Bottle Polishing: Sherried Scotch, Old & New

Launched in early 2018, not many blended malts can claim to be 100% sherry-matured, bottled at decent strength and with a price tag of around £32 [Sep ’19].

BBR Sherry Cask Matured Blended Malt Scotch Whisky [2018] Ob. The Classic Range 44.2% WB84.96[58] SW87

Berry Bros & Rudd Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

  • N: An instantly pleasing perky fruity [almost floral] & nutty/malty bitter-sweet nose with a little [sherried] pong coming from a combo of casks – some rather talkative of their previous cask content and some not. With some fusty O&R stylistics, this one seems a tad more mature compared to the contemporary Glenfarclas 105 [at time of writing], though both expressions speak a youthful patois.
  • T: A tangy, cask-y, citrus arrival with a molasses-like bitter sweet, creamy woody move. A little water goes a long way to help conjure a waxy barley-soft mouthfeel and provide more chocolate & caramac confectionary en route.
  • F: Fruity-dry with a fully played out sherry-fruity tannic chew.
  • C: Plenty to like aside from the price, this is a well considered sherried number [that went down very quickly], that I’d happily buy again as a daily drammer. With thanks to David for the recommendation.

Scores 86 points

 

On the back of that positive experience, I bought another two bottles for easy drinking and sharing. I then begun to hear rumours that this one now seems younger than it did. As these bottles are polished, observe the corresponding Whiskybase scores I recorded at the time.

BOTTLE #2

BBR Sherry Cask Matured Blended Malt Scotch Whisky [2019] Ob. The Classic Range 44.2% WB84.11[99]

Whiskyshare at Springbank

  • C: I took this bottle to Campbeltown. Peeps talked of this one being too young, cask driven, cask syrup-ed, simple and bitter, and I’d agree with all of that. Still tasty, this bottle disappeared almost as quickly but did appear much younger, vastly more simple and with considerably less depth/info.

Scores no more than 80 points

 

One more bottle then, just to make sure!

BOTTLE #3

BBR Sherry Cask Matured Blended Malt Scotch Whisky [2019] Ob. The Classic Range 44.2% WB83.69[133] 

Glenalba
Glenalba: cheap and drinkable old blends

Much like I had with Lidl’s [25yo & > 34yo] Glenalba’s [WB], this short-lived love affair is certainly over. This third bottle is far too young and spirity. Unlike the first two, this one ended up hanging around on the back shelf for some time. Last month I pulled it out to see whether it had rallied.

  • N: Initially, the engineering behind this one’s creation appears very effective [WN], but closer scrutiny reveals the short cuts. It’s pretty basic and needed months of softening. Thankfully by the bottle’s end the nose became more forgiving. Descriptors: [sherry] syrup, bready, sweet & sour vinegar, honeyed husky crushed nuts, tahini, a touch of white spirt-soaked paint brushes,….
  • T: Whist the nose may have opened up, the arrival on the palate is generally young and nippy yet proved most agreeable to the uninitiated. Though it demonstrates a bitter-sweet profile fairly well, there is a sense of incompletion, something lacking as if it needs blending. So what did I do? I blended it with an older blend, Ralfy-styley [coming up].

  • F: The finish is fine if short, murky waxy sweet sour and spirity/grainy becoming more mildly sweet-bitter with nutty caramel/molasses-light.
  • C: A fair sherried blended malt for its price point, just no comparison to the first bottle.

Scores 79 points

However, pour some of this juice into a hip flask and forget about it for three months and hey presto, we’re significantly closer the calibre of the first bottle again! I guess if the industry hasn’t the discipline to wait any longer for their spirit to age, then we’ll have to – or alternatively – look to older juice on the secondary market.

 

Whyte & Mackay 21yo [1980’s] Ob. 43% [75cl] WB88.33[6]

Whyte & MacKay 21yoI doubt this medallion-clad bottle would have made the A-team rehearsals, let alone a pilot episode. Faux luxury is as impressive as personalised number plates. As for the Kenner-style imitation leather/plastic packaging, it’s almost certainly the same material & colour roll used for original Starwars figure Obi-Wan’s cloak. Let’s now apply the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ mentality, and hope the whisky inside steps up.

  • N: Fairly old skool and rather murky/unfocused. Frankly I’d hoped for more. Months in and after getting to know this bottle [including weeks of blending experiments with BBR’s sherried blended malt, notes to follow], the fruits are [relatively] more vibrant and the industrial tones more candid. Descriptors include metallic raisins, touches of rubber, honeyed leather and fusty popadoms.
Ob1
Obi-Wan
  • T: The abv simply doesn’t cut it but I’ll accept the softness temporarily as a refreshing change, after all, it’s not been a hindrance for the Guillon-Painturaud cognac [WLP]. Unfortunately this Scotch doesn’t taste great either. After an initial soft-sharp complex bite, a wishy/murky bitter malty mouthfeel persists thereafter. Months go by as does the spirit. There are ups and downs but it always feels like it needs supporting.
  • F: A plasticine-flat sweetness goes hand in hand with a woody/dusty/waxy bitterness.
  • C: Can’t grumble with this old 21yo blend at the second hand market price of around £50, but it’s a weak show overall – from this particular bottle anyhows.

 Scores 78 points

 

W&M 21yo blended with BBR sherry blended malt 

With the BBR lacking maturity and the W&M lacking vitality, it seemed only natural to blend the two. It felt right to use the BBR to promote the W&M, as the latter appeared to offer more underlying potential. Around 2 parts W&M with 1 part BBR worked best.

BBR and whyte & mackay blend.jpg

  • N: Smells like an old/tired whsky that’s been rejuvinated, which is exactly how it is. Frequently the young BBR jumps out and trumps the aged W&M – even with a further reduced BBR ratio – yet both Scotches’ respective assets work together without conflict. Later ginger cake is served with more frequency as time passed.
  • T: In comparison to the stand-alone W&M, we’ve a far more complex bitter-sweet interplay between the two compounds. There’s a real jostle between young and old with a display of dense dark fruits, oaked confectionary, subtle integrated vanilla and just a touch of smoke < ash [likely from the W&M], and sherry syrup big time [from the BBR certainly]. Give the blend 30 minutes to settle however and there’s no jostle but it’s now conjured molasses action and appears more like a slightly duped & caramelised rum spirit!
  • F: A strong oaky bitter and > industrial/dusty wax capacitorsweetness interplay ensues with murky runny toffee/caramel playing a big part to the end.
  • C: Take two fair-to-mediocre lacklustre expressions and blend together to create a more vibrant & certainly more tasty/satisfying old skool slugger, a combo I much preferred to drink than the two separate Scotches on their own. Incredibly, this blend came close to resembling something of an early vintage sherried Balblair.

Scores 85 points

 

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END

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Bottle polishing all sorts

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