Blind Tasting #2: Wolfburn No. 128 (2017)
The first day of the Blind Tasting Competition wasn’t a smashing personal success, so for the second day I hoped to regroup and get a decent score. In the end I did, notching 40 out of a maximum of 100 points, which is a fine score. However, guessing the right distillery was still a tad too ambitious.
To be honest, I hadn’t much of a clue when nosing and tasting this dram. Because of a perceived sourness my mind immediately wandered to Ben Nevis and Tobermory, both of which I associate with such an aroma. I also knew that because of the light smokiness it was very unlikely it would turn out to be either of those. Since I couldn’t come up with another guess, I ended up going for an 18-year-old Ben Nevis bottled at 46 percent. Which was wrong, of course. This is what it ended up being.
Wolfburn No. 128 (46%, OB, 6.000 bts.)
Nose: Starting off on sweet notes of cookie dough and merengue, but quickly turns into a strange mix of sour cherries, wet rope and some blue cheese even. The tiniest sliver of smoke.
Taste: A wonderful, soft smokiness that I barely registered on the nose. Some subtle spices, like cloves and cinnamon, and also a gentle nutiness and light notes of milk chocolate. However, the sourness does also appear on the palate somewhat.
Finish: Lingering spices, a whiff of smoke. Medium in length.
So, a Wolfburn matured in first fill ex-bourbon quarter casks. I can’t say I found this to be an exceptional whisky. To me it lacked a certain balance, especially on the nose. I don’t know, just not exactly for me.
The malted barley for the Wolfburn No. 128 is lightly peated at 10 PPM. And it is only three years of age. Especially the last part was surprising, as I guessed it to be quite a lot older. But also the cask type was an eye-opener. Because of the subtle spices and the type of wood influence, I expected at least some European oak would’ve been used.
Still, because I guessed the right alcohol percentage and also had the whisky region right, I at least scored 40 points. Not too bad at all. Onward and (I hope) upward.
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.