Since the brand first arrived stateside in 2016, we’ve covered several expressions of Writers’ Tears over the years (here and here), most recently one of their newest releases, Red Head, aged in sherry casks. The brand has offered a rare cask strength bottling annually since 2011, but we’ve only ever had the opportunity to sample it once, in 2020. Chris reviewed it then, and the experience was, for lack of a better word, challenging, as it was by his estimation completely unlike the sweet and approachable classic offering of Writers’ Tears. For its thirteenth release, 1,800 bottles of Writer’s Tears Cask Strength were made available to the United States. As with all previous releases, this is a no-age-stated blend of sourced, bourbon barrel-aged single pot still and single malt whiskey, presumably the same mix as the standard offering. It has been bottled non-chill filtered and at cask strength. Is this newest expression a different experience from the 2020?
You bet. The aroma is bright and surprisingly mild at cask strength with notes of sweet oak, caramel candies, and vanilla fudge. A bit of fresh stone fruit tries to develop as things open in the glass, but it never fully arrives, leaving Runts and sugary peach cobbler filling in its stead. While certainly not savory, the oak is a touch aggressive, but water goes a long way to relieving some of the cask strength pepper and tannins. And that natural sweetness that Chris found elusive in the 2020 release is here in this latest expression, albeit somewhat restrained. The palate is lively and well-spiced with sweet candied ginger and clementine notes. A layer of butterscotch pudding and oatmeal crumble add more confectionary depth while cracked pepper and more gingery spice offer a counterpoint to the sweetness. The finish is fruity and gently drying with orange slices and, at last, a lingering note of ripe peach.