Author Archives: MaltKlaus

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Cadenhead's Vienna storefront

A malt head’s Mecca named Cadenhead’s has landed in Vienna!

If you’ve been into whisky for any length of time you will have noticed single malts being items of luxury. In a world where whisky is more often than not sold at a premium in fancy, shiny boxes due to people going crazy for old, aged whisky, we maltheads must take care not to pay way over the odds. One of the best names in the independently bottled whisky market is Cadenhead’s. Established in 1842 it is the oldest independent bottler in Scotland – and one of the biggest. Size is important – if you’ve got the stock you can afford to buy casks of whisky young and cheap(ish) and wait years and decades before bottling instead of having to sell it quickly. Add to that their no-frills packaging (to quote Mark Watt, Director of sales: “You can’t drink packaging”) and a reasonable price and you’ve got a winner.

Cadenhead's Vienna storefront

The Cadenhead’s Vienna store front with Florian (right) and Jenna (middle)

The only trouble is getting access to their wares. Cadenhead’s offers two different product lines: Their “international range” (mostly vattings of two or three casks) is available, well, internationally through a network of retailers while their rarer, single cask “Authentic collection” is only available at Cadenhead’s branded stores – of which there are only nine spread throughout Western Europe. Up until the end of 2017, when they stopped operating under the Cadenhead’s brand, we Austrians were lucky enough to have a shop in Salzburg. After eight long months of absence (though my wallet quite liked the reduced whisky spending…), on Tuesday, the 14th of August 2018, a new Cadenhead’s shop opened its doors in Austria. Did I rush to be there for the opening day (and night)? You can bet on it!

The new “mecca for whisky enthusiasts”, as I like to call it, is conveniently located in Austria’s capital, Vienna. It is not a heartless, faceless store, but a charming enterprise, run by two enthusiastic whisky experts, Florian and Manfred, who took it upon themselves to bring the Cadenhead’s brand and products back to Austria. Florian has managed the Salzburg shop in the past – which is where we first met. To mark the importance of this new shop not only did Cadenhead’s Jenna McIntosh fly there to conduct a tasting, Director Neil Clapperton also made a surprise appearance, accompanied by Alan, who runs the brand’s Edinburgh store. If you ever find yourself talking to any of these people you’ll soon notice that these people don’t only sell whisky – they live whisky!

Cadenhead's Vienna

Yours truly with Florian, one of the two proprietors

If you like whisky and happen to live in or visit Vienna, a visit to the new Cadenhead’s store at the Döblinger Hauptstraße 32 (click for map) is mandatory! Florian and Manfred currently carry a selection of Cadenhead’s whiskies (plus Gin and Cognac!) with Rum to follow. You’ll also find a selection of official distillery bottlings and I believe I also spotted a wee fridge with beer. They are currently busy building their website, which will be available soon at https://www.cadenhead-vienna.at/ – in the meantime, go “like” their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CadenheadVienna/

Watch the video from the opening day including a shop walkthrough:

No compensation has been provided for this article; However, for the sake of transparency, it should be noted that both proprietors are friends of the author.

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 yo (2018 release)

Tasting: Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 yo (2018 release)

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 yo (2018 release)Dram data:
Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottler: Official Bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2018
Age: 10 years
Limitation: –
Casks: American and French oak
Alcohol: 50%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

It came and it went, came back as a limited release – and is now back as a permanent expression in Bruichladdich’s heavily peated “Port Charlotte” range – new packaging and all: The 10 year-old! In recent Bruichladdich fashion, they even tell us the recipe: 65% 1st fill American casks, 10% 2nd fill American casks and a whopping 25% 2nd fill French wine casks.
Two weeks ago I was able to sit down with Bruichladdich’s Cristy for an hour at the distillery and chat about what’s new and upcoming (more on that in a separate blog post). On that occasion, I was kindly given a bottle of this new expression before it went out for general release (which should start right about now), so let’s crack it and test it! Oh, one more thing: Apparently the new, bespoke bottles for Port Charlotte (I like the raised lettering in glass on the back!) feature an anti-dripping lip. Err, okay. I usually don’t spill whisky – but I did when I opened and poured this one. Make of that what you will… 😉

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 light gold
The nose has a fresh, peppery kick to it upon first contact. Freshly cracked pepper with mint and tangerine oil mixed with fragrant, noticeable but not overpowering peat smoke. It takes a few minutes to fully open up. Now we’ve got sooty peat smoke mixed with aromas of whisky-marinated lamb steak, light vanilla, a hint of red berries, juicy pears, squeezed grapes, and the very typical French oak spices in the background. Interesting how much of an influence this 25 % share of French casks makes! Even more time in the glass mellows the spirit even more, bringing more of the fruity, dark components to light. Let’s move on to the palate!  Continue reading

Deanston 1994 19 yo by Cadenhead's

Tasting: Deanston 1994 19 yo by Cadenhead’s Small Batch Collection

Deanston 1994 19 yo by Cadenhead'sDram data:
Distillery: Deanston
Bottler: Cadenhead’s
Distilled: 1994
Bottled: 2014
Age: 19 years
Limitation: 846 bottles
Casks: Butts
Alcohol: 56,4%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

I guess everybody has one – a distillery whose products they’re struggling with. There are very few of them – but Deanston is amongst them. It’s hard for me to find a Deanston malt that “connects” with me – for whatever reason. So what drove me to purchase this bottling by Cadenhead’s? Don’t remember! Let’s see if this is a Deanston malt that “works” for me…

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 dark straw
The nose is pretty light – second fill butts were probably used for maturation. We’re greeted by lemon, citrus peel, a whiff of alcohol, unripe grapes and grape seeds on a bed of candyfloss. A mix of limoncello and grappa, perhaps – aged in oak barrels. After 19 years this is still rather spirit-driven, which is not a bad thing unless you’re expecting a sherry bomb. Let it sit for quite a while and more subtle nuances appear, together with a grape and apricot sweetness and fruitiness. Not a dram to be rushed. Quite good so far – let’s see if it’s the same on the palate! 

Continue reading

Glendronach 1995 21 years cask 1523 for Shiuh Heng

Tasting: Glendronach 1995 21 years cask 1523 for Shiuh Heng

Glendronach 1995 21 years cask 1523 for Shiuh HengDram data:
Distillery: Glendronach
Bottler: official bottling for Shiuh Heng
Distilled: 24.03.1995
Bottled: 04.2016
Age: 21 years
Limitation: 684 bottles
Casks: PX Sherry Puncheon
Alcohol: 54,6%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

Glendronach in Sherry, what else? And matured for “twenty-one long years”. Well, thank god, because I hate whisky that’s matured for a number of short years! Anyway, let’s get on with it!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 amber
The nose has quite a lot of alcohol sitting up front – and a load of dark aromas lurking behind. Burnt sugar (Demerara), molasses, old Caribbean rum, burnt caramel, raisins, 100% cocoa chocolate-covered orange peel. A lot of “dark” aromas, not much in terms of sweetness (as one would expect from a PX Puncheon). A tough one, it does have its qualities, but it doesn’t seem to connect with me.  Let’s see if it’s the same on the palate! 

Continue reading

Benromach 1998 20th anniversary bottling

Tasting: Benromach 1998 20th anniversary bottling

Benromach 1998 20th anniversary bottlingDram data:
Distillery: Benromach
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: 1998
Bottled: 2018
Age: 19-20 years
Limitation: 3000 bottles
Casks: 1st fill oak casks
Alcohol: 56,2%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

20 years ago, Gordon & Macphail brought back Benromach distillery and started distilling again. To commemorate this occasion, they bottled a 20th anniversary edition of 19-20 yo whiskies, made during the first year the distillery was back up and running. Just 3000 bottles are available (400 at the distillery) and should be hitting stores at the time of posting in spring 2018. Since the distillery sent over a sample for a tweet tasting it would be a shame not to do proper tasting notes. Let’s dive in!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 red-gold
The nose has a bit of an alcoholic kick at first. This will work nicely with a bit of water, but let’s stay with “neat” for a while! There’s the tiniest hint of signature Benromach smoke paired with pepper and citrus – and then the fruits appear – strawberries, strawberry-flavoured gummy bears (is there such a thing?), red apples and red pears, condensed apricot juice with flower petals on top (no FWP!). A nice balance between cask and spirit, not overdone on either side. Time to add a few drops of water! Ah! That worked wonders, unearthing a hint of earthiness and a hint of oak, balancing out the whisky. A rock-solid, well-made dram. Let’s check the palate!  Continue reading

Amrut Intermediate Sherry NAS b.30

Tasting: Amrut Intermediate Sherry NAS b.30 Indian Whisky

Amrut Intermediate Sherry NAS b.30Dram data:
Distillery: Amrut
Bottler: official bottling for Taiwan
Distilled: –
Bottled: May 2016
Age: NAS
Limitation: ? batch 30
Casks: Ex-bourbon – Oloroso – Ex-bourbon
Alcohol: 57,1%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

Intermediate Sherry? Now what’s that supposed to mean? Easy! The whisky was first matured in Ex-bourbon casks, then transferred to Spanish oak Oloroso-seasoned casks for a year before a final maturation in ex-bourbon again. That’s a lot of cask-swapping! Let’s see if it was worth the effort!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 reddish amber
The nose is quite strong on the alcohol – no wonder, it is clocking in at 57% ABV! Behind the alcohol, there’s the first waft of slight, fragrant oak and a mixture of herbs and spices. Oriental cough medicine, perhaps? The European oak influence is noticeable! Let’s wait a few minutes! Zzzzzzzzzzz. It’s opened up a bit! Now traces of orange juice, chocolate-covered orange peel appear on a bed of sultanas and molasses. It’s been a while since I last spent such a long time just nosing a dram, if that means anything… The interplay of the freshness and the darker notes works rather well! On to the palate! 

Continue reading

The road forward

Four more years? Happy birthday, maltklaus.net!

The road forward

The road forward (picture credit: pixabay)

On the 10th of April in the year 2014 the first article, aptly named “(Yet another) Whisky Blog” was published on this site, back then under a different domain name. Before reading these first ramblings again I thought they might be cringeworthy now that I’m more seasoned, more experienced and quite a bit older. Alas, what I wrote back in 2014 still holds true to this day, which makes me proud.

This blog was started to provide guidance in a whisky world that’s certainly grown a lot in complexity over the years and decades. In a way, the whisky world has changed that much in just four years, that I was on the brink of losing myself in it – and losing interest. Only earlier this week did I buy my first bottle of whisky in 2018 (and a grain whisky to boot!). There were days when I wasn’t sure whether I should really attend the Limburg Whisky Fair, out of the sheer perceived loss of interest.

Things were not going well in my own whisky world for a few months! There’s I reason I quoted the Obama campaign slogan in the title – to me it felt as if my term in the whisky world was coming to an end. I did not need an election – but I needed a big kick in my behind, catapulting me forward. Limburg represented that kick in the bottom, the experiences, the talks, the malt mate comradery – and a few drams that reminded me that whisky is indeed the best aged brown spirit this world produces.

Now I can honestly say “Happy birthday” to my wee little corner of the internet. Hey, this blog is now older than some of the no age statement bottom-shelf whisky on supermarket shelves! I consider that an accomplishment! Thanks to everybody for sticking with me for the ride, thanks for all the comments, the friendships – and the samples. This blog would be nothing without the people reading it and engaging with my “content”. I’m looking forward developing it further for and with you.

I am back. FOUR MORE YEARS!

Royal Lochnagar 12 yo - 1990s bottling

Tasting: Royal Lochnagar 12 yo – 1990s bottling

Royal Lochnagar 12 yo - 1990s bottlingDram data:
Distillery: Royal Lochnagar
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 1990s
Age: 12 years
Limitation: –
Casks: –
Alcohol: 40%
coloured / chill filtered
Whiskybase link

While this should probably be tasted head to head with a recently bottled sipling, lacking a sample of one I’ll have to make do with what I’ve got – a Royal Lochnagar distilled in the “dark days” of the 1980s, bottles sometime in the 90s. Let’s see how this one fares!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 light copper
The nose is quite delicate upon the first contact, with the alcohol vapours being somewhat noticeable. Once the nose cuts through that, there’s a tiny whiff of smoke – not peat smoke, mind you – on a base of sweet things! Vanilla, sweetened coconut milk, fudge, dried mango pieces, canned peaches and apricots with a pinch of ready-made spice mixture on top. This is very likeable indeed and quite a lot deeper than modern supermarket drams in this price range. Let’s see if it holds up on the palate! Continue reading

Limburg 2018 main hall

Why attend whisky fairs? That’s why! 2018 Limburg Whisky Fair

Why do you attend whisky fairs? Yes, you on the other side of this internet connection. Why do you go? To taste the latest and greatest? To attend masterclasses? To learn more about spirits? To get drunk at “all included” events? All (more or less) valid reasons to attend – but none of these really draw me to a fair. In fact, I rarely ever attend whisky fairs – precisely for these reasons. I’m not as much interested in tasting the latest and greatest I’ll probably never ever buy anyway due to sticker shock. I don’t enjoy rushed masterclasses where you basically knock back five or six drams in the same time I usually spend with just one. And, most of all, I don’t like getting drunk knocking back drink after drink just to get “my money’s worth” at all-inclusive events.

Limburg 2018 main hall

Limburg 2018 main hall

So, why the heck did I attend the Limburg Whisky Fair 2018 just this past weekend? Well, I did not just attend a whisky fair – I attended a networking event with the opportunity to try whisky I would be very hard-pressed to find anywhere else!

For me, the Limburg fair already started on Friday with a privately organized dinner at a local restaurant. Imagine the kind of dinner where everybody orders food and beer and the landlord is more than happy to see all the open bottles of whisky on the table, brought by the guests. Pretty much unheard of in just about any location – but not in Limburg! Great food, great people, great conversations and mediocre but drinkable beer (ahem…) – a recipe for a long night. Thank god the fair wouldn’t start until 11 a.m. the following day! Continue reading

Auchentoshan 1997 18 yo by Blackadder Raw Cask

Tasting: Auchentoshan 1997 18 yo by Blackadder Raw Cask

Auchentoshan 1997 18 yo by Blackadder Raw CaskDram data:
Distillery: Auchentoshan
Bottler: Blackadder
Distilled: 22.10.1997
Bottled: 29.10.2015
Age: 18 years
Limitation: 247 bottles
Casks: “single oak hogshead” 2909
Alcohol: 52,3%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

Ah yes – another one of these Raw Cask bottles where it’s best to have a fine-mesh strainer at hand, otherwise you’ll end up with a crunchy layer of charcoal in the glass. Also my second ever Auchentoshan review, a distillery I often struggle with when trying official bottlings. Let’s see how this indie bottling fares!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 oxidised copper
The nose has a prominent, yet light and very clean alcoholic top note that’s immediately noticeable. Beneath the layer of alcohol, there’s a whiff of citrus peel, with candyfloss, vanilla, dried coconut flakes, raw banana, burnt sugar and shortbread. Just a pinch of oriental spices is to be detected. Oh, and some wormwood. The oak may have imparted a lot of colour, but it has not taken over completely, enhancing the triple-distilled spirit just enough to add supporting flavour compounds and taking away the rough edges. Nosing an Auchentoshan that’s not been killed with too much cask influence is a delight – owing to the rather lovely and delicate new make, which I got to taste back in 2014. On to the palate!  Continue reading