Out on a day pass with my son recently (he was celebrating two months of life; I was celebrating 35 years), I came across The Whisky Shop, on Turl Street in Oxford. My eyes lit up and a smile crept across my face as I glanced over the neatly decorated shop window. (Ok, it wasn’t that neatly decorated, but it had all sorts of whiskys in the window – how could I not smile?). As I glanced through the window, I saw the shop keeper was looking at me, his eyes beckoning me to join him in the glorious world of whisky. I looked at my boy, and he looked back at me (ok, he didn’t; he was asleep in his push chair) and we both agreed, it was a celebratory day, we should celebrate properly.
Once inside I was amazed at the wonderful selection of single malt and blended whiskys. The shop was small, but certainly large enough to shelve about 100 different makes of whisky. The shop keeper was a good chap too – a Scottish bloke in his late 20’s, he knew the whisky pretty well. Not an expert by any means, but he knew his stuff and was certainly gifted with the Scottish talent for story telling. He showed me bottles of whisky from a variety of different distilleries, including a £500 bottle of Campbeltown Springbank. I can’t remember exactly why it was so expensive (I seem to recall that it was an old bottle – maybe 50 years – and was from a small batch), but I set it down quickly. I sure didn’t want to buy that bottle when I dropped it on the floor!
After ambling our way through the shelves, we came to the back corner of the shop where 5 little oak barrels were stacked together. Each barrel had a separate whisky from a different Scottish distillery. The Whisky Shop then bottles the whisky, then and there, for customers upon request. The beauty of that is that because the whisky is being stored in a different type of barrel than the sort used by the distilleries themselves, the whisky bottled by The Whisky Shop has a slightly different flavour. (The Macallan 15 Year is aged in either bourbon or sherry oak casks. The Whisky Shop Macallan 15 Year was being aged in virgin oak.) Hmm … that was certainly an interesting proposition.
As I had a bottle of 15 year old Macallan at home, I had the chap pour me a 100ml bottle of the amber juice from the cask labelled Macallan 15. I can’t wait give myself a taste test this evening!