Ooh, this noses up like the time I smoked crumbled-up cheroot tobacco through an onyx water pipe filled with apple cider. It’s all sweetness, richness, and appleness. There’s also cedar and sandalwood slates rubbed together by fat, calloused hands that have just been washed with baby shampoo. I’d swear I smell the brine of the world’s best pickles.
The mouth starts with a compelling grilled green pepper note. It’s super spicy, with a light sting from a catfish whisker. Green tomatillo salsa with chunks of whitefish setting up nicely as if in a ceviche. What an incredible barrel this is! My checklist of delights is longer than an ambitious nine-year-old’s Christmas wish list. Creamy: check. Vanilla: check. An earthy bass note: check again! Is there flintiness as well, or is it the potting soil that had been irrigated with copper downspouts? I decide to place a check in both boxes. Discount double check!
The finish has all of the restraint of a distance runner crossing the finish line while the competition hasn’t come out of the final turn. Consider this the diminuendo of the mouth. Attar of ashes. Za’atar of sashes. A bit of smoky woodiness is in there, I think, but more than anything that adds a layer of intrigue into otherwise agreeable negotiations.
On the scale of of world-class distance runners–
The Classic Cask Bunnahabhain 18 Year 1997 is Haile Gebrselassie–Still holder of the world record at 20,000 m, winner of the Berlin marathon in four straight years, and having won all of the road races he entered in 2005, Gebrselassie and this whisky are splendid bundles of achievement and endurance.
–Our thanks to Lauren Mayer and Spirit Imports for the sample!