Category Archives: Tasting Notes

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… ūüėČ

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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs see if it‚Äôs the same on the¬†palate!¬†

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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‚Äôs see if it’s the same on the¬†palate!¬†

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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: ‚Äď
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!¬†

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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

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

Compass Box Spice Tree

Tasting: Compass Box Spice Tree NAS

Compass Box Spice TreeDram data:
Distillery: –
Bottler: Compass Box
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2014 (ongoing batches)
Age: NAS
Limitation: –
Casks: French/American oak
Alcohol: 46%
not chill filtered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Spice tree – I’m sure quite a few of you will already be familiar with this whisky – but here’s a short summary for those who aren’t: John Glaser of Compass Box once created a whisky by this name. This original version used “inner staves” in the maturation/finishing casks – basically adding additional staves of oak into the casks to impart their character. This practice was ultimately deemed illegal – and the whisky was discontinued. The version that’s now on the market (since 2009) claims to achieve the same result – but adhering to the rule set for Scotch Whisky. Never having tasted the “illegal” product I’ll take a look at the current offering:

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 honey
Yes, there’s spice on the¬†nose!¬†Who’da thunk! Like sticking your nose into grandma’s spice cupboard! We’ve got allspice, clove, cinnamon and a pinch of ground¬†ginger sprinkled over a soft and sweet base of honey, Italian sweet almond cookies and shortbread. The French oak is strong in this one – but not overpowering and working well with the complex,¬†tightly woven¬†vatted, err, blended malt base. Let‚Äôs check the¬†palate!¬†

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WFFA 2000 17 yo "Orkney" Single Malt

Tasting: WFFA 2000 17 yo “Orkney” Single Malt

WFFA 2000 17 yo "Orkney" Single MaltDram data:
Distillery: Shhh… it’s a secret distillery on Orkney!
Bottler: WFFA
Distilled: 2000
Bottled: 2017
Age: 17 years
Limitation: 266 bottles
Casks: refill hogshead
Alcohol: 58,1%
not chill filtered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Boy, how time flies, it’s already in the middle of February and I¬†haven’t posted a whisky review yet! I’ve been feeling under the weather and feeling the blues quite a bit lately – not ideal prerequisites for an unbiased review, so I didn’t write one. Right, let’s get back on track with this 17-year-old mystery Orkney distillery bottling (I could tell you but then I’d have to… you know… ), which was a cask share between a bunch of online friends in a super-secret Facebook group. *Cue mysterious music*
Right, so, how is the whisky?

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 golden honey
On the¬†nose¬†we’ve got a touch of alcohol – no wonder given the rather high ABV! Beneath the pleasant alcoholic freshness, there’s a pleasant whiff of smoke (burning heather and roses), followed immediately by honey, pickled ginger, caramelised orange rind, lemon peel, tinned tangerines, golden syrup and oak wood shavings. The original character of the spirit has been well-preserved by the cask, not overwhelming the delicate, light notes, which is a profile I really like. Let’s move on to the¬†palate!

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Glen Grant 45 yo 1966-2012 by Gordon & MacPhail

Tasting: Glen Grant 45 yo 1966-2012 by Gordon & MacPhail

Glen Grant 45 yo 1966-2012 by Gordon & MacPhailDram data:
Distillery: Glen Grant
Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Distilled: 1966
Bottled: 16.07.2012
Age: 45 years
Limitation: 1121 bottles
Casks: 4 refill US hogsheads, 1 first fill sherry butt
Alcohol: 40%
probably chill filtered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

First whisky review of the year 2018 – let’s make it count! I’ve tried a few fairly¬†well-aged Glen Grants from G&M before, some “overdone”, some stellar. This one is made up of mostly American oak casks, which is a very promising sign!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 honey
Aaaaaah! The¬†nose¬†promises great things! That old-timey smell which nothing but good wood and long age can give a good distillate! We’re entering e beekeeper’s dusty wood¬†workshop. Wax is in the air, mixed with barrel-aged honey stored in grandfather’s oak cupboard, a bouquet of summer flowers hanging upside down to dry. We also get a whiff of caramelised ginger, oranges, baked sweet apples with cinnamon and cloves. This is absolutely beautiful, light, yet sophisticated, the oak influence is there but in no way overbearing. Fingers crossed this profile holds up on the¬†palate!¬† Continue reading