Thursday, February 16, 2017

Nomad, Outland Whisky

stats: whisky, distilled and partially aged in Scotland, finished and bottled in Spain, 41.3%, $40

Back in the spring I had the opportunity to nick a sample out of a bottle of whisky that I’d never heard of before; Nomad, Outland Whisky. The information provided on the label was somewhat lacking in detail, but a little online research did shed some light on its background.

The label vaguely notes “A unique ageing process, beginning in Scotland and finishing in González Byass’ PX casks in Jerez……” While it is marked as a product of Spain, that’s a technicality; the vast majority of its production process did happen in Scotland.

The Nomad website gave more details, and related press releases filled in the gaps. This is actually a collaboration between González Byass and Richard Paterson. Byass is a prominent Sherry producer and many of his casks have made their way to Scotland for whisky maturation. Isle of Arran, Tobermory and Glenfarclas are just a few of the single malts that have employed his casks. Byass had already added gin and vodka to his portfolio of products, but this was his first foray into whisky.

Paterson is the well-known Master Blender who works for Whyte & Mackay. In addition to overseeing the Whyte & Mackay branded blend (which sells over 1 million cases a year, primarily in its home market), he also manages the bottlings of the company’s single malts; Dalmore, Fettercairn, Isle of Jura and Tamnavulin. Paterson’s most noteworthy project was the Shackleton blended malt. When 11 bottles of Mackinlay’s Scotch Whisky, which had been abandoned in Antarctica by explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton in 1909, were recovered from their icy resting place in 2010 Paterson was tapped to extract a sample and create a replica whisky by blending together modern Scottish malts.

In the case of Nomad, Paterson has assembled a blend of 25 single malts (40% of the blend) and six grain whiskies (60% of the blend), sourced primarily from the Speyside region of Scotland. Those 31 whiskies range in age from 5 years to 8 years. After being vatted together, the blend is filled into Oloroso Sherry butts for another three years of aging in Scotland. It is then shipped to Spain, transferred to old Pedro Ximenez casks and aged for a minimum of 12 months in the hot, humid southern Spanish climate of San Fernando, in the cellars of the Byass bodega.

They claim to have experimented with the final finishing period in Pedro Ximenez, Oloroso and Fino Sherry casks, before settling on Pedro Ximenez casks as having the best result. Nomad debuted in key Asian markets in mid-2014 and made its way to Europe and the United States shortly thereafter.

You’ll note that this is not labeled as Scotch whiskey; it legally cannot be, as it was not matured exclusively in Scotland. Furthermore, this type of ageing scheme would not be possible with a single malt from Scotland, regardless of how it would be labeled; since 2012 it has been illegal to export single malt whiskey from Scotland unless it is bottled for retail sale.

Anyway, let’s see how it tastes:
The nose is an interesting dichotomy; delicate, fragrant tree fruit notes typical of Speyside malts are layered across the weightier, complex, dark berry fruit character from the heavy Sherry cask influence. The aromas are quite appealing.
It’s full bodied, with big, brash sherry fruit on the palate. The flavors show good range, with raisiny sweetness and slightly oxidized nuttiness. Things get a bit wonky from the mid-palate onward though, with a lack of integration and a bit too much heat.
But it does pull itself together on the finish as the flavor profile becomes more dry and earthy.

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