Single Malt Sherry-off

Today I enjoy a loosely concocted sherry-forward flight, courtesy of the Foz. I shall be looking out for flavour camp similarities across four, largely similarly-aged contemporary single malts. There might also be a bonus dram.

Sherry-off.JPG

 

Glenfarclas 105 [+/-2017] Ob. Cask Strength for Travel Retail 60% [1ltr] WB85.33[26] WF86 WLP82

Glenfarclas 105 [2018] Ob. Cask Strength 60%

  • N: Whoa, this is much nicer than my [2020] bottle, on the nose at least. The profile talks of husky soft toffee-d chocolate with boozy fruit pieces. That’s what I always loved about the 105, the fruity chocolate.
  • T: With a moderate salivating mouthfeel [diluted], there’s the 105 I know and like. It is a little young/chemical-y, but nothing like my recent bottle.
  • F: Certainly more than a touch raw/green, but in the main, the soft-toffee & chocolatey nature still applies.
  • C: Bring back the 10yo version and we’ll have one of the best affordable malts around. Until then it’s just, good.

Scores 83 points

My [2020] bottle:

  • N: Instantly disappointing, this batch appears a little younger/more spirity.
  • T: Unpleasant chemical arrival. Both this and the 2017 release end up in the same ballpark, but whilst the older bottle goes through a few gear changes, this one simply burns from the off and out to the finish.
  • F: On par with Famous Grouse.
  • C: This hasn’t significantly improved after 3 months which was the hope and I think I’ve drunk too much to send it back [1/3]. I’ll have to write a letter. Score-wise, we are provisionally looking at around 78 [at the most?].

 

Macallan 2005/2019 [14yo] G&M Speymalt 43% WB88.63[10] Ralfy87

Macallan 2005:2019 [14yo] G&M Speymalt 43%.JPG

  • N: Malty sweet – very malty sweet, cream-icing sweet,… moreish dessert smorgasbord-sweet with a few sips of white coffee. However, it isn’t saccharine sweet so it makes for a delicious dessert dram on the nose.
  • T: Soft edgy sweet grassy ~> chalky arrival, a little water going a long way to promote the well-tempered/balanced and moreish [yet restrained] sherried raisin maltiness, again a touch grassy. Tastes older than it is. Perhaps that’s a perception born from its slight softness? Maybe it didn’t work so well at 46%, or even 45 or 44%?
  • F: With a malty > chalky mouthfeel and chew throughout, we conclude with numerous glimpses of dried fruits in various forms along with a very quiet rootsy aniseed note.
  • C: This is one Ralfy picked out and I can see why. There’s something beguiling about it, an honest vulnerability without the need for a noticeable heavy-handed finishing. Good whisky/price ratio given the distillery.

Scores 86 points

 

Glendronach 15yo [2014] Ob. Revival 46% WB88.41[52] WF81

I hadn’t realised how many different batches of the pre-Revival revival there were. This batch was dated 27/10/2014.

Glendronach 15yo Revival.JPG

  • N: This one is more fruity wax than the previous two, with particular notes around fruit stationery and [cigarette & banana] candy. There’s a richness to this one that comes from a commendable dunnage-y depth, abv strength and some wonderfully active [sherry] casks. Is there bourbon too? From memory. I think the Revival might have been 100% oloroso sherry cask matured in the beginning, but at some point, they began using more fresh 1st fill bourbon casks for finishing as stocks were diminishing. Regardless, in short, a gorgeous nose I want to stay with.
  • T: Sherried yet with more bourbon-y/dunnage-y action. Looking back to notes I made about this back in the day, I noted ‘Apparently Glendronach has been favouring a heavier use in bourbon casks of late‘ [Nov ’14]. This reminds me in so many ways to Balblair vintages 1990. 1991, even a little of the 1983 and rather like ‘that sherry cask’ 1994 Glen Moray [WLP]. Lovely!
  • F: Now, much similar to the previous two in flavour profile, yet the finish here is longer. You can’t argue with the calibre of those casks and the presentation.
  • C:  ‘A must-buy’ says it all though it’s too late now for these versions.

Scores 88 points

 

Arran 2000 16yo SMWS 121.98 ‘Sweet, succulent and dark’ [266 bts] 55.4% WB87.11[11]

Arran 121.98

  • N: Richer/oilier which is the significantly higher abv talking. Let’s bring it down for comparison’s sake. This is more akin to the 105 in character, though this one leans towards husky-dry citrus fruits over the red-fruit chocolate. Having said that, there is a blackcurrant or perhaps a cherry note in there – sweet cough sweet-like without any medicinal overtones. The more I nose, the more I notice.
  • T: Quite straight ahead, measured and sustaining malty citrus. A citrusy Bruichladdich perhaps? I wonder if this bottle has been open some years? Indeed, I see I first tried this in May 2017 [WLP85]. After three years open it’s still firm and superbly balanced yet not as intricate, perhaps?
  • F: A balanced finish revealing whisky’s constituent parts. Just a touch of the cask at the finish compliments the estery/fruity barley mash.
  • C: I like it. I find this less eventful than before though more competent. Maybe the previous whiskies building upon my palate helped its cause.

Scores 86 points today.

 

Here’s that bonus dram, an old blend to finish. [EDIT: blended malt]

Sirius 1988/2019 31yo NNS Cask series #9 [3582 bts] 43.1% WB89.11[59]

Sirius 1988:2019 31yo NNS.jpg
[WB photo]
  • N: A nice nose to finish. With a rootsy fungal depth, it’s refreshingly different after the younger stronger guns. In short, a moreish fruity fungal nose that’s spent 31 years gradually morphing towards a dryish meaty fruity rancio tincture.
  • T: A fruity meaty/rancio-deep chalky depth, though that depth is more of a fall/drop than a layered formation.
  • F: That’s a relieving descent mindSit back and let the years soak through you, like some kind of whisky yoga though a touch of contemporary vanilla at the death slightly disturbs the illusion.
  • C: Very enjoyable ‘pipe n slippers’ dram, skilfully put together with no obvious issues at all. Because of this, it pips the 33yo [WLP87] to the post by a point.

Scores 88 points

 

_________________________________

 

SUMMARY

  • The 2017 Glenfarclas 105 is better than my 2020 release but both are a little young. Big shame. Bring back the 10!
  • I’d had the Arran before. Not a sherry-forward malt but with nice oakiness both times. A point better today but for different reasons.
  • The Revival won it [by 2] but there is something beguiling about the Macallan.

I’d place the Glenfarclas 105 as the most generic of the four, in a contemporary way. The others all had very individual character traits. There’s no one sherried whisky style, that’s for certain.

 

With thanks to the Foz.

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END

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Wood colours

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