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I opened my bottle of Spice Tree (non chill-filtered, no artifical colouring, 70cl, 46% ABV, $67.25 @ the LCBO, although there is a very limited supply remaining) for a Scotch Tasting Event a couple of weeks ago, and then took what was left of the bottle to my parents-in-law's place for the Canada Day Weekend, as there wasn't much left and it needed to be finished.
My father-in-law is very much a wine and beer connoisseur (he likes expensive red wines and imported/microbrewery beers), and clearly understands my interest in whisky (I mean, he did give me my bottle of Penderyn for Christmas), he just isn't a whisky person. Yes, he's sampled the Penderyn (he's Welsh and it is a Welsh whisky, so he had to try it), along with a couple of my other whiskies, but he says it just doesn't "do anything for him", so I was interested to see what he thought of the Spice Tree.
The menu for dinner on Saturday night (the 30th) was skewered grilled baby potatoes, maple butter-milk chicken, grilled marinated vegetables (mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, etc.), and a hazelnut meringue with fresh blueberries and French vanilla ice cream for dessert. Given that I'd paired the Spice Tree with a ginger-pear upside down cake at the Scotch Tasting, I thought that we'd save it for dessert, as it would likely go well with the meringue. And did it ever! Both the ice cream and the meringue created very different flavour combinations, and it was quite something to feel the whisky slowly overcome the ice cream on the palate.
As Blended Malt (formerly known as a 'Vatted Malt'), the Spice Tree is created by blending together single malts (10 to 12 years old) from other distilleries - primarily Clynelish, Dailuaine, Longmorn, and Teaninich - and then maturing the blend for another two years in first-fill bourbon hogsheads that have had the barrel heads replaced by barrel heads made of new French Oak. This interaction with the new wood is what gives the Spice Tree its very distinct, spicy flavour profile. In many ways, the Spice Tree is a more mature (although younger) and spicier version of the Glenlivet 15 year-old French Oak Reserve (the extra 6% ABV also adds a bit more kick to the Spice Tree).
The Spice Tree has a deep, gold-brown colour (almost the same as Demerera brown sugar), and a nose that is rich with spices. The official tasting notes refer to cloves, nutmeg, and sweet stewed fruits, but I also detected some cinnamon, as well as cardamom and freshly ground coriander seed. It has a very soft and sweet, yet spicy palate; you can taste the brown sugary malt and the traces of spice - nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon - almost like you are drinking a warm spiced apple pie. The finish is very long and extremely satisfying, carrying the sweet spiciness all the way down your throat.
All things considered, the Spice Tree is a fantastic blended malt, and well worth picking up (if you can find a bottle...hopefully the LCBO will have more in stock soon).