And whilst the highs & lows [and more highs] of TWE Old & Rare show continue to pour in via social media [jealous – you bet!], I meanwhile found time to pop in to the SMWS, Greville Street for a swift one, two, three. I fancied something sherried.
- N: Nice all-round balanced and characterful nose profile with wood resin/ice gem sugars, creamy coffee liqueur and some Chesterfield/tobacco umami developing nicely. Golden syrup, hessian mats and putty emerges latterly. Appears set up for good things to come.
- T: Opens candidly with medium~large sherry/butterscotch resinous first-fill action, but there certainly has been some considerable maturity and consolidation beyond what eight years for scotch would often suggest – this ain’t Korean or Indian after all. Tasty stuff, drinkable neat and something quite Noah’s Mill [WB] about it.
- F: Many sugars, liquorice, more ice gems and vanilla brûlée. In fact vanilla appears throughout every stage but it’s never obtrusive nor homogenised.
- C: Probably perfectly aged given its constituent parts. Maybe if it had been left to mature further [for the benefit of those umami complexities], the cask would have become overblown. As it is, it’s a first-fill sherried Speysider with a high taste/enjoyment ratio.
Scores 86 points
Though I had only mildly enjoyed 96.11 [blog], a single cask refill bourbon Glendronach isn’t something I come across other than at the SMWS – and this only is the SMWS’s 14th offering ever. So I veer away from my sherry direction and settle in for a bourbon show.
- N: The distillate is showcased here, so there’s no surprise the cask is a [bourbon] refill – a ‘decent’ refill that isn’t still hyper. Notes of soft white cheeses, ice gems, foam packaging, lime pieces, other dryish fruits, Eccles cake pastry, custard pastries, cinnamon & pepper.
- T: Very decent barley cream, finely salted and moderately sweet. Salivating with water, this is a comfort blanket for the palate that oozes barley gold. Though descriptor-light it’s full of flavour with beautiful body weight. Goats cheese into the finish, evolving later towards more cream pastries and white>milk chocolate.
- F: Not long but continues to hum that sweet/sour cream barley tune.
- C: Lovely juice, but why bottle this one so early? Feels like it could have easily been left for years, but what do I know? Certainly one to buy with half a hope that OBE in 30 years time will transforms this into a mini masterpiece. More likely it will disappear as a session dram soon enough. Can’t wait!
Scores 87 points
- N: Initially there’s a dirty-spirity disinfectant note but that lifts almost immediately, replaced by a subtle grassy/creamy vanilla [Littlemill, Bladnoch] Lowland style malt. Other subtle yet distinct descriptors include parts of a wood workshop and fruity aromatic notes together with green peppercorns, liquorice, aniseed & thai spices – though personally [as a spice fiend], there’s no heat issue here whatsoever. This is a whisky with a full flavour profile and subtly unique character, possessing a style I’ve not come across in any other whisky aside from other Allt-a-Bhainne. I’ve remarked upon Bhainne’s colourful and individual character before WB, as well as the distillate’s barley creaminess [blog].
- T: Tastes sublimely creamy which after the Glendronach is rather a feat – though style-wise, both are similar in nature. Delicious mouthful and superbly cloudy mouthfeel.
- F: More length and complexity compared to the short & simpler Glendronach.
- C: I’ve not tried Bhainne’s new make, but from what I’ve previously experienced from their whisky, it’s been uniquely characterful distillate-led juice not always equally matched by its cask[s]. Here that fine spirit has met a cask match. Easily the best Allt-a-Bhainne I’ve had, style-wise bucking the modern trend and carving out its own niche path.
Scores 88 points