Packaging roars! Whisky squeaks.
I’m a graphic designer. Have been since forever and it’s as much a career as an affliction. Designers are, on the whole, anal buggers. They’re detail sluts. Typophiles, font junkies, kerning-crazed and suckers for substrates. And most love packaging. I’m of the opinion there a few coming things designers would like to design (if the already don’t, chairs, album covers, logos for cool brands and booze labels). In the world of whisky we’re spoilt for amazing, detailed and eye catching packaging, it’s a train spotter’s and obsessed designer’s paradise.
In a crowded market, DL’s wee beastie and other labels in the portfolio, are pretty eye catching to say the least and it’s testament to the art of their design partner that it visually punches above it weight. Once seen, never forgotten.
Since first seeing it some years ago I’ve always had that nagging voice in the back of my head telling me to get a bottle. And I have. And even the bottle they sourced is a fine aesthetic decision, so very much a shape of a time gone by calling into memory the bottle silhouette of the great Samaroli. It’s a pretty thing. A delicate contrivance of design and branding.
But. Nobody bought an album just because the sleeve was good (maybe we have a few in the collection like that), it’s the inside that really matters and that where it falls short. With all the bravado and bluster and swagger of the packaging, it’s solid black bottle makes me think something dark and brooding will usher forth. Maybe wearing a cape and at home in a dark corner of a Victorian novel. What actually arrives is something that looks like an old basic bottling of Glenfiddich or similar. Pale, white wine. Bugger.
On the nose
Sugar. Hot, sawn wood. Pepper, honeysuckle, sugared almonds smeared in the flesh of overripe soft fruits. Water brings in sandalwood cool menthol and feint fruit syrups from tinned peaches and pears, oak, pepper and geraniums and a herbal note.
In the mouth it’s pretty much the nose, on the tongue. Hot initial arrival with ginger and wood spice, oak and honeysuckle light syrups and a spirity temperament. It does remind me of Glenllivet, the hot sawn wood is rich and coats the tastebuds. But it’s ultimately boring. It tastes like so many other wee beasties and it’s really the aforementioned packaging that steels the show.
A woof! and a whimper then. Is there better to be had for the money? It’s 46%, no colouring and no chill filtration, a swanky box, a lovely bottle and a beautifully designed label front and back. And a reasonable, average quality whisky. It’s cool and a ultimately likeable wee beastie but one I’ll chalk up to scratching an itch than appearing on any greatest hits mix tape of worthy scotches. A novelty rather than a new classic.
EDIT: So, it turns out this bottle has a trick up its sleeve. it is GREAT with ice. So so in a glencairn glass, but stick it in a tumbler with some ice and it comes alive as a drink. the sweetness, honey oak work well at a lower temperature - think Nikka Coffee Grain.