Thanks to /u/distillasian for the sample.
At some point, I’ll make it out to Islay. Before then? Thank goodness I have good friends like /u/distillasian and his wife, who passed on her samples.
Reminder: Bake her a cake at some point.
There wasn’t enough to review of all of the samples (but there certainly was enough to enjoy, and boy did I enjoy), however, Distillasian also cracked into his bottle of Bunnahabhain 14 PX Noe Single Cask Distillery Exclusive.
Distillery Exclusives are one of those things that you wonder about. I’ve reviewed some before, and generally enjoyed them, but felt that they can be hit or miss.
In this case, we have an unpeated Bunnahabhain that was fully matured in a first fill PX Noe Cask. What’s a Noe Cask? Does it wear a mask? No, it turns out that means this was one of the casks where the sherry sat in it for an average of 30 years.
Well, hot damn. This cask is older than me. Add to that this very bottle was hand filled by distillasian. I mean, if that doesn’t sell you on it, then you’re dead inside and I feel bad for you.
But how does it taste? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: Available at the distillery
Cask Type: Pedro Ximènex Noe cask
Colour: 10Y 9/4
Nose: Mango sorbet, fresh OJ, cotton, grape
Initial tropical fruitiness with a nice sweet edge. There’s a good amount of sugar going on here, but think the natural, right amount of sugar versus anything harsh. Fresh OJ versus Minute Maid.
Some light aspects, some grape. I went in expecting the nose to be bombastic, however, this is lighter and balanced.
Taste: Yellow plum jam, cream, sultana raisins, cloves
Interesting. If this whisky had a hallucinogenic colour, it’d be yellow. Which is an odd thing to say, even for me? Maybe I need to jerk off.
Alright, I’m back. Nope, still getting yellow. Everyone at the table is staring at me. Shit, did I forget I was in someone else’s house again? Dammit, my parole officer is going to be pissed.
Creamy, lots of plums and sultanas, and water brings out a bit of spice. Very unique. I haven’t had a sherry cask go in this direction. It’s closer to a port cask, and we all know how I’m a sucker for that profile.
Finish: Chocolate, brine, ginger, mushroom/turmeric, raisin
Long. Very long. More earth and brine focused. If the nose and taste are showing off the value of an older cask, then the finish is the whisky remembering what a younger and foolish me said about Bunnahabhain 18 tasting too much like brandy and demanding I taste whisky.
Conclusion: When reviewing a whisky, I first think: How can I add in a dick joke? Once I have that, I finally start to review it.
Joking aside, my scores continue to evolve as I taste more and more whiskies. What started as “hey, I like this” eventually grew into appreciating complexity, uniqueness, the strength of flavours, depth of mouthfeel, and breaking down different aspects of each of those things.
In this case we have a jammy, balanced, almost focused delicate dram. Nothing about the creation would have told me that was coming. I would have expected a balls-to-the-wall sherry bomb. Instead what we ended up with is this lovely fresh nose, a purely unique-yet-works taste that I kept revisiting, and then a finish that showed off the best of the best.
None of this should work but does. The end should be too earthy. And for that, I’m impressed. This overall is the whisky nerds pick. If you’re at the distillery and looking for something very unique from a cask we don’t typically get to see, then this is the choice I’d make.
Scotch review #1022, Islay review #270, Whisky Network review #1607