There’s a lot of myth surrounding old White Horse, so I decided to open a bottle to see how much of it is true. To cut a long story short: this is a seriously BIG and characterfull blend.
My initial response to this classic blend from the late 1960’s or early 70’s) was one of awe: ‘OK’ (stretched to the length of an 8 syllable word). It is big, it is sherried, it’s surprisingly complex. The on this blend really is massive: it hits you like a ton of bricks. Not necessarily subtle or elegant, it’s just very, very intense.
From the start it’s very full, with lots of dry sherry. I don’t know which type of sherry, but I once drank a bone-dry, salty, and ‘fusty’ sherry, and the similarities are striking. Lot’s of appley stuff (bruised apples, cider and calvados) and white pepper. It also has a clear Islay character to it, with some peatsmoke, tar, hot road, and the big earthiness you get from Lagavulin.
Time for a sip. WTF?! The taste is completely different than the smell would suggest: I would have expected something bold, waxy and malty, but instead it’s very friendly and sweet, almost like a bourbon. Rich and salty. The same things as in the nose. After the initial sweetness, some bitter notes start to evolve, with nuts and coffee. The waxyness also reappears, and there’s qquite some smokey, rubbery stuff.
The finish is surprisingly long, with more of the same, but with an unpleasant peppery heat to it. For something bottled at 40%, this is very hot.
All in all a very full, complex, drinkable blend.Very outspoken. This is a very interesting whisky, while at the same time it’s not very likable. Think of it as listening to Tony Clifton: absolutely briliant as a concept, but so-so as a musician.