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Having never tried the standard, or any, Cutty Sark before I took a bit of a gamble on this one at Christmas. Well, not that much of a gamble as it as priced at under £25 which, for a NCF blend at 50% abv, is pretty good going.
There is a very charming story attached to this including bootlegging and all that jazz. Maybe there's some truth in it, who knows, right? But I'm always after the real McCoy.
This bottle has just under half left and has been open about two months. It's also reviewed with a few drops of water.
Nose: Malty and slightly oily with very little grain (I found this surprising given the abv to be honest). Black pepper, peat and some ginger spice - water seems to bring these out more. Quite a big hit of sweetness with toffee and vanilla dominating. Slight touch of herbal, sage or tarragon maybe? Good.
Taste: Creamy malt, good mouth feel, pepper and some more Asian/Indian cooking spice like cumin and coriander - there is a slight 'curry' note to this. I'm getting little, if any, grain here as well. Sweetness develops with toffee, maybe a little honey and more vanilla towards the finish.
Finish: More pepper, ginger and a little hit of the peat. Some slightly bitter tannins right at the death but a pleasant sweet syrup note remains for quite a while with it.
This has been a good find and I'm glad I followed the consensus and grabbed a bottle. It's perhaps a little on the sweetened/vanilla side for me but It has become more rounded after some air time; it was initially a bit cloying and had too much vanilla to begin with. Would definitely recommend this and will say again that given its presentation, high abv and cost you're getting excellent vfm. I take it out on the golf course in my hip flask and it works perfectly!