I’ve always heard big things – turns out they were right.
171 bottles, cask no. 3102. American oak, ex-sherry hogshead.
Nose - Dark and bright. Intense, deep sherry, beautifully integrated fresh, clean wood. Raisins soaked in grappa, some pear drops, a hint of carpenter’s workshop (freshly cut hardwoods, wood glue, varnish). A totally wonderful nose. With water, smoother, more elegant, juicy cherries come through, but it’s a little bit more ordinary.
Body - Rich, loads of midrange, and very elegant with a toffee sweetness and delicious malt. Lots of pepper. But then a bitterness develops, backed by a very faint sulphurous note, which rides in on a tropical wave of ripe fruits and a little smoke. It’s a fault, but backed by something seriously fun, and hence quite challenging. With water, the line between the fault and the payback is more blurred.
Finish - Very spicy, more biscuity richness develops, the challenges continue with significant wood tones combatting toffee malt. It’s pretty fabulous stuff and once you’ve given the whisky a little time in the glass, with a little water, that sulphur and the toffee come together and become something darkly wonderful.
What's not good about it: At first, the drying bitterness is out of kilter.
What’s good about it: But with patience it becomes a defining feature and works with the blockbuster nose to provide an authoritative, elegant and deeply intense whisky. Very good.
264 bottles, cask no. 6417. Spanish oak, ex-sherry hogshead.
Nose - Abyssal depths, dusty old oak, raisins on the vine, but with a stewed apple and raisin sweetness, with some cream. Fantastic intensity, lots of wood and some pencil shavings too, and grapes served many ways. Finally, some Asian brightness - szechuan peppercorns (untoasted and tough), spring onions and a hint of Asian fruit. With water, it gets a little more tropical, and a little more meaty - with BBQ pork and slowly rendered fat coming to the fore.
Body - Deep, dark, rich biscuity malt. Very spicy, very oily and quite herbal with a little rosemary, oregano and loads of lavender. Fascinating and surefooted.
Finish - The spice continues, long and continuous and quite meaty too. No duff notes and no unbalanced wood. Very, very good.
What's not good about it: Only that it’s so complicated that it’s not pure pleasure - so a little challenging but definitely worth it.
What’s good about it: The full church organ, all the stops out and balanced too. What a fabulous whisky.