Friday 11th March 2011 Japan was hit by a terrible earthquake, the heaviest Japan had had to endure so far. Seven independent distilleries worked together to ease the pain somewhat. The Managing Director or Arran came up with the idea and could convince BenRiach’s Master Distiller Billy Walker to cooperate. Eventually seven distilleries donated a cask to create a unique blend: Spirit of Unity. I was lucky enough to obtain one of the 2.000 bottles and recently opened it at a local tasting. These notes are not just based on my impressions, but also the feedback I got from my audience during said tasting.
The nose, heavy on pepper, initially offers aromas that I associate with the sea: salt, oysters, smoked mackerel. Then some wood shavings, wet grass, heather and a touch of aniseed and almonds. A very small amount of herbal tea, citrus and slighty sourish tomato soup. That last might sound a bit weird, but I am just jotting down what my brain tells me.
On the palate, it is again pretty feisty (pepper, aniseed again, ginger) and oily. Again, quite a bit of smoke. I cannot really call it sweet. Rather, it is a bit sourish, although that sounds worse than it really is. Some nuts and new leather as too. I must admit I do not think it is very good.
The finish becomes a tad (too) bitter, like walnuts, and is rather short.
In all honesty, I appreciate this blended malt more for the philantropic gesture (which turned into approx. £50.000 quid of support) than for its taste, which I found to be somewhat unbalanced. And I cannot help wondering whatever happened to the remains of the casks from Arran, BenRiach, Bladnoch, GlenDronach, Glengyle, Kilchoman and Springbank. Succeeded as a gestured, not so much as a blended malt.
79/100 (including 2 points for charity)
Comment on @markjedi1's review