November sees the release of two new Gjoleid bottlings at Vinmonopolet (not available from other retailers, as far as I know) I should have had tasting notes for both to share, but due to a mix-up I’ve only had the chance to taste the one they’ve named “Blindpassasjeren” (The Stowaway). It has matured in an ex-sherry cask for “almost five years”, but the unusual thing about it is that before the malt spirit was filled into this cask it had held aquavit for a period, which it is natural to expect will have had some influence on the whisky. The cask has also been walkabout (or sailabout, rather) along with the Linje Aquavit, and has crossed the equator twice between February and June this year.
Nose: Cumin, some newmake character, oaky sweetness. Towards aniseed with water, and aquavit-notes, but the malty spirit is still discernable beneath it all.
Palate: A light note of cumin, clear oak notes, the relatively high ABV is obvious. With water the taste also turns to aniseed.
Comments: Very easy drinking, and quite “aquavit-like”. A nice combination of the two types of spirit, who’d have thought aquavit-cask would be a success? I’m definitely bagging a bottle or two come November.
In contrast with the last couple of Mackmyras this one is not “förlagrad” (pre-matured). When the cask was filled on 28 May 2007 and the bottle filled on 15 November 2011 we’re talking about a straigh forward four year old whisky. On the other hand, it’s been matured in a 30 litre ex-sherry cask, which should give it a lot more cask influence than a four-year-old from a full size cask.
Nose: Red berries, dried cranberries, vanilla and something port-like. With water it acquires a hint of liquorice, but also more fruit.
Palate: Sherry, and raisins with a hint of cardboard. With water the cardboard transforms into bread dough, other than that the main impression is “sherry”.
Comments: Decent, but nothing more. Better on the nose than the palate.
Filled 5 October 2011, bottled 29 November 2014, unpeated spirit matured in a 40 litre ex-oloroso sherry cask.
Nose: Butterscotch, a lot of butterscotch. A little roasted grain. With water, rubber appears on the nose as well; warm car tyres. And a hint of black pepper.
Palate: Burnt rubber, garden hose and a faint whiff of toffee. it’s all less intense with water, but the impression of chewing a garden hose lingers.
Comments: WAY too much cask influence, for my palate. I’d MUCH rather have the adolescent congenners of the bourbon cask variety. It’s interesting to taste this, especially in contrast with the other, as it’s a text book example of cask influence making all the difference, but unfortunately it’s not a drinkable dram.
Distilled 02.09.1985, bottled 28.02.2007, matured in a refill sherry hogshead, cask number 2826.
Nose: The immediate impression is wood, but then I find tart, dark plums and dark chocolate. After some time in the glass it offers up sweeter fruits; ripe cherries and also a hint of marzipan. With water the fruit tends towards orange marmelade with a hint of aniseed. Even later I find apple compote.
Palate: Plum in Madeira, rum-soaked cherries; fruit in spirits, that is… and dark chocolate. Candied oranges, too, and wood, but in no way overwhelming wood. The palate is rounded off with water and gets more of a milk chocolate character.
Comments: Dessert. The clear favourite of the three vintages I’m tasting this evening. Its oaky character makes its age obvious, but the oak has not yet overwhelmed the spirit, and the whisky may be at its peak, at least as far as “the preserves shelf in the pantry”, there is fruit conserved in any number of ways here.
Distilled 1989, bottled 2003 (newly opened bottle).
Nose: Plums, apples and a hint of cinnamon. Vague whiff of a lit fireplace and ashes. With water it develops sweathy leather and a lightly bitter note, green tree, tobacco and herbs.
Palate: Dusty malt floors, apple compote with cinnamon, red berries, lightly bitter. The bitterness grows with water, it develops tobacco on the palate as well and gets an obvious saltiness (especially on the tip of the tongue). It’s the bitterness, salt and lightly ashy notes that stick around as a finish.
Comments: The nose is lovely and complex, but the palate reminds me of why I’m never completely sold on Springbank. There is too much bitterness for it to work for me.
Cask number 1973, distilled 11.12.1996, bottled 31.03.2011.
Nose: Apple compote with cinnamon, dark chocolate, fragrant roses. A little water adds mint, orange peel, jasmine and lemon.
Palate: Oak and apple peel, honey, black pepper and dark chocolate. More chocolate with water, orange marmelade and bay leaf.
Comments: Yet another stunning sherry cask from Arran. Confirms the rule that these are a steal at almost any price (this particular cask has not been available in Norway, but those that have have been just as good).
Distilled 13.12.1990, bottled 12.06.2007, from cask number 15688. 1st fill sherry butt.
Nose: Quite closed. A little vanilla and baked pears. Water brings out smoke, orange peel and white flowers.
Palate: The smoke may be hiding on the nose, but is obvious on the palate; cold bonfire. Also freshly baked wholemeal bread with honey. With water the smoke turns chalky, and I find flower nectar and honeydew melon.
Comments: First a note on the colour. It’s not obvious from the picture, but this is hardly darker than the average white wine. What’s up with that? 1st fill sherry should normally be much more visible. And the nose and palate have no very obvious sherry notes, either. If you buy this because you like sherry bombs you will be bitterly disappointed.
But otherwise: What’s not to like? A really, really nice Highland Park cask Signatory have got their hands on, even if it seems to be mislabeled.
Another sample I have forgotten the origin of. I really need to create a better system for samples!