Barrel (#803516, 193 btl.)
The nose starts off with delicate bonfire smoke. Behind that sweet vanilla and malted barley notes arrive, accompanied by cereals and a touch of lemon fruit. Spicy hints of white pepper in the background. The alcohol is already well integrated and not at all pungent.
Quite spicy on the palate at first with oak, black pepper and nutmeg. Very warming indeed, certainly owing to the high alcohol content. Then a delicate sweetness of vanilla and caramel arrives, mixed with honey and stewed yellow fruit. This is all nicely wrapped in gentle wood smoke. Very mouth-filling and salivation stimulating!
The finish is long, warm and rather spicy with pepper and dry oak. Discreet sweetness of vanilla and honey on the tail with a whiff of wood smoke.
There's less smoke coming through when a splash of water is added. The sweetness is a bit tamed as well, whereas more fruit - apricots in particular, as well as spiced oak and pepper arrive on the nose. Significantly tamed warmth on the palate with a delicate mix of oak spice, pepper, and sweet notes of vanilla and caramel. A touch of honey lingers with gentle wood smoke towards the finish. The finish is medium-long and significantly dry with prickling oak and tender honey on the tail.
A real buster from the Highlands! This is a robust, potent, young but nicely drinkable single malt. The high alcohol content is well integrated leading to a rich and pleasantly warming mouthfeel. The discreet fruitiness and lovely vanilla sweetness is already well balanced with the warming spiciness coming from the American oak. Not necessarily water needed. A well-knitted character - I am quite impressed. Well done folks!
I thank The Barreliers for the sample and the photograph!