Shy without water. Chlorine, raisins, a muted farminess. It almost seems as if the sherry cask has soaked up the smoke; at any rate, it has tamped it down a bunch. Uneventful so far, let's add some H2O. With water: Opens up and becomes more intense, but still remains soft and unassuming. Now there's game, dark sauces (umami) and bacon-wrapped, pan-roasted figs: the perfect dram for a hunter's log cabin. Or any log cabin, really (let's spare the animals, shall we?). Getting nicer, I must say, but still far from a stunner.
Good attack. Chinese plum wine. Then, yikes: some sulphur I hadn't caught on the nose. Gunpowder, lit fuses, freshly struck matchsticks. Trying to look past that: red fruit tea (rosehip), sticky honey, spicy mustard. Immense saltiness from two fronts, i.e., the peat smoke as well as the first-fill sherry influence. Has a bit of bite to it if not properly diluted. All very good and substantial, but three things throw me off: 1) the lack of smoke, 2) the overly pronounced, sticky and astringent sherry which dominates the mouthfeel, 3) the sulphur, which really can't be shaken but reappears again and again, even persisting into the finish.
Speaking of: the finish is long, with a cloying, bitter dryness that sticks to the insides of your cheeks and a mixture of smoked bacon, soy sauce, and the already-mentioned sulphury "fireworks" aroma. To conclude: an intensely dirty fellow, but if you don't mind some fizzy sulphur and like a hefty dollop of dark, sticky sherry in your slightly smoky whisky, this may be right for you. I'd opt for a cleaner, less brutal, regular 18-year-old Longrow over this any day of the week, though. The distillate deserves better.