Water of Life – Wolfburn Help for Heroes
Having resurrected its operations merely nine years ago, Wolfburn has been one of my favourite old “new” distilleries for a while now for a range of reasons, so when it was announced that they were going to release a limited expression in the tradition of the distillery collaborating for a great cause, i.e. Help For Heroes, I was intrigued. Word around the campfire had that it was going to be derived from Wolfburn’s oldest spirit, after maturation in first-fill bourbon casks before blending it with a component that has been refined in sherry casks, which on paper would promise a rich and complex drop.
With aromas on the floral and sweeter side of the spectrum, I find this limited expression to be far more accessible than the other Wolfburn whiskies as the honeyed chocolate nuance would appeal even to the uninitiated.
On the top of the mouth, vanilla unfolds its full glory, resting on a foundation of dried fruits and framed by an omnipresent malty oakyness with delicate tannic highlights from the casks shimmering through.
The elongated finish bookends the journey, closing the cycle by returning to the floral honeyed chocolate notes the nose promised and culminating in a crescendo that is topped with a subtle smokiness that makes one lust for another dram.
Now, let’s take things up a notch or three: Wolfburn’s portfolio is comprised of quite a few heavyweights that would delight even the most seasoned aficionado, but I find their cask strength expressions to be the ones that really shine and sing.
Needless to say that expectations were set very high when I learned about their highest strength ABV release yet, i.e. Langskip Cask Strength. This is a league or two above the Northland, Aurora and Morven releases as it packs a welcome punch in the best way possible, which is not further wondrous given its telling name of Viking origin.
What tickles the nostrils is surprisingly soft in nature, with vanilla-esque butterscotch meeting apple and zesty notes counterpointed by a nice seaside saltiness and expected ethanol highlights.
Oily in texture, swirls of buttery vanilla mix with spicy peppery nuances, accentuated by citrussy chocolatey notes that at times enter tarty territory, grounded by the barley maltiness and again slightly alcoholic notes, that add to the whole rather than detracting from it.
The medium length finish continues the journey and amplifies the spicy notes towards the end, rounding things out with reverberating crispy zesty lime accents.
A wonderful expression and so far my favourite Wolfburn expression as it clearly defines the flavours and aromas that make the DNA of the distillery, and despite having only been aged for five years, the high alcohol content is not as raw as other cask expressions in the league of cask strength variants.
This bodes well and raises the bar for future emissions from Wolfburn.
image from company website