Darkness 8 year old was introduced as a continuous expression of the previously ‘one shot’ octave-finished range back at the start of 2020. It hails from an unnamed Speyside distillery who utilise worm tubs and two and a bit distillation – so answers on a postcard for that one. The spirit is initially matured in ex-bourbon casks before being re-racked into octaves for “at least three months.” Bottled at 47.8% ABV, it’s available via Master of Malt for £49.95.
Nose: Strawberry bootlaces, glace cherries and brightly zesty orange peels are joined boot polish, leather conditioned and a glug of balsamic. Toffee and vanilla runs though the centre alongside chocolate covered macadamia nuts and sappy resinous oak. The addition of water reveals a wider array of dried fruits with raisins and currants sitting with crisp pastry cases and freshly toasted bread.
Taste: Opening sweetly and syrupy with a strawberry and orange marmalade combination, reduced plums and a scattering of dried fruits. Things quickly turn towards the cask with the fruits souring and being joined by prominent earthy oakiness, charred staves and an unexpected blob of polystyrene cement. Reduction loosens the grip of the cask on the spirit with a softer and sweeter outlook focussing on biscuit dough, marzipan and toffee pastries.
Finish: Medium with dry, tannic oak and a fading amalgamation of toffee, chocolate and berry sweetness.
Darkness 8 year old is a modern, cask-driven whisky – and one which irrefutably demonstrates the ability of an octave to have a tangible influence on flavour, colour and oak extraction over a relatively short space of time. Here the sherry sweetness comes through consistently alongside darker, brooding aromas and flavours. However, patience and dilution both seem required to tease the most of this expression in terms of its balance - out of the bottle it feels a touch synthetic and coerced which doesn’t produce a flawlessly harmonious union.
Review sample provided by Atom Brands