The Ultimate series by Van Wees in Holland is known for having affordable whiskies, often middle-aged whisky from sherry casks and mostly sourced from Signatory Vintage stocks. Today we try their latest bottlings, a Clynelish 1996 and Macduff 2008, both from sherry casks.
Clynelish and sherry casks often cause a clash in my opinion, taking away some of its unique character, so it needs to be subtle. We’ve had some excellent (darker) young Macduff from sherry casks though.
Clynelish 21 yo 1996 (46%, van Wees The Ultimate 2017, sherry butt #8793, 623 btl.)
Nose: juicy, tart fruits, like nectarines, gooseberries and some rhubarb jam. Green apple. Floral honey. Some candle wax on the side, as well as some grassy notes and light tobacco. Not entirely as expected although this can be considered a good thing. Something slightly metallic too.
Mouth: waxy oranges, including some grapefruit notes. Yellow plums, leathery notes, wet grass and hints of walnuts. Light camphor and a very faint salty edge. And the obligatory waxy notes.
Finish: quite long, on herbal tea, wax and salted lemons.
There may be a slight lack of classic Clynelish character here, but it does find a nice balance and on its own it’s just good whisky. Perhaps one of the re-coopered casks. Good and very affordable: around € 65, check Whiskysite.nl.
Macduff 9 yo 2008 (61%, van Wees The Ultimate 2017, first-fill sherry cask #900343, 645 btl.)
Nose: more classic in the sense that it shows a bit more milk chocolate and raisins. Maybe a few dried mushrooms, but they fade. Growing hints of vanilla and frangipane cake, actually hints of American whiskey too, probably American oak sherry casks.
Mouth: less convincing. A hotchpot of different things that don’t seem to work together. There’s a big, dry leathery side to start, as well as some grape skins and simply tannins. Apple peelings and prunes underneath. A hint of coffee beans and bitter grassy notes. Then some five-spice powder and big clove. Seville oranges. Missing a bit of roundness here.
Finish: still quite dry and astringent, although there’s a fruity note in the background.
Good nose, but high power oak and some vinous notes on the palate. As you know, not all sherry casks are the same. Affordable again: around € 50, check Whiskysite.nl.