Yesterday was the first WhiskySquad meeting of 2018 – if you’re ever in London on a Thursday night which aligns with the club schedule, I’d heartily recommend paying the ‘squaders’ a visit. They’re a super friendly bunch, and there’s tasty whisky on offer too –win win. Most WhiskySquad gatherings involve 6 drams, all tasted blind, and last night’s was no different – however, the selection was quite eclectic covering a variety of styles from several different countries of origin. The evening commenced with an ideal opener - Bushmills 12 year old Distillery Reserve - a former distillery-only bottling that’s just recently become more widely accessible.
Bushmills 12 year old Distillery Reserve is described as being ‘mainly matured in former Spanish oloroso sherry casks’, though there’s certainly some ex-bourbon in play here, and those of you with a discernment for all things sherry should not be expecting any type of ‘bomb’ – it’s much more of a fruity number. The bottling has been around for a while, but just recently has become more available – you can now order it directly from the distillery’s mail order service. It comes at the standard Bushmills bottling strength of 40% ABV.
Nose: Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Fruit & Nut. Pronounced fruitiness – oranges, peaches, apricots and some tropical aromas come together nicely with strong nuttiness – hazelnuts, cashews and almonds (quite marzipan like). Both the fruits and nuts lend a sweetness to the nose which is joined by chocolate (milk, perhaps with some caramel inside) and light leather. A few drops of water dials up the fruity notes further and lends some softly steeped tea to the equation. All in all – lovely.
Taste: Initially easy-going, but there’s complexity here too. Starting in a similar vein to the nose with stone and tropical fruitiness, the sherry influence takes over mid-palate with stewed berries, plums and damsons. Leather is still present and our nuts have turned rather biscuity now – they’re joined by some gentle pepper spicing. Water (you won’t need much) unlocks some of the inherent cask influence – vanilla and woodiness.
Finish: Short to medium in length, drying and much more oaky now.
Bushmills 12 year old Distillery Reserve has plenty of character, and tons of fresh fruitiness. For me, the nose is more successful than the palate, and that’s mainly because the nose is pretty excellent. In the mouth, the sherry influence is much more overt and brings with it some particularly drying oakyiness, which whilst initially pleasant, felt slightly discordant by the end of the dram - too much much of one thing effectively. Nevertheless, this offers much more complexity and intrigue than your standard 10 year old Bushmills and with it now being available outside of visiting the distillery is certainly worth taking a look.