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Sheep Dip Malt Whisky

Review: Sheep Dip Malt Whisky  84.5/100
a review By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on October 29, 2014

The Spencerfield Spirit Company was created by Alex Nicol, the former Marketing Director of Glenmorangie, and whisky aficionado who has held directorships with major spirits companies such as Whyte and Mackay, Beefeater Gin, and Laphroaig as well as with Scottish and Newcastle and Cadbury Schweppes. The company he formed is a family run business dedicated to an eclectic handful of whisky brands. Their Flagship brand, Sheep Dip Malt Whisky is a vatting of malt whiskies crafted by Scotland’s only third generation Master Blender, Richard Paterson. It is comprised of sixteen separate Single Malt Whiskies chosen from all four of the traditional malt whisky regions of Scotland. These chosen whiskies range in age from between 8 and 21 years and they have all been married together in fresh (first-fill) American oak barrels to produce the Sheep Dip Malt.

Sheep DipIn the Bottle 4/5

The bottle presentation for the Sheep Dip Whisky is a bit of a mixed bags of likes and dislikes. Although it is not shown to the left, the bottle arrives inside a protective white cardboard box which has an illustration of a horned sheep sitting inside an open whisky barrel. The sheep looks a little angry and his wool appears wet and matted. There is some interesting information upon the sides and back of the box which tell us about the whisky, but it is hard to get past that illustration of the angry wet sheep climbing out of the barrel.

I have seen this whisky box in the local liquor shops many times over the past few years, and I have always passed it over as looking too much like a cheap gimmick. I think perhaps (growing up on a farm and having neighbours with sheep) that I have smelled too many wet sheep in my lifetime to ever buy a bottle of whisky called Sheep Dip. (Trust me the aroma of wet sheep is not inviting)

My wife on the other hand, when she was shopping for Christmas gifts last year, could not resist the box’s charm. She was of course, not the one who was going to have to drink whatever was inside (my wife does not drink alcoholic spirits to any great degree), so the fact that the bottle presentation appealed to her as a quirky gift does not necessarily speak highly of the over-all charm she says the box possesses.  (My youngest son also thought it was hilarious that his old man received a Christmas whisky that he said “probably had a sheep dipped into it”.)

I believe that overall most person’s will like this presentation, those of us who know what wet sheep smell like will not, I guess my judgement will be reserved until I actually taste the darn stuff inside the box.

In the Glass 8.0/10

When poured into the glass, the whisky displays a nice amber tone with hints of red and a nice complex nose. When I tilt and twirl my glass, I see the whisky is slightly thickened as it drops medium-sized legs down the inside of the glass which amble back to the whisky at the bottom.

The initial nose brings to mind impressions of ready to cut grassy hay fields waving in the wind with a few spruce and poplar trees standing in the background. There is a gentle sweetness which grows as you sniff the glass, which as it builds, gave me indications of raisins and sugared dates which caused me to wonder if perhaps a few of those grain and malt whiskies which make up the Sheep Dip blend were aged in ex sherry barrels. Another impression which grows as you sniff the glass is that of sweet almond (marzipan) which again may be a reflection of the wood used to age the whisky perhaps this time the American Oak the Sheep Dip blend was finished in.

The nose would score higher but for an underlying presence of tart sourness which seems to be a remnant of sulphur within the blend. I was nosing the whisky with my good friend Dennis and he noticed the sour note as well. While I found the tart sourness distracting, Dennis did not.

In the Mouth 50/60

The impressions I received while nosing the whisky translated well to the palate. I tasted a nice sweet butterscotch up front with sandal wood and fine oak spice accenting the butterscotch sweetness nicely. The whisky has a firm maltiness, as well as appealing herbal grassy flavours, and a little touch of herbal peat nestled within its flavour as well. There is also a firm fruitiness in the form of green grape and raisin, and a rather firm presence of almond and vanilla. That same tart sourness which tainted the nose is present; but I can be forgiving, as a small dollop of ice seems to bring out a light creaminess and some nice chocolate nuances which enhance the dram, more than the sourness detracts from it.

Although I enjoy the Sheep Dip as a sipper, I did find myself adding a splash of soda to the whisky and found myself enjoying the scotch whisky just a little more in that format (see my suggested cocktail below).

In the Throat 13/15

The finish brings along some of that sour tartness which I have found distracting; but riding over the hills to save the exit is a lovely ebbing saltiness which raises the dram to a higher level. With ice I notice some stronger sherry flavours (raisins and dates) and a nice lingering chocolate which has melted into the light salty sea brine.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

I had a little fun with the bottle presentation at the beginning of this review, although as I indicated, I suspect most people will find the name and the illustration on the bottle much more appealing than I did. I also have indicated that I found a bit of sourness within the Sheep Dip Whisky which I suspect is a touch of sulphur. However, the whisky also showed me a touch of class with a wonderful light saltiness which showed up in the finish and a flavour profile which appealed to me despite the touch of sourness.

My score of 84.5/100 reflects a whisky which can be enjoyed as a sipper or a mixer, although I would lean slightly to mixing.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Cocktail

The Presbyterian Cocktail is a tall scotch based bar drink which has been gaining a bit of prominence on the cocktail blogs lately. Using high quality mixers with a malted scotch brings this simple mixed drink to a whole new level of enjoyment.

SAM_1024 The PresbyterianThe Presbyterian Cocktail

1 oz Sheep Dip Malt Whisky
1 1/2 oz Q Ginger (Ginger Ale)
1 1/2 oz Q Soda (Club Soda)

Add the Ice-cubes to a rocks or Collins glass
Pour the Sheep Dip Malt Whisky over the ice
Add Ginger Ale and Club Soda and stir

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
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As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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