The Reference Series by Master of Malt, part 2.2

The second part of the second post on the Reference Series by Master of Malt, this time I’m trying II.2 and II.3, to which I still have to look up the introduced variables.

Reference II.2

Reference II.2

I just did that and the addition to II.2 is some heavily peated malt, where II.3 has added caramel. I saw that last one coming since the color was really different from the others, and after yesterday’s post the variable couldn’t be the use of more sherried whiskies, or sherry finishing since that was already done.

Let’s get to it.

Reference II.2

The raw scents on the nose are back, like in II. I missed those in II.1. Quite peaty and spirity, less woody again with some spices. Pepper and heather, but also rather floral. The palate is light with the same spiciness as on the nose. Fairly young tasting again, with heather, pepper, some licorice and maybe ginger. Some smoke, vanilla and caster sugar. The finish is a bit less raw with more flavors of barley and spices. Peaty, some oak, licorice and rather long.

Reference II.3

Reference II.3

Reference II.3

Again, rather light on the nose, warming but a bit more ‘flat’ than the previous one. The peatiness (compared to II) is diminished too. The heather is gone at first and it takes a long time for it to come out. Sweeter with some chocolate tones, and raisins. The palate is spicy with light peat (more like II than II.2, mind). Oak, sweetness and some spices, but again, less than previously. Slightly drying. The finish has the familiar spiciness again with hints of pepper. The finish is shorter and sweeter.

In this case I quickly identified the changes made to the whisky. Of course, the 10% heavily peated malt over other malt (lightly peated? unpeated? Help me out here, Master of Malt!) changes the profile, but not as much as I’d expected. It’s noticeable, but it doesn’t change everything.

The caramel then. This is a highly debated pet peeve of many whisky enthusiasts. I think I’m against it now too. For some whiskies it probably doesn’t matter as much as for others, but I did realize that in this case, it makes quite a difference. The whisky has less depth, there’s more sweetness that diminishes other flavors. I find this worrying, even though everybody in the industry says it doesn’t matter.

Anyway, I prefer II.2 and II.1 over the others. II.3 is the one I like least since that shows so much less depth that there just isn’t much to it. This has, again, been a rather interesting experiment and one that I hope will shed some light on industry practices that are usually shrouded in mist, or at least not many people are too clear about it. I wonder when the chill-filtering range will come out and will definitely get me some samples then!

Reference II.2, 47.4%, 50 cl, £ 56.95 / € 71.25
Reference II.3, 47.2%, 50cl, £ 55.95 / € 70

Master of Malt sent me those samples to review. Thanks guys!

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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