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New Whiskies

Batch 188

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Annandale distillery's Man o'Words Sherry and Bourbon casks, Man o'Sword Sherry and Bourbon casks, James Eadie Aultmore and Bushmills Acacia Matured distillery exclusive.

Dave Broom’s main focus this week is on four single casks from fledgling distillery Annandale – they grow up so quickly, don’t they? – alongside a cask experiment from Bushmills and an Aultmore from indie bottler James Eadie.

Annandale’s whiskies are sliced into the peated Man O’Sword and the unpeated Man O’Words, all distilled in 2015. Broom finds the first unpeated three-year-old from an ex-Bourbon cask has already got balance, a sign of good things to come.

However, Broom tries the Man O’Words ex-oloroso cask and senses Sherry ‘might be an ideal match’ for the distillery, with more subtlety even at this young age.

On to the Man O’Sword offerings, said to be inspired by 7th Earl of Annandale Robert the Bruce. The Bourbon cask boasts brushfire smoky aromas, but gives way to syrupy desserts on the palate.

The peated Sherry cask somewhat quells the smoke upfront, adding furniture polish notes that ‘already show balance and integration’ according to Broom. The highest scorer of the four.

An indie-bottled eight-year-old Aultmore from James Eadie shows off the distillery’s Speyside characteristics with plenty of orchard fruits and elderflower. Broom rates it a classic example of Aultmore, said to be fragrant on the nose but substantial on the palate.

Finally, a distillery-exclusive bottling from Bushmills is finished in acacia wood casks, which (Broom believes) has provided a few exotic elements like Medjool dates alongside flavours such as marmalade on toast. Just keep Paddington away from the whiskey.

While Broom fends off raincoated bears, this week’s playlist is full of ska and reggae from the likes of Sunny Waller and Alton Ellie. Click on the links in ‘Right Place, Right Time’ to hear more.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Annandale Man O’ Words, 3 Years Old, Bourbon cask #149

    Annandale Man O’ Words, 3 Years Old, Bourbon cask #149
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    61%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Quite sweet, hitting a balance between ice cream soda, stewed apple, pink rhubarb jam on white bread and light raspberry. With water, it becomes blossom-fresh with a clear fruity-floral character. Although there’s a green, nettley youth, it has style.

    Palate

    Immediately sweet but not too hot, showing the cask is already coming into play. There’s even the start of some interactive maturation going on, locking in vanilla and lemon sorbet to the flowers and light fruits. Water opens it up nicely and though there is a firmer edge, there’s sufficient pink fruit and softness in the middle of the tongue to balance. In time, you get mint, rose and tangerine with surprising length that steadily moves to sweet mixed nuts.

    Finish

    Here’s some unripe fruits (green apple and hard pear). Drying.

    Conclusion

    Has struck a balance already and has an assured presence. Marked in its competitive set.

    Right place, right time

    Hurrah! Another week and More Whisky.

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    Annandale Man O’ Words, 3 Years Old, Sherry cask #822

    Annandale Man O’ Words, 3 Years Old, Sherry cask #822
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    60.8%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Good extract, with a moist maltiness, reminiscent of Soreen malt loaf with thick butter (is there any other way?) and a reprise of the floral fruitiness seen on the ex-Bourbon. In time, some classic Dundee cake, with decent weight and some grapefruit lift. Eventually you get some light spearmint, then sweet spices as the malt moves towards nuttiness given a sweet lick by blackberry jam. There’s a tiny hint of sulphur when water’s added, then comes violet, Darjeeling tea and a green, vegetal element.

    Palate

    Quite thick for one so young. The mid-palate suppleness seen in the ex-Bourbon casks is here as well. While there is that green olive twang of a young Sherried whisky, there’s added gingerbread, dark chocolate and the start of some structure. Water shows it’s still a sum of its parts: assertive acidity, light cereal, oak and fruit, all of which are starting to cohere.

    Finish

    Black fruits.

    Conclusion

    Less forward than the Bourbon, but good. While there’s a sense of elements knitting together, it’s that mid-palate richness which is important. This is where things will resolve themselves and spread out. I’ve a hunch that Sherry might be an ideal match here.

    Right place, right time

    Has the sweetness of Blackberry Brandy.

    Annandale Man O’ Sword, 3 Years Old, Bourbon cask #470

    Annandale Man O’ Sword, 3 Years Old, Bourbon cask #470
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    60.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    That sweet distillate once again, this time with quite powerful woodsmoke, showing moss and garden bonfire (burning grass clippings) building on the vegetal notes seen in the unpeated examples. It needs time and water to open and it shows some gentle pulpy fruit with the smoke, initially, pulled in a little. You get some of the putty notes which can be common to young smoky whiskies, but it’s balanced by the spirit’s inherent sweetness.

    Palate

    Light, green, smoky (mezcal-esque) tones with some pepperiness, then roasted cereal, given a central weight with cream and syrup pudding. Water brings out more of the woodsmoke, then rhubarb and hazelnut topping.

    Finish

    Dry initially. Smoke galore, then some fruit.

    Conclusion

    There an effortless sassiness here. Young and fresh. While it needs time, it’s a great marker.

    Right place, right time

    Chilling with a Cool Smoke.

    Annandale Man O’ Sword, 3 Years Old, Sherry cask #760

    Annandale Man O’ Sword, 3 Years Old, Sherry cask #760
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    58.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Initially, there is less overt smokiness. Rather, you get an inkiness and a mix of powdered sandalwood, malt, hazelnut butter and a note of furniture polish, which usually only appears in more mature examples. Already showing balance and integration. Water actually adds richness and depth, with the smoke now beginning to comment subtly with the developing red and black fruitiness.

    Palate

    This is picked up on the palate where the (light) smoke initially hangs back, allowing a dried fruit base to be established, before surging clear from the mid-palate onwards. Again there’s a mid-palate softness adding in ripe berry fruits, some malt. Balanced.

    Finish

    Chocolate bitters, then smoke.

    Conclusion

    More expressive and coherent than the ex-Bourbon. This is clearly a distillery which already knows its own mind. Impressive.

    Right place, right time

    A distillery that’s Coming in Hot.

    Aultmore 8 Years Old (James Eadie)

    Aultmore 8 Years Old (James Eadie)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    A mix of creaminess and estery fruits: pears galore, green grass, then mint and chocolate chip ice cream. After, you get creamed butter, sweet melon and pineapple, while water stirs in apple Danish and a fresher, more floral element. It holds well, though there’s no great secondary development. Rather gorgeous.

    Palate

    A sweet start with lots of elderflower, light ginger and lemon, then head-cleansing mintiness. It sticks and spreads in the mid-palate, giving overall balance and complexity, then releases a burst of peachy fruits. Mouthfilling, subtle but rounded. The back palate has yuzu-like bright acidity.

    Finish

    Almond milk, gentle fruit, light cinnamon.

    Conclusion

    An utterly charming dram and a classic example of Aultmore.

    Right place, right time

    Listen, I can hear the Spring Birds singing.

    Bushmills Acacia Wood Matured

    Bushmills Acacia Wood Matured
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    47%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Ireland
    Availability
    Distillery Exclusive
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    There’s hefty colour here and a slightly smoky (char rather than peat) element, then a soft, rich unfolding of red velvet cake and light nuttiness. You get manuka honey, the Medjool dates, cumin and coriander seed. It’s cask driven, but not woody. There’s more burnt sugar when water’s added along with mace, light nut, fresh peach and a tiny, pine-like sappiness with more of the char.

    Palate

    Immediately rich, with this exotic sweetness of spiced honey and a pleasing bitter orange twang. It deepens towards the centre: wet walnut and fig jam turn up as the tongue is steadily glazed with honey and light sultana, with orchard fruit. Water doesn’t disturb the balance. Marmalade on warm toast and while the oak means it firms up at the back, there’s good length.

    Finish

    The impact lessens slightly as the oak comes through strongly.

    Conclusion

    Bushmills is an amenable whiskey, able to wriggle itself into all manner of oaked settings. This is a vatting of American and ex-Sherry matured whiskies married in acacia wood – maybe it’s this unusual (for whiskey) cask type where the exotic elements come from. Wonder what a 100% acacia-matured whiskey would be like? Great to see Bushmills back and firing. 

    Right place, right time

    Relaxing under my Fig Tree.

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