A blend of Irish and American whiskey, this release takes the previous MO of Keeper's Heart and cranks it up a notch, not only increasing to cask strength but featuring a finish in a stout cask. If that sounds like a unique combination, it's because, well, it is. We've seen a lot of interesting approaches here at Raiders, but this is surely a new one. A worthwhile experiment? Let's dive in.
The nose is packed with crème brûlée, sweet honey, butterscotch candies and a hint of espresso and fresh-roasted coffee beans. The stout character is here, adding that coffee character for sure, but the really impressive facet is the amount of brûlée and butterscotch on the nose.
Rich on the palate, there's a faint prickle of ethanol, which lets you know this is one of Keeper's Heart's highest-proof expressions to date. With plenty of caramel candies and fresh wafer cookies, this whiskey delivers a rich, complex mouthfeel that's layered and full of dessert and sweet oak. The stout character once again chimes in with notes of semisweet chocolate, espresso beans and a hint of barrel char. Really surprising stuff. This stout cask is doing all adding and no taking.
This is easily the best finish from a Keeper's release that we've tried. This long finish is packed full of honeycomb, ginger, sweet oak, espresso and more barrel char.
Sometimes it's hard to tell if a single barrel from a brand can truly stand out from its standard offerings, but there's no question here with this release. I like the addition of the viscosity thanks to the proof and the coffee. The cocoa and caramel character from the stout cask really works well. Stout cask finishing is a fairly new technique in whiskey, but between past Westward expressions I've tried and now this release, I'm convinced it's here to stay.