After the Càrn Mòr, I was mostly hoping for something more. As an additional upside, I had two samples, which meant more chances to get to know it.
This whisky was distilled in 1994, aged in ex-bourbon barrel #159158, then bottled at 54.4% in 2014 without coloring or chill filtration. Samples are sold out at the WhiskyBase shop, but you can still grab a full bottle if you feel so inclined.
C&S Dram Collection Braes of Glenlivet 19 Year 1994/2014
Nose: dominated by the bourbon barrel - rather woody with a bit of char, caramel, creamy vanilla, savory/soy sauce, green malt, rolled oats, sweet cinnamon, orange peel, bubblegum, grape/brandy, peach/apricot, raspberry, and a little plastic. After adding a drop of water, the oak becomes more charred and polished, plus the malt becomes grainier and almost like corn, giving it a more overt bourbon character.
Taste: lots of honey and wood sweetness starting at the beginning, big berry, apple, and white fruit notes around the middle, then becoming more tannic and bittersweet with a bit of greenness near the back. After dilution, the oak integrates with the sweetness, the malt becomes more prominent and gains some corn character, raisins are added to the berries, and the fruit notes become stronger in general.
Finish: moderate oak and tannins, lingering malt and fruit, bittersweet, alcohol heat
This whisky is without a doubt heavily influenced by the barrel. The first go around it seemed like too much, but on the second more balance was achieved, letting the fruit flavors create a counterpoint to the oak. Being bottled at cask strength definitely helps, as the flavors are bold. In some respects I feel like this might be a good gateway malt for bourbon drinkers as the oak influence provides something of a bridge between the two styles, while the malt offers something different from a typical bourbon. It's not cheap, but given its age and the quality of the spirit, I'm fairly inclined to grab a full bottle.
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