Nose: Rich, with strong natural caramel and malt loaf aromas. Honeysuckle, baked pastry and polished wood. A couple of minutes development brings baked apple and clove oil - leave it for longer and notes of damson sponge cake and an almost rum-like molasses quality emerge. Water adds a creamy character and reveals the sponge more quickly.
Palate: Good weight. Very, very powerful, dry and warming at cask strength, with roasted malt flavours, assertive oak and a strong dash of black pepper. Water, however, brings out a delicious honeyed malt character, with bourbonesque notes of seasoned wood, scones, plummy fruits, a wisp of woodsmoke & leafy hints. A picnic on a park bench.
Finish: A bit too hot to handle at full strength. When water is added (and this swims very well), the finish becomes a far more pleasing intermingling of honey, malt and oak.
Comment: A mature malt, confident and well-rounded. Possibly a bit over-assertive at its eye-watering full strength, but it really blossoms with water. A hugely enjoyable unpretentious dram, more than making up in exuberance what it might lack in sophistication.