IT’S A FIRKIN UNICORN! A 12 year old, Double Oaked Tawny Port matured, extremely rare Single Malt from the Scottish Highlands, finished with a bit of FIRKIN magic! The Firkin Rare Teaninich 2009.
When whisky legend, Mike Collings (the guy that created Johnny Walker Blue and Green among many others), releases something new to the world – it’s wise to check it out. When he told me last year about an upcoming couple of his ‘double wood’ casks full of 2009 Teaninich I was all ears. Not only is any single malt bottling of Teaninich extremely rare (spirits giant Diageo uses most of it in their various blended whiskies), to get a bottling that’s been ‘touched’ by the Firkin magic is a bit of a unicorn. After a bit of too-ing and fro-ing – we managed to secure the entire Australian allotment of the aptly titled Firkin Rare Teaninich 2009.
Now, the Firkin Whisky Co are independent bottlers – but they have a major difference to most. They find aged whisky, then finish it in their own ‘custom casks – It’s a magical 2-stage process that produces some of the best whisky on the planet.
The first stage is the construction of their own ‘double wood’ casks. These casks are made of alternative 1st fill American Bourbon and New French oak staves. The deep-char ex-bourbon staves add characteristic vanilla notes whilst the lightly toasted char of French oak imparts aromatic roasted coffee notes. The combination of 2 different woods and char levels creates a bespoke oak profile and a custom cask totally unique to Firkin.
Stage two of the Firkin process is called ‘Soulmate Pairing’ by Mike. Each whisky is matched to a type fortified wine which will bring out the best in that whisky. The coopered casks are soaked with the selected soulmate wine for around 6 months prior to filling and then left for up to 2 years to develop an impressive depth of flavour. Neither the original distillery nor any other independent bottler goes to these lengths to curate a single malt like this
THe Firkin Rare Teaninich 2009 is a Teaninich malt, distilled in 2009 in the Highlands of Scotland. The Firkin team Double oaked matured Tawny Port Casks for 12 years. Presented at 48.9% and (of course) non-chill filtered and no artificial colouring. Just FIRKIN great whisky.
Nose: Fresh, tart apple juice jumps out at first, but then a rounder, sweeter note comes through –ripe plums and vanilla.
Palate: Crisp and clean mouthfeel –a little pepper but no real heat. Lots of red fruit up front – sweet plums and ripe red grapes morph into malty milk arrowroot bikkies.
Finish: Very pleasing – vanilla becomes more pronounced and swirls around seeing the fruit out. A nice malty- sweetness remains at the end to chew on whilst you pour the next one (yes, you will pour a next one!).
A light, yet complex dram. A bit of a Firkin enigma, really. Dry and crisp, yet sweet and juicy. Fruity, yet malty. The 48.9% gives it sufficient kick, and avoids the heat. The Firkin Rare Teaninich 2009 is nicely balanced all round! Nice one, Mr. Collings!
With a name like Firkin Whisky, you would expect us to be different. We are quite unlike anybody else or any other independent bottler because we take a period of up to 2 years during which we condition each of our single malt whiskies in our lovely custom ‘double oak’ casks, which take each of our selected distilleries to a new level – pure nectar!
Miners dig for years to discover a gem like this. Diamonds are made under pressure, but this rarity lets the tantalising, tingling Teaninich, embrace its Tawny Port partner.
Together the two sparkle & shine, revealing fresh apples with crisp malt & layers of luscious fruit & berries. Facets of initial rich berries reflect the sheen of cereal oak & a hint of bitter sweet fruit. A dram worth digging for!
Firkin Rare Indeed!
For those unaware, Mike Collings is a giant in the whisky industry. During his time with Diageo (world largest spirits business) he was the mind behind the famous Johnny Walker Blue plus a plethora of whiskies that are almost ubiquitous in any bottle shop around the world. In other words, Mike has been crafting ‘household name’ whiskies for the worlds largest brands for over 40 years.
Mike Collings could have retired with an incredible track record in whisky. He had created Johnnie Walker Blue & Green Labels, The Classic Malts, Rare Malts, Distillers Edition, Flora & Fauna series, Cardhu and Royal Lochnagar. That’s pretty Firkin good as far as CVs go.
Mike’s been working in whisky for 40 years. You couldn’t blame him for packing it in and putting his feet up. That would have been the sensible thing to do. But Mike is many things. Sensible isn’t one of them. Mike stirs the pot. He thinks about things differently and always asks: ‘what if …’?
So, he found himself enjoying a few drams in a Tokyo bar thinking: What if I created a whisky that was unique on the single cask single malt market?
So he did. And it’s Firkin awesome whisky.
ABOUT TEANINICH DISTILLERY
Built in 1817, Teaninich was an early legal distillery, but as it was built by Napoleonic war hero and estate owner ‘Blind’ Captain Hugh Munro that’s no more than you would expect. He and his brother General John Munro were notable as being benign and caring landlords in a region which was brutally hit by the Highland Clearances.
Another local man, John Ross, took the lease in 1869 and ran the site until 1895 when it was transferred to Elgin-based blenders Munro & Cameron. It was the trustees of the late Innes Cameron who sold Teaninich to DCL in 1933.
It has undergone regular expansion – larger stills were installed in 1946, before the pair were doubled in 1962. In 1970 a new distillery, Teaninch ‘A Side’, with six stills was built. The two parts ran simultaneously until 1984, when the original site (‘B Side’) was silenced.
The same thing is about to happen all over again. Teaninich’s capacity is due to double to 9m litres per annum and there are plans to build a separate 10m litres per annum distillery on the same site.