September 2021: The Whisky Exchange invites whisky-lovers to embark on an adventure of flavour with the launch of a series of single cask bottlings for Whisky Show 2021. Each label design tells a three-dimensional story with superhero characters symbolising the flavour compounds in whisky production.

The theme of this year’s Whisky Show 2021, A Journey Through Flavour, inspired the designs created by Elixir Distillers creative director, Raj ‘MrC’ Chavda exclusively for The Whisky Exchange. He said: “When considering the show theme, I started to think about what makes up flavours and imagined these compounds as the heroes of whisky.”

Raj wanted to experiment with different dimensions using anaglyphs to try and convey depth of flavour. The anaglyph technique uses layered images of contrasting colours – typically red and cyan – that when viewed through 3D glasses trick the eye into perceiving three-dimensional shapes. Just as red and green lines can create an image that appears to leap off the page, so can flavour compounds evoke a favourite fruit, a piece of patisserie, or even a time or place. This illusory quality is a big part of what makes distilled spirits, and whisky in particular, so compelling – these artworks interpret the experience of drinking whisky.

Raj drew inspiration from the so-called silver age of comic books, as he explains: “Once we had the selection of whiskies we tasted them to pair each one with the artwork I’d created. For example, Ardbeg ‘The Phenolic Phantom,’ was easy because it was so distinctive with those smoky phenols – the chemical compounds within the peat smoke that are responsible for the distinctive smoky aromas and flavours.”

Ticket holders for both the physical and virtual Whisky Show 2021 will receive exclusive first access to the whiskies, which will be available via the on-site Whisky Show shop and from 1 October 2021.

For further details:

Captain Congener

A Speyside Distillery – 20 Years Old

57.6% | 70cl | £135

Congener is the blanket term given to the flavour compounds that characterise our favourite drams. They are the chemicals that bring to mind tropical fruit or salt sprayed beaches and smoky hearths. This Speyside malt has a secret identity, though its particular combination of congeners might be familiar to keen-nosed whisky fans.

Nose: A balance of raisin fruitiness and savoury leafy bracken notes. Fruity cherries, and buttery an almondy Cherry Bakewells build. Green and leafy notes hide beneath, joined by runny caramel, stewed apple and white-wine-poached pears.

Palate: Buttered sponge cake, candied orange, butter cream and baking spice. Rich and creamy notes build, followed by sweet apple and pear jam, a touch of blackcurrant and some barrel char. Buttered malt loaf, mincemeat and more spice bring up the rear.

Finish: Blackcurrant on spiced fruit loaf. Damp oak and lingering leafiness.

Ester Elektron

Bunnahabhain Distillery – 19 Years Old

54.3% | 70cl | £150

What we might perceive in our glasses as pineapple or almond pastries is actually nothing of the sort – they’re merely chemicals that trigger memories. This label references esterification, the process by which flavour molecules are created during fermentation, distillation, and ageing. This particular bottling shows lots of white fruit, courtesy of molecules formed in the washbacks at Bunnahabhain.

Nose: Rich fruit and damp leaves – forest floors covered in rogue raisins. Toffee apples and toffee sauce build with apple crumble and a dollop of rich vanilla custard. Raisin jam, malt loaf and butter cookies fill in the gaps.

Palate: Thick on the palate and very rich. A touch of forest pond and bracken-covered earth is overtaken by dark chocolate sauce and heavily spiced fruit cake – buttery nutmeg and hot cinnamon. Cake-batter notes develop, sweet and creamy.

Finish: Spiced apple purée, toasted rye bread and a drizzle of custard on bread-and-butter pudding.

Aurora Aldehyde      

Blended Scotch Whisky – 41 Years Old

46.2% | 70cl | £240

The first of our four bottlings for the Whisky Show 2021 comes from an exceptionally long-aged parcel of blended Scotch. Filled in 1980, these casks represents a historic style of whisky making, full of eccentricity and character.

Nose: Fruit cake with lots of fruit: glacé cherries, sultanas, plump raisins and juicy dates, all topped with fruity caramel. Ginger cake develops, as well as leafy notes and damp earth. Polished oak, candied orange peel and spiced dark chocolate build.

Palate: Fruit loaf studded with singed raisins and spread with raisin jam is joined by charred staves, baked apples and woody spice with notes of candied pear developing. Riverbank loam and damp bark emerge, balanced by spiced toffee, dark chocolate, and black cherries and their stones.

Finish: Damp oak, cherry stones, char, lingering dark chocolate and singed orange.

The Phenolic Phantom                           

Ardbeg Distillery – 20 Years Old

51.4% | 70cl | £450

This Ardbeg – a distillery whose whiskies are rarely offered by independent bottlers – is an excellent example of well-aged peated malt, full of tarry phenols and unmistakable Islay character.

Nose: Sea spray and oily smoke. Darker notes of tarry ropes are balanced by singed citrus and buttery lemon shortbread. Orchard fruit – sharp apples and sweet apple purée – are dusted with icing sugar. Mulchy grass and fallen leaves roll in around the edges.

Palate: Sweet and smoky, with apple-and-cinnamon syrup poured over warm croissants, all topped with baked apples and pears. Mintiness builds through the middle followed by green leaves and driftwood. Seaside smokiness and salty sea air surrounds everything.

Finish: Singed oak, sweet apple and soft spice fade to leave barbecued fruit.

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