Scotch Review: Assorted Cask Samples, Part III

Assorted Cask Samples: III / CS / Free

All are tasted starting neat, adding water if necessary, in a blender’s glass

These are samples of some various casks that are/were available for purchase on the secondary market. I will be taking a look at them from a different perspective than usual, more to understand the wood/distillery character over time, as all of these are quite young. I have also anonymized the sellers’ / cask-specific information as well; all of these are fairly young, and probably in the £4–12,000 range.

I will start these in order from lightest-to-darkest (barring a better random sorting system), and will use a compressed scale from 1–5:

(1) No good at all; ruinous; unsalvageable 
(2) Bad, but maybe it just needs more time
(3) OK; could be fine with a few more years
(4) Good; nice stuff, you could bottle it now, or give it a bit more time
(5) Perfect; why is this still in the cask??

Linkwood 10 Year Hogshead

No ABV on this one, very pale, like a sauvignon blanc. Heavy ethanol on the nose; peppered pears, perfume, green grapes; very fruity some citrus. In the mouth, aged oak with fresh-cut berry fruit salad, watermelon, lemon zest, and starfruit.

Verdict: 5+: There’s more to whisky than colour or age! This is the lightest and youngest of the six samples I have from the latest round of casks, and it’s an early start, but it may very well also be the best.

Glen Garioch 11 YO 55%

Pale, limned with a hint of straw. Nose is very hot, cracked anise, white pepper, black liquorish. Flavour comes through creamy, with a nice vanilla finish; lots of fennel and butyric acid.

Verdict: 2+: I think this one needs more time in the cask, it’s a bit hot still, but some of the flavours are extremely promising!

Linkwood 12 Year Hogshead

Similar state to the above, but slightly darker. The nose is very hot, getting just nail polish remover. The flavour is bubble gum and pine sap with a vanilla ice cream finish.

Verdict: 1: this one is very strange, and I don’t know what to do with it.

Tormore 2009 69%

Slightly darker, very viscous and oily in the glass. The nose is plum blossoms, peanuts, candied orange, and salt bread. In the mouth we have that grapey new-make flavour, but it’s got some oak and a vanilla finish. Still quite incredibly hot.

Verdict: 3: this is good but still too young.

Linkwood 2006 13 year / 3 mo sherry 58%

Colour is nut brown. On the nose, new make and heather, but with an undercurrent of potential fruit and actual leather; peppery. Two things are going on in the mouth at the same time; some nice sherry currants with fruity sweetness surf underneath a grapey new-make.

Verdict: 2+: this is probably not great but they’ve re-racked it for 3 months, and you can already start to see a marriage of flavours, and improved complexity from the re-casking. Given some time to knock off the rough edges, this will be quite nice. The sherry is not overpowering the distillery characteristic at all, so care should be taken to regularly ensure that remains true.

Benriach Sherry 60% 1997

A very nice deep colour. Nose is richly aged sherry, impression of stateful age, dry leather and pipe smoke. In the mouth this is intense; dry sherry, nutmeg, tropical fruits. Long finish with pine, vanilla, and cherry.

Verdict: 4-: this is quite good but I think it could be a little bit better if it were left longer, or vatted with some sister casks.

Click here for the previous installment: Cask Samples — Part II

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