In 2014 I attended Spirit of Toronto for the express reason of attending a Masterclass with Ashok Chokalingam presenting some Amruts, including some LCBO exclusive single casks. To be transparent, he had promised me a sample of the first very limited “Greedy Angels” bottling if I showed up (one day I may review that, it’s the first expression in which I ever tasted grapefruit pith).
The masterclass was great, and all the expressions delicious (Single cask bourbon, sherry, Portonova, peated, Peated CS). I remember liking this one more than the bourbon SC. But the prices (over $120) were out of my league at the time. The LCBO exclusives were, as we say in medicine, lost to follow-up.
In July 2015 I got a message on Connosr from @thecyclingyogi that they had just gone on sale. I literally dropped everything and drove to the nearest store that listed both. 5 of each (sherry and bourbon. But the sherry was $10 cheaper and harder to get (and only 2 were left). I ended up with quite a few of the bourbon SCs so I have already opened 2 of them., but because I had recorded that I liked the sherry ones better I saved them.
Finally last fall I opened this one with my B-I-L, and planned to present it at an EPIC TASTING. But there were so many other good whiskies this one didn’t make it to the table.
On March 24 I finally got a chance to sit down to do some reviews. I decided to catch up on my Amruts. Also in the line-up were the 2007 CS edition and a peated port-matured bottling that was available in Calgary.
This one was distilled June 2009 and bottled January 2014. Total evaporation was 40%! It does not say if it is cask strength, but this is bottle 109/120 of cask 2696.
This bottle was just over half full, and gassed after each use (opened Oct. 31). This expression was allowed it to settle into a Highland Whisky Glass after which I took my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting. I did the nosing of all three expressions before the tasting of all three, and then the impressions with water.
Sweet, red wine, slight savoury note. Welch’s grape juice. Heavy syrup. Ashok manoeuvre (warming by hand, covered) brings out some alcohol nip, cinnamon and dark dried fruits, prunes and raisins. Hint of apple peaking through, then some of the tropical fruits characteristic of the distillery’s signature. Very nice nose. Water brings out a slight savoury green herbal note. With warming I get a hint of mint and I notice the dark dried fruits are not as prominent. (no change in score)
Sweet arrival. Sherry is very prominent. Slightly spirity. Peppery in the development. Ashok manoeuvre brings out more sherry but also the underlying spirit’s complexity. Water thins the mouthfeel a little, makes it a little sweeter, a little less complex. (21/25)
Long. Pepper. Astringent. Shorter and less astringent with the Ashok Manoeuvre.
Nose and palate align. Overall a bit sweet. The sherry overwhelms the spirit a little.
Score: Neat - 87.5/100 With Water: 86.5/100
After finishing all three sets of tasting notes I put what was left of the three pours (roughly 10 cc each) into one glass, and let it marry for a few minutes (including some time using the “modified” Ashok method (warmth by computer fan). It’s an interesting mixture. It seems to get the best from each expression. More complexity on the nose, more wine and a little less peat on the palate, with a rich backbone that I think comes from the CS. This one would definitely score in the high 80s.
I note with interest that while this is quite a good whisky, I scored it significantly lower than LCBO exclusive bourbon cask I reviewed a while back (91). I stand by both scores. The bourbon single cask expressions I’ve tasted are much more refined and complex. This is a little over-sherried and immature. My guess is that my palate has matured beyond sherry bombs since 2014.
Another quality offering from a quality distillery. If an 87 point whisky doesn’t make the cut to be served at a tasting, you know I must keep great company…