Spica 1997 NSS

"It is very smooth and I imagine one could drink this very well as a starter of a tasting, although slightly too much wood-driven and lacks some complexity"

(Photo from Whiskybase)

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Founded in 2016 by Iain Croucher, North Star Spirits has established themselves lately as an promising new independent bottling with interesting and quality-rich releases. Besides the single distillery bottlings, they also assemble blended scotch themselves, including the Spica. Named after the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo 262 lightyears from our planet, the only things we know about this blend is that it contain both grain and malt whisky and the youngest part dates from 1997. The rest we have to find from the nosing and tasting the contents of this warmly designed bottle.

Nose

We some clearly sherry-matured whisky here, most likely from casks that previously held Oloroso sherry. Sweet, towards liquor-like fluid, with lots of soft fudge. It is reasonably balanced without the bitter notes that I often notice in heavily sherried whiskies, and not that influence noticeable from the grain either. Now I get hazelnut cream, lots of it, with the expected raisins. It is pleasant, smooth and friendly, no doubt, but is also lacking some complexity. No water needed, the strength is prefect. In the end perhaps some grain influence can be found, but otherwise it is mostly malt forward. Also pretty much cask forward. After while the wood becomes much more pronounced, with something that I can only describe as pine tree air refresher. The finish is dryish, sweetish, with muscovado sugar, and slightly alcoholic with a slightly chemical off-note. Otherwise, pretty fine.

Taste

A clear sense of soft wood and rum-soaked raisins made into some kind of liquor. It is pretty sweetish, again smooth, and has got lots of hazelnut cream. Add to that some bitter almonds, a softish note of old leather, pine cones, and sherry wood. Water pronounces the wood, and brings forward the nutmeg, coconut, and cardamon in the aftertaste. Dry with a good balance between sweet and spicy, but also a pine-y aftertaste, and again that sense of air refresher.

Overall

It is a well composed blend, no doubt, however, I am not sure about the quality of the ingredients. The sherried malt comes from a good cask, but is pretty much all about the wood. No clue about its spirit’s heritage, which robs it (IMHO) of any further complexity. The pine cone aftertaste is not one of my favourites, but this could also be due to the grain component. For the rest, it is very smooth and I imagine one could drink this very well as a starter of a tasting.

What others say

Whiskybase: 85.73 (75 votes) * Angus MacRaild @Whiskyfun: 84/100 * @WhiskyReviews: 47/50 * Thijs Klaverstijn @WordsOfWhisk: 84/100
Read for yourself

Big thanks to for sharing the sample!

Scores

these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
85%
Peat/smoke
2%
  • Hazelnut cream
  • Pine cones
  • Pine air refresher
Nose 84%
Taste 83.5%
Balance 85%
Depth 82%
Finish 83%
Score