Malts of Scotland have released quite a few Heaven Hills over the last couple of years. I know there was a sherry cask finish, a regular one and this Islay cask finish. I think there also was a port finished one, but I skipped that one. I expected that one to be a bit too sweet for me.
This Islay cask one was a bit of a no brainer for me since I generally like Heaven Hill’s bourbons, I know Malts of Scotland to be a very good bottler, and my bourbon stock was running low.
Also, a 15 year old one is quite an oldie for bourbon, and if you buy an American bottling, this kind of stuff is ridiculously expensive. Somehow, this one went for € 120, which is quite acceptable in the current whisky climate.
Sweet corn at first, and quite a rich nose. Oak and a light trace of smoke. The smoke will probably slip you by if you don’t know you have to look for it. Smooth and slightly drying. Some nuts and some red fruits.
Sweet and dry on the palate, and rich. Slightly coarse, but in a good and drying way. The dryness increases with some swimming. Strong, but not sharp. Some earthy peat notes, but almost no smoke.
The finish is rich and dry, with a bit more sharpness than before. Some heat from the alcohol and oak, the latter of which is quite well represented.
As expected with an older bourbon, the oak is quite ‘present’. To say the least. This is not something I dislike, but it might not be for everyone. The smoky influence of the Islay cask has been very gently applied. It is noticeable, but you have to know what to look for. If you think it’s a regular bourbon, you’ll miss it.
So, not an overly complex bourbon, with a very, very gentle smoky influence. Still, quite a tasty dram and if you want to try an older bourbon, this is an acceptably priced one. Not really cheap though.
Heaven Hill 2001-2016, 15yo, Islay Cask Finish, 53.8%, Malts of Scotland. Available from Van Zuylen for € 120
A 15 years old Bourbon finished in Islay casks and bottled in cask strength!? This sounds amazing, even though I personally wouldn’t mind the smokiness from the casks to be a bit stronger than you described. Still, if I stumbled upon this whiskey, I’d be very curious to try it.
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