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Quinta Ruban replaced the Port Wood Finish in the Glenmorangie lineup back in 2007. Reportedly, this is a NAS version of the same thing. (It’s a 12 yo nonetheless: ten years in American bourbon casks and two years in port pipes.) Never having tasted the Port Wood (because slamming a shot of JD was my idea of whisky drinking back in ’07), I can’t compare. I can’t even compare this whisky to itself, in fact. Six drams into a week-old bottle and each has been a different experience. From harsh and bitter to smooth and winey, it’s been absurdly inconsistent.
Tonight, it tastes pretty good, albeit with some serious nit-picks. Maybe it’s starting to settle. Or maybe it’s because just about anything tastes good after midnight on the eve of a day off from work. Sampled with a drop of water.
Nose: Dry, bitter wine dominates at first. Sweetness and wood emerge soon thereafter. Dark fruits and vanilla up front, chocolate and mint in the background. It’s a quality nose for the most part, but there’s a lingering and slightly unpleasant metallic note, like dirty pennies, that intrudes and annoys.
Palate: Spirity and tart (yet a little watery) on arrival, a little overly sweet in the development. Burnt sugar nearly overwhelms the longer it sits. A few traces of chocolate, tobacco, and those bullseye candies I actually liked when I was a kid. There’s nothing subtle about this palate, and I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or not.
Finish: Best part of the experience, even if it’s nothing but pure sugar for the first few seconds. All the warm caramel and fruit components coalesce at it builds. There’s a port wine blast just before it fades out with a smoky snap. A long, layered, and very satisfying finish.
If it weren’t for the finish, I’d score this at least two or three points lower. It’s a rocky ride until then, but mostly worth the effort. A whisky that’s rewarding, challenging, and confusing in equal measure.