I don’t mind admitting I had no idea what Saturnalia was until I looked it up when I needed to write a preamble to the Saturnalia 20 Years Blended Malt from Whiskysponge. Turns out I should’ve done that bare minimum research earlier (a Google search). Now my blog post on this new(-ish) release is a few days late.
In short, Saturnalia is an old Pagan and Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn. It was originally held on December 17th, so my post isn’t as timely as it could’ve been. But the festivities were later expanded through to December 23rd, which vindicates me just enough.
The Saturnalia 20 Years Blended Malt is Whiskysponge’s commentary on the commercial BS that is Black Friday, Cyber Monday and whatever else is supposed to convince consumers they’re getting a great deal. Here’s a little excerpt from the product description of the Saturnalia 20 Years Blended Malt from the Decadent Drinks website:
Step ye merrily beneath ye mistletoe of Jesus and spendeth thy coinage upon ye sacred plastic trinkets of yonder black Fryday and other sacred money fumblings of the run up to Christmas and all her divinely anointed food waste…
The cynic and contrary thing for Whiskysponge to do would be to release a hyper-expensive NAS whisky, but I’m glad they didn’t. Instead the Saturnalia 20 Years is a blended malt made up from a 2001 refill sherry butt of a mystery blended malt and a 2000 refill hogshead of Glenrothes. And it is pretty affordable too.
Saturnalia 20 Years Blended Malt (47.2%, Whiskysponge, 868 bts.)
Nose: Opens up on juicy fruits like plums and raspberries, but also a touch of vanilla custard and caramel, followed by a dusting of cocoa powder and orange zest. Finally a whiff of crushed mint leaves and burlap. Good balance, quite dynamic and it shares some similarities with a well-aged Cognac. Taste: Slightly herbal and maybe not as fresh as the nose. Some oak shavings, pencils and a certain spiciness, highlighted by cloves and cracked black peppercorns. There are touches of cherry syrup, blackberries, gingerbread and figs as well. Finish: A tad dry with a whiff of fennel, burnt toast and finally some forest fruits and caramel.
Whiskyponge's Saturnalia 20 Years Blended Malt appears somewhat older than it is, but that's also because of the drying, oaky elements on the palate. At 'just' 20 years of age, I could be convinced this should've been bottled a few years ago. It nevertheless is a rewarding whisky and presents good value. Still available here.