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This malt is getting only harder to find, so this review is mostly for people wondering whether it's worth seeking. I bought this Golden Cask after trying the “mere” Caribbean expression of the same age, figuring "why not move up to 'Golden'"? I was unable to find good comparisons the two, but existing Golden Cask reviews gave me the impression that this would be richer with "rum spices" and somewhat bolder in fruit. Let's see.
Nose: Quite light (as was the Caribbean). I find the aromas develop in the order: Brown sugar/honey, lemon drops, menthol, underripe banana-green pear skins. Maybe unsalted butter and a hint of that aroma found in Juras. Water doesn't do much. Overall, very light with fruits and anesthetically fresh. I'd expected more significant banana richness.
Palate: Overall leafy and woody-- and surprisingly dry. The entrance is grassy: less sugarcane than sap from its leaves. The leaf impression becomes woodier, a little like biting into bitter cinnamon bark. Bitter-sour-minty. It ends not with banana, but more like a banana-tree leaf. Water is needed and helps bring out some honey to balance out the otherwise bitter complexities.
Finish: Woody nutmeg and pine cones. Dry. Water also greatly improves here, bringing some smoothening vanilla and honey sweetness.
So all-in-all, the Golden Cask was a little disappointing for its woody dryness. My rating applies to the addition of water, which greatly improves it by diluting those bitter edges into curious complexities, while also adding vanilla and honey balance. Nevertheless, I would prefer the flavors of the Caribbean Cask, which was equally light but better balanced. However, I am continuing to store the Golden Cask to track its development. See my follow-up in the comments section….
The most similar malt in character is probably Glenmorangie’s Astar. The Balvenie is not as strong, but so far I find it better balanced.