“Whispers of Spring” HNWS Taiwan Bottling
I’ve previously reviewed a pair of teenage Linkwood bottles. Both are respectable and enjoyable drams but I’ve wanted to try an older expression for a while now. Thankfully an opportunity presented itself with the Malt Runners crew and we all participated in our first group review of this bottle.
This 24-year-old Linkwood was bottled exclusively for HNWS Taiwan. Matured in an ex-bourbon cask and bottled in 2021 at a cask strength of 54.8%.
Bottler: The Maltman (Meadowside Blending)
Region/style: Speyside single malt Scotch
ABV: 54.8%. Cask strength
Age: 24 years. Distilled in 1996. Bottled in 2021.
Cask type: Bourbon,#8712,
Color: 0.5 yellow gold. Natural Color. Non-chill-filtered.
Tasted neat in a Glencairn with 20+ minutes of rest. Dilution was added for the second half of the tasting with additional rest of upwards of an hour.
Right off the nose, there’s this fragrant white wine aroma. Wine esters and soft oak tannins build in the glass with much of those fruits empowering themselves. White grames, sultanas, and apricots. Light floral honey with a delicate fresh-cut grass scent, edible flowers, and pollen. It’s springtime in a glass. As time went on the oak became more noticeable and reminiscent of a garden center greenhouse. Wet tobacco leaf and sweet burnt sugary aromas. At times I felt like the nose leaned tropical with some dried papaya and charred pineapple even. An enticing nose that lures you in.
The fruit comes through loudly on your palate with all of those tropical notes landing soundly. Lychee, mango, musk melon, and pineapple. A more distinct tobacco note emerges along with the oak tannins. It’s not dry thanks to the fruit-forward malt but it brings a nice balance to the glass. A floral clover honey character I’ve also found in other Linkwood bottles. Expected baking spices with an herbaceous slant. Star anise, peppercorn, smoked paprika, toasted cloves, cinnamon. Earthy root veg and nuts like a black walnut Nocino. Water accentuates the sweet flavors and brings out a spiced apple cider quality.
Oaky finish with remnants still of those fruity flavors. More of a pear juice flavor now with a honeycomb and sharp greek yogurt flavor. Oddly, the finish is where I’m drawing the most flavor from the grains. Distinguishable among the other flavors and a distinct character of the malt. Honeyed, ‘healthy’ wheat cereal pieces. Overnight oats with apples and cinnamon. Breakfast-like character along with those tart lactic notes. After 24 years, the oak is well integrated into the spirit. A few drops of water help lift some of those tannic wood notes that carry some of the more grassy elements.
I am kind of in love with this whisky. The more bold, youthful Linkwoods that I’ve had previously were fantastic bottles but this is elevated to another level. The fruit is so enticing and forms a wide swath of flavor profiles from delicate pear juice to a rich oatmeal raisin cookie.
From nose to finish, I have nothing to complain about. Time has softened and homogenized the flavors and my experience has been phenomenal. If I had to nitpick about anything here it’s maybe a touch light on the malt, at least so on the palate. Thankfully the finish completely rectifies that mild complaint.
I hate that I’m glowing so much about this but it just shows that something that is over two decades old can still bring a balanced flavor profile that is very reminiscent of the distillery. I am so glad that I got to be able to taste this and I will be buying an older Linkwood for my own shelf in the future. If not this cask, another one similar to it.
Final Score: 90