The 11th Whisky Show was held in London last week-end and The Whisky Exchange presented a unique new series entitled The Magic of the Cask. It includes four whiskies matured in different types of casks, highlighting the mystery of the cask’s influence.
The details on the labels and parts of the images are printed in UV responsive ink – a small torch is included with every purchase. The alchemy of wood maturation reflected in a creative label design.
We start with a third-fill bourbon barrel. Obviously here the ageing of the Imperial spirit itself will have the upper hand, rather than the influence of the wood.
Imperial 23 yo 1995 (45,2%, The Whisky Exchange ‘Magic of the Casks’ 2019, third-fill bourbon barrel #7896, 125 btl.)
Nose: fresh and fruity, with summery citrus (lemon curd, lime, grapefruit) as well as rubbed mint and white flowers and a beautiful waxiness. Subtle mineral oils. Touches of pinewood and ferns in the background. Mouth: a creamy, fruity core again (lemon candy, jelly beans) mixed with sweet almonds, gooseberry tartlets, leafy touches and a hint of tiger balm. A bit of white pepper. Finish: quite long, with mint, lemon zest, green banana and light grassy touches.
Whisky that behaves like a white wine in some respects. Bright fruits, a certain green edge and waxy oak. Layered and rewarding. I believe it has yet to arrive at The Whisky Exchange.
TWE is sending mixed signals about the next whisky (again): the press release claims it’s a ‘blended whisky’, on the TWE blog it is described as a ‘blended malt’ and the label of my samples (a reproduction of the bottle ) says ‘Speyside single malt’. Oh well.
I noticed the label of the next whisky says ‘married in Glasgow’. In fact this selection of casks was blended and filled into a single sherry butt in 2005 for a final finishing.
Speyside Malt 45 yo 1973 (45,1%, The Whisky Exchange ‘Magic of the Casks’ 2019, refill sherry butt #6, 549 btl.)
Nose: oh yes. Can’t beat this mix of polished, slightly exotic woods, dried figs, plums and old cognac with glorious (tropical) fruits like guava, tangerines and various honeys. Hints of dried mint, pollen, freshly baked apple cake and subtle herbs. Mouth: minty oak up front now, resinous notes. Hints of banana liqueur and quinces but less fruity than the nose. Subtle camphor and eucalyptus oils. Brown sugar. Clove and herbal tea. More earthy oak towards the end. Finish: long, still earthy, with a little oak char, herbal liqueurs, raisins and wax.
Yet another excellent undisclosed 1973 Speysider. Big fruity notes, hints of old cognac and balanced polished oak. Recommended. Available from The Whisky Exchange.
Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996 (51,6%, The Whisky Exchange ‘Magic of the Casks’ 2019, refill sherry butt #1465, 519 btl.)
Nose: excellent. Beautiful waxy notes, lemon balm, bananas, also oranges and white cherries this time. Subtle minerality. Fruit cake and leather. A bit sweeter and more candied than similar releases, but on the same high level. Mouth: still sweet and fruity. Lots of oranges, hints of guava and passion fruit syrup (so nice), even some rummy molasses. Apricots and golden raisins. A lot of beeswax. Fruit cake again, subtle woody notes and chalky touches. Finish: long, still sweet fruity notes with a little chocolate cake and peppery oak.
Lovely, just lovely. The same waxy / mineral side, but more (slightly tropical) fruits this time. Magic of the cask indeed. Available from The Whisky Exchange.
The youngest one is a Caol Ila, matured in a cask that mentioned Gonzalez Byass. It must be very old, as this sherry bodega dropped the ampersand and started to use Gonzalez Byass in the early 1900s. Mind that cask heads are often used longer than staves, so it could be a repaired / re-composed cask.
Caol Ila 9 yo 2009 (58,7%, The Whisky Exchange ‘Magic of the Casks’ 2019, Gonzalez Byass cask #316103, 308 btl.)
Nose: rich and powerful Caol Ila. Truckloads of ashy peat smoke, damp earth and beach pebbles. Hessian. Green apples, crisp grapefruits and sweet berries in the background. Subtle hints of wet cellar. Mouth: fairly sweet and rounded at first, then bursting open on wood smoke, briney notes and liquorice. Lemons, yellow apples, soft hints of chocolate. Green pepper. Finish: very long, slightly grassier, full of drier ashy notes.
No classic dried fruits here, the sherry rounded off the edges but also lets the punchy Caol Ila character shine. Perhaps a little less unique than the others, but very good nonetheless. Available from The Whisky Exchange.