Black Friday - unofficially the beginning of the Christmas season, now more commonly recognised as the one day of the year that most personifies the good-will, humility and frugality of the human race. Scenes of stampeding frenzied shoppers flattening each other to sate their inante bargain-hunting mentality have always rather baffled me, whilst at the same time provided a timely reminder of just how astute George A. Romero’s 1978 film Dawn of the Dead really was/is. Fortunately for us, the world of whisky doesn’t tend to devolve in to a sadistic version of supermarket sweep all that often – indeed, The Whisky Exchange are looking to bring us something altogether more sophisticated for this year's annual celebration of consumerism.
It's fair to say that The Whisky Exchange’s 2016 Black Friday deal left me a little cold: the discontinued Glendronach 15 year old Revival at a price less than you’d pay at auction, but still significantly more than the original RRP. Regardless of my own disinterest (I’m more than happy to wait till the next revival of the revival, despite it being an excellent whisky), their ‘Why pay less’ campaign was, from a marketing standpoint, really rather interesting. It was also pretty successful too. Despite the apparent price increase, all 450 bottles were sold in less than 12 hours, and TWE also received a 25% bump in overall sales compared to the Black Friday of the previous year – clearly turning the concept of a Black Friday ‘sale’ on its head, and offering something perceived as harder to obtain chimed with certain consumers.
One year on and The Whisky Exchange is back with their 2017 Black Friday deal, and this time around it’s a brand new exclusive bottling. The TWE Black Friday 2017 Edition is a single cask 16 year old whisky from a ‘family-owned Speyside distillery’. Drawn from a single sherry butt and bottled at 54.6% ABV, 582 bottles have been produced and are on sale at £59.99 as of this morning. I suspect they’re not going to last very long at all so get your skates on. Edit: All 582 bottles sold out in under 25 minutes.
Nose: Pronounced, fruity and warming. Starting with fresh red berries (Wimbledon strawberries and cream) this moves in patisserie quickly with apple crumble and syrupy fruit cake. Spice is fairly marked with both ginger and cinnamon at play. There are additional aromas of orange barley water, hay and some wet slate minerality. The sherry influence here is discernible, but is generally subservient to vibrant, sugared fruitiness and prominent spicing. Water makes for a softer more buttery-driven experience but loses some of the finer definition of the fruit.
Taste: Rich, slightly oily and mouthcoating. Fresh fruits are still in the mix, and are joined by further deeper flavours of stewed berries, preserves and jams. All of these intermingle with the cask influence of stem ginger, tingling pepper and some light salinity. Earthiness again – more than on the nose, cut with a dash of zingy citrus and some underlying nuttiness. The addition of water makes for a very different experience, giving a softer more creamy palate with a touch more herbalness, but losing some of the characterful and pleasantly astringent spice.
Finish: Quite long and offering woodiness with pepper.
The Whisky Exchange’s 2017 Black Friday has a lot going for it – not only is pretty tasty stuff, but an interesting sherry butt has given just the right amount of impact to allow this whisky to walk the fine line between the flavours of fresh fruits and deep spices, whilst still allowing both to shine. It's also very well priced for the quality on offer here - at £59.99 I won’t just be up early posting this review, I’ll be trying to nab a bottle myself.
With thanks to The Whisky Exchange for the advance review sample