Tasting: Glengoyne 21y

Glengoyne_21Dram data:

Distillery: Glengoyne
Bottler: Official bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 03.12.2012 (lot-nr)
Age: 21 years
Limitation: unknown
Price at the time of purchasing: 93€
Cask: 100% Ex-Oloroso according to the Whiskybase
Alcohol: 46%
Chill filtered? (doesn’t say) & natural color
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
The rich, dark, uncoloured appearance of the dram screams of the casks, the distillery’s known for: Sherry, sherry and sherry. Continue reading “Tasting: Glengoyne 21y”

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Tasting: Strathisla 12

strathisla_12Dram data:

Distillery: Strathisla
Bottler: Official Bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 24.09.2013 – code LGS1373
Age: 12 years
Limitation: –
Price at the time of purchasing: 32€
Casks: –
Alcohol: 40%
Most likely chillfiltered due to the strength / no colouring added (?)
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
The colour is a reddish copper – I bought this in Germany so the addition of colourant should be noted (not to be found). The nose is fruity fresh (think summer fruit basket), I get fresh vanilla, lemon rind, lemon juice, orange oil, banana, fresh figs, hints of tropical fruits like mango and a slight maltiness. Continue reading “Tasting: Strathisla 12”

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Tasting: “The World of Whisk(e)ys” – 4 cheap discounter spirits

When I saw an advertisement for the assortment “The World of Whisk(e)s” at the local discounter chain Hofer (the Austrian version of the German Aldi), I was too intrigued (for research purposes) to pass on the offer: 4 x 4cl bottles of US, Canadian, Irish and Scottish Whisk(e)y for the price of 5,99€. They are all bottled at the minimum required strength of 40%, are all coloured (even the Bourbon…) and all bottled in Germany. Each and every bottle (except for the Irish) carries statements like “Famous for Quality”, “Finest handselected”, “Special reserve”. As they’re all bottom-shelf products, I find these statements a little hard to believe. But, to be fair, they’re not aimed at the discerning connoisseur anyway. I’ll try to give them my honest opinion anyway, as I do with every spirit I taste on this blog. Little fun fact: On the inside of the box there’s a picture of Strathisla distillery.

The World of Whisk(e)sThe four whisk(e)ys included are:

– Kentucky Highway, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 6 years
– Blackstone, Canadian Whisky, 8 years
– Old Flag, Blended Irish Whiskey, NAS (most likely 3 years + 1 day-ish)
– Old Keeper, Highland Blended Scotch, 8 years

Right, let’s get the tasting started:

Kentucky Highway 6yo

Nose: Bourbon indeed. An initial hit of alcohol and medicinal notes, then some sweet corn, and while I try to tell the other notes apart the nose fades away into a light, fruity, very typical nose with the alcohol making up for the most part.
Taste: Very watery and dilute, slightly bitter, with an aroma as faded as the nose – tastes like a regular Bourbon diluted 50:50 with clean spirit.
Finish: Initially quite punchy and full, some dry typical bourbon aromas mixed with hints of wood remain for a bit longer
Verdict: A typical bourbon, but presented for the non-bourbon drinker who might be just starting out. No overwhelming aromas, quite dilute (and difficult to tell apart) in flavour, but no off-flavours as well. Nothing to write home about and a bit lacking for the more experienced drinker.
Score: 55-ish

Blackstone 8yo

Nose: “Gone in 60 seconds” as well, but even more extreme. Just when I thought I got a bit of a nose after the initial alcohol hit there was… nothing except for a bit of alcohol. I can swirl the glass as hard as I want, it doesn’t get any better. Maybe some herbs, but that’s it. Zero, nada, niente. With a drop of water I get faint notes of herb liqueur.
Taste: Initially very mellow on the tongue, growing more aggressive after about 20 seconds with some antiseptic notes, more herbs, some oak(?)
Finish: Very smooth and pleasant, goes down like butter, more herbal notes remain for a bit but very faint like nose and taste.
Verdict: I can’t say anything bad about it – but not smelling or tasting much I can hardly say anything good about it either. This would have a hard time getting through if mixed into a cocktail or drunk on the rocks.
Score: 45-ish

Old Flag NAS (3yo?)

Nose: Not the most complex nose either, but better than both its predecessors, Lemon zests, faint vanilla, lots of grain sweetness, green apples, pears, ginger. Quite a lot of (3rd, 4th, 5th…) refill casks going on here I presume.
Taste: Quite harsh, biting on the tongue despite its only 40% ABV, some sweetness, some vanilla, grain bitterness, one-dimensional
Finish: A bit medicinal, still harsh and young, metallic, short
Verdict: The nose was quite fine but palate and especially finish say otherwise. My taste buds need a break before I get to the Scotch next.
Score: 35-ish

Old Keeper 8yo

Nose: 8 years old, they say? Must be quite some re-re-refill going on here, too. Some faint smoke (burnt rubber?), (sour) wine, some underlying sweetness of gummi bears and lots of typical grain notes as the base
Taste: Some sweetness, grapes, faint smoked vanilla, very one-dimensional
Finish: Gummi bears soaked with water, the faintest remnants of smoke and some sweetness remaining for a not unpleasant, medium-long finish, revealing cereal notes and faint oak as the sweetness passes
Verdict: I’m sorry, but that’s the weakest nose in any Scotch I’ve tasted so far, and I’ve tasted many (but, to be fair, I’ve got no previous experience with the bottom-shelf stuff so I’m lacking comparison exemplars). Palate and finish are better, but still far from great…
Score: 35-ish

Summary:

Well, I wasn’t expecting much (and was ready to be surprised…) but my expectations were met. The best was the Bourbon – most likely profiting from the need for fresh barrels and I could see it being used for cocktails and for beginners. The rest was… uninspired with the Canadian exemplar being very weak/dilute in both smell and taste, the Irish being too young and spirity and the Scotch being once again very dilute. They all taste to me like a mixture of half a bottle of “good” whisk(e)y mixed half and half with neutral spirit. But maybe that’s what they’re supposed to taste like – very faint and easy to drink, never overwhelming or complex. There sure is a market for these drams – but in my opinion they’re not for the discerning whisk(e)y connoisseur. There might be some good bottom-shelf drams out there, three of the four from the ones tasted here are not amongst them. But, honestly, what do you expect for the money (taking the prices for a full bottle into account), after taxes and duties only cents remain for the product itself, shipping, bottling etc. – they’re not gonna waste the best and finest, especially in times of high demand and skyrocketing prices for the best of the best.

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Tasting: Macduff 1989/2007 GM

macduff1989gmDram data:

Distillery: Macduff
Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail’s Connoisseurs Choice
Distilled: February 1989
Bottled: April 2007
Age: 18 years
Limitation: small batch
Price at the time of purchasing: 54€
Casks: Refill Sherry
Alcohol: 43%
Possibly Chillfiltered / no colouring added
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
The colour is straw indicating the refill sherry casks were probably (at least partly) third-fill or had seen quite a long first-fill maturation. Continue reading “Tasting: Macduff 1989/2007 GM”

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Tasting: Tomatin 18

tomatin18Dram data:

Distillery: Tomatin
Bottler: Official bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: around 2010? (bottle code 10/9453
Age: 18 years
Limitation: –
Price at the time of purchasing: 52€
Casks: Ex-bourbon / Oloroso Finish
Alcohol: 46%
Unchillfiltered / no colouring added
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
On the nose I get vanilla sweetness, cinnamon, cardamom, orange zest, ginger, light honey, ripe white grapes, some spiciness from the oak coming through. Continue reading “Tasting: Tomatin 18”

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Tasting: Benriach 17 Septendecim vs. 21 Authenticus

benriach_17_21Dram data:

Distillery: BenRiach
Bottler: Official bottling
Distilled: n/a
Bottled: 17: 28/03/2013 21: 27.06.2011
Age: 17/21 years
Limitation: unknown
Price at the time of purchasing: – (Miniatures)
Cask: –
Alcohol: 46% each
Unchillfiltered & natural color
Whiskybase link 17
Whiskybase link 21

A head to head tasting with my brother of the two peated Speysiders from the same distillery. 4 years of age difference and bottled 2 years apart – sounds fun! Continue reading “Tasting: Benriach 17 Septendecim vs. 21 Authenticus”

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Tasting: Jura Diurach’s Own

jura_diurachsDram data:

Distillery: Isle of Jura distillery
Bottler: Official bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: around 2010 (older golden label)
Age: 16 years
Limitation: –
Price at the time of purchasing: 45€ / 1l bottle
Casks: 14 years ex-bourbon / 2 years Amoroso Oloroso Finish
Alcohol: 40%
Chill Filtered? Artificial colouring added
Whiskybase link

Blind tasting notes:
A dark, reddish colour and long legs promise an oily, sherried dram. The nose is very fresh, zesty, green apples, white pepper, tangerine, ginger, vanilla, some background sweetness, even a whiff of cereals which seems to come and go. Continue reading “Tasting: Jura Diurach’s Own”

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Tasting: Bladnoch 1990 cask# 4644

bladnoch1990_cask4644Dram data:

Distillery: Bladnoch
Bottler: Official bottling
Distilled: 31.08.1990
Bottled: 07.06.2013
Age: 22 years
Limitation: unknown
Price at the time of purchasing: 62€
Cask: Single bourbon cask #4644
Alcohol: 52.4%
Unchillfiltered & natural color
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:*
For a 22 year old whisky the color is very light (might have been a refill cask), but this dram is a prime example of color being a poor indicator of quality. At 52,4% alcohol you get a fresh, clean, vanilla-honey sweetness as the first impression but the alcohol note fades quickly, even without adding any water. Continue reading “Tasting: Bladnoch 1990 cask# 4644”

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How it all started – Part 1

It all started in school. Huh? What? Not, it’s not what you may be thinking right now, I wasn’t drinking in school. It was Ireland-theme time in our English class and one day our teacher came up with a recipe for Irish Coffee. I had just celebrated my 18th birthday by that time and really wanted to try what sounded like a great mixture of coffee (yum… coffee!), Irish Whiskey and unrefined cane sugar. So I set out to buy some whiskey, which wasn’t easy in the small town where I went to school. In the end I managed to score a bottle – proudly flashing my ID stating I was indeed of age. A very strange, yet proud feeling of finally being a grown-up. Funny feeling it was indeed. Continue reading “How it all started – Part 1”

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Tasting: Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2013

Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2013Dram data:

Distillery: Kilchoman
Bottler: Official bottling
Distilled: 2007
Bottled: 2013
Age: 5 years
Limitation: 10.000 bottles
Price at the time of purchasing: 69€
Casks: Oloroso sherry butts / Oloroso hogsheads finishing
Alcohol: 46%
Unchillfiltered & natural color
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:

The dark, reddish color immediately gives away the fact this malt was matured in sherry casks. For how long? If I didn’t know, I’d guess around 8+ years judging from the nose which features a good measure of Islay smoke, dried fruits, raisins, dried apricots, overripe pineapple – reminding me of a fruit salad infused with a few spices and some chocolate on top. Continue reading “Tasting: Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2013”

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