40%? Really? I hate to beat a dead horse, but there is simply no valid argument – if you want to present a case to me that you are offering a premium single malt experience, that is – in support of releasing an old and rare(ish) whiskey chill-filtered and watered down to this sort of consistency. If I sound rather perturbed with this one, let me explain why…
This is really good whiskey. The nose and palate are harmonious; the nuance and profile are pleasant and intriguing; and the balance struck across all faces of this expression is impressive. If you have that much going for you, why the hell would you opt to strip out all of the rich and oily mouthcoating fats and lipids via chill-filtration and leave us with a mere shadow of what could be? Boost the strength to 46% and offer the consumer the true whiskey experience. This is a perfect example of why Irish whiskey is seen as a lesser sibling to Scotch. It doesn’t need to be this way.
Alright…let’s breathe deep and appreciate what we have here instead of harping on what we don’t have. Shouldn’t be hard. After all, I am a fan of Bushmills. This is the brand I cut my teeth on. This 21 year old single malt is one of the apex expressions in the Bushmills portfolio. It’s a malt composed of bourbon- and Oloroso-matured spirit whish has then been further married together in Madeira barrels for a finishing period. Sounds like some of Richard Paterson’s sort of witchcraft, but the cohesiveness of the end product is admirable, considering I usually find this sort of triple wood maturation is often close to overkill and beckoning us too deep into tannic wine country. Not so, here. Very adept blending.
If you can look past my initial gripes above – and the ~$200 price tag – this is a very nice dram. Recommended in spite of myself.
Nose: Quite gooey and jammy. I like the fruity, spicy balance. Raisin scones. Black current. A little chocolate, and a little caramel. Barley shows through to nice effect. A hint of wine gums. Really good nose, all in. Clean and appealing.
Palate: Frustratingly thin and lacking texture, though the flavours are nice. Grape meets licorice in a way that again reminds of wine gums. Love the tangy effect and mix of fresh baking and quality preserves. Faint marzipan. Over-steeped tea. The oak gives a slight nip here that gives a tannic feel. Tastes like a very young 21.
Thoughts: The nose and palate work really well together, but this one truly is hamstrung by the low abv and lack of mouthfeel. Oh well. Still really good, but could have been a classic.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt