A Spirited Evening


On a dreary evening at the end of April, we welcomed 75 Cellar Plan members to the Napoleon Cellar at No. 3 St. James’s Street for the first Cellar Plan Fine Whisky tasting. Berrys’ has a long history of selling whiskies, most notably with Cutty Sark blended whisky, but has been a long standing independent bottler, particularly of single cask, rare whiskies and this was a great introduction to these spanning four decades of a gamut of differing styles.

First up was a selection of single malts from The Glenrothes, a leading Speyside distillery, including the flagship Select Reserve, as well as the 1995 and 1988 single vintage expressions, all introduced with typical flair by Glenrothes Brands Heritage Director, Ronnie Cox. The 1995 was the first Vintage specifically laid down with the intention of being bottled as mature Glenrothes and it did not disappoint with the hallmark spiciness that this great distillery often shows. Ronnie describes the vintage as perfect for post dinner “when the conversation flows.”

Moving on a table and into the capable hands of London Shop spirits expert, Rob Whitehead, were a selection of whiskies that are harder to group, namely Single Grain, Lowland and some Highland bottlings. The pick of this diverse group was the oldest whisky on show, the 1973 Teaninich, bottled in 2010. Found in the North Eastern Highlands near Cromarty Firth, this showed a real depth and complexity that only age could have provided, with plenty of vanilla and liquorice shining through. A cerebral Scotch for enjoying next to a roaring log fire!

The next table was a selection of Speyside single malts, the largest part of the Berrys’ Own portfolio and home to some fabulous distilleries in the Spey valley. From the oldest to the youngest whisky of the night, the 2000 Cragganmore (bottled 2011) oozed classic Speyside characteristics; bright citrus and gentle sweet spices. A little peat smoke and honey bring the whole whisky together. Probably best enjoyed as an aperitif pre-dinner.

The final table was the whiskies of Islay, renowned for their intense power and peaty smokiness and guests were guided through these by Berrys’ Own Whisky Buyer, Doug McIvor. The 1991 Bruichladdich (bottled 2011) was a standout and is a gentler style of Islay although it still carries the peaty, salinity the island’s distilleries share. Soft fruit with a savoury texture make this ideal as a post dinner dram.

We plan to host future whisky tasting events, do please let your Account Manager know if you would like to attend.

– Fergus Stewart