Bimber Re-Charred Oak Casks, Bimber Distillery, 51.9%, OB, NAS, 2019 (of 5,000 Bottles)
Fruity and Spicy
Note: We assign every bottle we review to one of five Flavour Camps, based on the most dominant flavours found. The Flavour Camps are : (1) Fragrant and Floral, (2) Fruity and Spicy, (3) Malty and Dry, (4) Rich and Round and (5) Smokey and Peaty. To learn more about each Flavour Camp, please click here.
What is up Pandas, we have a double-header for you today, back to back Bimbers. This isn’t one for the DFS catalogs and its much less heard of in this part of the world, but over in UK, Bimber is part of a growing field of distilleries cropping up in England. Its found much success with whisky aficionados in the UK for its rather purist distillation techniques (you can find some good overviews on Malt Review) and policy of encouraging actual drinking rather than collecting of their bottles, that has them gushing over Bimber’s releases (which to their credit, have been priced incredibly affordably).
First up, we have the Bimber Re-Charred Oak Casks, which is set apart by its use of casks that have been charred to what is called an alligator char (char level #4). What the heck does that mean you might ask. No alligator jokes. So these American oak casks have been so intensely charred that they’ve blistered to an appearance like that of an alligator’s skin. So imagination aside, what does that do for the whisky? Well this blistering increases the surface area of the cask to the distillate, which means a more intense maturation that gives a stronger flavor profile, despite the shorter maturation time. So expect some pretty strong flavors. Here we go!
Colour, a deeper hue of copper, mahogany, honey, very rich and deep in hue. I suppose that is the result of the copper stills used… I am kidding, did you think I was serious? Maybe. But nah its due to the recharred oak casks used which lends stronger flavors to the distillate accelerating the shorter maturation period. The color is a byproduct of that intense maturation. Its always with the instant gratification with everyone.
On the nose, it’s a flavor punch! Its sweet, like tinned peaches, nectarines, dried fruits, and yet savory at the same time, with cinnamon, star anise, cloves, nutmeg. Then there’s a touch of pepper that pricks the nose, white pepper and ginger, like ginger tea or bak kut teh (herbal pork rib soup). The flavors are so intense, you don’t even think about the scent of alcohol that delivers the nose. It has this ripe syrupy texture to the nose, reminds me of McDonald’s golden pancake syrup. Great harmony, sweet, savory, peppery, toasty, warm, you name it.
Taking a sip, very very warm. The 51.9% abv really comes through. Its almost as if my palate is experiencing the same char the casks got. Its light on the palate in terms of weight, its not as thick as the nose would have you think and so so smooth. The first sip is just so intense that it really catches your attention but in an absolutely good way and wakes you right up, you don’t even have time to catch the flavors. Second sip now, a more deliberate attempt to catch it. At the tip of your tongue you get really fragrant vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, this is fairly consistent with the nose, its like a chai latte. Christmas vibes. That transitions to the mid palate with a more herbaceous tinge, minty, slightly bitter, like eucalyptus (maybe Vicks), which then goes to the back palate (and gets larger and larger in mouthfeel as it goes across the palate) and becomes ever so spicy. Its really at the back where the charred cask becomes obvious with the warm toasty more woody taste. It can get quite umami at the back and alittle nutty, like walnut.
Down the hatch, the finish is long, but very clean, very crisp. It’s refreshing and leaves this tinge of herbaceous-ness. Its sweet but with all that is going on, the sweetness tends to hit you as an afterthought. It’s somewhere between grapefruit and an unripe orange or a green apple, sweet with a kick of tartness. It really transitions from nose, through the palate and down so seamlessly.
For a young whisky, this bottle really tries to drive home the point that it can be just as big in flavor despite the age, or rather lack thereof. It certainly is complex, gotta give it that. But I think what just doesn’t feel quite right is that it almost feels clinical and formulaic. Like overcompensating by trying to tick everything off a checklist. Don’t get me wrong, it really is a marvelous effort what they’ve managed to do.
But it lacks the finesse or self-assurance to be uniquely itself. It comes in hot and heavy, eager to please. But as you know, a bottle for all is a bottle for none. I would love to see it be unabashedly itself but unfortunately I do think that might need some added maturity. That said, great value for money and that is why it is constantly sold out. You will like this is you like smooth Japanese whisky, or minty chai, and Vicks I guess.
As eager as Bimber's fans are for its new releases, sometimes a little age could help. I give this a rating of a baby.