The other day, I blind tasted a sample sent to me by a friend. It was a very good whisky. It turned out to be an ”undisclosed” whisky with single malt whisky from Orkney, independently bottled by The Thompson Brothers. You know, Simon and Phil Thompson, the freakishly young whisky experts-turned-distillers behind the Dornoch distillery.
I say ”undisclosed” with quotation marks. Why? Well, the design of the label screams Vikings. A smart way, then, for the canny brothers to more than just hint that the whisky is a Highland Park. It is 17 years old and was drawn from a 2000 single refill hogshead yielding 350 bottles at the strength of 56,5% ABV. Of course, I knew nothing of this when I wrote the notes below.
On the nose: there is so much of synthetic, candylike pears, and fresh vanilla here. Extremely clean; it is like floating, very sweet candy. Pears, vanilla, and many, many sweet fudge candies. Good whisky does not have to be very complex: this nose is awesome.
On the palate: a clear attack from the alcohol on the tongue – from the nose, I had not expected it to be so high in ABV. Spun sugar; burnt wood; green grapes? Those sweet fudge candies again. Vanilla bun. Very sweet, and just lovely.
Finish: quite quiet, for starters. Then comes a whiff of a much rawer oiliness, almost as if it were a Craigellachie (which it very cannot be) – a clear break from the much gentler nose and palate. Some chili heat as a foundation. There are green notes here, too, not as grassy notes but rather green winegums and slightly tart flowers (tansy, to be precise). We are not talking flowery as in roses or more perfume-like notes. The finish runs in a different direction to the nose and the palate – and I mean it in the absolute best of ways. It’s quite strong on the alcohol, I would say around 55%, maybe more.
With water: well, HA-rrou! as a former colleague of mine used to say when impressed by something. The nose now has more mildly flowery notes and gets this sprinkle of motor oil, or if it is sewing machine oil, and some sweet licorice. Wow, what a transformation, hello indeed! With time, those candy fudge notes return. It feels slightly younger with water, in the best of ways. The palate becomes fruitier, like a chance meeting between sweetened red grapefruit and nectarines with a dash of dextrose. That vanilla bun binds the whole thing together. The finish is more in line with the nose and palate now, fruitier and with all the spearmint of an intense chewing gum.
Comments and guesses: this is a great whisky. It is unusually sweet, not incredibly complex, but just great. It makes me want to jump into whisky lingo and use, you know, that word: quaffable. Considering the ABV, this should be single cask. Although it is fairly simple, something which usually characterises younger whiskies, the nose and palate are very well integrated. This should imply that we are somewhere between say 17 and 25 years old, probably 18–20 YO. With water, a more bold and full-bodied kind of distillate reveals itself. Small batch or single cask, first-fill bourbon barrel(s). I’m guessing this is an independent bottling. Distillery: Scotland, I’m not going to go any farther than that. In terms of points, for me this is 87, maybe even 88 points. A really good whisky.
I usually blog in Swedish; with this whisky, I thought I’d make the effort of translating myself into English. For other posts in English on this blog, see here. With thanks to my dear friend Lars, who sampled this whisky in the context of a small blind tasting society I founded a couple of years ago not-so-seriously called the Swedish whisky academy. Thank for the tipple, Lars!