Blind tasting is really funny, because it puts every certainty into a doubt. At the end of the evening some needed to cling to the Cogito of Descartes in order to not doubting even his own existence, as if a twenty-year mortgage was not already a definitive proof of the reality of the world. The quarantine added a further level of difficulty to this healthy bath of humility: drinking blindly and at a distance, and in five, since we managed to gather a respected panel of alcoholics. As if that wasn’t enough, the following three whisky turned out to be really unsettling and so we caged them all in one improbable, dramatic article.
YUSHAN BLENDED MALT (2019, OB, 40%)
Some time ago we were pleasantly surprised by Omar, a single malt by Nantou Distillery, because Taiwan is not only Kavalan when we talk about whisky. We now try, without knowing it, Yushan, the blended malt aged in ex bourbon and ex sherry casks.
N. rather elegant and clean. He has a suspicious delicacy, probably an official bottling, with predominance of ex bourbon casks. Fresh yellow fruit, a touch of heather or heather honey, however a delicate floral note. There is also a more dense and “processed” fruit, including peach in syrup, orange cream and candied citrus. A light malty note, with some wood influence. There is also something strange, between vinegar and soap.
P. fruit again, and again not entirely “natural”. Apples, Fanta sweetened with generous spoonfuls of honey. The impact is powerful but it turns off immediately. Goodbye nice creaminess, it turns bitter (someone says cardboard) and the soap is back. Now a cheap wood influence (supermarket pallets, for those who have tasted it) and pepper. You do not understand the age, like those characters that can be young aged badly or old rejuvenated well.
F. short, between a sweet and tasty touch (honey and citrus) and some herbaceous and bitter notes.
The nose made us dream, with someone assuming we were drinking a whisky from a Highlands or Speyside distillery, around 12/15 years. No one imagined it was a blended malt forged at the end of the world. The palate, totally disappointing, and a soapy finish brought down the enthusiasm. And it worked as a remind of how the extra-accelerated tropical ageing has to be handled with care: 79/100.
CRAIGELLACHIE 10 YO (2019, That boutique-y whisky company, 50.5%)
That boutique-y whisky company is an independent bottler that is never banal, starting from a particularly fresh and informal bottling aesthetic. The liquid is often interesting too and from the cylinder came out this young speysider…
N. let’s put on the helmet, because it’s full of spikes here. The start is very peculiar, with notes of clay and mud. It is really dirty and the sulfur side, between metal and thermal water (that unmistakable eau de rotten egg), is blunt. Beyond this olfactory forest, we find milk chocolate and an indefinite citrus, sometimes similar to grapefruit and sometimes lemon. The fruit is all here, bordering with a concentrated acidity of balsamic vinegar. Young and full-bodied, not at all accommodating.
P. as if by magic, the sulfur and luciferin side has vanished, as well as that sens of moist earth. Instead, there is a floral, sweet aroma, that is like roses and angostura. To underline this sensation of artificial sugar, here is a hint of fruit candy (orange, peach, yellow apple) and Werther candy, although not so creamy. It is not unpleasant, it is only young and sweet. The feeling is that the cask got just a little influence and that everything – joys and sorrows – comes from the distillate. It turns to pepper and ginger. The addition of water softens it, but does not upset it. A distinct note of cooked ham tending to rancid and a hint of mint emerge.
F. cocoa powder, almond and maybe strawberry? Medium length.
A couple of us really liked it, with its uncompromising profile that winks at the smelly whisky lovers. Others, on the other hand, didn’t like this extremely sulphurous nose, combined with a very sweet and inconsistent palate. The average of our positions in this regard will be 83/100.
MACKMYRA THORVALDSSON (2018, OB, 50.4%)
We end the tasting by going to the moon (and in Sweden) with one of the crazy creations by Mackmyra, distillery that in recent years has repeatedly moved the bar of innovation in the “world whisky” category. This bottling, a tribute to the famous Viking Erik Thorvaldsson, seems to be the result of the aging of highly peated whisky in Swedish oak barrels that had already contained peated whisky. And all this mess just to produce only 48 bottles. If this is not innovation, guys…
N. “Caol Ila!”, screams one of us and he doesn’t know how far is from right guessing. Anyway this is about myrtle or juniper. Fish, anchovies. Burnt peat, Mcdonald’s pickles, maritime, speck/moldy salami skin, sweetened chamomile. Vanilla, young wood. Graphite and grease from a garage. Powder, iron filings. Burnt paper.
P. very strange, charcoal and burnt paper, maybe a vatting of undisclosed Islay whisky? Talcum powder and tar, burnt plastic. On the palate it looks more like Laphroaig. Smoked green banana. Balsamic/medicinal like a resin. Toffee. The body tends to fade.
F. burnt stuffs everywhere, great sweetness, charred sticky tofffee pudding singed.
The indecipherability of this crazy Mackmyra and our reckless assumptions represent another demonstration that drinking distillates, trying to understand something, is a hard challenge and that we always have to be ready to take slaps and start again with the same naive curiosity that in 2012 drove us to start this blog. Hey, full covered with ash and humility as we are now, we almost forgot the usual arrogant act of voting: 82/100.