I really have to open with major kudos for M&H Master Distiller Tomer Goren. The level of craft in balancing these Apex offering is outstanding. They each have character, without being outlandish, and they’re each deserving of the Apex designation. You’ll each have a favorite of the four, but you’ll be happy with each of them. You’ll also never believe they’re three year old. We’ll done!!!
The Apex offering is a series of really special casks vatted to create something really special, showcasing either a type of cask (as in this quartet) or some other feature (I wonder what’s in store).
M&H Apex Cognac Cask (59.4% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Light bronze, extremely oily and viscous with slow legs.
Nose: The cognac is so present that on first whiff I’m not sure I’d say it’s whisky. There’s a sweetness on the nose from the grapes, with hints of heather honey, Mirabelle plum, a hint of grain and a little bit of wood spice. The nose gets sweeter over some time, with a small hint of the herbal note I noticed in the palate.
Palate: Dry and tannic on the start, with a sweet wash of honey and spice, harking back to the original bourbon casks. There’s a herbal note in the back of the pallet, a minty-sage kind of note.
Linger: Not overly long, but spicy and sweet, with some of the fruitiness running down the gullet with spice. It’s a dry Linger
This is definitely on the Apex of the offering from the distillery. These casks are beautifully selected and the whisky is indeed balance and very drinkable.
M&H Apex White Wine (Chardonnay) Cask (61.2% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Gold, very slow with a very sturdy necklace.
Nose: Floral and almost perfumy, with underlying spice and a fruity punch. Violets and honeysuckle, with a hint of lavender, followed by Sichuan pepper and a hint of clove. Pear and nectarine mix with a hint of wet stone and a tangy wine note.
Palate: Sweet with gentle spice washing interchangeably along the tongue.
Linger: Spicy and dry, with earthy notes and an almost chalky note. The spice is mostly concentrated
This is complex and interesting, with a lot going on in this dram. Again, this is balanced beautifully, with floral and fruity notes working together over the spice.
M&H Apex Rum Cask, Fully Matured in Jamaican and Cuban Rum Casks (57.3% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Deep gold, very viscous like the other whiskies in the Apex series.
Nose: Big hit of banana, followed by pineapple and and some unripe tropical fruit (green mango?). Once you get past the fruit, you get a hint of the potential for funk that Rum has, without it being actually present. These casks were selected very carfully. After the tropical wave, some very ripe orange with pepper and some honey come through.
Palate: Hello rum!!! Here are the esters that the nose hid. There’s some flavor packed in here with a rummy bitterness balanced against fruity sweetness, although it’s not as sweet as the nose would have suggested. There’s ripe banana as well as some green tropical fruit. There’s some earthy dampness there too.
Linger: Dry and estery, with spice down the gullet. The mouth feels like after eating a very unripe banana. There’s some baked pineapple and pepper running down the gullet.
This expression is a dialed up version of the other two. It has a lot of presence, and is at the Apex of the offering so far.
M&H Apex Matured in Ex-Bourbon and Finished for Six Months in Fortified Pomegranate Wine Cask (60.3% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Dark gold, nicely spaced legs running slowly off a sturdy necklace.
Nose: I expected this to be sweeter on the nose than this is. Earthy and a bit reluctant to show the pomegranate. Some minerality and baked goods. It gets earthier and has mint and red fruit (is this the pomegranate?).
Palate: Strong and bitter when sipped shortly out of a new bottle. But after it sits for a bit, it calms down and presents dry, with a hit of pepper and dark chocolate. Some bitterness, with hints of sweet citrus and soil.
Linger: Very spicy and strong, with mint and pepper playing for dominance with honey. After a while it goes dimmer and leaves a dryness.
I saved this for last as I really expected this to be my favorite. The nose is a bit shy, the Palate is good, definitely its best feature. This expression is more of a curiosity and is very special (as in not mainstream). I have to admit, that this expression has me very curious about its development in the bottle as it gets lower in the bottle.
I’ll finish with my ranking of the four Apex expressions:
1. Rum Cask – Bold, balanced and beautiful.
2. White Wine – Subtle, sophisticated and sublime.
3. Cognac – Whimsical, witty and warm.
4. Pomegranate – Special, specific and surprising.
But truly, all four bottles are well made and very well executed. They’re all outstanding as far as quality goes, and the cask selection was impeccable. If the first thought you had was “Apex for three year old whisky?”, you’d be very wrong to think that, as the casks here are really showcase examples of what you can do with high quality new make in fabulous casks.
I’ll note that I tasted these expressions with my friend and colleague Yoav Gelbfish of the Whisky Gospel blog, and while we fully agreed on the quality of the offering, his palate is not the same as mine, and he ranks them differently. So watch his blog in the coming days for his views.
Official tasting packet provided by M&H Distillery