Blind Tasting Competition 15 – Rosebank 20, 1991-2011, 51.1% – SMWS

I’m glad we’re getting into more discernible territory regarding the whiskies. I’m still not good at getting it right, of course but at least there’s a chance now. The whisky that set me of on my nagging spree was that Lepanto Brandy cask from Deanston.

Apparently that was picked up since last year’s trip to Scotland that the club did with about 20 guys went to the distillery. Back then they liked it and Ewald wanted to see if it would be recognized.

Anyway, the competition is also seen more as an advent calendar with a competition element, but I’m not totally agreeing with that, since it’s ‘the blind tasting competition’ and not the ‘blind tasting advent calendar’. Plus, an advent calendar has 24 doors to be opened and the competition only 18 drams…

Back to today’s whisky.

Rosebank 20, 1991-2011. Image from Whiskybase

Rosebank 20, 1991-2011. Image from Whiskybase

Initially a tad thin and grassy, but it turns much more robust and rich, right away. Extremely spicy in a way of a more savory kind of baking spices. Maybe some cardamom? This is absolutely gorgeous. Some chai tea as well. If I didn’t know any better I’d say it’s Japanese. Oaky as well, without it being too much. Holy crap!

Turns much warmer and a bit sweeter as well, with a bit of air. Tarte Tatin, but also toffee, almonds and maybe a whisp of smoke?

It’s gentle on the palate, but does build up with a bit of pepper. Slightly dry but with a syrupy sweetness to it that goes in the direction of grilled pineapple. Quite some vanilla if you let it swim for a bit, but the oak keeps it in check, or so it seems.

The finish goes back to what the nose did. Spicy warmth with quite some oak. Also the fruity vanilla in the back, but much less so than yesterday. A long finish too, warming.

I really don’t have a clue what to make of this. There’s a lot of age to it I think, 25 years or so even? Maybe? It’s gentle but it doesn’t feel watered too much so I guess it’s cask strength coming in just under 50%. It does have some bite at least. Now, what to guess?

I ended up going for Cadenhead’s Longmorn 26, at 49.5% I found on Whiskybase. I tried some Longmorns from bourbon casks that had a comparable taste profile, or so my booze ridden memory tells me. This also meant I went completely wrong, and I only got some points for being close on the ABV.

The result, this being a Rosebank, is surprising to me since I didn’t get much of the floral and grassy notes associated with Rosebank, plus Rosebank on a higher age is usually still ridiculously high in ABV (The Rare Malts ones, the 25 year old from 2007).

Anyway, this whisky is absolutely gorgeous and long since sold out of course. Rosebank does that, especially the SMWS ones for some reason. A sort of bummer since I really wanted one. On the other hand, I didn’t have any budget left, and I have enough to last me a couple years, so all is not bad.

Rosebank 20, 1991-2011, 51.1%, SMWS ‘In a secret garden’.

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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