A collective tasting
Type: English Single Malt Whisky
Ageing barrel: Ex-Sherry
Added coloring: No
Owner: Blackadder International Ltd
Average price: € 120.00
Official website: www.blackadder.nu
It was 19 July 2019 when this blog was born, with its first review (Lagavulin 16yo, of course). Since then, what was a personal project has been enriched by the contributions of two friends who have brought the site even closer to what is its founding principle: the meeting of enthusiasts who exchange sensations and opinions. Our aim is to understand together rather than to make summary judgments.
And between one glass and another, we reached our 100th review without hardly noticing! What better way to celebrate this little milestone than with a collective tasting?
The three of us each had a sample of this bottle in our hands, a creation of the bottler Blackadder who granted us our first exclusive interview. Each of us will share our feelings and impressions of this dram below. We leave the conclusions to you.
It’s significant that the 100th review on WhiskyArt concerns an independent bottler like Blackadder, which makes passion and authenticity the founding pillars of its business, because they also belong to the deepest sense of the blog.
The watchword of this online space, in fact, has always been lightness, understood not as approximation or superficiality, but as a game whose essential rules are passion and authenticity. Loyal readers know that they are the backbone of every review.
The hope is that they can always be perceived between the lines, because recognising their presence remains the most beautiful compliment.
In the glass, this Blackadder, cask strength bottled at a remarkable 66.3% ABV, is a pale gold colour.
The impact of the alcohol on the nose is deadly. There’s only a vague scent of tanned leather, a faint note of acrid smoke (cigarette?) and, pressed to the bottom, a light layer of custard which, at first glance, seems to be the only contribution from the ex-sherry casks in which the spirit has spent all its 5 years of ageing. With minimal dilution, the Sherried soul seems to be freed, only partially and with great effort, from the shackles of alcohol, and pleasant notes of hazelnut and sultana reach the nostrils, while the custard gains something in thickness.
On the palate, in purity, the smoke disappears, the alcohol is less opaque than one might expect and a woody scent imposes itself on everything, telling of the extreme youth of the distillate. The slight dilution that had managed to “open up” the nose accentuates the alcoholic note in the mouth.
The finish is medium-short, woody, in its own way pleasant but monotonous.
A potentially suggestive whisky but, on balance, rather unexpressed, overwhelmed by the high alcohol content, with the dilution being advantageous, unfortunately, only to the nose.
The impression is that it was bottled too early.
I’m really impressed by the short time it has taken us to collect this amount of reviews in the small size of this blog. It’s not so much a question of numbers as it is the opportunity we’ve given ourselves to constantly put ourselves to the test with very different products. However, personal experience is not always enough, so for this 100th article we decided to do a parallel review of the same sample. The idea of choosing this bottle came both from the opportunity of interviewing the splendid Blackadder people, and from the desire to really put our tastes to the test in a group comparison with a whisky that is by no means easy. As you can judge for yourself, the outcome is quite surprising.
Amber and slightly opalescent colour of a splendid vivid hue. It should be approached very cautiously on the nose, otherwise a tingling sensation will require more than a sniff of coffee beans to pass. With aeration, the glass opens to notes of candyfloss, melted butter and orange custard. Immediately afterwards, the typical vinous character of Sherry casks manifests itself: cloves, dried fruit, resin, and a hint of oxidation.
It’s also powerful and warm on the palate, but needs to be measured carefully because the 66% is all there. The entry is very sherried, almost astringent on the sides of the tongue, with notes of cassis and cocoa butter, while on the back it is savoury and peppery, with a smoky aftertaste. If dosed carefully, you can detect hints of butter biscuit and black cherry under spirits. But be careful not to hold it too long on the tongue or it will anaesthetise it with a powerful dose of cayenne pepper. The effect is alienating and somewhat disjointed, but personally I found it very intense and characterful.
The finish, however, is a little short: the alcohol takes most of the aromas with it and reveals the youthfulness of ageing on the palate with a woody, avuncular memory.
As you can see from the other two reviews of this distillery, this is a truly extreme version of a usually very polite whisky. In this respect, it epitomises to the fullest the spirit of Blackadder in their desire to capture each distillate in uncompromising and uncomplicated expression. In some ways it’s a highly didactic experience, although it requires patience and dedication to a product that does nothing to please. Edges and faults here become characteristic traits for understanding the true nature of a distillate. Concepts such as elegance, integration of aromas, complex structure should not even be taken into consideration.
It’s hard to give simple advice: here it’s more a question of curiosity and the desire to experiment without brakes. Of course it’s not a cheap experience, but like all Blackadder it is something unique. If you like to venture into rough and unfriendly territory, you might find the right whisky for your palate here.
The whisky is light amber in colour.
After the initial (but fleeting) whiff of alcohol, the aroma on the nose becomes very soft and warm, almost like a cherry tart. Cinnamon, ripe pear, caramel and dried fruit accompany the tart. Simple but very pleasant and persuasive. In the background, a slight hint of wood.
You can obviously feel the high alcohol content on the palate and in the throat, and the mouthfeel is very vinous, with sultanas well soaked in alcohol arm in arm with hazelnut, butter biscuits, pear, black cherry, cinnamon and a hint of milk chocolate. Not very complex but drinkable.
The finish is a little short and dry, of wood and sultanas.
A fairly simple drink, which pays the price for its youth in many flaws, but overall positive: a straightforward and straightforward whisky, little elegance and a lot of passion.
Other bottlings from Blackadder in the blog:
Blackadder Peat Reek Embers Special Reserve (2018)