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

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Just Like Don Quixote...

...I am dreaming that impossible dream. Well, maybe not so impossible after all.

The players: McClelland's Islay. A Whisky Works cask. Three weeks.
The game: to transform the rather insipid whisky into something more robust, like a Bowmore.
The score: it's no Bowmore, but hot damn, that's turning out nicely!

The barnyard touch in the nose has disappeared. Instead, it's just earthy, like freshly-turned sod. But it's even more powerfully floral. WAY more so than the uncasked, and far different from the Whisky Works that was in the same cask a few weeks ago. The tobacco and jasmine in the original have transformed into roses and violets. But there's a butteriness to it as well that reminds me of my mom's home baked cookies (which, I am sad to report, she did not bake when I was visiting my folks last weekend. Sigh). I had reported concord grapes a couple weeks back, but they're really hard to pick out now. I'd describe it as a combo of buttery oatmeal cookies, flowers and a faint whiff of smoke on the nose. It is, however, just a bit too pungent still. I can't put my finger on what that pong is coming from, but there's a bit of something sour or under-ripe. Weirdly enough, the original seems a bit saltier on the nose, which I hadn't noticed before.

Taste-wise, I've described the original pretty well, as have others, and it's nothing special. After only three weeks in the cask, though, it's coming into its own. I think my cask must impart a long, spicy finish, because the McClelland's in there now has one, and the Whisky Works had one as well. They're not identical whatsoever, but they share a long finish filled with oaky aromas and spices. The McClelland's exhibits a bit of fruit juice...actually, it's the grapes that had nearly disappeared in the nose. They're popping up at the end of the finish, after the oak subsides. It's still a damned floral, sweet dram, like rose water in an oak bowl.

Best of all: no dog poo. Zilch. It's gone. It's all flowers and oak and a smoky undercurrent. Not nearly as earthy as it was when it started, which is nice.

To me, this suggests that we're almost done with the McClelland's after only a few weeks. It was older than the Whisky Works was when it went in, and it was also only 40%, so leaving it in too much longer will start to drop its alcohol content past the point where I find it achieves maximal tastiness.

So, off to hunt for another bottle. Perhaps I should branch out and try something Irish, Canadian or even American. We shall see...



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