Category Archives: Tasting Notes

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’s 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

Miltonduff 10yo by Whisky Circle Pinzgau

Tasting: Miltonduff 10yo by Whisky Circle Pinzgau

Miltonduff 10yo by Whisky Circle PinzgauDram data:
Distillery: Miltonduff
Bottler: Whisky Circle Pinzgau
Distilled: 25.06.2007
Bottled: 06.09.2017
Age: 10 yo
Limitation: –
Casks: Hogshead #381
Alcohol: 56,5%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered

Oh boy, I’ve really let things slide a bit, it’s been a while since the last review. Let’s make it a special one then! Malt mate Rainer sent over a sample of a 10yo Miltonduff – bottled for the 10th anniversary of the Whisky Circle Pinzgau. Let’s dive in without further ado!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 ripe straw
The nose … oh, that’s a strange one – in a good way. An olfactory puzzle. Initially, there’s a waft of alcohol, not surprising at 10 years of age, followed by “green” notes. Errr… caramelised cucumber? Is there even such a thing? Cucumber water with a pinch of vanilla, freshly cut herbs, green apples, rhubarb and apple-rhubarb pie. Told you it’s a strange one! Adding a few drops of water releases a waft of coconut with a few fruits trailing behind – slightly sour grapes and gooseberries! Let’s check the palate!

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Tasting: Highland Park 40 yo

Highland Park 40Dram data:
Distillery: Highland Park
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: ?
Bottled: 2008
Age: 40 yo
Limitation: –
Casks: refill casks
Alcohol: 48,3%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

Finally, there it is: The culmination of the vertical Highland Park tasting. The coveted, sought-after, eye-wateringly expensive 40-year-old. Let’s see what all the fuss is about!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 amber
The nose is surprisingly light and fragrant. If the 30 yo was a Rock & Roller on crack and steroids, this is a laid-back soul singer. Err, yeah, enough with these silly comparisons, what do we actually smell? Undeniable oak in the background. Think disused, aged, dusty library shelves someone now uses to bake Christmas bakery on, infusing them with spices (star anise, allspice) and sprinkling rum aroma on top of dark fruits (dried plums and dates). Vanilla-infused icing and dark chocolate are also involved. All of this happened a few days ago and the aromas are muted and starting to fade slowly. A very intriguing, complex nose, but someone turned down the volume just a bit too much. Let’s check the palate!

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Highland Park 30 yo

Tasting: Highland Park 30 yo

Highland Park 30 yoDram data:
Distillery: Highland Park
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: ?
Bottled: 2013
Age: 30 yo
Limitation: –
Casks: refill sherry casks
Alcohol: 45,7%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

Two whiskies down, two to go in this vertical tasting series of Highland Park. Let’s pour the 30 year-old next!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 amber
The nose is the most expressive of the range so far. There’s a vibrant oaky not up front – but not too much oak. There are spices, a whole bucket of spices, including cinnamon, star anise and allspice. Someone’s thrown a very sweet, candied orange into the bucket as well and poured some caramel and maple syrup (the oak aged variety) over the mixture. Oh, and don’t forget the sultanas. In fact, this smells like a dusty, oaky whisky-infused fruit cake you can buy in the visitor’s center of many a Scottish distillery (it does get dusty if you leave it open for months. Ask my brother!). Can’t say, I’ve seen them at Highland Park, come to think of it. Oh, and what’s that? Just the hintiest hint of smokiness in the background adding to the complexity. Properly aged whisky, not overdone, not too less. I just hope it doesn’t disappoint on the palate!

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Highland Park 25 yo

Tasting: Highland Park 25 yo

Highland Park 25 yoDram data:
Distillery: Highland Park
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: ?
Bottled: 2012
Age: 25 yo
Limitation: –
Casks: mainly European oak sherry casks
Alcohol: 45,7%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

After starting off with the 21-year-old Highland Park in this vertical tasting series, let’s take a look at the 25-year-old next. The use of mainly European oak sherry casks should make for quite a difference…

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 medium amber
The nose starts off deep, rich, with a lot going on – it reminds me of the Christmas baking season which is upon us! Caramelised orange dried over a bonfire meets pickled ginger, rum-infused sultanas and baked apples with cinnamon and star anise. A retired baker watches his apprentices from a distance and fills his pipe with sweet, black cavendish-laden tobacco, but doesn’t light it. (Oh, come on now, how many have you had today….?) The European oak is there, but it is by no means overpowering or oaky, which is always good to see or, rather, nose. We don’t want oak to spoil the Christmas bakery, don’t we? Let’s check out the palate before my mind wanders off completely! Continue reading

Highland Park 21 yo

Tasting: Highland Park 21 yo

Highland Park 21 yoDram data:
Distillery: Highland Park
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: ?
Bottled: ?
Age: 21 yo
Limitation: –
Casks: mainly American oak sherry casks
Alcohol: 47,5%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

How about a wee mini-series of Highland Park tasting notes, say, the 21yo all the way up to the 40? I was fortunate enough to visit the distillery this year (click here for an in-depth article) and squirrelled away the samples I got to taste on a later day – which is now. Let’s start with the youngest of the bunch, shall we?

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 light amber
The first aroma I get on the nose is that of a dunnage warehouse. A whiff of earthy notes and a hint of mushrooms, which is gone after a few seconds, to reveal a dense mix of rich vanilla, very light smoke (burning heather), smoke-dried apricots and dates stored in grandma’s spice cabinet next to a fresh orange. They said, this is made up of mainly ex-American oak sherry casks, which accounts for the creaminess and not overwhelming spices. A very nice, complex nose indeed. Let’s check out the palate!
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Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2006

Tasting: Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2006

Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2006Dram data:
Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: 2006
Bottled: 2012
Age: ca. 6 yo
Limitation: 7650
Casks: –
Alcohol: 50%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

By golly – it’s been over a week since my last post – I’m losing steam, and that’s not helped by the – yawn – constant PR onslaught of ever more expensive and ever more marketing-driven whiskies where one is less interesting than the previous one to the malt whisky veteran…
Right, that’s enough, Klaus, time to stop lamenting and do something. How about this nice bottle of Bruichladdich from the personal archives? Yes, that’ll do nicely!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 golden straw
At roughly 6 years of age, this is still a young dram, but the nose reveals a nice and fitting balance of spirit and cask (probably mostly fresh ex-bourbon casks). The two dominant flavours are vanilla and – bere! I was on Orkney earlier this year and brought back a pack of bere flour. I’ve been experimenting with it a bit, so it is easy to detect the very distinct, sweet, bready, malty flavour, which is 10x the intensity of “normal” malting barley. These two main aromas are supported by those of wet millstones, aged orange peel, toasted bannocks and just a pinch of kitchen spices. A rather simple, clean nose, but it’s the nuances and the malt influence that make it interesting – and make it work! Continue reading