Friday, May 7, 2021

Royal Brackla, Mortlach (ex-bourbon), Glenfiddich, Redbreast, Amrut

Another day, another entry of the endless review cycle.

Royal Brackla 2007, 11 years old. Signatory Vintage, 43%
A bottle I picked up on a whim from a liquor store. This is a Signatory Vintage line of bottling from Royal Brackla highland distillery. Distilled in 2007 and bottled in 2019 this is nearly 12 years old (while the box says 11). Single cask refill sherry butt. Color is super dark, so dark that it doesn’t feel like a refill but a first fill instead. Nose is oloroso sherry with varnish, earthy musky notes, some cloves perhaps. The palate is very much lightly smoked dried plums with number of other dark fruit compote little woody and not too sweet bordering on well toasted bitterness. Aftertaste is drying leather, some tobacco, more spices. Fans of leathery non-sweet sherry bombs need to apply. An interesting proposition to be sure. My primary problems with it is reasonably low proof and somewhat of a lack of flavors outside of sherry cask. If you wanted to know what’s it would feel like licking a sherry and whiskey soaked piece of charcoal… you can taste it right here. Also, I am mostly enjoying it, soooooo… It’s worth trying being somewhat of a rarity of a dry sherry bomb profile…
Score: B-

Mortlach 13, Hepburn’s Choice, 54.5%
Another Hepburn’s Choice spooned Single cask distilled in 2007. This one is called “Below Bhainidh”. The other nickname for Mortlach is “The beast of Dufftown”, a Speyside scotch aged in a refill hogshead. I’ll leave note here, that most Mortlachs are sherry-aged or got some sherry in them at least, so this younger refill bourbon cask definitely has little to hide in there. The nose is intense, vanilla, some alcohol, apples and *-berry notes. Honestly, a little overwhelmingly strong. Palate is quite a concentrated ball of malt, vanilla and spices, though not too sweet. Aftertaste is more spices and vanilla with cereal grains. That spice really goes through the entire experience. Water is highly recommended with it. Dark rich flavors come out with water in so much that they can in something the color of pale straw but I actually enjoy with water quite a bit. Bitter Dark chocolate and toasted nuts. Tasted blindly I would guess some sort of a much darker-colored liquid with first fill something in there. Water is strongly advised as it goes from workable but ‘typical’ to ‘very interesting’. With the price there’s no question about value though I’ll personally not going to be buying another bottle, as one is plenty for me. This would please those looking for a spicy, flavorful malt without any sherry in it, but it’s also not the easiest one to drink either due to sheer amount of spiciness in the glass.
Score: C+ (B /w Water)

Glenfiddich 23, Hepburn’s Choice, 53.8%
Hepburn’s Choice spooned single cask distilled in 1997 called Hector Macbeth. Notably, in refill sherry butt. Nose is perfumed orange zest/oil. Deeply nutty, slightly sweet yet well balanced vs spice palate. Aftertaste sees, spices fall off quickly in sherry like sweetness then come back once sweetness fades for a long and very pleasant finish. Lots of orange infusion on the palate too like a spiced orange zest pie. Overall fantastic stuff. Water makes it slightly spicier and woodier though cutting back on the sweet balance. I really like it as it’s right up my wheelhouse. So much that I got another bottle of it. A very minor downside of this overall great bottling are slightly metallic notes present in the background, though that may be the oranges. Not too sweet, not too bitter, not too sherried. It’s great and delicious.
Score: A-

Redbreast Small Batch. early 2021, 58%
One of the tree very slightly different Redbreast Small Batch series from early 2021 is here. I don’t have info which batch it is though. An Irish whiskey too. Boy this one is strong on vanilla and alcohol notes on the nose. Interestingly, smells more like a grain whiskey than malt. Onto the palate… It’s hot, and seems like a mix between malt and grain whiskey with bunch of different casks in the mix. Which I suspect it really is that a blend of grain and malt whiskeys from different casks. Little hot on the palate, high vanilla, and bit of wood notes, quite sweet. Aftertaste is mostly cooling off from the high that is the palate, this is really reminding me of whiskey version of vanilla extract with some wood involved. Takes water like a champ, being 58% abv to start with, with darker woodier notes coming to the fore after alcohol becomes little less fiery. Well worth trying, especially for those that enjoy irish and sweet whiskeys. I can certainly see myself enjoying this, though perhaps not an entire bottle of it. It’s dessert-like (nearly too much) sweet and slightly spicy, grainy-malty goodness.
Score: B-

Amrut 6, Oloroso, Chris Hart Private Bottling. 60%
Rounding off this review cycle is a Chris Hart special bottling of ex-Oloroso-sherry aged Amrut from India aged 6 years. This is a sample from a private bottling so I’m expecting it to be quite unique. The nose is quite unapologetically wanders between sherry, some metal notes, and alcohol and is quite prominent. The palate is nutty, full of oloroso sherry and nearly overwhelming with alcohol. It starts sweet and then switches to being woody/tannic and spicy nearly to the point of being bitter. Aftertaste is reasonably pleasant and long with drying bitterness, spices and nuts as well as a little bit of sweetness from the sherry. With water, this becomes slightly more drinkable but the balance of sweet/sherry/bitter stays for the most part. I guess if one likes that woody/sweet almost bourbon-like combination this may be a single malt for you. Honestly I’m not finding much ‘malt’ in it for myself. It may as well be oloroso finished bourbon or a rum if tasted blindly, actually I can totally see this being a Foursquare rum product if I didn’t know better.
Score: B

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