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Once you've repeated the title five times fast, let me tell you what I think of this Matisse offering. This is my second review of a Matisse whisky. They aren’t a distillery; they do bottle and export all of their blended and single malts from Scotland. The 12 year old blended pure malt was wonderful. A bit sweet for some, perhaps, but it makes for a lovely dessert dram. The 15 year old SINGLE malt is decidedly quite different. This isn’t as sherried or as thick and mouth-coating as the 12, but I’m curious if the company has retained some of the core flavours that made the 12 such a wonderful little dram.
Nose: To answer the above question; nope. This is hardly the same stuff. Here we have malt, cereal, and fresh apples. Wow. Serious apples. Some pear and melon in there too. The fruit notes dominate the nose and give it a surprising freshness and vibrancy. There’s also a bit of nuttiness in here. Fresh, fruity, and quite rich.
Palate: Some grassy notes are noticeable from the get go. More nuts. There’s a buttery quality to this as well.
Finish: The cereal, grassy note remains until the end. A semi-bitter somewhat acidic note dominates the finish. Not unpleasant, but there is a certain vinegar quality to this finish. Not balsamic. White vinegar. But it’s not overbearing. Just enough to set this dram apart.
As Matisse isn’t a distiller, but rather a bottler and exporter for Asian markets, then I can only speculate as to where they get their single malts. The nose to this intrigued me. The fruit notes are quite lovely. But it was still too soon to hazard a guess. But once I tasted this, I immediately suspected Benriach. I could be wrong, but the cereal notes, the nuttiness, and that distinctive finish scream Benriach to me. Speculation, I know, but that’s my take. So… is it good? Yes and no. Unlike the younger blended malt, this doesn’t have the thick, rich sherry notes to wrap the tongue in a warm, sugary blanket. Instead, it takes us in a much different direction. It works as a standard Speyside single malt, but it’s not spectacular. The individual characteristics are all quite pleasant. The finish is interesting, but there’s a lack of intensity here. I’ll stick with the blended 12 year pure malt next time.