Having started as an independent bottler of high-quality single malt whiskies (plus the occasional grain or bourbon thrown in between), North Star has recently also made a name for itself as a blender. Their first such bottling, Vega 23yo, took the whisky community by storm, selling out in next to no time and getting a lot of praise all across the blogosphere and beyond. Little did people know back then that this was just the beginning. Cause not even a year later, North Star’s founder Iain Croucher released another Vega expression that was no less than four decades of age! While the 40 on the label created quite a buzz, it were not the years per se that made this whisky an instant fan-favorite. It was the spirit’s super-copious, interesting and complex character. Today, I am happy to introduce you to the latest duo of blends from North Star, namely the red-as-blood sherry bomb Spica 20yo and the precious-as-hell premium pour Vega 41yo. Look up to the skies, my friends. Cause thanks to these high-percentage shooting stars, the whisky firmament is ablaze with splendor, shine and sheer superbness!
(Blended Scotch Whisky • 45.2% • 1,000 bottles)
Named after the 16th brightest star in the sky, Spica is the most recent blended Scotch whisky brand to enter to illustrious North Star portfolio. To the eye, it appears in the color of rusty copper. In the nose, it opens with an intense, uber-sherried bouquet in which fruity, spicy and sulphurous notes come together. Sugared cherries and red winegums clash with extinct sparklers and strawberry-infused vinegar. Oh yes, this is great! The palate is all about sweet raisins at first. After a short while, however, darker flavors take over: Ripe plums, charcoaled wood, natural licorice, rose hips-flavored tea and so on. Here and there, the strong but not overpowering alcohol also peek-a-boos. And then there’s the finish, which is medium-long and ablaze with fire! Once Spica has descended down our throats, it leaves us with an abundance of dried grapefruits, wild strawberries and glowing embers. This brimstony brohaha bottling does not fade away… it burns out with a bang!
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • 46.1% • 400 bottles)
When Iain Croucher asked on social media if any of his followers were keen on “a very old 3rd instalment” of the Vega blended malt, my first thought was “Dude, your last Vega bottling was 40 years of age. How do you wanna overcome that”? Half a year later, I got an answer to that question. Not only is the most recent Vega release one year older than the previous one, but also does it include spirit from two differing whisky regions. While the bulk of the recipe still consists of Speyside malts, a tad of mix does now also come from Islay. And this shows: On the palate, I recognized something that felt like a very slight hint of smoke. But first things first. This age-old whiskies aroma is sweet, lovely and complex. Heavy notes of tobacco, cinnamon, orange zest and caramel form a massive foundation on which lighter scents of pear, gooseberry, vanilla sauce and pina colada fan out. The more the whisky breathes, the sweeter it becomes. In the mouth it feels delicate and prancing. The predominantly fruity flavors include oranges, plums and currants, but also honeydew melons. Birch wood and cough candy add a certain freshness, while the aforementioned whiff of smoke provides additional texture. In regard to its nature, I found the Vega 41yo to be gallant, balanced, unobtrusive… and gooood! Its aftertaste is of considerable length. Smooth and silky, the dram goes down the throat like nectar. Still, it is not entirely sweet, but also fruity, woody, spicy and dark. Wild honey, black currants, dried spices, cold-brewed coffee, worn leather and rich oak are the last things I tasted after I swallowed this liquid Methuselah down. If only I had a full bottle of it at home to revisit it again and again and again…
Spica 20yo (Blended Scotch Whisky / Scotland / 20yo / 45.2% / ~60 Euro)
Vega 41yo (Blended Malt Scotch / Speyside & Islay / 41yo / 46.1% / ~280 Euro)
North Star @ Web: http://www.northstarspirits.com/
North Star @ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/northstarwhisky/
North Star @ Twitter: https://twitter.com/northstarwhisky/
North Star @ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/northstarwhisky/
Sansibar @ Web (German Importer): http://sansibar-whisky.com/
*** Whisky samples kindly provided by North Star ***