Just recently the Isle of Arran distillery offered up the chance to take part in choosing the latest White Stag release, entries from all over were sent in and a lucky few ( 20 I believe) were selected and yes I was extremely lucky to be one of those selected.. Once the samples arrived, we had about a week to review and send in our notes and choice for the winning sample..
All 3 samples were sent blind with no information whatsoever other than labelled sample 1,2 and 3, no strength info, cask info or ages were given so a real test for those involved..
My notes went something like this.
Nose.. Starts with intense wood spices, the cinnamon and ginger leads perfectly into fresh pear and green apple notes, rich heather honey mingles with orange peel and toffee and a hint of dark chocolate in the background.. Hints of pineapple mix with caramel and a delicate floral / perfumed aroma.
Palate.. Again spicy at first before those fruity notes start to battle through, a little more earthy ( manuka honey style) with citrus notes and fresh apples.
Finish.. Warming spiced oak..
Nose.. Instant Vanilla, caramel and toffee gives this a real sweet start before soft spices come in to play, cinnamon, ginger biscuits, a little dark chocolate along with a hint of marzipan all add depth, candied orange, poached pear and plums all give this a wonderful fruity side..
Palate.. Vanilla, caramel and maple syrup poured over a bowl full of soft fruits delights the senses.. A little chocolate, candy floss and coconut balance this out.
Finish.. Sweet and fruity..
Nose.. This starts of a little darker with hints of dried fruits and dark chocolate, candied orange, liquorice and cinnamon, root ginger and plum with winter berries..
Palate.. Again hints of dried fruit and a little dark chocolate, vanilla cookies, ground coffee beans, dark toffee, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and ripe plums.
Finish.. Drying with warm spices.
My overall thoughts are that I would chose Sample 2 as my winner but extremely close with Sample 3.. Sample 3 was my initial choice after the first sitting as I feel that the sherried aromas and flavours complimented my palate, I felt Sample 2 shone a little more on my second sitting but it is so close.. Sample 1, was very good but just felt like it was too hot / spicy for everyone to be pleased..
On Wednesday we were given the results and sample 3 is to be released as the 3rd White Stag limited release and I have to say I’m not disappointed in any way.. I look forward to buying one and enjoying it again..
The details for the 3 casks are as follows..
2x sherry hogsheads were vatted together, cask # 97/310 filled 4-3-97 and cask #97/907 filled 9-6-97.. cask strength off 51.6% abv
A single Sherry Butt #97/841 filled 9-6-97 and has a strength of 56.2%abv
Again this was a vatting of 2x sherry hogsheads, #96/622 filled 25-9-96 and #96/652 filled 1-7-96 ..
I would like to thank everyone involved in this process from Jacklyn from Arran Distillery to all the other panellist.. I hope you all had as much fun as I did..