Whisk(e)y is a rather static product. At the moment the marketing departments of every distillery keep blabbering on about innovation, but in the end, there is none. They do the same thing they did a hundred years ago, but by slapping a new age statement (or none) on it, in combination with some semi-fictional name that almost never means anything it suddenly is new.
I disagree. To me there’s not much new happening, and generally the things most enthusiastically received by the people actually drinking whisk(e)y are steps back to how things were done a hundred years ago. More characterful barley varieties, yeast strains that aren’t all homogeneous throughout the industry, better cask management. Things that were commonplace, and have gone out the window for profit.
Then, sometimes, something different is tried, like finishing a whiskey in a Curacao Cask, which is an orange liqueur from France, in this case (not the blue kind).
It’s unique, for sure, and the name XCF “Exploratory Cask Finish” is correct. However, what is also telling is that this was bottled in 2013 and there has been no version 1.1 or 2.0 since. THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!
So what this is, is a sourced rye whiskey finished in a rather unique type of cask. Is it any good? Let’s see.
Well, it’s unique for sure. There’s the backdrop of rye whiskey, which isn’t surprising at all, but with a massive hit of oranges, both sweet and bitter. It actually combines rather well with the rye spiciness. It’s a bit perfumy, with clove and ginger.
The palate is quite sharp, which suits the style of whiskey well. At first there’s mostly rye grains, the accompanying spices and dryness. Then the oranges hit, mostly the bitter kind, with lots of pithy notes and seeds. Orange zest, clove, ginger, sharp oak, dry grains.
The finish continues down the same line, with again some bitterness, dry spices and some perfumy notes. Quite intense.
I understand why there aren’t more finishes like this. Not that I find this a bad whiskey, but to go through a whole bottle of this is way too much for something this gimmicky. Also, apparently it’s rather expensive to produce since this was absolutely not a cheap bottle, and because of its apparent collectibility, it’s price is now around € 400 a pop.
The initial € 150 doesn’t make sense, the current starting price at little over € 300, with a maximum of almost €
500 700 is just ludicrous.
But, the whiskey is fine. It’s unique and interesting but too gimmicky for a repeat exercise. I like that the rye whiskey used is of good quality and that saves it a bit.
Willett XCF, 7 years old, finished in Curacao Casks from France. 51.7%