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It was my understanding that this whisky had been discontinued, so much to my surprise when I saw not one, but TWO bottles on the shelf at an out-of-the-way package store today! I started seeing other visions of grandeur as well, and expressions from distilleries that I had never seen. I quickly realized that I had not died and gone to Whisky Heaven, but this shop was once a Mecca for uppity Scotch drinkers, but had been sold to a mom-and-pop (along with the fancy-schmancy inventory) when the area started to go downhill. Now, this once great liquor store for the up-and-coming whisky drinkers was a no-tell motel of sorts for $5 Taka vodka drinkers (no kidding, another guy in the store was buying a $5 bottle of Taka vodka while I was looking through the lock-up!)
Well, I now know where to go to get some REALLY nice whiskies!
Enough about the shop I'll never tell anyone about... On with the show!
Nose: really nice notes coming out that I would expect from a portwood finished whisky. Honey and vanilla are present; just a slight oakiness. As one of my all-time favorites is the Balvenie 21yr Portwood, this whisky will have a LOT of ground to cover in its short 12yrs to match up against that giant of the malts. Very nice aromas, not so strong like sherry finished whiskies, but softer, more subdued. Not weak, mind you, but different. A sweetness that is not as fruity, but more coconut sweet.
Body: The body is mature, standing up nicely. Smooth, with a rich texture.
Palate: The soft honey aromas deliver as promised. The whisky builds somewhat with intensity, opening up with spicy notes, but not so it distracts. I must admit I was hoping for something as unique as the 21yr Portwood, so this is not going to live up to the expectations. However, for 1/3 the price of the 21yr, it is no surprise. The nose and finish on this whisky is probably its strongest assets. The palate is nice, but not very dynamic. I begin to wonder if it is indeed a 43%, or a mis-labeled 40% whisky. Perhaps this should have been bottled at 46%?
Finish: Interesting! Not as I expected, but VERY good! It is pretty long, releasing spicy notes as an orange marmalade of aromas explodes in the mouth. Not citrusy at all (no orange zest, or orange peel), but a very nicely rounded orange marmalade without the tangy tart taste. I wish I had better words to describe this flavor, but alas, I do not. There is some pepper in the back, and it really is drawing me in. As opposed to other whiskies that I want to hold in my mouth forever (Macallan Cask Strength), this one just WANTS to be swallowed to release its power. I guess this isn't such a bad thing after all...
Absolutely no smoke, no sea-spray, and not even a whiff of peat. This is a very clean whisky, and extremely refreshing.
As a discontinued whisky, I am trying to decide whether I want to go back to my hidey-hole and pick up another bottle for "long-term storage." Not that I necessarily think it is going to go up in value or anything, but it is a very unique whisky that I would like to drink again many years from now. I'm telling ya- that finish is GREAT!