[Review] Lustau - Very Rare Oloroso Sherry (M&S)

Something a little bit different today. I know the idea for the blog revolves around whisk(e)y but I thought I would also give other drinks a go. Now before you wonder, there is actually a whisky connection with the bottle I am about to write about. Most distilleries use ex-Bourbon barrels to age their new-make spirit but many of them also use different types of casks to "finish" their whisky, from ex-Port, to ex-Moscatel, to ex-wine... However, there is one type of cask that you will find more frequently used to finish a whisky if not used for the entire ageing process: ex-Sherry butts. 
Sherry is a fortified wine made mainly in Southern Spain. "Fortified wine" means that we start with standard wine to which, once it has been fermented, we had some spirit to make them more stable and of course enjoyable. There are several types of Sherry produced, Fino (light, crisp and dry, best enjoyed chilled), Manzanilla, Amontadillo, Palo Cortado, Oloroso, Pedro Ximénez (PX - sweet and thick) and finally Cream (extra sweetened). The Oloroso is in my mind the most commonly used in the whisky industry followed by the Pedro Ximénez and this is the reason why I decided a couple of months ago to get a bottle of Oloroso Sherry, and that is what leads me to today's post.

I bought my 37.5cl bottle from Marks and Spencer for a reasonable £8. It is produced by Emilio Lustau in Jerez de la Frontera, one of the main Sherry town (the word "Sherry" actually comes from the Spanish name "Jerez") but is obviously bottled under the M&S label. From my research, Lustau is one of the main Sherry producer but next time I will try an older Oloroso like the 30 year old Matusalem by Gonzales Byass for example. So what about my bottle? It is 20% ABV. In the glass it is quite mahogany colour. 

Nose: Rich and buttery, nutty, some hints of dark chocolate and citrus notes, a bit of raisin.

Palate: Quite fresh and crisp first, dry before revealing more nuttiness and citrus notes again. Quite tangy

Finish: The tangy nuttiness persists, walnuts and almonds.

As much as I wouldn't really have nibbles with a glass of single malt, this Sherry is crying out for some tapas accompaniment such as pieces of milky Manchego cheese or slices of strong Serrano ham!

Now the question is: can you see the link between the original Oloroso and a malt matured in ex-Oloroso casks? And I think I have got the perfect dram for that: the Aberlour A'bunadh fully matured in ex-Oloroso casks.

Colour-wise, you can definitely see the link (the A'bunadh is bottled at cask strength, without chill-filtration or E150 addition). On the nose, the Aberlour is less tangy and sweeter obviously but you still get that nutty chocolaty smell and again on the palate. The ABV is obviously slightly stronger (59.7% for Batch 53!!!) so the addition of water is a must to be able to compare them both. You can definitely see and taste the connection and, as I am now drinking them side by side, I must say they really complement each other fantastically! Drinking them both at the same time creates such a great balanced palate where the tangy notes of the Oloroso tone the Aberlour sweetness down adding an extra-layer of nutty flavour, whilst the A'bunadh adds more strength and sweetness to the Sherry. Definitely an experiment worth trying! And as Sherry is not very fashionable these days, good Sherry butts become rarer, making it harder (and more expensive) for distilleries to get hold of quality ones to age their spirit. So buy and enjoy sherry so that in the future, we can still enjoy quality sherry-matured single malts!

I am now looking forward to trying that again with different finishes!


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