Nordic Whisky #21 - Box Whisky The Challenger

Nordic Whisky #21 - Box Whisky The Challenger

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Box Whisky The Challenger, 3 YO, 48,2 %

Box Whisky The ChallengerHere it is, the second release in The Early Days Collection, and the third official bottling from Box Whisky. I present to you - Box Whisky The Challenger.

This is the follow up to The Pioneer, which was the first release in The Early Days Collection. The series will be completed with two final releases during 2015 - see below for more details.

The Box Whisky The Challenger was a limited release of 5416 bottles. A total of 4990 of these bottles were released for sale online in Sweden at 10 am on November 27, 2014. After just 45 minutes it was all sold out! That is crazy!

As usual you can get all the nerdy facts any whisky fan could ever desire on this bottling at the Box Whisky website (see here). We are really talking full disclosure here. The only thing missing is a detailed description of what Roger Melander was wearing during final blending, and what they had for lunch at the distillery at the time! Here is a a quick summary:

  • 11x 40 liter 1st fill bourbon casks, 67,7 % ABV, peated (31 ppm), distilled 2011-04-16
  • 20x 40 liter 1st fill bourbon casks, 63 % ABV, peated (39 ppm), distilled 2011-05-18
  • 23x 40 liter 1st fill bourbon casks, 63 % ABV, peated (39 ppm), distilled 2011-05-26
  • 10x 40 liter 1st fill oloroso sherry casks, 62,4 % ABV, unpeated, distilled 2011-10-05
  • 7x 40 liter 1st fill oloroso sherry casks, 60,7 % ABV, peated (45 ppm), distilled 2011-10-06
  • On 2014-11-06 and 2014-11-07 the resulting whisky held 57,4 % and was watered down to 48,2 % and bottled

The main differences between The Pioneer and The Challenger are:

  • The Challenger has been matured exclusively in 40 liter casks ("Ankare"), while The Pioneer included 15 % unpeated whisky matured for two years in 200 liter bourbon casks from Jack Daniels, which was finished for a year in 100 liter casks made from new roasted Swedish oak.
  • 35 % of the whisky making up The Pioneer was peated (31 ppm), whereas a The Challenger contains 74 % peated whisky (31 and 39 ppm) and 11 % peated sherry (45 ppm). The resulting ppm for The Pioneer was on average 11, and for The Challenger 33.
  • The Pioneer included no sherry matured whisky, while The Challenger has 26 % oloroso sherry matured whisky.
  • The Pioneer had an ABV of 48,1 %, and The Challenger 48,2 %. I am guessing the next two releases will be bottled at 48,3 % and 48,4 % respectively.

So basically we should expect The Challenger to be a lot more peaty, and with clear sherry notes. Let's see if that is actually the case.

Nose (23/25): Again a very well integrated and balanced nose. No off notes, no alcohol bite, nothing that screams 'I am a young whisky!' here. It is actually quite refined. There are oaky notes here of course, we are talking small casks. The peat is rounded and on the sweet side. The sherry does come through in a pleasant way. It is a clean sherry influence, no rubber or other nonsense - what we get is dried fruits, raisins, marzipan, almonds and a rich sweetness. It does require at least 15 minutes in the glass, as it needs some time to open up. I pick up honey, smoky embers after a lovely BBQ, baked apples, and some caramel. Given even more time I find ginger, cinnamon, malt drops, and the smell of the crust of a home made bread just out of the oven.

Taste (21/25): Sweet, rich and peaty. It is full-bodied, almost chewy. This is certainly the peatiest release from Box so far, not just on paper but also on the actual taste. More peaty on the palate than on the nose actually. Super smooth, as always from Box. Some spices here, pepper in particular and a hint of licorice and ginger. Slightly fizzy as well.

Finish (21/25): Surprisingly long on the finish. Peaty and sweet all the way. The sherry notes come through a bit more on the finish than on the arrival. It rounds it all off, smoothing out any edges that might have been there. There is a hint of oakiness, but it is barely noticeable. Mild fruitiness - still apples, but they are fresh and green rather than baked. The finish is definitely longer here than on The Pioneer, but it still feels a bit thin and drawn out - one of very few signs this is still very, very young.

Balance (22/25): Again a fine whisky from Box Whisky. I cannot believe how good Nordic Whisky is becoming. Make sure to check out our entire review series of Nordic Whisky.

Score (87/100)

Finally I can reveal a couple of facts on the two remaining releases in the Box Whisky The Early Days Collection. They will be named The Explorer and The Messenger respectively. The releases will still be limited, but the number of bottles will be double from the first two, upping the number of bottles to 10 000. Should take at least a couple of hours to sell out then, I guess!

Sláinte! - Thomas

The King of Scots

The King of Scots

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