Distillery/Brand: Sheep Dip
So here’s a bit of background. Sheep Dip actually refers to a delousing pesticide used by farmers on their sheep back in the day. As was the practice during those times there was a lot of illicit whisky being made by these guys too.
So every once in a while when the excise officer would visit all the whisky would be hidden in barrels marked SD (Sheep Dip) to throw off said excise nuisance man. Quite a charming story I have to admit.
Richard Paterson, third generation Master Blender, has taken 16 single malts from all parts of Scotland and created this blend and paid homage to all those crafty farmers by naming it Sheep Dip.
Nose: Young and sprightly with a hint of dough and a squeeze of tropical fruits. The freshness continues with some nice cucumbers and celery sprinkled with rock salt. Based on the smell I could drizzle this over a salad as a midsummers’ dressing.
Palate: This is where the promise is broken. Similar tropical fruits and some spice but overwhelmed by something unpleasantly bitter. I let it breathe for a while but it can’t seem to shake that terrible taste.
Finish: Spicy short.
I’m used to being disappointed by Richard Paterson but I had heard decent things about this expression. I guess earlier batches had some good stock. This one, I suspect, might actually have some real sheep dip in it.
I recently spent an evening with Whyte & Mackay Master Blender Mr Richard Paterson and I have to say he’s a hell of a character. You can’t help but like him. He’s a great story teller and you’re forced to hang on to his every word. Such is the mans’ charms.
Of course a lot of what he says is carefully manufactured marketing sell-points but one tends to look past that and enjoy the show. However, his whiskies should not be judged by the same standards. Especially if you’re shelling out in excess of GBP2000 for a bottle.
Which is what this 1992 Vintage from The Constellation series costs. But I will judge this spirit independent of it’s price tag.
Matured for 10 years in 1991 First Fill Kentucky Bourbon QA casks and then 9 years in a 2002 European Oak, Port Pipe you can expect the nose to be super sweet. There is marmalade, chocolate, marzipan, squishy plums, candied orange with grated ginger and a sprinkle of crushed almonds. Very intense.
The palate explodes with dark chocolate, grapes, cloves and a smear of that all too familiar orange marmalade. The high ABV helps in making the flavors even more intense.
The finish is long with woody spices, nutmeg and, yes, that orange marmalade once again.
Now let me tell you that this is a very good whisky. It comes at you strongly and refuses to let up.
But the burning question is whether it’s worth the price tag.
To display on your shelf to impress your friends? Certainly.
To drink? Certainly not.
I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Paterson recently and one of the whiskies he shared with us was the Dalmore 18.
Very much like Mr Paterson’s personality the nose is big! Huge creamy chunks of sugar and vanilla. Like dipping your head in a bucket of caramel. As you shake your head from side to side capturing all the sweet honey vapors you’re hit in the face with black berries and strips of licorice. Then there is the unusual aroma of black salt. Like picking up a black rock on the beach and smelling the salt on it.
A lot of flavors on the palate though I’m not sure always in balance. The dry delivery brings with it the obvious honey and vanilla notes. Then there is the black salt. It appears suddenly and then just sits there among the toasted nuts. A second sip makes you think of banana smeared on wood and then dipped in citrus.
Once again I am torn between Mr Paterson’s infectious enthusiasm and my own palate. It is not my favorite dram but there is something unusual about that black salt that’s stuck to me for some reason. Just to experience that I will drink this one again.
Rating : 87
Isle of Jura
I had the Isle of Jura Superstition at a tasting with Richard Paterson lately and so I wasn’t sure whether it was his infectious energy or the actual malt that actually had an impact on me.
The nose was quite pleasant if not a bit too sugary sweet. Instantly reminded me of a Def Leppard classic ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me!’. Rolling in the heavy honey were tangerines and dry nuts after which a few vanilla pods came dancing along. Finally there was the faintest wisp of spicy peat. The nose is actually quite pleasant but belies what is in store for you.
The delivery is surprisingly light. I was expecting a thick creamy liquid instead I was greeted with quite a silky texture (and I don’t mean that in a good way). The palate is very light and quite dry. First there is a mixture of grass and hay followed by a drop of lemon. But a very mild lemon at that! Some where along the way you feel the presence of milk chocolates which quickly give way to cinnamony spices.
I want to really like this dram but I can’t get my head around it. Would I specially take it out and share it with my friends? Maybe some not so special friends.
Rating : 86