The Blue Hanger 7th Edition – Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
The Blue Hanger 7th Edition is a blended malt whisky from venerable Berry Bros & Rudd. The 7th Edition Release came out in 2013 and was a US-only release. As a blended malt, or what used to be called a vatted malt, the Blue Hanger 7th Edition only contains malt whiskies, but the malts come from different distilleries. In the case of the 7th Edition, this whisky is a blending of 1992 Bruichladdich (ex-bourbon hogshead – 1), 1990 Bunnahabhain (ex-sherry butt – 1), 1997 Miltonduff (ex-bourbon hogsheads – 4), and two ex-bourbon hogsheads of peated 2006 Bunnahabhain. With the inclusion of the young-ish Bunnahabhain, based on the SWA regulations, this whisky would be in the neighborhood of 6-7 years old as a 2013 bottling, if Berry Bros had elected to include an age-statement.
Just a little background on the genesis of the Blue Hanger whiskies. From the Berry Bros website:
“Blue Hanger, a blended malt whisky (a category previously known as vatted malts), is named after William Hanger, the 3rd Lord Coleraine, a loyal customer of Berry Bros. & Rudd during the late 18th century. He was renowned for the striking blue clothes he wore and gained the soubriquet, “Blue Hanger”.
Each release of Blue Hanger is a labour of love. Our spirits buyer, Doug McIvor, noses and tastes his way through many samples to identify exceptional casks before working with them to produce the best possible results in terms of aroma, flavour and finish. Every release is unique although there is continuity in overall style to retain the rich, smooth, fruity complexity that makes this Whisky stand out from the crowd.”
Now that we’ve got that out of the way……
Blue Hanger 7th Edition Release, Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, 2013 Release, 3,088 total bottles, 45.6% abv
Color: Medium gold
Nose: (N) A very nice nose, but with a surprisingly major young, earthy peat influence – I really didn’t expect that! There is a bit of new-make in the rubbery-ness of the peat. Behind the peat, there are some sweeter notes: saltwater taffy, a touch of vanilla; lemon grass, and some ripe red fruits, along with some delicate sherry traits – nutty and herbal aromas. I also get some dried hay. Throughout there seems to be a vein of oak – fresh shavings, white pepper, a touch of cinnamon. Always, there is a light campfire smoke and the earthiness of the peat that slightly dominates the fruits.
Taste: (N) The body is resinous, fat, and creamy in the arrival. Lemon-vanilla, the earthiness from the peat. There is something which is a bit sharp (young?) that acts as a counterpoint to the earthiness. The soft smoke continues on the palate. There are notes of warm bread, cardamom, almonds, cinnamon, orange zest, milk chocolate, green apples. (W) Adding a little water does have an adverse impact on the richness of the body, but it also serves to open this up a bit, introducing a more lively fruitiness, more sherry notes with more herbal spice, sweet orange, and almonds. There is a note sweet lime (yes, contradictory, I know!), some cut grass, and the milk chocolate.
Finish: The peaty, campfire smoke notes drives the finish, carrying the earthiness and smokiness throughout, although there are subtle fruit and vanilla notes, also a hint of the milk chocolate at the very end.
Overall: To frame my process, I do my tasting notes before looking up the details of the various whiskies, so when I add a (?) that indicates an impression but one I am not entirely certain of at the time. Here, with the young (?) reference, it seems to bear out that the young peated whiskies from Bunnahabhain bring out this sharpness.
Getting back to the whisky, the Blue Hanger 7th Edition is very enjoyable. The nose is a lot of fun – as long as you like bold peat and smoke notes. The body, too, is very nice. The palate is perhaps the weak point in the whisky because the peat is a bit too dominant, keeping the fruitiness and sherry-maturation notes from being able to shine to their fullest. When you add in that slightly odd sharpness, the palate brings my rating down a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I like this whisky, even if it is not the best value around.
Bottler: Berry Bros & Rudd, London
Type: Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Distilleries: Bunnahabhain, Miltonduff, Bruichladdich
Bottled: 2013 Release
Age: NAS (roughly 6-7 years by SWA definitions, but contains older whiskies, too)
Maturation: 1992 Bruichladdich (ex-bourbon hogshead – 1), 1990 Bunnahabhain (ex-sherry butt – 1), 1997 Miltonduff (ex-bourbon hogsheads – 4), and two ex-bourbon hogsheads of peated 2006 Bunnahabhain.
Price: K&L Wines (Dec 2013) $108.99
Availability: If you look around, you may luck out and still find one or two on shelves
Sample Source: My own bottle