Home Needs Wine and Spirits (better known as HNWS) is an independent bottler located in Taoyuan, Taiwan. This Thompson Brothers release of 263 bottles comes from a 1991 cask (refill barrel?) and is delivered at 50.2% ABV.
Nose: Highly polished with melon, gooseberry, sharp grapefruit and sweetness from pineapple intermingling with brass piping, lacquered oak panelling and puffs of menthol. Smoke is faded and shaded – a combination of mineral oil, paraffin, hot coals and dry wisps of earthy medicinalness. As calm and as controlled as you’d expect from three decades in cask. Water adds vegetal/herbal notes with pinecones, reed and ferns alongside hay and wild honey.
Taste: A super progressive development here. Opening on oils and greases before revealing the polished and honed character detected on the nose. Then we’re into salt/pepper/char alongside greengade, gooseberry and limes before heading into eucalyptus, Vicks vapour rub, coal smoke and souring charred oak. Reduction here makes me smile. Fruits and ‘greeness’ apples, kiwi and a creamy almond (not quite Durian – but heading that way) before a selection of ointments, creams and a spoon of briny water.
Finish: Long with dry smoked oak sitting with citrus oils and both salt and pepper.
There’s lots happening here – particularly when reduced. A keen counterbalance between sweetness, peat and age is operating at all times – whilst an array of worthy asides and nuances offer considerable depths to explore. It’s not as immediately alluring as the 1990 Edition the Thompson’s bottled for The Nectar, but of all the three 30+ year old Islay’s I’ve tasted today – this is the one I’ve spent the longest with. And that says something.
Review sample provided by The Thompson Brothers