Goldfinch Whisky Merchants have embarked on a fascinating whisky endeavour known as the Goldfinch Wine Series. In this innovative project, they took five ex-sherry hogsheads containing 12-year-old Blair Athol and subjected each one to a finishing period of up to two years in a distinct wine barrel. To maintain consistency throughout the collection, all the whiskies were bottled at the same strength. The outcome of this venture is the remarkable looking Goldfinch Wine Series.
Goldfinch’s objective with this series was to offer whisky enthusiasts an opportunity to explore the influence of finishing on a single malt.
Without further a do, let’s delve in to compare and evaluate the impact of the finishing casks.
Blair Athol 14 Years Marsala
Appearance: Rich dark gold, red tones. A good swirl of the glass produces, thick slow forming and falling legs.
Nose: A little warmth from the alcohol (could just be my unadjusted palate and nose as this is my first dram of the night), fresh red currants and ripe red apples. With time, more of the wood appears on the nose, a slight oakiness is forming.
Palate: Glutinous and mouth coating, warming but not spiky. The ABV is very well balanced. The fruit from the nose is present on the palate in abundance and so is the wood in the form of juicy oak tannins.
Appearance: Rich gold, less red that the Marsala dram. Once again, it has great legs on it, testament to the great choice of bottling strength and non-chill filtration.
Nose: Dark fruits, blackcurrants, a slight dustiness, the kind you get in a dunnage, but without the funk that often goes with it.
Palate: Great texture once again, mouth coating, spicier than the previous dram, much more oak spice and rich fruit. It reminds me of super juicy, well ripened blackberries. The finish is much longer too and very long lasting as it is drying.
Blair Athol 14 Years Red Wine South Pauillac
Blair Athol 14 Years Red Wine North Pauillac
Appearance: Similar colour to the South Pauillac, the legs are super slow to form but are much thinner.
Nose: The alcohol warmth I initially got on the Marsala is present again on the nose of this one. There is lots of spicy oak on the nose with a sort of subtle compost/wet newspaper note in the background.
Palate: Lots of spice on the front of this one, almost peppery, tonnes of that oak from the nose is present in the palate. There is less of the berry sweetness that was present on the South Pauillac, this is all spicy oak and white pepper.
Appearance: This dram is mid gold, possibly the lightest so far, slow forming, medium legs that fall slowly are created when swirling the glass.
Nose: A somewhat more subtle nose compared to the others so far, this is has very gentle earthy notes, damp ground after heavy rainfall and soft, wet fallen autumn leaves. There is also a background aroma of dry bark which contributes to the earthiness.
Palate: Spice galore! This is another spicy arrival, not as drying as the North Pauillac, in fact it is sweeter and almost slightly menthol in its presentation.
Blair Athol 14 Years Sweet German Wine
Blair Athol 14 Years Tawny Port
Appearance: Back up in the region of dark gold, with a lovely glowing auburn tinge to this one. A good swill of the glass gives, slow forming and falling, thick legs.
Nose: Subtle spice leads the way, with rich dark fruits following and more of that dunnage dustiness which I absolutely love!
Palate: This one is much softer in its arrival, the texture is almost creamy. That gentle arrival is soon surpassed by a citrus like mandarin zest and wave of oak spice. The finish is very drying and long lasting.
In conclusion, the journey through these whisky drams has been an interesting exploration of the nuances that arise from a shared foundation and a mere two years of distinct finishing in different casks. Each expression has showcased its own unique character and flavour profile, making it captivating to compare and contrast them.
If I were to choose a personal favourite among these drams, it would undoubtedly be the Marsala cask finish. Its remarkable balance of flavours and harmonious integration has elevated this whisky to a fantastic level.
I thoroughly enjoyed pouring and exploring these drams, so huge thanks go to Iona Stewart and the team at Goldfinch Whisky Merchants for kindly providing the samples.
I’d highly recommend you visit their website to learn more about their different bottling ranges and follow them on their socials to stay up to date with the latest releases and news.