These reviews were my 400th and 401st whisky reviews on Reddit. Crazy to think about it. To celebrate that milestone I decided to review a couple bottles that have been with me for a while through my whisky journey: my 2 solera bottles. I started these in May 2014, so some of the juice in there has been marrying for nearly 3 years. My life has changed quite a bit since then… the girl I had just started dating is now my wife of over a year, I moved from my hometown to Toronto, changed roles at my job a couple times, posted 350+ reviews on the reddit whisky network, co-started this whisky blog and society… it’s been a good 3 years. From these bottles, I’ve taken out drams over time, but generally the proportions stayed true, so my calculations of ABV should be close. For each one, unpeated and peated, I’ve provided a breakdown of what went into the bottle, my projected ABV and what the score would be if the sum was equal to the weighted value of its parts. I’ll review this taking typical tasting notes, but for scoring, will compare it to that expected value to see if the bottle was a success or failure. So without further rambling, onto the reviews:
First up, the Unpeated Solera. Here’s its composition:
Bryan’s Unpeated Solera Bottle-46.1%
- Appearance: orange-amber, plenty of drams with e150 in it I think. Nice legs.
- Nose: tons of fruit and berries. Strawberry, raspberry, apricot, peach, apples, light grapes. Quite sugary and very clearly sherry-heavy. Some nuttiness, toffee, caramel, molasses. some really nice chocolate notes. Very little oak. I smell the influence of the a’bunadh for sure. Not a ton of the non-sherried stuff. the chocolate might be from the Glen Garioch.
- Palate: the palate is less sherry-dominant, but still very present. I get more oak on the palate, and more of a dried fruit character. Still some berries, light fruit, melon, apple. Brown sugar, caramel, almonds, pecans. Tons of flavours. This has turned out a lot better than I expected. tons of flavour, full body on it, balanced sherry.
- Finish: long, sweet, wood, nuts. Really nice.
- Score: 88
this turned out really nicely and I’m actually really impressed. The weighted average rating said this should be an 85 based on how I rated the composite parts, but I believe this has exceeded the sum of its parts handily. Glad I had a bunch more of it still, and will definitely continue the experiment!
next the peated. Here’s what I put into it:
Bryan’s Peated Solera Bottle – 52.4%
- Appearance: lighter than the unpeated and more of a light orange with no redness.
- Nose: lots of peat on the nose, but a variety of peaty smells. I get lots of iodiney notes, along with earthy, boggy peat and some smoked meat too. There’s also a nice sweetness on the nose, almost honey-like. Surprisingly little smoke and some dark dried fruitiness. some tannic oak.
- Palate: much more ashy on the palate than I expected from the nose. Definitely a peat-bomb, with tons of iodine, smoked meat, and earth up front. Some dried fruit. It’s fairly hot for 52.4% ABV… Surprised it’s not more mellow, but I do remember that talisker was a hot dram. I can definitely taste elements of the Ardbegs and the Octomore. mid-palate there’s a bunch of saltiness that comes through… probably from the Talisker. Some spices and more oak the longer you wait.
- Finish: suuuuuuper long. I took a quick break from this and had some food and water and was still tasting it! peat, oak and warmth lasts forever.
- Score: 91
I think this slightly exceeds the sum of its parts, which also suggested it should be a 90. Probably due to the Ardmore bringing the average down. I didn’t get as much complexity from it as I hoped, but the nose and finish were amazing and as far as peat bombs go, it was fantastic. It ran a little hotter than I’d like for 52% which prevented it from being scored a bit higher. Really sad that it’s gone (apparently I was tasting more of it over time than I thought!) and kind of wish I could have built on it more. But, it was a great experiment, and one I’m planning to start up again.
fantastic experiment. really happy with how they turned out. excited to start up a new batch of peated and keep adding to my unpeated bottle!