A month or so ago Diageo has announced the release of the first two bottles of FOCM (Their fan club sort of) for the coming year (featured in our PR corner) , with a total of 5 such bottles from various classic malts ( malts.com ) distilleries. Why triple aged you ask? simple, they have been aged in 3 different types of casks : Their initial maturation has been, conventionally, in refill casks. Next the liquids were transferred to charred American oak hogsheads, imparting spicy notes and a touch of sweet oak. To complete the conversation between spirit and oak, the whiskies enjoyed a third maturation in European Oak refill casks which softened, mellowed and integrated the aromas and flavours. All FOCM malts are bottled at 48% which is nice, and i suspect all will be NAS (these two do not carry an age statement for all I know). While they call it a ‘limited edition’ (it’s limited i guess cause it won’t be a standard bottling) there are around 24,000 bottles, so plenty for all of us, no worries.
Let’s start with the Royal Lochnagar shall we? I’ve not tasted that many RL but I did find their basic 12 year old quite dull, while the Distiller’s edition finished in Muscat casks was rather nice (sadly I took no notes).
Royal Lochnagar triple matured, NAS, 48% , £80
Nose: Very nice. Semi sweet apples. A bit waxy maybe unwashed apples wax is more like it. Some dried fruit too and a hint of sultanas and cinnamon powder. Green apple and syrup. A lovely nose for sure. surprisingly nice.
Palate: Apple peel and oak. Cinnamon and a hint of clove too, spicy flashes of pepper with sweet fruit and then more oak. Apple pie. Rather buttery and biscuit-y but gentle and very appealing and drinkable with just the right amount of oak and fruit.
Finish : Oak. A certain dried fruit sweetness and cinnamon spice.
This is a very good dram, highly drinkable, and while gentle, it offers a good balance of oak, spice and fruit. I rather liked it! Certainly a notch up from previous OB Lochnagars, and at 48% it does have a lovely mouth feel to it. Have failed to find it online in major shops, so no idea where you can get a bottle, but surely they will become available more widely soon in some countries.
Nose: An earthy feel to it, with hints of smoke, and malt underneath, with a bit of fruit: pears and something minty, and oaky , damp cloth ,peat and orange peel.
Palate: Oh there you are! the trademark Talisker pepper makes an entry on the 2nd act… cloves and cinnamon play 2nd fiddle here too, lovely smoke and earthy peat are there too for sure, on second wave of flavours you get sweeter tones, dark chocolate with a sprinkle of sea salt. Adding water turns it more bitter and peaty, and the sweet edge is lost, which I didn’t quite like. So neat for me.
Finish: pepper, peat, soot earth and smoke, hints of dark chocolate and liquorice.
Not bad too, It’s something in the middle of the recent ‘Storm’ and ‘Dark Storm’ and ‘Port Ruighe’, while not being as sweet as the latter. I am not sure it’s worth the 40 quid or so Premium over those, while offering a premium ABV (48%), It’s a bit pricy for what you get.
available at Alexander & James
So, two very likable malts, I did like them more than I’d thought i would (having read some other opinions), but that was a pleasant surprise, always is. While I do not have anything against NAS as NAS I am not sure I like paying more money for “Special” editions NAS over basic staple drams (say Talisker 10). 48% is indeed nicer than say 40% for the Lochnagar, So I’d consider getting a bottle of that while being happy with cheaper Taliskers who deliver good BFYB ration.
Official samples provided by Diageo.