...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Good Blend: Exclusive Blended Malt 20 year old 1994 (50%abv edition)

Long time reader (all one of you!) knows I'm a straight-shooter (I can't believe I just wrote that) when it comes to the Creative Whisky Company (CWC). The last time I reviewed one of David Stirk's products, I caught a bit of heat. Will today's post get me into a different flavor of trouble?

During the June 2016 Malt Nuts event, I tried 18 different "Old and Older" blends. My top three favorites were all blends by CWC. And the best was one was a particular 20 year old blended malt. A year later — and you know a whisky's good when you're still thinking about it a year later — I chose this same blended malt to sneak in amongst a bunch of single malts during a whisky event I was hosting here in Columbus. Though I'd found the whisky for $80-something, all other US retailers were selling it for $100+. Anyway, it was my pleasure to share it with some great folks.

Once again, I was too flaky to remember to take a bottle pic. But I do have a photo of what's now left of my two ounce bottle of leftovers:

Company: Creative Whisky Company
Brand: Exclusive Malts
Type: Blended (or Vatted) Malt
Distilleries: from the Highlands and Speyside
Age: 20 years (1994-2014)
Maturation: first fill ex-sherry butt(s)
Alcohol by Volume: 50%
Chillfiltered? No
Color added? No

The rich nose is more complex than I'd remembered it to be. There's dark chocolate, lots of stone fruits (especially apricots), honeydew, toffee and Ovaltine. Some French oak-like spices around the sides. It has a edgier side to it as well, with horse barn and salty beach air. With time in the glass, the toffee notes swells, while milk chocolate and oranges roll in. The sherry in the palate is lightly sweet here and there, though dry more often. Some raisin and prune. Orange peel, molasses, nutmeg and cloves. Giving it some air heightens the citrus and brings out fresh plums. The long, warm finish has toasted oak, citrus, black raisins, fudge and a slight mintiness.

Lovely stuff. But since I like to try to ruin everything, I'm adding some water...

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
I dare say the nose gets prettier. Apple skins, Ceylon cinnamon, honey, plums and roses. Just a passing hint of gunpowder. Lemons fresh off the tree. The palate has more nuts, fewer raisins. Good mix of sweet and spice. Honey, dried cherries and a little bit of malt. The milder finish reflects the palate, with additional hints of soot and tart fruit.

Monday's bad blend and today's good blend were both better than my previous impressions. In fact, this blended malt is wonderful. I declare this my favorite CWC whisky yet.

The fresh fruit in the nose and the baking spices in the palate are terrific. The very subtle peating shows up at all the right times. (Ardmore or Benromach or olde Glen Garioch?) It dilutes nicely as well. The good cask action is preferable to most of the Glendronach single casks I've tried.

Reviews of this whisky are scarce. In fact it's not even listed in Whiskybase. There's a 51.4% European version, but that appears to be a different creature. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this whisky tremendously. Damn good work, Mr. Stirk.

Availability - It's around, kinda
Pricing - good luck finding it for less than $100
Rating - 90