Two much of a good thing

Posted 21 January 2022 by Matt / In Group Tastings
Two much of a good thing

Tasting a multitude of drams consecutively can result in sensory enervation – otherwise known as palate fatigue. And this form of exhaustion can be attributed to both physical and mental attributes. Typically, palate fatigue will occur deeper into large tasting sessions when over time, an assortment of comparable products (could be whisky, equally could be cheese sandwiches) have been sampled sequentially. The result of this repetition being an increasing sense that everything is starting to taste the same and/or become boring and less enjoyable as a result.

The point at which palate fatigue sets in is not a science. We’re all biologically different. But regardless of our tasting prowess, use of spittoons or willingness to push on regardless (see part 2 below), all of us will eventually hit a wall where the next glass simply won’t taste as it should.

Whilst it might be easy to assume that fatigue occurs when your nose and taste buds are overworked – the truth of the matter is a little more complicated. Physically, palate fatigue from the consumption of alcohol results from the absorption of the molecules of the spirit into the mouth’s sensory papillae – which over time will gradually desensitise the taste buds. And whilst a spittoon will certainly prolong the time it takes for this to occur, it by no means halts it. Similarly, alcohol and tannins will dry out your mouth thus likely presenting subsequent samples with additional astringency. The more you drink the more pronounced this effect – there’s no such thing as a ‘refresher beer’ when it comes to fatigue. Whilst the change in pace might be welcomed, drinking more alcohol doesn’t magically revitalise your taste buds.

However, it is not just the sensory receptors within your nose and mouth which can become fatigued – it’s a mental attribute also - it’s the overload of sensory information within your brains which often lead to feelings of palate fatigue. And this is particularly the case when samples are being carefully analysed and not just thrown down the hatch.

Brains function like computers – anything we experience with our senses sends data to our brain. And this data requires decoding into a sensory profile that we can then clearly identify as an experience. Hot, cold, sharp, soft, bright, dark etc. But the brain can only cope with translating so many of these signals accurately. Once multiple inputs are sent in rapid succession false readings are possible. Including that sense of palate fatigue. The same goes for tasting notes – whilst your palate might feel dulled, there comes a point when your brain and its sensory translation skills are also blunted. There’s only so many times that any person can taste and write “apple and toffee” – and if you’re already becoming bored of repeatedly scrawling that down yourself….

There are certainly ways to alleviate those feelings of palate fatigue – drinking more water, smelling coffee beans or extending the point at which fatigue kicks in through conditioning and endurance (I.E. experience). But the keys to preventing sensory enervation are quite simple – learn to spot it early and stop tasting before it takes hold. I.E. know when to quit.

…..

Tasting a multitude of drams consecutively can result in unwarranted behaviour – otherwise known as being a dick. And this form of conduct can be attributed to both physical and mental attributes. Attending a tasting, be that online or in-person, is not an excuse or licence to open the floodgates to unbridled, unchecked consumption. That is not to say that I’m calling for any type of cessation of fun and/or drinking in general – you’re all adults, you can do as you please. However, what I will say is that I’m increasingly witnessing drunk people using tasting events as an opportunity to tell each other how much more they know than everyone else. Honestly, at that stage, I’d rather they just used the opportunity to tell me how much they love me (mate).

Whisky is not a competition. Not in terms of how much of it you can drink. Not in terms of how late you can stay up. And particularly not in terms of how much you think you know. To my mind, tastings offer their participants three things: the opportunity to explore new spirits (sometimes out of their price ranges, sometimes unobtanium, sometimes wildly leftfield); the opportunity to compare those spirits directly; and most importantly the opportunity to socialise with likeminded peers. Nowhere does getting drunk and peacocking your knowledge – especially to distillery representatives - appear on that list. Indeed it can often be anathema to the social aspect.

Whilst I’m not going to pen a missive on the perils of excessive consumption. Others have written about that far more eloquently than I could ever hope to. I am going to strongly suggest that whisky tastings should be viewed from the outset as convivial learning experiences – not as starter motors for piss ups. Frankly there are far cheaper methods to achieve that goal.

Whisky tastings by their very nature can involve a warping of both your physical and mental faculties. And that at times can certainly be pleasurable. But there is a point at which a whisky tasting is not really a whisky tasting anymore. At dram number 8, despite any best intentions, you are *not* analysing – you’re just drinking. And whilst there’s nothing wrong with that per se – you should be abundantly clear that this is what is now going on. To try to convince yourself otherwise – to rationalise that you’re still being investigative – is when you’re likely going to fall into the trap of being a dick. 

There are certainly ways to alleviate these issues – drinking more water, eating before a tasting, eschewing the warmup beers. But at the same time, I would champion creating tasting memories that you’re unwilling to forget – not those that you’re unable to remember. And the keys to preventing the latter are also quite simple - learn to spot it early and stop tasting before it takes hold. I.E. know when to quit.

…..

For today’s review segment we have an abundance of recent Whisky Sponge bottlings – including a new Ballechin due to be released by the bottler this morning. Oh and before I receive messages of 'pot, kettle, black' - I hasten to add, that these were sampled over several sessions 😉


The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Ballechin 2003 18 year old

Bottle Name: Ballechin 2003

ABV: 48.5%
Distillery: Edradour
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Highlands Age: 18
Glass Weight: 489g

Being released this morning, medievally styled Whisky Sponge Edition 47 hails from the kingdom of Edradour in the form of an 18 year old Ballechin matured in a refill sherry butt. As old as the distillate currently gets (to the best of my knowledge) this release is bottled at 48.5%. I don’t yet know the price (edit: £215 via Decadant Drinks) – but I’m certainly interested to find out as it’s very much my speed.

Nose: Immediate concentrated peat smoke that combines earthiness, wetness, mintiness and medicinalness. Water-logged soils and Vicks VapoRub join bubbling bitumen and shed felt roofing, whilst balsamic strawberries and Black Jack chews sit alongside vinous qualities and polished leather. Reduction results in a sweeter dram. And a dirtier one. Iodine and floor cleaner with air-dried ham, fennel, boiled potatoes and honeycomb.

Taste: Not messing. BBQ glaze and BBQ briquettes join a mouthful of dry fireplace ash. Over medicinalness follows with antiseptic wipes, bandages and calamine lotion. Underneath is a solid foundation of sherry – plums, raisins and burnt toffee together with cinnamon and gentle pepper. Dilution again adds sweetness with brown sugars and meat glaze together with concentrated cranberry cordial and a slightly mineral quality of pumice and mentholated artificial fire coals.

Finish: Long with ashiness, medicinalness and linger brown sugars.

Lovers of sweet and peat rejoice! Despite its recent accent to adulthood this Ballechin retains enough of its youthful piss and vinegar to joust with the best of the heavy peaters. And it does so with a wonderful combination of both elegance and brutality – a times, dainty on its feet – at others wailing down with sheer potent smokiness.

Score: 89/100

The Dramble reviews Craigellachie 2006 Equinox and Solstice Winter 2021

Bottle Name: Craigellachie 2006 Equinox and Solstice Winter 2021

ABV: 48.5%
Distillery: Craigellachie
Bottler: Decadent Drinks
Region: Speyside Age: 15
Glass Weight: 489g

Completing Decadent Drink’s season comes the winter edition of Equinox and Solstice – a 1st fill hogshead of Craigellachie that was filled in 2006 and then bottled 15 years later at the same strength as the other bottles in the series – 48.5%.

Nose: Bright, fresh and fruit-forward with Ribena and redcurrant jelly alongside freshly baked cinnamon buns, ground chocolate and plump sultanas. In the background a dusty dryness from cocoa powder, crumbled earth and newly planed oak. The addition of water presents chopped almonds, nougat and a selection of reeds and flax.

Taste: Richly spiced sherry from the get-go. Red and black berry compote is lifted via pepper, cinnamon and spiced raisins, whilst filter coffee and chocolate shavings are joined by vinous, leafy sherry and percolating cask char. Reduction offers a creaminess that was absent at bottling strength – less of the perky cask spices – far more coffee and walnut cream and brulee with a burnt sugar crust.

Finish: Quite long and revealing a minty aspect – After Eights with residual pepperiness and dark chocolate.

2021’s final Equinox and Solstice edition offers a hearty sherried experience throughout which brings with it plenty of spices, but little if any of the expected dryness which often would go hand-in-hand. As such, this represents great after dinner dramming – particularly so if you’re willing to experiment with dilution and are looking for some creamy sweetness. Easy to like.

Score: 86/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Tormore 1990 31 year old

Bottle Name: Tormore 1990

ABV: 53%
Distillery: Tormore
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Speyside Age: 31
Glass Weight: 489g

Two 1st fill ex-bourbon barrels aged for 31 years make up this mini-vatted edition of 422 bottles. Delivered at 53% ABV and with a 50s/60s style label that you know can only be genuine! Still available from Master of Malt for £224.95.

Nose: Creamed rice pudding and split vanilla pod sit with sliced green apples, and a squeeze of cider over yoghurt. Digestive biscuits and a polished oak bowl wrap thing ups in a straight-forward, but attractive package. Dilution broadens things considerable with apricots, Battenburg cake and sense of underlying oilness. Think I prefer this nose brought down by a few degrees – there’s just more going on.

Taste: An oily weight derived from long maturation helps deliver an arrival of furniture polish and tangy pineapple fritters. The development expands to include overripe apple (sweet but turning sour) and resinous oak containing touches of menthol, pepperiness and vanilla buns. Reduction offers a softer, more fruit-forward profile with tinned apples and tropical/stone fruit salad alongside porridge oats.

Finish: Medium with drying oak (though not overly tannic and sticky) together with bright orchard fruitiness.

This Sponge Tormore makes up for what it lacks in overall width with a general sense of loveliness throughout. The aromas and flavours are narrow, but well-defined, well-integrated and well-influenced by three decades of maturation. I found the addition of water to be quite beneficial here – as well as a little patience for the whisky to unravel in the glass. Lovely, just a little confined to earn a higher score.

Score: 86/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Ledaig 2008 13 year old

Bottle Name: Ledaig 2008

ABV: 57.1%
Distillery: Tobermory
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Islands Age: 13
Glass Weight: 489g

Deliberately crap labelling and a peated effort from Mull’s Tobermory that has been matured for 13 years in a refill hogshead. Bottled at 57.1% ABV you’ll still find this available over at Master of Malt for £98.95.

Nose: Wet soils and a stiff coastal breeze collide with an abundance of coffee grounds, poached peached and underripe banana fritters with spray cream. Wet leaves, exhaust fumes and feint rubber together with maritime fish stock remind you that you’re drinking a Ledaig. With water – a similar outlook – but additional ‘dampness’ from moss, ferns and putty.

Taste: A highly mineral, salty opening, before preserved lemons, lemon curd and bacon lardons move towards wet, vegetal peat and bouillabaisse. Water-logged soils and coffee grounds join crushed walnuts, whilst pan fats and distant chimney smoke add an industrial edge. Reduction offers more over peat – bonfire – with sweet, pickled limes and a swipe of antiseptic cream.

Finish: Medium to long. Pretty salty still with pepper seasoned medicinal/rubbery peat smoke lingering alongside lemon flavoured cough syrup.

I want to like this Ledaig more – all the components are there. However, some of the aspects I yearn for from the distillate (particularly the balance between fruit and industrial smokiness) feel pared back in places and outwardly aggressive in others. There’s a real sense of salinity which runs throughout – and that’s welcome. But overall, I prefer my Ledaig to be more consistently ‘perverse’ and less muzzy with its delivery and development. Do or do not.

Score: 84/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Port Charlotte 2003 18 year old

Bottle Name: Port Charlotte 2003

ABV: 57.1%
Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Islay Age: 18
Glass Weight: 489g

Whisky Sponge Edition 35 heads over to Bruichladdich for a Port Charlotte that’s just about hitting the ceiling of the distillate’s age (only a couple of private casks have been currently been released as 19 year olds). This release has been matured in a 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel that produced 197 bottles at 57.1%.

Nose: Oranges and clementines join a real sense of lacticness with yoghurt, cream cheese and motes of damp hay. Peat is wispy with langoustine broth, salted cod and smoked mashed barley whilst wet wool is livened with golden syrup drizzled over freshly baked sponge cake. A wonderfully restrained expressiveness. Dilution opens up leather satchels, oatmeal and wild honey together with increased smoke from log fires.

Taste: The arrival reveals real potency. Bonfire-tinged with paintbrush cleaners, lobster bisque and a touch of cough syrup. Leather seat coverings and aromatic oak are sweetened with smoked salted lemons and fresh ripe peaches. Water offers a more mineral composition with limestone, sea water and a touch of winter mint.

Finish: Long with zesty, zingy lemon and an underlying persistent damp smokiness.

Excellent PC. And indeed, an indication as to where the distillate is heading towards as it enters its 2nd decade. Relaxed and yet potent. Collected, but still not fully tamed. This is a whisky where the underlying profile of spirit is at its best when it’s allowed the space to properly play out its unkempt nature – and here it’s starting to do that in a manner that also has refinement.

Score: 90/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Glen Garioch 1990 31 year old

Bottle Name: Glen Garioch 1990

ABV: 53.9%
Distillery: Glen Garioch
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Highlands Age: 31
Glass Weight: 489g

Underappreciated Glen Garioch gets a look in for Whisky Sponge Edition 37 and a 31 year old that has been matured in a refill hogshead that produced 201 bottles at 53.9% ABV.

Nose: Well waxed tables and lacquered panelling join underripe banana, greengage and gooseberry fool. Canvas sacking, whet stones and machine dust sit alongside golden tobacco, golden syrup and a single drop of vanilla extract. Water reveals a far leafier character with ferns, reeds and damp leaves alongside gooey caramel.

Taste: Papaya, mirabelles and lime lead into a wave of semi-industrialness with cracked leather seats, brake dust, lamp oil and black tea. Polished oak and hessian follow with dry oakiness in tow. Reduction offers simple syrup sweetness with brass polish and a dash of mango tropicalness.

Finish: Long with lime, tobacco and parchment paper.

Yet more proof (if anymore were needed) of the power of refill ex-bourbon. Here we have a detailed and expressive Glen Garioch that presents ample bright fruit-forward notes with palpable and welcome asides into the more ‘mechanised’ nature of the spirit – all of which are highly sympathetic to the overall composition.

Score: 88/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Clynelish 1995 25 year old Edition 38

Bottle Name: Clynelish 1995 Edition 38

ABV: 54.5%
Distillery: Clynelish
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Highlands Age: 25
Glass Weight: 489g

The first of an amusing triptych entitled ‘The Decent of Sponge’ which cues off of the March of Evolution by Rudolph Zallinger – only in reverse and with plenty of ludicrous, but often accurate observations on the devolvement of modern whisky drinkers from inquisitive explorers all the way to their current computer-bound, auction obsessed state.

Each edition is drawn from a refill sherry cask. This opener, a 25 year old filled in 1995 that produced 528 bottles at 54.5%.

Nose: Immediate expected waxiness alongside clay and gravel alluvialness. Touches of porridge and sack cloth join lemon rind and grapefruit zest, whilst very delicate red berries sit alongside loose change cooper coins and a dash of walnut oil. The addition of water brings melon and lemon posset together with chalk dust and woollen jumpers.

Taste: Fatty and textured with butter and greases. This weight is heightened further with nut and mineral oils. Copper piping and well-polished furniture sit with limoncello sweetness and sharpness, whilst touches of sherry - brown sugar cubes and sultanas develop toward minerality with granite and limestone. Reduction offers more of a fruit salad with preserved lemons and tangerines drizzled in syrup and served with leafy green, fresh sherry.

Finish: Long with citrus and mineral cues.

This Clynelish is at the light end of sherry maturation – and to my mind its all the better for it. There is outstanding, textbook mouthfeel and poise throughout with the sherry influence offering additional nuance rather than conducting the entire orchestral to its tune. The best of the trilogy (quadrilogy?!) for my palate – but I’m often quite the purist. 

Score: 91/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Clynelish 1995 26 year old Edition 39

Bottle Name: Clynelish 1995 Edition 39

ABV: 57.7%
Distillery: Clynelish
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Highlands Age: 26
Glass Weight: 489g

The 2nd of Sponge’s Zallinger-esque trio is likewise drawn from a refill sherry butt – only it seems to have tipped over the edge of 25 years old into the dizzying heights of being 26 years old. The Decent of Sponge – Phase 2 is made up of 532 bottles at 57.7%.

Nose: Surprisingly umami to begin – miso and cream cheese together with brown bread, bung cloth and lamp oil. Demi-sweet honey and old, worn lemons sit alongside mineral notes of granite, rock salt, clay with a final lift of papaya and orange bringing welcome fruity sweetness. Dilution expresses milk chocolate and buttery pastries together with earthy dunnage.

Taste: Opening with sherry – sharp but sweet – strawberry boot laces, balsamic and a hearty seasoning from salt and pepper. Bitter waxiness washes around the palate alongside leather satchels, hay, chopped walnuts and pickled ginger before honey provides a tempering sweet lift. Thought-provoking combinations. Water provides old orange liqueur and pan fats together with some lime sourness.

Finish: Long with waxed lemons and mentholly cask char.

Much deeper on the sherry influence than the chiselled Whisky Sponge Edition 38. Here the cask does more of the talking and as such, the profile could be considered to be broader overall. Nevertheless, this one had plenty of ‘thinky’ moments and should you be more inclined toward the sherried side of things, you might want to swap this score and Edition 38s around. But for me…

Score: 88/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Clynelish 1995 25 year old Edition 40

Bottle Name: Clynelish 1995 Edition 40

ABV: 56.6%
Distillery: Clynelish
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Highlands Age: 25
Glass Weight: 489g

Phase 3 and the darkest of Sponge’s Decent series – there’s clearly far more activity from this refill sherry butt than the other two. 528 bottles at 56.6% is the net result.

Nose: Salt peter and mushrooms (interesting combination) sit with chocolate, balsamic and fermenting oranges and lemons. A pot of freshly brewed coffee joins damp mosses and ferns whilst palpable sherry delivers black and red currants and rancio. Reduction presents walnut whips and almond butter together with creamy brulee.

Taste: Sherry. All of it. Resinous oak with a large berry fruit component – preserves, jams and spreads – alongside plum pudding, dark chocolate, tanned leather and musty cellars. There’s still defined texture throughout with wax and oiliness – but it comes with cloves and pepper and spiced figs in large quantities so it’s harder to discern the spirit from the cask. Dilution reveals baked apples and polished lemons together with zesty orange and a far more subdued sherry overlay. Far more my speed now.

Finish: Long oak-forward and fairly drying with persistent wood spice.

There’s lots to like about Whisky Sponge Edition 40 – particularly if you’re a sherry head. However, for my palate, this is over-extracted and loses rather a lot of the qualities of the underlying distillate under the weight of the cask activity. Nevertheless, reduced down to below 50% ABV there was certainly a point where I could find a far better equilibrium which revelled ample fruit character and a lovely creaminess. Scored for my tastes (as always). Sherry lovers will no doubt go higher.

Score: 84/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Clynelish 1995 25 year old 3rd Secret Edition

Bottle Name: Clynelish 1995 3rd Secret Edition

ABV: 53%
Distillery: Clynelish
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Highlands Age: 25
Glass Weight: 489g

What do you get if you take all three bottles from Whisky Sponge’s Decent of Sponge series of Clynelish’s and slosh them all around together? This 3rd Secret Edition - which looks at bringing together the trio in a final, smaller (131 bottle), reduced (53% ABV) vatting. Fruit. Wax. Time. Says the label. Let’s see…

Nose: A cup of freshly made mocha, balsamic strawberries, baked apricots and orange peels sit within a clearly texture whisky with greases and waxes still very apparent. Preserved lemons and acacia honey join background earthiness from soils dried dunnage stored oak. Water reveals milk chocolate and honeydew melon slices together with golden tobacco leaves.

Taste: Arriving with weight – candle wax, pan fats and walnut oil then moving into fruitier notes of St Clements (orange and lemon) together with graphite, granite, salt and pepper. The development is broader with blackcurrant jelly and walnut skins sitting alongside milky coffee, cough syrupy and mentholated oakiness. Reduction produces a fatty/greasy (less waxy) texture with chalk, limestone and dry earth sitting with syrupy apricots and assorted citrus fruits.

Finish: Very long and expressing cask pepper and char alongside minerality.

An utterly agreeable amalgamation where each of the elements from the three casks can clearly be discerned – and yet their integration feels altogether natural. The sherry, particularly from Edition 40 has been subdued to a level where it harmonises and enhances the spirit as opposed to sitting atop of it – whilst the overall level of detail has been broadened. Positioned and promoted as ‘a bit of fun’ – but actually very artfully composed indeed.

Score: 87/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Glen Grant 1995 26 year old

Bottle Name: Glen Grant 1995

ABV: 50.6%
Distillery: Glen Grant
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Speyside Age: 26
Glass Weight: 489g

Whisky Sponge’s 2nd Glen Grant – the other being a 47 year old which was way too valuable to ever be opened by anyone. This edition has spent its entire 26 years in a 1st fill bourbon barrel that produced 328 bottles at 50.6% ABV.  

Nose: Expressively fruit froward with apricot and peach alongside apple and combined with crunchy barley sugars and melon sherbet. Cornflakes and banana Nesquik progress into bright honey and millionaire’s shortbread. Relatively modest, but entirely gorgeous. The addition of water produces a grassier outlook with fresh meadows, pressed flowers and a slice of vanilla sponge cake.

Taste: Opening on an array of juicy fruits – mandarin, tangerine alongside sourness from grapefruit and gummy sweetness from quince jelly. Then moving towards polished oak and golden barley before stem ginger heat and white pepper join crumbled Rich Tea biscuits. Reduction again results in grassiness – reed and flax – together with slapped mint and orange gel.

Finish: Reasonably long and largely fruit-driven with sweetness tempered by tingly cask spices.

An animated and vibrant Glen Grant that’s packed full of communicative fruit notes alongside supportive motes of age. Not the more multifaceted of things – but hard to argue that what’s there isn’t entirely lovely.

Score: 88/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Caperdonich 2000 21 year old

Bottle Name: Caperdonich 2000

ABV: 55%
Distillery: Caperdonich
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Speyside Age: 21
Glass Weight: 489g

Over to Glen Grant’s previous ‘site B’ (at least until 2010 when it was demolished having been closed for the previous 9 years following a questionable acquisition by Pernod Ricard) for Sponge’s second Caperdonich – this edition being a 21 year old that has been fully matured in a refill hogshead before being bottled at 55% ABV. Still available via Decadent Drinks for £265.

Nose: Apricots are cooked in butter (a definitely oily note here) whilst overripe cantaloupe and glace cherries join almond-light cherry Bakewell’s, thick pancakes, waffles and honeycomb. In the background, arrowroot and dried leaves. Dilution offers gummy snakes and planed oak, but it’s a touch narrower in profile.

Taste: Faty, almost but not quite waxy. Mint cream and crème patisserie join dark honey and coconut shavings, whilst apple and stone fruits ae reduced down and spooned into a flan case. In the background – piquancy with red pepper, anise and ginger. Reduction presents a real tutti-frutti character with melon, lychee, tangerine and cider apples – it’s pretty glorious.

Finish: Long with coconut oil, minty oak and fading assorted reduced fruits.

This Sponge Caperdonich offers a somewhat profile to that of Edition’s 42 Grant Grant – and in many ways you’d rather expect that to be the case. But here, things are far deeper, richer and fattier and the whisky is arguable more complicated as a result. The palate adores being diluted; however the nose finds itself a little restricted by it. I’m nit-picking here though – lovely stuff that’s a pleasure to get to know and to enjoy.

Score: 89/100

The Dramble reviews Decadent Drinks Saturnalia Blended Malt 20 year old

Bottle Name: Saturnalia Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

ABV: 47.2%
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Age: 20
Glass Weight: 489g

A Sponge-ified configuration of a 2001 refill butt of unknown whiskies all stirred around together (Edrington?) combined with a 2000 refill hogshead from Glenrothes. An interesting amalgamation offered at 47.2% ABV and still available via Decadent Drinks for £89.95.

Nose: Vivacious cranberry, raspberry and orange all offering their zingy, sweet top notes and sitting alongside toffee, shortbread and vanilla cream. Unpretentious and effective. Reduction offers jam tarts and split vanilla pod alongside burnt popcorn.

Taste: Deeper and less obviously fresh than the nose – here, there’s far more sherry influence with sugars, herbs and cask qualities. Cherry juice and burnt toffee sit alongside digestive biscuits, chilli, ginger and pepper. Whilst crushed redcurrants are joined by mandarin and a handful of chocolate shavings. Water produces a notably juicy palate with oranges, plums and gooseberry foot livened with red berry cordial.

Finish: Medium in length. Gingerbread men and mentholated oak sit with berry cordial.

Saturnalia offers solid good drinking whilst the Glenrothes ‘orange-y’ character is allowed plenty of space for its character to shine. Everything is where is should be with no jaggedness resulting in a blended malt that is appealing and likewise quaffable.

Score: 85/100

Master of Malt

Distilleries

Bottlers

Scotland (1158)
Aberfeldy (9)
Aberlour (14)
Ailsa Bay (3)
Ardbeg (19)
Ardmore (20)
Arran (29)
Auchroisk (8)
Aultmore (9)
Balblair (17)
Balmenach (7)
Balvenie (11)
Ben Nevis (10)
Benriach (11)
Benrinnes (14)
Benromach (9)
Bladnoch (5)
Bowmore (20)
Braeval (7)
Cambus (4)
Caol Ila (45)
Cardhu (1)
Clynelish (20)
Daftmill (4)
Dailuaine (10)
Dalmore (17)
Deanston (7)
Dufftown (4)
Dumbarton (1)
Edenmill (1)
Edradour (18)
Girvan (3)
Glen Grant (16)
Glen Moray (25)
Glen Ord (4)
Glen Spey (6)
Glengoyne (14)
Glengyle (6)
Glenlivet (16)
Glenlossie (11)
Glenrothes (14)
Glenturret (10)
Hazelburn (2)
Imperial (5)
Inchgower (2)
Kilchoman (9)
Knockando (1)
Knockdhu (6)
Lagavulin (3)
Laphroaig (28)
Linkwood (14)
Lochnagar (1)
Longmorn (13)
Longrow (4)
Macallan (12)
Macduff (7)
Mortlach (12)
Oban (3)
Scapa (1)
Speyburn (9)
Speyside (1)
Springbank (12)
Talisker (8)
Tamdhu (3)
Teaninich (6)
Tobermory (36)
Tomatin (13)
Tomintoul (5)
Tormore (7)
Wolfburn (3)
Canada (3)
Europe (41)
Cotswolds (3)
Langatun (6)
Locher (1)
Mackmyra (14)
Penderyn (3)
Smogen (4)
Zuidam (1)
Ireland (62)
Bushmills (7)
Dingle (1)
Midleton (32)
Teeling (6)
Tullamore (1)
Japan (38)
Chichibu (10)
Chita (1)
Eigashima (1)
Hakushu (2)
Yamazaki (2)
Yoichi (2)
Rest of the World (9)
Dunedin (1)
Starward (1)
Taiwan (8)
King Car (6)
Nantou (2)
USA (41)
Balcones (1)
Bernheim (2)
Jim Beam (1)
Lux Row (4)