So, rather counterintuitively, I got excited by the Game of Thrones whiskies. Generally I steer clear of those highly marketed, media tie-in things, but in this case the media tie-in is something I was rather enthusiastic about. Of course, I wasn’t completely daft all of a sudden, so I didn’t bottle-share all of them. Also, I bottle-shared them so I didn’t end up with whole bottles.
Of course, with Scotland being north of The Wall, they couldn’t really use geography to link the distilleries to the whiskies, so they made things up. I haven’t been able to find any resemblance of logic behind the combination of a Game of Thrones house, and a distillery, so that’s a bit of a loss in my book.
Let’s not dwell on this much further. I know I’m late in reviewing these four drams, which means you probably already know they’re not very good. Some people I know were rather livid about the quality of the whisky, but I don’t think it’s that bad. They’re just a tad expensive for what you’re getting.
Clynelish, House Tyrell, 51.2%
Quite waxy, with shammy leather. Pears and apples, orchard fruits. Very Clynelish like, but after the wax, it wanes rather soon.
Sharp, with the typical Clynelish notes of apple and pears and beeswax. It’s not overly dry, but rather sharp, soicy and a tad hot.
This one’s pretty good, but very predictable. It’s Clynelish, so if it’s ‘just Clynelish’ it’s pretty good anyway. It doesn’t add anything over that though. Luckily, at € 60, this isn’t too expensive for what you’re getting.
Talisker, House Greyjoy, 45.8%
It smells like real Talisker, with brine and smoke. Apple, smoked wood, some vanilla.
Very peppery, lots of wood and a sharp smokiness. There is quite some briny coastal notes.
Very dry, grassy and coastal. Smoky, salty vanilla with oak. Pretty peppery and a tad youngish.
Unfortunately, this whisky has no reason to exist. Why not? Because the Talisker 10 exists. It’s both cheaper and better. This is not exactly a bad whisky, but it’s a pointless one.
Lagavulin 9 years old, House Lannister, 46%
Fairly generic smoke on the nose. Strangely, it’s one of those drams where it would have become better with moer age, and more specific. The label says Lagavulin, but it could be more or less any young Islay whisky (much like Smokehead, The Big Strand, and so on). Some sea-weed, thick peat smoke, some greenness. Strangely, it reminds me of the smokiness on that Icelandic sheep-dung-smoked beer.
The palate is similarly generic, with some big smoky notes where the spirit hasn’t really had the time to shine and get back over the intense smokiness. Some green grassy notes, some sea-weed and salinity. It’s quite a bit whisky, but it’s also very uninteresting.
The finish is slightly numbing, even at the end of the evening. I would have expected this to be more gentle. Not much else that hasn’t been mentioned before.
Much longer tasting notes, which suggests there’s more to discover here. I guess there is. Unfortunately, that’s about all the good things I can say about this whisky. As with the Talisker, there’s no reason for this to exists. At the same price (€ 60-ish) you can also buy the 8 year old or the 16 year old (not much logic there, I know), and especially the 16 year old is miles ahead of this one.
Lots of barley on the nose, a whiff of peat. A bit watery, with some oak and sawdust. It’s all very basic.
The palate is a bit cardboard-y, with some pepper and dry oak. Some sawdust, some light smoke.
The finish lives up to the Oban name a bit more. Slightly more complex and better balance.
So, The Night’s Watch. The rugged band of outcasts protecting the rest of civilization from the dangerous northern barbarians. And you get a 43% Oban. Unsurprisingly, a 43% NAS whisky isn’t going to have a lot of impact on the palate or the memory. This one drives that point home by being an extremely boring and rather thin whisky. It’s only redeeming factor is that it’s an Oban, and Oban is rather nice, generally.
By the time I had tasted these four drams, I was rather happy with not buying the other four (Dalwhinnie, Glendullan, Cardhu and Royal Lochnagar). If the whiskies from the range that generally are the most intense and typical are generally thin and boring, the more gentle ones are going be forgotten before the glass is empty.
So, once again, except for the Clynelish maybe, just buy the Talisker 10, Lagavulin 16 or Oban 14. All of these are a lot better than these Game of Thrones versions. I guess I’m not part of the target audience.