The Exceptional releases consist of small batch blends which are married in first-fill Oloroso Sherry casks. The range was originally introduced in 2013, though launched into the UK in May 2016.
Our notes are below.
The Exceptional Grain (3rd Edition)
The Exceptional Grain is a blend of grain whiskies from a several distilleries. They’re married and matured in first-fill Oloroso Sherry Butts for about 6 months and although the bottling carries no age statement; it includes a 12 year old (yo) North British, 21 yo Strathclyde, 32 yo Cameron Bridge and 33 yo Carsebridge .
This is the 3rd Edition of the expression; it’s bottled at 43%.
Quite a soft nose initially, but gets sharper as it opens up.
Lots of coconut, vanilla and oaty porridge sweetness with some sweet nuttiness too. A little sharp green apple and then boiled sweets (fruit pips?) and icing sugar along with light milk chocolate.
Some buttery pastry makes an appearance and just a hint of Lemon Curd.
Arrival is much more fruit-driven than the nose would suggest; this immediately reveals sweet apple tart and rich lemon curd. Rich, slightly oily mouth feel.
Fruit subsides and replaced by some creamy notes,
Bit of a spicy kick with some cloves and pepper notes and a little leather into the dark fruity, slightly bitter finish. Medium length and sherry influence becomes clear at this stage.
The Exceptional Malt (2nd Edition)
The Exceptional Malt is a blended malt, consisting of 11 different malts Glenfarclas, Ben Nevis, Balvenie, Kininvie, Glenfiddich, Alt-a-BHaine, Auchriosk, Glenallachie, Westport and MAcallan casks.
Once again a mix of whisky ages with 11 yo, 20 yo & 21 yo Ben Nevis, 22 yo Auchroisk, 21 yo Glenallachie, 14 yo Westport, 13 yo Speyside and 30 yo Macallan.
This is the second edition of the Malt expression and it’s again bottled at 43%.
Spiky nose and immediate flavour is a big punch of mango, though this does subside quickly. Still remains sharp, with vintage sweet shop specials such as Soor Plooms and Lemon Sherbet.
Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut with apricot notes and a bit of buttered toast.
Very difficult to pin down the nose!
Quite dry mouthfeel; tobacco, dried ginger, dark chocolate dark cherries. Slight caramel makes an appearance, but pretty dark robust flavours otherwise.
From Fruit and Nut to Bournville; this leaves a slightly dry, bitter chocolate in the fairly long finish.
The Exceptional Blend (1st Edition)
A blend of malts and grains (roughly 40/60 ratio), including a 33 yo Cameron Bridge which are then married in a first-fill Oloroso Sherry Cask.
This is the first edition of the Blend and it’s bottled at 43%.
Very subtle, dry nose. Fresh parsley initially, but replaced by a pear drop acetone sweetness and just a hint of smoke.
Cut grass, sugared almonds, slightly salty butter and dry sponge cake appear as it opens up.
It’s dark chocolate oranges all the way here, lovely waxy rich mouthfeel and becomes more milky and vanilla as it goes on.
Some dry tobacco and clove bitterness appears, but all feels very well balanced.
The dark notes subside a little in the finish, replaced by Fruit & Nut milk chocolate and just enough dryness to hold the flavour.
Really lovely finish.
These are three very well blended whiskies and each is interesting in its own right.
For me, the Blend edges it over the Grain, but only just.
The Malt has a lovely nose; however just a bit too much bitter flavour for my liking, though it’s still a great dram and you’d be happy buying any of these bottles.