You don’t come across many single grain whiskies matured in first-fill sherry casks, but the ones I could try were rather great (a Cambus 1991 Liquid Treasures comes to mind).
Now there’s a brand-new North British 1990 in the Connoisseurs Choice range from Gordon & MacPhail, in fact the first grain whisky they’ve ever bottled in 123 years of bottling history! And look at that colour…
North British 28 yo 1990 (61%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Connoisseurs Choice’ 2018, first-fill sherry puncheon #73847, 181 btl.)
Nose: rum and raisins, sour cherry preserve and something like cranberry ice cream, if that exists. Some walnuts, unlit matches and blonde tobacco too. Just a little Grand Marnier and dark chocolate. A little varnish but very few of the obvious grain markers (vanilla, coconut, you know). Water highlights the juicy red fruits.
Mouth: loud oak and loud sherry. Rummy notes again, grape juice, sour cherries again, some citrus (Seville oranges), blackberry leaves and more coconut now. A little plankish maybe, with leather and some tannic notes, but not unpleasant. A light mentholated edge, a whiff of grappa and herbal notes towards the end.
Mouth: long, with walnuts, cinnamon, heavy oak char and raisins.
Totally cask-driven, in a blind tasting I would probably not think of a grain whisky. Closer to rum perhaps. In any case, this was a nice surprise and I think there’s an underdeveloped market for sherry cask matured grain whisky. On its way to stores, I suppose.