Refill Barrel Highland Single Grain Whisky
The second part of my previous review and another Invergordon release. This single barrel was distilled on the very same day just aged that much longer to be bottled at 35 years.
I love trying these single grain scotches to parallel American whiskies. Regardless of the mash, reuse cask influence is subdued in comparison to new charred oak. Some of my favorite ryes actually were aged in well-used casks. I get that age and climate also factor into the flavors but those casks put in work over the years. The subtle bourbon sweet notes with more floral wheat or unmalted barley spirit interest me and I’m willing to give these a go.
Tasted neat in a Glencairn with 30+ minutes of rest. Dilution added throughout the tasting with additional rest upwards of an hour.
The nose has much more pronounced alcohol to it. They remind me of white wines oddly or the scent they add for mineral spirits and solvents. After resting, this died ever so slightly and allowed a rich oak aroma to build alongside. Weetabix or frosted shredded wheat cereal. Caramel hard candies. A rather uninteresting nose mind you, that takes a lot of concentration and digging. Capping helped capture some of those aromas like raw honey sticks or almond cake. Water blooms the alcohols too much but it did coax out a green honeysuckle influence. Familiar spring scents of wild onion and dried grass.
Soft and sweet palate. Early spring bloom with floral and green influences. Vanilla, oak, and grasses are the simplest straightforward description of this whisky. Yellow birthday cake, burnt sugars, and hard, crystallized caramel. Toffee or brittle with a fatty cashew nutty flavor to it. A slightly savory note like a delicate fruity avocado oil. Bright toasted peppercorns, olive oil peppery notes, and chili oil heat. Lavender candles and fabric softener. Lastly, some cereal notes of cornflakes or panko even. Like a breading for fried chicken.
An enjoyable leather-forward lingering finish. Sweet initially but leaves your palate with a pleasant old oak wood bitterness. More birthday cake flavors like sugar icing decorations and sprinkles. Water really changed the finish for me. Those grasses and green elements come out again. Ripening grain fields, charred lemongrass. Reminded me of chewing on a piece of long grass as a kid. Woody, bitty oak is more prominent with the addition of water. A final note on the finish – rehydrating sourdough loaf for breadcrumbs or croutons. Not a fresh bread flavor but was slightly stale to me.
I think I judged this bottle a bit harsher than the last one. My notes started to surprise me as I was enjoying the whisky but not writing like I was. I focused more on the unpleasant aromas and flavors it seems.
I actually prefer this cask far more than the previous release. The vanilla and caramel flavors are a touch sweeter if counterbalanced by more astringent alcohols. It also had some of the savory elements I was craving. Even if just a smidge, it brought more complexity to the dram. Each flavor was just a bit more. A bit more capsaicin heat, a pinch sweeter, a touch more tannic oak. All of these made for a more enjoyable experience.
I went back to both again another night, blind this time. I picked this bottle over the other each and every time. The cask over 30 years helped it out that much more and produced a fun grain whisky to explore. I’d still rate this as a good, middle of the pack whisky from my single grain experience.