Meet the Berrys’ Own Whisky family
Author: Rob Whitehead
Back to basics this week with some more detailed thoughts on my recent tastings. Twitter is a great outlet for quick splurges of joy or vitriol, but to really wade into the meat (or fruit, peat or wood!) of the subject, I often feel some longer notes are needed.
Personal highlights include the Clynelish 1997 – and we’ve recently bottled another sister cask, so hopefully even more Brora-based deliciousness soon. Along with the Glenlivet 1994, yet more proof of the sheer brilliance of the spirit from this iconic distillery.
Oddball whisky of the week was definitely the Glen Keith, which as well as being only the second ever Berrys’ bottling from this distillery is the only whisky so far to make me use mirabelle and samphire in the same sentence!
BOS Clynelish 1997 55.5% Cask # 4655
Fresh honey and scrubbed peaches, apricots soaked in something wickedly potent. The tiniest flick of smoke trying desperately to make its way somewhere and just getting caught up in something slightly sweet on the way past. Rich, round structure of oak with lemon, maybe fig and some old memories of honey drizzled on shredded-wheat as a child. Finishes on that touch of smoke and the skins of stone fruit.
Appletiser, lemon sherbet, some white liquorice and floral notes. Beautiful texture at this age, sweet attack followed up by very gentle oak and some savoury fruit. Top quality spirit in a really nice ‘refill’ cask. The creamy-textured finish lingers very gently on samphire, a touch of mirabelle plums and maybe even celery!?
Classic gentle Speyside fruit on the nose, possibly slightly muted from the cask strength, cherries and red apples, something grassy perhaps. Oily texture, Jaffa orange peel and custard creams – without the cream! Lovely fruity grip on the finish, rhubarb or redcurrants I wonder? With water, the grassy qualities come through and a tiny touch of coffee shop appears from somewhere.
BOS Glenlivet 1994 58.9% Cask 58453
Now this is why I love this distillery! Concise and elegant yet at the same time a sense of richness on the nose that promises something wonderful. Something wickedly creamy and the best millionaires’ shortbread on the palate. That delicious depth of fruit that separates the truly great Speyside distilleries from the merely very good. Not a drop of water necessary at cask strength in my opinion. A chewy, oily, malty wave of a finish rounds things off beautifully. Can you tell I like it!?
Aultmore is a well-respected distillery amongst master blenders, but quite rarely seen as a Single Malt, even in these wonderful days of so many independent bottlers. We bottled our first (an elegant, complex 1991) in the early part of this year, and have followed this up with this offering. Under-ripe pineapple on the nose backs up a strong, malt character more usually associated with whiskies less mature than this. The spirit is doing all the talking here, no powerful wood-influences at all. Sweet coconut on the palate maybe giving hints at its age. This is clean as a whistle, with greengage, lemongrass and a touch of banana. Long after the last drops have gone, something like menthol whispers on. With water, something that might begin to hint towards peat starts to appear on the nose, whilst some of the lovely soft richness is lost. Perhaps not the best swimmer, just right at natural cask strength.
Five new releases next week including a monstrously sherried Bunnahabhain 1979 that looks so chewy it’ll test the molars as well as the tastebuds! Follow me on Twitter for my first impressions and any other Spirits and Wine related musings that pop into my head.