I’m always keeping my eyes open for new and interesting whiskies, particularly single malt scotches or blends. My tastes skew toward darker flavors, but I’m never one to discriminate.
I was interested then, when I stumbled upon SIA, a new small batch blended whisky recently created by a San Francisco-based entrepreneur. A brief email introduction and inquiry led to a small sample bottle that arrived in my mail box a short time later, as well as a publicity packet including tasting notes and purchasing information.
SIA is a “blend of Speyside, Highland and malt and grain whiskies, specifically created to appeal to today’s modern palate.”
SIA’s creator, Carin Luna-Ostaseski, states in the sample’s accompanying fact sheet: “With SIA, I’m looking to challenge the Scotch stereotype… SIA is approachable, refined and refreshingly modern. This is the brand for consumers who don’t even know they like Scotch yet.” She adds, “What I found is so many consumers think of Scotch as heavy, smoky… something their father or grandfather would drink…SIA’s versatility – whether it is enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or mixed in cocktails – has tremendous appeal.”
Supporting the approachability factor, Luna-Ostaseski used the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to fund and introduce SIA to the market.
My own impression of SIA is one of mixed curiosity: a fine blended whisky that begins light and slightly sweet on the tongue, with weak peat notes. Medium bodied, with faint floral and fruit notes, it finishes long and dry.
As the flavors receded, I sat and thought, scribbling a few overall impressions on my notepad: a good, medium blend – smells more potent than it tastes – flavors competing with each other – good introductory whisky.
What did SIA want to be? I tried to piece together the information: the multiple flavors; the crowdfunding; the “blind tastings of hundreds of single malts.” SIA strove to be something for everyone, yes, even for old scotch hands like me.
If you’re new to whisky, you’ll not choke on your first taste (as some do). And if you’re a seasoned Scotch drinker, there’s plenty to enjoy, especially with a touch of water or single ice cube – it truly reveals the lighter flavors and mellows the spirit. But no one flavor rises above the rest, not peat, nor smoke, or fruit, or spice. SIA has plenty of taste, but each cautiously jostles with the rest, like passengers trying to exit a crowded elevator.
To be fair, that’s likely my preferences speaking – as I said, I prefer bold, forceful flavors of smoke and peat, which of course are the descriptors responsible for scaring away introductory or even novice Scotch drinkers. And one can’t deny SIA’s blend is a finely crafted product wrapped in a sleek design. But my sample left me wanting a bigger punch from one of SIA’s many pleasant and engaging flavors.