Secret Speyside 2002 16 Years Old (The Maltman)
It’s almost as dark as an Imperial stout or a porter, yet this is a sherry matured whisky. Back in 2002, this was still transparent new make. Sixteen years later, and you could easily mistake it for Pepsi Cola. Or Coca Cola, I just prefer Pepsi, so sue me.
Anyway, that’s about all I can officially tell you about it, apart from that it was bottled by Meadowside Blending as part of their The Maltman label. There’s rumours though. That this might just from that most iconic of distilleries in Speyside.
The one that saw one of their whisky’s sell for more than a million last year. The one that releases whisky in decanters made from Lalique crystal. The one that makes flippers cue for hours at the distillery whenever there’s a new limited release. The one that just opened a new distillery last year.
But I don’t do rumours. So I’d never tell you what distillery I’m talking about.
Secret Speyside 2002 16 Years Old (51.8%, The Maltman, C#900145)
Nose: An example of an in your face, dry-ish sherry bomb. Hints of wood, but also cassis, cocoa powder and aceto balsamico, with just a whiff of soy and coffee lingering in the background. There’s some maraschino cherries and banana candy as well, with the slightest touch of smoke.
Taste: Dark, intense, extreme, but with a pretty good balance. Not too dry, not too bitter, not too oaky. A little more sweetness would’ve been nice though. Decent oily mouthfeel, with a hint of demerara sugar, but also strong espresso notes, as well as bitter dark chocolate, with a touch of tobacco leaves and polished leather. Slightly spicy too, think cracked black peppercorns.
Finish: Lingering spices and tobacco notes. Long.
It’s good, sure, but it is over the top, let’s be clear about that. A whisky like this will always have a hard time reaching the true upper echelons in my book. However, I know there’s plenty of people that will go absolutely crazy over this.
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.