Finished whisky is huge. It’s to the point that if a household brand doesn’t have at least one finished product, then it makes them an outlier. The process, where a whisky is matured and then dumped into a different cask, has supposedly drawn the ire of some whisky purists (I’ve yet to meet one). Regardless of one’s stance, it’s easy to see the appeal of finishing a whisky in any variety of casks. One of my first exposures to this was three of the four Glenmorangie expressions included in their Tasting Set. The one that left the biggest impression on me was the Quinta Ruban, which takes The Original and finishes it in Ruby Port casks after the initial 10-year maturation.
One key difference between now and then, however, is that Quinta Ruban used to be finished for two years in Ruby Port casks, but was recently upped to a four-year finishing period. The best part is that this has come at no extra cost to the customer. In other words, this means we technically get a 14-year finished single malt scotch for less than $60, depending on your location. How does it stack up? Let’s find out.
Nose: Chocolate, toffee, and primarily dark fruit with apricot in a dessert form—think fruitcake. Maple syrup, well integrated oak, and crème brulee. Molasses, like snickerdoodle with less of the baking spice characteristic and more of the soft, chewy cookie-like experience.
Palate: Fruity syrup, like stewed fruit or compote. Dark orange dessert. Slight honey and toffee combo with a nice, easy integration of oak influence. Oatmeal raisin cookie.
Finish: Moderate and lengthy. Sticks around and seems to transform over time, growing with each sip. A building layer of chocolate to go with the crisp yet cooked fruit notes. Oak, toffee sauce, apricots, and fig.
Did I mention dessert? I only ask because this whisky feels like it’s constantly giving me the post-dinner sweets routine. Quinta Ruban feels like it’s on the verge of reaching thick, indulgent grand slam status. Since I’m more of a bourbon drinker, this clearly speaks to me not unlike Woodford Reserve Double Oaked or Old Forester 1910. Furthermore—and to reiterate, Quinta Ruban comes in with a sub-$60 price tag, which puts it on the same playing field as the aforementioned bourbons with regards to cost. That’s incredible for a scotch of this nature and tier.
The last thing I’ll mention in this review is that my scotch-loving friend brought over a couple port-finished scotches he’d recently purchased after I proposed we do a blind flight. The contenders were Quinta Ruban ($55), Famous Grouse Ruby Cask ($20), and Dalmore Port Wood Reserve ($90), so we had a variety of price points and potential whisky quality. Our results mirrored each other: Quinta Ruban was our favorite with Dalmore not far behind. We also agreed that Quinta Ruban is more of a dessert whisky that we’d take one pour of after having or two different pours that aren’t nearly as rich. Dalmore was closer to a “pour whenever you like” experience. All of this is to say that my enthusiasm for Quinta Ruban hasn’t changed, and considering its relative value, this may very well become the latest constant in my collection.
P.S. As for the Famous Grouse Ruby Cask, we agreed that it’s a contender for the best budget-minded scotch. We already enjoy it on its own; the fact it’s $20 only sweetens the deal.