The nose on this is a study in suggestibility. I say this because it smells red. Before Bill can elbow me, I explain that this has a real 99 Luftballons aspect, an almost Raise the Red Lantern cinematic quality to it. But he’s not buying it. The other thing that leaps out of the nose is the exceedingly malty dimension. “Grains aplenty” I say to myself, and that strikes the nail on the head. Now fruit emerges. Apricots? No, it’s something deeper. Stewed blood orange shipped on ice floes right into Venice, to the astonishment of tourists.
The mouth delivers immediately on these deep and dark notes, but without the citrus. I find instead that it’s a fish tank treasure chest into which real, albeit miniaturized, riches are stored. I open it to discover a spice fog that’s ½ inch thick coating my tongue in the happiest way. Anise, mace, clove, cinnamon, tarragon, thyme. All are so tightly integrated, like Borromean rings. I have the feeling that I’m a fusion restaurant where the three chefs, all brothers, cannot agree on anything. I order the tandoori 43-spice scallops puff pastry terrine tagine and hope for the best.
The finish has that felted wool mallets-on-a-vibraphone thing that really gets me excited. In my dream, Milt Jackson somehow balances thirteen mallets between his two hands and begins an impossible thirty-second-note triplet crescendo with harmonies on top of harmonies. The explosions into the mouth remind me of a Warhol-like homage to shipping pallets. They are made with scrupulous care with slow-growth, kiln-dried pine lumber cut to exceed NASA tolerances, and held in place with fruitcake dowels.
On the scale of interesting facts about Borromean rings–
The Nikka Pure Malt Red is that fact that no two rings are linked, so to cut one is for all of them to fall apart. I’d like to think that the Nikka Pure Malt Red is a similar study in integration and the strength that comes from unity.