Monday, May 5, 2014

Whisky Review: Blue Hanger 7th Release

Blue Hanger is a series of blended malts put together by Berry Brothers & Rudd, each with a different recipe.

As far as I can gather, this particular release is composed of one ex-bourbon hogshead of 1992 Bruichladdich, one ex-sherry butt of 1990 Bunnahabhain, four ex-bourbon hogsheads of 1997 Miltonduff, and two ex-bourbon hogsheads of peated 2006 Bunnahabhain. So the mix is dominated by teenage Speyside whisky, which is accented by older unpeated Islay whisky and a healthy dose of rather young peated Islay whisky.

This was a 2013 US-only release, unlike every other Blue Hanger, which have been for the UK market. It was bottled at a respectable but not overwhelming 45.6%, without chill filtration or coloring.

Thanks to Ian of PDXWhisky for the sample.

Blue Hanger 7th Release

Nose: savory and oak-y, with accents of dry wood smoke, salty bacon, and caramel, minor sherry influence. After adding a few drops of water, the oak becomes less pronounced, with the focus shifting towards the malt and peat, with hints of new make poking out.

Taste: also savory, with an undercurrent of sweet grassy caramel and overtones of floral peat smoke, barrel notes throughout - wood spices and char, malt comes in near the back. After dilution, some of the grassiness becomes root vegetables and new make spirit, the sweetness becomes more pronounced, 

Finish: dry peat smoke over barrel char and malt

While I think this was a good concept, the execution left a little bit to be desired. While I like peated Bunnahabhain, most of what I've tried has come from the experimental 1997 batch. I feel like this blended malt would have been significantly improved if one of the casks of young peated Bunnahabhain had been swapped out for a hogshead of 1997 peated Bunnahabhain. This would have both given the peat smoke more complexity and reduced the new make notes that disrupted the experience for me. This goes double if the peated 1997 Bunnahabhain had been from an ex-sherry cask. I really enjoy the interplay of sherry and peat, so I would have enjoy more sherry influence in the mix.

So, overall, while I like this idea of this whisky, I don't enjoy the experience enough to drop $100 on a bottle. The price is justified by the old Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain, but I'll give it a miss. You may enjoy it more than I did, but I would lean towards trying a sample before you buy it, unless you're very sure that you're OK with some new make notes in your whisky.

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