Hot hot heat
Knowing where a whisky hails from can really affect the brain when you’re thinking about what’s in the glass. It’s influence can make you use language in ways that are uncontrollably biased. An Islay is salt spayed, coastal, brooding, kelp lashes. A highland is rugged and rustic and ... you get the picture. But there’s definitely something in the idea that a whisky does pick up a certain type of character or two depending where it’s been made. Where there this is true terroir or regional style can be argued over another day.
A few years ago I had a tasting with a local group of whiskyphiles with the head of Kavalan. The standout moment of the entire evening for me was spending some time drinking the company’s new make. It was hugely enlightening, there was no other way to describe the taste other than tropical, fruity, exotic and barmy. It oozed sweetness and fruity esters and had a character that instantly made you think of somewhere hot and humid. So maybe I’m thinking my first bottle of Indian whisky might make a similar impression - let’s banish any thoughts of curry leaves, temples and elephants and find out. Ommmmm
On the nose it’s instantly apparent that it’s benefiting from the 46%. Initially it scrambles out of the glass and it has an unmistakably warm fruity heat thing going on. 10 minutes sitting in the glass and this fruity attack calms down and it’s replaced with old boiled sweets, ashy peat, white pepper, a spritz of acetone and hairspray, some burnt sage. Nice big inhales gets a chewed wine-gum, some crystallised Angelica, a glacé cherry and a little mint and some lychee syrup with black pepper. It’s very enjoyable, quite energetic and sweet, mild smooth peat. Kind of reminded me a little of Ledaig with more fruity tang. Not overly complex but an inviting nose to be sure.
In the mouth and it’s immediately fruity up front, sweet and spicy and peaty. Lots of syrup and mint and ashy peat quickly moves aside to a tangy fruit and wood with liquorice and a gentle, bitter woodiness. There’s also some hints of cocoa and caramel - it feels like there’s quite a lot happening all at once, enjoyably erratic. Again, there’s nagging reminisces of other malts, Ardmore’s original Traditional Cask, a tasty Ledaig 18 and some sort of youngish Springbank all come to mind but with more fruit warm notes. I’m gritting my teeth - dare I say ‘a warm tropical note’? There’s something along those lines in there, I’m not imagining it.
The finish is pretty good. An enjoyable, fruity, ashy, sweet peat with a crumb or two of Kendal mint cake and a whiff of metal polish fade out which is long enough to make you think you’ve had something of some quality. There no noticeably bum notes or excruciating bitter wood notes, no sulphur, just a twang of drying pepper, ginger and chocolate as it dies. A little more presence on the side of the tongue would make it really nice but, over all, pretty good stuff, especially for a relatively young NAS. some of these whiskies from hotter climbs can feel overly young and a little rushed, but this feels, whilst young, well composed.
I keep thinking this would be rather nice in a hot country with a nice cigar on some barmy evening and... there I go again, you just can’t get away from it. Would I buy it again? Probably not, there’s better to be had for the money but I’m glad I tried it.