There are few businesses today that can claim that they’ve been open since the 1600s but London’s Berry Brothers & Rudd (BBR) are one that can. They may have scraped into the 17th century by opening in 1694, but at 300+ years that is some damn good going. As such, the wine and spirits merchants have garnered something of a legendary status. Primarily known nowadays for their indie bottling of whiskies and other spirits, BBR also have their own master blender responsible for creating their own blends and expressions. In early 2018, BBR launched their own “Classic Range” to showcase the different flavour profiles of your traditional scotch regions and/or cask influences and varieties, namely: Speyside, Islay, Peated Cask, and this the Sherry Cask. Each release of the range is captured at 44.2% ABV and is comprised of single malts from undisclosed sources which have been combined to best demonstrate the region or cask styling.
This may be sacrilege but after the initial boozy nose prickle, the first tasting/smelling note that I get is Coca Cola. And by that, I mean a real meld of saccarhine fruity flavours. Breaking it down, think red berries, cherries (actually quite a piercing cherry scent), raisins, dates, prunes, and overall a very sherry note (obvs). It has a good little warming spice note to it too.
Christmas cake is the first and obvious note here, but again that’s just the initial impression and is a compilation note (if not just lazy writing!). Digging deeper, this whisky composes numerous things, with the lead notes being those of brown sugar, raisins and cherries, with the latter really standing out. There is a cakey/baking type flavour to it too, all supported by nutmeg and ginger spices, which are far more dominant than on the nose. Quite the boozy rasp rounds this out too and that 44.2% really makes itself known.
The spices and alcohol now dominate totally dominate on the finish with the sweet, dried fruits now fizzling away.
Well, this is quite the Ronseal approach to whisky making, and boy does it fit the brief. All too many times I’ve seen whisky reviews that refer to something as a sherry bomb, and indeed I’ve had some myself, and this gets near to those, but not quite. It’s just a little bit more tempered or rounded than a Glenfarclas, for example, and maybe that’s simply the impact of blending malts together or just the desired effect. Either way, it works. This makes for a gentle sipping experience – there’s a lot going, as you can tell from the different notes listed above – and that rasp from the alcohol will make you hold back a bit and savour, rather than rush it on down, which the sugary and fruity notes urge you to do. We don’t often refer to a whisky’s colour on here but this whisky is just so red in colour that it does need mentioning. Harkening back to that cherry tasting note, in fact. At ca. £30-32 per bottle, this is great value for money too. Another victory for the blenders in their battles against single malt snobbery too, so let’s hear it for the blends. This would make for a great introductory whisky for anyone looking to get into malts and looking to sample a sherry-packed dram. Overall: very sherry with berry and cherry.