the whisky lounge - a journal tracking a whisky maturation project involving a newly-acquired oak cask and a significant amount of patience

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dressed to the Nines

[clicking the photo will embiggen it]

And there it is. I know I haven't shown side-by-side photos of late, but I figured I should for this one last time. We have You can see that the whisky has transformed from a really pale yellow to a deep red-orange. In the bottle, it's even more pronounced. Come to think of it, why don't I let you see for yourself?

[clicking the photo will embiggen it]
From left to right, these are:
  • McClelland Islay
  • Longmorn 15
  • Té Bheag
  • Talisker 10
  • Oban 14
  • Whisky Works 9 week old
The Whisky Works is by far the darkest whisky I own. It's deeply, deeply, red orange. I don't know what would happen if I watered it down to 40% and I'm unwilling to do so, as it's an irreversible process, so we'll just have to live with the mystery.

The nose is wonderful and complex. I would say that this is the nicest nose of any whisky in my collection. It's a lot bolder than any of the others, that's for sure. It's robust. Oban and Talisker are also wonderful, but they're really delicate in comparison. I detect spices, raisins, brown sugar, oak, toffee, butter, chocolate and vanilla. The faintest salty tang, just a hint of grass, and such a subtle smoke that you'd miss it if you weren't looking.

The un-aged version is insipid in comparison. Malt vinegar, grass and grain. The transformation is astonishing.

The palate is also very, very nice, though different from the nose. The oak really comes through all the way from start to finish, as does a warming spice. A nice wave of butterscotch comes through right in the middle, followed by dried cherries, raisins and apricots. Underneath, a nice vanilla and dark chocolate combo. When I hold it in my mouth, the fruit becomes much more pronounced. It smells sweeter than it tastes. There's a pungency to it that's difficult to place. Marsh? Seaweed? Tar? Not quite any of those, but something along those lines. I don't know: it works, whatever it is. The finish moves from oak to prune and back again, with a nice warming glow throughout and unsweetened chocolate creeping through underneath it all.

This time, I added a splash of water to see what happens. The water is charcoal-filtered and thus pretty tasteless, which is good in this case. The nose becomes more subtle immediately. The spice drops right down, and the butter and brown sugar come together in dramatic fashion. It's also got more malt on the nose, and more smoke. It smells very smooth.

Water makes it sweeter on the palate. The bitter dark chocolate is replaced by milk chocolate, and the raisin-cherry-apricot combo is more apparent. The oak is still there, but it's more understated. More butterscotch as well. The finish remains long, but the dark chocolate undertones have turned into a semisweet chocolate wave. It's less pungent, less tangy, and nicer for it.

Overall, I'd say that neat, it's a pretty good whisky. With just a splash of water, it's a very good whisky. I'll be having some people over this week for a tasting party, so I'll pass on their judgements when I get the chance.

Now, I've already got the cask started on its next assignment, but I'm going to leave you in suspense and post that tomorrow. But if you think really, really hard, I've left you a clue as to what it might be in this very post. Good hunting!

Cheers,

Ian

1 comment:

BA said...

Congratulations!

Excellent final post - I'm looking forward to seeing more homeaged whisky!