Monday, January 20, 2014

Have just tried - Hankey Bannister 'Heritage Blend'

Last Summer the blended Scotch whisky brand of Hankey Bannister launched a new expression in to its range - the Hankey Bannister Heritage Blend. The new whisky was inspired by a British couple who discovered a rare bottle of Hankey Bannister Fine Old Liqueur Scotch Whisky dating from the 1920s in their possession, and sold it to the brand. From this, details of the retro release were tracked down and the new expression has been produced in a recreation of the style of that 1920s era.

Hankey Bannister is an award winning range of blended whiskies that are marketed and released by Inver House Distillers. The name comes from two business men (Mr. Hankey and Mr. Bannister) who set up a wine and spirits business in London in 1757. They were one of the first companies to take whisky from Scotland and blend it elsewhere. The popularity of their whiskies grew with time, especially amongst royalty and the wealthy. Previous fans have included King George V, King Edward VII and Sir Winston Churchill. The Hankey Bannister brand is now exported to over 40 countries, with the main markets being Australia, South Africa, South America and the UK. 

The work by Inver House's Master Blender Stuart Harvey in the blending lab to create this 1920s inspired whisky is complimented by the packaging design, which has taken elements from the original bottle. This includes a black glass bottle, period lettering and the old Hankey Bannister logo and crest. The Heritage Blend is bottled at 46% ABV and will be available globally, although numbers are limited to just 30,000 bottles.  The retail price should be in the £25-30 zone.

Our tasting notes
The colour is  golden yellow and the nose has immediate heavy aromas of butterscotch and malted cereals, plus a distinct hit of candied orange peel.  The sweetness seems to increase with time in the glass and a crumbly brown sugar aroma develops to accentuate this.  Underneath are notes of honey, vanilla, dried apple and sultanas, with late hints of cinnamon and earthy peat smoke.

On the palate this has an initial mix of sweetness and smokiness.  They seem to clash momentarily but as other notes develop, they begin to compliment each other well.  The sweetness is driven by a combination of honey, brown sugar and butterscotch notes that were present on the nose, and the smokiness is soft but much more prominent and has a damp earthy edge to it.  It does not take long for the candied orange and cinnamon notes to appear also.  Some background characteristics add further depth, especially hints of ginger, crisp green apple and an increasingly expressive note of burnt caramel.

The finish reasonably long and very sweet, with the sugary and dried fruit elements leading the way.  These begin to be tempered by the cinnamon spice and earthy smoke but they are never completely integrated or overtaken.  The smokiness is soft and the last note to disappear, leaving a pleasant dryness in the mouth.

What's the verdict?
The Heritage Blend is an interesting project by the guys at InverHouse.  While we can never know how the whisky tasted in that bygone era, they have produced a good whisky that has plenty going on.  It is maybe a little too sweet for our taste and this jars slightly with the smoky elements. However it is pleasant to drink and does offer good value for money, especially when considering that it is bottled at 46% ABV.

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