Round-up of four new expressions from London's posh fine wine & spirits merchant Berry Bros & Rudd (the only non-Scottish independent bottler we choose to stock). Quality is paramount. Spirits have been a part of Berry Bros for over 100 years and we can't argue with the consistency and quality of malts selected by Doug McIvor and his spirits team.
We're tasting two recent releases of Berrys' Own Selection: Lochside 1981 and Bunnahabhain 1979, plus two casks selected for Boisdale which is a charming historic Scottish restaurant, bar and members club popular with Scots ex-pats in London.
These Highland, Speyside and Islay casks are a gentle reminder of just how varied single cask Scotch is.
Bunnhabhain 32 Year Old Berrys' Own Selection Sherry Cask # 1795 / 1998 / 54.6%
Nose: Sticky toffee pudding swimming in rich sweet sherry. Opens with water to reveal more toffee, (red) apples, sultanas, almonds, burning oak embers and a briny tang.
Palate: Full bodied. Very oily mouth feel, the sherry is prevalent but not overwhelming. Toffee, dark chocolate, marzipan, cinnamon and almonds make for a classic winter warming dram.
Finish: Lingering intense sherry and toffee notes coat the mouth leading to a dry,
slightly bitter end with the faintest wisp of Islay smoke.
Lochside 29 Year Old Berrys' Own Selection Cask #777 / 1981 / 46%
Nose: Cake shop: butter fudge, crème brûlée, dried banana, vanilla cream and honey comb. Late summer orchard harvest of ripe green apples, pears, citrus fruits and nectar. This sleeping giant has it all!
Palate: Full bodied. The mouthfeel is runny honey, the sweet nectar leads to boiled sweets and vanilla pods in harmony with citrus and red pepper corns.
Finish: A rollercoaster of sweet honey, sugars and soft citrus flavours linger demanding another tipple. Pour another, you've earned it.
Mortlach 16 Year Old Boisdale Sherry Cask #4234 / 1991 / 46%
Nose: Rum & raisin ice cream leap out through the overlapping sherry. Unmistakable Dundee marmalade. Toffee and treacle.
Palate: Sweet sherry, toffee and dried fruits with the raisins and marmalade taking centre stage. This is a rich, complex and endlessly rewarding dram.
Finish: Long and juicy, with the orange peel and toffee salivating.
Laphroaig 12 Year Old Boisdale Cask #700218 / 1998 / 46%
Nose: Unmistakable roaring Laphroaig peat smoke, seaweed and hint of crisp new make. Butterscotch, oak and brine suggest an explosive palate.
Palate: Medium bodied. The brine and smoked kippers are matched by citrus, vanilla and sweet oak. With water, the smoke is even more intense.
Finish: Very busy! Dry, oaky and salty, whilst the smoke softens it is never-ending.
All four of these drams plus a further sixteen Berry Bros & Rudd malts are available to buy at The Whisky Barrel.