I still find it fairly baffling that drinkers will happily snaffle up non-age statement whiskies, sometimes devoid of any specific cask information and yet at the same time snub bottlings purely because the distillery of origin is not named. ‘Mystery’ single malts are streadily reflecting better value propositions (at least in terms of ‘drinking whisky’) as the market willingly pushes itself upwards towards what is increasingly looking like an unsustainable zenith. Regardless, I’ve always enjoyed clandestine bottlings – they stand to challenge perceptions based on taste, not on brand.
Cream of Sponge is an unnamed Highland single malt distilled in 1993 and left to mature for 28 years in a refill hogshead. 263 bottles have been produced at a natural cask strength of 44.7% and are available via Decadent Drinks as part of a duo (alongside Pride of Sponge) for £300.
Nose: Gooseberries, apple peelings and balled melon join touches of olive oil and golden syrup, whilst gristiness (fines) sits alongside cut grass, honeycomb and an a thing veneer of varnish. Time in the glass is most certainly rewarded – Crunchie bars and almost strudel-like quality develop. The addition of water reveals floralness with elderflower alongside traces of chalkiness.
Taste: Quite weighty. A sunflower oil delivery brings gooseberries, green apple slices and white grape juice whilst cereals and pink wafer biscuits are joined by overt grist from flour, dry muesli and unleavened bread. Char and white pepper tingle thought the back palate whilst citric sherbet maintains the more fruit-driven elements. Reduction retains the texture whilst adding Rice Crispy Squares, elderflower and melon.
Finish: Medium. Leafy tea joins drying pepper and cinnamon cask spice.
A notably placid refill cask has allowed the spirit character of Cream of Sponge to take centre stage – but whilst some elements give the impression of nearly three decades of maturation, others feel much more green and tender. Certainly highly natural in charisma and appeal - though personally, I’m not a devotee of floury qualities within my whiskies, so those who are could add a couple of points here.
Review sample provided by Decadent Drinks