Nose: Upon viewing the deep sherried colour of this dram, one can be forgiven for thinking this is going to be a straight down the line sherry fest, however it's far from it. Caramel courgettes, salted figs, toffeed leather, sweet wasabi, floral celery, and even lamb and tzatziki are all elements of this very complex nose. There's a small hint of sulphur, which I suppose is the least to be expected of a dram that's sat in first fill sherry butts for all of 25 years, however thankfully it's not too much to detract from the rich and eclectic flavour profile on the nose.
Taste: The delivery is surprisingly light given the rich nose and the depth of sherry-infused colour, however it is not at all unpleasant. A refreshing cucumber, melon and lychee combination keeps this whisky from being pigeon-holed as an "after dinner only" dram, however soon the caramel, tobacco, cashews and once again faint hint of sulphur all kick in to bring us back to a very traditional sherry profile. I personally would have liked a richer delivery, given the amount of time the spirit had to soak in the rich dark fruit flavours from the first fill butts, however the tropical fruits are a refreshing surprise. This may well be a palate that was better suited to a higher ABV than 43 %...
Finish: A very rewarding floral finish, combined with a cauliflower vegetal layer that was present also on the nose. There is a tingle of mint and faint liquorice, as well as the ever present sulphur edge and caramel undertones. Not quite as eclectic as on the nose, however a more complex flavour profile than on the palate.
Balance: This was one of Diageo's "special" releases for 2011, and while it is a good whisky, I would hesitate to call it special. It in fact feels quite tame for a whisky that has had so much time to mature in first fill sherry butts, and once again I feel given its delicate nature a higher ABV may have suited this bottling better and allowed its more complex nature to shine through. In some ways it feels like a pencil sketch for a master painting yet to be realised, and one that we would very much like to see once completed. That all said, this is a very easy going dram and is likely not to offend anyone drinking it, however it is therefore also quite unmemorable.