Every once in a while distilleries get really special casks. They get filled, monitored regularly, and at one point they’re deemed ready to be bottled. Now the question is, what do they do with them? Most would probably opt for a bottle your own option, while others would go with a single cask offering. Others may be too big for dealing with single casks, and would sell it off to an independent bottler. This Golani unicorn cask was to be a bottle your own at Whisky Live Tel Aviv 2020, but given the COVID-19 outbreak, that doesn’t seem to be on the books.
I had a chance to visit the distillery with a good friend who came in from Finland in early March, just before international travel became crazy (on non existent, now) and social distancing became an issue. I had a chance to sample this cask during my visit. Things being as they are, David is going to bottle this cask at the distillery and offer it for sale through his website.
Everything about this unicorn cask is special. Firstly, this is single malt new make, comprised of three different types of malt: Pale ale malt, pilsner malt and lightly peated malt. This cask is a 110 liter French Oak barrique, which held a naturally fermented sour wind (ancient style wine). Given the small amount this cask yielded, it will be sold in 250 ml bottles.
Golani Single Malt Unicorn Cask 27, Distilled 1/2017, Bottled 4/2020, French Oak Red Wine Barrique (110 Liter), Cask Yield 71.9 Liters, or 34.6% Angel’s Share (57.7% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Copper, with a reddish hue. The legs form really slowly off a very solid necklace.
Nose: Sweet orange flavored chocolate, freshly ground cinnamon, coffee and a very distinct note of apricot jam. There’s a tiny whiff of Golani mint in there, but it plays hide and go seek within the woody notes. Toasted oak and some damp earth. As it rests in the glass, you get more of a floral red wine, together with some maltiness and a hint of lightly burnt cereal, with a very earthy aroma to it.
Water brings out more of the tannins and the sweetness of the wine.
Palate: Thick with spice and mint, some macerated fruit and a tannic dryness. The macerated fruit is more like the dried fruit you get in a dried fruit cake, not in the berry sense of it. Water is your friend for the palate on this one, and while it brings out more of the spiciness, it also rounds it out for and brings out more sweetness. With water and enough time, you’ll be able to make out the peat in it.
Linger: Wow, this Linger is sweet with a lot of spice and a very interesting mintiness, which is definitely part of the Golani DNA. In the background, you’ll also get some tartness from the naturally fermented wine. It turns into a dryness that will have you thinking of this dram for a while.
That last note on the nose I got before adding water, the burnt cereal, took about 15 minutes in the glass to appear. There is the little bit of peated malt that went into making this whisky. If you’re impatient with this dram, you’ll miss it.
While you definitely still have the mint, the caramel and licorice are absent, and the wine really takes this expression in a different, and fascinating direction.
This is definitely a bottle you want to have, especially if you’ve tasted other Golani single casks (or if you haven’t, make sure to save some of this one for when you get the next).