...and indeed it can, at least to a certain degree. It is an unspectacular but pretty nice dram that is both interesting to explore and very quaffable to drink. But take your time: Let it breathe for a while and chew it for some minutes (before swallowing) - this is good for some additional 4-5 points in my score book. A special release that carries its name with pride! ...and may all the Diageo managers that are responsible for the sub-standard Oban and Glen Ord special releases be obliged to deliver a comparable quality next time).
PS: This release is for connoisseurs that prefer delicate and balanced drams - if you look out for bold and impressive ones go for the 12-years standard edition instead.
The nose offers a light and subtle sherry-influenced profile with the malt characteristics of the Blair Athol clearly shining through. It is not as bold and impressive as the 12-years Flora & Fauna but it is delicate and without any off-note (no sulphur, I did not hope to experience this in such a large batch ever again). Water releases some additional (fine) herbal and chalky /mineral as well as oily aromas that I really like.
The taste shows a light sherry and malty flavours profile that is well integrated and balanced. It is not impressive but very quaffable (that is what my taste buds tell me, finally). No flaws that I can find (certainly no sulphur, hooray!) and after some chewing a whole bunch of prior hidden aromas pops up what is really nice. Actually, give this dram some time in your mouth and it will reward you with probably twice the amount (or even more) of delicate flavours. There are some fine additional chocolatey notes, subtle herbs and spices and even more fruits. Hey, the longer I chew this dram the more I like it! After some reduction the taste offers a strong and interesting new liquorice and some nutty (almonds) flavours - this is really worth a try. I like this dram both neat and reduced to about 40% abv.
The whisky arrives warming but not very much coating on the palate with a minor drying feeling. The finish is of medium length and adds fine chocolatey and spicy flavours to the taste that are really delicious in this mix. No distracting bitter or astringent moments at all (like the Oban or Glen Ord owned in abundance), it is just a little too short to be of the same quality as is the taste.