I love getting packages in the post – and even more so, I love when they have a certain Alice in Wonderland characteristic to them.
The latest example of this intriguing display was when I opened up a packet to find this inside:
Being very keen to follow the “Eat Me” and “Drink Me” tags thoroughly I got to work tasting the two Auchentoshan samples included – the 1979 Oloroso matured cask and the Valinch 2012 – and sampling the fruitcake hidden beneath the purple tissue paper.
I started with the Valinch. This style was launched last year for the first time and they’ve brought out a new edition this year. There are 2,000 cases sold globally – not a teeny release but not massive either.
It is a non chill filtered whisky aged in first-fill North American ex-bourbon oak casks. It has no age statement.
On the nose, it is very gentle and delightfully well balanced – nothing overwhelms but it smelled delicious. Hints of lemon detergent, vanilla, orange and oak drifted through for me. It was very appealing if you like a gentler dram that smells as if it’s going to have some body behind it.
The palate had an overwhelming sweet citrus note to start, something like candied oranges that have been baked in the oven. This was followed by toasted oak, baked cinnamon, and Haribo sweets. It had a lot of body and finished on a salty note.
When combined with the fruitcake, more spiciness emerged on the palate from this one.
All in all, tasty and appealing – it’s not a peat monster or a sherry bomb, but has more character than some straight oak casked whiskies that can flatline a bit at the finish line.
It’s priced at a very reasonable £36 (or so) so could make a good Christmas present for someone who likes this type of whisky.
Then I moved onto the quite different 1979 Oloroso release, a 32-year old whisky that spent its entire life in first-fill Oloroso sherry butts. This one is a wee bit more pricy – okay, a lot more at £350 as only 1,000 bottles of it will be released globally.
On the nose, I found this to be very appealing as I’m not a massive fan of the sherry bomb. While it’s got the rich, plummy notes of a sherried whisky, it’s not overly intense. There was a real chocolate note and something slightly herbal (a sweet, woody herb like thyme or rosemary), along with butter and brandied raisins.
Moving onto the palate, my first thought was cologne with an undertone of black cherry. This was followed by soft Australian licorice, wood and nutmeg (lots of nutmeg) to finish.
With the fruitcake, the whisky was more full-bodied and intense – a great pairing and a great whisky.