Today we take a look at another new independent bottler, Fragrant Drops. We’d not heard of Fragrant Drops before trying their whiskies, so reached out to get a little more detail, and they were kind enough to give us the following information on the company.
Keeble Cask Company Ltd is an Edinburgh-based barrel-to-bottle bonder, bottler and broker of Scotch Whisky casks (as well as rums and brandies), established in January 2020 by whisky specialist George Keeble. George has spent the last 12 years in the industry starting off by running a whisky club in London, adhoc writing for whisky publications, being on the judging panel for the World Whisky Awards and then becoming a production distiller in Australia.
George launched Fragrant Drops, an independent bottling range, in January 2023, with a view to only bottle liquid that he himself loves and would happily have on the shelf at home. Fragrant Drops are not scared to be experimental and pursue interesting marriages of spirit and wood, whilst never compromising on flavour and distillery profile.
Fragrant Drops Linkwood 12yo cask #3001290
This release was matured for 12 years in fresh Tokaji barrel and bottled in 2022. 260 bottles were released.
We're finding apricots straight away, it's got a lovely dried apricot sweetness that you get upfront, as well as mandarins, a hint of fresh pineapple and some runny honey too. It's also got some vanilla sweetness, blackcurrants, stewed plum jam and a slightly grassy note appearing towards the end of the nose. The alcohol feels well balanced, you can tell its there, but the maturation has added some wonderful, fruit-forward aromas.
The palate begins with candyfloss, sherbet, fresh strawberries, moving into dark chocolate, molasses, red kola and cloves towards the latter part of the palate. It has a warm alcohol spice, not overpowering but enough to back up some of the strong flavours from the maturation. The mouthfeel is really nice, oily and has that sort of viscous late harvest wine texture. Time and air starts to reveal that plum jam from the nose, with some blackberry and cherry liqueur on a very good length finish.
Nose (with water)
Water seems to dull some of those big fruit aromas somewhat, along with mellowing the alcohol too. We're still getting some of the apricot and pineapple, juxtaposed with some zesty lemon too. We can't really say we're getting much in addition to pre-dilution though.
Palate (with water)
Slightly more acidic, zestier, but we're finding some fresh green apple, honeycomb and a little bit of herbal/grassiness too. The reduction has mellowed some of the richer chocolate flavours towards the latter part of the palate, but again we think it's pretty good without water so we'd exercise caution if you were to add any.
Something different - full maturation in a Tokaji cask. It's thick, luscious and very fruit-forward. We're big dessert wine fans, and this may be bordering on too much wine influence, but we love it. We can understand why this is a touch pricier than if it were a Tokaji-finish, and we'll go out on a limb and say it's worth it.
Fragrant Drops Port Dundas 21yo
This release from the now closed Port Dundas distillery was was matured for 21 years in a refill bourbon barrel. Just 187 bottles were released.
Initial notes of creamy vanilla custard, walnuts, milkybar white chocolate and poached pears. There's a little bit of that raw grain spirit on the nose, but the cask has done a good job in overlaying creamy bourbon cask aromas on top. Saying that, you can definitely get a bit of the alcohol punching here. As the nose develops, we're finding honey nut cheerios, a hint of melon and a light citrus/fizziness appearing too.
The palate opens up with more creamy vanilla, white pepper, sour apple candies, warm ginger spice and slightly bitter oak coming through on the finish. The mouthfeel is good, it's got some texture with some roasted nuts and hot caramel sauce. The finish does last a good while, but it's a quite dry in our opinion. It's got some sweetness but it's not as sweet as we were expecting.
Nose (with water)
The nose opens up somewhat, toffee coated popcorn, fudge, with that creamy, milky-like texture. There's more white chocolate coming through too. It feels like it's taking water well, mellowing some of that spiritous, punchy alcohol.
Palate (with water)
Water brings a little more equilibrium to the palate, bringing more citrus, lemon zest, melon, and a fair amount of oak. The finish has a bit more sweetness, but overall this still feels a bit out of balance.
We really enjoy our grain whiskies, but this misses the mark slightly for us. It's a bit too hot and bitter on the latter part of the palate - we wanted a bit more sweetness. Maybe this could have benefitted from a few years in a fresher bourbon cask to impart a bit more cask influence. Saying that, it's still a good whisky, it's got good texture and it takes water well.
- 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.