The Whisky Exchange’s exclusives tend to be a little bit more expensive than other retailers – but in my experience their cask selections are usually excellent. There’s been more than one occasion when I’ve sampled a variety of near sister casks from retailers and considered the TWE version the best of the bunch.
TWE have bottled a couple of high intensity sherried Glenlivets over the last year – both have been snaffled up in quick order (mainly by the good folks who frequent the Facebook Sherrybomb Appreciation Society I suspect). They were drawn from Signatory stocks – who clearly acquired a large volume of 2006/7 vintage Glenlivet casks, and have proceeded to assist with the creation of scores of exclusive single cask bottlings for release by a wide variety of retailers across Europe.
Similarly to many of these, the latest TWE bottling (#900135 - released earlier this year) was drawn from a 2007 vintage cask. Despite being only 11 years of age, the use of hogsheads (over larger sherry butts) and 1st fill sherry has allowed for both an intense maturation, and also the preservation of a particularly mighty ABV of 66.2%.
Nose: About as far from shy as its possible to get – big, intense and pronounced. Raspberries and cherries – heavily reduced down into sugary jams and preserves alongside chocolate sponge cake and Happy Shopper Cola. Additional sherried goodness comes in the form of chopped walnuts, damp tobacco leaves, ginger nut biscuits, and liquorice. Youthful 1st fill sherry often equates to vivacious spiciness, and that’s certainly the case here - tons of cinnamon and anise. Water (which is 100% necessary IMHO) brings out some interesting natural perfume (Ylang, Ylang?!), an odd vegetable note (pickled onions?!) and plenty of underlying earthiness – mosses, wet soils, damp clay and musty cellars.
Taste: 5…4…3…2…1… Big baba boom! The arrival is so big, you might be taken-aback and unable to process much of anything on the first sip. Don’t worry, this just needs a little patience to pick out all the nuances that are wrapped up in such a high ABV. When your palate has adjusted – there’s lots to like here – glacier cherry sweets, chocolate sauce, coffee beans and grounds, strawberry foam chews. As with the nose, there’s still plenty of cask influence spice – cinnamon, walnuts and now increasingly pepper which builds like a wave through the mid to back palate. Reduced (compulsory) this becomes surprisingly restrained and herbal – strawberries, dried reeds, cut flowers and a hint of menthol.
Finish: Long and packed full of rich sugars (demerara and muscovado), rum-soaked raisins and toffee apple. There’s some salinity in the tail end of this whisky – salted caramel – OK go on then.
This TWE selected Signatory Vintage Glenlivet is about as ‘sherrybomb’ as they come. It’s a juggernaut in both intensity of flavour and also ABV. As such, it’s almost unapproachable without at least some dilution. But, once brought down to a sensible (and drinkable) level, there’s plenty of distinctive, rich and well-honed flavour to enjoy. Perhaps a bit silly, but a lot of fun.
But don't take our word for it..
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