This was an evening of discovery… starting with tasting completely blind a mystery malt… which turned out to be a 20 year Glenrothes from North Star’s Cask Series 001…
Glenrothes 20 year (Oct 1996/Oct 2016) 54.6% 1 of 198 bottles, Refill sherry
- Colour – Yellow gold
- Nose – Light varnish, heavy honey, citrus lemon, then marmalade, apricot, like breakfast cereal, sense of being very “full”, dry fruits, creme rum and raisin, sense of high alcohol, creamy toffee, chocolate chips, shifting into a curl of tobacco, black ‘bara’ elichi. After time it shifted into molasses and powdered icing sugar with sweet spices
- Palate – An explosion of flavour. Salty caramel, completely matches the nose with force… sharp then diffuses into fruity deliciousness. The 2nd sip was much spicier with a creamy quality. And the 3rd revealed tobacco, tannic and dry… then shifted into a sweet perfume palate. Simply “yum!”
- Finish – Bitter with a ‘khatta‘ sourness like tart apples, initially seemed short, then we realized it is quite the opposite – a lovely long finish with hazelnut pepper and red fruits
- Water – Kicked up the spice – particularly on the finish, changed and holds. Normally we find water can initially notch up the spice, then mellows. In this case, it remains – lots of peppers, really holds its own with water, reveals a lovely mocha coffee
We joked that it “Tastes delicious on the nose!” like walking into a cookie store! It really teases, from sweetness to bitter with a beautiful balance. Another thought it would make a great “cigar” malt….
We speculated it must have a high alcohol content – likely cask strength, definitely Scottish, well constructed though we thought perhaps it may not be very old – perhaps 8 – 12 years? We really appreciated its fabulously long finish.
We also observed it had a terrific synch between its aromas and palate – both delicious and mirroring their notes.
The reveal was such a surprise. None of us would have guessed it could be 20 years. Some remarked their mixed experience with Glenrothes, finding it sometimes over-priced for what it delivers.
In this case, it was a fabulous dram.
And what about the official tasting notes?
- Nose: Ginger biscuits, cinnamon & sultanas
- Palate: Apple pastries, pear juice & toffee
- Finish: A dry finish with cocoa nibs & caramel
What were we fortunate to sample in our introductory North Star Trilogy?
- North Star’s Cask Series 001 – Glenrothes 20 year (Oct 1996/Oct 2016) 54.6% 1 of 252 bottles
- North Star’s Cask Series 001 – Ardmore Peat 8 year (June 2008 / Oct 2016) 58.7% 1 of 198 bottles – This post
- North Star’s Cask Series 002 – Islay 8 year (June 2008 / May 2017) 58.3% 1 of 230 bottles
Unfortunately North Star bottles have a tendency to fly off the online “shelves” quickly!
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I haven’t tried this one yet, but I am generally a huge fan of North Star. It all started with me spotting their eye-catching labels on display in a whisky bar and ordering a dram of Port Dundas 12yo out of curiosity. I bought a full bottle the following day and kept ordering at least one release from each series ever since. In return, Iain has sent me a bunch of samples from each new series he released. He really has a talent for sourcing outstanding casks!
Let’s just say there were a whole bunch of fan “converts” after this session! Iain does indeed have a knack – and we are the beneficiaries!
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