Saturday, November 24, 2018

Review - Black Friday 2018 Edition 'Orkney Islands 18 years old Single Malt'

Black Friday has been and gone for another year. As always, whisky retailers were inevitably involved and saw companies tripping over each other to give their customers the best 'deals'. Some of the painfully low prices must have had the Master Blenders and Distillers around the industry crying in a dark corner of their blending labs and wondering why they had bothered working so hard. However, one retailer took a different approach.  The annual Black Friday bottling from leading UK spirits retailer The Whisky Exchange has quickly become a fixture in the pre-Christmas feeding frenzy.

This year's offering only confirmed that. Bottled by Elixir Distillers for The Whisky Exchange, it was an 18 years old single malt from an un-named distillery on the Orkney islands (there are only two, so place your bets). The whisky was bottled at the natural cask strength of 54.6% ABV, non chill-filtered and of natural colour. There were just 1,400 bottles, which were priced at £69.95 each. They were only available from the TWE website - they went on sale at 6am on Black Friday, by 6.40am they were all sold.

Therefore our review is a bit late. Well done to those that managed to secure a bottle and commiserations to those that missed out. Here are our thoughts on the liquid.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose leads with fragrant tones of almonds and something floral like heather or lavender. Sweetness comes from notes of fudge and toffee with a touch of sweet barbeque smoke, akin to a good bbq sauce. Oakiness and fresh sawdust aromas add further depth.

In the mouth this whisky has initial sweet notes of marzipan and hard honeycomb. There is also a delicious vegetal sweetness that is most reminiscent of fresh green peas. These sweeter characteristics evolve into fudge, toffee and butterscotch with Maltesers - this last element combines a distinct maltiness with milk chocolate. All is rounded out by sweet and deliciously moreish smoke. This has an earthy wood spice edge – think of cinnamon, all-spice and mulling spices, which give a pleasant and warming dryness. Late hints of clove, white pepper and oak add yet more complexity.

The finish is sweet and malty with a rich peppery vibrancy. It is long with a lingering and drying wood spice. Faint sweet smoke and peat linger for an eternity, slowly fading. A very impressive whisky.

What's the verdict?
A superb and well balanced single malt from The Whisky Exchange, and one that shows that theri cask selection for such bottlings is spot on. This whisky was always going to sell out rapidly, not only because of the popularity of the suspected distillery of origin but also for the incredible price - £70 for a cask strength, limited edition single malt at 18 years of age.

They must be applauded for that, when they surely could have charged more. We were just thankful to get the opportunity to try it - thanks to Billy Abbott for our sample.

Our sample did not last too long ...

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