I confess that I purchased this whisky a few years ago for rather shallow reasons—two of them, in fact. First there was the irresistible label. I mean just look at that dog, peg leg and all. Then there’s the fact that this Islay malt, from an undisclosed distillery and of uncertain age, was billed as being finished for 17 months in a Port Ellen sherry cask. You have to support that kind of shamelessness. I had no expectations of the quality of the actual contents of the bottle and so didn’t open it for a very long time. Not, in fact, till this August when I took it, along with another bottle, to one of my friend Rich’s annual tastings celebrating sherried whiskies—the same one that featured the Glengoyne 25, the Bowmore Feis Ile 2012 and the Glenfaclas 1968, among others. The other bottle I took was my main contribution—this one was just a novelty. But as it turned out a number of the people in attendance had it in their top three for the night, and I have to say I rather liked it too. This was a very pleasant surprise. I’d meant to review it formally right away but somehow never got around to it. Until now. Let’s see how it’s developed as it’s sat for a couple of months with some headspace in the bottle.
This was bottled by Jack Wieber’s, the German outfit who put out a number of whimsical lines, sometimes in questionable taste—see their “Wanted” series of Bowmores for examples of both tendencies. This Pirate Whisky line is an example of pure whimsy, however—there’s even a pirate “coin” under the foil.
Jack’s Pirate Whisky, Das Gestohlene Schiff Part V (57.4%; sherry cask finish; from my own bottle)
Nose: Dry, leafy smoke at first, a little on the sharp side. But as it sits the rougher notes burn off and softer, sweeter notes emerge (a bit of toffee, something biscuity), The smoke is still pretty strong and there’s also some iodine and some ink. Gets brinier as it goes. Water rounds it out, pushing back the sharper smoke and pulling out more of the iodine and the toffee.
Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose: a touch sweeter here to begin but then the sharper notes come crashing in as I swallow. Gets pretty salty pretty fast. Very drinkable at full strength but let’s see what water does. Once again, it follows the nose: less sharp with more soft, sherry influence and much better integration of all the notes. As it sits though the salt expands dramatically again.
Finish: Long. Leafy smoke and a lot of salt. Still salty but a little less smoky.
Comments: Well, I think I liked this a bit more when the bottle was first opened—it wasn’t as sharp then or as salty. However, water really opens it up and pushes back the rougher notes (though it stays pretty salty). Pretty good as (presumably) young peat monsters go, especially for the price I paid for it then: just about $50, a particularly good price considering the sherry cask finish.
Rating: 86 points