‘Sweet’ has been created from a combination of new toasted oak casks (read virgin), heavily toasted casks with a medium char and casks with a heavy char and extra toasting on their heads. The key takeaway here being that if you’re not attuned to the fundamental difference (in both process and results) between toasting and charring – none of that is going to mean much to you. Hmm – perhaps a topic for another time.
Nevertheless, there’s ample wood variance here to ensure that this blend isn’t as simple as a pile of disgorged ex-bourbon barrels, shaken together and then bottled up - and I admire that approach. Sweet has been bottled at 46% ABV and is available via Master of Malt for £42.50.
Nose: Candy apples and saccharine pear drops sit alongside honied malt, vanillins and icing sugar. It’s certainly well named. In the background, desiccated coconut, crushed almonds and pink wafter biscuits. Water presents gingerbread, French crepes and dusty oak.
Taste: The arrival sticks with the sweetness, but tempers it with sour, ‘green’, fresh oak. Apple Jolly Ranchers and pear cordial follow before cask-forward notes of crème patisserie, toffee, doughy cookies and vanilla buns follow. The development is primarily spice driven with piquant and building pepper, cinnamon and clove. Reduction is a bit of a muddle offering only a general sense of sweet woodiness and far less definition – stick at 46.
Finish: Medium with tart cases, toffee, toasted oak and persistent hot spices.
Had J.G. Thomson opted for two-word bottle names, this surely would have followed SMWS into Spicy & Sweet. Nevertheless, there is indeed a high degree of saccharinity here – some of it derives from ester-forward fruits notes – but much of it is from the casks itself. And depending on your predilections that will either be your thing, or it won’t. Arguably well made – arguably ‘modern’ in its outlook.