Recently I was invited to attend a master class or presentation (depends how you look at it) for The Devil’s Casks. The Devil’s Casks were already sold out at the time, so the focus was shifted more to the 23yo matured wholly in Port. I was a bit sceptical at first, since finishing in port usually makes for a harsh Whisky. This one was fully matured in Port, still it was good. I’m guessing the usual Port Pipes that are being used, hold vintage Red Port, but I think maybe these pipes were used to mature Colheita’s or Tawny Port, because the Whisky was very smooth and far from being harsh.
I only had a few sample bottles with me, so I had to make some choices. I didn’t bring the 23yo Port-Bowmore, but I did bring me a sample of this hand filled 1997 Sherry-Bowmore. This sample was used in the presentation to show (off) Bowmore matured in Oloroso Sherry Butt. Hmmm, I thought The Devil’s Casks were to show (off) Sherried-Bowmore. Strange Islay-er-landers!
Color: Copper brown.
Nose: Nice dusty and dry, thick Oloroso Sherry. Meaty and full. Plenty of everything. What a fabulous Butt this must have been. Haagsche Hopjes (a Dutch coffee bon-bon). Dark chocolate (but not the extremely bitter kind from Equador). Tar and extremely nice and mellow woody notes. I wish it had some more steam locomotive essence to it, then it would have been perfect. Hints of sour wood and saw-dust. The more it breathes, the less meaty and the dryer it gets.
Taste: Yeah, forget about The Devil’s Casks (for a now) and have a look at this! Full, sweet Sherry with a little woody bite. Burned wood from a bonfire, lots of sweet tar and only a small hint of ashes. Maybe not even very complex, but a nice heavy Sherry Whisky. No sulphur and no other funny business going on here. Even the bitterness is nice in this one. Let it breathe for a while.
Since The Devil’s Casks are fetching something in the range of 300 Euro’s and this does about the same at auctions, it would be a no brainer for me which one to take. I’ve heard Bowmore had another Sherry cask that could be hand filled and that one is said to be even better!!! (Cask #23). I should go over and fill “me” own bottle of Bowmore!
Thanks to Gordon for bringing this to The Hague, but also Rachel for putting it in his suitcase 😉