Cu Bocan: Creation 1 – Imperial Stout and Moscatel Edition (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Light gold. Thin slow streaks come from the spirit for the most part, with a few faster streaks standing out.

Nose: Salty. Honey. Peat smoke, Brown bread. Milky coffee. Vanilla. Water adds fudge and brandy cream.

Body: Warming. Honey. Peat smoke. Beef slices. Milky chocolate liqueur. Red grapes. Chocolate coated nuts. Brown bread. Water adds sweet red wine. Rum and raisins. Vanilla fudge. Marshmallow. White grapes. Sherry trifle.

Finish: Honeycomb. Beef slices. Slightly numbing alcohol. Fudge. Water adds glacier cherries in brandy. Milky hot chocolate. Marshmallow. Nutella.

Conclusion: Ok, I am very taken with this. Especially when you try it with water. Neat it has just a touch of alcohol fire, a touch that is numbed by water and turns it into something wonderfully chewy, But I get ahead of myself. Again.

Anyway, on the nose it is a mix of sweet highland notes, peat smoke and a hint of the imperial stout influence with a milky coffee touch. It is a nice, smooth mix with that wisp of smoke to entice you in for something a bit more daring. Oddly, here there is also a salty touch I would not expect from a Highland, calling more to the Islands – though that note does disappear with water.

The body starts to open up that barrel ageing influence, especially with water. It works the same sweet but peat touched base with lots of honey and vanilla fudge notes meets smoke – however the barrel rises it to sweet red grapes and dessert wine, and sinks it down into chocolate liqueur. Again water really brings these two poles out. Instead of that harsh touch it has neat, it becomes a smokey, chocolate liqueur dusted sherry trifle thing with water.

It needed the water to smooth and ease out the fire, but now it is relaxing, rewarding and complex. There is a bready, kind of netella covered brown toast middle that is a wonderful balance of sweet and savoury, that then leads out into a similarly mixed sweet, spice, smoked and grounded finish.

Uses peat without feeling the need to aim for Islay. Uses barrel ageing while still showing impressive work from the base spirit. Smooth but chewy. Very much recommended.

Background: So, Cu Bocan is a decent wee dram, a lightly peated take on Tomatin and now they are getting a bit wild with this! This is has been aged in imperial stout casks from Black Isle Brewery and Bacalhoa Moscatel de Setubal wine casks. I know only a few of the words to do with wine, but all of the ones to do with imperial stout and that had me pretty excited here. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Had no specific music on during drinking this, just shoved my tunes on random and waited to see what came up.