A few weeks ago, I was (understandably) worried about the resurgence of a lockdown. That fear has come to pass at a time when my family in Australia are enjoying their first freedom in months, able to leave the house, go to a bar, meet my new niece and dote on her. On this side of the globe, I am more and more huddled into the nice arm chair next to the fire, staring into it while I write articles and reviews that are read by an intensely small amount of people.
But enough about what drives me to drink, sitting in front of that fire and thinking about my family also gets me thinking about warmer pastures. As luck would have it, I happen to have a second bottle of something from a warmer land and it’s the same distillery I looked at when worrying about lockdown in the first place (how incredibly lucky).
This World Whisky Wednesday we’re looking at the Santamania Mentidero G Edition.
I covered Santamania Distillery in my last review where I looked at their Archetype Edition, a bottling which I couldn’t really wrap my head around. It wasn’t that is was bad, more that it just didn’t seem to have any place. Whisky tends to fit in somewhere and the Archetype didn’t seem to, but you can’t judge a distillery by one bottling, so let’s look at the G Edition.
Apparently a single cask, it comes a bit of a surprise to me that I have here bottle number 282 from the 498 bottles of batch one. Whether the distillery have moved onto the second batch, I’m unsure but it’s nice to know I’m looking at something fresh and new – even if I’m a bit late to the party.
The G Edition is Santamania’s peated offering, a single malt and single cask. The malt is 100% Spanish, originating from the fields of Castilla, triple distilled before being aged in 220L American Oak Casks that previously contained Rioja Tempranillo. No age statement is given, so we’ll assume around 4 to 5 years.
There is no mention of where the peat comes from, though, given the Iberian Peninsula’s large peat deposits, I like to think that this is Spanish peat. We do know the water for the whisky comes from Sierra de Madrid, and that, once aged, the whisky is dropped down to 40%, non-chill filtered and no added colouring.
It all starts a bit confusing when the whisky puffs clouds of rusted iron flecks and nutmeg towards the nose. Somewhere in the background, some oranges have been peeled, the skin charred a touch and the flesh roasted. It follows with old honey and pepper, some brown sugar and dark chocolate. The peat manifests itself in rich earth, the accumulation of years of mown grass and winter leaves in muddle puddles, more minerally than smoky. Wet bark and dirt suddenly scatter into a fireplace to settle over coal embers and make a light layer of ash, and there’s a touch of a damp hessian sack somewhere.
A drop on the tongue gives grapefruit, strawberries and cherries, a heavy dose of apricots cooked lightly with sugar and cinnamon and a Terrys Chocolate Orange out of nowhere. Alcohol cream chocolates follow and suddenly we’ve opened a pack of After Eights as spearmint appears. Again the peat is muted, marshmallows cooked over peat and taking in the fungal and damp flavours before a hint of wet cardboard and some old pears.
The finish is long in length but small in complexity, more of a slow release of iron tang, orange juice and cacao powder. Simple but effective.
I enjoyed it, but again this is a whisky I can’t place. It’s not that the whisky is doing anything bad, it just doesn’t do anything amazing, I’m not blown away by any of the flavours. There are a host of whiskies that do nothing wrong or right but they tend to adhere to a flavour profile, the minerally notes here along side the damp peat and toasted citrus are so left of centre that there’s no real place to put the whisky.
But, while it may feel misplaced, it does feel as though it could easily fit in somewhere. Going over the whisky a few times, I began to think about the cocktails that it would suit and the idea of using this to make a Manhattan, an Old Fashioned, and a Blood and Sand is extremely exciting. Following that thought, it feels more akin to a barrel aged cocktail and I could see myself getting this in a bar and mistaking it for an Old Fashioned.
So would I buy a bottle again? For drinking it by itself, no, though my partner Somewhiskylass certainly enjoyed it. But I would buy a bottle again to experiment with the whisky. It’s exciting and gives me hope for what I might find in the whisky in the future so I can pair it with other cocktails. My readers tend to be a mixture of whisky nerds and bar tenders and, for the bar tenders in particular, I think this is something you would enjoy while, for the nerds, it would help to expand your collection and definitely be something new.
So what would I listen to while drinking? It’s got me thinking a lot, so something to suit that.
That feels just right. Salud.
If you would like to learn more about Santamania, click here to discover their story.
This review is not sponsored or endorsed by any distillery, Santamania or otherwise, and is entirely the words of the author Somewhiskybloke.
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