Apologies, this is the 2010 version. Thanks, again, to @wierdo for the sample. A mix of the Bere strain of barley, from various farms in Scotland, which is apparently so hardy it can grow on Orkney. It yields about 50% of what a modern grain does and is another applaudable attempt from the Progressive Hebridean Distillery to create unusual and experimental malts for us to try. Not sure about the casks, sorry, but I'd guess mainly ex-bourbon.
Not often I will crack open a sample and review it straight away but, what the heck, why not?!
Nose - Barley sugars, gristy, light ale notes and very fruity - apricot, yellow pears - and a touch of eucalyptus. Nice balance of sweet and sour but leaning to the sour. A little hint of clove in there too.
Taste - Woah, water needed! Very condensed neat. Decent mouth-feel, oily and mouth coating. Quite a dry and sour arrival with heavy, course even, grain notes. More sour barley sugars. It fizzes on the tongue as it develops going quite peppery and more bitter. More pear and apricot but they take a back seat compared to the nose.
Finish - med - long. Drying with white pepper, sharp but clean tannins and more menthol and barley sugar sweets at the death. My tongue feels like it's been kicked!
A big, meaty and juicy malt that perhaps veers too much towards the sour and bitter side for my own tastes. That said, it certainly showcases the barley here and the purists will no doubt adore this. High quality whisky for sure. Feels very 'rye-like'.
@BlueNote @cricklewood - Just finishing the sample now and I think the air has tamed it a little, especially on the palate. Not one I'd buy but I do enjoy the 'nakedness ' of this, as it were. Maybe 86 was a tad high but one cannot fault the uniqueness and overall quality - so a point or two for that Those gristy notes could easily become too much though, very much how the spiciness of rye can.
I think to be more accessible some sherry cask influence might help the sweet to sour balance but then I guess you run the risk of losing the clear barley notes - which is the point here, right?
Your Rye comparison is a good shout actually. It never occurred to me but it does have a sourness that is quite rye-like.