This Glen Scotia was distilled on 7th Feb 2003 and matured for 14 years in a Refill Ex-Bourbon Hogshead. One of 257 bottles released.
Appearance: A vibrant shade halfway between gold and orange, think ale.
A thin tide mark forms with sporadic beading. Many medium trails form a corrugated viscous film around the glass. After some time a few teardrops form.
Nose: A good wave of ethanol from that high ABV. Distant caramelised steak gently sizzling on a BBQ and malty confectionary sugar hits first. There’s also salty harbour air and oily water. After a time, blackberry crumble and custard appear with vanilla wafer and a little black pepper.
There’s a faint vegetal note too, fresh green leaves and maybe nettles.
Palate: A semi-viscous mouthfeel. Quite a spice bomb on the first sip, with just a touch of that blackberry sweetness.
The second sip reveals more complexity, with some salinity, honey, vanilla and a growing confectionary element.
Very subtle menthol and sulphur, light smoke and a slightly bitter chocolate edge (which later morphs into a less bitter milk chocolate)
The bitter-sweet flavours do grow to be the dominant elements in this dram after a time.
The spice side includes black and white pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Finish: Long. Black pepper-dusted blackberries and custard, chocolate and Mint Aero linger for ages. A sharp popping candy note emerges right at the last moment.
Overall: I’m torn. I like the bold nature and balance of sweet and spicy, but that bitter note is a little off-putting. I’d definitely not say ‘no’ to a dram, but I wouldn’t go for a bottle.