Our sense of taste is both uniquely personal, and unlike any other of our four senses – we’re born with established likes and dislikes. Evolutionary science suggests that a ‘sweet tooth’ is partly hereditary – a holdover from when human survival depended the quality of our food coupled with the mental challenges required to acquire said food. As early humans we thrived by combining a diet rich with protein and plant nutrients, but also importantly sugars – for energy.
Sweet things are not only packed full of nutrition – they’re also largely an indication that something is safe to eat. Our ancestors developed an adaptation that gave people energy and also likely saved their lives. Fast forward to the current day, and sweetness is considered in completely different circumstances.
Fortunately, as humans, in most cases our primary concern is no longer fighting for survival – sweet things are consumed in isolation – a spike in blood sugar – a pleasurable treat. But they’re also littered across our entire food chain (particularly in processed food). But whilst our brains are still convinced that sweet things are good for us, our diets are now adapted to a modern day ‘age of plenty’. A treacherous situation where sugar has become a very different kind of necessity!
Today’s sweet treat comes courtesy independent booze purveyor Nickolls & Perks in the form of their first exclusive Glendronach single cask release. Distilled in 2007 and bottled in 2018 after 11 years in a PX puncheon, this expressions has maintained a hefty ABV of 60.1%. 683 bottles were produced, and somewhat surprisingly, there’s still some left at £75 a pop directly from the Nickolls & Perks webstore.
Nose: Expansive rich sherry – blackberries, raspberry liqueurs, raisins and tanned leather. Plenty of jams and preserves. Brown sugars sit alongside liquorice sticks, coffee grounds and a background spicing of ginger. Reduction has real merit here – brightening up the red fruits to be fresher and less reduced, whilst also releasing some additional cask influence with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Taste: Boom! If you were unclear of this bottles’ sherry bomb status, now you’re in no doubts. An impressive arrival with plenty of oomph from the high ABV – heavily reduced berries and piles of dried fruits (raisins, sultanas and figs) are joined by some hefty cask influence – pepper and cinnamon roaring onto the palate. The development is swift and compact – treacle, reduced plums, leather, some menthol in the back. I found myself quickly reaching for the water pipette – pleasingly, the result softened the oak and spice, achieving a greater balance overall and improved integration. Marzipan, dusty chocolate and mandarin segments all adding some nuance to what is a fairly straight-forward affair.
Finish: Long with sustained pepperiness and sticky reduced fruits.
If you’re looking for a single-minded, sherry packed bruiser, look no further than this Glendronach 2007 Nickolls & Perks Exclusive. There’s not a great deal going on under the hood here – just heaps of sherry influenced aromas and flavours and a multitude of cask influenced spice, all delivered at a substantive ABV. Uncomplicated, undemanding, but nevertheless intense. It delivers exactly as one would it expect it should. And that’s either going to be your thing or it isn’t.
Whilst most sherry-heads will no-doubt be looking to approach this at full-strength, there’s much to be said about taking the higher ABV and seeing if more can be teased out of it. Sometimes there’s a greater depth of experience to be enjoyed once you’ve finished being repeated smacked around the face with the a sherry stick.