Reference Series – The First Educational Whisky
There’s a new funky experiment in town. I say new, it’s been out for a wee while, but I’m catching up, and for those that missed the initial announcement then this is a good follow up! It’s from those crazy people at… what… I have no idea which brand to pick… Master Of Malt / Drinks by the Dram / Blended Whisky Company / Maverick Drinks / That Boutique-y Whisky Company / Reference Series. More brands than you can shake a fist at… however you know who I mean I’m sure, basically that Ben chap.
Here’s the PR text which explains probably better than I can… Once you’ve read it, please find my tasting notes of the initial three releases at the bottom! 🙂
New whisky bottler ‘Reference Series’ has launched the very first range of educational blended malt Scotch whiskies.
A ground-breaking range of educational whiskies launched today, known as Reference Series. These blended malt Scotch whiskies not only enable drinkers to learn the ins and outs of whisky production techniques, but also taste superb in their own right, making the learning process thoroughly enjoyable.
This project is the first of its kind and truly unique in the marketplace.
The initial range of Reference Series comprises three blended whiskies which progress from I to III with increasing levels of old, rare and more characterful spirit in the mix. This will show whisky lovers the progression of flavour profile that comes with the ageing process – a hotly disputed topic which can be clearly understood and appreciated in a controlled manner.
Reference Series will launch with whiskies made with the following ingredients: A – A youthful vibrant blended malt, B – An older, more complex, spicy blended malt, C – An old single malt, D – A very, very old single malt.
The proportions of these are as follows:
Reference Series I – A (83%), B (9%), C (4%), D (4%)
Reference Series II – A (67%), B (13%), C (10%), D (10%)
Reference Series III – A (36%), B (10%), C (19%), D (35%)
The range will expand further to showcase particular ingredients or production techniques on top of this initial trio, which will be indicated in the name. For example, 1.2 might be Reference Series I, with more peat in the blend, or 2.1 might be Reference Series II with more sherry in the mix. These additional showcase editions will be available across the range, allowing whisky drinkers to sample the effects of these techniques and ingredients.
‘Reference Series’ is named for the fact one can taste the later editions then “refer” back to the original I, II & III for comparison.
Over time, the series will continue to expand to offer more and more combinations of ingredients and techniques, eventually growing to become the ultimate learning resource to truly understand the production and creation of whisky.
The entire range will be available in 3cl bottles from Drinks by the Dram (available for purchase at Master of Malt), so each whisky can be sampled without purchase of a full-sized bottle.
My reviews of their three base whiskies are as follows:
Reference Series I
50 cl – 47.5% abv RRP £36.95
Colour: Very light straw, very clear.
Nose: Light, zingy, barley, citrus and new make mixed with light white wine and slight toffeeness.
Palate: Similar to the nose, it’s zingy, spicy, slightly hot, but light and fruity with barley notes and some butter and sweetness.
Finish: Heat on your chest, sweet barley and touches of toffee and a hint of smoke. Not too long lasting.
Thoughts: Seems fairly young, but also quite drinkable.
Reference Series II
50 cl – 47.5% abv RRP £53.95
Colour: Fairly light traw
Nose: Sweet, young barley / slight new make with a little more depth, some nuts and a touch of more wintery fruits.
Palate: A little easier on your palate than 1, fairly thick and more enjoyable with more complexity. A definite sherry influence.
Finish: A much longer finish than 1, a touch more smoke and hits of older casks, by the end the younger whisky that you noticed earlier tails off. Some marmalade notes pop up along with older cask tones.
Thoughts: A dram I’m happier to spend time with than 1. You can detect younger notes but there’s enough going on to interest you. A good blend!
Reference Series III
50 cl – 47.5% abv RRP £105.95
Nose: Sophisticated and complex with lashings of fruit purée, toffee, custard, coco, nuts, sherry influence and rich old oak. Creamy butter after a while.
Palate: Gentle, with spices only building after time. Old tropical trusts, ripe banana, hints of rubber and old oak. Nice thick mouthfeel.
Finish: Sweet, long and slowly warming, a big hug. Good herbal notes going on here.
Thoughts: A dram of class, a great blend, the older components coming through really well.
Availability: All from Master of Malt.
Thanks to Master of Malt (etc) for the samples!