The Fisherman’s Retreat is a restaurant and wedding venue near Manchester, but they also have a valued whisky bar and store.
We’ll be trying two of their shop bottlings: an Arran 2013 (Yalumba Octavius Shiraz wine cask) and a Port Charlotte 2008 (Haut Brion cask). They seem to have a preference for wine casks (specifically from the Southern hemisphere), also for their previous releases.
Arran 5 yo 2013 (54%, Fisherman’s Retreat 2018, Yalumba Octavius cask, 191 btl.)
Salmon colour. Nose: slightly gimmicky red wine maturation, like in the early days. Cooked strawberries, pomegranate and a hint of rubber. Rosé port notes and old roses. Hints of pink grapefruit as well. Some porridge and metallic notes in the background.
Mouth: oh so winey. Strawberry bubblegum, grapes and vanilla. Hints of liquorice, aspirin, mandarin peel and this tangy dryness of a red wine. Malty notes, toffee and oak spice, mostly pepper.
Finish: not too long, slightly hot.
Some casks simply don’t work too well with whisky in my opinion – it’s easy to drown Arran spirit with red wine. At around € 100 for a 50 cl bottle, difficult to recommend. False start.
Port Charlotte 10 yo 2008 (54%, Fisherman’s Retreat 2018, Haut-Brion cask, 360 btl.)
Nose: now this can stand up to a bit of red wine. There’s the typical farmy / peaty side, with plenty of cured Spanish hams and dark cecina, old cellars and attics and hints of warm beach sand. Smoked cereals. After a while nice, jammy fruits appear (cassis, cherries). Some buttery vanilla and toffee in the background. Nice and clean.
Mouth: very ashy and smoky, a lot of cured meats again, as well as some smoked lemons, blood oranges and kippers. Dried pear. Pipe tobacco. Hints of juniper. Just a wee sour note from the wine cask.
Finish: rather long, with sweet and sour fruits, liquorice, dark smoke and herbal notes.
This is much more like it. If you insist on using red wine casks, then choose a powerful spirit. Same price: around € 100 and much better value in my opinion. Available from their online shop.