Every year there is a big mystery swap over at one of the best – if not the best – places to try new things. Reddit’s very own r/scotchswap is a subreddit dedicated only to the swapping of samples. It’s fun, you should join too!
Anyway, /u/sonofcroesus sent me four mysteries and I tried to decipher what they are. Here are the results:
Situation: On the couch on different evenings since I got the samples, having 1 and 2 as well as 3 and 4 side by side
Nose: A quite dirty nose! Sulphuric rubber boots, wet dark earth, bbq spices, brown sugar, smoke, leather, some red fruits and chocolate notes behind the sulphur.
If it wasn’t for the bbq spices and smoke, I’d say Springbank!
After a good while the sulphuric notes were turned down and gave way to a more creamy, almost lactic but still very spicy note. Definitely cask strength and I’d say a high one! 60%?
Taste: Uh yeah that’s in the sixties! Very aggressive and powerful entry, salty abv bites greet you from the entry, peat, oak, chocolate notes, bbq spices, very dark licorice, hints of red fruits, the sulphuric note comes through as well, leathery, oily as well
Finish: Very weird coconut and pineapple notes on the finish! Wow, that was unexpected! The finish is an explosion of tropical fruits! Salty and long, drying, oak. Damp black earth and, well, wellies…
Conclusion: Uh, oh well. I don’t know. The finish is cool but doesn’t really fit to the rest. Which makes it really weird. Although the fruits are accompanied by earthy and sulphuric notes. Still. Nope, not for me. Though I find myself reaching back to the glass more and more. Definitely interesting!
Thoughts / Guess: Sherry cask, cask strength of 60 or even more, no clue about the age to be honest here, there are no „youngish“ notes around so at least 10 maybe even 15? But not more due to my abv guess. Not a summer dram, both drams (1+2) need Tom Waits and a cold foggy autumn night. I think it’s neither an Islay nor a peated Speyside. Or maybe a weirdo Laddie? Not really Highland Park or Talisker either. Springbank? After I had mystery 2, I think this is might be a Ledaig or Tobermory!
Final guess: Single Sherry Cask Ledaig, 12 years old, 60%
Reveal: [Signatory Vintage Ledaig 2005, 11 year, first fill Sherry Butt Cask Nr 900152 58,6%](/spoiler)
Nose: A weaker but also very prominent sulphuric rubber note, overall less aggressive than the first one. Red fruits, vanilla, Brown sugar. Hints of blue smoke. Same Destillate, different cask? Number two is also much lighter in color!
Taste: Chocolate-y entry, vanilla and dark sugar give away the bourbon cask, salty, spicy peat, a bit oily. Slightly medicinal, like iodine. It’s like a dirty (and youngish) Laphroaig! A bit unstable and rough around the edges, 4-6 years? I’d say 48%? Maybe a bit more? Or is that the harshness of the spirit? Hard to tell.
Finish: Very spicy and salty, vanilla, smoke, bbq spices, earthy, long and powerful, a bit drying, caramelized brown sugar,
Conclusion: Not very pleasant though interesting, you definitely have to be in the mood for this one, a bold and a bit aggressive younger malt with a „dirty“ oily base spirit.
Ha! Actually, it reminds me a bit of my first taste of Laphroaig. Not really taste-wise but the overall feeling of a new interesting taste with a bold taste upfront (rubber boots in this case!) and more delicate notes behind that. It’s also similar that the first thought was “ugh gross!” but then you come back for more and more…the more I drank the more I enjoyed it!
Thoughts / Guess: It’s not a Laphroaig, or maybe it is a young one disguised as an undisclosed Islay? Jack wieber Islay cask? But then again, I don’t think it’s an Islay and Laphroaig doesn’t 100% fit! Something about the spices and dark notes makes me want to say Ledaig.
Final guess: Ledaig, Bourbon Cask, 48%, 4-6 years?
Reveal: [Best Dram Ledaig 2005, 10 years old, single bourbon hogshead, 46%](/spoiler)
Nose: Ugh! That’s the worst nose I’ve encountered yet. There’s a really bad off note reminding me of, well, I don’t now. Rotting (I know) molding rubber, rotting leaves, brown sugar and vanilla give away the bourbon cask, I guess this is another Ledaig? Salty, seagrass/algae. So this actually smells like a couple of ropes and rubber boots happily rotting away in a corner of the harbor. Covered in green smelly and slobbery algae. As is tradition. I hope this tastes much better than it, well, smells.
Taste: The good news is, the taste is better than the nose! Though, I’m not really digging it. A chocolate-y peaty entry, oily mouthfeel, aggressively salty and peppery, more boggy than peaty, quite oaky though I might project some other notes to “oaky”. As I had the other two before and know what they are, I guess the harshness is due to the base-spirit and not to young age, though the oak might actually be from aging a longer time?
Finish: Brown sugar, vanilla, milk chocolate, creamy mouthfeel stays, salty. A close to unpleasant rotten note. Some drying oak. Not overly long but not too short either. 50% sharp? Maybe a bit more.
Conclusion: Nope, this one is definitely not for me. Though, it’s not really bad but I guess the nose turned me off of this one. The taste didn’t really help either, though it’s noticeably a Ledaig. While I enjoyed the 12 yo distillery bottling and the Ultimate bottling I had, these three were too dirty for me.
Thoughts / Guess: Ok, I’m pretty confident about a couple of things, this surely is a Ledaig, matured in Bourbon casks. I would put the abv at 50% sharp which might be a tad too much for an original bottling, so again an independently bottled one. I’m also sure that I really don’t like the nose. Luckily the taste is better though not really to my taste. I have no real clue about the age, though it is not as peaty as the others. But than again far from being not peaty. Older than the first two, so I’ll try shooting in the dark and say 15 years old.
Final guess: Ledaig, no doubt. 50% and Bourbon Casks. Randomly guessing 15 years of age.
Reveal: [Celebration of the Cask, Ledaig Carn Mor 1997, 18 years old, single cask bourbon hogshead #643080 49.7%](/spoiler)
Nose: Sherry and light smoke. Not Ledaig this time! High proof, some bitter oak, slight rubber notes as well as slightly perfumed flowery notes, brown sugar, heather, some salt, citrus fruits and red berries, a bit leathery, chocolate notes and a bit musty
Taste: A bit of a neutral entry, if it wasn’t for the strong alcohol burn I would call it watery, maybe empty entry is a better description, than nice milk chocolate notes, sugared red fruits, fierce peppery abv, white pepper, honey, vanilla, creamy mouthfeel, very light peat and smoke, quite oaky
Finish: powerfull, long, peppery. Talisker? Lots of red fruits, vanilla, drying oak.
Conclusion: Good! I like it! Thinking about what this is, I think I’ve never seen an independently bottled Talisker. The only thing stopping me from saying Talisker 25 is the highish proof. This is between 50% and 55% while the Talisker 25 is 46% (at least I think). If I recall correctly, there are some old special release cask strength Talisker.
Thoughts / Guess: 20 – 25 years, 50 – 55 %, Island, might very well be Talisker, not really sure about the cask(s), the nose tends to Sherry casks but it might be a vatting of sherry and bourbon.
Final guess: Talisker, 20 years old, 52,5%, vatting of Bourbon and Sherry Casks
Reveal: [Signatory Vintage Highland Park 1990, 21 years old, sherry butt #15700](/spoiler)
Ha! I love Indi Peeeeeep bottlings, due to the peppery notes I would’ve not guessed it! Nice one! I’ve done worth than that! Thanks for some interesting drams /u/sonofcroesus! The last one was the clear favorite but I also enjoyed tasting the others.