Thanks to /u/Throzen for pouring this dram.
So far, as part of the tasting, I’ve mostly had Scotch. One Irish whiskey, but otherwise only Scotch.
Anyone who reads my stats shouldn’t be surprised: I mostly review Scotch. It’s that simple. I live in a country where higher end whisky doesn’t have a market (yet). I’m directly north of a country that has a long history of a specific whiskey (US), so I can have some of their releases (not as much as before), not to mention the great whiskies coming out of India and Japan (that I get less of now).
Thus if you’re a whisky nerd who is into trying new things like I am, you start exploring other whiskies, other countries, and other methods. Enter Taiwan, which is it’s own country with its own culture and there’s totally no reason related to a certain Disney character I’m saying that.
A bunch of people have witnessed Kavalan, including myself. However there’s also Nantou, which turns the odd head when mentioned.
Enter Omar 4 2013 Cask Strength, which may sound familiar, as the last time I reviewed an Omar from Nantou it was also named that. But this is a different cask (not in type, both were sherry casks) going on.
Hyper aged Taiwainese single malt whisky? Let’s see how this one compares, shall we?
Price: £ 190
Distillation Date: June 2013
Bottling Date: September 2017
Cask Number: 21130066
Wood Type: Sherry Cask
Colour: 5YR 5/8
Nose: Ginger, blueberry, cherry, lemon
Spice and fruit on the nose. The strength certainly helps get the fruit notes. Interesting that the sherry here is more of the spice, but it doesn’t nose like a sherry dominated dram. Something else is going on, especially with the cherry, but I’m having a hard time placing it (this totally isn’t setup for anything else).
Taste: Black pepper, blueberry, cream, pencil shavings
It’s fruity, it’s got some heat and earthiness, some cream, and… distinct note of pencil shavings?
Oh shit, this tastes like bourbon, doesn’t it? Dammit, I knew not being able to sell human organs in order to regularly drink bourbon would catch up with me. So many potential tubs filled with ice.
Also yes, I realize that pencil shavings may not be as distinctive as they once were, and I’m old to think it was, but for those of you who had pencils in school, you know what I’m talking about.
Finish: Cherry, white pepper, blueberry juice, cocoa
More cherry, more of that pepper, then some earth and tart fruit. It’s like the bourbon-like spirit elements are blending with the sherry. Very odd. It kinda works?
Conclusion: Tastes like a bourbon finished in a sherry cask, for all the pros and cons of that. Very odd whisky to sip on. Moments of sharp tart or sugar, mixed with earth, hefty oak, and pepper.
It’s a mess, but on the other hand I’m pretty sure most American distilleries would sell what’s left of their children to have a whiskey taste like this after only 4 years. Granted that may just be the rampant lead poisoning talking.
At the end of the day, the distillery seems to have some good foundations down. If you had picked this up, it’s drinkable, which is heads and tails above what some young distilleries pump out.
World Whisky review #425, Taiwan review #15, Whisky Network review #2210