Friday, October 1, 2021

Fancy v3; Redbreast, Midleton, Clynelish, Starward

More fancy samples. YaY! First two are by way of friend Jeffrey.

Redbreast 21, 46%
Another day, another Redbreast sample. While their finished series isn’t half bad the regular releases that don’t have an interesting cask involved tend to be too grain-forward. I wonder how this compares. Nose has a healthy dose of sherry, honey, apricots and some vanilla. The palate is luxuriously rich and is full of blueberries and some nuttiness with sherry spices and sweet backing. Unfortunately, either my sample was a little off or sat in the glass for about an hour and over-oxidized as those same blueberry notes are also bordering on soapiness. Quite fantastic long finish with gentle spices, vanilla oak and maltiness. Overall: I’m conflicted, I love more or less everything about it except the soapy note that spoils the experience for me. This being a sample I have no clue if that’s normal or not and for the sake of fairness I’ll fault on this not being a normal situation. Value: It’s $269 in Total Wine as of this writing, marks it mostly overpriced.
Score: Probably a tainted sample, ???

Midleton Dair Ghaelach; Knockrath Forest, Tree #7; 56.5%
That name is a mouthful. “This Single Pot Still Irish whiskey was matured initially in American Oak Bourbon barrels and finished in virgin native Irish Oak Hogshead casks”. Nose is rich vanilla, marzipan and some toasted oak. The palate is sweetly nutty, quite prominent with bitter spice and a good alcohol kick. Lots of darker orchard fruits mixed with tropical flavors in the background bring mellowness and sweet tunes to balance it all out. Basically a nutty dried fruit compote. Medium length aftertaste with more baking spice and toasted wood wrapping up the party. Overall: Quite enjoyable pour, it’s somewhat unlike most other things I’ve had in a good way. This is like Blue Spot’s well-respected father figure, it’s got good flavors on primary and secondary palate to balance itself (though AFAIK there’s no sherry in #7 compared to Blue Spot) and the maturity to back it all up. Value: KnL lists it at $320, rather out of my affordability zone.
Score: A-

Clynelish 20, 1996, Signatory; Binny’s SP; Cask #8789. 56.3%
A Binny’s/Winebow single cask aged in refill sherry butt. Bottled in 2017. The nose is spicy, nutty, dried fruit compote with prunes and apricots dominating. The palate is somewhat astringent yet full of dry honeycomb, roasted nuts, some malt, and sherry funk. Slightly bitter instead of sweet as the main note suggests it’s a tad over-aged in the cask. Not nearly as sweet as more modern versions this is perhaps an example of an older style of scotch with lack of clear big flavors but layers of complexity that are mostly hiding behind the sherry wood and chocolate notes. Nutty and quite pleasant aftertaste that’s is frankly better than the palate, as flavors finally snap into place; finishing with some dusty wood notes. Overall: For the pedigree, I’ve expected much better. It’s okay; not terrible by most means and would please several folks that I know enjoy this type of palate, yet it’s not quite hitting that perfect spot for me as more modern Clynelish bottlings have done. It does improve and becomes sweeter on the palate over time with repeated sips. Value: This was ~$159 (+tax) which makes it a slightly high but acceptable value for a cask strength 20 year old malt distilled in mid-90s at a well known distillery.
Score: A-

Starward 4, SFWBSS Pick, Cask #10608; 55.8%
An almost fancy bottle I have here. Australian Single Malt… A bay area whiskey group pick with somewhat unusual 4 year maturation age from Starward, which mostly does everything with 3 years old age statement. Red wine cask aged; this is actually nearly 4.5 years old and with a reasonably small 240 bottles outrun. So exclusively fancy. Quick note on color being borderline chestnut. The nose is intense late harvest zinfandel sweet chocolate cherry notes. The palate starts with same chocolate red dessert wine then transforms into nutty, slightly woody, malty luxury that balance out and contrast the initial palate sweetness nicely and consistently. Not quite syrupy and not quite thin, the mouthfeel is more of a velvet variety. The aftertaste fades into secondary notes pretty fast but the chocolate covered cherries stick around for a bit. Overall: This is chocolate covered cherries, in a whiskey form. It’s very different and it’s quite unique. I like it even if it doesn’t offer those deep malty or super complex flavors that older scotch does. Value: This was about $60, yah absolutely worth it for the uniqueness, it even came with a neat sticker which I’m not putting onto the pretty bottle.
Score: B+


Starward 4.5, RCWS Pick; 55.6%
Super quick comparison vs SFWBSS pick. Still very sweet, but slightly woodier, bordering on bitter oak variant. Less cherry more sherry spice but it’s actually owing the notes to toasted oak. More reminiscent of a sherry bomb scotch or over-oaked brandy. Tasty, sweet, dessert-like, but just not quite same without that solid cherry note in SFWBSS.
Score: B

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown