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Tasting Notes: Thompson Bro’s: Dornoch Single Malt Whisky: Cask 54

By Alcoholandaphorisms
Tasting Notes: Thompson Bro’s: Dornoch Single Malt Whisky: Cask 54

Thompson Bro’s: Dornoch Single Malt Whisky: Cask 54 (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 55.5% ABV)

Visual: Light gold. Thick and slow streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Peppery oak. Waxy. Dry. Dried pineapple. Light charring. Light vanilla. Water brings out more tropical fruit.

Body: Tingling alcohol. Apricot. Dry oak. Peppery. Lightly waxy. Light kiwi. Dry toffee. Light pineapple. Water makes fruitier, a kind of halfway point between dried apricot and just more apricot. Clotted cream. Caramelised brown sugar – creme brulee. Cinnamon.

Finish: Peppery. Chinese five spice. Dry. Lightly waxy. Dry white chocolate. Water adds light brown sugar.

Conclusion: Well, the night impossible to get Dornoch distillery whisky now sits in my hands. How can it live up to its reputation? Without water it actually does pretty well. Neat it is lightly spicy, lightly waxy – there is a huge range in the spice flavours but never too intense. In a way it reminds me of the Indian approach to spice in curry – unlike UK expressions not concentrating on heat or intensity, instead on delicious flavor. Like that but with spice flavor use in whisky.

Behind that it is sweet, with hints of that bourbon aging in a set of tropical fruit notes.

So, I say that is how it is neat. Does that mean water ruins it?

Nope. With water this becomes amazing instead of just very good. It had all you had before but now sweeter, even the spice comes across sweeter, more cinnamon like than savoury, but it still has a large spice range. Also much more sweet fruits in a way that makes me think of its native Highland style meeting a touch of Speyside influence in how it comes across with the Highland weight meeting a touch of Speyside sweetness and fruit. Heck there is even a clotted cream like note that is balanced against by the strength of the main whisky.

Weighty, delicious and opens up so much with water. This is so easy to drink and so rewarding. Oh yes this lives up to its reputation.

Background: Well this was a freaking surprise. First whisky up at Independent Spirit’s Uber Whisky tasting, the final tasting of the year. This one had not been listed before the start so caught me completely by surprise. Dornoch is a tiny distillery, and one of the many new distilleries of recent years. Its whisky is darn hard to get hold of, you have to enter a ballot each time from the distilleries website to get a chance to buy some and I never have seen any before now. I had tried some of Thompson Brother’s independent bottlings and blends before, the owners of Dornoch Distillery and they have been pretty darn good so far, so had high hopes. If I heard right this is one of only 178 bottles in this batch. However my hearing was suffering a bit at the time of the tasting so that may not be accurate. This was aged 100% in bourbon wood and released at cask strength. As always at tasting like this I was distracted and having fun so my notes may not be the best, but I tried to do what I could.

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