We whisky fans are an unashamedly geeky bunch. Some of us are more geeky than others to be fair but beneath our malty and sometimes peaty exteriors lies a nerdy centre.
Some of my favourite tasting experiences have been deconstructions, verticals or side by sides so when a surprise package from independent bottlers AD Rattray arrived on my doorstep I found that something exciting was lurking within.
What if you took a cask, split it between several different octaves specifically constructed from various cask types and then left it for an additional short period of maturation?
Wouldn’t it be great to try them all side by side and get a real feeling for the impact of each type of cask on identical spirit.
Oh, and wouldn’t it be great if they were non-chill filtered and at cask strength too?
Well that’s exactly what Rattray’s have done with their Octave Project. There were initially three different casks involved in the project. One from Arran (which is the one we will be focusing on) as well as ones from Old Pulteney and Bunnahabhain.
In the case of the Arran they took a 6 year old whisky matured in a bourbon barrel and split it into octave casks (approx 50 litres) specially constructed with staves from Rum, Rioja, Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez casks. The whisky was further matured for 5 months before bottling.
Anyway, on with the experiment…
Arran,(AD Rattray),6y.o,Original Bourbon,59.3%abv, official sample, available here.
It’s a fresh feeling nose, very fresh. Strong elements of vanilla and crisp lemon. There is a pleasant sweetness which, combined with the citrus is reminiscent of lemon sherberts. There is a soft florality and a light toffee feeling. Given that this is close to 60% abv there isnt much in terms on nose prickle but its definitely there. Given time there is a slight vegetal note and a sort of soapy tang too.
The palate starts with green grape, apricots and soft peaches. There is a twist of oak intermingled with vanilla, milkybars and a slight maltyness. Vaguely resembles a distant Crème brulé.
The finish is dominated by the vanilla and the wood notes but not excessively so. There is a slight pepperiness and a curious perfume note arises. For the first time the higher abv is noticeable with a bit of heat on the tail end.
Arran,(AD Rattray),6y.o,Oloroso finish,57%abv, official sample, available here.
The nose begins with the usual vanilla, this time mixed with touches of ginger and cantucci biscotti. There is a prominent sultana note here along with a slight twist of orange.
The palate is dry and tannic, ginger is here again along with a strong spiced influence. There is a nice nutty feeling too, mixed with cedar wood a faint tobacco element. There is a nice butteriness here which makes the mouthfeel quite thick, big and bold.
The finish is flavoursome but there is a slight cliff edge here. It is still pleasant but is more just a continuation of the palate. Tangy and tannic with some light oak.
Arran,(AD Rattray),6y.o,Rioja finish,57.6%abv, official sample, available here.
read full article @ source amateurdrammer.com