Review: The Exceptional Grain – Blended Grain Scotch Whisky
Grain whisky fans can get excited. Here’s a new blended grain whisky that’s whipped up from some really old stock — by some industry pros. Don’t be confused by the label — “Sutcliffe & Son” — this is a limited edition from Don Sutcliffe at our own Craft Distillers in Ukiah, California. Here’s the official word:
[The Exceptional is a] … small batch Scotch Whisky created by Don Sutcliffe, managing director of Craft Distillers and 35-year veteran of distilled spirits marketing, in collaboration with Willie Phillips, for 23 years managing director of The Macallan. A blend of remarkable aged grain whiskies, including a barrel of 30-year-old from the Carsebridge Distillery, long since closed. Finished in first-fill sherry casks.
Big cereal notes attack the nose, with an undercurrent of sherry and citrus. As can often be the case with grain whiskies, it’s a bit tough to sink your teeth into at first, those toffee- and caramel-scented cereal notes really muscling everything else out of the way. There’s some essence of mint, jasmine, and coal dust that phases in and out while sipping this spirit, but the finish remains stuck with the granary. Drying and a touch dusty, it’s almost stark in its austerity and simplicity, until finally The Exceptional Grain lets go of its grip and releases just a hint of sweetness at the very end to soften things up. It’s an intriguing whisky, but one that takes some warming up to.
86 proof. 1500 bottles produced.
Also of note: An Exceptional Malt and Exceptional Blend are currently in the works for release this year.