Berry Bros and Rudd: Orkney Islands 17 Year (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: 17 Year: 56.4% ABV)

Visual: Very light yellowed gold. Fast, thick streaks come initially from the spirit, followed by slow puckering.

Nose: Caramel. Vanilla toffee. Honeyed shreddies. Wisp of smoke. White grapes. Pencil shavings. Water makes mossy and brings out more oak.

Body: Burning alcohol. Crumpets. Charred oak. Butter. Water makes more buttery and adds shortbread.

Finish: Charred oak. Bitter. Light salt and sea breeze. Water adds wet rocks. Butter. Peppery.

Conclusion: Ok, for one, this needs water. Neat it is burning, buttery and very much lacking in any subtlety. Not that the aroma lets you know what is coming, oh no, that aroma is a sneaky one. It tells you that what is coming is sweet and gentle with just a wisp of smoke. Lying fucking aroma.

Now water does its job and smooths the alcohol down, making it into a very robust (and I mean VERY robust) crumpety, bready, buttery dram, with a peppery finish and still that wisp of smoke. It is heavy feeling and still very different from that sweet, gentle aroma. If you pay attention there are slight grapes, slight vanilla, but generally it is just a straight forward crumpets and butter kind of savoury thing.

So, with that said, it is not a favourite of mine. Some people at the tasting seemed to get more from it than I did, but for me it is too burning neat, and still too simple with water, so overall is a comparatively empty dram flavour wise.

Feels solid in texture, but feels like the base of a whisky to be built from, rather than a decent whisky in itself. A pity as I love a good Highland Park (sorry, a good “Orkney Islands” WINK), but this one doesn’t grab me.

Background: Uber whisky time again at Independent Spirit. I love these events, where you get to try some pretty rare whisky that would normally be prohibitively expensive by the dram. As always with events like these, it was a busy event, with talking and other people describing notes so I may have been influenced by that and my notes may be shorter and more incoherent than even normal. Now, while this could be one of two Orkey distilleries, it is blatantly a Highland Park. They barely even try to hide it. I’m a big fan of Highland Park, not revisited them for a while so had high hopes for this. From the bottle it was distilled 2000 and bottled 2018.