Secret Highland 1983 & 1987 (WhiskyNerds)
It’s always a happy occasion when another package of the WhiskyNerds arrives at Words of Whisky HQ. After all, they’re responsible for a few of my favourite bottlings from the last few years. Remember these awesomely affordable Inchmurrin? Or the more expensive yet legendary (t0 me at least) Springbank whiskies they’ve released?
You might’ve met Bram and Floris at the Whiskybase Gathering, where they’ve been one of my favourite exhibitors. Or you know them because of their involvement in the Dutch Usquebaugh Society. You could also have encountered them during their trips to Islay and Campbeltown or other parts of Scotland. Or at The Whisky Show Old & Rare or some other awesome whisky festival. Seriously, these guys are everywhere.
The WhiskyNerds don’t release a new bottling very often — maybe two or three a year. Their last release is from earlier this year, but now they’re delighting us with two new whiskies. There’s one caveat: they’re from undisclosed distilleries. Even the Nerds claim to know nothing about the provenance of their latest releases. Well, maybe not nothing, but not a lot either. Their distilled at a Highland distillery. One is from 1987 and has matured in a hogshead, while the whisky from 1983 has matured in a butt. And that’s all there is to it.
Nose: Strawberries and apricots with a touch cocoa powder and cappuccino. Subtle notes of beeswax too. Initially more on the fresh red fruit spectrum than the dark and intensely sherried side, yet there’s still room for notes of plums, menthol and leather, as well as tobacco.
Taste: Oily mouthfeel and a fairly dry arrival. A touch of damp oak, nutmeg and cloves, followed by aniseed and mushrooms. Touches of leather and chocolate.
Finish: Lingering spices and notes of bitter espresso and oak, followed by dark chocolate. The finish actually pushes this up a notch.
Nose: Warming and inviting, with soft notes of beeswax and green grape juice, but also honey and a touch of sultanas. Some port-stewed pears, and also a touch of ripe apple. Well-rounded and showing off its maturity.
Taste: Subtle spices (mainly black pepper) and with a touch of Earl Grey, slightly bitter. There’s a medium waxiness and a nice honeyed mouthfeel, followed by sweet breakfast cereals. Fairly herbacious too, as well as touches of oak. You have to search for it, but I find whiffs of nectarines and peach as well.
Finish: An encore of the spices. There’s a faint dryness as well.
Two very different whiskies that share some similarities at the same time, especially the spicy mouthfeel, sometimes bordering on bitterness. Luckily, there’s enough other flavours to balance things out.
If I had to pick just one, it would be the Secret Highland 1983. In some ways it reminds me of the Timorous Beastie 40yo, but a little less sweet, which I certainly find a good thing. But like always, it is absolutely a matter of preference. If you’re looking for something a little more sherried, then the Secret Highland 1987 might just be the one for you.
Sample provided by WhiskyNerds
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.