One of the best values in Scotch, Speyburn, is out with a new U.S.-only, no-age-statement release called Companion Cask. Per the website, the whisky is “a tribute to the enduring connection and rich traditions shared by Speyside and Kentucky.” To that end, Companion Cask is aged exclusively in ex-bourbon casks (reportedly from Buffalo Trace Distillery). The creation doesn’t differ significantly from Arranta, Speyburn’s other U.S.-only, no-age-statement offering which is bottled at the exact same proof and aged only in first-fill ex-bourbon casks. The distinction here is that that Arranta is a vatting of many different barrels while Companion Cask is a Single Cask release, with retailers each selecting their own unique cask. I recently sampled a Companion Cask chosen by Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (Cask #359). Thoughts follow.
The nose on this one is bright and airy with fresh vanilla bean, candied lemon peel, plenty of malt, and subtler undertones of cinnamon and toffee. That lightness continues into the palate. This is clearly a pretty young whisky, but it seems to get a big lift from the bourbon barrel. On the palate, it’s thinner than the standard 10-year-old offering and initially candy sweet with a big burst of bubblegum that eventually shows some brown sugar, sawdust, a delicate spiced peanut note, and orange blossom honey. It’s well-balanced with plenty of bourbon influence that never quite overtakes the classic Speyburn character.
Calling this a medium finish (as they do on the website) is a bit generous. The notes that do linger — mostly caramel chews and drying oak — aren’t nearly as sweet as the entry flavors and provide a more savory and rich conclusion to an otherwise delicate dram.
A single cask single malt for under $40? Yep. Speyburn continues to find new ways to provide plenty of whisky bang for your buck.
B+ / $39 / speyburn.com