Since – thanks to William Haviland Cartier, blessed inventor of air conditioning – today we can easily lock ourselves indoors in arctic temperatures while the heat wave rages outside, why not take advantage of it?
So it appeared more than welcome, the idea of a home tasting with Corrado, a man of refined taste who knows single malt as well as the complex art of notary. As a whisky hunter (not as a notary), Corrado shared some of his latest preys. In particular, a trio of Whisky Broker bottles. The company – as you certainly already know – is not just just focused on casks trading, but it has his own range of single casks, at ultra-competitive prices. So air conditioning, relaxation and tasting notes.
Speyside 24 yo (1995/2020, Whisky Broker, 60,2%)
No, we’re not completely demented. We start with the older one because the others are a sherry bomb and a peated one. This is distilled at the Speyside distillery, the colour is light, as the immortal Michele of the old Glen Grant Italian ad teaches us. A breakfast nose, it smells like cereal and corn flakes. Or rather it suggests an idea of cereals, because the thundering abv keeps the aromas on a leash. There is yellow fruit (lemon, pear, mirabelle), powdered sugar and a light spice, like mace. It doesn’t show its years, but we haven’t decided yet if it’s a plus.
It’s not a featherweight palate, but if you don’t end up immediately knocked out, beyond that drape of alcohol there’s a nice fruit: classic apple, pear and lemon, but also a tropical hint, like passion fruit. Cereal again. Clean finish, with a herbaceous touch.
So, is that it? Be patient and arm ourselves with water. We’re ready to dilute the monster. Which is good for him, especially on the palate. The nose sprouts almond paste, a touch of cardboard not completely consistent and a touch of yeast that doesn’t match with its remarkable aging. On the other hand, it improves a lot in the mouth: an air of mint leaves comes out, it becomes pleasant and spicy. In some ways it has an aftertaste like tonic water! Even in the finish the dilution makes it fresher and more affordable. The herbaceous side is more precise: lime tea, dried herbs and some extra dry vermouth.
A whisky that needs a paraphrase, which must be explained well. The abv closes it with a double delivery and it needs a refined game of dilution to find a way to speak and tell us something. When it does, it presents itself as a whisky that doesn’t show its years at all, proof that the barrels here have done just the minimum effort. A pleasant whisky, fresh and clean, balanced between fruit and acidity. The best part: the rather unique finish, between herbaceous and dry. Not a masterpiece, but without any mistake: 86/100.
Auchroisk 16 yo (2003/2020, Whisky Broker, 58,4%)
The second element of the bourbon-sherry-torba troika performing tonight. 14 years in a hogshead refill, two in an Oloroso first fill. The result is a beautiful specimen that from the first nose shows a delicious balsamic aroma of resinous wood and pine. Finnish sauna, we would say. There is freshness (pine, mint), but also an intense, almost smoky wood. Pipe stove? Then it becomes very “brown”: tons of tamarind, dates, dried figs filled with almonds, milk chocolate. Walnuts and hazelnuts. The alcohol is here, but it saves our lives and doesn’t devastate everything. It remains resinous in the mouth, but much less balsamic. It’s more of a sensation of scented wood and incense, that’s it. Mixed dried fruits, from hazelnuts to dates, maybe prunes. Dark chocolate now. A lingering, enveloping finish between burnt raisins, chinotto and chocolate.
Here too, water is not an optional: it really helps to unravel the nodes. The nose brings out a scent of pan brioche with raisins, while in the mouth it contributes to a slightly too bitter aftertaste.
The overall judgement starts with a round of applause for the dear old barrels, which must have done an excellent job here. The high alcohol content does not affect the taste, even if it makes the palate a bit difficult. The water simplifies it, but – as Serge loves to say – this malt doesn’t swim well: it turns bitter and goes out of balance. So go easy with water. An extra point for the curious and excellent balsamicity, not very frequent in sherried whiskies like this. 87/100.
Ardmore 10 yo (2009/2020, Whisky Broker, 61.4%)
It doesn’t matter if you’re a lion or a gazelle, a young bottler or a legend of whisky: you’ll still get an Ardmore 10 yo between your releases. Maybe we’re too mainstream, but lately we stumble into Ardmore as soon as we leave the house. Here, too, a young lad aged in an ex Laphroaig barrel and bottled at a bursting abv. Yet alcohol is not unmanageable on the nose and the first sensation is a fragrant smoke. Sure, 61 degrees gives a slight hint of solvent, but it could have been worse. Green apple, white grapes and a touch of gauze, a pleasant medicine. On the contrary, in the mouth the bar is high. Sugar, with a burnt peat. Pure suggestion: the sweet charcoal that bad children receive at the Epiphany. More aromatic smoke, pine needles. Smoked sugar finish. Very boring this Cask Force session, here too we have to add water. An operation that amplifies the vegetable side. The nose becomes more herbaceous but it goes a bit out of focus, it becomes imprecise in the aromas; in the mouth it improves a lot, the peat becomes “green” and the balsamicity increases; in the final, balsamic and menthol.
There is nothing we can do: when the alcohol content exceeds 60 degrees, whisky is often encrypted like Pay-tv in the ’90s, when only the shadows of the players could be sensed during football games. Here an abstract sweetness whispers, something fragrant and an exceptionally green peat, but you need water to define the picture well. Which is not bad, but it’s not unforgettable either. 84/100.