It's the last night before the first seder of Passover. For those of you who do not know, grains (or their spirits - with the exception of quinoa for some reason), are not considered Kosher for Passover, and if even owned by a Jew during that time they becomes un-Kosher forever.
Some people get around this by "selling" their chometz and buying it back after passover. My solution is that, at least from a religious standpoint, my wife owns all of my spirits collection. Year round. Problem solved.
I do this only so that if I should ever wish to taste with someone form whom this is important, I can do it without worry. So around this time every year I render my entire collection "inaccessible". I will still drink whisky if the opportunity presents itself, but not in my home. After passover the barriers are removed.
So here I am in the basement, getting my last drams in. I'm in the basement because I made gefilte fish this afternoon and my main floor will need a week for me to be able to smell accurately up there. I decided to decant my bottle of Nikka from the barrel as it was getting low, and after putting the last dram in a 30 cc bottle, there were about 25 cc left for a review. The bottle has been gassed after each use, and was first opened Dec. 19, 2015.
Neat - spirity, sweet, a light syrup. I get a hint of fish broth, but that could be my hands. Some tart fruit. Some baking spice. It smells, can I say "grainy"? More fruity as it opens up in the glass. 21.5/25
With water - slighty more syrupy, a little less spirity, some dust. Golden Delicious apple, fresh and stewed with spices. (22/25)
Neat - First sip has a big alcohol nip. Fruity. Tastes "young". Sweet and sour. Originally the taste had a slightly unpleasant vegetal quality which is not present now. 21/25
With water - Harsh. No flavours in the first sip. Just alcohol, bitter.Some spices in the second sip, but most of the flavour has been washed out. Third sip is starting to come back but more hot and less fruity than before. (20/25)
Finish: short, unremarkable. 20/25. Water lengthens it a bit. (20/25)
Balance: Nicely balanced, but underpowered flavour for this level of ABV. 20/25. Becomes quite unbalanced with water. (18/25)
Score Neat: 82.5/100 With water: 80/100
Adjusted Score based on experience: 85/100
This is confusing. I usually like my CS drams (or close to it) with a little water, but in this case water was a disaster. Even neat, it is not the whisky I remember trying over a year ago. Despite being gassed and allowed to open in the glass, I wonder if this bottle has been open too long. Again, unusual for a high proof spirit.
The next question I have is whether it is truly at Cask Strength. It is called "from the barrel", not straight from or barrel proof. I am often skeptical of "cask strength" offerings that are the same ABV for every batch.
My suggestion for this: Open it with friends, and drink it within a few months. The 500 cc bottle makes that easier.