Today we look at two releases from Yorkshire based independent bottler Claxton.
Claxton's Grain Barn 30yo
This bottling is a vatting of 30yo refill bourbon barrels from an undisclosed distillery that were distilled in 16/03/1992 and bottled in 2022. 1,500 bottles were made available.
Instantly recognisable as a grain, with vanilla, sawdust and sponge cake. The nose opens up straight away, it's powerful yet the alcohol is balanced and it's mostly the desired aromas coming through. Going back we're getting some icing sugar, a little nutmeg and white pepper. It's quite a dusty nose overall, like a woodworker's workshop. There's a touch of acidity in the background too.. sour apple maybe?
Fudge, cinnamon, oak spices, slightly stale sponge cake, white pepper. The spirit has taken on an incredible amount of wood flavour from the cask, maybe too much? There's a good amount of sweetness here, it's like vanilla drizzle icing that gives it a nice texture in the mouth. There's some of that sour apple coming through and a little bit of dried pineapple too. As you continue to sip, the wood becomes less overpowering and the other flavours shine brighter. It's got a good length finish with walnuts, ginger cake and vanilla.
Nose (with water)
We're getting some ginger cake on the nose now, a little peach, more of that icing sugar and white pepper. Some of those woodier notes have receded and we're left with richer notes of fudge and cinnamon similar to what we got on the unreduced palate.
Palate (with water)
We're finding the wood more in balance now, there's still some peppery spice tingling the tongue, but vanilla, peaches and cinnamon dusted apple pie are taking centre stage. It loses a little bit of mouthfeel with the water, but the finish retains its good length.
An aromatic and flavourful grain that we found to be a bit on the woody side, but mellowed with time, air and a splash of water. It's rich for a bourbon matured whisky, we're finding those fudge, cinnamon and spice notes which we enjoy but are usually not as prominent in that cask type. Grain whisky prices are creeping up slowly it seems, so this isn't bad value for money either. We'll go with a 7.5/10.
Claxton’s Exploration Series Croftengea 4yo (2017)
This release was distilled on the 20/03/2017 and matured in a bourbon barrel. It was bottled on the 05/10/2021 at 50%.
Big hit of peat smoke, lemon peel, dried earth and mushrooms. It's funky, a little gorgonzola dolce and black pepper. Going back after some air, we're finding some gaia melon, chinese sweet and sour sauce, tinned pineapple with the syrup drained off, and a little tomato ketchup.
Tingling pepper spice mixed with bottled lemon juice and earthy peat smoke. The smoke lingers with you for quite a while, giving it a good length finish with some cigarette ash. After some air, we're finding some more of those melon flavours coming through, along with barley sugars and dry oak.
Nose (with water)
A little more acid coming through, but there's also more of a gentle smoke now rather than the punch of peat that we experienced pre-dilution. We're still getting the earthy, mushroom aromas but overall the dram has mellowed down.
Palate (with water)
Considerably sweeter on the initial palate now, sugar syrup, lighter, more balanced peat and a touch of pepper spice. We're getting a little kiwi and apricot now too, quite a complex mix of flavours. Overall we think the dram benefits from some water (unless you're a peat fiend!).
It takes a lot of confidence to release a 4 year old age statement whisky (that's not from a newly opened distillery) under your independent bottler label, and we think it's really cool that Claxtons did this. It's not a beginners dram by any means, but we can't remember the last time we tasted a Croftengea that was. It's full flavoured and we wouldn't think it had only spent 4 years in the cask. For the price we think you won't go wrong picking up a bottle if our tasting notes seem like something you'd enjoy.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
Interested in trying drams like these? We've created the Two Whisky Bros Dram Club to help you get access to high quality, rare whisky by the dram.