Back on point with the first instalment in a new series of mystery drams from Mark at Malt Review. For new visitors this is a swap we’ve done several times previously, as being stuck in England, Mark doesn’t have the immediate access to the range of whiskies I find myself fortunate to stumble across. And as he’s a massive Islay (specifically Caol Ila) fan, there is often a peated current in the drams he sends north. Plus there is far too much choice on the shelves and only a modest percentage is worth experiencing.
I do enjoy a peated whisky however I often seem to be off on tangents nowadays with old Macallan’s or obscure bottles without giving Islay its due attention. So we send mystery samples to one another in bulk packages and let the fun ensue. I type all of this and the tasting notes before the identity of the dram is revealed. I used to make a guess as to the distillery but experience shows this isn’t really worth the effort.
If you do get the opportunity to swap some samples with another whisky enthusiast then go for it!
Nose: an initial intrusive thrust of alcohol that turns to an effervescent mineral quality. Then a malty, craft beer aroma. I let this sit for a few minutes as I felt it hadn’t really opened up yet; raisins, dark chocolate and furniture polish. This still isn’t really its full potential I feel, so we’re going to add a little water and sit back again. If you were twisting my arm I’d be saying a young spirit with some form of Oloroso cask in the mix but not purely a sherry cask whisky as there’s a sweetness I normally associate with the Tamdhu Port cask I’ve been enjoying. Interesting.
Well, the water has toned it down to a more palatable level. More sweetness now with oranges, a nutty quality and I’m not going to say crushed almonds this time either! Not a huge level of complexity but just enough to be warrant a couple of drams.
Taste: wow this one has a real kick on it and at cask strength there isn’t much to say apart from Black Forest Gateau with plenty of cherries with a thick oozing quality. Back to the water again.
Sherbet, more raisins, dark chocolate and oranges – its a merry-go-round of the same characteristics ended by a bitterness on the finish that is quite prolonged.
So here comes the reveal and you can read what Malt Review thought of it here. The most startling thing is how the cask has swallowed up the peaty nature of Longrow and delivered something really that will really polarise opinion. I like it, but enough to purchase a bottle? Mmm, that’s something to consider. Experimenting is in the DNA of Longrow it seems and this is another to sit alongside the 2013 Australian Red Shiraz cask release. I’m sure the 2014 edition is a port cask so I’ll certainly check that out later this month.