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- Brand: Nomad
- ABV: 41.3%
This whisky, entitled Nomad, had its worldwide launch here in the Taiwanese market just weeks ago. It’s called an ‘outland’ whisky because it spent a final year of its maturation in Jerez, where it sat in PX casks from the González Byass winery. The way it works is that a series of whiskies that have been aged anywhere from 5 to 8 years in Scotland are blended and placed in Oloroso casks for a year. After that, they’re shipped to Spain’s warmer climate and left to mingle with the winery’s PX casks for at least another year. They say it’s a blend of 25 single malts and 3 grain whiskies, with no mention of proportions.
While it seems that Sheep Dip, Amrut, and a series of others have done this before, this is the first time the process has been highlighted and marketed so intensely. What follows is discussion and controversy. Does outsourcing the maturation to warmer climes ‘cheapen’ the whisky by speeding up the ageing process? Is it novelty or a way to cut corners? If the process becomes popular, will it damage the domestic Scottish industry? These are all good questions, none of which will be answered in this review. Let’s try the stuff, shall we?
Nose: Raisins. Huge, juicy, rich raisins. Orange hard candies, toffee, marzipan, indistinct nuts, Orangina, mocha, and caramelized fruit.
Palate: Raisins. Huge, juicy, rich raisins. Orange hard candies, toffee, marzipan, tiramisu, Amaretto liqueur, Grand Marnier, and apricots. More fruity sherry notes are present here than on the nose.
Finish: After a brief, soft crescendo of cinnamon and allspice, we’re left with… wait for it… raisins. Huge, juicy, rich raisins. Orange hard candies, toffee, marzipan, tiramisu, Amaretto, apricots, milk chocolate, cherries, and plums. Short-to-medium finish. I feel like I just ate a box of raisins.
Well, it’s very much a ‘niche’ flavour profile. If you like raisins, you’ll like this. But it’s kind of a one trick pony. The raisin flavour basically dominates the entire experience. Flavour-wise, Nomad is a straight arrow from nose to finish. And with a thick coat of caramel, toffee, and marzipan, the cleanliness and clarity of the fruity background flavours become somewhat muted. That, and very little evolution happens with time in the bottle or in the glass. For me, I’ll stick with my Walker Swing or my Ballantine’s 17, which are similarly priced and significantly better. For me, this is too sweet and the raisin note gets old fast.
I’m sure Richard Paterson and co. will be monitoring this one closely. It was released here, as they know that Taiwanese drinkers are fans of sweet, sherried whiskies. Not only that, it’s sleek, modern packaging, and the marketing of its ‘outland’ maturation will certainly pull in some business. If all goes well we might be seeing this concept truly take off, but for now I remain a bit skeptical. If this whisky is any indication, Scotland’s maturation industry doesn’t have much to worry about, at least not yet.