Charred Red Wine Hogshead Binny’s Selection
Linkwood has a profile I know and love. From the handful of humble bourbon casks I’ve tried, to the questionable finishes. The age ranges I’ve been able to sample now have really made me appreciate the spirit and understand a bit more what the cask types have to offer.
This Binny’s selection does, however, offer a new experience for me. I’m familiar with red wine casks in malt but I was curious as to what that additional charring may bring. It was not what expected. I was quite surprised during the initial pour and ended up splitting my tasting into two completely separate evenings.
Bottler: Signatory Vintage (Vintage Collection)
Region/style: Speyside single malt Scotch
ABV: 57.4%. Cask strength
Age: 9 years. Distilled in 2010. Bottled in 2020.
Cask type: Charred Red Wine Hogshead #306190
Color: 1.3 Russet, Muscat. Natural Color. Non-chill-filtered.
Tasted neat in a Glencairn with 10+ minutes of rest. Dilution was added for the second half of the tasting with additional rest of upwards of an hour. Tasted on two separate occasions.
Nose: At first, I believed the cask was driving all of the aromas on the nose. Dates, currants, wine, and Armagnac-like alcohols. After my second tasting though, I got a sense of that herbal and floral Linkwood malt was peeking out from behind the cask. Unripe strawberries, green and herbal alfalfa, parsley, and mint. Herbaceuous floral blossoms and delicate unripe fruits. Stale butterscotch chews, orange zest, and lime leaf. Citrusy detergent with a potent oak influence. Lastly some familiar baking spice notes of cinnamon and allspice.
Palate: The palate is where all the wine fruits are hiding. Prunes, dates, and figs. Wonderful earthy and nutty flavor despite an intense proof heat. It takes your palate quite a long while to acclimate to. Viscous and creamy texture with a yogurt lactic quality. Those lactic notes turn to funk in your nose as you sip. Bold floral vanilla bean, leather, and oak tannins sit at the back of your palate. There’s even a savory element here of grapeseed or pistachio oil. Water softens the oak but also continues down this bourbon profile track much like an old fashioned. Some citrus develops as well as brown sugar and molasses. Butterscotch cookies are the best way to describe this dram after adding a touch of water.
Finish: The wine cask is non-existent it appears and I’m getting more typical ex-bourbon flavors now. Wonderful oak and vanilla bean notes. The cask has certainly sweetened the malt giving me wine cask finished bourbon vibes and not anything like a Linkwood character I am familiar with. Karo syrup, pecans, pie crust. A touch of dark cocoa and tobacco on the finish. Oaky, but not tannic in flavor. Looking back, that cask charring certainly influenced the flavor profile from start to finish.
This dram was one of the most intensely flavored malts I’ve had. The cask has trampled over the malt. In some ways that was certainly appreciated, in others I found myself wondering if I poured myself a bourbon instead of scotch!
I like the heavy char notes but the red wine muddled the flavors a bit too much for me. It gave it an unneeded profile that stripped away too much character. The positive notes it did bring were a hit for me and I’d like to try a heavily toasted or charred oak cask to compare in the future. A fun deviation from Linkwood, but a bottling that comes up short.
Final Score: 82