This is a real gem of a whisky my sister brought home for me while studying abroad in Kenya. No price sticker, but I seem to recall her stating she did not spend more than a few American dollars on it (it’s 250 mL) I’m going to note a few more things about this product than my usual review.
Label: A feat of marketing. “A REAL FRAGRANCE OF OAK” “Rare Premium Blend” “A blend of RARE OAK and matured whiskies.” The icing on the cake is the proofing. Hidden under the tax stamp it states the product is 40% V/V, 70 proof. Sounds legit.
Color: Light straw, like an Islay product. I swear there’s a tinge of green in there too, but maybe it’s my brain warning me of what’s to come.
Nose: Perfumed oak. Acetone and a smell that smells a lot like oak, but you can tell it’s something synthetic. It’s reminiscent of cheap pancake syrup that smells and tastes like maple, but you know it’s not really maple. There’s no barley, I’d guess this is a grain whiskey; or even more likely a GNS that has been rectified to taste like whiskey. Really digging into the nose you can pull out some grain notes, but the more you smell it the more it smells like brown vodka.
Taste: Oh boy here we go. My first thought was that this is probably 70 proof (not 40% V/V). The taste is hard to describe. Its mouthfeel is not too bad, very light. All the flavors in there are foreign to me as a spirits drinker. Notes of flat coke, cough syrup, musty cinnamon, orange rind, and the slightest hint of pepper. It should be noted that all these flavors have a weird underlying chemical tinge.
Finish: Well, as you may imagine, something that probably has never been in the same room with a barrel (and if it has that barrel has been devoid of any tannis and vanillins for years), the finish is pretty light. Gentle sweet notes linger.
Balance: This can be viewed one of two ways: a depressing introduction to cheap “whiskies” available in some markets, or a historical lesson of what the term rectifiers really meant. Either way it’s a gross Frankenstein’s monster of whisky and the best travel souvenir I’ve ever received.
Stupid letter grade: F
Would I buy again: I would happily welcome another souvenir like this in the future.