Thank you. It's been Emotional.
As posts go, this one will certainly go down as one of the most memorable ones that we have ever written on this humble website.
As many readers know, we began Caskstrength.net back in January 2008. We were fresh faced, wide eyed, particularly thirsty and in possession of a drinks cabinet stocked mainly with ubiquitous Scotch brands. We took it upon ourselves to seek out the most interesting whiskies we could lay our hands on.
Once-upon-a-time we looked like this...Hard to believe really. Here we are in 2015 and we're just perusing the sidebar and a few of our old posts, over 650 of them, reviewing over 1,000 different whiskies and occasionally other spirits. To click back and look at how our tastes have changed in that time is as fascinating for us as it is to witness just how much the whisky business has changed in a little under a decade.
When we started Caskstrength.net, there was barely a handful of online blogs or webpages dedicated to the spirit. Our influences came from inspirational spaces like Whiskyfun.com and DrWhisky, who began to deliver a voice loudly proclaiming that whisky wasn't just the domain of the over serious, wizened, ageing bore, but an accessible, engaging and, as we have seen in the passing years, spirit that offers something that almost everyone can enjoy in one way or another.
As Caskstrength.net evolved, it became something much greater than either of us had ever imagined. It has taken us to different continents and allowed us to try some truly mind blowing, once-in-a-lifetime liquids. In short, it has helped to give us a career in spirits.
But more importantly, it has been the conduit enabling us to forge some incredible friendships with people all over the world, many of them stemming from kind words and support from our readership.
in 2014, Caskstrength.net hit just under 900,000 views, around 70,000 a month, which is a figure that makes this post all the more important.
We now find ourselves in a totally different arena. Today, there are literally 100's of 'whisky blogs' and the landscape of writing about the spirit has changed in our opinion. To use a crude car analogy for a second, this once gleaming, perky sports car has now hit a very high mileage indeed and is starting to cough a little on cold mornings.
We could take it for a tune up at the garage, but in our minds, that's not the answer. In essence, we need to trade in Caskstrength.net for something brand new, fresh and with a much better, bigger, more efficient engine, capable of delivering not only the malt mileages we intend to travel, but also encompassing our huge passion for every spirit, which we realised when writing our recent book, Distilled.
So here is it then. Caskstrength.net as you are seeing it now will, after this post, be no more. Gone to the great retirement home in the sky for hard working drinks blogs.
Its replacement is going to be very exciting indeed. Over the coming weeks, we'll be introducing a brand new website: WorldsBestSpirits.com
It will be an informative curated drinks website, with news and views about everything from Absinthe to Whisky. As always, it will be packed with plenty of the original Caskstrength character, commentary and up to date news on gin, brandy, Tequila, rum, Armagnac, mezcal, vodka and as much else as we can possibly cram in. The notion of simply 'blogging'- and indeed the phrase 'blog' is, in our opinion, something that now feels tired and quite saturated- and we like energy, not tiredness.
What's more, WorldsBestSpirits.com will grow from simply the two of us penning articles into a dedicated team of international contributors from all over the world - more on them later.
Writing this blog has been a pleasure. Moving up a gear to curate, choose and deliver to you the World's Best Spirits with the same verve and vigour we have approached Caskstrength.net will be an absolute pleasure. Hopefully we'll end up looking as young again as we did the photo on page one of this journey, minus the obvious wide-eyed naivety.
To celebrate the full stop on this story, we have each chosen to link to a couple of our favourite posts from the last seven-and-a-half years, and to review one final dram with which to toast our goodbye...
Joel's Top Post: Springbank Rundlets & Kilderkins
Neil's Top Post: The Glenlivet Alpha
And so, in rather timely fashion, we reach the end of our very last post.
Our last review on Caskstrength...
We thought long and hard about what would be the whisky to sign of with and there it was, sitting on our desk staring us in the face. It's arrival was remarkably timely in fact...
So for the Last Post, we bring you.... The Last Drop.
This bottling project has now become the stuff of legend: Thee industry stalwarts, led by James Espey OBE decided that rather than retiring, they would locate and bottle some of the oldest and best whisky - and other spirits- that they could lay their hands on. The concept of The Last Drop was born in 2008 and the previous releases including a blend from 1960, a 50 year old blend and now, a 48 year old blended whisky have all been released to critical acclaim. The company is now in the hands of a younger generation of the founders, but the ethos remains the same.
This 48 year old blend is limited to 592 bottles and is priced at an RRP of £2600. It even comes with a miniature of the whisky too and a leather bound box. But that doesn't really concern us.
Question is... will it be a truly fitting send off for Caskstrength? No pressure.
The Last Drop - 48 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky - 48.6% - 592 Bottles
Nose: A hugely complex nose, the likes of which we've only recently found in a few old Armagnacs and very old grain whiskies: Meaty, waxy foundations, lead into rich vanilla sponge cake, clean linen, raspberry jam, with polished wood surfaces and Manuka honey rounding out the top notes. It would be sad to lose such a complexity with water, but a small drop releases some more tannic notes, sweeter vanilla and creamy toffee.
Palate: Broad shouldered and oaky, with a backbone stave of tannic Orange Pekoe tea, leading into chopped Brazil nuts, hints of the sponge cake again and very old grain: that unusual bittersweet toasted note that tends to emerge with this type of aged blend. It certainly isn't a polite, unconfident blend: it's powerful and uncompromising on the palate, with some dark oaky notes, just tempered with enough sweetness to bring the whole thing together perfectly.
Finish: Extremely warming, but with no overtones of spirit: just pure, rich dryness, the kind of tongue coating unctuousness that 'serious' whiskies bring. Put simply, this is as serious as Jeremy Paxman grilling a hopelessly out-of-their-depth, incompetent Cabinet Minister on Newsnight.
Overall: A remarkable whisky, that not only highlights the intricacies of blending at this age, but also the concept of longevity. Sometimes, new (old) whiskies pop up with a huge fanfare but are quickly revealed as being jaded, one-dimensional and just that little bit over-egged. One wonders the reasons why they weren't bottled sooner, but we'll put this down to simple economics. Here, we have a superb integration of old grain and malt. But alongside its experience, it brings a refreshing vibrancy to the party too.
It's a whisky that we could probably all learn a lot from.
And with that, there's nothing more for us to say than simply, adios, slante and see you all when the next phase in our plans is fully online. Thanks for making Caskstrength such a successful and fun place to work from and we very much hope you'll stick with us at WorldsBestSpirits.com
So, charge your glasses and raise a toast: The Blog Is Dead! Long Live WorldsBestSpirits!
Neil & Joel - April 1st, 2015 x
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