Friday, 29 November 2013

132.1 Secret moonlit garden dram (Karuizawa 28 year old)



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)


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


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


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.