Thanks to Tim for this sample!
A quick side note: Right now I’m attempting a few things. My wife went through my samples and made an advent calendar for me to do during December. I’ve amassed four whiskies for my birthday. Oh and I said I’d at least review (not post) enough Irish whiskies to have 100 reviews of them.
However every so often a friend asks me to try a whisky and make sure it’s tasty/worth it/not a polymorph potion. In this case there was a sale, a possibility of buying something, and I happened to have a sample of it.
So here’s Royal Brackla SMWS 55.38 “Flaming Red Wine Punch”, a Royal Brackla that was aged in ex-bourbon casks and then finished in Sauternes hogsheads. Royal Brackla is a Highland I don’t see very often, as this is only the second one I’ve ever had.
So while everyone around me drinks mystery wine and I decide to keep catching up and doing a friend a solid, let’s see how the whisky did, shall we?
Price: Sold out
Date Distilled: September 2000
Cask Type: 14 years ex-bourbon refill hogshead, 1 year 2nd fill Sauternes hogshead
Outturn: 288 bottles
Colour: 5Y 9/8
Nose: Cloves, nectarine, cassia buds, floral
Nice spice and nectarine at first. Never really hits a point of extreme spice. There’s mostly just nectarine and spice going on here.
Some floral after water. That said, a flaming red wine punch wouldn’t have a super strong nose, so… there’s that, I guess.
Taste: Raspberry, cloves, papaya, ginger, peanut
Bit tart, bit fruity, more of the spice around the edges. Some nice tropical and peanut notes going on. It’s like someone heard about Thai food from a shredded recipe book and tried it all at once and added in what they thought was the food but really isn’t. Like you have that ginger and peanut note, but you also have cloves and papaya too, and all at the same time.
Finish: Anise, peppery, mushroom, brown sugar
Very spicy, brown butter forward, and umami/earth finish. Any fruit is gone. This is devoid of fruit. This is that finish on a spicy red wine, I guess. I asked the others who are drinking red wine around me and they agreed that’s a thing.
Conclusion: Certainly not a bad dram to sip on. There’s fruit, spice, floral, and then a finish that goes hard on the spice.
The nose is a bit shy, the taste is fruity and has some salt/nuttiness to pair up and make it quite nice. The finish? All spice and umami, which may throw you off, may not make you a happy panda.
Personally it’s not doing enough to really wow me. I’ve spoken before about how Sauternes isn’t my favourite when used in a finish, and it’s somewhat evident here. Everything is light and there’s no point where the bass is dropped, if you will. I think they should have left this going for a few more years to have gotten something interesting going on.
Scotch review #1042, Highland review #174, Whisky Network review #1628