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This is my batch 18 bottle.
The nose is rich and deep, loads of sweet caramel and toffee, with hints of pears, sherry, chocolate, a little spice and a delicate dash of alcohol. With a dash of water the nose opens up, becoming slightly floral, and I get hints of raisins while the alcohol smell dissipates. Genuinely good!
The taste is rich, warm and earthy. I get hit immediately with a spicy, sweet caramel wave which slowly eases revealing a note of alcohol and some hints of toffee as well as dried fruit and nuts. The alcohol taste does disappear with a dash of water, but I personally found that I missed it when it was gone.
The finish is a wave of smoky caramel sweetness, with the chocolate and fruity hints returning. It feels endlessly long and keeps you enjoying for along time. I found that the finish does wane a little with added water.
Initially I preferred the batch 12 (I reviewed that a week or so ago), but over time, mainly because initially the alcohol taste of the batch 18 was a little jarring. The longer it has sat on my shelf, the more I have come around to feeling like I prefer it there, and as a result have ended up enjoying this immensely. That said, when sharing with friends, they tend to split down the middle - some prefer with water, some do not...