The second stage in this blind tasting is a double feature. Two, judging by outward appearance, sherry matured whiskies which Yapi has stated are in some way related (the relation could be anything). Without further ado, let’s get tasting! edit: the bottles have been revealed, I’ve added their details to this post.
The nose hits you right away: sherry and old wood. Fruits of the forest, cherries and a perceived touch of smoke round out the first impression. Over time, the wood becomes more and more fragrant, passing cedar, cigarboxes and ending up in fruit-tree territory. Then there’s cake, candied fruit and blood orange.
In the taste, the theme continues: caramel, blackberries, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. Drying wood which at first is quite overwhelming, but mellows with time in the glass. Still, a lot of cask influence here, and a smoky touch which could be from that source as well. In the background I detect a hint of coconut. American oak? It becomes slightly dusty towards the end, leading me to believe this may be an older bottling with some OBE (old bottle effect).
Macallan 10yo for Giovinetti & Figli Distilled 1974-75 Bottled 1985 Official Bottling
The nose on #2bis is really quite different from the previous sample. It is a much lighter, cleaner style of whisky, with a much less intrusive wood influence. I smell candy (winegums), milk chocolate and milky coffee. Blood orange is present again, and in larger amounts, accompanied by toffee apple. There is a sour note which permeates all. Also, the merest hint of sulphur-induced rotten eggs (not nearly enough to be offputting though).
The taste continues on the sweet and sour sherry theme. Raisins, white pepper and a hint of wood show themselves first. Then marzipan and a dusty note, as well as sugar burnt beyond caramel and some cedarwood (in a, compared to #2, highly restrained fashion). Towards the finish, small amounts of cinnamon and apple make me think for (only a fleeting) moment of the Campbeltown distilleries.
Macallan 22yo 56.7% Silver Seal Distilled 1988 Bottled 2010 Sherry Cask
These are both excellent whiskies, but in very different ways. #2 shines in the nose, which continues to evolve in the glass and displays all the best characteristics of a long but not overdone wood-maturation. #2bis in contrast, I find to have a less complex (but delightfully fruity) nose, an excellent palate and a long, smooth finish. Ultimately it is only the higher weight I put on the nose when scoring which separates the two: 91 points for #2 and 88 points for #2bis.
Now, onto the guesses:
I think #2 is either a whisky aged for a fairly long time (25-30 years) or a whisky aged for 18-25 years, but bottled some time ago and displaying OBE. I think it was matured in an ex-oloroso-sherry cask made from american oak. 47% abv. First inkling as to the distillery: Glendronach. But really no clue.
#2bis, I think, is younger. In the region of 15-20 years and a recent bottling. Due to the sweetness present I think a ex-PX-sherry cask may have been a factor in this whisky, but a fairly active bourbon cask reracked into oloroso is also a possibility. 55% abv. No idea about a distillery, could also be Glendronach.
For another blogger’s view on this sample, check out Words of Whisky.