By Richard Thomas
As near as I can figure, “Kirsch Gateau” refers to Black Forrest Cake, since that dish is sometimes called a gateau, and in German it is known as a kirschtorte, after the clear cherry liquor used in making it. Part of the fun of these Wemyss single cask releases are the names, and this time around is a prime example.
The origin of the whisky requires less spadework. Distilled in 1988, this 26 year old Scotch (bottled in 2014, released in 2015) comes from Bunnahabhain. Scotch enthusiasts will already know all about that classic Islay distillery, but since The Whiskey Reviewer names education as a major mission, a few words are in order.
Some thing the distillery is named for the village on the north coast of the Scots island of Islay, but it’s really the other way around. Bunnahabhain the whisky-maker came first, and the village followed as a place for the workers to live. Even today, most of the residents of the village work at the distillery. The facility was shuttered and reopened twice during the 20th Century, and today it is known as being one of the milder whiskies from Islay.
This stuff shows shows every day of its 27 years spent in a sherry butt, displaying a deep, dark, almost purpled amber coloring. Not a lot of even older Scotches come out looking like this, making it the sort of thing one really wants to study in the glass. Helping that gorgeous color along is that this is a rare cask strength Wemyss single cask release, with an abv of 56%!
The nose is rich and delectable, and not at all harsh for being a full ten points stronger than the normal Wemyss single cask, and it is decidedly cake-like. Booze-soaked cherries mingle with earthy, dark chocolate spiced with cinnamon and ginger.
The flavor adds to that cake base. Predominately woody and spicy, but still carrying plenty of that red fruit and chocolate character, plus a hint of smoke. The finish is moderate, warm and tingly, and just lasts for a lengthy spell.
Point blank, Kirsch Gateau is yummy stuff. I’d drink it both as a sipper and as a desert whisky, and I would be ordering a bottle right now were it not, alas, apparently already sold out! This one went fast, that is for sure.
Wemyss Kirsch Gateau was listed at £110, and was a good buy even at that price tag.