So this was an interesting parcel to receive in the post. It’s from Abbey Whisky, and it’s a Rare Casks release. This also goes by the name of ‘Anon Batch 1’, and the distillery is a mystery.
Now this isn’t the first time I’ve approached whisky tasting without really knowing the contents. In fact, I do it quite a bit with m’learned colleague, Whisky Rover, when we exchange samples. It sharpens your senses and your wits, and means you don’t bring any bias to proceedings. But at least he tells me what the whisky was afterwards. Will Abbey Whisky do the same with this? Probably not.
We have some data however: this was distilled in 2001, and was bottled when 13 years old at 51.5%. It’s a Highland whisky, according to the website, and has spent the last 6 months being matured in an Oloroso sherry cask. Presumably the early days were spent living it up in ex-bourbon? It also costs just £54, and only 90 bottles are available.
All I can say is that I have previously loved Abbey Whisky’s releases – they’re a cracking bottler – so I was very much looking forward to this. Especially as Abbey Whisky themselves describe it as having bagged ‘a wee beauty’.
Colour: deep gold. On the nose: well that’s rather lovely. First impressions: it’s vibrant and really creamy. And almost like a good blend (I don’t mean this in a negative way, on the contrary). There’s a wonderful balance and harmony: honey and vanilla custard on one hand, with something more woody and even acidic, like balsamic vinegar. Pineapple, peaches. Soft fruit definitely. A real intense malted barley that almost, almost comes across as a waft of smoke.
In the mouth: yes, a gorgeously thick quality to the spirit. Very viscous and just clings to your tongue. Stacks of minerality. Hops, mead, almost refreshing notes, like a light summer ale in a beer garden. Flashes of hay-barns and meadows under a late summer sun. But Again, very creamy and malty – warming, chewy, peppery finish, to the point of believing that it might have a touch of peat in there.
There’s something very old-fashioned about this. It’s a good, classic whisky that’s full of traditional flavours and tons of vitality. And the sherry cask finish gives it a little twist. It’s a debonaire, Clooney-esque whisky that’ll charm the pants off you.
I really like it. Is it the best Abbey Whisky release though? Not quite. That’s only because they’ve released some brilliant whiskies of late. But this is certainly indicative of that high quality. It’s a wee beauty, indeed.