Nose: Very gristly, lots of cereal notes here. They overwhelm the phenols, which are engine oily at first. Eventually some lemon seeps through, and this heralds an unmistakeable beetroot note, but beetroot on an oatcake!
With water: Livelier now, still feisty and smoky and still a hint of beetroot which makes it earthy. Not a huge nose though. Barely seems alcoholic.
Taste: thick peat immediately covers the palate. These are smoky, earthy, but fairly sweet too, helled by a malty sheen. Much better than the nose. Some orange underpins it, as does a thick dark chocolate gnache. More cereal notes meld into the middle.
With water: On swallowing the peat bursts through with a subtle fruity note and some chocolate. Then a big cereal kick. It's all delicately sweet, balanced well by the bitter chocolate edge.
Finish: Coffee, chocolate, peats of smoky and fresh varieties, gentle citrus and vanilla I've cream. Very good. Even a touch of fruit, all encompassed by the pervasive peat. The joy is in the balance; not too sweet nor peaty although both elements are strong. Does not seem nearly 58%!
With water: Some coffee helps darken the chocolate, adding weight. Very good balance.
Balance: The nose is unusual and reserved so the palate and finish is really where it's at. Good balance overall. Interestingly I can't pick out the individual distilleries, they seem to be working together which I guess is the point. If it was a single malt you'd wonder what the hell was going on at times but as a blend it works quite well.