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This is my second bottle. I have also had numerous tastes over the years. This is such a consistent blend.
Nose: Delicate smoke and small wafts of peat greet the nose. Next comes malt with a bit of grain in the background. Big malt! Now a robust sweet sherry. There is smoke and sweet malt with round sherry hovering in the background. Walnuts and leather finally appear along with some oak. Now some earthy mud and wet forest (pine cones, leaves and wet grass). Grass and fruit (apples mostly but also pears and berries) mingle behind all the malt. This is a thick blend!
Taste: Thick malt with apples, wood, and smoke. Now a hint of grass and grain in the back.
Finish: Nice big smoke with a growing fire. Big blast of malt and peat that has a medium fade to smoke embers. The fire is nice as is the smoke. However, the malt plays center stage to everything here. There is a wonderful little blast of pepper, cayenne and salt at the very end as it slowly dies down to a nice smoky ember of malt and house stove fire. By no means is this an Islay style blend, but you do get a nice layer of Islay in the mix.
Balance, Complexity: This is a wonderful balance of smoke, sweet, oak, sherry, and malt. I love the dominant role of the smoke with the huge malt body. The sherry and grain really take a back seat. If I didn’t know better I would swear I was drinking a single malt. It is quite complex for a blend.
Color, Body, Aesthetic experience: About the same amber as Grants . . . perhaps one notch darker. Medium-full bodied. Love this aesthetic. The Johnnie Walker label, bottle shape and black color associated with the 12 year old. Full bodied for a blend. Love the age, color and branding. Nothing here I can fault other then it being overly popular. Still . . . there could be a point.
Conclusion: This is one of my favorite blends – mostly because it seems closer to Malt then a blend. This is a well crafted blend. If this weren’t so dang expensive it would be my go to blend. Still, when I can get Grant’s or Teacher’s for half the price . . . I would probably do that ever time. I sill would want to have some of this around the house.