Scotch whisky maker Bladnoch recently unveiled its latest release, The Dragon Series.
A statement from Bladnoch explains that The Dragon Series is a collection of five single malt whiskies, and that after blending, each expression in the series captures a pivotal moment in the whisky-making process.
The distiller notes that The Dragon Series draws its inspiration from the Dragon Curve, a fractional curve in mathematics that showcases predictability and chaos, natural order and beauty.
The series aims to pay homage to the journey of whisky production, highlighting the scale of variability in the process, while celebrating the beauty that emerges from each step of the way.
Dr. Nick Savage, Bladnoch’s master distiller, further explained that the Dragon Curve demonstrates the science-versus-nature of predictability, chaos, natural order, and beauty.
“The building of The Dragon Series whiskies really brought this to life in the sample room,” he said. “We have attempted to demonstrate the resultant beauty that occurs from the natural unpredictability inherent within our whisky-making process, which we endeavor to control over the decades.”
Savage said that the five expressions of the Dragon Series have evolved to capture the essence of each iteration of their process. “It will be fascinating to hear everyone’s personal interpretation and appreciation for our whisky making. The Dragon Series also gives us great confidence and excitement upon which to build and bring to life more concepts with Bladnoch in the future.”
The distiller’s descriptions for each iteration of The Dragon Series:
1st Iteration: The Field – Field to Distillery
The Field tells the journey from field to distillery, the origin story for all Bladnoch’s whiskies. Each year, barley is harvested from the farmer’s fields and undergoes the process of malting. The resulting malted barley serves as the primary raw material for the distillery. But before it arrives at the facility, it has already been shaped by the unpredictable and diverse forces of nature, environment, and the malting process. Bottled at 46.7% ABV and matured in re-fill bourbon casks, this single malt whisky captures the essence of the field, the natural beauty that drives Bladnoch’s whisky-making process.
The nose offers toasted barley with floral cut grass, while the palate is a combination of citrus apples and creamy shortbread. The finish is both refreshing and sweet.
2nd Iteration: The Spirit – Malt to Spirit
The Spirit captures the first stage of distillery production, taking the malted barley from the field through three pivotal processes: mashing, fermentation, and distillation. Each step amplifies the potential for variability and unpredictability, with numerous factors like gravities, temperatures, and cut points requiring an understanding by whisky makers, ensuring the consistent quality of the new make spirit. The resulting Lowland floral and fruity distillery character moves on to the next stage – maturation in oak casks. Bottled at 48.3% ABV, this whisky is an example of a Lowlands whisky and comes from a blend of first-fill and re-fill bourbon casks, offering a balance of flavors and aromas. On the nose, pear drops with fresh cut grass. On the palate, malted cereal with boiled sweets and a hint of cracked pepper, while the finish is refreshing yet warm.
3rd Iteration: The Casks – Tree to Cask
The Casks showcases the process of cask coopering. Crafting Bladnoch’s casks requires consideration of numerous variables, including the oak species, growth environment, and technical aspects of toasting, charring, and seasoning. This expression is bottled at 49.9% ABV and combines the richness of first-fill American oak bourbon casks with the complexity of first-fill Spanish oak Sherry casks, delivering a unique and robust flavor profile. On the nose, cinnamon sticks and root ginger are prominent, with a background of citrus notes. The palate features raisins with a toffee popcorn sweetness and a hint of root ginger spice. The finish is thick, long, and warm.
4th Iteration: The Ageing – New to Mature
The Ageing focuses on maturation. The seasonal fluctuations in temperature and humidity, warehouse type and location, as well as the evaporation of the “angels’ share” all contribute to significant complexity to manage. To accentuate these effects, casks have been chosen from the darkest and coldest areas in Bladnoch’s warehousing for the 4th Iteration. Bottled at 51.1%, this whisky is matured in red wine hogshead and first-fill bourbon casks. On the nose, the scent of polished oak and honey with an earthy undertone that suggests the whisky’s warehouse origins. The palate features a sweet oak taste with wild blackberry notes. The finish is both sweet and warm, with a gentle spiciness.
5th Iteration: The Decision – Complexity to Simplicity
The Decision hones in on the craftsmanship involved in whisky making in the sample room where the decisions are made for the final products. Here, all the variabilities and unpredictabilities are considered and weighed against each other, with an eye on future prospects and a commitment to delivering a consistent and sustainable whisky experience. The whisky is bottled at 53.1%, using a blend of Hungarian Tokaji wine casks and Spanish Canasta Sherry casks. On the nose, the scent of crushed red grapes and coffee cremes. On the palate, the taste of coffee cremes is complemented by the sweet and tangy flavor of apricots, with a hint of nutmeg that adds depth and complexity. The finish is thick and long-lasting
The Dragon Series has a suggested retail price of £110 per bottle, or £550 for the full collection. For more information or to find a bottle, check out www.bladnoch.com/pages/the-dragon-series.
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