Thanks to /u/devoz for sharing this sample… I think. As in I think thanks… I haven’t decided yet.
We’re in an odd time to be a “not super rich” whisky nerd. That’s me. I’m not super rich. Sorry to the people who have been stalking me to steal all my goods and perhaps the odd service (buy me dinner first). Also note this doesn’t apply to bourbon, as all of it is pricey unless it’s made by Skeeter in the woods and probably is going to make you go blind quicker than a trick arm and an empty house.
You may have tier one distilleries. The distilleries where you love almost every release. You’re lucky if you can get one of their normal OB releases, let alone anything cask strength.
Then Tier two: Maybe the IB releases are amazing, maybe you enjoy them in certain casks, or at a certain age, or in cask strength, or during a specific period of time. You’re a bit choose-y.
I used to think Tier Three was all the rest. However, upon seeing whiskies that no one cared about (seriously, Blair Athol? Tormore?) that I had on that list that I enjoyed suddenly jump in price, or new distilleries charging $400+ for 4 year old whisky… Guess I’m onto Tier 4?
Thus my friends and I debated purchasing Speyburn 15 2004 KWM Cask 277. I wasn’t into it, as myself and the person who picks some of the casks for KWM don’t align. That’s ok. Everyone is different.
But really, Speyburn? For the longest time I thought it was a blend, or a mistake in spelling, or maybe a STI specific to Scotland. I was super wrong.
Most of that is because it’s a smaller distillery owned by Inbev and they only doubled their output a few years ago. Also, it’s because I’m bad at remembering distilleries that I don’t drink a lot because I’m human and that’s fine.
Whatever, let’s expand my experiences, shall we?
Price: € 94
Cask Type: 1st fill Ex-Bourbon
Cask Number 277
Number of bottles: 108
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Brine, cream, burnt caramel, vegetal
Salt, some cream, some burnt parts. That I don’t mind. It’s a bit simple. Then you get this vegetal aspect that shows up like that one nerd at the nerd thing you do that you’re like “Fuck, not that guy”.
Yeah. All nerdoms have that guy. We don’t want them either. He demands why you don’t play a certain version of a deck or love a specific vintage or hate a specific make/model or really, really think you should get into some obscure movie that everyone else says is garbage. Yeah, the vegetal notes are like that and they don’t go away.
The vegetal note takes over and digs in like the US in whatever country in West Asia looked at it the wrong way.
Taste: Werthers, dry cement, burnt caramel, cream soda, lemon
Nice caramel note, and it jumps between a rich butterscotch and that burnt caramel note. Which is unique and interesting. There’s some acidity there too.
Oh, and all of that sits back and spends time with a strong rough dry cement note. If the vegetal was that one guy who likes the same things you do, then the cement is the person screaming about Jesus on the subway. You want to block them out but you’re not going to, and they take over all of the sounds you hear. It’s rough.
Finish: Burnt wood, plantain, ginger, coconut
Tropical but burnt. At this point the rough notes throughout have taken their toll, and I suffer from a supreme case of “being cynical as fuck”.
Burnt wood in your whisky is like the aunt you don’t talk to at family gatherings. I’ve been pretty lucky that I don’t have such an aunt, however I await the day that one somehow comes out of the woodwork and my almost-40-year-old-ass finds out true awkwardness.
Conclusion: A rough-as-nails whisky that kicks your face into the dirt until you beg for it to stop. I was not a fan (about as much a fan when that used to happen to me daily in school). I kept trying to enjoy the obvious aspects that someone enjoyed from this whisky, however like going to see a new movie with an idiot in the theatre being loud, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.
I’m kinda surprised this wasn’t left to be finished or blended or really anything but released by itself. Everyone involved must have been able to avoid the rough elements, pure and simple.
If you’re like them, great. If not, don’t buy.
Scotch review #1452, Speyside review #408, Whisky Network review #2145