“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”
I am not won over yet by this whisky, but I am intrigued enough to occasionally feel its lure from behind the closed door of my cabinet. The Balvenie Signature 12 year old is a nifty l’il whisky. Its character is surprisingly assertive. Just the thought of certain drams is enough to paint a vivid picture for me (the Islays come to mind…as does the Fusion). This is just such a whisky.
So, why the sea shanty (fictional or otherwise) atop the page? Well…I don’t really know. All you need to know about this whisky is that it is absolutely defined by its overwhelming woodiness. All I could think of was pungent wet wood. Resinous planks soaked in whisky. This in turn led me to…pirate ships. Hey…I said it painted a picture. Didn’t say it was logical. Now tell me you’re not thinking the same next time you sip.
This Highlander spends 12 years maturing in first-fill bourbon, refill and sherry casks. The rich deep color obviously imparted through the latter.
There is wood (obviously) on the nose. Sherry and all the dry fruitcake notes that usually accompany it make an appearance, as does marmalade. Some spice, scones and vanilla. The nose is massive and deep, and very nostalgically pleasant. Almost…dusty somehow. This is much bigger than I would have expected from a whisky at only 40%. I have to use the word ‘pungent’ again here to describe it.
Across the palate…a little thinner than I’d like, but not overly. It leaves a dry finish, similar to sipping a big-bodied cabernet. Those fruitcake notes are all over the tongue as well. Raisins…plum perhaps…a hint of rum.
The finish rolls on and on like waves against the barnacle-encrusted hull of said fictional pirate ship. A finish that lingers is imperative in whisky, however the last notes in this one are not all pleasant. There is a slight bitterness at the tail end. I would score this higher if the mouthfeel was a little more beefy. Oh well.
This whisky really is a grower. Though uncertain about it at first, I find I appreciate it a little more every time I pour one.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt