At 8 years old this is the youngest whisky in the 2020 Diageo Special Releases (2019’s was a 15 year old Talisker), though it does offer one unique spin: It’s aged in refill casks then finished in pot-still Caribbean rum casks, a first for this distillery (and, I think, a first in the Special Releases series).
What’s funny is that the rum cask really can’t stand up to the brooding intensity of the underlying Isle of Skye malt. The nose is a powerhouse of roasted meats and smoky peat, though it is filtered through an interesting sweetness that you wouldn’t immediately peg as built around rum.
The palate feels like liquid barbecue, beefy and smoky and slicked with a sweet brushing of BBQ sauce. Again, it feels fairly straightforward, although its youth ensures that it maintains a hefty, boozy backbone to keep things peppery and fiery. Give it time and a hint of brown sugar, overripe pineapple, and rummy hogo come into focus — and it does manage to hang on for a surprisingly lengthy ride.