Thanks to /u/devoz for this sample.
A lot of people these days are discovering the beauty of blind reviews. Removing the marketing behind something has some benefits. If they want you to think a certain way, it removes that thought. You can try a whisky without any preconceived notions.
Granted it does raise other issues: It makes it harder to discern a distillery’s idea of taste. it removes information that could tell you if you like it, such as ex-sherry cask. So while it’s a nice idea, it doesn’t always exist.
However every so often we have a sourced whisky in which, for either legal reasons or lost documentation, a whisky is released without knowing what distillery it’s from. We typically know the region. People typically hear rumours. Heck, better tasters than me (lots of them) can almost immediately identify what juice was used.
Which brings us to The Whisky Agency’s House Malt 17. We know it’s 17 years. We know that the malt was used in a house. And we know that it’s aged in ex-sherry casks.
Let’s see how it tastes then, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Aged 17 years
Outturn: 179 bottles
Cask Type: Refill Sherry Wood
Colour: 5Y 7/8
Nose: Cereal, nectarine, dark honey, raisin
Lighter nose at first, with the sherry taking over most of this. Save for some initial cereal notes, not really screaming a balanced nose.
Water brings out more raisin, though otherwise, this is straightforward on “syrup”.
Taste: Raisin, caramelized peach, anise, mineral, cereal, almond
More raisin, more flavours. The taste is where this one builds up. Lots of caramelized sugar notes, spice, and some mineral. I’m weird in I prefer my mineral before my fruit notes, and here it goes the other way.
Water brings out more almond and more complexity to the cereal from before.
Finish: Peach, cereal, peanut, brine, sage
Finish is simple, with peach and more cereal/nuttiness ending it all. It’s pretty straightforward.
Water rounds out more complexity with sage here. Lots of herbal notes.
Conclusion: Overall I wasn’t really jiving with this one. It has a good amount of raisin and peach from the sherry, though I can’t really get much from just that. It’s similar to Bunnahabhain 12 that tastes more like a sherry with higher proof. It’s missing a bit of that “this is whisky” factor.
Water certainly helps. Without water, this is a forgettable dram. With it? There’s a lot more going on. The nose doesn’t get much better, but the rest does.
So this isn’t really for me, though there’s quality here that can’t be ignored.
Scotch review #908, Speyside review #261, Whisky Network review #1457