Bottler: Original Bottling
Age: 10 years
Casks: 9 years ex-bourbon, 1 year ex-sherry
Probably unchillfiltered; natural colour
The nose opens with quite a lot of alcohol – not surprising looking at the strength at 57% ABV – 100 British proof. After the alcoholic note fades down a little we can find fragrant peat smoke, dark european wild-fruit sweetness, ground coffee- and cocoa beans and slightly burnt toffee. Unsurprisingly this is the same profile as the 43% version – it is after all just a higher strength version. Knowing it can handle quite a bit of water I’m adding three espresso spoons of water as a first step. Ah yes – more dark berries, this is the Oloroso Sherry finish at work – we’re talking brambles and cassis here. A nice spicy note and vanilla as well, adding depth. The added alcohol makes it nose a wee bit younger than the watered-down version, but at the same time it adds a bit more oomph so I am adding a mark for the nose. The palate (diluted) is also a bit more nippy on the arrival than the 43% version, but just as creamy and viscose. The vanilla and spices stand out a bit more, the peat level is toned down, but the fruits and sherry influence are just as noticeable – more on the sweet raspberry side, again. There’s also milk chocolate and toffee rounding off the flavour. The medium-long finish (diluted) is very mellow and sweet upon swallowing with hints of peat and lingering sweet fruit and sherry notes.
I admit, I cheated while writing this review. I also nosed a glass of the 43% version along with it to compare as it really is just a higher-strength version. “Just”? Well, there are subtle differences (besides the obvious alcohol content difference), some of which are due to the fact that it contains more alcohol while others (variation in peat smoke level and fruit intensity) are just natural batch variation as the batches aren’t too high-volume being such a small distillery. In the end the higher strength and the possibilities this provides (dilute it as much as you want – or not at all) warrant a mark up of one point.
In the end this is just like the regular 10-year-old: A great, highly quaffable, fruity, (very) lightly peated Speyside malt. Is it worth the 15-20€ markup? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
(Nose: 87 Palate: 86 Finish: 86)