Jan 302014
 

Sheep Dip 1999 Amoroso Oloroso044

41.8% abv

Score:  79/100

 

Following on the heels of the delightful Sheep Dip 1990 Old Hebridean I so loved, I’m somewhat at a loss as to how to explain this one away.

That aforementioned 1990 was of such a surprisingly high caliber that I’ve spent the last couple of years singing its praises from the rooftops.  It didn’t hurt that the malt was built on a bedrock of old Ardbeg either.  Just sayin’.  All I can say now, however, is that I sincerely hope that anyone out there who may have heard my earlier recommendation did not confuse that bottle with this and make a purchase in error.  I’d honestly almost feel guilty. 

The story behind this Amaroso Oloroso 1999 is a unique one involving the rediscovery of a handful of casks of Scotch whisky (most probably a blended malt like the other expression of Sheep Dip, I’d guess) which had been laid down and forgotten in a Spanish Bodega.  The whisky itself was blended in Scotland and spent the first quarter of its life prior to being shipped off to Jerez and settling down in the darkened recesses of a warehouse, where it lay apparently undisturbed until 2012. 

The cynic in me questions just how exactly casks can be forgotten in this manner.  Knowing how rigid bonding and excise is, and knowing that warehouses are prowled quite regularly…hmmmm…I don’t buy it, guys.  This tale immediately made me think of the great Serendipity story (an ‘accidental’ blending of Ardbeg and Glen Moray, you may recall).

Anyway…as for the whisky itself…

The best analogy I can draw, in light of its overly sweet persona and rather artificial facade, is that this is like craving a big bowl full of fresh juicy black cherries and being handed a jar of fluorescent maraschinos instead.  This is, quite simply, an oversweet contrived malt lacking in any sort of focus.  I’m not saying it’s awful, I’m merely stating that it’s really not what I look for in a whisky, nor is it something I would ever recommend as a reflection of any of the styles we so love.

A quick final note:  This is not a Scotch whisky, nor is it labeled as such.  SWA regulations state that in order to be designated as ‘Scotch’ a whisky must be matured entirely in Scotland.  

Nose:  Sweet waxy synthetic notes.  Sweet fudge.  Maybe just the faintest touch of peat (though I’m honestly not sure on that one).  Marshmallow.  Farmy and iodine notes (but fruit and sweetened).  Bourbon notes.  Fake cherry candy.  Marzipan.  Caramel/toffee.  White nougat and white chocolate.  Vanilla cream and custard.  Deep spice notes, particularly cinnamon.

Palate:  Bourbon.  Spicy pastry.  Chocolate and more spice (maybe ginger and cinnamon…possibly a bit of pepper).  Horse blanket.  Huge vanilla fade.  Hugely sweet.  Overly so, in fact,

Thoughts:  Book a trip to the dentist.  You’ll need it after this one.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 1:03 pm
Jul 012012
 

Sheep Dip Old Hebridean 1990

40% abv

Score:  92/100

 

Wow.  Mature peat meets mature sherry.  These two flirty ol’ folks can stay liplocked all night as far as I’m concerned.  This is like a fine old flick from decades back where the romance sweeps you up in its arms almost as if it were you on screen staring into the eyes of Audrey Hepburn or whichever faded old starlet lit your lamp.

If rumors hold any truth, this blended malt is comprised of 19 year old Dalmore, 21 year old Fettercairn and…yes!…25 year old Ardbeg.  An odd marriage, but a stunner.  What a truly remarkable vatting to pull off a profile this large and a balance this absolute.

The nose…

Smoke and cracked black pepper.  Briny, but with a fruity underbelly.  There is a neat little undercurrent of jam or jelly or something.  Kinda inexplicable.  Sort of like Amaretto…or Cherry Coke…or Dr. Pepper.  Big bursting purple grapes, and a lovely fresh biscuit-y quality.  Mince and mint.  Oodles more, so much that I could pick out nuances for paragraph after paragraph, but alas…you’d be bored and I’d be ‘scent-logged’ to cop a phrase from a favorite German author.

Again…phenomenal balance between peat and sweet, even on the palate.  Slightly tannic ashiness here bobs and weaves on a salty wash and hits that grape wine-iness early on.  The smoke coalesces and looms larger and larger the longer you hold it.  For such a woefully underpowered dram (40%?  For whiskies of this age?  C’mon!) the finish has a surprising staying power.

Quite simply one of the best vatted malts I have ever tasted.  Brilliant stuff.  A little thin at 40%, but still…close enough for this guy.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 10:22 pm