Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Clynelish 1970s




Information

Distillery: Clynelish
Bottling: Gordon & MacPhail
Age: 12
Distilled: 1960s?
Bottled: 1970s?
Strength: 70 proof (40%)

This is a lovely old style Clynelish from when Gordon & MacPhail was the official licensed bottler. With the strength listed as proof rather than ABV I know it was bottled at the most recent the late 70s which would put distillation in at least the late 1960s. This is only the most recent, but it could be older. I will contact Gordon & MacPhail to see if they can supply any information.

For such a young age and a low alcohol percentage, this is a very oily and viscous spirit. Has it not been chill-filtered or is it just a heavier bodied spirit anyway?

Nose: This has a very citus nose with freshly squeezed orange juice and touches of tangerine in there as well. Lemon icing on sponge cake. The body of the spirit is reflected in the nose as well with a thick waxiness. Wavering around the background is a gentle and lovely sootyness.

Palate: This is as expected a very thick and oily spirit with lots of body. Suprisingly for only 40% it has a higher alcohol kick than I would expect, and more than I would get from any modern malts at 40%. I hazard a guess that the heavier body is allowing the spirit to stick to the palate a lot more than more watery spirits. Just a guess.

Finish: A very long finish that is spicy, dusty and sooty. Citric. Some soapy elements which have been noted in old miniatures by other people. Likely an effect of the fats breaking down to soap over time.

Comments: If I ever get a chance to buy a full bottle of this and I am sure they exist on some collectors dusty shelf somewhere, I shall purchase it.

White Horse blended whisky 1960s



Information

Distillery: White Horse Blend
Bottling: White Horse Distillers Ltd
Age: NAS
Distilled: 1960s?
Bottled: 1960s?
Strength: Unknown.

This is an interesting miniature of White Horse that I have came into in that it has absolutely no dates on it anywhere and more interestingly no alcohol strength which is making it pretty hard to date. With some help from some people on the Malt Maniacs facebook page, on the basis of the current style is likely comes from the 1960s, as the label changed to a newer design in the late 60s.

Nose: This has a very sweet and rich nose, and fresh as well considering how long it has been in the bottle. The sherry character is dominant here with lots of toffee and fudge, dried fruits, spiced oranges and cranberries. Lots of vanilla and which along side the rich sugary and dried fruit elements is just rum and raisin ice cream! If there is grain whisky in here I can barely detect it and is seems like it is by no means the lion's share as it is with modern blends. Just the tiniest whisp of smoke but I expected a lot more as I have always been under the impression that these old White Horse blends were mostly Laguvulin.

Palate: Creamy sweet sherry. Chocolate, and nuts.

Finish: Very sweet with medium length. Caramely.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

127.37 Dinosaurs dancing to Stravinsky (Port Charlotte 9 year old)



Information

Distillery: Port Charlotte (Bruichladdich)
Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 9
Distilled: 2003
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 66.5%.
Cask Code: 127.37 Dinosaurs dancing to Stravinsky
Cask Type: Refill sherry butt.

This is my first bottle from distillery 127, which is Port Charlotte (Bruichladdie operation) and is currently at number one dram of the year for me so far. You would think at 66.5% it would not be drinkable neat? That assumption is either wrong, or there is something wrong (or right?) with my tolerance to high alcohol spirits. In any case this dram I was keeping for a special occasion, and that occasion came sadly when my gran passed away. What better way to toast the life of an important person in your life than with a nice bottle of whisky and family. My brother, dad, cousin, and myself made very short work of this in one evening, although I caught my old boy putting ice in his at one point - what can I say he is stuck in his ways. Normally I would give him pelters, but tonight he can drink his whisky any way he wants to enjoy it. I managed to salvage 100ml left from the bottle at the end of the night and currently only have 50ml left!

Nose: Massively phenolic! Carbolic Soap which reminds me of the soaps I used to have to use in my old scout hall when I was a kid. I also remember being threatened by a strict nun teacher at school who threatened to wash my mouth out with it once. Lots of medicated shampoo and coal tar. Also getting mouthwash notes - that is Thymol, the phenol which is commonly used in mouthwash which also exists naturally in the herb Thyme. Earth and soil. Middle Earth! Lots of lovely fruity notes develop in time with Kiwi and lots of Raspberry as well! The compound that gives raspberries their smell is also a Phenol so is it possible that this is coming from the peat rather than the sherry cask influence which I often detect it in? Some strawberry in there as well, all served with some melted white chocolate! As my nose gets used to the peat other dimensions of aroma just keep developing.

Palate: In the mouth this is a big hitter. The alcohol is firey but not untamed. Huge peat and earth, and Jalapeno chilis. Sweet and nutty.

Finish: Huge and long. It just welds itself to your palate and throat. Sooty, peaty, salty. Refresher sweets. Berries with fresh cream. Did I say huge?

Comments: Why oh why oh why did I only get one bottle of this. From now on any time a bottle of 127 appears I shall get two! or Three!! This is at present my top dram of this year and with a week to go, I can't imagine something overtaking it.

Monday, 23 December 2013

131.2 Magic carpet in a sweetie shop (Hanyu 13 year old)



Information

Distillery: Hanyu
Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 13
Distilled: 2000
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 55.1%.
Cask Code: 131.2 Magic carpet in a sweetie shop
Cask Type: First fill ex-sherry butt.

Following up from my review of the Karuizawa 132.1, is another lovely Japanese dram from yet another closed distillery called Hanyu. This is another sherried malt which shows no signs of rubber which I am very pleased about.

Nose: Lots of cherry on the nose with cherry cola, fizzy cherry cola bottles and more sweeter glazed cherries. There is also a touch of grapefruit tartness. There are some meaty savoury elements which combine with the smoke, and spicy elements which remind me of a cold winter day eating Stornoway Black Pudding and Haggis for breakfast. Mint chocolate milkshakes. I am now standing in a Turkish flea market smelling leather bags, with the smells of roasting meats and spice stalls with garam masala bursting with clove, cinnamon, clove and coriander. Lots of rich toffee in there as well.

Palate: Smoky burnt matches, thick and warming with lots of oak and spice.

Finish: Long, spicy and warming with cherry coke , raspberries, savoury meats and cigars.

Friday, 29 November 2013

132.1 Secret moonlit garden dram (Karuizawa 28 year old)




 


Information

Distillery: Karuizawa
Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 28
Distilled: 1984
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 59.9%.
Cask Code: 132.1 Secret moonlit garden dram
Cask Type: refil ex-sherry butt.
 
Sometimes good whisky is like Glasgow buses; you wait ages for one and then three come at once. The buses in question are not only three new distilleries for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, but three Japanese distilleries: Chichibu (130.1), Hanyu (131.1) and Karuizawa (132.1). The morning of the release in the November "big list" I was on the phone at 10am sharp with hopes of picking up the Chichibu and the Hanyu, but by the time I got through only the Chichibu and the Karuizawa were available but I hadn't really considered the Karuizawa as it is the high end of my price range and sherry casks can be russian roulette with me. I succumbed to the high pressure sales environment and grabbed both the Chichibu and the Karuizawa.

Nose: Eucalyptus and honey cough sweets, black Assam tea, dark roasted coffee beans. Sooty chimneys, dusty lofts and old books. Match boxes and burnt matches. Conifer trees and pine christmas trees. Lots of meaty savoury elements there as haggis and black pudding, soy sauce. Prunes and Raisins. Mint chocolate Viscount biscuits. With a little water it freshens up a little with Cherry Bakewell tarts full of cherry and almonds. Demerara sugar, mocha, Chelsea Whoppers, coal tar soap, chocolate covered brazil nuts, toffee. Rich, deep stewed chutneys and jams.

Palate: Black sports mixture sweets, bitter dark chocolate, chewy, and tarry. Chinese spare ribs in tangy sweet and sour sauce. Black currant jam.

Finish: Long, rich, woody, spicy, smoky, tarry and jammy. Very satisfying.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

26.55 Savoury Delight (Clynelish 8 year old)



Information

Distillery: Clynelish
Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 8
Distilled: 1999
Bottled: 2008
Strength: 62.4%.
Cask Code: 26.55 Savoury Delight

Nose: Another one of these SMWS bottles with a pretty closed nose. Lemon, lime, unripe pear and freshly sliced apple. Coconut, floor polish. Fresh ginger and ground pepper. Leather jackets.

Palate: Massive exposion of flavour that didn't exist on the nose. Salt, more salt, salted pretzls, salted meat, sausages and hot dogs. Savoury indeed. Some toffee and hazelnuts.

Finish: Long and lip smacking. Salty.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Abbey Whisky Tweet Tasting

 
 
Tonight's tasting was a special twitter tasting brought by Steve @ The Whisky Wire and Abbey Whisky where a select group of tasters were each sent out 4 lovely drams of single cask whisky, and to log on to Twitter and join the tasting at 7pm on the 20th November 2013. You can look back at the twitter history on the hashtag .
 

Dram 1 - Caperdonich 17 years old (The Rare Casks)

 
Distillery: Caperdonich
Bottling: Abbey Whisky (The Rare Casks)
Age: 17
Distilled: 1995
Bottled: 2012
Strength: 57.8%
Cask: refill ex-bourbon.

 
Nose: Soft overripe bananas, and banana foam sweets. Tinned pineapple in syrup, passionfruit, mango. Even though this is fairly light it is pretty tropical like a cocktail on the beach. Fresh butter and Caramac bars, an soft fudge. Dulex emulsion paint (but in a good way). Vanilla and white chocolate - like Magnum ice cream. There is a mustard or wasabi note coming through which has a ping of heat and spice to it, as well as some light smoke like wood char or charcoal. Also an ashy tobacco like note.
 
Palate: Lots of that soft chewy banana again along side lemon sherbet sweets. pepper and ginger. Oily and bodied.
 
Finish:  Long finish with the spices lasting on and on along side with lemon shortbread biscuits. 
 

Dram 2 - Bunnahabhain 23 years old (The Rare Casks)

 
Distillery: Bunnahabhain
Bottling: Abbey Whisky (The Rare Casks)
Age: 23
Distilled: 1989
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 44%
Cask: refill ex-bourbon.
 
 
Nose: This is very delicate initially. White grapes and white wine. There is a dry apple prominent which made be think of fino sherry an ex-fino sherry casks, but it says it is ex-bourbon so hey-ho. I am not getting lots of in your face peat, but rather a dark sootyness. Chimneys and coal sheds. Quite nutty with pistachio and wallnuts. Getting freshly popped cinema popcorn, with a touch of salt on top of them. Lots of coconut in the form of "snowballs" - that is a Scottish coconut cake/treat in the shape of a snowball with coconut, sponge and jam. Lemon sponge cake as well. A touch of peppermint, and chewy toffee apples.
 
Palate: Very soft and easy drinking. Dry apple with a touch of salt.
 
Finish: The salted apple again, but with some double cream and some crisp malty notes.
 

Dram 3 - Ben Nevis 16 years old (The Rare Casks)

 
Distillery: Ben Nevis
Bottling: Abbey Whisky (The Rare Casks)
Age: 16
Distilled: 1997
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 55%
Cask: sherry hogshead.

 
Nose: Dark fruits such as raspberry and blackcurrent. Reminds me of hot Vimto. Chocolate covered raisins. Orange marmalade but deeper, darker and richer - almost burnt. Demerara Rum. Christmas Mince pies. Rubber notes remind me of when you are blowing air into bike tyres and some of the rubbery air comes back out again. Treacle, sticky toffee pudding and liquorice.
 
Palate: Christmas cake, sherry, Many sherried whiskies to me demand some water in comparison to ex-bourbon and this takes some without issue. Some water reduces the rubbery notes and expodes the palate with creamyness. Espresso coffee. The vimto fruityness coming through quite strong along chocolate and toffee.

Finish: Rich, spicy finish with ginger, cinnamon and ginger. The coffee and sticky toffee pudding lasting on.
 

Dram 4 - Mystery GlenDronach 1993 - 20 years old (Abbey Whisky Exclusive)

 
Distillery: GlenDronach
Bottling: Abbey Whisky (Abbey Whisky Exclusive)
Age: 20
Distilled: 1993
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 59.1%
Cask: Oloroso sherry butt.

 
Nose: This one was evaluated blindly and only told what it was at the end of the tasting. This is a really difficult one. It has a dark red colour which says sherry or wine, but I am not getting anything which says this is sherry or wine - namely rubber / sulphur. I am getting Chocolate brownies, mars bars, toffee, praline and burnt sugar. I am also getting raisins and glazed cherries. Some dark roasted coffee coming through as well. Plenty of wood influence here - some thoughts are telling me this is virgin oak or freshly charred oak.
 
Palate: Bitter dark chocolate, and chocolate covered cherries. Rum, diesel, cajun seasoning on grilled pork.  
 
Finish: Long finish with spicy meats, and cherry cola.
 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

McClelland's Highland single malt whisky

Information

Name: McClelland's Highland
Distillery: McClelland's (Morrison-Bowmore)
Type: Single malt whisky
Age: NAS
Strength: 40%
 
This is an interesting one, and one which I have been wanting to taste for a while because McClelland's is a single malt range produced by Morrison-Bowmore to represent the Highland, Speyside, Lowland and Islay regions. Morrison-Bowmore happen to own three distilleries who cover three of those areas, and their only distillery in the Highland region is my favourite Glen Garioch.
 
 
 
Nose: Bright and fresh. Fruity and estery. The trademark Glen Garioch pear notes for me are very distinct here. Pear Drops and Tinned Pears with vanilla ice cream. Tinned fruit salad, tangerine, lemon, and grapefruit. Something younger and solvent like there as well. Very malty - mash tuns and still rooms. You can smell the distillery itself oozing out of this. Some feinty notes of candlewax and honey. The wood influence is quite minimal here and just sitting to the background. Soft toffee, Mr Kipling's lemon sponge cakes.
 
Palate: Smooth, bright and fruity. Pear, grapefruit and tangerine againe. Sweet and malty, biscuity like buttery shortbread fingers.
 
Finish: Shortish. Malty and biscuity. 
 
Comments: Young but delightful.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

George T Stagg - Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Information

Name: George T Stagg
Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: 15
Distilled: 1998?
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 64.1%
Cask: Virgin North American Oak
 
Bourbon is something which I buy only occasionally and it makes a nice change from Scotch Whisky and this will be the first time I have reviewed one.
 
This particular Bourbon is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon which has been released by the Buffalo Trace distillery as part of their yearly Antique Collection range. Very limited numbers of these reach only a very limited number of specialist retailers in the UK so I very privileged to have been able to reserve a bottle when I was at a Buffalo Trace tasting at The Good Spirits Co. with their master blender Drew Mayville. We tried several different Bourbons from both their regular range and also from the Antique Collection and this one was definately my favourite.
 
Nose: Immediately I am blasted with muscovado sugar, molasses, treacle, maple syrup, golden syrup. See where I am going here? Very sweet, sugary and syrupy. Powerful oak influence but this isn't Scotch Whisky - the spirit wants it and needs it. This is emanating those oaky spices of vanilla, ginger, pepper, cinnamon and even some sharp and fruity coriander which always smell like Skittles. Cinnamon coming along as an oil as well as orange oil. There are definate meaty beefy notes but add them to those sugary syrups and spices and we have something verging on a juicy, spicy marinated seasoned steak. I am also getting dark and milk chocolate notes alongside deep rich brandy soaked cherries which are being served as a compote alongside that steak. Finishing the plate off is a buttered and roasted corn on the cob.
 
Palate: Hot but not as hot as expected with a healthy ABV of 64.1% would suggest. Very sweet with dark chocolate bitterness, tamed with vanilla, caramel and those brandy soaked cherries again. Big, oily, chewy with the chocolate turning more fudgey and milky.
 
Finish: Long and satisfying, spicy, chocolately and dominated by the dark cherry again. Finished off with a shot of espresso.
 
Comments: This is a stagg-eringly good dram and can be drank as it comes out the bottle or will happily take plenty of water. I dare say it wouldn't be a total sin to make a cocktail or two from it either. If you have managed to pick one of these up already, drink it, and if you haven't, try and get one; You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

69.14 Complex and delightful (Glen Albyn 28 year old)

Information
Distillery: Glen Albyn (Closed)
Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 28
Distilled: 1979
Bottled: 2008
Strength: 57.6%
Cask: Refill ex-sherry butt.
Cask Code: 69.14 Complex and delightful
 
This was an interesting find if only for the fact it comes from the Glen Albyn distillery, which closed during the distillery masacre of 1983. The distillery was close to Inverness and although technically a Highland distillery, it was regarded as some as a Speysider. Read about the Glen Albyn on Malt Madness.
 
 
 
Nose: This is light and delicate and instantly recognisable as an ex fino sherry cask. Very dry with apple, dusty libraries and lofts (attics). Some little lemon, and a hint of salty sea air. The nose is very closed on this and needs coaxed opening with some water to start giving up its secrets. I would tend to not add water in my own reviews because I try and review it right out the bottle to keep my results consistent and repeatable, but this is one of the exceptions to my rule as I could sit forever trying to coax something out it. With water we now get more happening with peach, toasted coconut, and a little leather. I am now eating Edinburgh Castle Rock and Parma Violet sweets inside a dusty woody Sawmill, and someone is cutting the grass outside. I also have pepper and ginger, McVitties Rich Tea biscuits, and also like mashed potato or tattie (potato) scones. An old distant smokey peatiness is emerging as well.
 
Palate: More sweetness than the nose, with that dry fino character dominating. Waxy and resinous.
 
Finish: Dry apple, with ginger spice. Sooty, earthy and waxy.
 
Comments: It is always nice to try something from the 1970s, if only because a romanticism forms once malts were distilled before I was born and hint at a generation past where production methods and the industry was much more different. This was interesting and complex in time, but don't expect anything jumping out the glass at you from it.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Catto's 12 year old blended scotch whisky.


Distillery: Blended Scotch Whisky
Bottling: Catto's 12 year old deluxe (Inver House)
Age: 12
Strength: 40%

At last I have managed to get hold of another old the hard to find Inver House blends, and this time it is  the 12 year old version of Catto's Blended Scotch Whisky. Immediately the bottle gives the impression of being an Irish Whiskey, but it's of course a Scotch. The bottle feels old as if I could be working in the Glasgow shipyards during a previous generation. 

Nose: This is light and fresh, and lots of waxy and buttery notes. As its a deluxe blend, the malt content is naturally higher, and it is evident. Freshly toasted (and buttery again) scones. Plenty of cereal like Kellogg's Corn Flakes. Malty and biscuity with shortbread fingers with the butter once more. Lemon is the only distinct fruit I'm getting, but that goes well with the scones and shortbread nicely. A soft dairy fudge, and popcorn to finish. 

Palate: Smooth and medium-sweet, with a soft fudgey body, with jam and honey. 

Finish: Medium finish and slightly longer than I would expect from only being 40%. There is a touch of warmth there. Waxy with a little saltiness. The cereal and biscuits notes dominating. 

Very easy drinking, and no harshness at all. The finish is good value. If I can find the younger (no age statement) or an older (25) I will try get them. 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Glen Garioch Virgin Oak

Information

Distillery: Glen Garioch
Bottling: Distillery Bottling
Age: NAS
Strength: 48%
Cask: Virgin North American Oak.
Being a big Glen Garioch fan I had heard about this in the pipeline quite a while ago and have been patiently been tapping my feet waiting on it being released.

Not many single malts are put into virgin north american oak, as the delicate malt can be quickly drowned out by the strong and harsh flavours which come from the wood, and of course choosing casks which have previously been used for bourbon (or sherry) as the wood impact will be much less.

I like to think Glen Garioch are being pretty progressive at present with trying some different things out rather than sticking with the old tired age statements, where consistency means less room for experimentation.

Nose: Right on the tail of my previous tasting of a Glen Moray in a freshly toasted cask, I immediately think my nose is going to get a blast of oak but I am completely wrong. Lots of fruit and strong. Rich, cooked and caramelised with orange marmalade, apricot jam and sweet berrys which reminds me of Ribena and Vimto. That syrupy note continues and reminds me of being off sick from school and getting Orange Lucozade and sweet Calpol medicine. The orange continues into the sweet shop and gives me the tang and mouthwatering melting of Terry's Chocolate Orange. Twix bars with chewy caramel, milk chocolate and a biscuit base.

Palate: The oak hits first, but only for a second and is quickly backed up by the fruit. Chocolate, caramal and butterscotch. Medium body.

Finish: Medium-Long finish which is warm and relaxing with a autumnal presence. Creamy and spicy with that chocolate orange lingering on.

This is nice, and it is nice to see Morrison-Bowmore's master blender Rachel Barrie willing to try something new, however I do wish it had been put out at natural strength like the Vintage releases though but maybe it needed to be lower strength to show off the malt as in all honesty I probably wouln't have added water anyway. I rarely do.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

35.95 Invigorating and Stimulating (Glen Moray 18 year old, 1994)


Information

Distillery: Glen Moray
Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 18
Distilled: 1994
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 58.9%
Cask: First fill toasted ex-bourbon hogshead.
Cask Code: 35.95 Invigorating and Stimulating
 
This one I picked up recommendation by another society member, and the reason it took my interest is that it specifically mentioned it was from a first fill toasted hogshead (ex-bourbon) and my take on this is that the cask has been freshly toasted just before filling. I am not sure how much this is done for malt whisky as the oak flavours can heavily swamp out the malt which is basically a very delicate spirit compared to some of the other big hitting spirits out there. The colour immediately says that this cask been active. Who will win, the malt or the wood?
 
Nose: Hot out the bottle, the first thing which comes to mind is bourbon; sweet and woody. Burnt toffee, caramel and vanilla aplenty. Take that toffee and cover it with chocolate and you get Riesen sweets. Ground espresso, and a definate nuttyness like hazelnuts and chestnuts. Fresh cigars, pledge furniture polish. A definate smokyness which is like burning newspapers on a bonfire, while eating smokey bacon on toast - and this is not a peaty smokyness but something that comes from the toasting of the wood. Little aniseed and liquorice. Not masses of fruit coming through, and any delicate esters im not picking up at all. The fruit I am getting is darker like cherry, red grapes, berrys and some dried fruit, figs and raisins.
 
Palate: Dry and slightly salty, with a bitterness which is good in the way of coffee, and dark chocolate. Oak a plenty. Very little sweetness in the mouth at all.
 
Finish: Long and oaky with cigars, clove and pepper, a touch of liquorice, and a toasted nut tail.
 
The malt is close to being lost here, but it is there if you take your time with it. This is by no means an easy drinker in the sense that it has so much to open up if you don't just want a punch of wood. It is busy and complex and will reward your time.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

30.77 This is nuts! (Glenrothes 16 year old)

Information

Distillery: Glenrothes
Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 16
Distilled: 1997
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 57.7%
Cask: Refill sherry butt.
Cask Code: 30.77 This is nuts!

I don't pick up sherry casked whisky often, and when I do it generally has to be a well used cask which doesn't impact too much sherryness into the malt. When I was at the SMWS venue "The Vaults" in Leith to pick up some new bottles and I seen this one which picked up my attention because I have tasted some nice malts out of Glenrothes Distillery before, and a couple of strange and interesting ones from the SMWS before so I thought I would challenge myself to something different. Won't know unless you try right?

Nose: Sometimes I wish I hadn't read the label on my SMWS bottles before doing a tasting as it does impact some power of suggestion. "This is nuts" being fairly obvious about nutty type aromas, which is the sort of things that you do pick up from sherry casks. Nuts are definately coming through but in a sweet way that you would expect from a baker or a confectioner. Sweet and creamy Praline. Almonds and Marizapan in a Battenberg Cake. Minty aromas as I always get from a sherry cask - Imagine sitting at the cinema watching a film eating Mint Ice Cream with crushed Pecan Nuts, along side freshly popped Toffee Popcorn. Lots of sweet dessert fruits such as Strawberries, Blackcurrants, Redcurrants with a chocolate sauce and cream drizzled on top. Tunnock's Caramel Logs which are one of my favourite biscuits with coconut, biscuit, chocolate and caramel - it is a very nutty treat. Moving away from sweet notes there are more meaty, savoury notes coming through in the way of smoked sausage, and pepperoni pizza. There is also a slightly vegetative note in what reminds of me brussel sprouts which I absolutely hate by the way. Even the dog refuses them off the plate at Christmas. There is a definatete rubber note which I have smelt from the beginning but wanted to concentrate firstly on the positives rather than the negatives. The note is a combination of pencil shavings and pencil rubber/erasers and the smell reminds me of my pencil box at school.

Palate: On the palate as expected without water is pretty hot, but sweet and honeyed. Almost like honey and lemon tea which I was given when I was sick as a youngster. Milk Chocolate and Butterscotch which is a very positive note.Mint, Caramel, and finally something which is a bit metallic and I don't like. The sort of thing that subtractive maturation should take away. Those meaty and rubbery notes as well.

Finish: That creamy butterscotch and chocolate, caramel and coconut, and I am not sure whether this is pleasant or unpleasant but chewing on a burnt out match. The rubbery notes linger longer than the more good ones which may or may not be a good think dependant on your sensitivity to those sulphuric compounds.

Comments: An interesting malt and I am glad I spent the time deconstructing it but the sulphuric notes are strong with this (says Darth Vader). It isn't something I could drink every night but it does make a change from the typical ex-bourbon stuff which floats my boat so much.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Balblair 83 (cask 1252) - World of Whiskies exclusive




Information

Distillery: Balblair
Bottling: Distillery Bottling (World of Whiskies exclusive)
Age: 30
Distilled: 1983
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 54.1%
Cask: ex-bourbon

If I said I wasn't excited about this it would be a complete lie. I have known about this on the radar for a wee while: Single cask 1252 Balblair matured in a single ex-bourbon cask for 30 years and then hand picked by WOW staff at Glasgow Airport, to be bottled and sold exclusively to World of Whiskies @ World Duty Free (Travel Retail). After 30 years of silently maturing this cask only yielded 162 bottles so that is about 15 bottles per WOW outlet if split evenly.

Nose: It's a Balblair alright. Mango, Grapefruit, Pineapple and Papaya riding that tropical wave I know so well. Unlike younger balblairs which are full of fresh estery youthfulness, the fruits in here are deeper and richer, and reduced down into a thick syrupy sauce. Syrupy sweet Pineapple Cubes and Cola Cubes from the sweet shop. The extra time in the wood has paid off with all those lovely notes coming from the oak with a big hit of warm spiced, iced gingerbread loaf. A touch of banana bread in there as well. Loads of sweet toffee, caramel and chocolate like Toffee Poppet sweets (formerly Toffets).

Palate: Chewing on that gingerbread fresh out the oven. Warming, honeyed, spiced. Very rich and the fruits are rich, ripened and reduced again. The tangy sweet zing from the Cola Cubes. Melting caramel and chocolate, with a strong but balanced oak coming in.

Finish: Long with the rich mature oak character, toffee and spices.

Comments: What a lovely old Balblair. This spirit has plenty of mature, rich character but stays with a youthful and fiery friend on the journey. If you love Balblair you shouldn't need to be convinced.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Glen Garioch 1997 vintage (Travel Retail Exclusive)



Information

Distillery: Glen Garioch
Bottling: Distillery Bottling (Travel Retail exclusive)
Age: 15
Distilled: 1997
Bottled: 2012
Strength: 56.7%
Cask: 1st and 2nd fill ex-bourbon

Whenever I get, or get to open a new Glen Garioch I get excited it is my second favourite distillery after Balblair. Coincidently (or not?) both distilleries were subject to a modernisation of tired old packaging, and started releasing "vintages" rather than fixed ages (although Glen Garioch do a 12 year old)which while still characteristic of that distillery, is also characteristic of a certain year. While the vintages list the year, they don't specifically mention an age does that mean it is technically a NAS (no-age-statement) whisky, meaning that 1997 does not need to be the youngest malt in the vatting? That is a question I'll need to find an answer to.

Nose: Immediately a big fruity, estery exposion. Very typical of Glen Garioch to me with a big pear dominance, followed with apple, and banana, with plenty of lesser fruity notes of strawberry and citrus. The combination of fruits are very sweet and candied and the overwhelming memory triggered is of Jelly Tot sweets. Other fruity sweets such as Irn Bru bars and Fruit Salad are also present. Some other sweet but richer things like Chocolate Honeycomb, and the creamy, biscuitness of Nestle White Chocoloate Crunch bars. Plenty of other malty, biscuity notes like shortbread. There is vanilla in there as well, but blends in well with the fruity sweet notes. Lighter floral and heather notes as well.




Palate: Big fruits. Those Jelly Tots are back, and accentuated by the fiz from the high alcohol strength. Hold this in the mouth and let it dilute and mellow, the mouth-watering fruit sweetness comes through like Jolly Ranchers and it gets very chewy, waxy and oily. Creamy biscuitness from the crunch bars as it melts in the mouth with a distinct nuttyness. This also has a very rum-like feel in the mouth.

Finish: Very long, and spicy finish. Vanilla and the crisp sharpness of Coriander seeds. Rum & Raisin fudge, with a touch of citrus.

Comments: A very tasty, and complex construction from Morrison-Bowmore's master blender Rachel Barrie. In many ways this is superior to some of the Glen Garioch single cask releases as there is the higher strength which definately appeals to me, and it carries the character of the distillery and the year, but has the benefit of being constructed through multiple casks to give it more complexity than just a single cask alone. The only drawback of this wee dram is that it is only available through Travel Retail (Duty free to you and me), and I picked this up in Glasgow airport for less than £50. You won't get a single cask for this price. Pick this up if you get the chance or know someone else passing through a airport which stocks it.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Inver House 21 year old Blended Scotch Whisky



Information

Distillery: Blended Scotch Whisky
Bottling: Inver House 21 year old
Age: 21
Strength: 43%

After my tour of Inver House I discussed this bottle with Malcolm Leask and managed to get some information. The 43% indicates that it is was export and was destined for Asia. It appears that it was possibly bottled in the early 90s, which would mean the whisky contained was distilled sometime in the 70s. I have forwarded the picture on to the experts at Inver House and I will update this page once I can find out some more.

Nose: This is very light and mild on the nose, but typical of lower strength whiskies so not particularly a bad thing for this whisky itself. Fruits in the way of apple, pear and tropical pineapple notes. Chocolate, Vanilla, Pecan nuts, hazelnuts. Coconut. Cereal notes of Rolled Oats, Granary Rolls, malt biscuits and Horlicks.

Palate: I can't decide whether this is mild or flat. I spent so much time above 50% ABV everything under does tend to be this way, but I am trying to enjoy more at a lower strength. This will be more important if I am going to try and source bottlings from an older time where higher ABV was just not common. Cadbury's Fruit & Nut bars. Nutella, fruity and honeyed. Very easy drinking.

Finish: Pretty short finish with spiced apple, vanilla and some grain.

Inver House Tour

Today my brother and I went a tour of Inver House distillers' facilities in Airdrie. As a life long resident of Airdrie and also a massive Balblair fan, I wanted to know more about blended whisky and in particular Inver House's blends in which Balblair is a main component.

This tour was kindly organised by Gillian Gibson, the Global Brand Manager for Balblair and anCnoc single malt whiskies, and I was left in the very capable hands of Mark Williamson, Assistant Blender.

Due to this being a busy and working facility I was not able to take many photographs. Mark us to one of the vast warehouses and we all spoke in depth about whisky, malts, blends, and the industry in general. He showed us round the blending and vatting areas, the bottling plant and finished off with taking us to the blending lab where he had laid out an array of spirits for us to nose and taste.

We got to try new make spirit for Balblair, Knockdhu, Pulteney and Balmenach single malts, as well as new make grain whisky which goes into their core blends. Finally Mark took us through the core blends of Cattos, MacArthurs, Hankey Bannister Original, Hankey Bannister Heritage Blend, and Hankey Bannister 12 year old, and how they are put together with the various components. I urge you to try and seek out a bottle of the Heritage Blend, at 46% it really stands out strong and is pretty tasty. When I get a bottle I will review it.

Again, thanks for Gillian and Mark for facilitating this.
 










26.92 Hard glazed pretzel sticks (Clynelish 28 year old)



Information

Distillery: Clynelish
Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 28
Distilled: 1984
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 58.2%
Cask: Refill sherry butt.
Cask Code: 26.92 Hard glazed pretzel sticks

Nose: Very light and delicate. Tangerine is most prominent, but sharper like when you are peeling a tangerine and it squirts out in your eye. Melon and also the a woody earthy note like the melon seeds themselves. Tunnock's Caramel Logs - Chocolate, Caramel, Biscuit with a covering of desicated coconut. Some heather and hay. Marmalade on burnt toast. These are by no means strong notes as this is very closed on the nose and takes a lot of deep digging in the glass. The longer I hold the glass in my hand the more it very gradually opens up and becomes more tropical. More meaty and briny notes appear later on for me here. Salty bacon and sausages.

Palate: Salted fruits. Lemon. Spicy, Peppery with the bite of fresh Ginger. Salt & Vinegar crisps. Dry desicated coconut.

Finish: Fizzy lemonade alongside salty briny flavours. Spicy. More salt. Gentle oak and a little smouldering smoke.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Hankey Bannister Blended Scotch Whisky



Information

Distillery: Blended Scotch Whisky
Bottling: Hankey Bannister (Inver House)
Age: NAS
Strength: 40%

Tonight I am doing something out of the ordinary for me, and that is writing notes for a Blended Scotch Whisky, and by that I mean a blend which is comprised of both Malt and Grain Whisky from a variety of distilleries. The blend I am going to look at is Hankey Bannister and the reason I have chosen this is because it is one of the flagship blends which belong to Inver House Distillers (International Beverage), and one which has malt whisky from my favourite distillery Balblair which is one of the distilleries owned by Inver House along side Pulteney (Old Pulteney), Knockdhu (anCnoc, Speyburn and Balmenach, all of which are producing highly regarded single malt whiskies.

Blended Whisky gets a bad reputation among many single malt drinkers and I admit even by myself in the past, however it is worth remembering that single malt whisky only makes up approximately 10% of whisky produced, and the 90% of whisky produced at pretty much most of the distilleries including my beloved Balblair is put into blended whisky. Without blended whisky most of these distilleries would cease to exist, and indeed in the past many distilleries have been mothballed or destroyed as a result of changed in the blended whisky market. So I say to every one who liked blended whisky - please keep drinking it! As long as you due I shall be able to continue drinking my favourite single malts! It is a win win situation.

Anyway, Hankey Bannister is a blended whisky which is made up of single malt from all of the above single malt distilleries, and also with grain whisky from as far as I can research is from both the North British (Edinburgh) and Port Dundas (Glasgow) grain distilleries. However the Port Dundas distillery is now closed so I can only assume this is no longer the case and grain from somewhere else is being used. Maybe Invergordon or Strathclyde? As far as I can find out it is made up of approximately 30% malt whisky of which this is mostly Balblair, and then 70% grain whisky.

Let's taste it then.

Nose: I expected the first thing to hit me was the smell of grain, but I am wrong, and it would be unfair anyway to just shout GRAIN GRAIN GRAIN and not thinking about the other subtleties which are present so that is what I will do. The initial nose gives me sherried malt notes. Praline and Marzipan. Sweet Almonds, milk chocolate and mint chocolate. My nose is very aware of menthol notes from sherried whisky and I can usually detect it quite strongly in most sherried malts. The menthol notes here are starting to come in a way that reminds me of mouth wash and I imagine that is the effect of the mixture with young spirit but in a way that takes the edge of something which woulde be harsher so I think these sherry notes balance out this youthfulness. Vanilla, Oak and some other spicy elements can be detected. I am getting cereal aromas which I suspect are coming from the grain which remind me of shortbread fingers, buttery and biscuity. Some fresher fruits coming through by way of pear and red apple, almost crab apple like. A little mango and the fruit coming to an end with the slight tannin bitterness of orange peel.  Some burnt toffee and at the very back is a whisp of smoke on the horizon and finally some lighter solvent notes which creep out every now and again.

Palate: The low alcohol of 40% is immediately evident on the palate. I am a guy that likes a real kick in the teeth from my whisky but I know I am in the minority here. Very easy and fairly smooth. The dried fruit and sherry notes carry into the mouth fairly easily backed up with that familiar grain kick but nothing offensive. The Vanilla, Oak and spicy elements are there as well.

Finish: The kicker here is the finish is actually suprisingly long and indeed longer than some single malts which are older and stronger. I suspect the young spirit is helping out with this. Slightly chewy with the dark dried fruit, some dark chocolate and that whisp of smoke again.

Comments: You know what? I am not offended by this. I don't think it is something I could sit and savour in the same way I do my single malts  but it has made a change of scenery for me and given me an insight into the greater world of blended whisky and has opened my eyes to some of where Balblair ends up. I would be very interested in trying some of the other Hankey Bannister releases such as their 12 year old and 21 year old but they appear very hard to get hold of in the general UK market. If anyone could send me some samples to review I would greatly appreciate it ;)

Monday, 22 July 2013

Miltonduff 30 years old - Cask 3714 (Adelphi)



Information

Distillery: Miltonduff
Bottling: Adelphi
Age: 30
Distilled: 1982
Bottled: 2012
Strength: 52.7%
Cask: ex-bourbon, cask 3714

Nose: Lemon butter biscuits, banana foam sweets, tropical fruit punch, marshmallows, coconut, vanilla, green sports mixture sweets, a little herby in the form of thyme and basil.

Palate: As big on the palate as on the nose. Dominated by citrus through Lemonade with a twist of Lime. Very sweet and zesty. Spicy pepper and ginger, with the herby thyme alongside a little light menthol, vanilla, something green like pine needles and also sugar puff cereral.

Finish: The fruit and spices lasting into a long sweet finish, with a bite of wood.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

4.174 Conflict between light and shade (Highland Park 1999, 13 years old)



Information

Distillery: Highland Park
Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 13
Distilled: 1999
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 53.0%
Cask: First fill ex-bourbon barrel.
Cask Code: 4.174 Conflict between light and shade

Nose: I immediately think I am drinking sweet pear cider at the beach. Lots of sweet ripe fruit. Pears, peaches and plums surrounded by salty sea air. Pineapple, lemon & lime and vanilla in "twister" ice cream lollies. I was discussing recently with someone that it must be a reflection of my West of Scotland diet that sweets, ice creams, and biscuits are more detectable than actual fruit! Creamy and honeyed. Lemon sherbet sweets, chocolate covered shortbread. Light and young but not harsh at all even at its higher strength with a lovely restrained smoke just contrasting all the lovely fruit and oak elements.

Palate: Lightly salted limes. Smooth, chewy and syrupy. The lemon and lime flavours really shining here with spicy pepper and nutmeg.

Finish: Long and biscuity, with the citrus coming through again. I have never tasted key lime pie, but I imagine in my head that this is how it tastes.

Comments: This is very delicious, highly drinkable and reminds me of some older Broras.The barrel unfortunately only yielded 84 bottles so there are only 84 bottles of this exact whisky in the world and they have all gone now.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Balblair 1995 (travel retail)



Information

Distillery: Balblair
Bottling: Distillery Bottling
Age: 17
Distilled: 1995
Bottled: 2012
Strength: 46%
Cask: ex-bourbon

As my favourite distillery I am always looking for more Balblair malts, and by collection I mean to drink and enjoy rather than sitting looking pretty on a shelf. While passing through Glasgow Airport on my way to Berlin I was suprised to find they still had some bottles of the 95 vintage, which is a travel retail exclusive so I snapped up a bottle. The icing on the cake is it comes in a lovely full litre size.

Nose

Very estery and fruity as I know and come to expect and love from Balblair. Mangos, Pineapple, Honeydew Melon, passionfruit. Drumstick Lolly sweets. Apple, vanilla and biscuity elements combining to give Hot Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream. Also getting creamy strawberry in something which reminds me of strawberry milkshake, or Campino Sweets. Things geting nuttier with wallnuts and coconut. Creamy again with Nestle Milkybars, and then some fresh hay, and new newspapers.

Taste

Light and refreshing, with a creamy and smooth mouthfeel. Apple punching through and some citrus zest. Melting chocolate on the tongue.

Finish

Sweet and light. Spicy with anise and pepper. Nutty with a touch of oak at the sides.

Comments

A light and refreshing summer dram. Relax in your back garden in the evening sunshine.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Nikka Whisky from the barrel



Information

Distillery: Blend
Bottling: Nikka
Age: NAS
Bottled: Unknown
Strength: 51.4%
Cask: Mixture of ex-bourbon barrels.

My first exploration into Japanese comes in the form of a blend, and that's right I said the b word. What captured my attention was the strength of 51.4%. What lets most blends down for me, and the reason I don't drink them is the low strength which just makes them too watered down. I have nothing against grain, having tasted some very excellent and very delicious single grains (unfortunately not counting the 20 year old Port Dundas I tried a few months ago). The reviews of Nikka Whisky from the barrel have also all been very positive.

This release is a combination of both malt and grain Whisky from the Yoichi & Miyagikyo distilleries, from a combination of different ex-bourbon casks, married together into a final cask before being bottled. As far as I am aware this is small batch releases and have been told each batch should theoretically be slightly different. I do not know how much truth is in this, and the Japanese being so delicate and good at this I see no reason a master blender could not achieve a consistent taste across batches. If anyone knows please let me know. Now onto the tasting itself.

Nose: Straight out the bottle I get grain on the nose; almost vodka like. After I take time to pass through the grain a floral bouquet opens up, but with the grain alcohol is something almost slightly perfumed, but not in any offensive way. I let this sit for a while and approached it again and was immediately rewarded with much less grain on the nose, and a rich sweetness had opened up. Toffee Butterkist popcorn, creamy fudge, and creamy banana milkshake. Sweet spice like some of my wife's "Yankee Candles".

Palate: Smooth and rounded, with a little pepper. Bananas. Pear Cider. Kinder Milk Chocolate specifically topped with a draw from a Menthol cigarette giving a menthol heat rather than mint.

Finish: Medium finish if held in the mouth a little with some spices and slightly drying. If swallowed quicker and less diluted the finish is a lot longer and minty.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Glentauchers 7 years old (The Good Spirits Company)



Information

Distillery: Glentauchers
Bottling: The Good Spirits Company
Age: 7
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 58.3%
Cask: First fill sherry butt, and then virgin oak.

This is the first single cask bottling from The Good Spirits Company. A 7 year old from Glentauchers which spent most of its life in a first fill sherry butt, which was then split in half and put into two smaller casks, this half of which went into virgin oak.

Nose: Rich dessert fruits in the form of brandy soaked cherries, black forest gateau, and christmas mince pies. Some fresher fruit as tinned Mandarin segments in syrup. Chocolate and Mint Viscount biscuits.

Palate: Tart and sweet, but with the high ABV combining to fizzy cherry cola bottles. Then mellows and becomes rounder in the mouth with the fruits and chocolate flavours combining to give the black forest gateau again. Creamy and mouth coating.

Finish: Long. Fruity to start and then mint chocolate.


Sunday, 9 June 2013

1.173 "A fascinating waltz" (Glenfarclas 1993, 19 years old)




Information

Distillery: Glenfarclas
Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 19
Distilled: 1993
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 55.2%
Cask: ex-bourbon, refill hogshead.
Cask Code: 1.173 A fascinating waltz

Nose: Big fruit hit but a more candied sugary fruit particularly Haribo goldbears, Lemon sherbets and Pineapple Cubes. Bird's eye custard over chocolate pudding. Chocolate Raisins.

Palate: Juicy and sharp, like biting into a grapefruit. The lemon sherbets fizzing on the tounge and then Barr's Limeade.

Finish: Long finish with grapefruit sharpness mellowing into a freshly cut grass and dark chocolate and then pepper and oak.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Scotch Malt Whisky Society Tasting


 
Tonight I will be tasting 6 drams from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.


64.41 (Mannochmore 24 year old)

Nose

Malted milk biscuits. Lime zest, a little vegetative like young agricole rum. Rose water and a little fresh green pine. A little bonfire smoke drifting between everything, burnt out embers.

Palate

Light in the mouth, crisp without being harsh, a little spice. Biscuity with some light citrus.

Finish

Biscuity with a medium lime citrus finish.


1.166 (Glenfarclas 25 year old)

Nose

Very sweet Strawberry bon bons, & strawberry tarts. Chocolate chip Cookies. praline.

Palate

Dryer than the nose initially but then developing a lengthening sweetness. Nutty like ferrero rocher.

Finish

Long, and candied sweet finish.


1.148 (Glenfarclas 15 year old)

Nose

Freshly cut timber reminiscent Woodwork class. Honey with Nectarine. Cooked Pears with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Palate

Big and spicy in the mouth. Tinned pears with a chocolate sauce. Sweet Jalapeno peppers.

Finish

A little drying but Long, sweet & spicy melting into a little liquorice & mint.


39.88 (Linkwood 22 year old)

Nose

Very open on the nose. Baked bananas with a caramel sauce. Raspberry & pineapple mascarpone. Bubblegum. Glazed Cherries. Lots of vanilla and chocolate.

Palate

Smooth and easy in the mouth, with banana sweetnees rolling around with some pecan nuts and vanilla. Orange Marmalade on granary toast

Finish

Spicier on the finish than in the mouth, fades to roasted nuts and oak.


27.98 (Springbank 12 year old)

Nose

Smoke from a wood burning stove on the nose initially, but melting away into some smoked scallops. Malted barley, wheat and barn hay. Salted cheese.

Palate

Briney, with some emerging fruits. The smoke making itself present again but not imposingly. A tooth brush has accidently picked up some soap with the mint. Chewy and oily with a drying brightness.

Finish

Big assertive and long finish with some soot and ash. Fruit with some coconut. Freshly sliced ginger.


3.194 (Bowmore 14 year old)

Nose

King Rib supper (Scotish Chip Shop Delicacy), sweet barbecue sauce. Some hospital corridor but quickly giving way to dark dess ert fruits. Christmas cake and mince pies. Cloves and mulled wine.

Palate

Medicinal but sweet. Pork sausages and barbecue sauce. Flat coke.

Finish

Finishes only slightly on the barbecue note, with much more in chocolate and dried fruits but with a big fizzy kick. Long aniseed aftertaste.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Balblair 1992 (cask 3025)


 


Information

Distillery: Balblair
Bottling: Distillery Only Exclusive
Age: 21
Distilled: 1992
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 57.2%
Cask: ex-bourbon (2nd fill I think)

Nose

The usual balblair mango coming through for me, but it would be interesting to know if I would get mango on a blind taste. Some sharp fruit like freshly cut red apple but easing off to soft dairy fudge ice cream, loaded with vanilla, honey and a little soft almond.

Taste

Coats the mouth easily and is hot and fizzy due to the high alcohol strength but it is a plus to me and really smacks the flavours into you and requires restraint to slowly work through the dram. Eases off in the mouth with fruit, coconut, vanilla and milk chocolate.

Finish

Not much fruit on the finish. More toasted oak, malted biscuits, and dry desicated coconut.

Comments

Fantastic dram. Again Balblair at cask strength is just utterly delicious.

Balblair 1978


Information

Distillery: Balblair
Bottling: Distillery Bottling
Age: 30
Distilled: 1978
Bottled: 2008
Strength: 46%
Cask: ex-bourbon

Nose

Sweet Nectarine & Pineapple. Dark Chocolate, Toffee & Raisins. Cloves. A very light distant smoke.

Taste

Round and fruity in the mouth, dryer than the nose lets on but still some sweetness there. A little polished oak, some vanilla and a touch of heather.

Finish

Oak but a little more restrained, a little desert spice and a very small touch of peat.

Comments

A very lovely dram, but very restrained, and a very easy sipper; too easy. Would love to have tried something of this age at a higher strength.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Balblair 1990 (cask 1466)

 



Information

Distillery: Balblair
Bottling: Own Bottling (master of malt exclusive)
Age: 23
Distilled: 1990
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 50.4%
Cask: Ex Islay

Balblair 90 (cask 1466)

Nose

I need to discuss the peat elements up front, and what comes through on the initial nose is smoked pork but leaning towards the saltier, dried, cured direction rather than freshly roasted. Not being a big Islay connoisseur definate hints of Hospital Corridor, but not in a bad way and reminding me more of a spicy clove note than antiseptic.
Mango always comes through for me on Balblairs, but new is a sharp tang of something like apple juice. A tropical note of coconut and sea breeze lingers at the back, with a little vanilla spiced creamy toffee.

Palate

The peat comes to the palate first in an earthy, autumnal way. A little of the coconut and fruit comes through once the mouth gets used to the peat.

Finish

Bright and fruity at first, fading to bonfire smoke and burning tyres. Woody with a little cereal note like wheat.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Mortlach 24 year old (Adelphi)



Information

Distillery: Mortlach
Bottling: Adelphi
Age: 24
Distilled: 1987
Bottled: 2012
Strength: 55.3%
Cask: Refill ex-bourbon hogshead.

Nose

Christmas Sherry Trifle. Coconut and chocolate Bounty Bars. Raisins and a little mint.

Palate

Rich, sweet and fruity. Coconut and Raisins back again.

Finish

Long and drying.

Comments

Having tried some of the more "meaty" Mortlach expressions, this is definately more suited to my palate. Fruit, chocolate, coconut. Very very tasty. I bought this bottle to celebrate the birth of my daughter Emelia and sadly it is nearly all gone. Luckily I have stored 100ml away for me to share with her when she is older. :)

Monday, 11 February 2013

Glen Garioch 1990 vintage



Information

Distillery: Glen Garioch
Bottling: Distillery Own (batch 34)
Age: 19
Distilled: 1990
Bottled: 2009
Strength: 54.6%
Cask: ex-bourbon and ex-sherry cask.

Nose

Smoke. Butterscotch sweets.

Palate

Oily and teeth coating. Some Smoke and a little Earthy. Heather

Finish

That little blast of smoke again, followed by dry oak and spice. Medium length finish.

Comments

One of the more peated Glen Garioch expressions. I really like this vintage.

Glen Garioch 12 year old



Information

Distillery: Glen Garioch
Bottling: Distillery Own
Age: 12
Distilled: 1997
Bottled: 2009
Strength: 48%
Cask: Marriage of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry cask.

This is Glen Garioch's first "age statement" malt which was distilled after reopening in 1997.

Nose

Dark Chocolate, Heather, slight motor oil. Wine gum sweets and vanilla emerging.

Palate

Buttered toast. Heather.

Finish

Sweet, fruity and nutty finish but relatively short.

Comments

I look forward to the distillery releasing some older expressions from after the 1997 reopening.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Longrow Rundlets and Kilderkins 11yo



Information

Distillery: Longrow (Springbank)
Bottling: Distillery Own
Age: 11
Distilled: 2001
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 51.7%
Cask: Rundlets & Kilderkins.

This Rundlets & Kilderkins is unique in that the malt is matured in small casks called Rundlets & Kilderkins. The smaller casks meaning more wood is contact with the spirit and quicker maturation and more flavour. As the casks were smaller, they were often used in the smuggling trade in which was Campbeltown a stronghold.

Nose

First nose comes the smoke like a wood burning stove. After I get through the peat comes a lot of sweetness in the form of treacle, Toffee apples, and Maple Syrup.

Palate

Chewy Toffee and melting chocolate. Spicy.

Finish

Bitter sweet treacle, dark roasted coffee and vanilla. Rich and warming.

Comments

I normally find peated malts hard to deal with but this is really delicious when I get past the initial smoke. The other aromas the flavours really shine through.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Balblair 1986 (cask 12648) (G&M 24yo)



Information

Bottling: Gordon & MacPhail
Age: 24
Distilled: 1986
Bottled: 2010
Strength: 50%
Cask: Refill Sherry Hogshead

Nose
Mint Chocolate, Honey, Fruit Cake. Tobacco, and boot polish.

Palate
Mint Chocolate. Sherry. Jersey Cream.

Finish
Medium Finish. Mint Chocolate yet again. Dairy Fudge and a little Ginger as well.

Comments
One of the few sherried malts which does not offend my nose with sulphur notes. Not too complex a profile with the flavours being quite distinct. Very easy drinking with the 50% ABV but could do with being a bit stronger on the palate for me.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Balblair 1990 22yo (Cadenhead's)



Information

Distillery: Balblair
Bottling: Cadenhead's
Age: 22
Distilled: 1990
Bottled: 2012
Strength: 57.4%
Cask: Bourbon Barrell

Nose

Fruit salad sweets big up front. Very bright and fruity with orange vanilla ice cream and mango sorbet.

Palate

Oily and full bodied with Mango Sorbet and Ice Cream again. Irn Bru and baking spices.

Finish

Mango on the finish again, a little bourbon along with some oak.

Old Pulteney 1990 22yo (Cadenhead's)



Information

Bottling: Cadenhead's
Age: 22
Distilled: 1990
Bottled: 2012
Strength: 55.2%
Cask: Bourbon Barrel

Nose

Orange Marmalade, Sea Salt, Cloves, Toffee, Ginger & Praline

Palate

Fruit, orange again. Salty Brine, Fizzy Cola Bottles,

Finish

Exceedinly long, salty, spicy.

Comments

This is exceedingly good. Well balanced and knows what it is trying to say.