N: Initial reaction - strong and tannic. Hard to say whether the wood or the abv is dominating the most. Theres chocolate and dried fruits, tropical-ish, some green tea, vanilla cream, some varnish,… and later the [heather-honey] grain appears - intact, fused rather neatly with the sherry. Theres quite some dry, heathery sawdust and a dry ‘grey’ maltiness. Hmm, I just used a colour to describe a smell? I guess what I’m getting at is, its got a bit of pavement?,….. ahh cement, there we go, with sharp sand - perfect! This has been open an hour and boy this nose is now cooking. Herbs and spices are coming through, all very subtle - and oily hues from the alcohol, escaping as if kept for a while in a hot oven. Fabulous.
T: Needs [lots of] water. Woody, raw, sweetish [like sweetcorn], somewhat salty with a hint of eucalyptus, spearmint and malty chocolate drink. The wood butts up against the palate but the malt slowly starts to creep through, the inconspicuous sherry element is compacted with the malt, a little sour now as the active 16 years of oak shows itself off once again, but more gracefully now. Its a sluggish dram that’s in no rush to get anywhere fast, and neither am i. A few hours later and the whole palate enjoys more of a spicy=herbal, malty & buttery mouthful with the oak still dominant but to one side. Add loads of water and the soft, buttery, eucalyptus comes through as well as rosemary & sage.
F: Once the wood dies down a little, you can enjoy the waxy chocolate & vanilla mouthfeel, another salty wave, some black=green tea and that thick malt still closely linked with the oak. Generally savoury>sweet, dry and woody but later on a heathery-rosemary, spearmint note hangs over proceedings very respectfully indeed. At the death, a humming - of a heathery, chocolately, dry, herbal maltiness with more dry oak and black tea.
C: The oak is heavy handed but there are joys to be gleaned from this malt, especially the mouthfeel on the finish. This one got better and better, really so much better.
Scores a B