledge and wisdom with others, embodies many similar values as the OurWhisky Foundation.

“Just like Demeter’s sidelining in pop culture, women’s contributions to whisky have been vastly under-recognised. Through the Demeter Collection we want to honour the grain goddess and tell the untold stories of women in whisky, while raising much-needed funds to enable the OurWhisky Foundation to support, recognise and empower future generations of women in the industry.”

atonia legacy sarah burgess collection demeter collection review

Atonia’s Legacy (43.7%, The Sarah Burgess Edition ‘Demeter Collection’, 2024)

Atonia’s Legacy is a series of whiskies created especially for The Demeter Collection. Each expression in this series will consist of whiskies selected by OurWhisky mentees, which are then blended by a different female master blender. This inaugural edition was created by Sarah Burgess, formerly lead whisky maker at The Macallan and current Whisky Maker at The Lakes Distillery. The first Atonia’s Legacy is a blended malt containing whiskies aged between 15 and 40 years old.

Nose: There’s a good amount of vanilla custard, accompanied by red apple peel, quinces and, slightly more in the background, an array of red fruits. It moves into a slightly darker territory after a while. Slivers of sandalwood, something dunnage-y and musty. But overall it’s a fairly vibrant, fresh malt.
Taste: The wood seems fairly present. A touch of resin, but mostly cigar boxes, more sandalwood and a sliver of rice pudding. Some gentle spices, but also dark, almost burnt caramel, a hint of filter coffee and just a whisper of smoke.
Finish: Medium length with a touch of liquorice, some leather and a faint yet sweet fruitiness.

A good and fairly modern-leaning blended malt. Not shy and the oak is slightly more present than I maybe would’ve expected. But it’s also remarkably rich and full-bodied considering its abv. Atonia’s Legacy impresses. The complexity on the palate elevates the entire experience for me.

crn57 57 years blended malt demeter collection review

CRN57° 57 Years (51%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Demeter Collection’, 2024)

The CRN57° range is usually sold exclusively at Gordon & MacPhail’s new The Cairn distillery. It refers to 57th parallel north of the equator, which is where The Cairn is located. Yet, in this case, it’s also a 57-year-old blended malt, crafted by distillery manager, Mhairi Winters, and spirit quality manager, Lizzie Haw. It consists of “three classic Speyside malts” from first- and refill sherry casks.

Nose: Opening up on beeswax, hints of teak, bung cloth and just a whisper of cough syrup. Tobacco is present, as well as lighter notes of red apple, quinces and nectarines. Most certainly a hint of sultana, then a sprinkle of cinnamon and mint, even some basil. And let’s not forget the orange zest and lemon custard. And now, after given it some more time, there’s more of a rancio, mushroom-y vibe also.
Taste: Love the oily mouthfeel. Then it’s just a tannin-rich adventure filled with bright tropical fruits and darker sherry influence. Hints of pralines, pollen, crème caramel and figs, as well as a good pinch of black pepper, liquorice and aniseed. Lovely stuff as always from Gordon & MacPhail.
Finish: Quite long. Slightly herbacious, a sliver of resin, allspice and cocoa powder.

Should we take some guesses as to the three distilleries included? Probably better not. But let’s just say this is very much in the same vein as those older Glen Grant, Glenlivet and Linkwood that Gordon & MacPhail is known for. In other words, some of the best whisky out there.

ncnean 2017 single sherry cask demeter collection

Nc’Nean 2017 (57.1%, OB ‘Demeter Collection’, C#17-302)

Fully matured in a single first-fill ex-oloroso sherry butt, this whisky was personally selected and signed by Nc’nean founder and CEO, Annabel Thomas. It is the very first of the distillery Aon single cask range from a 500-litre sherry butt. It will also be the only bottle drawn from this cask ever.

Nose: Hints of oak char and burnt toast alongside a delicious vibrancy. Slivers of zesty oranges, blackcurrants and candied raspberry. There’s a touch of raisins also, as well as meringue. Also, just the slightest, almost imperceptible, touch of sulphur.
Taste: Nice viscosity. There’s a good amount of spice. Think cloves, some nutmeg and definitely cinnamon. A tinge of passion fruit and mango too, but also a sliver of coffee and bitter chocolate.
Finish: Medium length. Here it settles somewhat. More of a sweet ‘n fruity DNA.

All about wood. Not my preferred style maybe, but I quite like it anyway. The spices on the palate can be a bit much, but this Nc’Nean 2017 is not just about the spices. There’s a fruitiness and sweetness to up the balance to a more than acceptable level.

loch lomond 30 years sonata no 3 demeter collection

Loch Lomond 30 Years Sonata No. 3 (51.1%, OB ‘Demeter Collection’, C#367)

Loch Lomond’s Sonata Collection has been selected by Loch Lomond whisky blender Ashley Smith. The set includes three 30 year old single cask whiskies. Each was distilled in Loch Lomond’s straight-necked pot stills and filled in refill bourbon casks. The only variables are the level of peat and the collection strength. Loch Lomond Sonata No. 3, which I’m reviewing here, is produced with heavily-peated spirit and a low collection strength.

Nose: A fruity elegance with subtle peat smoke and light mineral touches. There are notes of grilled lemons and tinned pineapple, as well as some camphor and beeswax. Slight whispers of menthol and some almonds too.
Taste: A classic Loch Lomond fruitiness, not far from Littlemill, despite the low collection strength. But it is counterbalanced by subtle phenols, minerals, some soot and smoked apple. Also a whisper of mead, as well as pinch of pepper. Kind of brilliant.
Finish: Medium to long. Slightly mentholated, somewhat medicinal and with a twist of lemon.

Truly excellent. Where has Loch Lomond been hiding this stuff? There’s an Inchmoan 1992 from a few years ago that’s been getting great press. I’ve never tried it, but I can’t imagine it being much better than this Loch Lomond Sonata No. 3.

Ardbeg Twenty demeter collection

Ardbeg Twenty 20 Years (50.2%, OB ‘Demeter Collection’, 2024)

Another 1-of-1, this Ardbeg Twenty was created by master blender Gillian MacDonald. She’s been working in the whisky industry for 20 years and the Ardbeg Twenty is her retrospective. She described once sampling the Ardbeg Uigedail as “an awakening.” The Ardbeg Twenty is an homage and has matured in first-fill ex-Oloroso and ex-Bourbon casks.

Nose: The definition of sweet peat. A smouldering whisky with notes of embers, soot and smoked paprika powder, as well as farmyard, smoked raspberries, a tinge of speculoos, and dried shellfish. Also slivers of fudge and maybe even some Demerara rum.
Taste: Slivers of peat and iodine, but mostly warming wood smoke, kippers and tar. The highlights are notes of glazed beef, blackcurrants and oranges. And let’s not forget the touches of mint and liquorice.
Finish: Long. Soft spices, hints of asphalt and even some figs.

Just exemplary. Truly like an elevated version of the Ardbeg Uigedail, although it’s been a while since I’ve tasted it, so that might be the power of suggestion. Regardless, this Ardbeg is triumphantly good.

house of hazelwood 31 years the long view demeter collection review

The Long View 31 Years (49.2%, House of Hazelwood ‘Demeter Collection’, 2024)

House of Hazelwood has featured on these pages before, but this 1-of-1 bottle was created exclusively for the Demeter Collection. Blender Eilidh Muir selected a base of maturing stocks used to create the Hazelwood Centennial blend in honour of Janet Sheed Roberts 100th birthday. She added two further parcels of aged grain whisky, one from ex-bourbon barrels and the other from ex-sherry butts.

Nose: A touch of nail varnish alongside honey and candied oranges, as well as fragrant floral elements and dried fruits. Then slivers of tobacco, buttery pastries and Maraschino cherries. Elegant, sweet and highly accessible.
Taste: Creamy mouthfeel with gentle tannins, as well as a pinch of pepper, meringue and toffee. Also whispers of burnt toast, cappuccino and even fennel. Maybe even a drop of smoke? I’m not sure.
Finish: Medium length. Hints of molasses, red berries and allspice. Ending of notes of marzipan.

The nose of The Long View 31 Years is the height of elegance. Surprisingly, the palate is much more vibrant and lively, although this blend's age is never in doubt. A fruity and floral base with oak spices slightly taking over, but never to the detriment of this House of Hazelwood spirit.

Samples provided by Whisky Auctioneer

Power your creative ideas with pixel-perfect design and cutting-edge technology. Create your beautiful website with Zeen now.