This one is aged 8 years in ex-bourbon wood, and 1 year in St. Emilion Grande Cru Classe (whatever that is) wine barrels from France. It is bottled at 50% alc/vol.
The colour is deep orange. The nose is faint at first but water opens it up. Then I get deep notes of oranges and milk chocolate. Sweet and luscious. Very pleasant, nothing sharp in the aroma.
This is very full-bodied whisky, with a viscous mouthfeel. Many layers of fruit quickly develop. The classic Arran profile is evident, sweet and creamy, with some late spice. The whisky really seems to grip the mouth, which I guess could be attributed to tannins from the wood and the wine. It really sinks into the tongue.
The finish leaves a lingering orange taste. Some woody flavour is also evident. This is a really wonderful after-dinner malt with sweet fruity flavours and an enormous presence on the palate.
The cognac finish was quite a different animal, single cask and almost 58% alc/vol. It was thinner, more crisp, and with a slightly peaty finish, I found. Also more dark chocolate/cocoa notes. It was years ago I had that whisky so it's hard to say more than that. But based on colour alone you could tell they would be different.
I'd say St. Emilion finish is closer to the Tokaji finish, though with several differences. Again it's hard to say without a side-by-side comparison but I remember the Tokaji being more custard-flavoured, less fruity and malty, kind of a hard whisky to peg down. But both have that thick mouthfeel, which I'm sure contributes to the liqueur impression. I rather liked the Tokaji finish though I like the St. Emilion a good deal better.
Willie JJ wrote:You're not the only person that likes Tokaji finishes (especially if you listen to Pete Curry from Springbank). Still there's too much cask influence on the malt for my preference.
I'm surprised you got any peat on the Cognac finish because that was back in 2005/6 if I remember correctly and definitely before they started experimenting with peat. It had a lot to commend it though.
Yeah, it was more of a bottom-of-the-glass impression of peat, quite subtle but something that I do recall. My main impression of that bottle was that it had virtually no aroma and little discernable flavour until I added water and gave it a swirl. Once the water and whisky mixed, the aromas exploded from it. Very multilayered with fruit, cocoa, and lots of spice.
You might find too much cask influence in the St. Emilion finish as well, I'm afraid. However this edition seems much more popular on the web than the Tokaji finish, which many people rank as the worst they have tasted.
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