The Schtick: Howdy, all. This is sort of a fun review that’s near and dear to my heart. I make it a point to work on targeted blending, and spend a lot of time trying to understand how to generate blends that are both good, and on profile for certain projects. This was a tinker I worked on that I put in the “this could go so well, or so bad” category, and after marrying period, I realized I was quite fond of it. I’ve been drinking through it over a couple months and wanted to give it a review. I don’t intend to score it, because I don’t think reviewing and scoring something I had a hand in solely picking or creating makes a lot of sense, additionally because it is not sold. I think it’s still valuable to talk about it, so I will remark more on what I learned and whether I think it was a success or a failure overall, rather than a concrete ranking.
This release is sort of a funky one. I prepped a mini barrel with a 2014 Cotes du Rhone for two weeks, then dumped and aged a bottle of Ardlair 6yr Signatory Vintage 2011 matured in a refill butt for 48 hours. I then dumped, bottled and let it set to marry for 6 weeks. This is the resulting product.
Distiller: Ardlair (Ardmore)
Bottler: Signatory Vintage
ABV: 63% ABV
Age: 6 Years
Source: Personal Experiment, from Personally Purchased Bottle
Nose: Caramel, buttered popcorn. Bread-y sweetness, with some yeast and dough, vanilla icing and confectioners sugar. Really rich stewed fruits, earthy pepper, bright and effervescent currants and tobacco. Very light soapstone, slate and charcoal.
Taste: Medium mouth feel. Restrained heat. Caramel, toffee, stewed fruits. Honey, apples and pears, cherries and currants, blackberry cobbler. Some mild smoke makes an entrance, playing nicely with the dessert notes and some chalky salinity.
Finish: Long, sweet and rich, but some heat here. A bit more smoke, pepper, tobacco. Seeing the fall of the fruit character here and a rise in smokey, woody, earthy notes.
Overall: Overall, I’m pleased with this product. There are some things I like and dislike, though. I am labeling this in the success category in my logs, and will likely try it again in a year or two.
What I Like: I was really setting out to add a deep, stewed fruits, and a vibrant fruit body to a base spirit I found super heavy on caramel and buttered popcorn with a faint wisp of smoke. I think I succeeded in the nose, and was generally successful in the palate. Especially initially in the palate and the mid palate.
What I Don’t Like: This didn’t give enough flavor to the finish. Or at least not enough of what I was hoping to impart. I’m disappointed I couldn’t strike a huge clash between smoky and fruity, almost like a smoked old fashioned with cherry and orange fighting against a woody smoke note. Instead, it leaned heavily into earthy smoke, with little fruits. I don’t think this makes it bad, in fact I quite enjoyed it. But I feel like it’s worth commenting that wasn’t my goal. I chose a CDR to finish with because I like the structure and body of most Rhones and I wanted to play the earthy, dark fruits against the bright caramel and sweetness of the Ardlair.
Thanks for reading!