Upper Ten, NAS, 40 %
This is a real classic in Norway. The Upper ten blended whisky was launched back in 1927! It is a product from the Norwegian state monopoly (now Arcus), but consisting entirely of single malt and grain whisky produced in Scotland. It won the gold medal at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 1999, and has won numerous other prestigious international awards through the decades.
The blend is composed of around 32 single malts and 3 grain whiskies. Allegedly the product then has a 'top dressing' added (unknown how much), in the form of a 12 year old blended malt (again consisting of 46 different single malts). Then, after a final marrying period the product is ready to be bottled.
The malt content in the final product is around 47- 50 %, which is fairly high for a blended whisky. The age of the youngest components in this blend is around 4 years old, but there's a decent amount of older whiskies in the blend as well.
The Upper Ten is for sale in Norway only, at NOK 470 for a 100 cl bottle (1210601).
Nose: Cold coffee and chocolate milk, with a dash of caramel sauce. Stir it all with a wooden spoon (oak). Add a little white pepper and a pinch of cardamom and nutmeg. Serve it in a bowl of freshly cut oak, straight from the saw mill. In the background you barely notice a cold fireplace.
Taste: Skinny mouthfeel (read watery). Very spicy - black pepper and chili - on the initial sip. Toasted oak, or simply toast - burnt on the edges. Oranges and caramel. A touch of cold ashes and a thin veil of wood smoke.
Finish: Short finish. Drops dead almost immediately. I am treated to a quick caramel flash, then nothing. This might even work as a palate cleanser between other drams. My palate feels completely neutralized.
Comments: A bit too young and oaky on the nose for my liking. Nothing wrong, but not exciting either. The finish is non-existent. The subtitle is "Distinctive Peaty Character" - not quite sure I agree. There are hints of peat and smoke, yes, but it is in no way distinctive to me.
Sláinte! - Thomas