Bottled: Apr. 2016
Age: 23 years
Limitation: 126 bottles
Casks: Bourbon Hogshead
Colour: dark white wine
The nose starts off quite intense – do we have liquid from a freak cask in our glass? Let’s see! Dark honey with a touch of palm honey up front with an intense sweet fruit note. Sweet apricot puree, mango (mango lassie due to a hint of yogurt), papaya, lychee, tinned peaches with glucose syrup, pickled ginger (without any spice) – layer upon layer of sweet fruitiness, almost like a fruit perfume. Where do they grow these fruits in Scotland? Oak? Err, yep, very well-integrated oak notes in the background, just as one would expect from an active cask after 23 years. Oh, and there’s a sneaky, dusty leather book cover as well. Fruits in a library? Huh! The palate is rich, malty, mouth-coating and fruity-sweet on the arrival, with a small amount of initial heat on the tongue, later turning into a very creamy and oily mixture, matching the style of the nose. The oak is a tad louder – but still well-integrated and not dominating. We’ve got orange peel, sweet grape juice, dried apricots, mango, pickled ginger that’s a tad more on the spicy side now, banana chips, a dollop of yogurt (mango lassie again?), blackcurrant (where did those guys sneak in?) and, again, the mixture of dark honey and palm honey. I really like the transition from lively arrival to very dense, rich notes. The long finish is slightly spicy (pickled ginger) upon swallowing, mellowing down to a malty, caramel, sweet fruit mixture which lasts quite a while, exhibiting more oak notes and a touch of yeast towards the end.
Very interesting – the official tasting notes make no mention of the fruits I got – instead they mention “sugary toffee tones”. Perhaps I’m just interpreting the “sugar” part differently, getting very sweet fruits instead? Funny how the mind immediately jumps on things – and that’s also why I never read other notes prior to tasting myself.
Well, another cracker from Cadenhead’s in my book. It took me several sessions to get to know this whisky, it’s certainly not an easy style, very dense with loads going on. But in a world of more and more replaceable light, easy-drinking whiskies, complexity wins. For me at least. Not that this wouldn’t be an easy-drinking whisky, far from it – dangerously so. But complex at the same time. As good whisky should be.
(Nose: 88 Palate: 87 Finish: 86)