All good things come in three, they say, and that seems to apply to BOX 2nd Step Collection too. The third and last part of this triology was released the 6th of April, and together they symbolize the broad flavour profile of this distillery, with focus on how type and size of cask together with climate and craftsmanship can affect the distillate. Last, but not least, is the peatiest expression of the series, where the majority of the casks (ca 75%) has previously held bourbon, but with additions of both new American oak (9%) and Hungarian oak (5%). With this bottling BOX now aims even more for the international market, with 4000 bottles for the Swedish Systembolaget (monopoly stores) and 4291 bottles allocated for the rest of the world.
General facts: This bottling has an ABV of 51,3%, is 5,2 years old and has a malt phenol content of (on average) 38,6 ppm. The bottles contain 50 cl and costs about £65. As per usual the whisky nerd yearning for more detailed facts will find it on BOX’s website.
Nose: Fresh and youthful, green fruits and quite a lot of carom. Some fire wood smoke but not really striking or massively peated in any way. Grapes and sour, blue candy bottles (fizzy bottles I think they’re called). The more the whisky is aired, the more the peat smoke emerges, and a great deal of the youthfulness is toned down. Tangy berries becomes noticeable, raspberries or redcurrants perhaps? And finally, some vanilla. With water the nose turns sweeter, kind of like meringues and sweet rhubarb compote. A lovely nose that needs some time to develop.
Taste: The taste is much more smokey than the nose, that much I can tell right away, but the smoke note is actually pretty clean and not especially peated. Mixed charcuterie and pear drops emerges. Creamy lemon curd (love that note!) and some honey too. Pepper… Green pepper perhaps? After adding water the smoke becomes more evident and the sweet notes take a step back.
Finish: The aftertaste is characterized by smoke and the same kind of dried/smoked meat as found in the taste, but now itäs more toned down and subtle. The finish is medium lengthed, perhaps slightly shorter, pretty light in its character and overall balanced with a lovely peppery note and some cocoa at the end. With water it becomes somewhat longer, and – like with the nose and taste – the smokiness becomes more dominant than before.
This is a well-composed, tasty and pretty complex whisky but I can’t help but feeling slightly less “wow:ed” than I have with previous bottlings from BOX. It’s almost too well-composed, if I’m allowed to be a spoiled brat for a second and if it’s even possible to say that. I mean, this is very elegant and smokey at the same time, which is a lovely combo, but it still doesn’t tickle me in the same way as their previous expressions. Perhaps this isn’t a whisky to heatedly discuss and analyze, but instead a dram to quietly contemplate a warm summer’s eve in the company of a few good friends. That’s not too bad, either.