Lets do a couple of Bushmills (one of my faves), since I'm just sitting here at home - shall we call it accidental self-quarantine (since I'd be just sitting here anyway)?
This bottle is only available to purchase at the distillery, though I got it at an LCBO/Waddingtons auction (I have yet to visit the distillery...perhaps one day...) And yet, like so many bottles I buy though them, the cork has disintegrated upon opening. Sigh. The label states that the whiskies are aged 12-14 years.
The colour is a deep caramel. Really nice sherry influence on the nose with sultana raisins, Medjool dates, dark honey and a very pleasing umami note. Blood orange. Meaty. Nutmeg and cloves. Some charred oak with water; the more time it sits in the glass, the richer and meatier it gets. The crystal clear sweet malt still shines through all of that sherry influence though - very well balanced.
Rich and ultra-fruity on the palate with more of those dates and raisins, with bananas foster, creme brûlée, lots of cloves, smoked paprika and papaya. Cherry nibs! Water brings out more oak. Chewy but with an absolutely silky-smooth mouthfeel - incredibly elegant.
The finish is very long, oaky and with lots of spice, bitters and cloves. It seriously goes on forever. This sits firmly in the wheelhouse of the 16- and 21-year-old malts Bushmills bottles. How is it that the Irish seem to use sherry casks so much better than the Scots? I'm also a fan of the 10yo so let's compare. On the nose, very different as the 10 is both bourbon and oloroso. Although there is so much more sherry to the 12, you can still identify both of their sweet malty DNA. The palate is the same - so different yet so similar to each other, there in the background. If you get to visit Bushmills, buy this. Jim Murray scores this a 95.5 - I'm not going quite that high but he's not wrong - it's as great as Bushmills can get.