The fourth release in an award-winning series of single cask whisky bottlings inspired by the legends of Scottish Folklore, from independent bottler and Scottish whisky specialist Cask 88, is announced as a 31 Year Old Orkney Single Malt 1988 (70cl; 45.8% ABV; £950 RRP), distilled at Highland Park and matured in a refill sherry cask, before finishing in an ex-Rivesaltes fortified French wine hogshead. Available for general sale from 19:30 GMT on Thursday 10 December, the latest release tells the tale of the Orcadian Nuckelavee, a monstrous creature of deep sea and darkness, appearing as the flayed body of a horse fused with the torso of a man.
“Our Scottish Folklore Series was conceived to showcase the very finest of Scotland’s single malts, and the selection so far truly lives up to the original vision,” said Cask 88 Director Patrick Costello. “The double finishing of this whisky gives it a deep and complex flavour profile that we feel is well suited to capture the brooding darkness of the Nuckelavee.”
The 31 Year Old Orkney Single Malt 1988: Nuckelavee joins a series which boasts a strong performance record in international awards. The first release in this series was a 45 Year Old Ben Nevis 1972 Single Malt (70cl; 43.2% ABV; £650 RRP), represented by the Cù-Sìth from Scottish folklore, a mythical hound with a murderous bark which is said to stalk the highlands of Scotland. This whisky picked up gold medals at the 2018 International Wine and Spirits Competition in the “Highland Single Malt 30-45 Year Old” category and the “Design & Media Awards” category, and a gold medal at the 2018 Independent Bottlers Challenge.
The second bottle in the series was a 22 Year Old Arran 1997 Single Malt (70cl; 42.4% ABV; £200 RRP), capturing the mercurial and seductive nature of Scotland’s shape-shifting selkie, which was awarded a gold medal at the Spirits Business Scotch Whisky Masters, and sold out within days of release. The third release was a 19 Year Old Laphroaig 2001 Single Malt (70cl; 53.9% ABV; £475 RRP), finished in a red wine barrique and telling the story of Cailleach Beira - Scotland’s Winter Queen and Mother of Gods. This release brought home a silver award at the 2020 International Wine & Spirit Competition, scoring 94 points in the Islay whisky category.
Intended to bond the stories of Scotland’s unique history with the very finest expressions of its spirit, the Cask 88 Scottish Folklore series will consist of six unique, single cask expressions, each featuring a mythical entity who has roamed the highlands, stalked the lowlands or inhibited the islands. “People often speak of terroir in whisky these days. In Scotland, every patch of turf has a connection to a shadowy figure or two from folklore,” said Cask 88 Head of Content Sam Laing. “It's been so wonderful to learn the old stories about the places our whisky comes from.”
The 31 Year Old Orkney Single Malt 1988: Nuckelavee from the Cask 88 Scottish Folklore Series will be available to purchase through the Cask 88 website for worldwide delivery, and in person from Cask 88 Sales Managers globally.
Nose The first whiff is perfumed and woody, like camphor and sandalwood. The almondy essence of Amaretto follows, but drier. As you get closer, however, sweeter notes of dried prunes and freeze-dried strawberries lurk.
Taste It leads with sweetness: a thick layer of marzipan icing and raspberry jam, slowly peeled away from a fruitcake. A hint of smoke rolls in, like a roast dinner charring in another room. Then the sweetness changes, becoming more savoury like Mexican candies. Tamarind candy with a soft dusting of salt and chilli powder, followed by a cinnamon red-hot.
Finish The finish is, unsurprisingly, long. Depending on where you focus your attention you may find sweetness, savour, smoke, spice or a soupcon of sea salt. Enjoy it: it’ll be different after the next sip.