...and my curiosity paid off! As I stated in my review of the 1987 it all depends on how long the previous three fillings matured and it seems as if they were significantly longer with the 1977 than with the 1987 - so the 1977's cask was more exhausted when they filled it the fourth time. Alternatively, the 1987 could be more powerful when they exported it from Spain (e.g., contained sherry in Spain for much longer than the 1977 cask). We will never know what is the reason for the differences between the two 4th fillings but what I know (for sure) is: The 1987 is worth its bucks while (as a drinker) I am not willing to pay more than 250 Euro for a bottle of the 1977 - unfortunately, no one will sell a bottle to me at this price so I stay with my sample that is fortunately large enough to have a second and third dram...
PS: I re-tasted this dram about four weeks later and fully confirm my review and score. Maybe somewhat exhausted casks are the reason why they did not state "4th Fill Sherry Hogshead" on the label and it is surely not a bourbon hogshead (what they would have stated otherwise). I had the same observation with a leached "4th Fill Butt" from The Family Casks winter release (WB id 106039). At least this is a fair statement and obviously indicates rather shy whisky profiles of inactive casks so you can identify these….
The colour of the 77 is one shade paler than that of the 87 despite it matured 10 years longer in the cask - so obviously the 77 cask was more leached. The nose of the 77 is all about a subtle old sherry profile with stronger malt aromas while the 87 offers a close-to-perfection balance of sherry-induced and malt-driven flavours. Do not get me wrong, the 77's nose is great and without any flaw but I like 87's nose better (by two points). It seems as if the cask of the 77 had less power to contribute over 40 years as the 87's cask did over 30 years.
The 77's taste is delicate and subtle on many delicious sherry and spirit-driven flavours in a fine setting. Again the malty flavours are stronger than the sherry-induced ones what support my thesis of a weaker cask. Nonetheless this taste is great and very tasty without any obvious fault. But again I like the more powerful and better balanced taste of the 87 better (two points again). To my taste buds the 87 is even more complex than the 77, e.g. it offers more delicate different chocolatey flavours (despite 10 years less of maturation time). Water is not needed on both drams.
The 77 arrives warming and instantly coating on the palate with a slight peppery feeling and a minor astringent moment (that is not distracting). The mouthfeel of 87 is again much better with an even stronger creaminess and no peppery or astringent moments whatsoever. The finish of the 77 is long and it adds more spicy flavours to the party that somewhat dominate the mix now. It ends with a minor drying and astringent feeling again (tannins). The finish of the 87 is better on all dimensions: It is longer, more balanced and complex and without any distracting moment - simply close to perfection. Here I rate the 87 even four points higher than the 77.