Noah’s Mill is a whiskey of real heft. It’s bottled at 57.15% ABV (114.3 proof), but its strength doesn’t mask its character. Its fifteen years in American white oak have given it the weight and the body to match its sheer potency, and it’s all the brighter for it.
On the nose, the first thing you’ll get is the real acetylene kick of the alcohol. There’s no disguising it, and it really puts you on notice that you’d better be ready for what’s coming. This isn’t a gentle sipper. Steel yourself for it and you’ll be rewarded, though. Behind the coconut frosting, amidst the perennial bourbon palette of sweet vanilla and warm toffee is a beguiling mélange of darker notes. There’s blackberry, aniseed and fiery black pepper. There’s a lot on offer here: rather than the sweetly genteel warmth of a Kentucky afternoon, it’s the sultry, aggressive heat of a summer night.
The taste follows where the scent has led. It’s chewy and peppery on the tongue, as syrupy manuka honey competes with piquant spice. With every sip the fight begins anew, and the balance oscillates intriguingly. Yes, it’s a little inconsistent, but it’s also lively and bright in a way that reminds me of young Yoichi with a bolder body.
The finish is treacly and resinous, with hints of a much fresher sweetness – almost mint – that hasn’t really been there before. Add water and it becomes lighter, but also loses something of its essence. Without the robustness it’s slightly bitter, and feels a little flimsy. It’s more quaffable, to be sure, but not so much as to make up for what’s been lost. Keep this at full strength: you owe it to yourself to see what lurks in its sultry depths.
Nose 20 Taste 21 Finish 19 Balance 20