Wilson and Morgan – Home Blend 35 Year Old (80-15 SW 26 W&M208)
Review: Wilson and Morgan – Home Blend 35 Year Old (89/100)
“Sherry Wood” Butt #26 (W&M 208)
Review By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published July 03, 2016
Wilson and Morgan is an independent bottler of Scotch Whisky based in Italy. The company was founded in 1992 by Fabio Rossi who also founded Rum Nation. Wilson and Morgan specialize in single grain and single malt whiskies which have been purchased by the barrel from selected Scottish distillers. The whisky barrels purchased range in age from 10 years to 30 years and are left to age (usually at the distillery where they were purchased) until they are ready to be bottled sometimes after they have been re-casked for finishing in port, rum or Marsala casks.
The 198o Sherry Wood 35 Year Old Home Blend Whisky (barrel #26) was distilled in 1980 and bottled in 2015. The whisky is part of Wilson and Morgan’s Collector’s Edition which comprises of special bottlings all of which are currently aged 30 years or more. The whiskies within this aged blend were married together in a sherry butt, (barrel number 26) which produced 529 bottles at 47.6 % alcohol by volume (my bottle is number 424). This spirit was bottled with the intent to create a venerable old whisky which would hearken back to an earlier time when well aged blends were the undisputed crown jewels of Scottish whisky.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
The only place in my review where I factor in the cost of the spirit is when I judge the presentation. My feeling is that very expensive offerings should ‘look the part’ so to speak as often these expensive spirits are purchased as special gifts or to honour some special occasion. This means that although there is certainly nothing wrong with the manner in which this whisky is presented, I feel that for a spirit which is advertised for about $270.00 (Canadian) more could have been slightly more done to raise the bar.
The whisky arrives in a standard tall bottle with an easy to read front and back label. There is however, very little ‘pop’ to either the front or the back to capture my attention. And unfortunately, the side labels feature a very small font on a beige background which is very difficult to read. The display box which houses the whisky is nice, but again not spectacular. A lower priced whisky would have garnered a perfect score, but a ‘Collector’s Edition’ 35 Year Old Whisky perhaps deserves just a little better.
In the Glass 9/10
The whisky shows a deep dark bronze colour in the glass, and when the glencairn is tilted and slowly twirled we can see that the well-aged whisky left a thickened sheen on the inside of the glass. The crest of that sheen is quite stubborn, but it does slowly release a few medium fat droplets which amble back to the whisky at the bottom of the glass.
The nose brings notes of dark brown sugar combined with rich baking spice and sherry-like notes of dates and raisins. Vanilla and orange marmalade come forward as does a welling of pipe tobacco spice. Hints of ‘old leather jacket’ seem to wisp into the air only to disappear and then reappear as wet burlap. Milk chocolate and coffee are hinted at as is just a touch of sour (which oddly is not unwelcome). Everything is melded together nicely, and as you nose the whisky different smells and aromas come forward into the breezes revealing the complexity of a 35-year-old spirit.
In the Mouth 53.5/60
Sherry-like flavours of figs, dates and raisin dominate the entry along with a heavy dose of deep dark tobacco spice. Bittersweet dark chocolate, bitter wood sap, canned apricots, and bits of orange marmalade all mingle within the sherried flavour of the whisky. There is also a ribbon of Demerara sweetness, and as I continue to allow the glass to breathe, more of this rum-like sweetness comes forward. The whisky carries a 47.6 alcohol push which intensifies the flavours somewhat. Small sips are recommended as the intensity of the spirit can become overwhelming.
In the Throat 13/15
The exit is all about the sherry cask as rich flavours of dates and raisins ebb upon the palate. Spicy bits of cinnamon are left glowing within the pools of sherry flavour. Unfortunately there is also some bitterness of wood sap which has crashed the party and lingers behind like an unwelcome guest. (I am quibbling here, but the unwelcome bitterness is my explanation for the score which does not quite reach the heights I expected ib this portion of the review.)
The Afterburn 9/10
The Wilson and Morgan Homeblend 35 Year Old Whisky is a wonderful spirit. Although I found the rich sherry flavours within the whisky perhaps dominated the dram more than I would like, I suspect that those who love sherry cask whiskies will think I am crazy and they will appreciate the spirit even more than I do. The only other niggling flaw is that there is a touch of woody bitterness which appears briefly in the delivery and then reappears at the exit. That touch of woody bitterness may be overlooked quite easily however as the whisky has a wonderful depth and character which only comes with long-term aging.
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
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)