Friday, December 28, 2018

Review - 'A Fine Christmas Malt' by The Whisky Exchange

This whisky is a special Christmas release from leading spirits retailer The Whisky Exchange. It is their first ever Christmas Malt and is a 17 years old single malt whisky. This has been matured in ex-oloroso sherry butts to 'create a whisky packed with festive flavours' and has been sourced from an un-named Speyside, which is famous for its use of such casks.

This 2018 edition of A Fine Christmas Malt is restricted to just 1,800 bottles and these are released at the natural cask strength of 58.7% ABV. Each 70cl bottle will cost £74.95 and they are only available at the two Whisky Exchange stores in London or via

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep gold with a touch of amber. The nose is immediately full of Christmas aromas - think of raisins, caramel, cinnamon, figs and milk chocolate. Underneath are further aromas of currants, sultanas, candied oranges, cocoa and mulling spices (especially clove and all-spice).

On the palate this whisky feels viscous and luxurious. A big hit of the ex-sherry casks gives an initial and vibrant sweetness - think of all the dried fruits from the nose again (sultanas, currants, figs and some prunes and glacé cherries in addition) mixed with brandy soaked raisins and milk chocolate. Then comes a wave of caramel/toffee and something reminiscent of either almonds or marzipan. A twist of bitterness is added thanks to distinct notes of candied orange, tangy lime zest and dusty earthy wood spices. These spices add warmth and have elements of gingerbread, all-spice, clove and a hefty pinch of cinnamon. The combination is wonderful.

The warming spices lead the finish, especially once the sweeter and fruitier characteristics have begun to fade. This creates a pleasant dryness and grip in the mouth and makes you want to reach for your glass and take another sip.

What's the verdict?
The Whisky Exchange are well known for their excellent cask selection and good quality independent releases. A Fine Christmas Malt is no exception and is an exquisite whisky, whether its Christmas season or not. The balance between the sweeter, fruitier and drier notes is delicious and complex.

If you like your ex-sherry cask matured whiskies then this is a fine example and you should buy a bottle before the 1,800 bottles have sold out - rumour has it that they only have very few left by the way. It also offers good value for money as a limited, old and cask strength whisky, as most of their own releases do.

This is like liquid Christmas cake or pudding in a glass. We recommend pouring a glass, sitting down with that last mince pie and enjoying one last piece of Christmas cheer.

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