- Brand: Pike Creek
- ABV: 45%
This is (obviously) the Pike Creek bottling in 2018's Norther Border Collection Rare release. The previous year's Pike Creek limited release was finished in Speyside casks; the 2018 is finished (after 21 years of aging) in French and Hungarian oak casks. 4020 bottles were released. This one is freshly opened.
The colour is a dark honey. That honey shows up on the nose, with a sharp, dusty rye edge in the background. Nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Thick, dark oak. Vanilla bean. Wet leather. Baked apples. Butterscotch pudding. Water adds a touch of malt and freshly cut wet green grass. Pretty sweet but the heavy oak and the sharp fresh-cut pine help balance it out.
Sweet on the palate as well, with lots of rich caramel, but again that sharp spicy bite on the back of the tongue complements it nicely. Creamy mouthfeel. Rich and chewy. Herbal (fennel, slight touch of mint). Hickory. Wet cigar leaf. Black pepper. Serious wood tannins. Mocha. Water adds both chili and more black pepper. Incredibly rich and full-bodied with just the right injection of spicy top-notes.
The finish features baking spices, mouth-pulling oak, over-steeped tea and a slight tawny port note. Though I don't have a 2017 Rare release to compare it with, I do have the current Pike Creek standard release (a 10 year old finished in rum barrels, at 42% ABV). The 10 year old is quite a bit darker and rather reddish. Both have sharp rye grain in the background, but the 10 is unmistakably sweeter with the rum cask. Overall, the 10 is a bit too sweet for me (but it'll do in a pinch); the 21 European Oak, while also on the sweet side, offers so much more balance and complexity. No surprise that Davin de Kergommeaux scores this one a 92.