No one really gets a pass in regards to the NAS thing, but there are a couple of distilleries (Tulli, Ardbeg, Laddie, ‘Glassaugh, etc) that have a slightly better reason than others for doling out these contrived concoctions. Namely, sustained closures that led to substantial production gaps. What they end up with then is a finite amount of older whisky and a growing store of very young whisky. The logical options then become twofold: release the old stocks at high prices and decimate your ‘sure thing’ or release immature and underripe malts and reap the wrath of poor reviews that are almost guaranteed to follow. The latter, of course, means that you may tarnish the brand and risk not recovering your reputation. The former means that you alienate many due to price point and run yourself out of mature bonded malt. Neither option sounds too appealing, right?
Here’s where things get shady. You can also choose to ignore the two well-trodden paths and forge ahead on a new path of marrying the old and the young. Doing so means that almost no one in their right minds is willing to put a 7 year age statement on something that may be substantially composed of 20 year old whisky. And as we all know, the SWR states that only the youngest component malt may be stated on the bottle. Hence we end up with malts like Sovereign. And pretty much any NAS release ever.
But enough of the philosophical nattering for the moment. We’ve heard this story many times.
Sovereign is an easy handshake of a whisky. A pleasant meeting – enjoyable enough while it lasts – but not likely to make much impression in the long term. Nothing wrong with that. I count Compass Box Asyla in the same stable, and thoroughly enjoy that one when I have it too. These are just not whiskies that keep me loyal, however. They’re a little too simple and one-dimensional to make me want to buy ’em. Good enough stuff though. Well made.
In simplest…kind of a meandering little dram that I enjoyed more than I thought I would.
Nose: Mandarins in syrup. Lemon. Tangerine. Quite clean and very naked. Touch of ginger and pepper. Vanilla. White bread. Actually a rather pleasant nose.
Palate: Flat. A notch down from what the nose would have us believe. Slightly drying after a moment or two…like a green tea in ways. Grassy. Pancakes. Vanilla-heavy cream. Quite sweet, but not as easy to pin down fruits as on the nose. Fair enough.
Thoughts: This is a breakfast malt. Nothing offensive, but nothing really special either. Exactly what an entry level malt should be.
– Images & Words: Curt