The “Landscape of Taste” is an exciting territory to explore. While traveling it, you will pass hills of peat, gardens of fruit, fields of spice, forests of wood, clouds of smoke and a myriad of other oh-so-lovely domains. But how do I enter this mystical realm, you might ask. Well. One way is via the many-faceted “Landscape of Taste” series, courtesy of German whisky company Whic.de. In this article, I will share with you my impression of four whiskies from that range. They come from distilleries as diverse as Ardmore, Glengoyne, Old Pulteney and Tobermory. And they cover a spectrum of flavors going from sweet to fruity to sherried to smoky. No matter what personal preferences you have, I am sure you will find a nice drop among them.
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • Islay cask finish • 46% • 94 bottles)
I am not surprised that the first sniff is rather peaty! To amplify the natural smokiness of this 10-year-old Ardmore, the spirit was granted an extra maturation in an ex-Islay cask. The result is a puffy, phenolic nose with a certain greasiness and an underlying fruitiness. Imagine green apples and crisp pears being served in an emergency room alongside marinated pork flanks and pineapple-spiked curry sauce. After the sniffing, the mouth feel and taste come a bit unexpected The medical smoke remains, but the meaty and greasy qualities have vanished. Instead, there are light fruits (melons, pears), grassy notes (hay, clover), sweet flavors (marzipan, honey) and also sourish aromas (apple rings, citrus juice). The refreshing finish is of good length. It has tingling lemon and kicking spearmint as well as tree bark, honey cake and cigarette puff. One thing I like about Ardmore is its chameleon-like nature. Especially the distillery’s single casks keep surprising me with versatile flavor profiles and out-of-the-ordinary sensations. This exciting “Landscape of Taste” expression does that, too!
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • Hogshead • 58% • 94 bottles)
Hogsheads are amazing. On paper, they are not the most spectacular vessels. But in practice, they often produce incredible scents and flavors! Take this Glengoyne 12 Years Old, for example. It opens with a soft, smooth nose full of cotton candy, vanilla sauce, lime zest, quince jam and honey on toast. On the tongue, it feels full and voluminous with a good strength and a juicy fruitiness leaning towards the tropical. Among others, I taste peaches, pineapples, oranges, passion fruits … even kakis. There is also some buttermilk as well as caramel creme and white chocolate. The pleasing aftertaste is both impressive and harmonious. It has a lot of citrus and vanilla, but also different light-colored fruits like yellow plums, green grapes and unripe bananas. This lovely Highlander (the Glengoyne distillery is located in the Highlands whereas the warehouses across the road reside in the Lowlands) is 100 per cent up my alley. I totally dig it!
Old Pulteney 11yo
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • Sherry finish • 56.5% • 186 bottles)
The Old Pulteney distillery lies so far up north, it is closer to Highland Park than Glenmorangie. Its whisky is known and loved around the world for its briny, sea-shaped character. When asked about the most striking notes in an Old Pulteney dram, whisky fans often recite romanticized sensations like maritime breezes, harbor planks or spit tobacco. In this 11-year-old single cask bottling by Whic.de, the spirit’s seaside origin is clearly noticable, too. The intense smell of salt-laden air meets sweeter notes from the sherry finish: burnt almonds, sugared strawberries and hard candy. The heavy flavors go into a similar direction. When I bellow a sip o’ this Pult’ney in my mouth, I get creamy nougat, dark brambles, mushy plums, saltened licorice, crumbled brittle and grainy pumpernickel. And when I swallow it, I am treated to the thick and dense notes of marmalade, tobacco, chocolate and walnuts. At this stage, I also taste the pumpernickel again. Like the other components of the memorable finish, the dark bread is sturdy, heavy and lasting.
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • Sherry cask • 65.4% • 218 bottles)
Weighing in at an overwhelming 65.3 per cent ABV, this youthful Tobermory is a real force of nature! The sherry cask, in which it was matured, has a tough time standing up to the stormy spirit. Neither the color nor the smell or the taste yell “sherry bomb”. Instead, I get cooked apples, burnt cookies and vanilla powder on the nose. And more apples as well as lime, brittle and honey on the tongue. The aftertaste – brash and powerful – has fruit puree, lemon slices and ginger roots. No doubt: This one’s a tough beast to tame – especially if you are bold enough to face it without a splash of water as your secret weapon. You think you can handle a boisterous island malt with a wild-as-the-waves character and a knock-out ABV? Give it a shot!
Ardmore 10yo (Single Malt / Highlands/ Islay cask finish / 46% / ~50 Euro)
Glengoyne 12yo (Single Malt / Highlands/ Hogshead / 58% / ~85 Euro)
Old Pulteney 11yo (Single Malt / Highlands / Sherry finish / 56.5% / ~89 Euro)
Tobermory 9yo (Single Malt / Islands/ Sherry cask/ 65.4% / ~70 Euro)
*** Whisky samples kindly provided by Whic.de ***