- The Original ($28) – 10 year old ex-bourbon cask… nose of light honey and malt; taste of orange, honey, lemon drop, mild spice, mild wood, nice malt flavor, mildly dry finish… a drop of water reveals a floral aspect and bitterness, but it’s better without it
- La Santa ($37) – 10 years in ex-bourbon cask, then finished for 2 years in ex-sherry cask… definite sherry nose with plum, cherry, vanilla, raisin… taste of apple, plum, charred oak, date… finish is mildly spicy with milk chocolate
- Quinta Ruban($37) – 10 years in ex-bourbon cask, then finished for 2 years in port cask… milder nose with prune… taste of prune, spearmint, honey, cocoa, honey, shortbread, vanilla
- Nectar D’Or (10 years in ex-bourbon cask, then finished for 2 years in sauternes cask… nose of honeysuckle, pear, vanilla… taste of pear, apple, vanilla, wood is toned down a lot, ginger, mild grass… bit sweeter and more onteresting than original
- 18 Year Old ($76) – 15 year old ex-bourbon cask, then 30% transferred to ex-Oloroso sherry casks… nice fruity nose, apple, plum, fig… taste of spice, white grape, marmalade, ginger… finish is mildly spicy, leathery and slightly sour
- Ealanta ($186) – 19 year old virgin oak… nose of vanilla, far cherry… taste of vanilla, caramel, honey, apple, pear, ginger, candied fruit, truffles… finish is spicy, long, fruity, mildly leathery… Excellent!
- Companta ($86) – no age statement, finished in Grand Cru and Rasteau casks… nose of light charred oak, overripe apple… taste of lemon, grapefruit, honey, candied ginger, clove, black pepper, tannins… opens up with a drop of water
As a bonus, we tasted a Rasteau in order to identify the influence in Companta:
- Alfio Moriconi Cote de Rhônes Rasteau – fortified wine, sour red grape, viney/green stem, cherry, plum… not a great fortified wine
While Ealanta was great (and hard to find now), the rest of the line wasn’t so impressive. I think that Quinta Ruban and La Santa are good values, but there are other sherry finished malts that compete well with La Santa in the price range or just a bit higher, like GlenDronach 12 or MacAllan 12. Quinta Ruban stands out as one of the few port wood finishes in this price range, so that makes it a bit more interesting. I would definitely pass on Companta and the 18 Year Old is just a bit too laid back with sour notes that shouldn’t be there. Nectar D’Or is an interesting whisky with sweet notes that become more prominent over time. I tend to enjoy it initially, but I can’t have it too often because of the sweetness that tends to be out of balance after spending more time with it. Finally, I’ve decided that The Original isn’t so good after all… get the superior Monkey Shoulder instead for a few dollars less.