“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poetry.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke
Spring is upon us and true to the words of Rilke, nature has, once again, been set ablaze with unparalleled beauty. A season that never fails to surprise us, spring is a more than welcome guest after a cold winter. Sunny days, blooming buds, clear blue skies, and a sweet breeze brings to mind a sentiment of rebirth. It seems almost unfair that the season be such a short one. But that is how nature is and the best we can do is to revel in every bit of its glory. And what better way to preserve the exuberant spirit of spring than a dram of whisky.
Whisky, as we know it, exists outside the boundaries of time. A cask of well-aged whisky has seen seasons change as saplings turn into trees and go bare from winter’s grip and play out the cycle all over. Whisky is a constant in an ever-evolving world. It is only fitting, then, that such a testament to age be a point of reminiscence for the childlike nature of spring. But what would a whisky that celebrates spring taste like?
The best possible way of answering that question would be to say, “Like spring”. Mapping the taste to each individuals versions of spring (although an exciting thought) is just not possible. But all the lovely emotions that come flooding to our minds are somehow attached to certain unique qualities of spring. For example, the smell of unripe fruits might indulge each person into their own world of imaginations. So the answer had been really simple all along. Let the springtime flavours play their little acts of wonder within you, as you will.
When we talk about springtime flavours, we are almost immediately transported to a flushing meadow with a floral freshness in the air. Spring marks the beginning of the seasonal cycle and so do spring time whiskies. A springtime whisky is ideally suitable as an aperitif, a beginning to the day. Spring whiskies may have notes of citrus fruits or grass. For the nose something that goes extremely well with spring time is the smell of flowers. Keeping these in mind, let us take a look at the drams that will help you usher in this year’s spring.
Armorik Breton Single Malt Armagnac Cask Finish: This French single malt whisky is a doubly matured in refill bourbon and ex-Dartigalongue casks. Yellow gold in color, a dram of this liquid carries hints of banana and lilac returning to rye before finishing with a sweet floral touch.
Glenmorangie Milsean: This is perhaps one of the most distinct spring time whiskies. Milsean (Scottish Gaelic) literally translates to ‘sweet things’. The single malt Scotch whisky has a very sweet nose with an evident measure of apricot and honey with a much needed spicy relief. The finish is again floral only longer than the Armorik.
Hibiki 12 Year-old: Japanese distilleries Hakusho, Yamazaki, and Chita bring together a blend of malt and grain whiskies in this bottle of liquid sunshine. A unique ageing method sets this Japanese whisky apart from the rest. It is aged in barrels that have been seasoned with plum wine (Umeshu) for two years. This gives it a distinct bright plum overtone.
Old Pulteney Navigator: When choosing a single malt whisky for spring, Old Pulteney’s Navigator transcends all stereotypes. The Navigator with its floral nose and orange and honey riddled palate, surprises you with a nice seawater finish.
Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon: This particular bourbon whiskey makes use of an exceptionally high corn mash bill while keeping low on rye. A sip from a dram of this dram has a fruity-floral character with notes of plum, fig and apricot. The palate is a balance between the sweetness from coconut and green apple and the subtlety of leather. The finish is a nice spicy blend of cinnamon and clove.