Summerton Whisky Club - Our First Bottle Experience
Updated: Jun 26
Joining Summerton Whisky Club
We've decided to get involved with Summerton Whisky Club, which was founded and is run by the roller skating, skiing foody, who loves to travel - Dan Humphrey. Summerton is subscription based bottle service. Every 2 months a new whisky is sourced, selected and dispatched to it's members. This costs £50 (at time of writing) per 2 months, although other club options are available, plus that includes postage. Waiting for the 'latest' bottle to arrive by courier and pondering what it might be this time, creates a real element of intrigue and excitement for members. The surprise is certainly part of the fun.
We are now officially in the 'one-of-us' group, having joined the fold. For how long, well we will have to see because of the two of us, I really like to choose my own whisky, and Mike, well, he didn't know I decided to sign up and then he nabbed 100ml of the bottle. Placing your trust in someone else to pick whisky for you can be one of three things in my view; the desire to be a part of a whisky collective, the cathartic nature of it, in that you have allowed someone else to take the troublesome job of picking a new whisky off your hands, or, you are just more confident in someone else's ability to choose your drams.
Being super curious we of course had a rummage through the past bottles. There are some really interesting and good value whiskies (ie they cost more than £50) which I can with confidence say I would not have bought (as I hadn't). This is a fact. Hard to dispute facts, just ask George Bush. In this sense, it's akin to participating in blind drams in terms of discovery. This is a club to broaden your whisky horizons.
Summerton members are also asked to stay true to a 'sharing embargo'. Until a specified day and time, they are asked not to share what they have received. A very wholesome and practical measure, which ensures everyone experiences the surprise in person, when they open the package (which by the way is very sustainable - great to see). That's where we have just got to. It's reveal time - breathe in.
Our First Summerton Bottle
About The Black Fox Farm and Distillery
This month (June 2023) the Summerton Whisky Club bottle is the Black Fox Farm and Distillery - a Canadian Gin and Whisky producer. That surely guarantees they must be fans of Rush and Trailer Park Boys, or you'd hope so, as they are two of the countries greatest exports in my book.
Black Fox Farm and Distillery is run by John Cote and Barb Stefanyshyn-Cote, who are fifth generation farmers, and is located just outside of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in the Canadian prairies. It's known for it's farming heritage, innovation, sustainability and craft. They also believe in and promote terroir as part of the story, imparting the origin of the grain and soil as unique, much like Waterford Whisky. This area of Canada experiences wild temperature and weather fluctuations from lows of a windy -40 °C to highs of +35 °C in the summer.
About The Whiskey
This bottle is the SE Eleven Single Grain which retails for $95 on their website, but being in the UK what matters is whether you can get hold of one if you want to try it. That's where Summerton Whisky Club has come up trumps! Getting hold of niche craft Canadian whiskey, is not a case of just popping round the corner to your local wine shop.
The whisky itself is made from Triticale (triticosecale), which is a cereal grain and a hybrid between wheat and rye and is casked in fresh first use white oak. It is stored in casks rested under the prairie skies outside exposed to the elements. It's a 50cl bottle, and the ABV is 47.7%. There is 2,500 bottles of this batch.
If awards float your boat, then this SE Eleven has won some. The Master at the World Whisky Masters in London, UK, in 2020 and Gold at the Canadian Artisan Spirits Competition in Vancouver, Canada in 2020. Jim Murray is a fan, scoring this whisky 95 points in the Whisky Bible. It is not known if curry was involved. Spicy.
What do we think?
We tried this with friends at a BBQ and whisky evening first, then a few days later, Duncan tried it again with a clear palate and after it has had a little bit of air to open it up.
Duncan's Tasting Notes
The bottle: It's got that craft feel in the label and the bottle is quite weighty. It will make a good decanter afterwards. The glass stopper is an unusual touch and as any whisky fan would grumble, it's 50cl, not 70cl. Certainly, the whisky has some strong colour on it - very bourbon or rye.
On the nose: It's very rich with dark cherries, oranges, caramel and porridge.
On the palate: It's a light and fizzy, with green grapes, sweet and bitter orange. A little herbiness come through and I also think of semolina pudding, a muted sweetness.
The finish: Plum sour, orange liquor, bags of caramel and white refined sugar. A slight oaky note develops and it sits between sweet, bitter and sour.
Overall, it has a red wine cask vibe for me, and it isn't obviously, but if I was trying blind, that's what I would say. Initially, when trying at the BBQ, when the bottle was just opened on the neck pour, it felt like an off note in the finish. We don't score whiskies here at Honest to a Malt so it's just about whether we enjoyed it and how interesting we find them. This young whisky is fascinating due to it's origin story and whilst it's quite rich up front, it's bold and I certainly think I'll enjoy the bottle more and more, especially as it oxidizes.
Mike's Tasting Notes
On the nose: Espresso , brown sugar, orange pith, strawberry and coconut.
On the palate: Pine, undiluted orange cordial/concentrate, orange chewits, herbal note - maybe a hint of vermouth/martini, ginger and grassy note.
The finish: Astringent initially, dark chocolate, hints of cigar tobacco, background orange zest (like it's had oil from twisted skin).