Last weekend, on a roadtrip, I stopped in a liquor store to the north of Chicago. After a sample of Cockspur 12yo rum (good stuff, but I didn't buy it), I went prowling the Scotch aisle, and saw some bottles of Spice Tree on the shelf. This is a vatting of Clynelish, Glen Elgin, Teaninich and Dailuaine, each aged at least 10 years, and then finished in casks containing French oak inner staves (not actually part of the barrels). As Scotch prices go, it reaches into the mid-shelf range (about $65).
I'm now sipping it from my Glencairn. This is mighty good indeed! To an extent, it reminds me of the Glenlivet 12yo French Oak finish, on steroids - but I definitely notice some of Clynelish's character. Note that I'm not familiar with the other components of the vatting, though.
"Spice Tree" is a very, very good name for this dram. Nutmeg and a hint of cinnamon are definitely present, and an herbal finish that my palate isn't quite developed enough to specifically name (bay? thyme? maybe even basil?), plus the coastal-but-not-Islay element of Clynelish.
As it turns out, the Scotch Whisky Association seems to have an issue with this whisky. From what I've read about it, the SWA doesn't give a flying f___ about the quality of the whisky - all that they care about is that it wasn't made using "traditional methods," meaning anything that wasn't in use in 1989 is (as far as they're concerned) verboten. My gut feeling is that the only reason the SWA is concerned about it is that one of their members didn't think of it first. Sadly, CB has stopped producing it and is (in vain, IMO) trying to "negotiate" with the cartel. Frankly, I'm nothing short of irate about the situation!
I think I better get another one of these while I can. Damn, my wallet is really wincing now... what with the '06 BT Antique Collection and Rittenhouse 21 in the pipeline.