Distillery: Glen Spey-Glenlivet
Age: 20 years
Limitation: 180 bottles
Casks: Ex-Sherry hogshead
Colour: dark forest honey
It’s been ages since my last whisky review – the cold ruined my nose and palate for quite a while. In the glass today is one of my most anticipated bottles of the year – the “free” bottle from Cadenhead’s club which you get when you trade in a full stamp card (i.e. for buying six bottles of whisky from them). Great deal and it’s always a big mystery what the surprise bottle is going to be. For last year’s bottling, which arrived here in Austria in February 2016, they chose a sherry hogshead (!) from a rather obscure Speyside distillery. So let’s check it out!
The rather gentle nose is that of a well-aged (probably first fill) proper dry Sherry (Olorosoor Fino? – i.e. not overly sweet cream sherry) European oak sherry cask. Slightly dry sherry notes and wood spices (sandalwood, cinnamon, star anise) up front, met by what remains of a clean, slightly citrus-laden distillate. When I first tasted it I had lightly vegetal notes too – I think I can attribute those to my cold, I can’t find them anymore. Instead there are also notes of cherry juice, cracked cherry and apricot kernels, cola nut and perhaps a dash of Kirsch. The palate starts off mouth-coating and on the dry side, a proper European oak sherry cask. Quite a bit on the herbal side of things, definitely not a “modern” style. Dry Oloroso, dried cherries and dates, cherry kernels, sugar-reduced persipan, cocoa, slightly bitter sugar-free fudge (huh?), a pinch of herbs de Provence and a coffee bean or two. The long finish has quite a bit more fruity (dried cherries, dates and figs) but not overly sweet notes upon swallowing, very gentle and throat-coating. After swallowing the dry notes start to appear and mingle with the sweetness, making way for slight spices and a hint of oak towards the end.
Well, just like last year, Mark Watt and team have chosen a rather odd and unusual cask as a “gift” for the members of the Cadenhead’s Club. A dry, fruity (not to be confused with sweet, which it is not!), spicy, herbal, european oak ex-dry-sherry dram. Maturation in a Sherry hogshead added quite punch and density – especially on palate and finish. A dram to explore and discuss with mates, not an easy, daily quaffer. But that’s just what I expect to get, something slightly out of the ordinary.
Availability? Unavailable on the open market, unless a club member decides to sell one. (Don’t ask me. Sorry.)
(Nose: 85 Palate: 86 Finish: 86)