Distilled in 2010 from a 2009 crop of Scottish Barley, this heavily peated single malt was first filled into an array of ex-bourbon, ex-Syrah and ex-VDN (vin doux naturel) casks. In 2018, this spirit was transferred into Fernando de Castilla oloroso hoggies. distiller.com: ‘The breakdown is as follows: 30% first-fill ex-bourbon, 40% second-fill ex-bourbon, 5% second-fill ex-syrah wine, and 25% ex-vin doux naturel (French fortified wine). In 2018, the whisky was placed into oloroso sherry hogsheads from Fernando de Castilla to finish maturation. It’s bottled without chill filtration’
N: In one word, unctuous. Despite everything – the complex cask maturation program, those wet[tish] casks, a high [40 ppm?] phenol count – incredibly, I find it’s barley first and all the bells n whistles thereafter. Thankfully, the [cardboard-y~matchbox/char-y/flat-packed furniture] oak itself is not overwhelming. Previous cask contents-wise, the [salty] vanilla-y/fruity [feint-y] toffee-d [raspberry coulis/confectionary rhubarb & custard] flavours remain a firm fixture. Surprisingly, it’s not overly animated/dynamic overall [in comparison to some Octomore’s, for example], though it all sits well as a whole, albeit a curious whole. Other descriptors include [dirty chimney]-smoked ham/meats,… wet muddy spinach,… honey,… leathery, a touch of tobacco. I like it.
T: We’ve a similar salty crisp yet oily [creamy,.. chocolatey] unctuousness on the palate, becoming more grapey, a touch peppery, some flat Cola fizziness, and phenol-slick-yet-dry/not dry [read on] on delivery. The grape influence is fully involved, juicy, fruity and complimenting, juxtaposed against the dry phenolic > ashy light saline note – the spirit meanwhile remaining resilient. Despite the abv, this one doesn’t swim at all. Diluted, it’s very lacking,… shallow even. As a result, I enjoyed most of the bottle neat, happy to persist [life is hard, eh?] with the manageable spicy edge.
F: The peatiness is relatively muted/tamed for Port Charlotte, but I think that’s the grape influence at play. All that farmy carbolic dirtiness is there, albeit slightly buried. As a result, the finish is initially short if lingering, not dissimilar to a [JW Black: WLP83] blend. Question is, where’s that lovely barley spirit gone? The spirit remains firm – the Laddie way – if rather simple/basic at this stage. We finish with more of the fruity vanilla-y [lime cubes] confectionary cocktail over phenolic/ashy/smoky Twix and toasted tea cakes,… a hint of mackerel skin?
C: Gimmicky/fun/worthwhile? You decide. I enjoyed every drop. Score-wise, unctuous barley-led oiliness should never be overlooked. On the other hand, this high-octane colourful whisky looks good initially, but is easy scrutinised. Bruichladdich’s [slightly more affordable] Bere Barley is a better choice.