Whisky Review Round Up: The Exclusive Regions Scotch Whisky Series - The Whiskey Wash
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Whisky Review Round Up: The Exclusive Regions Scotch Whisky Series

The Exclusive Regions series is a product from the Creative Whisky Company which embraces the, well, regionality of Scotch whiskys through single cask bottlings from various geographically unique producers. It’s the brain child of former Highland Park brand ambassador David Stirk, who caught the single barrel bug when he purchased one oak vessel’s worth of ex-Sherry cask Scotch whisky and resold it back in 2005. Flash forward to present day, and Stirk has bottled over 30 separate expressions of local, geostamped whisky under the banner of The Exclusive Regions. He’s also begun bottling territorial blends which best express the overall character of various Scotland whiskys.

In addition to the single cask Exclusive Region project, Creative Whisky Company has also begun bottling some unique single malt expressions under a new title, Exclusive Malts. These are age statement-free whiskies are bottled at cask strength for the highest level of grain expression. With such a narrow focus in each bottle, the Exclusive series’ from CWC bring about a new tier in education Scotch whisky experiences, allowing anyone with access to these liquids the opportunity to learn more about the distinct flavors that the various recipe and terroir ingredients impart on this many-faceted whisky style.

Today, we’ll take a look at one blend and three single casks, the latter of which are notated by age statements. Finding intel on the source of these products is a precarious situation indeed, but one press statement notes that the below samples have been harvested from the likes of Ardmore, Glentauchers, and Laphroiag.

Tasting Notes: The Exclusive Regions Islay

100 Proof. $50/750ml.

This whisky pours with barely a yellow tinge from clear, thick and brilliant all around with wave-like legs. Aromas of fresh leather, green bananas, and next-day campfire burst from the glass. There is a pleasant sweetness on the palate which offers the slightest hint of treacle amongst the palate-coating grassy iodine-meets-smoke character. An odd-yet-pleasant aromatic development akin to fresh house paint arrives, and the whole experiences finishes long with nag champa-esque spiciness and a rich, thick mouthfeel and little burn.

FINAL SCORE: 4/5

Tasting Notes: The Exclusive Regions Speyside 8 Year.

Vital Stats: 100 Proof. $50/750ml.

This dram pours significantly darker, reminiscent of toasted straw and fresh baked bread. It also seems even thicker than the last velvety pour, leaving slow-moving droplets stuck to the glass’ interior. The aroma here is more subtle and fruity, with notes of white grape and lemon bars. A faint note of butterscotch is apparent, promising a more after-dinner bend here. This one is lighter on the palate and distinctly sweeter, evoking the brightness of honeysuckles with a soft charred oakiness providing a rounder drinking experience. While more airy and quaffable, it showcases more of the harsh alcohol notes and leaves a burn which negatively affects the pleasantness of the finish.

FINAL SCORE: 3.5/5

Tasting Notes: The Exclusive Regions Single Grain 10 Year

100 Proof. $50/750ml.

This pour also looks like water with a slightly higher SRM: think two drops of iodine dissolved in a glass of water. This one struggles to put forth any bold aromas. There is an underlying sweet glue smell, with some difficult-to-discern tropical fruit notes lingering like coconut, guava, and papaya. Together they can most politely be described as lightly floral, with a prominent background of untethered alcohol. It sips sweet with sawdust astringency long in to the finish. Vanilla flavor is a prominent subset of the oakiness first detected which emerges with some palate adjustment, and this whisky continues to be all about the wood. A bit one-dimensional and not very appealing overall.

FINAL SCORE: 2/5

Tasting Notes: The Exclusive Regions Highland 8 Year

Vital Stats: 100 Proof. $50/750ml.

The pour on this one is a drab color, light peach and quite turbid with haze and chunky orange sediment. It’s bouncy and sticky, salvaging some level of visual appeal (although not much.) It does, however, possess a heady, musky aroma with hints of pine, smoke, baking bread, and something that reminds me of the interior of a Costco. The first sip is wondrous, with smoke, booze, and sweetness all in perfect measure. It’s the most identifiable through broad strokes as what most people know to be Scotch whisky, and a well-executed version of said product. Lingering flavors of singed wood dance around notes of nutmeg, citrus rind, and macadamia nuts. A sipper for sure, but one I keep returning to.

FINAL SCORE: 4.5/5

The Takeaway

Overall, this series provides an educational experience for the novice Scotch whisky drinker, and the evolved version of said imbiber will find a couple great values within their catalog. It could be a spendy schooling if you land in the former camp; it's a shame these are not available in a large set of small format bottles. I'd recommend reaching out to Creative Whisky Company to see if your favorite producer has a single cask entry in this series, as it may be worth the roll of the dice.

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Jim Bonomo