This is an now-almost-empty bottle that I acquired at auction last year - not the new updated packaging - and unfortunately the cork disintegrated. I've had this a few times at bars but never had a bottle at home that I've reviewed before.
The colour is a light caramel. Nice and briny on the nose, with lots of toffee, some vanilla, hazelnut and deep oak (oakier than most 12yo malts, methinks). Hickory. Dark honey. Curiously, I get canned pineapple. Most predominantly though is the briny sea salt - and then you add water and it becomes musty, almost smoky. It's a great nose as always.
On the palate we have a bit more spice (some pepper, some chilli and still primarily brine) with that caramel and vanilla from the bourbon cask. Not quite as oaky as on the nose. Silky, creamy mouthfeel. With time it gets quite salty, almost peaty - but it's very nicely balanced due to a firm maltiness in the background. A few drops of water gives you more brine and spice - exciting!
The medium length finish has late-arriving spice, with gentle hints of oak and coffee grounds, but disappears far too quickly with none of the robustness of the nose and palate (though with water the spice hangs around a bit longer). Not up to the level of the now-defunct 21yo but an absolutely solid malt.