ABV: 43% Distillery: Undisclosed blended Bottler: That Boutique-y Whisky Company Region: Japan
Door number 5 in the 2018 Boutique-y Advent calendar offers up Blended Whisky 21 year old batch 1. By itself the name doesn’t give much away here – but, both the label, and the descriptor shed more light. This is a blend of Japanese and Scottish malts and grains. So far so Adelphi’s Glover – but, there’s more than meets the eye here. This is, interestingly, a blend of a blend.
The Boutique-y 21 year old has some recent history behind it - some of you may remember the very first Japanese whisky released by Boutique-y that sold out in a mere heart beat (with many bottles finding their way onto auction sites in no real surprise to anyone). Batch 2 is now available – and it turns out that Boutique-y have used a parcel of this whisky to create this new Blended Whisky 21 year old by combining it with some additional Scottish whiskies.
I find this a rather neat idea, and, indeed, discovered that the attractive dragon vs. lion label came before the whisky itself was created – I do love Boutique-y’s willingness to define a concept before seeing how it pans out. That’s what innovation is all about – some things will work, other won’t – but until you give it a go, how will you know? That said, this presents a real headache for The Dramble’s CMS – where do we log a whisky that’s part Scottish, part Japanese and a blend of previously blended whisky?! I’ve earmarked this in ‘undisclosed blended’, but that’s far from a perfect categorisation – innovation always creates unexpected problems.
Batch 1 (a release of 1,100) bottles was priced at £119.95 - that’s sold out at Master of Malt – but is still available (with an associated unscrupulous mark-up) elsewhere. I don’t know about you, but I’d be minded to wait until batch 2 myself. It’s delivered at 43% in the usual 50cl Boutique-y glassware.
Nose: It’s the malts rather than grains doing the talking here – there’s plenty of oatiness and golden barely. Orange takes centre stage with a heavy reduction into preserves and marmalades, with additional sweetness from candy floss, buttermilk pancakes and a tonka bean-like vanilla (somewhat earthy and chocolatey). Spices are dusty but aromatic, focussing around nutmeg and allspice. The addition of water transposes the fruit towards the stone spectrum with poached apricots.
Taste: The arrival concentrates on creaminess – butterscotch, toffee, vanilla cream and almond paste. Again, the vanilla is not quite straight up - here it’s both intense and a little smoked (Mexican vanilla perhaps?). The mid-palate allows the grain element to show its head –pencil shavings, wood chips and varnish – but it’s still generally well integrated with the whole. Reduction should be undertaken sparingly (if at all) - this is very easy to wash out. Just a few drops brings tart apples, and more overt cask influence - allspice and a touch of astringency.
Finish: Medium, with rolled pastry and charred cask ends.
Boutique-y’ Blended Whisky 21 year old feels greater than the sum of its parts – indeed, I prefer it to the component parcel coming from the bottler’s Japanese Blended Whisky #1. Whilst blind I highly doubt I’d identify the Japanese elements, as a whole, it’s a well-integrated blend that focusses on the malty flavours rather than the grain ones. Given that there’s Japanese whisky in here, it was never going to be cheap - one day everyone will presumably calm down and recognise Japanese whisky as an equal, diverse part of the global whisky scene, rather than the false notion of it being either superior or a status symbol. Until then, well, it’s pricey, but it’s a tasty drop all the same.
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