Whiskydudes is back with a fourth batch. The summer releases include another chapter of the Staoisha experiment, but also a high-octane Glenrothes and a 12-year-old blended malt dubbed The Bastard.
While the firstthreebatches from Whiskydudes were anything but a dime a dozen, they did mature in relatively straightforward casks. Sure, in the past they’ve thrown in a few quarter casks and an Amontillado sherry cask. But even though they’ve shown a knack for re-racking whiskies into quality casks, Whiskydudes releases have usually not strayed far from ex-bourbon and ex-sherry maturation.
That changes now. Two of the new releases have been finished in either a Ruby Port or a Tawny port cask. Port maturation is usually divisive and quite often results in love-it-or-hate-it results. And that’s exciting.
Glenrothes 2009 12 Years (63.8%, Whiskydudes, C#8965)
Nose: Whiffs of rose petals and a candy-esque touch as well (Love Hearts). Also ripe, juicy fruits like plums, gooseberries and strawberries, but also brown sugar. Surprisingly gentle at times, but then sometimes slightly prickly as well, which is no surprise given the abv. Water brings out some more floral notes, but also a touch of hemp rope. Certainly not too wine-y so far. Taste: A sweet arrival and somewhat velvety mouthfeel with dates, nougat and molasses, but also a decent pinch of white pepper. There’s a note of mocha and toasted oak too. Water brings out an even sweeter side, but also highlights spices like nutmeg and cloves. Finish: Lingering cloves, a whiff of fennel and coconut sugar. Long.
Certainly a challenging whisky, but ultimately rewarding. Playing around with water is highly recommended.
The Bastard No.1 2009 12 Years (63.3%, Whiskydudes, C#21A)
Nose: This initially reminds me of young-ish Macallan with its touches of copper coins and sweetness (but also some struck matches). There’s sweet cinnamon, Werther’s Original and fudge, with some maltiness, charred oak and dried red fruits in the background. It grows on me, but is certainly more wine-y than the Glenrothes. Taste: Quite a sticky mouthfeel. While the struck matches reappear, there is also some clove, black pepper and burnished caramel, with just a touch of pralines. Water calms things down, brings out touches of strong coffee, cinnamon and toffee. Finish: Spicy, sweet and red fruit marmalade. Medium to long.
Not a winner entirely and difficult to judge, even over two sittings, but there’s enough to explore here to keep one interested.
Staiosha 2014 7 Years (58.7%, Whiskydudes, C#10166D)
Nose: Incredibly dense and rich. Tar, peat smoke, dark chocolate, a touch of charred beef and roasted nuts as well. There are some brighter fruits in the background, like strawberries, blackcurrant and redcurrants. Also whiffs of black pepper and nutmeg. As intense as they come, but in a good way. Taste: Creamy and oily with an assortment of tar, peat smoke, charcoal and asphalt, but also some dried seaweed and maybe even some iodine. Just a pinch of pepper, cocoa and some more blackcurrants. Just a whiff of sulphur. Finish: Somewhat medicinal, fairly peaty and coastal too. Long.
If you enjoyed the previous Staoisha from Whiskydudes, there's no reason not to add this to your shelf.
Both the The Bastard No.1 and the Glenrothes are interesting exercises in cask strength whisky. Many whisky connoisseurs swear by bottling at cask strength. Edwin, who runs Whiskydudes, caters to them. He only bottles at cask strength and I can’t find much fault with his reasoning. Edwin gladly leaves the tinkering with water up to his customers. He wants them to have a choice: drink at cask strength or add water if they deem it necessary.
However, in the cases of The Bastard No. 1 and the Glenrothes I can’t help but feel both would’ve thrived at a lower strength. There’s cask strength and then there’s the strength these two have been bottled at. I find that drinking a spirit at 63% is rarely not a challenge. There’s a few exceptions that work at super high strengths. But I usually don’t mind it when bottlers make such a decision for me.
The new releases will go on sale from September 1st at the Whiskydudes partner stores.