Waxhouse 004: Cotswolds STR Cask 4yo 54% ABV

Kindly sent over by New Dram Drinker, I’ve been excited to try this one since hearing about the release.

Waxhouse release 004 is a 4-year-old single malt English whisky, distilled at the Cotswolds Distillery, using first-fill STR casks. Non-chill filtered and natural colour. The release is limited to only 324 bottles.

Waxhouse release 004
Waxhouse release 004

STR refers to ‘Shaved, Toasted and Re-charred’ red wine casks. Before maturation, red wine casks are shaved, toasted and re-charred, returning them to a state that could be classed as between virgin oak and red wine casks. It’s a process used to lengthen the life of a cask and get a few more uses out of the wood.

The re-charring is meant to caramelise the sugars in the untouched wood beneath the penetrated layer, revealing the more classic ‘oaky’ flavours, such as toffee, caramel and vanilla. However, these will likely not be as intense as a virgin oak cask, as some flavour chemicals won’t be rejuvenated.

Appearance: Rose gold, light orange hue. Nice and oily, good thick legs.

Nose: The higher ABV is evident, but not overpowering or off-putting. Spices, wood and honey hit first. Quite bourbon-like.

There’s an undercurrent of intense red fruit, strawberries and raspberries and a touch of candied orange peel, all surrounded by icing sugar.

A herbal side develops as the glass matures. Fresh-cut grass and green foliage.

Right at the end (the nose-finish as I call it) there’s a funk too. I’ve been trying to understand and identify what the aroma actually is, I think it’s a sourdough starter. A nice balanced nose, layer upon layer of contrasting, but well-married, aromas.

Palate: Wow! Syrupy mouth-coating delivery, almost sauce-like!

Sweet stewed fruit pie: those strawberries and raspberries, topped with sugary pastry and some clotted creme. Bitter blood orange.

A layer of rich dark fruits underpins the more vibrant red berries, adding yet another dimension.

There’s little evidence of the herbal qualities from the nose, but the mild chilli spiciness does remain consistent. A tingling on the tongue and a nice warmth on the chest.

Finish: Spicy and warming, with a rich deep sweetness to balance beautifully. Very slight drying at the back of the tongue. So very moreish!

Overall: Are we sure that this is a 4-year-old!? It’s a testimony to what the STR process can achieve and I’d like to see more of it! Incredible depth, flavour and texture. A triumph, superb.

There are comparable whiskies for twice the price (and 3-4 times the age) out there. I genuinely paused writing these notes to buy a bottle before it sells out!

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