"The first day of the competition brings a dram of sherry excellence from the Highlands and one I should have known... but didn't"
This being the first time that I participate in a blind competition, I am really curious if my guesses will be anywhere near to the truth. When the package arrived about a month ago, I couldn’t wait until the competition, obviously, so I poured me a few drops for most of the samples. The pre-tasting was so much fun that before the actual start I can already say that participating has been worthwhile. So here we go with the first of eighteen samples… day 1. First, what do we see in the glass? Well, the colour is just pure caramel. I would say this might come close to some of the Cognacs. By chance, I left it in front of the ventilator (summer has been early here). It becomes very cloudy, so I guess no chill filtration. At first sight I am thinking about something matured in sherry casks from an independent bottler. Time to dive into the real spirit!
Oh this has definitely seen some sherry casks. I get unambiguous Oloroso sherry notes, but it seems that I also get something coastal. The sherry is complex and deep with in particular coffee and cacao powder, accompanied by a distant bouquet of flowers. Then sweet fruitiness (dried apricots, peach juice, orange peel) and there are definitely liquorice notes in the back. I like the good nose on this one. It does show a fair amount of wood, but perfectly integrated in the spirit. There are the (for me) typical matured sherry components of old leather, old library books and dusty sultanas. I would estimate this might have been in the cask for a while. Probably 15+ years. Furthermore, I cannot detect any peat. So let go to the taste…
The palate is quite dry at first. There are sultanas, cinnamon powder, cold coffee latte (in a good sense) and milk chocolate. I find less coastal influence. This is not one of those in-your-face sherry monsters, which I do not tend too fancy that much. The palate does feel a tiny bit watery, though, I suspect this was not bottled at cask strength. But who knows, I could be so wrong… Let’s continue to the finish. Lots of orange peel, old wood and rose water.
My first guess is Bunnahabhain. Why? Mainly because of the slight coastal influence I got in the nose, which suddenly remembered me of the Bunnahabhain 12 and 18 years. After reading some of the tasting notes in the internet, which were often close to what I nosed and tasted, I thought maybe… It was just a hunch, since for rest it could also have been Glenrothes or Glendronach. And it was….. Oh, I should have known that one (a feeling I will probably have more this competition). I was indeed Glendronach 18 years. I reviewed another version earlier this year. Funnily, the scores are quite similar, so at least my judgement is reproducible. I was completely misled by the coastal (I thought) I got. Anyway, a very good OB whisky, and a wonderful start to the competition!
This sample was part of the
• these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •