Yesterday I paid a visit to the Cley Distillery in Rotterdam and on my way there I stopped by my drambuddie Single Malt Snob to drop of some samples from my latest Explorers Pack. As it turned out he had a couple of samples for me as well, including this Goalong Small Batch 2023. A small batch whisky created from five different casks. A Tennessee cask, Bourbon Cask, Wine Cask, Sherry Cask and Brandy Cask! Be sure to check out his review about this whisky as well!
Technically I don’t think there will be too much difference between the Tennessee Cask and the Bourbon Cask. The only difference between Bourbon and Tennessee Whisky is the state where it is made and the use of the Lincoln County Process (a process of filtering the whisky through charcoal). But it does give us a clue where the barrel might have come from (some distilleries in Tennessee don’t even call their whiskies “Tennessee Whiskey”). Whereas the bourbon cask might be from anywhere in the United States.
Goalong is a relative newcomer in the whisky scene as this Chinese distillery has only begun producing whiskies in 2011. On their website they state the name is a homonym of Gaolong, which means being continuously aggressive and forging ahead bravely. Yet from what I gather from my glass this is not a very aggressive spirit at all. The good thing about it though (even before tasting) is that this edition is aimed at us whisky affcionados, being bottled at 48%, un-chillfiltered, and natural colour. They are going for integrity and I can wholly appreciate that!
Tasting Notes: Goalong – Small Batch 2023
ABV: 48% (96 Proof)
Distillery: Goalong Distillery
Category: Chinese Single Malt Whisky
Natural Colour: Yes
It’s a cloudy afternoon, but the clouds are more than welcome. It’s the middle of summer after all and it means that I can sit comfortably in my garden, without the need to rush back into the airconditioned living room after a minute or two. I suddenly found myself with some spare time today, and unexpected free time is always a blessing. Clearly this put me in a good mood for a nice dram of whisky and that’s why I decided to pour this Goalong Small Batch 2023 neat into one of my Dram1 glasses, sit back, enjoy the quiet, and sip away!
The first thing that popped in my head when I approached the glass was new-make. There’s a definite “youngness” to this dram. It’s also rather sharp, so approach with caution. I’m finding quite a bit of malt (which reminds me somewhat of porridge), fresh cut grass, honeysuckle, vanilla, and an herbal tea (fresh nettle tea to be precise). Based on the colour of this dram I had expected to pick up much more cask influence on the nose. Though I’m not finding that as much, I do pick up on plenty of complexity. But the scents are a bit too juvenile for my liking.
The palate of this dram is a completely different experience from the nose. The nose was a bit too generic perhaps for me, but the palate really brings a flavour profile unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before. The fresh cut grass nose returns from the nose, but quickly turns into more of a hay. There are some odd tannins in there as well, in the sense that they’re clearly present but very mild at the same time. I’m also picking up on a banana foam candy (bananenschuimpjes for the Dutchies) note that I have to admit is a guilty pleasure of mine, so it scores some points in my book there. Lastly, I’m finding some pineapple syrup which is another note that I do appreciate.
There’s plenty of good stuff going on here, but I’m finding the flavours a little too jarred for my liking. It’s like an orchestra where one instrument plays off-key (though I can’t put my finger on which note puts me off liking this dram more than I do).
The uniqueness of this dram continues in the finish, where tannins and hints of mint reign supreme. It vaguely reminds me of an after eight-chocolate paired with liquorice root. There’s an interplay of these two flavours that I do find very entertaining. As it is a long finish and after a while suddenly the mint flares up again and then a little later it’s once again the liquorice root. I do find myself wishing it had a few more flavours to play with here though, as it does become rather monotone after a while. You can of course fix that by taking another sip.
I appreciate what Goalong is trying to do here, it shows they are as brave as they imply in their philoshophy as aiming your product towards whisky lovers means it will also be very critically judged. I do feel that this whisky was bottled a little bit too soon, as some more time in the barrel might have given a bit more depth to the flavours. I’m very glad that I got to try a Chinese whisky though and I truly applaud the direction they are taking the distillery in. I’m very grateful to Tim for sharing a dram with me so that I could try this, and though I’m not finding myself eager to pick up a bottle of this dram anytime soon it did spark my interest enough that I will be keeping an eye on the distillery for the foreseeable future.