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One of the highlights from my trip to the Speyside Whisky Festival was The Whisky Castle in Tomintoul, a wonderful shop with a large and very eclectic selection. The owner and I had a lot to talk about, especially when I learned that he used to edit documentaries in Utah, if you can believe it! (I am a film distributor, so we had a lot to talk about). I tasted this interesting but not entirely successful Scotch at his store, and bought it, partly as a souvenir but also because, well....it IS very interesting.
And it supports the store - this is a bottling specifically for The Whisky Castle (complete with a picture of the building right on the label) by Signatory. It is part of The Whisky Castle's Cask Collection - non-coloured, non-chill-filtered, cask strength. One of only 212 bottles, it was distilled by Glenlivet in 1996 and matured for 15 years in a first fill sherry butt (cask #165162).
As you would imagine, the colour is a dark amber, with a nose that is deeply sherried, featuring dates, damp earth, dark wood, maple, oak and caramelized apples. This takes me right back to the Glenlivet warehouse that I visited when I went to the distillery. The nose is exactly what I could smell in that damp warehouse and from the casks that we sampled - classic aged Glenlivet. Water brings out lighter, tropical fruits like papaya, and some slightly sulphuric notes.
In the mouth, the alcohol hits you on the tip of the tongue. Also deeply sherried, I would say the taste is almost port-like. Cedar. Very silky mouth-feel. A little astringent with the wood, though. Water improves the palate - but the wood and sherry overpowers all.
The finish is medium-to-long, with lingering oak hanging in the mouth and throat. I find the nose much more interesting than the palate but both in the same category: oak, sherry, dark fruits - but it's all a little off somehow. It does seem slightly sulphuric to me, and with the taste a slight letdown from the nose, it's a bit anticlimactic. But an interesting dram, and as a souvenir from a great store and a great trip, I certainly can't complain!