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Too much of a good thing can be wonderful - Decadent Drinks

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

As Ernest Hemingway quipped ever so eloquently, the adjective “decadent” has become little more than a term of abuse applied by critics to anything they do not understand or which seems to differ from their moral concepts.


However, in this day and age a little 'decadence' or self-indulgence goes a long way in making life worth living, which is the credo that inspired the establishment of Decadent Drinks, a boutique company centred around the creation of independent bottlings of fine spirits such as whisky, rum, cognac and Armagnac.


Having released bottlings every month via their website, retail partners and international importers since its inception in 2020 and caring deeply about quality, Decadent Drinks’ Whisky Sponge series has built a quite a reputation amongst aficionados for bottling quality single cask whiskies at mostly natural cask strength.

The fact that what whisky luminary Angus MacRaild founded with Iain McClune has its focus not merely set on sourcing quality drops but is geared towards holistically creating products adorned by original artworks and designs which are often satirical, sometimes dark or arty, only adds to its appeal and has thus resulted in a bit of a devoted cult following.


A wonderful example of the exquisite liquids Decadent Drinks emits is Edition 69 of the Whisky Sponge range, i.e. the Ardmore 22 year old 2000 Bottling.


Distilled in 2000 and finished for over two years in first-fill sherry wood before bottling, this little number is clocking in at an ABV of 54.2%.


Tickling the nostrils with subtle nuances of charcoal, blackberries and cocoa powder, which are pierced by hints of strop leather and tobacco, the nose sets the scene for what is going to materialize on the palate as dark cherries are dancing with earthy peat, treacle and dark chocolate against a backdrop of dried fruits.


The elongated finish with its sticky barbecue highlights is dominated by tarry, woody lingering smoke, which leaves one lusting for another dram.


While Ardmore is not usually a preferred go-to, the marriage of dark and rich sherry influenced flavours with lightly peated, sooty wax notes makes this one a winner.


Now, claiming that we harbour a weak spot for Islay distilleries would be an understatement par excellence. Needless to say, we could not wait to sample Whisky Sponge’s Edition No.74, which is an 18 year old Bowmore that was distilled in 2003 and matured in a refill sherry butt, interrupted by spending some time out of cask, only to be put into a different refill sherry butt to complete maturation.


Bottled at natural cask strength of 55.3%, the nose already wins me over with a welcome blast of sea spray, iodine and ashy peat, which is further accentuated by an exuberant sweetness.


On the palate, inflections of soft, dry, charcoal-ey peat smoke provide the stage for tropical fruit nuances to shine on, backed by a yin/yang of saline and sweet honey flavours.

The finish evokes a Pavlovian response with its well-calibrated melange of tannic, maritime and mineral notes with the vibrancy of tropical fruit being dialled in at just the right level between sweet and tart.


Given the limited territorial allocations of Decadent Drinks’ releases, you’d be well-advised to snap one up if you are lucky enough to encounter one in the wild.


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Words by AW.

Photo courtesy of Decadent Drinks.

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