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So this is my first Cutty Sark! This blend was created in 1923 for Berry Bros. & Rudd, and was the first very pale-coloured whisky in the world. Named after a famous Scottish-built clipper ship, the standard blend uses around 20 malts, including Glenrothes and Macallan.
This, however, is not the standard blend. The Prohibition release celebrates Captain William McCoy, who smuggled Cutty Sark into the US during Prohibition. He developed a reputation for bringing in quality whisky, hence the phrase "The Real McCoy" (or at least, that's what the marketing wizards will have you believe). This NAS blend is prepared in small batches, matured in American oak casks, and bottled at 50% (rather than the 40% of the standard blend). A special thanks to @Nozinan for this sample, which came from a bottle opened December 19 2015.
The colour is a medium amber. On the nose, camphor oil, furniture polish, beeswax and sage. Very floral. Hints of peat and ginger, and quite malty. Slightly sour note - which works here - that reminds me of an SMWS Macallan I had some time ago. A drop of water brings out some peat but really, you don't need it. Rich, complex and balanced.
On the palate we have thin honey, more peat and spices (cayenne, cumin). Oily mouthfeel (could Springbank be in this?) Butterscotch, with a hint of vanilla. Lemony, more so with water. Fantastic stuff.
The finish is peppery with a touch of that cumin. This is one of the top blends I've ever had - very earthy, rich and easy to drink (considering that high proof). Extraordinary balance between the oil, peat and a light, fruity style. I will have to try more Cutty Sark in the future.