And we’re off. For the next 24 days we’ll be presenting you with quick fire reviews of each and every dram contained in the 2020 Boutique-y Whisky Advent Calendar. We’ll be posting a day in arrears - to give us time to sample and write our notes, and of course, to not spoil the surprise for those of you who open your doors a little later in the day.
As with previous years, we’ll be working in tandem with Sorren – so for an alternative view on the 2020 selection, once you’re done here - head over to OCD Whisky.
This year’s Boutique-y Advent calendar eschews any type of warm up - going straight in behind door number 1 with Batch 1 of the bottler’s Speyside #2 25 year old. Go big or go home. Presented with a similarly low-fi label to the stonkingly good Islay #2 Batch 1 25 year old which we reviewed (and immediately purchased) two years ago - Speyside #2 offers up an identically aged anonymous expression for a price which would surely be higher were the distiller name adorned on the label.
Nose: Vibrantly polished fruits with candied lemon and mandarin peels, orange jelly sweets and orange ice lollies. Lacquered panelling pushed through highlighting the maturity of this whisky alongside crystallised ginger chunks, beeswax and marzipan. In the background a core of barley water tempered by lemon posset and a scattering of rose petals. Reduction offers honey spread thickly over toast with additional cereal notes of barley cake and a delicate touch of mintiness.
Taste: A soft, compact and syrupy arrival with tart fruits and well-aged polish notes. Sugar-dusted peach and citrus fruits sit with a more tropical ice cream note of orange with mango (Solera) whilst a succulent toffee and whipped vanilla cream are joined by a combination of ginger and cinnamon dusted spicing. Water here is much less successful with the whisky rapidly losing its bright structure. It reveals apple notes and cask pepperiness, but the loss of concentration isn’t worth the experiment.
Finish: Fairly long with old, drying oakiness, white pepper and an interesting pang of minerality and salinity in the tail.
An excellent opening to the 2020 Boutique-y Advent Calendar with this well-aged mystery Speysider. Honed and bright fruitiness sits agreeably with a well-judged selection of casks, resulting in an elegant and balanced exhibition of how this style of whisky responds to longer periods of ex-bourbon maturation. Whilst bottled at a precise ABV to highlight its lively character, I found water notably unbeneficial here. Overall, this expression reminds me strongly of a very tasty Le Gus’t Burnside I’ve recently been enjoying – and indeed, I find this bottling similarly as pleasurable.
Review calendar provided by Atom Brand.
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