Annandale 2016, Man O’ Sword, Founders’ Selection, 61.1%

So, my first Annandale review!

I was quite excited when a new Lowlands distillery was announced. Between Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie there wasn’t too much there. At the time Bladnoch wasn’t doing much and Ailsa Bay and Daftmill weren’t releasing much, if anything.

And, with Rosebank also being a Lowlands whisky, I was hoping for another one to put the region more solidly on the map.

Then, when the initial two releases were done and you had to shell out £ 300 for a bottle of three year old whisky, my enthusiasm waned quite a bit. Not only because of the price of the whisky, but at the apparent intent to go for super premium instead of going for a ‘solid whisky’.

Super premium stuff without having earned that reputation never really works for actual whisky fanatics. It might work for Chinese businessmen, or collectors who are in it for the money, but not for people who actually love whisky.

Luckily, they’ve come to realize that too, and subsequent releases were far more acceptably priced. However, this stuff is also only three years old and still clocks in at € 100.

Let’s see what it’s about and if the price is realistic for the drink you’re getting.

Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Rather youthful on the nose, with a lot of harsh cask notes. The wood is really pushed onto the whisky. There are notes of charcoal, tar and iron shavings. There is some fruit in there as well, plums and dates.

Sip:
The initial arrival isn’t too strong, but that’s probably because your palate is recovering from the shock since the alcohol comes searing through quickly. The fruit is here too, with some bitter notes rather than sweeter ones. Again, the splintery oak notes, masquerading as maturity.

Swallow:
The finish allows your tongue to start burning all over again. Insanely hot on the way down, uncomfortably so. There’s sweetness from the fruit now, with the bitter notes I found on the palate. Dried plums and dates. Hints of paint, charcoal and tar again.

I have no idea what to make of this. It feels like I still don’t get to taste what Annandale is like, since I think I only taste cask and alcohol. If that’s the case there is still hope left.

Unfortunately, I find this a hugely disappointing dram. It’s far too strong without something good to back it up. As said, the wood feels forced, and that comes across as mistaking woody flavors for maturity.

In short, let’s be frank, this is pretty shit. I’m very disappointed. I’m hoping future, slightly more timid releases will become available.

65/100

Annandale 2016, Spanish Oak Hogshead 544, 61.1%, ‘Man o’ Sword’ Founders’ Selection. Not surprisingly, it’s still available at € 100 / £ 88.

And in regards to the rating. 65 is really low. It’s not like in school where this is still above passing. Anything under 80 should be tried before it’s bought, in my book.

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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