I’m breaking all my usual rules in this review. I am not one who tends to review too many independent bottlings or limited releases, the main reason being that I personally see it as more important to review bottles the reader has the opportunity to purchase, if they should choose to. Also, I rarely open a bottle immediately, and once I do, I like to spend time getting to know the whisky over the course of a few weeks before reviewing it – that’s the beauty of owning a full bottle, you don’t need make a judgement from one solitary experience, like you may have to with a sample.
If there is something interesting about a release which may no longer be available, I will review it. For example, there may be a new independent i’ve not come across previously, or a rare independent bottling from a distillery that usually gives us average quality core releases. Not taking into account my brief dalliance with reviewing old miniatures, this year I have reviewed 16 bottles, with only 2 being whiskies you can’t pick up from the shelf right now. I usually save the harder to find whiskies for Twitter and Instagram only. You lucky buggers!
The bottle I am reviewing here is unusual in that I DID open it immediately, and I AM reviewing after less than a week of popping the cork. Not my usual method, but while it is still available to buy and something I believe is very noteworthy, I feel it best to strike while the iron is hot. Unlike a core range release from a distillery, this one won’t hang around for an almost infinite amount of time. Of course, not spending weeks getting to know the bottle means my thoughts may change in certain areas as the liquid inside the bottle oxidises and I get to know it better, but I would be surprised if that opinion was to alter too much. I have spent a few evenings with this up to this point, and am happy with my personal assessment, which is what any review is.
I would say the contents of this bottle are a complete mystery, but one retailer who I won’t mention by name, did give the game away, before changing their description on more than one occasion to something incrementally more vague each time they altered it. It would feel wrong of me to blurt out that information publicly, as it was clearly an error, but I will say one thing about this blend; it has a very, very high malt content. I think that’s fine to say. I’ve said it any way!
This is Batch 1 of a blended whisky that Thompson Brothers are planning on keeping as part of their range. I am not sure if the intention is for it to be sherry cask matured whisky with each release, or if it will change depending on what is available at the time. It is available directly from Thompson Brothers for £34, but their shipping fees I have to say are rather excessive. Royal Mile Whiskies also have it for £33.95 at time of writing. Other retailers may well have stock in the coming days and weeks. With the speed Thompson Brothers releases fly off the shelves – and in many cases are balloted – it may sell fairly quickly, but I believe the out-turn of this batch is around 1000 bottles, so it should be pretty obtainable; being labelled a blend, rather than a single malt, will also help extend its shelf-life.
Thompson Brothers Blended Scotch Whisky Aged Over 6 Years – Review
Nose : When I first put my nose to the glass I get sweet, dark sugar and a slight rubber note, along with juicy raisins, dates and panettone. The more you nose it, the less that initial dark sugar and rubber shows itself, and those dried fruits, along with orange, caramlised pineapple and lychee come forward. Next we get the chocolate, which is something of a signature with this whisky. There’s some slightly dusty cocoa powder, along with a quality, high cocoa content milk chocolate. We also get polished leather shoes, and a light beefy seasoning, like you would get in a packet of instant noodles, and balsamic vinegar, but its mostly the fruit which shines here.
Palate : Plenty of sweet and bitter orange, along with root ginger, treacle toffee, raisins, prunes and a mix of stewed red fruit. I always feel lazy writing stewed red fruits, but its fairly common from a sherry cask, and those red fruits aren’t distinctly individual here, but very much present, so i’m saying it. Then comes this whisky’s party piece – the chocolate. It’s a big hit of high quality chocolate truffles dusted in cocoa powder. That may sound very specific, but it’s what makes it such a good note. There’s fresh espresso coffee and chocolate covered cocoa beans, with a hint of chilli spice in the background, which works really well with the chocolate and coffee.
The chocolate continues nicely into the finish and becomes more creamy, along with hazelnut, leather, a slight metallic note and charred oak.
Conclusions : Price will always be a factor when I score a whisky, and this is certainly very well priced indeed, and experiencing the quality in the glass gives this blend further kudos. As I mentioned previously, the malt content is high, and on taste I certainly can’t pick up any signs of a grain whisky component. The whisky is labelled as being ‘Aged over 6 years’, perhaps suggesting some of the whisky is significantly older, but that is all conjecture.
The nose is good, and I didn’t expect to find the tropical pineapple and lychee. If I am being honest, its my long suffering and non-whisky drinking wife who suggested lychee, and i’m running with it! However, its the palate which wins the day. The initial fruity notes, leading into the chocolate truffle and coffee, which lingers into the finish is a lovely combination, and my favourite part of this whisky. It’s very moreish too, and it won’t be one which lingers on my shelf for a great deal of time.
I’m trying to think of other whiskies which are as good or better for the same money, and I don’t think you will find much, and certainly not anything from a sherry cask. Glencadam 10, Ledaig 10 and Arran 10 are all very good whiskies, and are in a similar ball park in terms of price, but mostly bourbon cask matured. Bunnahabhain 12 is perhaps closer, with it being a mix of sherry and bourbon casks, but I think this is a better whisky. Ex-bourbon cask maturation is usually my favourite, but sometimes you want something richer, and this fits that bill.
With the global financial situation looking ever more precarious each day, whisky of this quality and price should be celebrated with plenty of enthusiasm. It’s a cracking drop.
Score : 8/10 Excellent
Three Word Review : Fruit. Chocolate. Coffee.
(Score descriptions can be found in the About page)
ABV : 46%
Non-chill filtered : Yes
Natural Colour : Yes
Maturation : Matured in sherry casks
Region : Unspecified
Colour : Russet