Johnnie Walker Select Casks
Distillery: John Walker & Sons Distillery. Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland
Nose: Aromas are of vanilla, maple syrup and warming wood spices, especially cinnamon. These are followed by some bittersweet cereals, toffee, burnt orange zest and hints of mint, cedarwood and dried tropical fruits (pineapple in particular).
Palate: Notes of freshly sawn oak, cedarwood, baking spices (especially cinnamon, mace and nutmeg) and plenty of bittersweet cereals. These add a dryness to the palate, which is in danger of taking over before some sweeter elements begin to take hold. First comes plenty of vanilla - this seems exaggerated and reminiscent of extract rather than the seeds or pods - and then lots of maple syrup (or is it golden syrup?), plus butterscotch and just a hint of cocoa powder. A late hit of bitter candied orange peel adds extra depth.
Color: Light Amber
Notes: This is a fantastic whisky that is big and bold on aroma and flavour. The first-fill American oak cask maturation has given the whisky spice, sweetness and dynamism. However, these seem to be accentuated by the further sweetness and bitter drying spices from the rye whiskey casks.
It is very good to drink on its own and you can see how it would stand out in cocktails. That is the next plan for our sample - make a classic Manhattan or Old Fashioned with it instead of a bourbon or rye whiskey and see how it goes.
The Rye Cask Finish is a great start to the Select Casks series and one that offers excellent quality for the price. It will be very interesting to see what other casks and finishes are in the pipeline for the further bottlings in the range. If they are all as good as this, then we cannot wait to sample them.