Every now and then, the fine folks at Whic.de send me a whisky sample. Usually, I try to make sure that the received drams don’t stay with me too long before I try them. Nevertheless, I end up being late most of the time. It is not my fault though. After all, the vast majority of single cask releases by Whic.de sell out very quickly; sometimes within days, sometimes within hours. There’s a number of reasons for this: First, Whic.de is one of the leading whisky mailorders here in Germany. As such, the company has a strong, dedicated fanbase. Second, its releases – which span across different series such as Amazing Whiskies, War of the Peat, Tarot or Gorgons – are often strictly limited and highly collectable. And third, the spirit inside the eye-catching bottles is usually of damn good quality. All of these points are also valid for the two bottlings that I will introduce in the following, namely a 12 years old Bunnahabhain called “III: The Empress” from the Tarot series and a 13 years old Secret Highlands monikered “Christmas Special” from the Amazing Whiskies line. Both were well-received by the community, both provide lotsa great aromas and flavors, and – I am sorry to tell you, folks – both are no longer officially available. So if you like what you read, you will either have to observe the secondary market with a watchful eye or strike quickly the next time Whic.de releases a similar bottling. If you decide to go for either option, I wish you good luck and much success!
Bunnahabhain 12yo “III: The Empress” (Tarot Series)
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • Islay • 54.7% • 709 bottles)
The red-gold shine of The Empress’ gown hints at the fact that she took a look nap amidst sherry-soaked wood. The same applies to the scent, which is warm, embracing and full of rich aromas: Soft honey cake, strong English marmalade, dark chocolate bites, toasted walnuts, and overripe garden fruits. These whiffs are very much alive, but they also feel as if a dry layer of silk was shrouded around them. The taste is first and foremost characterized by a golden honey sweetness and a full-bodied vanilla creaminess. Along with these lead notes goes an assortment of fruits, both yellow (peach, kaki) and red (raspberry, red apple). They appear to be soft rather than crunchy. Other flavors I get are toffee, citrus, cocoa, and – atop it all – a pinch of salt. When gulped down, this unpeated single malt from Islay-based Bunnahabhain Distillery gets fresher. Many of the afore-sensed fruits make a return: the peaches, the apples, and the oranges (from the jam). At this stage, however, they are juicier than before. Furthermore, the lasting finish has honey, zest, and herb – all wonderfully balanced out against each other. In total, the rich sensations provided by The Empress create a round, appealing experience that really deserves to be called “the gentle taste of Islay”.
Secret Highlands 13yo “Christmas Special” (Amazing Whiskies Series)
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • Highlands • 61.7% • 329 bottles)
Wow! The first sniff feels as if I would stick my nose right into a busy bee-hive! Once the intense honey note has fully unfolded, it is joined by other alluring smells: vanilla pudding, caramel sauce, milk coffee foam, and – further back – an ounce of finely grated spice. In the mouth, this clandestine Highlander is really thick and heavy. It starts off immensely creamy, but then takes a turn into a fruity direction, too. Among others, Whic’s Secret Highlands 13 Years Old offers apple puree, banana split, and sugared grapes. These fresh and fruity flavors are counterweighed by milk coffee, caramel crumble, and hazelnut paste. The medium-length aftertaste caresses the tastebuds with pleasant notes of apricot jam, rosehip tea, brown sugar, flaky pastry, and aromatized forest honey. While the high alcohol strength gives the whisky lots of spark and stature, the mouthfeel remains soft and mellow throughout the entire degustation. And the overall appeal is great … or should I better say amazing?
Bunnahabhain 12yo “Tarot” (Single Malt / Islay / 12yo / 1st fill sherry / 54.7% / ~100 Euro)
Secret Highlands 13yo “Am. Whiskies” (Single M. / Highl. / 13yo / Sherry cask/ 61.7% / ~90 Euro)
*** Whisky samples kindly provided by Whic. ***