You might say that I’m a bit obsessed with those “secret Orkneys”. And you might be absolutely right. This 16 years old whisky from the Orkney islands comes in a curious bottle, with a one-legged pirate dog (yes, a pirate dog!) on the label. It was bottled after a full maturation in a bourbon cask, and this bottle is part of the Jack’s Pirate bottling series by the prolific German bottler Jack Wieber. I remember trying another bottle from the same serie some years ago at a whisky festival in Berlin and I was… well, sadly I was not impressed to say the least. But I was young and stupid, and I was probably simply not ready to embrace the awesomeness of Jack, the pirate dog. So now, after some years, and also because I generally like Jack Wieber’s bottling, I decided to give this whisky series a second chance. So let’s proceed with my canine tasting notes.
Nose: Very different from that other (awesome) indie Orkney I reviewed some months ago. Heavy, fat, oily and alcoholic. It’s not fruity at all, and I find it quite grassy and subtly smoky. It smells a bit like a glass full of salted and roasted pecan nuts… There is also a bit of wet wood coming through. Really, if you’re looking for sweetness you should go to some other buccaneer, because Jack the Pirate is rather gonna give you bitterness and salt. With water, if possible, it seems to become even more bitter, kind of woody. With wood-polish on top. There is even a surprising sulphureous smell, I think. All in all it really reflects the label: weird, and yet intriguing.
Taste: A bit shy, but it’s just a moment. Let it rest some minutes in the glass and it rewards you with a bitter explosion of salty, earthy, almost rubbery flavours. Very consistent with the nose, I have to say. It’s heavy, it’s dirty, it’s not for everyone, and it’s not too easy drinking. Ergo, I am enjoying it a lot. The peat comes to the party as well. Hello to you too, dear peat, I missed you. Very peppery, and the smoke is very well integrated with the rest. With water it becomes somehow more powerful and fat, with a malty personality. I still haven’t found Pirate Jack’s stolen ship (there is a whole story about the dog’s stolen ship on the back of the label), but I do find, hidden at the bottom of the palate, apples, apricots and leather. And I’m definitely not complaining about this little treasure.
Finish: It’s a salty and solid aftertaste. Oily, peppery, furious and fiery, with a bit of chocolate. Now it’s not too bitter, not too smoky, it’s simply delicious.
Overall: It’s difficult, as I expect others not to like this weird and unique Orkney. But I did, and I do: 86/100! To summarise, I find it intriguing, interesting and definitely tasty, it’s just that the almost complete absence of sweetness can make it, maybe, a bit challenging. It definitely wasn’t a challenge to finish the bottle, though!