XOP Braeval 25yo – Douglas Laing – 57.3% abv
Info: Refill Hogshead, 9 bottles produced(!). Distilled in 1990, cask 11008. 57.35 % abv. No colouring, no chill filtering.
Colour: Rich autumnal gold.
Nose: Fairly packed nose, lots of flavours. There’s definitely an old spirity quality along with a handful of old nuts that have been sitting around for a while waiting to be cracked. A waxy quality, and old polished oak and leather notes. There’s almost a dark smoked background, possibly coming from cask char. With time it opens up much more showing some stewed, spiced winter fruit notes.
Palate: Thick, oily and reasonably powerful, what else would you expect for 57.3%. There’s some winter spices there giving it a good bit of life, but they’re not too strong as to spoil my enjoyment and they tail off as your saliva gets going. The palate feels quite old, there’s some gentle oak sap notes along with the slightly waxy leathery tones and hints of tannins.
Finish: The finish shows up those background puffs of cask char smoke a little which make it all the more interesting and long. Wood tannins are definitely there as a headline, but not to the point where they dominate. There’s some sweetness, but not overly so.
Water: Usually adding water to a dram of this age is a no no, however I do get the feeling that just a tiny drop would help to open it up, and to bring out a little more sweetness. With that in mind a drop opens the nose to more nuts, some cream and chocolate. The palate is a little easier, less spices, but still enough to make it enjoyable. It’s still thick, but it is opened up to be more creamy and the finish is still long and enjoyable. So a drop of water is a winner for me here, even though most may argue against it!
Thoughts: Only 9 bottles?! Where’d the rest of the cask go? 🙂 Grab one if you can! It’s not every day you get a 25yo whisky for well under £200 these days. It’s a quality, complex dram that completes with the best spirits around, you could almost imagine it’s a good Calados! It may be a little wood heavy for some, although a drop of water helps with that.
Available: Douglas Laing – £160 (out of stock, keep an eye out at auctions)
Thanks to Douglas Laing for the sample.