Opening the May 2022 Watt Whisky outturn is a rather curious combination of a Dumbarton grain whisky produced a couple of years before the distillery closed, combined with an ex-Islay cask for a 9 month finishing period. You don’t see that every day. 222 bottles were produced at an ABV of 57.1%. Bottles are still available via The Whisky Exchange for £78.95.
Nose: Rather earthy with green vegetal notes of ferns and bracken throughout. Seeded Rivita and softly smoked cream toffee join dusty lime juice, moist soils and a touch of balsamic sharpness. The addition of water somewhat restores the presumably ex-bourbon original cask with notes of butterscotch, old decking and vanilla. Earthiness greatly reduced and smoke all but dissipated. Fascinating.
Taste: Immediate mushrooms. Dark, damp and dank. Leaf mulch and waterlogged oak sit with brine and pine needles, whilst toffee and a touch of grainy acetone reveal the spirit itself. Coal dust and ashy smoke envelope the back palate alongside charred staves and a combo of cooking apple and preserved lemon. Water again greatly reduces the secondary cask – chilli spice, pepper and old oak benches.
Finish: Medium to long with old resinous oak, pepper and a slightly ABV prickle.
Far from my first peat and grain combo – but certainly my maiden peated cask grain. I guess with something as experimental as this, it’ll all come down to the balance between the spirit and the wood (doesn’t it always?!). Here the secondary cask influence is palpable throughout – offering earthiness, moisture and certainly far more peated influence than a number of Islay cask finishes I’ve sampled over the years. That dilution reduces this influence and peels back the layers to reveal the ex-bourbon origins of this whisky is simply captivating – and in effect offers the drinker two remarkably difference experiences. As distractions go, this is a good one.
Review sample provided by Watt Whisky.