It’s interesting to see the whisky market change as independent bottlers known for their single casks and small-batch blends are starting to show more focus on their own blends. We see this with Douglas Laing building up their Remarkable Regionable Malts. Wemyss also recently revamped their core range. I guess this really shows that huge increase of demand for whisky and the anticipation for even more demand in the near future.
Here I am again, featuring a blended malt range. Jason has stated that we needed more reviews featuring Berry Bros. & Rudd (BBR). The holiday break makes this a good time for me to review the not-so-new Classic Range from BBR. This range was released in March 2018, so time flies. It seems like they’ve been busy with having a standard range of spirits as they also came out with some gins and rum.
Luckily, Estate Wine, the local partner and distributor of BBR sold samples of the whole range as they hosted a virtual tasting a few months ago. It’s quite surprising that no one else has reviewed this on Malt, which had worried about the quality of the whisky [ed: these have been on the hitlist for too long]. Fortunately, these are all affordable as they are widely available and also all bottled at 44.2% strength.
Berry Bros and Rudd: The Classic Range Speyside Blended Malt – review
Available via The Whisky Exchange for £31.25, Master of Malt have it for £28.44 and Amazon also demand £28.44.
Color: Pale ale.
On the nose: Immediately a lot of medium tone apples and wax. This makes me think of Aultmore. Behind it are light scents of banana syrup, dried apricots, licorice, toffee and apple pie.
In the mouth: A greeting of medium tones of apple pie, wax, peppers, toffee, butterscotch, cookie dough, dried apricots, candied apples and unpeeled walnuts. I also get this light taste of banana chips and honey and Cerveza Negra. That’s not all. Some unexpected notes of guava, thyme, citrus peel and cloves.
I like this a lot. For a No Age Statement blend, it’s not hot or unprepared. This doesn’t taste young. If there is a lot of young whisky in this, I’m guessing it is supplemented with a fair amount of older whisky. The mouthfeelI have to say is marvelous; it’s very full, lasting and mouthwatering. This is something an experienced drinker won’t find too light to drink for a few hours. Newbies will also like how this is different yet reamains so affordable. I’d suggest that you take your time with this.
Berry Bros and Rudd: The Classic Range Sherry Cask Matured – review
Available from The Whisky Exchange for £31.25, Master of Malt is £28.44 with Amazon also coming in at £28.44.
On the nose: Medium scents of dark chocolate and sulfur. The sulfur just takes over everything. I get some light scents of pecan nuts, medium roast Ethiopia coffee, dates and lemon peel.
In the mouth: The sulfur is lighter in the mouth. It doesn’t taint the whole dram. So, I’m able to get light scents of peppers, sultanas, dark chocolate, medium roast Guatemalan coffee and dried dates. There’s this flash of something tart like fresh red grapes and plums.
This is thinner and hotter compared to Speyside blend. I’m guessing the average age of the blend in this is younger, due to the more expensive nature of the sherry matured components. This has me thinking of Glenrothes even though I don’t have extensive experience with the distillery. I guess this is something the sherry bomb lovers will appreciate more.
Berry Bros and Rudd: The Classic Range Peated Cask Matured – review
Available via The Whisky Exchange for £31.25 with Amazon requesting £29.76.
Color: White tea.
On the nose: Light and lasting coastal scents. Behind it are also light scents of lime, lemons, ginger tea, vanilla, toffee, rosemary and thyme. There’s a quick burst of peat, iodine and smoke. Then I get some close to neutral scents of nori, vanilla and oolong tea.
In the mouth: Closer to medium toned tastes of peat, vanilla and honey. The peat and vanilla combination makes a burst of tastes that make me think of toffee and chocolate. There are the lemon peels again. But lighter this time. It’s followed by light tastes of thyme, nori, butterscotch, nuts and smoke.
The lemony, vanilla and toffee flavors lead me to think this was aged in a cask that held Caol Ila. The type of peat and iodine notes make me think of Laphroaig. I guess this is a blend of single malts aged in casks that held whisky from those two distilleries.
This is very delicate yet enjoyable on both the nose and in the mouth. I can smell and taste this for hours. Each sniff and sip are like being able to peel away more and more layers. The oily and mouthwatering feel to this reminds me of the Ardbeg 10 year old. Like the Speyside blend, take your time with this. Any peat lover of any experience will like this. Those who haven’t tried any peated whisky yet will like this as an introductory peated whisky.
Berry Bros and Rudd: The Classic Range Islay Blended Malt – review
This is available via The Whisky Exchange for £31.25 and Amazon will request £30.71 for a bottle.
Color: white tea.
On the nose: Lasting and medium scents of mary jane, brine, nori, coastal scents, vanilla and toffee. Behind those are close to neutral scents of lemon peel oil, dehydrated lemons and chamomile.
In the mouth: Dehydrated lemons, lemon peel, nori, coastal notes and toffee. Behind it are lighter tastes of vanilla, honey, brine, smoke and peat. The coastal notes, toffee and lemons appear again and last throughout the end.
The abundance of lemon notes makes me confident in saying this has a fair amount of Caol Ila in this. But the lack of peatiness makes me think this had unpeated Islay single malts in this. That makes it either unpeated Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain or Bruichladdich.
This tastes young and lacks complexity, but this is the beauty of young Islay peated single malt. It doesn’t need long aging to be good. The persistence of the flavors more than makeup for the lack of layers in this. Like the peated cask, this is good for any peated whisky lover of any level.
Photographs kindly provided by The Whisky Exchange. We also have some commission links above for your convenience and to help support Malt. These don’t influence our opinion.
Hi John. Excellent review. I’m going to have to get my hands on some of the other blended malts in this range. They appear to be very good value for money.
I’ve only had the sherry matured so far and like it a lot. Which batch did you sample? I don’t get sulphur in my batch 2 bottle of the sherry matured
Thanks for the comment. Indeed, these are very good for the money.
Unfortunately I don’t know which batches these are from. Estate Wine sold some sample sets a months ago for an virtual tasting. I didn’t even think to ask for the batch numbers!
It’s probably a case of batch variation. From looking at other reviews I have heard some others put off by sulphur notes too, where as there is no mention of it in Serge’s 90/100 review on whiskyfun of batch 2
Yes, even OB blends are a case of batch variation. Jason likes to mention the batch variations between Clynelish 14s and Talisker 10s.
I guess we won’t be able to find that batch 2 now thanks to Serge. hehe
We tried the sherry blend last summer in our whisky group. Was very popular as a sherry bomb and noone got any sulphur at all.
In fact, most people ended up buying it because it represented very good value for money.
Shows you how different people’s views can be!
Thanks for the comment. I think I’ve just become very sensitive to sulfur. I blame my genes! What I tried could also be from a different batch from what you tried. There’s just lots of factors to make our experiences different from others. Cheers!
Hi John – great review!
I tried the Sherry in a whisky club tasting when it first became available and everyone was hugely disappointed – we just thought it was all nose and no palate.
I’ve since had the Peated Blend and thought it was decent, especially at the price. I think that it’s a great example of how Blends can toe to toe with Single Malts. I actually think they would be great as the basis for cocktails too as they’re all bold and strong.
Berry Bros also does great independent bottlings of Single Malt if you get the opportunity.
Thanks for the comment. It sounds like we had different batches of the Sherry.
I think the whole range is great for the price! I just hope it stays consistent.
I’m with you with regards to blended malts being able to go toe to toe with single malts. Maybe even better. Douglas Laing’s Regional Malts also make a case for these.
I think peated and Islay blends will really shine in cocktails such as Tattletale and Penicillin. Not sure what kind of regional blends will go better in Rob Roys though.
As a satisfied owner of the Speyside malt, I was pleased to find the Sherry Cask in the nearest Waitrose to me in Sandbach, Cheshire. (About 15 miles away) Called in at the end of June after watching my youngest, play at a cricket club a couple of miles away and found it on offer at 24 quid, I thought this was too good a chance to ignore. They couldn’t sell it to me as for some reason it was a “blocked” item. Called in again a few days later on the off chance that the problem had been resolved to find that the shelf had been restocked but that it was still a “blocked” item!!!!!!!!.
Today I called in to buy more mundane items when I saw a solitary bottle on the “reduced shelf”. It had been reduced to £13.99 and the bottle was deposited in my basket in a nanosecond. Joy tinged with the regret of how many other bottles had been available at that price.
The bottle is labelled as Batch #3 and the contents are bottled at 44.2%. The whisky doesn’t display any harsh youthful traits and is a classic mellow “sherry bomb”. If I was capable of doing somersaults, then I would be doing them right now.
Hi Heeksy, I’m told that the quality of these blends vary per batch. Good to know you got a great deal on it and you’re happy about your purchase.