Autumn 2022 Tastings – The Good, the Bad and the Unusual.

Islay sheep at the beach – why not?

Here we are with another set of five quite random tasting notes.

Three were samples donated by friends, the other two were my purchases.

One in particular hits the headlines.  The PX Sherry Cask from Divergence in Christchurch has the most incredible nose that blew my socks off!  I have since put another bottle of it into a tasting that I ran early in July – it did not disappoint.

Cardrona Just Hatched, Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Cask
65.8% ABV, casked Sep 2016, bottled Oct 2019, bottle 113 of 592, donated by Graeme.

Nose: Vinous, which is probably only to be expected, given the casking.   A light curry powder and slightly peppery nose.  Fruit cake batter, a lot of alcohol.  That curry powder smell gets more prevalent with nosing.
Palate: Alcohol and heat.  Raw fruit and wine.  The “sharp tooth” of Youth and too high an ABV.  With minimal water reduction, it still hits the back of the palate and nose;  a few more drops widens the taste and adds black pepper.  It’s still raw and young, but the pepper is way more manageable at the reduced strength!
Finish: Pepper.  A lot of pepper, strangely mixed with Arrowmint chewing gum.
Comment:  I have had some really nice Cardrona experiences but this Pinot Noir expression isn’t another one.  It’s not my style, and I think it’s not as good as the other Sherry and Bourbon casks Just Hatched we reviewed a year or so ago.  Too much pepper aftertaste.
Length: long

Score: 7.4 

 

Divergence PX Sherry Cask, The Spirits Workshop
46% ABV, age 4-and-a-bit yrs. Distilled Nov 2017, bottled Feb 2022

Colour: Dark.
Nose: I would love to write the words we thought when we first nosed this, but decorum prevents me  This nose is absolutely amazing!  Floral, but stronger.  There are Berries (like you fell into the vat), fresh crushed parsley, pip fruit and Glacé cherries.  Dusty wood chips.  Nose score: 10.5
Palate: Sweet, gingerbread, lip-smacking waves of multi flavours.  There is quite a heat, considering the ABV.  Wide in the mouth.
Finish: Chocolate, heat, and the taste stays on!
Comment: The most amazing nose that keeps on giving.   We’ve tasted other Divergence whiskies earlier this year, but this PX Sherry Cask is a beauty and (hopefully) is starting to define the way NZ whiskies are going.
Length: Long

Score: 9.7

 

Auchriosk 10yo
Speyside, 59.1% ABV, PX Sherry Hogshead (sample from Kurt)

Colour: Dark Gold
Eye: Good viscosity that hangs on to the glass.
Nose: Fruit in sufficient quantity that I guessed a PX influence before I knew what the dram was.  There is wood dust, and the brown sugar/golden syrup notes that PX generally comes with. Floral, and Xmas fruit mince.
Palate: Foosty/musty at start.  Sharp – I initially thought it was young, but at 10 years old I would not have expected a shaprt note.  Sweet, and a later heat kicks in.  Hessian on side of tongue, slightly tannic,
Finish: Sours a bit, tannic – but neither are a negative to this very nice drop.
Comment: The taste doesn’t match the nose.  But this dram gets better and better and better with time.
Length: Long, and the flavour last and lasts.

Score: My initial reaction score was 8.5, but after another taste or two it climbed to 9.3 

 

SMWS 51.15
Bushmills, Northern Ireland.  First fill Ex-Bourbon  ABV 56.4% (sample from Kurt)

Colour: Light Amber
Eye: Some legs come down the glass
Nose: A nose prickle, usually expected with rather unsubtle SMWS cssk-strength bottlings.  A note of banana and those banana lollies.  Oak sawdust and a chemical note.  A bit narrow in the mouth mouth.
Palate: softer than the Auchriosk, then Heat with a big H!.  Chemical, heat and sweeter later.
Finish: The sweetness doesn’t fade.  There is no tannin or sourness in the finish.  The majority of the taste tends to fade a bit early.
Comment: I like this a lot, but I don’t love it.

Score: 8.3

 

Ardnamurchan AD/11:14 CK 384 Dramfest 2022 Bottling
Oloroso hogshead.  ABV 57.5%, Distilled 2014, Bottled Oct 2021.  Bottle 146 of 178

Eye: Fascinating.  Give it a swirl and it climbs the glass, then hold the glass still and it all sinks back down again in a line.  No viscosity, no legs.  I’ve never seen whisky behave like that before, ever!
Nose: Christmas Cake! Heavy sherry.  A vegetal (cabbage) hint.  Oak wood chips.
Palate: Thin and no mouth “feel”.  Hot, salty, tannic and drying.  I can hold it my mouth for over 10 seconds without my eyes starting to bleed – which is unusual for a 57.5 ABV.  There’s none of the Christmas cake promised on the nose.
Finish: Drying.  The alcohol heat doesn’t stay.  The taste dissipates quickly, like a small cloud disappearing in the summer sky.
Comment:  I feel let down.  It slides down the sides of the glass in a sheet, but there are no legs.  Drinkable, but the dram lacks any Wow factor at all.
Length: Medium+

Score: 8.2 tops.

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