Whilst transparency levels are slowly improving in some areas of the whisky world, travel retail is not one of those areas. An Cladach makes no exceptions here either, presenting the drinker with little useful information as to exactly what they’re drinking. Recent NAS bottlings from Bunnahabhain (especially last year’s excellent Moine Oloroso) have all floated my boat, but this fishing vessel is lost with all hands for me.
Obvious sherry influence with toffee, raisins and a punnet of red berries – but all a little mildewed and damp rather than bright and juicy. A slightly metallic aroma hints at copper, reflux and youthfulness – this sits alongside nuttiness (hazelnut), chocolate, coffee (of the instant granulated type) and some struck match. The addition of water changes the fruit composition introducing stone fruits, as well as cake sponge and baking spices.
An oily and juicy arrival – 50% suits this nicely. Red berries are up front, and include a combination of fresh, dried and hedgerow varieties. Chocolate, toffee, dates and figs provide some sherried depth and are again joined by underlying earthiness. There’s both a slight steeliness as well as some rawness/almost new make quality around the edges. In the mid to back palate, nuts, spice (predominantly pepper) and wood – with only the first two of these being successful – the oak here is quite sour and rather jarring against the sweeter sherry influences. Water improves the balance of sweet vs. sour – but in doing so loses the viscosity on the arrival.
Short to medium with dried berries, chocolate and an over enthusiastic amount of sour, astringent wood.