Unless you live in a Tibetan cave covered in snow, you've probably been inundated with Game of Thrones brouhaha ever since the final season premiered a few weeks ago. You also of course know that Diago released eight single malts branded with different Game of Thrones "houses" as a marketing tie-in with HBO, as well as a blend called The White Walker (which is pretty bad - I gave it a 60 - but if you are a GoT completist and must have it, follow the label instructions and keep it in the freezer, it's best served ice cold).
I should reveal up front that I do not watch the show and know very little about it. One thing I do know is that the LCBO has never missed an opportunity to screw up a brand launch, and so only four of the single malts have made it thus far to Ontario (the other four will be in stores here in July, but I'm not holding my breath).
This is the House of Targaryen bottling of Cardhu Gold Reserve. It has a three-headed dragon on the label so I guess this is the House with the hot dragon lady (played by Emilia Clarke). The label tells us that aligning this with Clarke's character is a tribute to Helen Cumming and her daughter-in-law Elizabeth, who ran the distillery starting in the 1880s. I don't know if the liquid within is any different from the normal Gold Reserve bottling. The bottle has been open for a couple of months. If you care, the bottle code is L8296CM014.
The colour is a rich gold (ha). On the nose we have a honeyed malt with soft milk chocolate, mealy red apple, cinnamon and vanilla pods. Chocolate milkshake, maybe with a bit of butterscotch syrup drizzled on top. Water causes most of these notes to fade but it also brings out a certain nuttiness. Not terribly complex but pleasant, with a richness in the background.
On the palate we have light caramel, marzipan, a hint of cinnamon and more honey. This time we have green apple skins and orange pith. Slight hint of walnut. A bit spicier with water. Very easy and smooth, slightly sweet and malty.
The finish is a bit rough with clove, toasted oak and something herbal (like a green Chartreuse). It's a nice, easy malt to sip on (what some might call a breakfast whisky, which makes sense for this Sunday morning), but the finish needs to be a bit silkier. It's not great but I'd probably score it higher than the 12 Year Old.