Whisky Review – A Firkin Whisky Flight: Firkin Ten, Firkin 49, and Firkin Islay
*The following samples were gifted to us by the team at Top Whiskies, all opinions are our own*
In December we reviewed the Firkin Rare, Ledaig 2008 Marsala expression as it was one of our favourite single-cask releases of the year. Following this review the team at Top Whiskies got in touch to offer us the opportunity to sample some more Firkin Whisky expressions – so of course we said yes!
The Firkin Whisky Co.
Founder Mike Collins launched The Firkin Whisky Co in 2019, following a very successful career in the whisky industry spanning a number of decades. Specialising in single-casks they re-cask each whisky into one of their custom casks that have been “seasoned with a soulmate wine”. Their custom casking system uses a mixture of ex-bourbon barrels and new Limouson oak with a custom char.
They have a number of ranges: Firkin 49, Firkin Islay, Firkin Rare, and Firkin Ten. The pack sent to us by Top Whiskies has a whisky from each range. Having previously reviewed the Firkin Rare, Ledaig Marsala, this review will focus on the other three drams. All the following whiskies have been bottled at 49.8% ABV, are of natural colour, and do not use chill filtration. At the time of publishing they can still be purchased from Top Whiskies for £69.
The Firkin Ten, Benrinnes 2008, Madeira
A total of 305 bottles were released of the Firkin Ten, Benrinnes 2008 Madeira finish.
Based in Aberlour in Speyside, the Benrinnes Distillery has a had a rather intensive history. Founded in 1826, it was destroyed by a flood only three years later. Having been re-built, re-named, and sold, it again faced devastation in a fire during 1896. Once again rebuilt in the 1950s by by the John Dewar & Sons company; today Benrinnes is owned by Diageo producing mostly for the blended whisky industry.
“Firkin Ten is bright and lively with a pantry full of kitchen spice. This whisky will enliven and intrigue you, and it hangs around to remind you that life is so Firkin good.”
Nose: quite sweet, vanilla, honey, relatively floral, apple blossom, freshly squeezed apple juice, light malty cereal, nutmeg, ground ginger
Palate: great creamy texture, brown sugar, milk chocolate, orange marmalade, cereal notes as a constant backdrop, stone fruits
Finish: cinder toffee, like chewing a coffee bean, cinnamon, cloves, a lovely light spice
This is an exceptionally fresh and bright dram. The nose and palate immediately evoke thoughts of early spring mornings, trees covered in blossom, with orange marmalade toast. Perfect for the season change from Winter to Spring.
The Firkin 49, Tullibardine 2012, Oloroso & Amontillado
An interesting cask mix, Amontillado is a medium-dry and Oloroso is a medium-sweet sherry. We’ve tasted a lot of sherry with an Oloroso influence, however, this is the first Amontillado that we have come across, so were excited to try this dram! A total of 306 bottles were produced.
Based in the village of of Blackford – the gateway to the Highlands. Tullibarine is one of the oldest locations in Scotland for brewing beer and distilling whisky. William Delme-Evans converted the original brewery into a distillery in 1947 having fallen in love with the local water source.
“This is a cracker. It’s long, rounded and jam-packed with creamy butterscotch toffee. It has crisp malt and some fruit, oak that hangs around, with a little cinnamon and sweet biscuit.”
Nose: creamy nuts – like almonds and hazelnuts, orchard fruits, elements of sweetness, honey, Bakewell tart, cherry, apple crumble, buttery pastry
Palate: raspberries and cherries with a chocolate sauce, light baking spices, hazelnut spread, unsalted almonds, honey covered figs
Finish: dark chocolate, grilled pineapple – sweetness, but also bitter sugar, oak spice
Immediately this dram draws you in; it looks fantastic in the glass. A beautiful golden colour, with a clearly oily texture. We really enjoyed this dram, the baking spices are lovely and warming, and balanced very well with the fruity/chocolate sweetness. We both agree that this is one of our favourite whiskies we have tried so far!
The Firkin Islay, Caol Ila 2010, Marsala
“Firkin Islay is a new take on a classic Islay whisky” – looking to combine the wonderful coastal notes of Caol Ila is Islay, with the sweetness of Marsala from Sicily. A total of 325 bottles of this were produced.
Caol Ila Distillery
Based near Port Askaig on Islay, Caol Ila was founded by Hector Henderson in 1846. Unfortunately, the distillery did not originally fair well and was sold in 1854, and again in 1863. The mixed history continued, until the present day where it is currently owned by Diageo.
“Kapow! Smoke! Call the Fire Brigade! A waft of peat & smoke.”
Nose: paprika Lays crisps, rich BBQ sauce, dried raisins and currants, bonfire, rich smoke, brine salty notes, smoked hay, toasted malt loaf
Palate: smooth and creamy, fiery pepper is balanced with an underlying bonfire smoke, honey sweetness, plum jam, black pepper
Finish: chilli chocolate with a nice heat, smoke continues to build, warming
What a great dream, bags of smoke and burning bonfire embers from the nose. Balanced with sweetness from honey/jam notes – this is VERY good. A winner for any peat lover, think typical Coal Ila matched with expertly chosen sweetness. A testament to the expertise at Firkin.
We really enjoyed this tasting pack; a great insight to what the team at Firkin can do. Even from the small selection above, it appears there is something for everyone. We would highly recommend a bottle of the Firkin 49 Tullibardine 2012, Oloroso and Amontillado for those cold winter evenings. We’re very excited to see where this independent bottler goes in the future.
Finally a huge thanks to Top Whiskies for gifting us this pack. Ed has been wonderfully accommodating when we have asked him for recommendations, always more than happy to help pair you with a top quality whisky. All that is left to say, is if you have made it this far through this rather long read – congratulations! We hope we’ve inspired you to give single-cask whisky a shot, and even to try one of the Firkin Whisky expressions.