It has begun. The Blind Tasting Competition 2014 is underway. Heeeeeeere we go!
The nose of sample 1 doesn’t pull any punches: this is a fairly heavy sherry-matured malt. There’s raisins, marzipan and cherry-bonbons here. Quite soft and mellow sherry with definite tones of American oak: caramel-sauce, banana and apricot. A hint of wood strengthens over time and there’s only the merest hint of solvent. All in all, a civilised sherried whisky, this, with possibly a fairly light spirit lurking beneath. And is that a hint of smoke or just some older wood showing?
On to the taste then, which opens with sherry in spades. Dry but also a little prickly. A fair amount of wood, more than expected by nosing alone. The wood itself is not very aromatic, just… woody (and again slightly smoky in character, like the aftertaste of a decent longfiller cigar). There’s milk chocolate and quite a lot of orange (both juice and peel), spices like pepper and nutmeg and in the finish laurel and a little liquorice.
Overall I really honestly quite like this (and that’s coming from someone who generally doesn’t like the heavily sherried ones). There’s a smoothness, a lack of errors here which is very appealing. My first thought is that it resembles an older version of the Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso, but the american oak mixed with sherry then makes my mind go to Glendronach. Of course, choosing this distillery would mean going for Highlands as a region, when Speyside would probably be a safer bet for a whisky of this style. And there’s always Bunnahabhain…
My guess: Glendronach, Highlands, 19yo, 56.5%.
My score: 87/100
What it actually turned out to be:
Longmorn 1996-2013 van Wees (whiskybase) 01.05.1996 - 11.10.2013 (17yo) ABV: 57.5% Cask#: 72323