UK Exclusive Single Cask Refill Barrel
A few years ago I enjoyed one of my favorite single grains ever. A 31-year-old Invergordon bottled by Dramfool. Mind you it was in an Oloroso cask that I already have a preference for and was paired with an insane 52-year Carsebridge. Both had floored me with how good single grain could be. I have been on the hunt for a similar Invergordon ever since.
I’m a big fan of what Thompson Bros and Dornoch Distillery are doing. The fact that their lottery encourages opening bottles is worth it alone for me. Jumping in on this one, I was hoping for a gem.
Tasted neat in a Glencairn with 30+ minutes of rest. Dilution added throughout the tasting with additional rest upwards of an hour.
The nose starts off like a light butterscotch liqueur, toasted cereal pieces, and the burnt sugar top of a creme brulee. Grain fields, clover, and summer honey. Delicate grass aroma, not herbal, more like grape leaves and hay bales. Artificial new car smell of auto leather conditioner. HB pencils and graphite. Capping my Glencairn allowed a more grain aroma to develop. Sweet cornbread and bran muffins. Water amplifies and intensifies those sweet grain cereal notes.
On the first sip, you can feel that rough alcohol hit the back of your throat. Homemade vanilla extract, not quite mature enough to use in baking, and emphasis on the extract part. Grain-forward flavors of toasted wheat and corn cereal pieces. It’s not necessarily a savory grain flavor, more like toasted oak finishes – artificial sweetener with light sugars with lots of grain. Water really pumps up some unique hidden qualities. Becomes a bit sweeter in a sugar substitute way. Brownies made with applesauce or black beans for example. They don’t taste as rich or as chocolaty and that sweet element is skewed and unfamiliar. Dilution woke up some really pleasant chili oils, intensifying a heat that builds on your palate.
The finish leans heavily into baked goods and sweets. Burnt edges of birthday cake and multi-layered honey cakes. Leans bitter with some matcha green tea and espresso. A lot of leather notes and dried tobacco leaves. Bit of plastic, wood filler, and epoxy. Woodshop with floral wood chips scattered about and finishing oil. Dilution may have enhanced the palate, in my opinion, it adversely affects the finish. It becomes very tannic and the alcohols seem even harsher. Burnt coffee, paint thinner, and a bitter astringency lingers.
This bottle started out great. Some lovely vanilla and butterscotch flavors. Birthday cake and lightly sweetened cereal. As I delved deeper into this whisky, it gradually turned sour for me.
On its own, it doesn’t seem potent enough. The flavors are a bit muddied together and nothing really shines through to create some individualism in the spirit. That changes simply by pairing this with a salty snack. Pretzels and cream cheese or a savory dip like hummus. This whisky lacked that salty flavor to balance the sweeter notes of the palate.
Ultimately this is a good, respectable single grain. The toasted oak element is enjoyable. The finish just ruins the experience for me.