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

Sunday, April 6, 2008

In Pursuit of a Silk Purse

So, the McClelland's Islay has been at it for a week now, and it's time to check in. You'll remember that I was pretty unimpressed with it before any casking action had taken place, and I'm very keen to find out what has happened. The Whisy Works whisky transformed pretty quickly in its first week, then slowed to a more gentle transformation in later weeks. And the McClelland's? Well...

Concord grapes. Ripe red cherries. A bouquet of flowers. These are all leaping out of the nose at me, and none of them are present in the original spirit. Underneath it all, the same earthy, barn-yardish tinge is still there, as is the unmentionable odour first identified by Dr. Whisky. :-)

The original spirit reveals a stronger herbal quality in the comparison than it had just on its own. I guess with the extra bit of sherry flavouring from the cask, the herbal scent is turning into a floral one. They're both about equally smokey. And they're exactly the same colour.

Taste-wise, I'm pleased to report an improvement. The concord grape evident in the nose is still there in the taste, and the earthiness is cut back some. The smoke is still there, underneath everything, but the tarry finish I reported last time is less evident. The finish is longer and warmer, with a smokey caramel underlying a ripe cherry taste. Throughout is a fresh berry taste. A hint of strawberry and blueberry, some cherry. Not the tartness of raspberries, though. Sweeter. It's interesting, since the Whisky Works exhibited a good amount of fruit on the nose, but less so on the taste, and it was along the lines of cooked cherries or dried apricots. Not this time: it's a lighter, fresher taste. It's a bit at odds with the earthiness, but I'm hoping for better integration as it continues to mature.

So, after the first week, I have learned a few things:

  • The McClelland's is far tastier after a bit more maturation, but needs some more work
  • It exhibits some of the spiciness of the Whisky Works 9-week-old, but doesn't taste anywhere near the same, with the fruit in the nose and on the palate being fresh berries rather than cooked or dried anything
  • The whisky has either been treated with caramel, or the cask is losing its ability to quickly alter the colour of a spirit
So far, it bodes well. I, or rather Jim, will fill you in next week. Remember that I'll be away for a few days. And remember also that I'll be hitting the Spirit of Toronto in May, so I'll hopefully see a few of you there.

Until next time,

Ian

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