In late November, I rather impulsively pre-ordered a limited batch release of The Sassenach, Sam Heughan’s new premium blended Scotch whisky. (Sam Heughan is the Scottish actor who plays Jamie Fraser on the mega-hit television series “Outlander.”) Reserve Bar was the only place from which to buy it here in the U.S. It’s a darn good thing I snagged it when I did because it is now completely sold out. It took a little over two months to ship and arrive from Scotland, but last week, arrive it did!
In 2019, Sam (we’re on a first-name basis, ya know) announced that he was launching his own spirits company called The Great Glen Company and that The Sassenach would be his first offering. The word ‘Sassenach’ is a nod to one of his pet names for his on-screen love Claire and is an old Scottish Gaelic word that means outsider/stranger.
I have read interviews given by Sam, where he talked about his love and appreciation for single malts. Like many, he feels that whisky isn’t merely an alcoholic beverage (I totally agree). It is often an emotional experience that can transport you somewhere else. He says that he loves it because it reminds him of home.
In an article I published in 2017 about whisky’s history, I wrote a similar sentiment about whisky being much more than just a drink.
Those of us who love and appreciate a premium whisky do so not because it is some arbitrary alcoholic beverage. We do so because we understand and admire the rich complexity of taste in each bottle. Every single malt whisky has unique characteristics and tells a story of the land on which the grains were grown. The aroma (the nose) and flavor profile speak to the climate, rainfall, soil, region, and the techniques used by a particular distiller. An educated palette can pick up on the quiet subtleties as well as more distinctive and pronounced flavors-peaty, grassy, fruity, smoky, herbal, earthy, floral, spicy, etc. Like a fine wine, a good dram of whisky is one of the most pleasurable experiences in life.
Bottled at 46% abv, the description on the box of The Sassenach reads, “Inspired by the Highland landscape. Ancient peaks, hidden glens, and rising morning mist, fresh water and firm oak run deep in its veins. Each glass is a warm welcome, raised to both friends familiar and from different lands. The taste is smooth but distinctive. Unmistakable. A unique spirit.”
And on the web page for The Sassenach, the scent and flavor notes read:
Nose: “The nose is packed with citrus fruits, almonds, and vanilla.”
Taste: “Upon tasting, the Sassenach delivers flavors of peach, apricot, honey and butterscotch. The taste is smooth but distinctive with an unmistakable sweet finish of cinnamon and nutmeg.”
The Sassenach has received multiple honors, including 2 x Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Gold in the International Spirits Challenge.
So cheers to you, Sam Heughan! Well done! Your new whisky is absolutely delicious and I look forward to seeing what you come up with next.
Have a great week, friends.