London-based Bimber distillery recently released three single cask bottlings for the UK market, with three other single casks coming soon to export markets. In both cases there is an ex-bourbon cask, a sherry cask and a virgin oak cask.
They were rather reasonably priced (€ 85-95) so it doesn’t come as a surprise that they were gone before you knew it. However I believe the (presumably similar) export casks are still on their way to different countries.
Bimber 2016 ‘Virgin Cask’ (57,8%, OB 2020, single cask #7, 249 btl.)
Nose: oak-driven but not overdone. Also very fruity, in a syrupy way. Tinned peaches and pineapple, candy apples and hints of almond paste. Orange peel and hints of dark brew fruit tea. Cinnamon pastry and gingery / minty notes, as well as a light hint of roasted nuts. The profile of an American bourbon, to a certain extent.
Mouth: even more towards true bourbon now, with much more plain oak. The estery sweetness helps though, keeping the focus on tinned fruits, bready notes and toasted pastry instead of dry notes. Some eucalyptus and milk chocolate.
Finish: medium, on wood spice, mint and a light resinous touch.
The fruity Bimber spirit combines nicely with the oaky flavours of the virgin oak cask. One of the more successful examples of this cask type – no need for longer ageing in this case.
Bimber 2016 ‘Ex-Bourbon Cask’ (58,3%, OB 2020, single cask #8, 267 btl.)
Nose: kind of a toned down version of the previous. Same rich fruitiness of apricots and apple pie, with a light tropical touch. A generous dose of vanilla cream, candy sugar and a little lemon candy. Some darker honey / syrup notes. Oak spice as well, though more balanced, mainly aniseed, mint and pepper.
Mouth: creamy and spicy, still akin towards American whiskey. Peaches on syrup, stewed apples. Peppery notes and honeyed fruit tea. Plenty of mint and dried herbs, with a hint of rye bread and toasted cereals. Getting drier towards the end, in a mineral way rather than a woody way.
Finish: long, spicy, with lingering fruits and an earthy undertone. Some charred wood now.
I usually prefer a classic bourbon cask over a virgin oak cask, but in this case they’re not extremely different. It’s more a matter of playing around with the same elements, in different levels. The balance and maturity are really good here.
Bimber 2016 ‘Sherry Cask’ (58,1%, OB 2020, Pedro Ximénez ex-solera cask #42, 329 btl.)
Nose: plenty of cherries, baked apples and chocolate coated raisins, against a background of walnuts and mushrooms. Caramel and fudge. Cinnamon rolls. Tobacco leaves and hints of leather. Plain wood as well. It is slightly vegetal and feels ‘old-school’ indeed, with a certain darkness but not the cloying sweetness.
Mouth: again quite dry and dark, with an oily texture. Dark chocolate, with herbal notes and burnt cinnamon pastry. Mexican (spiced) chocolate, a lot of caramel and sticky toffee pudding. Tobacco and leather again. Oak spice. Hazelnut praline. Some meaty undertones as well. I’m missing a bit of fruity brightness here, you know, juicy red berries and such.
Finish: medium long, mostly on spices, nutty notes and dark chocolate.
You may remember I don’t necessarily prefer ‘real’ (tired American oak) ex-solera casks over a thoroughly seasoned (European oak) sherry cask. Also I’m thinking this was not a classic butt like they in traditional soleras? The cask supposedly came from Gonzalez Byass (thanks Max) which is also a long-time partner of Dalmore, that gives you an idea of the character already. Anyway, quite impressive, but it’s so dark and chocolatey that I’m starting to miss the bright fruitiness of the spirit.