According to Mackmyra’s product information, this has been matured in American and Swedish oak, both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry, and then finished in casks that have held Swedish wine made from birch sap.
Nose: Different. There’s definitely something of sap or resin here. I also get some heather and honey. A little sweet tobacco as well? With water it turns towards throat lozenges, with some mint, ammonium chloride and black pepper.
Palate: Honey on the palate as well, and resin. Vanilla and coriander. More woody with water, but the tobacco from the nose also makes an appearance.
Comments: Quite unique, and very, very good. An interesting nose and a complex, but well-balanced palate. There’s quite a bit of “But is it whisky?” over this, but when the result is this good I’m not sure that I care.
Ceòbanach is a new limited release NAS bottling from Bunnahabhain (apparently around 10 years old). It will be released in Sweden in February and probably in Norway in March. The name means “smoky mist”, which sounds promising. We’ll see.
Nose: Noticeable smoke, fresh peaches and red currants, then fruit compote. Malt loft (malted barley and dust). Water brings out lemon or tart melon and bonfire (there may be some painted or varnished wood on the fire).
Palte: Smoke, freezer ice (the one that forms on the inside of the freezer walls), black peppercorns, sweet peach (but much less fruit than on the nose). Still mostly smoke with water, but smoke containing a lot of other things. Is someone burning juniper wood? Has someone thrown a bag of peppercorns on the fire?
Comments: One of those where you could spend an evening trying to put names to what you’re smelling and tasting. As it’s also exceedingly nice, I can’t ask for more. As a session dram I think I’d prefer it without water, but for the full experience a few drops are neccessary.
Distilled June 2000, bottled December 2011, matured in a refill hogshead, released in the Advance Sample range, DL ref 7983.
Nose: Malt, lemon, well-worn socks. With water the socks turn to flat, tepid lager. After a while it mercifully disappears and the whisky starts smelling like green apples and fruit trees.
Palate: Malt and white pepper, but mostly, well, congeners and a sickly sweetness. More pepper on the finish. Water brings out the oak, there is still malt and a lot of pepper.
Comments: Definitely best with water added. The first impression was that this was well-nigh undrinkable, but with water and a little time in the glass it’s quite all right. The pepper adds interest, but otherwise this is too bland to win any prizes.
Distilled November 1995, bottled December 2013, from a refill hogshead.
Nose: Fruity, lemon, apple and peach, with an overlaying smokiness. With water the smoke is emphasised and the fresh fruit gives way to lemon and lemon peel.
Palate: Digestives with brown goat’s cheese. Smoke and dry oak. With water added I find dry honey, a bonfire-like smokiness and “Non-Stop” (a Norwegian sweet, similar to M&M’s, but with dark chocolate) on the finish.
I grabbed the chance while on Orkney to do a little shopping in the Highland Park distillery shop. They had these magnificent little funnels that are gold when you do a bit of sample pouring (we already had one that I bought at Glen Ord back in the day, but I stocked up now). They also had these nice little notebooks for tasting notes. I’m a sucker for stationary. And glassware, naturally. Three sets are up for grabs.
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I draw on the 22nd of January (and will of course post worldwide).
Matured for 26 years in a refill hogshead, cask number 590, bottled 26.05.2011.
Nose: Dry wood and wood varnish. Hints of rum-raisin. Water emphasises the raisins a bit, and I get fruit compote associations, but the overwehlming impression is of wood.
Palate: Oaky bitterness, wood and bitter, dark chocolate. No noticeable change with water added.
Comments: Too woody. Though the same age (maturation-wise) than the 1980, the oak has been slightly more active here and has taken over, flattening the taste profile. It’s not bad-tasting, just boring.