Finished in Oloroso, Fino, Pedro Ximénez, Amontillado and Palo Cortado casks
I've been feeling a bit like a High Coast Berg shill the last few weeks, so I was naturally excited when another sherry finished High Coast was about to hit the shelves (or at least hit the online booking system). The premise - finished in five different types of sherry casks - is surely gimmicky. I'll put that aside, but there's Oloroso, Fino, Pedro Ximénez, Amontillado and Palo Cortado casks here. All squeezed into a single malt composed of whiskies aged between 6 and 9 years (average 8.48, to be exact). As usual, High Coast is admirably transparent with the details on their website.
I'll do this review with a glass of Berg at the side as a reference point. I've found that switching back and forth between a couple of drams when tasting helps distinguishing between the subtleties a lot. And since Berg is both close to my heart and perhaps the profile, I think it makes sense.
For the record - something I've been nagging about is how myself and four out of four fellow drinkers I've heard the results from preferred the Berg over Glendronach 15 (old and new), 18 and 21 when doing a semi-blind tasting of the five side-by-side. Just so we know what level we're on.
0.8 (Deep gold)
Alright, here we go. First up is a big chunk of milk chocolate and a mix of sherry-derived fruitiness. Marmalade candy. Tiny bit of earthiness. Peeled kiwifruit! This is really good.
Spicy arrival. Lively and fresh. Dry-ish sherry flavors. A bit creamy but overall light mouthfeel. A little fragrant. Citric, nutty, chocolatey.
Slightly winey, and the sherry seems to be on the dry side of the spectrum. Balanced spiciness - in your face but not over the top. Sweet with touches of toffee and banana. Medium length, would have loved a liiiiittle tiny bit more of course.
No doubt here - this is good. For what would be a six-year old whisky it's almost ridiculous. Gorgeous nose, superbly balanced taste with a lot of things thrown into the mix.
Compared to Berg? Less heaviness, more lively. Less raisins, more tropical. Less creamy, a bit spicier.
Not at all surprising, given that Berg has all that nice, thick PX influence and Cinco has, well, other stuff as well. The final verdict - it this better than Berg? Yes, I think so. At least tonight. But it's also close to twice as expensive. That's too bad, and Berg - as always - is the clear winner on value.
A slightly longer finish would have taken the Cinco into "fantastic" territory, but we'll settle for merely top tier greatness this time.
I dare you to try Cinco or Berg blindly against your favorite Glendronach 18, Glengoyne 21, a decent Macallan or whatever sherry-staples you love. I double dare you.
90 / 100