Whisky Reviews: Nantou Omar Plum Liqueur Finish, Black Queen Finish, and Sherry Cask Strength

Today I’d like to take a look at three interesting bottles from our friends across the sea in Taiwan at Nantou Distillery. Similar to Amrut in India, the hot climate requires shorter maturation periods, explosively high ABVs, and lots of fun and experimentation with different production methodologies and cask treatments.

Nantou Omar 2020 Plum Liqueur Barrel Finish / 52% ABV

I really enjoy the chinese ink/landscape art, here hopefully of a plum tree

Although Whiskybase is lagging behind in tracking all of these releases, they do have this 2015 edition of Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corp’s Nantou Distillery bottle which is closest to the one I am reviewing today.

Nantou Omar offers a cask-strength single malt finished in a Plum Liqueur barrel. The bottle date here is 2020.10.08 (F), and it is non-chill-filtered.

You can read a little bit more about the Plum Liqueur Barrel Finish on their official website (archive).

  • Color: auburn (1.5)
  • Nose: Japanese umeshu, unripe/green plums, apricot, varnish, corn potage and molasses
  • Taste: fruit tarts drizzled with honey, roasted plums, some vanilla, a little oak; crisp apple, and a tart undertaste
  • Finish: medium; quite sweet, the fruit give way to a sugar glaze and Christmas spice

A fine offering from the Kingdom of Fruits, this is probably the only widely available plum-liqueur (aka Umeshu)-finished whisky in the world, and it’s pretty fruity and delicious. Keep in mind that you are not getting a classic ex-Bourbon/Sherry profile here by any means, but rather more of a dessert cordial.

Rating: 6/10

Nantou Omar 2020 Black Queen Wine Barrel Finish / 52% ABV

“Delicious” said the birds to the grapes

This Nantou Omar “Black Queen” wine finish (arch) is also a cask-strength single malt whisky, non-chill filtered, and bottled as part of batch 2020.10.13 (F).

If you are wondering what on earth “Black Queen” is, it is a grape varietal (arch) developed in Japan in 1927 as a cross-strain between Bailey and Golden Queen. I suspect that TTL Nantou Omar source their ex-wine Barrels from vineyards in Niigata, Japan.

The bottle came in a lovely box, which I have not thrown away yet, so I can preserve the inner box notes that read:

OMAR原桶強度單一麥芽威士忌(葡萄酒桶)

彰化二林藤架下種植的是釀酒用黑后葡萄,其酸感明亮,單寧清澀。 來自葡萄果皮高雅的深紫紅色,將威士忌渲染成極為討喜的寶石紅,此款過葡萄酒桶麥芽威士忌,凝聚了天地人三大力量,邀您一同來感受臺灣土地訴說的故事。

色澤:中心是深邃的寶石紅·邊緣略帶古銅色澤

香氣:首先散出的是熟香蕉馥郁香甜,隨後葡萄果醬,辛香料,烤吐司的香氣,底層先是梅乾,黑糖糕的香味,再 緩緩帶出檀香的靜謐氣息。

口感:柔順纖細的酒體不失醇厚口感。 入口略微的葡萄青澀感,隨後轉為如花蜜般的甘甜,帶著一抹清淡的煙燻味。

餘韻:有葡萄皮梗,果醬,辛香料的圓潤。

And English translation via Bing, which has achieved human-parity in Mandarin, so it shouldn’t be too terrible:

OMAR original barrel strength single malt whisky (wine barrel)

Grown under the Changhua Erlin cane are black grapes for winemaking, which are brightly sour and the tannins are astringent. Elegant deep purple-red from grape peels, rendering whisky into a very pleasing ruby red, this bottled malt whisky condenses the three major forces of heaven and earth, inviting you to experience the story of Taiwan’s land.

Colour: The center is a deep ruby red with a slight bronze edge

Aroma: The first thing that comes out is the sweet aroma of cooked bananas, followed by the aroma of grape jam, spices, toasted toast, the bottom layer is first the aroma of dried plums, brown sugar cake, and then slowly bring out the quiet aroma of sandalwood.

Palate: Soft and slender without losing its full-bodied taste. The grapes are slightly green in the mouth, and then turn into a sweet nectar-like sweetness with a light smoky smell.

Afterglow: Roundness with grape skin stems, jams, spices.

Here’s what I find:

  • Color: burnt umber (1.7)
  • Nose: chalk, tannins, lemon, sandalwood; amaretto and brown sugar
  • Taste: chewy fruits, stewed berries, black pepper, and smoked cheese platter
  • Finish: long and semi-dry; full-bodied red wine, and soft grapes

This is very elegant, and extremely complex. I think I prefer it to the plum-barrel finish because it’s not as sweet, and also has a lot more going on. You could pick this apart for hours, it’s so understated!

Rating: 7/10

Nantou Omar 2015 Sherry Cask / 57.1% ABV

Nantou Omar’s Sherry Cask Cask Strength (arch) editions are full ex-Sherry single casks. This one today is cask #23150035, bottle #206 of 599, distilled on 01, 2015 and bottled 09, 2020.

  • Color: brown sherry (1.9)
  • Nose: PX sherry, brown sugar, cigar smoke, some hot liquor; toasted oak
  • Taste: spicy wood, leather, some vanilla, oak, and crème brûlée; black licorice and rum
  • Finish: quite long, sweet, and big on vanilla

This is very typical of hot-climate sherry casks, it’s quite nice but also a little hot. I really wish the climate allowed some extra time on the books.

Rating: 5/10

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Elliott

Personal interests in literature, SF, and whisky/whiskey/scotch, Software Engineer by Trade