Fans of Game of Thrones, take heed. As the White Walkers bring the grim promise of a never-ending winter and the icy breath of its ice dragon, viewers may find some warmth in a fiery dram of seven limited-edition single malts which have each been aligned with a great House of Westeros and the Night’s Watch. Without further ado, I introduce you to the Game of Thrones Single Malt Whisky Collection.
Malt Mileage had the opportunity to taste the Game of Thrones Single Malt Whisky Collection at an event hosted by Diageo at the Atrium Bar in Crown Melbourne. Free flowing Game of Thrones inspired cocktails and the sound of an expertly played violin whet our appetite for the following seven single malts in the collection.
House Targaryen has been paired with the Cardhu distillery, and the single malt being released under this house is Cardhu Gold Reserve. Cardhu was pioneered by Helen Cumming and her daughter-in-law Elizabeth in the 1800s, and this example of women leadership ties in nicely with that of Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. The Cardhu Gold Reserve was fruity with signature Speyside apple and pear, and a youthful malty fire.
House Baratheon, the once royal house of Westeros after Robert Baratheon successfully rebelled against the Targaryen dynasty to take the iron throne after 300 years of Targaryen rule, is fittingly paired with the Royal Lochnagar distillery. The distillery, which sits near the British Monarchy’s Balmoral Castle, produced single malt which was thought to be a favourite of Queen Victoria, thus earning the distillery a Royal Warrant. The single malt being released under the banner of House Baratheon is Royal Lochnagar 12 year old. On tasting the whisky it was delicate and offered soft oak to accompany flavours of toffee and fruit – it was a gentle Highlander, but with enough oomph to keep things interesting.
House Lannister, which took the iron throne from House Baratheon after the late King Robert’s widow, Cersei Lannister, ascended to the iron throne (following the deaths of her two sons), is paired with the Lagavulin distillery. The theoretical link between House Lannister and the Lagavulin distillery, at least in my personal view as a GOT fan, becomes clearer when I revisit imagery of the Lannister family’s home Casterly Rock, which is a coast-side cliff castle soaking up the salt of the Sunset Sea. The Lagavulin distillery sits near the southern shore of Scotland’s Isle of Islay by Lagavulin Bay, and the single malt produced by the distillery is often described to have “maritime” or “coastal” characteristics along with its signature smoky peat. The single malt released under House Lannister is the smoky Lagavulin 9 year old. On tasting the whisky it smelled of rich vanilla and it tasted of roaring bonfire and Islay peat – it was my favourite single malt of the collection, with its multi-layered whack of smoke from from peat on the one hand and charred oak on the other, and its sweet sugars and luscious vanilla from the American Oak casks in which it matured for at least nine years.
Following on from this coastal theme we turn our sights to House Greyjoy, which rules the iron islands of Westeros. House Greyjoy is paired with the Talisker distillery, an island single malt from the Isle of Skye. The single malt released under House Greyjoy is Talisker Select Reserve, a smoky single malt that for me sat in the shadows of House Lannister’s single malt, the more robust and characterful Lagavulin 9 year old.
House Stark, a great northern house with its cold home Winterfell, is paired with the Dalwhinnie distillery which is one of Scotland’s highest (and, apparently, coldest) distilleries sitting high up in the Cairngorm National Park. The single malt released under House Stark is Dalwhinnie Winter’s Frost, an aptly named no age statement single malt for the house of the King in the North, whose domain stretches over the frosty northern terrain of Westeros. Bringing the whisky to my nose I can smell Dalwhinnie’s signature rich honey with aromas of vanilla, citrus and dried fruit, but it’s on the palate where glory is won. On the palate there is a striking viscosity and oiliness to the whisky which gives it a pleasant mouth-feel, and it tastes of orange, dried fruit, honey and warming prickly spices.
Finally, the single malt released under House Tully is Singleton of Glendullan Select, which for me was a fairly unmemorable single malt.
The Night’s Watch
The Night’s Watch, a military order responsible for guarding the great northern wall to protect the Seven Kingdoms from the White Walkers and Wildlings, is paired with the Oban distillery. The wall may now have been breached with the help of the ice dragon Viserion, but as the White Walker’s advance into the realm of the living at least we can look on with a dram of the single malt paired with the order, the Oban Bay Reserve.
And my favourites are…
Among the whiskies in the Game of Thrones Single Malt Whisky Collection, my favourites were the Lagavulin 9 year old (House Lannister) for its rich vanilla nose and multi-layered smoke from the Islay peat and charred oak, the Royal Lochnagar 12 year old (House Baratheon) for its elegant Highland style which imbued toffee, oak and fruit, and, lastly, the Dalwhinnie Winter’s Frost (House Stark) for its luscious oily mouth-feel and honeyed, citrusy and buttery profile.
In anticipation of the final season of Game of Thrones I have already cracked open a bottle of Dalwhinnie Winter’s Frost to sip on as I cheer on House Stark to take the iron throne.
Which is your House?
*Thanks to Diageo for the opportunity to try the Game of Thrones Single Malt Whisky Collection. Pictures and video supplied.