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So I thought I would treat myself today as I just finished a bit of commission work I had been doing. I headed on down to one of my favorite wine/liquor stores and was set to browse around until I found something that piqued my interest; I had no idea what I was looking to buy (I prefer to try as many different things as I can, that way nothing gets boring), and was looking at a bottle of bourbon (Knob Creek, great stuff and I do recommend it) when the owner of the shop told me about something they just got in and offered to let me try a sample.
Let me stop here for a second and just make a point of this. If you shop at a reputable shop that focuses more on giving a crap about their customer and being honest with them rather than a place that is just looking to sell sell sell, there is one thing you should do above all others; be a good customer and develop a rapport with the owner. 9 times out of 10, they will tip you off to something that just came in, offer you good deals/samples and be very open with you about what is really good and what is more commodity / high volume brand. It's like having a relationship with your local butcher; if you treat him with respect and show that you know a little, he'll give you the good stuff. Now back to the review...
I tried the sample and was blown away, and when I asked him what it was he showed me the bottle; I almost fell to the floor because I was so sure that it was a single malt (though I did guess it was from Ireland) because of it's richness. He told me that they, Bushmills, were going to be discontinuing the bottling, so they were getting rid of their stock at (what I can only guess) below cost. Once I saw it was normally going for 60-70 a bottle and he was offering it at 27 USD, I promptly grabbed 3 bottles with a promise to come back for more soon.
On the nose, I get a load of raisins and toffee as well as some baked apple. There is also a considerable amount of spice to it as well, and some pear notes lingering in the background. The thing that is striking about this is you wouldn't peg it as a blend by nosing it; the malt component really jumps out at you. On the palate, I get a lot of toffee and fruit; some cinnamon starts coming to the front as you hold it on your tongue, as well as a splash of grapefruit and burnt raisins. It's also very mouth coating; there's a thickness to this whiskey that is just gorgeous.
The finish lingers for days; lots of spicy oak, some vanilla and raisins again, as well as the vaguest hint of smoke. It's well into 2 minutes after swallowing the sip and I can still taste it clear as day.
This whiskey will make someone who is not into Irish whiskey reconsider their position. I am a big fan of Jamesons offerings and have always found Bushmills standard bottlings to be a bit bland, but this really takes the cake (fruit cake to be precise). I will say that while I don't prefer water in this for my palate, a few drops will cream out the palate even more and take away the pepperiness on the back of the tongue which some people might find a bit too aggressive.