The number of undisclosed single malts doesn’t seem to be coming down anytime soon. We’ve got two very different Secret Speyside whiskies today. One relatively young and peated from our German friends of the Wu Dram Clan. The other much older and unpeated from Belgian independent bottler The Whisky Jury.
While bottlers sometimes may not be allowed to print the distillery name, there are countless tricks to bypass such restrictions. As a result, it’s not too difficult to figure out where either of these two Secret Speysiders were distilled.
Having said that, I needed help from Wu Dram Clan co-founder Boris Borissov to decipher his A Speyside Distillery 2009 13 Years. The clue is right there, but I didn’t immediately recognise the illustration of BenRiach Distillery. I’ve driven past it numerous times during trips into Speyside, but the distillery looks quite different from the A941. Certainly not as picturesque as on the label.
One look at the font of the Secret Speyside 1990 31 Years from The Whisky Jury should be enough. The font is the big giveaway. Its clearly inspired by Glenfarclas, the distillery that once upon a time was behind practically all undisclosed independent bottlings. It could be a coincidence, but me thinks not.
A Speyside Distillery 2009 13 Years (53.2%, Wu Dram Clan, C#200929)
Nose: There’s a distinct malty backbone that supports the fruity core and peat influence. Smoked barley husks, apples, pear skin and sea shells, alongside some greener, almost broccoli-like notes. But also sweet Manuka honey, charred lemons and earthy angelica root. Taste: Warming, embracing wood smoke with the peated cereals very much at centre stage. In some ways pretty close to peated wash. Slightly dry with a pinch of black pepper and salt, but also lemons and fudge. Water brings out slivers of fennel. Finish: Medium to long. Lingering spices and a bit of chili heat. Barley sugars too.
Somewhat abrasive at times. The palate, not the nose. But also rather unique and never boring. Not quite my style, but maybe worth exploring if this seems more in your wheelhouse.
Secret Speyside 1990 31 Years (51.7%, The Whisky Jury, C# Twj-Gl-1990-3)
Nose: Waxy, custardy and creamy with touches of nougat, marzipan and cherry syrup, as well as hints of clementines and apricots. Also soft hints of toffee, quince jelly, leather and wheat biscuits. Some macadamias to finish. Taste: Rich and creamy mouthfeel with raisins, warming spices, a touch of damp oak and even eucalyptus. Subtle notes of peach, orange and walnuts linger in the background. Finish: Long with sweet spices, honey and a whiff of resin.
An easy-drinking and very friendly, older single malt that offers more than enough complexity to keep one interested for a very long time. This Secret Speyside 1990 31 Years from The Whisky Jury is mature yet approachable, striking a delicious balance.