NEWS : The Queens Arms Whisky Club

A wee nip of whiskey on a bitter spring morn
Makes you feel happy, relaxed and warm
Nary a drop should ever be wasted
Of the finest nectar a Scot’s ever tasted ~ from a poem by Joseph Wilson

Usquabae, Water of Life or just Whisky it is Scotland national drink and contributes around £5 billion to the UK economy.

Scotland is home to around 120 malt and grain distilleries, making it the greatest concentration in the world. Malt whisky is usually classified in one of five main categories – Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Islay, and Campbeltown.

That’s a lot of whisky to taste so The Queens Arms in Frederick Street have made things a little simpler for us by bringing the whisky to us with the introduction of their Whisky Club. The Whisky Club will host a special and exclusive to Whisky Club members,  ‘Meet the Makers’ dinner on the first Tuesday of each month.

Plus, every month, they will be offering Whisky Club members a nip of their malt of the moment with one of their delicious light bites for a very special price; and you also get a 10% discount on ALL of their drams.

When you sign up online you get one of these fabbie wee loyalty cards. A great gift but a fabulous wee pressie to give yourself!

I went along to their inaugural ‘Meet the Maker’ Dinner /Whisky Club Launch and there was no better evening to launch this on than Burns. We had a Burns Supper paired with Dalmore Whiskies.

I’m in love with the Dalmore Whisky bottles (the contents are to shabby either!). The stag is very recognisable. Legend has it that Colin of Kintail, Chief of the Clan Mackenzie saved Alexander III of Scotland from being killed by stag. As a sign of gratitude for saving his life, King Alexander III awarded him the lands of Eilean Donan and most importantly Colin of Kintail and his Mackenzie clan were given the right to bear a 12-pointed Royal Stag as their crest. And so the 12 pointed Royal Stag emblem has adorned every bottle since The Dalmore was establish in the 1800’s.

The Queens Arms has a lovely wee area ideal for hosting intimate dinner and events; under the bottles! It’s warm, cosy and inviting.

On arrival we were welcomed with the Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve. This specially crafted whisky has been expertly made to be the perfect accompaniment to the finest of cigars. Matured initially in American white oak ex-bourbon casks and 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry butts, it is then finessed in premier cru Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques.

Aroma – cinnamon, vanilla and red fruits.

Palate – tropical fruits, banana toffee and vanilla ice cream.

Finish – orange zest and bergamot.

It has a slight sweetness to it and was my favoured malt of the night.

Up next and to accompany our first course, was the Dalmore 18 year old.

An evolution of The Dalmore house style, this 18 year old expression harnesses bolder notes. A robust and formidable whisky, The Dalmore 18 year old showcases the result of extended maturation and the influence of the wood. Matured initially for 14 years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, the spirit is then transferred to 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry butts for a further four years. These sherry butts from the world-renowned sherry house Gonzalez Byass are selected exclusively for The Dalmore.

Aroma – vanilla, dark chocolate and orange

Palate – dark chocolate, candied citrus fruits and rich coffee

Finish – citrus fruit and oak

Our first course of our Burns Supper was Cock-a-Leekie Soup. There are so many variations of Cock-a-leekie and this one came with rice. A hearty and warm start to dinner.

To accompany the main course was the Dalmore 15.

The Dalmore 15 year old is smooth, rich and well rounded; the epitome of The Dalmore house style. This delicate and approachable vintage is initially matured for 12 years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks. The character of The Dalmore 15 is achieved by then splitting the whisky equally between three different sherry woods; Amoroso, Apostoles and Matusalem oloroso for a further three years. The spirit is finally married together in an upstanding sherry butt, allowing the flavours to infuse.

Aroma – orange marmalade, cinnamon and nutmeg

Palate – mandarin, vanilla and ginger

Finish – Christmas spice and oak

Of course you cannae hae a Burns Supper without the haggis, neeps and tatties! They made their own haggis, which was quite subtle on the pepper, served with perfectly smooth mashed potatoes and sweet neeps.

To accompany the Cranachan we had the Dalmore 12.

The Dalmore 12 year old, with its intricate aromas and flavours, is recognised as a whisky with character far beyond its age. This was Andrew Mackenzie’s original masterpiece and stood apart from the norm of the day. At a time when it was standard practise to mature whisky for no more than 6 years, Andrew Mackenzie demonstrated his pioneering character by doubling the maturation period. His boldness truly paid off, The Dalmore 12 year old still stands apart as an exceptional whisky today, as it did then. Matured for an initial nine years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, the spirit is then divided for its final flourish. One half remains in the bourbon barrels, while the other is transferred to exclusive 30 year old Gonzalez Byass Matusalem oloroso sherry butts before they are reunited to create this phenomenal whisky.

Aroma – citrus fruits, chocolate and aromatic spices

Palate – citrus, oloroso sherry and vanilla pod

Finish – roasted coffee and chocolate

This is were the Burns Supper went a wee bit out the windae – but then I’m a stickler for a bit of tradition and just gonnae no mess with the Cranachan please. This was deconstuction of a Cranachan dessert on a whole other level. A raspberry mousse, oat biscuit and some coulis. Each element was nice, but I wanted a proper Cranachan dessert – it was Burns after all.

All in all, a lovely evening was spent eating lovely food, and drinking some superb whisky. For me there is no way better to spend a Tuesday evening!

I apologies for getting this up so late, as their next Whisky Club meet is Tuesday 6th February but they hold monthly Whisky dinners and you can become a Queens Arms Whisky Club member anytime.

Join their Whisky Club here : Queens Arms Whisky Club

Queens Arms, Frederick Street, Edinburgh. Tel : 0131 225 1045

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