Arguably one of the most unique whiskies I’ve ever had the pleasure of making acquaintances with.
Evolution is a seemingly annual (or at least vintage batched) release from independent bottler Samaroli that is built on something like a Solera process (without actually being a solera vatting, you understand). Apparently this great experiment began with the marriage of about twenty rare old single casks in a great wooden vat somewhere. After a steeping period (my words, not theirs) of approximately six months the blended malt whisky was laid to rest in both bourbon and sherry barrels to further integrate and mature.
After this initial fateful meeting, these barrels would then be re-vatted from time to time, with a portion of the overall volume siphoned off for each new release. Over the years, additional casks would occasionally find their way into this celestial spirit. Effectively this process ensures the long-running and eternal DNA of the origin casks has some infinite influence in the ever-maturing malt. Spectacular and singular.
See the label in the bottle shot above? Yes…those are indeed the component malts that make up this whisky. 1957 Mortlach; Springbank from 1959, 1962 and 1965; a Bruichladdich from 1964; both 1967 and 1970 Laphroaigs; a 1976 Ardbeg; some old Port Ellen; and Talisker; Longrow; Glenlivet; and on and on. Wow. Just…wow.
On the surface these would seem to be some pretty special barrels. Reading those names and numbers is like a surreal trip through some of my sweetest whisky dreams. The reality is, though, that every distillery fills dud casks from time to time, and I simply have to question whether or not some of these barrels may have been less than first tier wood. I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind deciding to vat away some of these individual components, when single barrel releases would most likely net them astronomical profits above and beyond what the vatting does. The only thing arguing against my inherent cynicism is that the end result – this Evolution expression – is a damn fine drink and shows no signs of second class whiskies being ‘blended away’ within.
At the end of the day I’ll simply take my hats off to Samaroli for creating a fine and wonderfully unique expression, and one I’ll not soon forget.
If this is what Samaroli is bringing to the market, I can’t wait to try more.
Nose: Raisin. A bit of smoke. Old books, and pipe tobacco. A touch of leather. Grape juice. Rye bread and spiced dough. Dusty dunnage warehouse and a faint flinty-ness. Licorice root. Coffee.
Palate: Almost tastes like a bit of wine-cask influence at work here, though I know that’s not the case. Cough syrup. Espresso. Apples. Dried apricot. Old fruitcake or fruit leather. Moth balls (WTF?!). Slightly nutty and almost bitter finish. Not even remotely unpleasant though.
Thoughts: Shows definite indications of the advanced age of its component malts. Just smells…’old’. Very odd profile, but I like it. Certainly a special whisky. A great dram, but I do mourn ‘what could have been’ in the individual casks.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt