Whisky enthusiasts are simple guys. Give them some samples and a notebook and they will not move the world, but they will sat for 4 hours in a pub ordering only tap water and making the owner furious. Anyway, they all share a dream: to create their own whisky series. An obviously brilliant series, inspired to some personal, convoluted suggestions which should be analyized as Rorschach inkblots. Over the years, we have been witnessing the birth of these clever ideas:
– Single malt dedicated to Serie A football teams (rather hard to choose which is going to be the Frosinone bottling or the Juventus one. By the way, there’s no referee bottlings, dear Juventus fans…).
– Series dedicated to the main politicians who helped Silvio Berlusconi during his glorious entry into Italian politics in 1994 (wouldn’t you have a “Elio Vito special reserve”?).
– Series with silk-printed labels with Bonelli’s comics heroes: the peated Dylan Dog or the Tex Willer Straight Rye.
– Series of single malts with different finishes inspired to art movements (this was serious, but we can’t decide if the Futurism release should have been in ex Campari bottles or ex Red Bull cans…).
All these ideas could have been a great success or a reason to gain admission to the nearest asylum, who knows… The only truth is that nobody has dared to really produce them. On the contrary, in Scotland (or maybe in America…), Diageo’s geniuses had the guts to invent the “Game of Thrones” 8 single malts series.
Premise n.1: when whisky meets cinema or music, the customer is usually a dead man. Marketing claims its pound of flesh, and often the product’s quality is poor as much as a B-movie or an unplugged session recorded in a public toilet. That explains the natural skeptical approach of whisky lovers, maximalist geeks who considers marketing as a devil’s work. But the marketing works nearly always, it arouses curiosity and passion, bringing beginners on the whisky side of the Force. So, by hook or by crook, now the eight Diageo single malts – dedicated to the Houses of the HBO tv series – are the topic of the day. Among the fans of the show, the collectors and the curious enthusiasts, that love to taste every kind of whisky. In short, 6 billions of human beings are talking about these bottles. Why shouldn’t we?
Premise n.2: we usually judge whiskies focusing only on the liquid. Neither packaging nor price should affect the review. This time it’s different, because on the background there’s a strong concept, so it’s impossible to ignore the link with Queen Cersei, the dwarf Tyrion, “The Mountain” or the Night King. We are not the best GOT experts. We watched some episodes and Youtube highlights, reading here and there. We understood something, but we do not pretend to have much credit on it. So, if you want to complain about any philological error about Westeros, about White Walkers’ dietary habits or about the lawfulness of sexual relationships (little spoiler: they regularly sleep with brothers, sisters, parents, uncles, grandparents, nephews…), please contact this website’s creators. We’re just guests, so we’re sacred. If something’s wrong, slaughter them…
Cardhu Gold reserve, Casa Targaryen (2019, OB, 40%)
One of the two pre-exhisting malts, bottled as OB (the other one is the Royal
Lochnagar 12 yo). Probably the worst matching. A fruity, light and easy whisky pairing with this tough House is like Marilyn Manson reading Sophie Kinsella’s novels in an Opera Theatre: something zany and estranging, perfect for Aegon, the Mad King. Targaryen are dethroned rulers, Dragons’ keepers; they speak a
mysterious language, they’re soldiers. They probably would use Cardhu Gold reserve to water vegetarian Dragons’ salad. Bad combination.
The whisky is a classic Cardhu: malty and light nose, with hints of hay and maple syrup, red apples and pears. Danaerys – who usually eats raw human hearts without even olive oil – wouldn’t appreciate. On the palate it’s consistent and delicate: soft and buttery, it tastes like honey biscuits and cinnamon. The oak is recognizable in the (short) finish, with ginger and orange peel. Not bad, not unbalanced, not unpleasant: simply a bit ordinary. During an epic scene, Khal Drogo, Daenerys’ husband, kills his unbearable brother-in-law pouring boiling molten gold over his head. Now we know why: he suggested to toast with Cardhu Gold reserve. 77/100
Singleton of Glendullan select, Casa Tully (2019, OB, 40%)
Geographic choice: House of Tully is from Riverrun and the fish on the coat of arms celebrates the heritage, not a pioneering passion for sashimi. Glendullan is located on the Fiddichside, so Bingo! Fortunately the whisky doesn’t smell like salmon. It’s ex-bourbon casks matured, even if the color reveals the use of E150A. The nose is really expressive and colorful, aromatic and crisp: peaches, dried apricots, orange soda and even iced tea. Very pleasant, maybe a bit flamboyant. There’s a hint of wax, an idea of milk chocolate and stewed apple. And do not forget flowers, By Jove! Did someone leave flowers on our table? A romantic comedy nose. But when you sip it… sad trombone! What a disappointment. Maybe it’s because we’re talking about Riverrun, but the body is watery. Sweet attack, pear, brown sugar and honey. It becomes gradually drier, peach stones, toasted oak, pepper and a bitterish citrusy note. Angostura in an Old Fashioned. Short finish, caramel and toasted oak. Anyway, a better end comparing to Catelyn Tully’s, slaughtered during the Red Wedding. Which isn’t called “red” due to the strawberry dessert served… 79/100
Royal Lochnagar 12 yo, Casa Baratheon (2019, OB, 40%)
Malicious say that Royal Lochnagar 12 yo OB wasn’t very successful, that’s why Diageo guys decided to put a deer on the label and to make it the most sought- after of the series. Good job! Beware the slander, you impudent, because Baratheon could kill you for much less. Lord Robert sits on the Iron Throne, so the only distillery aristocratic enough to tell his story is Royal Lochnagar, the first
one to get a Royal Warrant. Being a 12 yo, it’s also the “oldest” malt of the series (six NAS and a younger Lagavulin). The color is a nice gold, like the crown of Seven Kingdoms. On the nose is definetely malty, like shortbreads prince Jeoffrey has for breakfast. Caramel, lemon curd and a symphony of yellow fruits (apples, plums, mirabelles, melon). It’s elegant, but shy, with a delicate hint of milk chocolate, cinnamon and liquor soaked cherries. In mouth it’s consistent, not like the House which is inspired to, quarrelsome like an Italian political party. Malty again (Ovaltine), cocoa, candied orange and speculoos biscuits. It’s clean and it tastes like whisky, with a fresh sensation of pineapple and pomelo and a hint of sweet tobacco. The finish is a bit oaky and herbaceous (rhubarb?), middle-long. It’s dignified like a monarch, but probably it lacks the charisma of a popular king. Machiavelli used to say: the Prince must be “fox and lion”, astute and strong. This whisky is only a deer: nice elegance, no bite. 81/100
Dalwhinnie Winter’s frost, Casa Stark (2019, OB, 43%)
The Starks are wardens of the North and they rules in Winterfell. Dalwhinnie distillery is located up there in the Highlands, where weather sucks, and it released a forgettable edition called “Winter’s gold”: so nothing to complain about the choice. There’s also a mood consonance: Eddard Stark and his family are largely respected, brave and valiant, exactly as Dalwhinnie’s malt. It’s no accident that the 15 yo is one of the Diageo’s Classic Malts. However, before “direwolves” maul our calves, let’s review it. On the nose it’s suddenly recognizable as the famous “honey malt”: honey, vanilla, Corn Flakes, candied citrus fruits. It’s also tropical, with a fresh splash of bergamot juice and menthol. Later, a thicker note of caramel, cinnamon and sugared coffee. Very nice indeed, it’s the ideal ally you would like to have on the battlefield with you. Actually, on the palate it’s not like Arya, the smartest girl of the House, who survives thousands massacres to become a killer with
thousands faces. Unfortunately, this whisky shows only one face, the traditional one, with hazelnuts, honey, cereal, and lemon sherbet. Vanilla, a pinch of pepper and a floral aftertaste. Full palate, but it doesn’t go the extra mile, even in the drier, gingery finish. To be clear: it’s not bad and it’s better than the Winter’s Gold. It’s gracefully harmless. When Arya takes her reveng on Walder Frey, she
serves him a meat pie, prepared with his sons’ flesh. This whisky wouldn’t pair with that recipe… 82/100