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

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Grab a Fork For Me, Will You?

A fork? Yep. You know, so I can stick it in: this whisky's done! It's been four weeks, and I am pleased as punch with how things have turned out. It didn't transform into a Bowmore proper by any means, but it became something I'd be happy not only to drink myself, but also to offer my friends.

Something interesting has happened to the nose, and I'm not sure I can figure out why. Not that I'm surprised that it would change in character, but I am perplexed by this particular change. I've been noting a rather steady progression from the barn-yard earthiness with tobacco and jasmine undertones to a more heavily floral, yet buttery and earthy (but not barn-yard earthy) nose with a faint hint of smoke. The interesting change is that the earthiness has disappeared entirely and the smoke has taken its place. It's noticeably smokier than last week, and while it still has the rosy floral quality, it has lost the pungency I commented on. The concord grapes have also chosen to disappear completely.

The smoke evident in the nose is just as strong on the palate. And again, there's been an interesting change that seems out of character with the way things have been going. Just last week I commented on the spiciness I figured my cask was injecting. I had noted a very long, spicy finish with grapes appearing at the tail end.

That's completely changed. It's still spicy, but it's not as boldly so as before. It's mellowed down quite a bit. Overall, the taste is oakier now. The floral and even grassy elements are easier to find. I don't notice the grapes any longer, and the finish is shorter, but not dramatically so. The finish stays oaky now, though.

I'd say I prefer the McClelland's to the Longmorn I have. They haven't gone head-to-head (maybe this week???) but this has much more character. The Whisky Works is still by far the stronger of the two (and it's shockingly getting close to the end of the bottle), and they're so unlike as to be unrecognizable as coming from the same cask, but I like them both quite a bit.

Anyhow, I'll be pulling the McClelland's out of the cask sometime this week, just as soon as I have another bottle to pour in. I figure there's one, maybe two more good uses of the cask still to come before it's time to retire it and get a new one. We know Rob has jumped the pond to choose a Canadian whisky for his second batch. I still haven't decided what I'll do, but I have some ideas.

Until then,

Ian

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