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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Burn Baby 'Burn

After returning from a fairly relaxing week on a beautiful Portuguese Quinta (sadly after being robbed not once but twice - once is bad enough, but when the local police mug you sorry, charge you 48 Euros for the crime report, you realise something is deeply wrong!) 
Still, i'm refreshed, slightly tanned (bizarrely only on my hands) and in need of a whisky.    
As the UK seemingly dissolves under gallons of rain, I find myself digging through a pile of damp post, bottles and boxes and one particular sample caught my attention.  

Speyburn distillery, recently buoyed by their successes at the World Whisky Awards have recently relaunched their core expressions with new packaging, alongside following most other distilleries by creating a members area on their website called Clan Speyburn.  

According to the distillery, one of the benefits to becoming a Clan member is the exclusive bottlings of Speyburn planned for release over the coming months.  One of the first of these is a cracking cask from 1975, from the Pedro Domecq bodega in Jerez, one of the oldest in Spain. The as-yet-unpriced whisky (not sure of the outturn either) looks superbly dark in colour, but not in the usual sherry cask way, this whisky displaying a much more aged copper tone.  But as always, the colour tells us very little about the quality of the dram itself, so let's dive in.

Speyburn - 1975 - Clan Cask Bottling- 55.8% 

Nose: Huge oak notes, some buttery baked apple, a little waft of vanilla'y spirit, milk chocolate, coconut milk and a slight peanut brittle note.  Surprisingly, it doesn't have any of the big dried-fruit-'n-spice you'd expect from a cask used previously to mature Pedro Ximenez. 

Palate: Hot on the first sip, but nice and rich, with waxy honey, green apple, a little dusting of powdered bitter caramel and cocoa powder.   There is also the faintest note of soft peat if you really search for it.  With water, it gains a nutty note, but you have to be careful not to drown it, as the flavours become quite dissipated.  

Finish:  A light peat note, fading into green apple skin lingers on the palate for a pleasing finish.

Overall:  Despite its age and origins, the sherry notes haven't dominated this dram at all.  In fact, it exhibits more characteristics of an aged bourbon matured whisky.  It works best at cask strength and the addition of water detracts from its more subtle fruity notes.  All in all, a decent 37yo, but the price will certainly be a deciding factor in whether this is one to immediately snap up.   If you fancy joining the Clan Speyburn (which seems like a worthwhile idea) visit for more details.