Did I already complain about all the undisclosed single malts that are released these days? I think I did. But here we are again. As a whisky drinker you can’t seem to escape these Secret whatevers. I can’t much blame the independent bottlers. They’re just trying to find the best possible juice to release.
So, I won’t hold it against Roger’s Whisky Company and will take a clean, honest look at his latest release, a Secret Speyside 2013 8 Years. Also, in this case I actually do know where the contents have been distilled, because there’s a hint on the label. But I’ll get back to that in a minute.
First some more thoughts about the insistence of certain distilleries to ‘protect’ their brand name. Highland Park is a good example, as is Glenmorangie, Lagavulin or The Macallan. In their cases it’s actually somewhat defensible. They’ve established a luxury product that claims to be exclusive. I get why they wouldn’t want to have to explain why they sometimes also sell hundreds of casks to third parties.
But in many other cases it’s a shame and honestly the wrong tactic. For example, why would Clynelish, a distillery with no single malt presence to speak of, wouldn’t want people to know that many tasty Secret Highland single malts were made by them?
Same for Glenrothes. Sure, they actually have a proper core range, but connoisseurs have long been lamenting the vast quality difference between independent releases and official bottlings. And yet, many of the recent undisclosed Speysiders are rumoured to have been distilled by Glenrothes.
So, about the identity of Roger’s Whisky Company Secret Speyside. There is indeed a hint on the label. And it’s not the 36 patterns on either side of the label referring to the 36 stills of one particularly famous Speyside distillery, as was suggested by one clever Whiskybase user. Instead it’s a particular shape of a particular vessel referenced somewhere in the middle of the label. It’s a distillery I mentioned above. And that’s all I will say about it.
Secret Speyside 2013 8 Years (56.1%, Roger’s Whisky Company, C#5254)
Nose: Floral with touches of candle wax and melted butter, but also a slight lactic note and some Greek yoghurt. A whiff of tinned pineapple and cured lemons followed by galia melons. Somewhat metallic and sour at times, but it’s mostly kept in check. Pretty singular and fairly enticing. Taste: Notes of pineapple as well as apricots and jackfruit. Then a big hit of cloves and chili heat, followed by candied orange peel and orange blossom water. Finish: Lingering cloves and some drying tannins. Lychees and lemon yoghurt. Medium in length.
It’s a bit of a strange one, this Secret Speyside. That’s not to say I don’t think it is any good; my rating says otherwise. What I mean is that this probably won’t be a crowd pleaser. It’s different and not your average young bourbon-forward, vanilla’d single malt. An engaging whisky and fascinating pick by Roger, offered at a fair price.