Some of my more astute readers have noticed an uhm… dramatic drop-off in my posting regularity. The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, a bout of Covid and a number of real-life distractions have gotten me out of the habit of sitting down Saturday mornings to churn out a blog post. Once that habit is broken, well… it’s easy to stay distracted.
For my first attempt at a return to weekly posting, I have dredged up this relic of my days buying everything that David Driscoll wrote about. Ok, let’s be fair, I still buy everything David Driscoll writes about.
This review is perfect for my lazy re-entry to the blogosphere (a word I have not heard anyone but me say in a decade now…) because I can’t be bothered to look up the details and I very much doubt any of you care. I tasted it, it was weird, fin.
Ok, for the sake of the future rubberneckers on their phones in the liquor store, this is a 12 year-old single-malt whiskey (similar to scotch) but made by malting wheat instead of barley, and aged in oak barrels made from oak trees growing on the slopes of the Caucasian mountains. The whiskey is then finished in Armenian brandy casks. Total age is 12 years in oak. All of this happens at the Eraskh Winery and Distillery in the Ararat Valley of Armenia. The whiskey is bottled at 43% ABV and retails for a very reasonable $35 ish.
Now, when I read all of that for the first time back in 2020 I thought, “wow, that HAS to taste unique, right? All of those unusual factors influencing the taste of the spirit… what does single-malt wheat even taste like?” The price of entry was low so:
Nose: Candied orange peel, dried apricot, and piquant cloves. The aroma is light, but spicy… distinct white peppercorns, green jalapeno, birch beer, and dry white oak.
Palate: Medium bodied. Sweeter than the aroma would suggest. Apricots again, with pepper jelly, apple chips, charcoal, and only the slight hint of graininess (vodka).
Finish: Medium-short. Dry again, with wisps of marzipan (blanched almonds), oak sawdust, and somewhat bitter barrel char. Slightly tannic. Fades without evolving.
With Water: A splash of water wakes up a few more dried fruit notes in the aroma but also increases the nose tickle. The palate seems thinner and more bitter. I’d skip the water here.
Overall: I wish there had been a longer finish in brandy casks as the entire experience could have used a boost in fruit and sweetness. The finish is quick, but the aroma and palate both have some interesting and unfamiliar notes that warrant further examination. I’m glad I tried it, but I don’t think I would seek out a second bottle unless it had significantly more age on it.
Really, it’s amazing that this tastes as familiar and whiskey-like as it does, despite all of those unusual attributes. Tasted blind I would *not* have been able to tell you that it was made with malted wheat or even from an unusual grain. I would not have been able to tell you that the finish was brandy as opposed to any other wine-based finishing cask. I would not have been able to tell you that it was aged in oak from a region totally unfamiliar to my palate. Still, despite my rating below if you enjoy seeking out unusual whiskies, this is a cheap ticket to a furthering of your education. For that alone, it would be worth a try.