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I've heard very mixed opinions about this one, so I'm curious to try it. I'd never even heard of pomegranate wine before this was released, so I have minimal idea what to expect here.
N: Starts of surprisingly faint for something with such an eccentric finish. then I start getting earthy, slightly vegetal notes. There's a faint hint of fruit with a little strawberry sweetness. Some kind of tannic wood. A somewhat tarter, richer side of the strawberry emerges. Then some spices in the clove realm with a hint of cardamom. I do smell the ethanol, but it's clean and not overpowering. Hints of cashew lead into some spice that's like dry cinnamon, cardamom, and clove.
This really takes around 15 minutes to open up. Give it time.
P: Sweet, malty, spicy. It burns substantially and is kind of harsh. There's a nectar character to this that gets kind of nutty like buckwheat, then brings in a bit of red fruitiness and orange peel - less than I'd expected though - before moving into a little dungeness crab or possibly rust. Some minerality hangs out in the corners. There's a definite funkiness throughout here in which I get waves of various spices (cinnamon, ginger, clover, cardamon, white pepper) mixed with young spirit, some bit of vegetal flavor and that particular profile of fruit. What it reminds me most of is actually Rabbit Hole Dereringer.
The palate is unfortunately harsh. For a second, I thought it might just be spicy, but I've concluded that it actually is harsh.
F: Numbing from the spice. Somewhat vegetal with a bit of earthiness and faintly present fruit. A kind of tartness from the fruit on the long finish. Not a super interesting or enjoyable conclusion, but not bad.
- Conclusion -
I thought I might be criticizing a syrupy sweet profile here, but actually I'm pretty fine with the wine's influence. This reminds me most of Rabbit Hole Dereringer. Whereas the Rabbit Hole goes too far with the sherry influence, this stays within a reasonable range and has a profile that seems innately more suited to the funky wind influence. That said, this is clearly young and harsh. I say that about the Rabbit Hole as well, but this is moreso. Honestly though, if you'd asked me which one had the pomegranate wine finish, I'd have guessed the Rabbit Hole.
I don't dislike this and I did know that it would be young, but this just seems too young. What astonishes me though is how good the pomegranate wine influence is. A release of this with 10 years in a somewhat neutral barrel followed by a pomegranate wine finish? I'd be excited to try that.
As for a rating, I love the potential here, but the youthfulness of the distillate seems quite flawed. Considering the harshness, a 14 seems as high as I can go. I can faintly imagine a 15, but I don't think so. I considered as low as a 12, but I spent most of my time waffling between a 13 and a 14. Because of how harsh it is, I landed on a 13.
This was really a fascinating experience. It was absolutely not what I expected. And although I can't say I loved this, I'm excited by the potential for future pomegranate wine finishings from Milk & Honey.
Thanks so much, @PBMichiganWolverine , for the sample of this! Milk & Honey's success with such an unusual cask was eye opening and I'm looking forward to trying some of their older releases when they become available.
December 2, 2021 (edited December 4, 2021)
3.5 out of 5 stars
Nose: FRUITY, some sweet pastry notes, candy and some maltiness with a bit of baking spice.
Palate: FRUITY, sweet pastry, old candy, char, honey graham and maltiness with a touch of spice.
Finish: Medium-long -> Dried dark fruit with some honey graham.
November 30, 2021 (edited December 15, 2021)
4.0 out of 5 stars
I’ve been interested in trying Milk and Honey for a while now, but have kept hearing mixed reviews and with their relatively young age statements, I’ve steered clear. Thankfully @PBMichiganWolverine was kind enough to provide me with a sample of this pomegranate wine finished whisky to try and finally be able to check Israeli off my whisky globe country list.
After pouring the sample and going in for a nose it’s strong and closed off with sour fruits and that high proof overpowering the notes, but after a good 15 minutes the high ethanol begins to calm down to reveal those malty fruity flavors.
The nose starts with a rich caramel followed by buttermilk pancakes that are topped with whipped cream and fruits of pomegranate seeds, sour cherries and strawberry syrup that transitions to light floral notes then spices of ginger, cloves, leather and polished oak with high ethanol burn.
The taste is a rich mouthfeel starting with fresh baked cinnamon rolls that are topped with cream cheese frosting that transitions to fruits of pomegranate seeds, sour cherries, sautéed apples and orange peel that then has a medium drying spice that then fades to dark chocolate, light floral notes then to spices of ginger, cloves, leather and medium tannic oak with high ethanol burn.
The finish is medium length with sour cherries, pomegranate juice, dark chocolate, cinnamon churros, orange zest, ginger, cloves, leather and slightly ashy oak.
This is a rich high proof whisky that starts with a nose of pastry, balanced mix of sour red fruits showcasing that pomegranate wine cask along with oak barrel spices that carries over to the palate with rich sweet pastry leading before those sour fruits of the pomegranate wine intermix with bourbon citrus that turns into a medium dry spice mid-palate that fades to chocolate, light floral and barrel spices before finishing with a mild sourness, pomegranate, red berries, citrus, dark chocolate, fried pastry notes and slightly tannic oak.
If you enjoy pomegranates and whisky, this is a must buy that manages to find a balanced approach to combine those sour red berries in with a rich decadent whisky. These appear to be costing around $100 right now, which might seem like a lot for a 3-year-old whisky, but it’s a very unique spin that works well and I really hope they have some future releases of older stock with the pomegranate finish.
Once you pass the ethanol it’s beautiful. Some classic speyside notes and a slight sour sweetness on the nose that expect from Pomegranate. Barrel tannins were a little heavy on the palate, but the dark berry notes make it’s a very enjoyable sip.
October 2, 2021 (edited December 1, 2021)
4.25 out of 5 stars
Born and raised in the US, yet from a south Asian heritage, there’s always a conflict of balancing the traditional Asian culture against the American way of life. This permeates in everything —the very notion of the American “ it is my right “ is so contrary to the Asian “it is my obligation “. As an example—Way we raise our kids, way we treat our parents—-it’s less about “me “ as opposed to “ us “. There is that fundamental difference in the inherent “my right “ vs “my obligation “.
Of course, there’s non-divisive balancing acts as well—-like cuisine. One such item is the noble pomegranate. Here in US, this fruit is reduced to salad toppings and smoothies. But if you look at Indian, Israeli, Turkish, Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine, this fruit is elevated to amazing heights. Growing up, we always considered having this as a special treat. It was expensive, and of course seasonal. My mom used to make a dish with pomegranate, potatoes , green chilies , asofoetida, cumin, and coriander seeds. Stir fried over ghee, the house just had the aroma of spices and fruit.
So—when I saw @worldwhiskies95 ‘s review on this, it bought back memories of taking such a noble fruit, and elevating it to where it truly is the star. I had to buy a bottle of this whiskey.
First whiff, you get the wine aroma. Not necessarily pomegranate yet. More red berries and vanilla. But on the palette, you get that pomegranate—-backed up by dark chocolate. Really well made, where the cask seems to have a huge influence. I wished it had more time in cask, but that’s just me—-I wanted more pomegranates. If you don’t like wine influence, or a strong floral / fruity taste, this may not be for you. Like the cultural divisions between east and west, I can see this being polarizing as well. Not for everyone, but a worthwhile pour at the least.