Every so often you open a whisky which provides an immediate wow! This was one such tasting with Sam Simmons of Darkness an indy label associated with Boutiquey Whisky under the Atom Brands umbrella.
Every single dram was excellent. I do like sherry finished higher ABV whisky so this was right in my whisky hot spot.
Darkness is one of Atom Brands ‘project ‘ releases. Based on the principle of selecting the best of distillery spirit and finishing it in their own Sherry casks. These casks are some of the best old Olorosso casks reconstructed in Spain as Octaves. An Octave is an eighth of a sherry butt, holding about 50 litres of spirit.
An Octave resembles a quarter cask. It holds about the same amount of spirit but is rounder. The wood spirit contact is greatly increased. Both colour and flavour is enhanced – hence the Darkness branding.
Sam said that the finish took about 6 months but it is closely monitored to get it just right (and they did) in all 3 cases.
The objective in the best of finishing technique is to get a substantial impact of the finishing cask on the spirit without losing the original spirit notes and the complexity of the early maturation. A three way balance, not easy to achieve.
I could taste all three aspects in every expression which speaks volumes for Sam’s work here.
Darkness 8 year 47.8%
The first expression was the 8 year old – more readily available, the core of the range.
It is a spirit that has taken sherry brilliantly so easy to understand why it sits where it does in the range. It is from a favourite Speyside distillery, possibly in Dufftown.
It delivers strongly on savoury notes from the core spirit. It shows wonderful distinctive sherry notes which balance well with sweet savoury aromas and flavours, originally well matured on Bourbon then expertly finished in octave sherry casks. Complex, multi-layered and awesome.
Non chill filtered no colour added, just as I like it.
Nose: sweet orange notes, chocolate peanuts, spice warmth and some dried cherry.
Palate: I got a lovely savoury meaty note. This whisky has lovely complex heavier sulphur compound influences delivering a beef jerky with a sweet marinade flavour, supplemented by some fruit , prunes for me. It is both sweet and toasty, with almonds, chocolate raisins, spicy cinnamon and biscuit. There is a dark leathery woody note on the finish. A powerful whisky but with a softer balance.
I bought a bottle for myself immediately after the tasting.
7 yo – BenRiach Oloroso cask finish
Got me again! I am a big BenRiach fan.
Nose: Brioche with red berry jam notes, orange peel, lovely..
Palate: Milk chocolate, biscuit, plums, citrus, lots of warming ginger, Christmas cake with booze soaked dried fruit.
A lovely complex balanced whisky. Again the spirit and original maturation shine through only to be enhanced and complimented by great sherry casks. Another fabulous dram.
14 year old Irish Whiskey
There are so many great base spirits coming from Ireland these days. They provide a lovely foundation for the further finishing with a sherry cask. This is certainly no exception. A quality Irish whiskey enhanced by the sherry cask but the light subtle fruity flavours are certainly not overwhelmed but substantially developed in the finish. More difficult to identify the distillery, I wondered Middleton or Bushmills but these are guesses to be honest!
Nose: Powerful fruit. Berries and orange peel, vanilla from the original cask.
Palate: Nutty and spicy, cloves and nutmeg. Citrus and apple strudel. spiced apple citrus, with a vanilla custard.
A well made whisky on every count.
These Darkness whiskies are great to have on your shelf for a different drinking experience but they are quite limited editions and sell out quickly to their fans of which there are many including myself.
Many thanks to Atom Brands and Sam Simmonds for the samples and tasting it was certainly a cracker.