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Lot 40 Cask Strength has generated plenty of interest and enthusiasm since the first release, a 12 year old in 2017. I liked 2018's 11 year version even more but both were fantastic pours. The 2019 release (I know I'm late to the party) received mixed reviews. I'm not sure if it was the lack of an age statement or the use of French Oak casks, but it wasn't quite as widely acclaimed as the first two. I first tasted it at @Nozinan 's place from @fiddich1980 's bottle. I feel like we all had mixed feelings about it then, but I know I enjoyed it more than Mr. Fiddich did. Let's see what it's all about.
- Nose (undiluted): caramel, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, vanilla, a floral note (lavender or lilac maybe?), and with time in the glass I'm reminded of those Bazooka Joe bubble gums that came wrapped in a little comic.
- Palate: easy arrival, caramel and marshmallow vanilla at first, oak, rye spices (pepper and cloves mostly) something that reminds me a bit of sandalwood, dusty oak (sawdust?), powdered sugar
- Finish: long and warming, a slight farmy note at first (wet hay?), black pepper, cinnamon hearts, damp oak
- With water: The nose changes significantly with the addition of water. It's much fruitier and more floral now; blueberries, violets (lilacs? I'm no florist), red fruits, some red grapes, oak tannins popping through. The palate is a bit more tannic as well with water, though the cinnamon plays nicely with those blueberry notes. The French Oak presence isn't overhwelming but it isn't subtle here either.
- Thoughts: I first tasted this in November of 2019 and it felt a bit strange to me then. I don't know if samples are subject to "Old Bottle Effect" but I seem to enjoy this Lot 40 more now than I did back then. I still think the 2018 release was my favourite but this one is interesting in its own right. If some were available at a decent price it would be an interesting whisky to use in home blending experiments. I'm getting less of the "over-steeped black tea" notes that I loved so much in the previous releases of Lot 40 Cask Strength but the French Oak notes are an interesting addition nonetheless.