I have been doing quite a lot of Regional Malts this year and this is another one to add to the list. I have already tried the original ongoing small batch version of Rock Oyster and it was one of the better ones in the series. If you want to go back and check it out you can find it in the link Rock Oyster
The 18 year old version is the more premium age stated version which was a limited release earlier this year but is still widely available. The regional malts releases don’t seem to fly off the shelves in the UK at least. I wonder what the reason for this is? It could be that the series is a bit old in the tooth now or that there is just such a saturated market that more and more bottles are spending longer in shops before being sold. As I don’t have market data or work in the retail side of the industry (or any side for that matter) I can’t do anything but speculate. However, it is becoming more apparent to me that there is just too many independent bottlers now fighting over a very discerning and increasingly educated consumer. It seems every month Master of Malt have added a new brand to there listings or another new company has sprouted up on twitter offering a couple of single casks they have bottled. Buying single casks is a lottery when its from a distiller never mind going to an independent but when the company is new out the wrapper the risk of buying second rate whisky is just too high without trying first. I wish all these entrepreneurs well but I see a bit of a blood bath in the future when our little whisky bubble bursts.
The blended malt includes whiskies from Arran, Jura, Islay and Orkney and like all the Rock Oyster whiskies they have a strong brine-y flavour profile. Hence the name.
The bottling strength is a very solid 46.8% and its natural colour and without any filtering. This is a rare occasion to try Jura in a more natural form which is a very rare sight indeed. Prices of this started off at £100 but it can be widely bought now for £90 which again suggests too many are lying around. The gold effect cardboard tube is cool though with really classy art this would be a great gift or a display on a shelf.
Colour – straw
Nose – very fruity with apples and exotic fruits. Then in the background there is a funky note which is rich and cheesy. There is coastal notes of brine, seaweed and sea air.
Palate – The texture and mouth coating is wonderful. Full of rich thick clawing caramel chew sweets. The cheesy funk continues from the nose with more brine and seaweed. Some of the peat is sweet and mellow but in the background is something much more medicinal.
Finish – long long finish. The cheesy funk prevails over all aspects of this dram. There is a lovely burst of fresh fruit between equal bursts of rich dark alcohol soaked fruits eaten in front of an open peat fire. Sticky toffee pudding and treacle all add to a long and luxurious finish.
I have grown to like this whisky. On the first pour I was really disappointed and had a real bad case of buyer remorse. I got it for a lot less than RRP at auction but even so spending any amount of money and not feeling value for money hurts. I haven’t just poured it down the sink though I let it breath and develop. The initial tasting notes were harsh and overly brine soaked which was too much for me. Those rough edges have evaporated away though and there is more complexity and interest now. This is especially true once you get the water balance correct. In my experience however much you think it needs add a little more and you will be rewarded for your bravery.