torsdag 15 juli 2021

Cask Collaboration with Agitator – first tasting notes of 3yo Whisky!!

Dear friends, followers, and supporters alike! I'm writing this blogpost to you during vacation at my wifes familys summer cottage situated in the beautiful archipelago of Roslagen, truly the perfect place to deliver an update on the cask collaboration project between Agitator and myself. On may 4th the spirit in the casks included in the project actually turned 3 years old, hence we are now dealing with... Whisky! 😛

And so today it is my great pleasure to share my first tasting notes of samples of whisky from some of the casks in the project! For this blogpost I asked the Distillery Technician at Agitator, my dear friend Christian, to draw samples from two of the casks. The samples arrived at my place in the end of june and I spent roughly two hours last Thursday reviewing them. 

In order to read up on what makes Agitator such an interesting and groundbreaking whisky distillery, as well as exactly what our collaboration entails, please click here and take part of this previous article of mine and you will get a good introduction to it all. The general details are as follows:

The new make recipe used for our collaboration was made from peated barley (30ppm), 58% from the High Reflux stills, 42% from the Low Reflux stills. The new make was filled into Bourbon barrels 111-116 at a filling strength of 55,1% ABV on the 4th of May 2018. The details of the samples reviewed in this blogpost are as follows:

Sample no.1: drawn 210609 from 1st-fill Bourbon Barrel no.114. 56,9% ABV.
Cask 114, picture taken by Christian during sampling

Sample no.2: drawn 210609 from Cask no.1531, a 130 litre Virgin Chestnut (“quarter”) cask. 57,99% ABV (spirit transferred 191031 from 1st-fill Bourbon barrel no.111).
Cask 1531, picture taken by Christian during sampling

Ok folks, below you find my notes, thoughts, and impressions! 

Sample no.1, nose:
At first nosing, immediately after pouring, the instant scent was peat with a zing of alcohol to it. After letting the whisky (yay, whisky!) breathe in the glass for a couple of minutes or so, I find that the scents are really deep! In the first layer there is a soft and medium bodied warm vanilla that’s teaming up with the sweetness of vanilla fudge (cube candy). There is also melted butter reminding me of of the cookies drömmar, and also evident vanilla custard. In the second layer I find fruitiness; soft pear lemonade and a mix of full-bodied lemon and orange peel with hints of zest. In the third layer everything is very robust: we have grassy and heavy peat (highland peat), metal (industrial peat), old leather intermingling with fat almond paste, sweet and soft liquorice candy, alcohol fumes that are smooth but present, and finally a light touch of gunpowder and/or post fire cracker/fireworks. 

Sample no.2, nose:
Ooh, nosing this one really makes me want to taste it immediately! (have, to, recist… trying, really, hard…). Well, this is the real stuff folks! Medium woodiness, cigar box, cedar wood, a slight whiff of cinnamon stick, old coastal/peated whisky matured in european oak sherry cask, dark red cherries, lemonade (mixed strong) made from cherries and blackcurrants, an acidity from dark fruits, a wonderful presence of medium heavy silky subdued peat, old earth floor cellar with traces of light mould. Wow, just wow. Appears as to be whisky matured for a long time (15yo?), and that my friends is just absolutely bonkers.

Sample no.1, taste:
Starts off on a really wonderful, and quite powerful, peatyness. The peat is both sea-salty, grassy (very much so), and has citric/acidulous elements. Furthermore the peat is dry, quite a heavy dryness actually. The alcohol is strong. Before the dryness of the peat hits my mouth with all its intensity there are whiffs of an elegant and enticing vanilla creaminess playing alongside just a whiff of honeydew melon. Very interesting indeed, judging from the nose of the whisky I did actually not at all think that it would be this peaty. I’d definitely say that the peatyness plays the first violin here, and I am surprised that the fruitiness that I found on the nose was not given more “room” here in the taste. 

Sample no.2, taste:
Completely bonkers for sure and absolutely the real stuff, I simply cannot believe that this whisky is just three years old! There is a punch from the alcohol, but it is not an alcohol taste that at all signals that this whisky is young or “un-mature” (as is often my experience with the alcohol in other young Swedish whiskies that I’ve tried). Almost everything present on the nose is present in the taste (the exceptions are cinnamon stick and mould in cellar). In addition there is also milk chocolate, a seducing honey-esque vanilla that is very dark indeed, and traces of violet candy and cold rosehip soup in the distant. Also, the peat is stronger in the taste than it is on the nose, and all in all this whisky really does taste very much like an old coastal/peated whisky matured in european oak sherry cask, but with the addition of a nice bite of woody tannins wrapping it all up.
Some reflections to sum up:
As I’ve said a couple of times in this post, and many a times in my different previous posts on Agitator, I simply can’t believe that the low age of this stuff noses and tastes so much older than it actually is (very mature). My favorite out of these two so far is absolutely the chestnut which could be bottled very soon but at the same time it is by no means "over-matured". The bourbon one could also be bottled soon but I think I will give it a little bit more time in the cask in order for it to become more elegant and "simmer down" just a tad on the peatyness. In conclusion, wow! As soon as I have had my 2nd shot of c19-vaccine I'll visit the distillery straight away to check up on the progress/further maturation and discuss with Oskar and Christian the different possibilities for doing some bottling.  

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Picture taken by Christian during sampling