The Rare Casks – Abbey Whisky

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Recently I returned home to find a lovely package on my doormat – two shiny, well presented samples from Abbey Whisky. For those of you who have not come across the site Abbey Whisky is an online whisky supplier that specialises in rare and luxury Scottish Malts, but also dabbles into world whiskies as well.The samples that arrived at my door were from a new range of their own bottlings; the Rare Casks.

The Rare Casks are exclusively bottled by Abbey Whisky and so far consist of two releases. Both Releases are bottled at cask strength, non-chill filtered and both have a very limited release of only 96 bottles. The first release was a Caperdonich, aged for 17 years and sitting at 57.8% ABV. What makes this extra special is the fact that Caperdonich is no longer producing whisky and for me, I believe, it is the first one that I have tried. The second of the Rare Casks releases (and one that I can not wait to try) is a Bunnahabhain, distilled in 1989 it was then aged for 23 years in a refill bourbon cask and bottled at 44% ABV. I really like Bunnahabhain and it is an Islay that can definitely handle older expressions (the 25 is great).

The Rare Casks look good, they sound good so all that remains is if they taste good? Well lets find out:

Abbey Whisky: The Rare Casks
Caperdonich 17yo
57.8% ABV
96 Bottles
£59.50 form here

Nose: A delightful fruity sweetness envelopes the nose with a tiny spicy tinge on the end. Freshly cut grass, fresh fruit cocktail and an apricot custard danish. Moves on from the fresher sweetness to become more like candy. Cola cubes with still a bit of that spicy undertone.

Palate: I had to double check the strength of this. It does not have much of the heat and power you would expect from something sitting at 57.8% ABV. Very smooth and creamy. Pineapple cubes, campinos, a little hint of grape skins and grapefruit. I invokes images of summertime with its light citric tinge. A very lemony tart, maybe a slight citric bitterness. Beautiful.

Finish: Crisp, citric, warming and airy.

Abbey Whisky: The Rare Casks
Bunnahabhain
44% ABV
96 Bottles
£79.95 from here

Nose: A lot lighter than I was expecting. Quite oily, cooked prawns. A Faint hint of sea salt. A banana wrapped in tin foil on a BBQ. Actually quite a bit of banana. Walnut and banana bread slightly crispy. A gentle smokiness lingers in the background.

Palate: A rolling, smooth smokiness envelopes the tongue. Very delicate and soft smoke though. A gentle sweetness follows: oak and a slight vanilla cream. The smoke is now slightly medicinal with a clean citric edge.
Finish: A clear, lingering smoke with that slight lemon hint. Pleasant finish.

Overall: If I had been asked to choose one of the Rare Casks to taste before hand, I would definitely have chosen the Bunnahabhain. That would have been a huge mistake and I would have missed out on an early contender for my whisky of the year. The Caperdonich in the Rare Cask range is ridiculously good. It helps that I tasted it on a sunny day overlooking Edinburgh, as this is a summertime dram. With only 96 bottles available I may be tempted to try and snap up one. The Bunnahabhain was nice as well, although maybe a little bit lighter than what I was expecting. However, with only 96 bottles of that available as well, it may be worth picking one up as it is still a solid whisky. The Caperdonich 17 yo is my choice out of the Rare Casks range though. Looks like it could be a good range to keep an eye out for at Abbey Whisky.

Cheers,
Graeme Gardiner

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