Approaching the nose on this discontinued dram is like nosing half of a lemon skin holding caramel custard, candied oranges from Victorian era, orange oil from the Renaissance, and olive oil from 5th century Athens, all cryogenically preserved in the caramel custard until it was spooned into the lemon skin. There are also hints of plantain leaves crocheted into the ascot version of a Scardigan, the Scardscot, with palm fronds used as thread to lace them--in the color of apricot, of course. The person wearing the Scardscot is Julia Child, of course, and she's drinking the most exquisite orange pekoe tea you've ever encountered. And she's sitting on the back porch watching a scarecrow made of ever-so-slightly fermented clementine oranges that attracts ravens and leaves them drunk--and only when they get rowdy afterwards do they become an unkindness.
The mouth is like melted ice cream you failed to eat in time because you found the perfect distraction from it. The middle is creamy and sophisticated, like a Twinkie made by a Michelin 3-star pastry chef. The body of the whisky is simply perfect. I'd say it's like this or that beautiful celebrity, but then I'd have to issue a full-blown DISANALOGY ALERT, because you know damn well that were you to run into that person in real life, it wouldn't be as good as the airbrushed or well-lit version you're used to fantasizing about. By contrast, this is the real thing: no makeup required, no cellulite, no wrinkles, no egos, no looking down on the little people, just structured perfection.
The finish descends gently, like a perfectly programmed drone, landing delicately with a timely delivery of peppermint molasses. The finish stays for so so long. It creates a halo around the tongue that is transcendent enough that Bill decides to beatify himself. Saint Bill pronounces, ex cathedra, that this is awesome. It's a case of halo-tongued, auto-erotic-beatification.
The Balvenie 17 Year Old Madeira Cask is Bill Murray--I mean, it's Bill Murray. Top choice here, hands down. And I don't even want to think about what we'll all do once he's gone.
--Our thanks to David Laird and the Balvenie for the sample!