The first thing I noticed nosing this malt is that if its cask has changed during its maturation, I can't tell. The spirit and cask both bring out aromas I would expect of stuff made in 1972 with all the nice, restrained but varied European oak spices, old dry oak that hasn't gone over, and a tropical fruit juice note that comes in with some water.
Dry old oak that reminds me of quality musical instruments, so it's one of those Stradivarius or Amati casks ;) Oak spices (a great combo of demerara sugar, cardamom, and muscat), some Maggi, and old cognac. There's some herbal thing here, fresh mint maybe. The nose is tight, though. You can really feel the over 50%, and even before tasting it already calls for water. When I finally give it a liberal amount (just a little does not take away the sharpness) it becomes amazing with a loud tropical fruit note from the distillate developing on top of all that venerable oak. There is sherry, but it is sublimely enmeshed in the whole so that this is by no means a boringly stereotypical quality sherry whisky. I could nose this for ages.
My expectations are high after the nose, and I'm glad to find they are met and surpassed. It feels tight on the tongue even after drinking some 46% whisky before it, and calls for water. You'll still find a massive elegant sherry and oak waiting to be explored by your tongue. One of those whiskys where taking your time and rolling it around in your mouth for at least 20-30 seconds before swallowing will make your taste buds howl with ecstasy.
Some 1½ teaspoon of water later the sharpness, and only the sharpness, is lost. That high quality sherry wood with its dry dark chocolate and spices is still here. Amazing tertiary development with one of my favorite smells in whisky, rosin, and I don't smell a single generic boring modern sherry cask (the good ones, not the rubber and fart monsters) note. The fruitiness opened up by water is to die for. It's like I'm drinking a mix of old Glengoyne and Glenglassaugh. I wonder if I were to buy a 1980s Glengoyne single cask and a 1960-1970s Glenglassaugh, could I recreate this at home by blending them? Discuss if you have the wealth to try. I don't.
Stays a long while and never wears out its welcome. One of those old whiskys that don't have an excess of drying, bitter tannins but only the good parts of old oak.