First of all, I have to talk about the packaging, as it is quite frankly, absolutely incredible. I know you can’t eat or drink it (unless you’re on a strange fad diet), and it’s reflected in the price - but it really is something else. It’s beyond packaging and treading around in the realms of art. So whoever designed this and came up with the little things like a hessian-nested homage to a bung, magnets in the polished wooden panel that slides out, the velvet-lined oak stand, the polished solid oak box, and the weight & gauge of the actual glass bottle, should get some serious recognition. And that’s just the packaging. If the packaging is any sort of reflection of the actual whisky inside the bottle, then it will be a very happy experience...
Appearance: Deep Mahogany. Very thick & lazy oily legs.
Nose: Old & refined sherry is the first aroma to fill my nostrils. It’s soon followed by warm and plump raisins that have been soaked in booze-laced prune juice. This, along with the sherry influence is enough to just hold the glass to your nose for an age and just breathe it all in. Now a secondary wave of aromas appear out of the mist - antique furniture wax, faint sourness, old and well used leather, moist dark cherries, freshly sanded wood, pear drops, milky coffee, Digestive biscuits, toffee, more sherry, and a whiff of strawberry ice cream. There are so many doors that open to reveal a multitude of aromas, it’s just a hugely rewarding massage of the olfactory system.
Palate: After the total delight on the nose, the first initial reaction is that the contact on the tongue is that it’s lighter than expected. But then it becomes very clear that it is beautifully & elegantly layered. The welcomed sherry-sweetness starts off as quite restrained but kept on the tongue for just a few moments, it starts to expand and unravel itself – then whoosh! Now it really opens up and floods the taste buds with a beautiful tickling honey and sherried sweetness. All the while, a soft, sweet-mead waxy oiliness envelopes everything in its wake – especially noticeable at the roof of the mouth. The sherry comes back again and is in a happy and harmonious relationship with tart, woody tannins and a very gentle peppery tickle. The alcohol is at a level where there is absolutely no aggression whatsoever, and it gives a pleasant gentle prickly kneading of the tongue. I generally drink cask strength sherry bombs, but this is so well balanced, I think adding water would be sacrilege and an insult to the master distiller.
Finish: Long, warming and thoughtful. The oil, sweetness, and tannins dance with each other in perfect harmony. Right at the end, there’s a very faint wisp of cigar-ash.
Conclusion: If you like the 21yr, you’ll be passionate about the 25yr. And if you’re passionate about the 25yr, you’ll fall in love and want to run away with the 30yr. It’s a whisky that has all the appeal of its younger siblings, but has experience, finesse, and extra confidence of those extra years maturing the cask. It unknowingly forces you to slow down and savour every nuance. Everything from the nose to the finish is an absolute pleasure.
The only problem is that you’ll have to make it last as it certainly isn’t cheap.
But what an absolute stunner of a creation.