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Neat- Nose: Strong and spirity, there is clearly a wood influence with the slight presence of sour cherries. Chocolate and coffee grinds (or a very dark and drunk coffee cake). Very dense fruit-coffee cake (there it is!). Almonds and a little coconut. Frosting and cocoa powder. Definitely trending toward the dark and chocolate, maybe even some demerara rum, too.
Palate: Approachable, with a clean honey (light) entry, along with some brown sugar and molasses. Wood (oak and sawdust) and a little fruit tartness. Spiced cake with some rum, chocolate!
Finish: Dry from the wood, but dark and a little sweet. The dense and dry chocolate infused coffee cake that's soaked up some espresso and rum. It's deeelicious.
With a very small amount of water- Nose: All on dark, spicy cake-bread and rum. Frosting, marzipan, chocolate, coconut. Less wood and less 'sour' than neat, and very much sweeter. Maybe a pinch of rye-type sweetness, and sweeter than neat, but not saccharine or one-dimensionally sweet.
Palate: Much sweeter, though there's a point where the alcohol is just a bit out of step, and it's followed by a strong dryness (just after some faint cherries). Cinnamon, clove, and a little anise (trace). A bit more linear, but very satisfying.
Finish: Very bitter chocolate. Cedar. Tobacco and some cake-like quality. Dry cocoa powder and coffee, and pencil shavings. Frosting.
I was blown away. I actually got up to make sure that I had pulled from the right bottle because some of the notes were more similar to an 18 year old Willett that was really incredible. This was every bit as good as the older one. I think that having been opened and gotten a fair bit of air in the bottle really helped this one. It needed to breathe. At least an A-, but I was inclined to put it as a borderline A-/A, possibly just from the surprise of it being so much better than it had when the bottle first opened. So, solid A-. I do sometimes go for the emotional scores, but I'll be careful this time around!