It’s pretty incredible how quickly traditions form. This is only the fourth year for The Whisky Exchange to be releasing their Black Friday whisky. Yet, I somehow knew it was coming, even in a year like this.
What did surprise me though, was that I got a sample. With shops not being able to ship handily from the UK to the mainland, I didn’t expect a sample this year. Yet, I got one.
It was introduced like this:
After scouring the Scottish Highlands for something exceptional, The Whisky
Exchange located a distillery near the Speyside borders. The distillery is
known for its distinctively smoky style that sets it apart from its neighbours,
making this whisky highly sought-after by whisky fans around the world.
While this doesn’t give you as much information as last year’s bottling description, everybody who’s been around the whisky block with a significant in reading about distilleries knows which distillery this indicates.
Now, for tasting notes, there’s going to be a massive disclaimer:
I’ve been having a cold for the last three+ months and haven’t tasted much whisky in the meantime. With most samples that is not a problem and they can be postponed for a little while, this one obviously has a bit of a deadline. So, I did what I could, but might have missed some things.
A very gentle and warm smokiness, with lots of barley scents. Some oak behind that too. There’s a whiff of moss and hay as well. I get stewed apples, pear skins and banana peels. I think I’m getting carambola and maracuja as well.
The palate is quite sharp for the ABV and the age, although it is the first dram of the day. There’s quite a lot of black pepper accompanying crisp fruits. Apple, pear, carambola. Some lemon zest too. Straw and barley. There’s a bit of weight from the heathery smoke although that’s a very gentle smokiness.
The finish livens up the fruitiness, but with a bit more emphasis on the smoke. More so than on the palate. Heathery, with more herbaceous notes. Still, there’s the straw and the fruit.
When push comes to shove this whisky does exactly what you expect a 22 year old Ardmore (oh crap, now I said it) to do. It’s slightly smoky, but has a vastly different character to what Islay smoke does. On top of the heathery smoke there’s lots of fruit.
What makes this extra special is that this changes ownership at a hundred quid. Last spring I paid significantly more than that for a similar whisky. I was happy to do so, since this is not a common level of quality to encounter.
Again, that disclaimer: I kept half my sample for re-tasting when I’m finally back to my own meager standards in a while. So take this rating with a grain of salt. However, I trust The Whisky Exchange to sell out within the first half our of this being available. Just get a bottle.
Black Friday Limited Edition 2020, Highland Single Malt Whisky, 50.5%. Available for £ 99.95. Add a fiver for a gift tube.
Sample supplied by The Whisky Exchange