3-Month Finish in Fresh Sherry Butt
About 2 years ago I picked up this bottle of Linkwood off Fine Drams. I’ve hemmed and hawed on it, having a dram every so often and it never sparked anything. After picking up an ex-bourbon 13-year Linkwood from Thompson Bros. it was time to go back and try this one again in depth.
I decided to finally write some notes on this bottle in a side-by-side tasting. I wanted to see how these 3-6 month sherry finishes affect the spirit. Does it detract from the malt or enhance lesser casks further with the finish?
Tasted neat in a Glencairn with 15+ minutes of rest. Dilution added throughout the tasting.
The nose starts really deceitfully. A lightly fruited malt with distinct but soft sherry notes. The spirit is a really rich old oak/brown sherry in color but the nose is hiding how much impact the finishing cask had. Delicate tobacco, oak heirloom furniture, cedar chest, mothballs. Pleasant grassy and herbal malt with a well-rounded spice to it. The spirit character is well and true with the sherry playing harmoniously. Prunes, figs, raisins. Whole grains and oat cereal bars. Ginger, clove, vanilla bean, green cardamom, bubblegum. Digestives. Adding water brings out some of the dank sherry staves. Creamed butter, cranberry sauce, and burnt ends. Intensely grape-forward at times with a medicinal, cough syrup flavor.
Your first sip is a distinct oatmeal raisin cookie flavor. Prune juice. Cinnamon, ginger root, clove, light peppercorn, and nutmeg. The sherry is very present and compliments the bread and yeasty notes of the malt. Water creates this velvety emulsion on the palate. Dark cocoa, allspice dram, almonds, and even more gingerbread cookie flavors. Wet tree bark and leaves, hay, with a bit of fresh cut grass. More herbal than I expected but in a tame way. Pairs well with the dark fruits of the sherry cask.
Yeasty, Amish friendship bread finish. Nordic cardamom biscuits. Oaky barrel char, charcoal embers, and cacao nibs. The finish is really bringing more balancing bitter flavors and richness from the cask. The dank sherry notes really catch the back of your throat with some oak, malt, and fruit. Water cuts through the heavier sherry notes but revs up the currants and bready malt flavors. Walnuts and pecans. Burnt pie crust and laminated dough. The herbaceous malt is really surprising me here even on the finish. That grainy yeasty Linkwood essence is hidden in plain sight.
I have to fully admit I did not have high expectations for this bottle but it astonished me in so many ways. I expected the sherry to completely overwhelm the spirit but trying side by side I realize it wasn’t entirely true.
The sherry compliments the malt wonderfully. The naturally herbal malt pairs incredibly well with the damp, dusty sherry. It invoked an almost aperitivo response in me. I poured myself a second dram to pair with some goat cheese and toast and I fully endorse this combination as it hit the spot spectacularly.
I’m not going to be entirely leery of these fresh sherry cask finishes in the future. At least with Linkwood, it worked and I would happily purchase this bottle again.