Category Archives: Tasting Notes

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

Laphroaig 2006 - 2013 7 yo by Cooper's Choice

Tasting: Laphroaig 2006 – 2013 7 yo by Cooper’s Choice

Laphroaig 2006 - 2013 7 yo by Cooper's ChoiceDram data:
Distillery: Laphroaig
Bottler: Cooper’s Choice
Distilled: 2006
Bottled: 22.04.2013
Age: 7 yo
Limitation: 750
Casks: cask 1340
Alcohol: 46%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

We had something very old for the last review – how about something very young this time around? Young Laphroaigs can be very interesting, so let’s crack this sample open!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 pale white wine
Big, phenolic peat up front on the nose with a touch of freshly roasted coffee smoke on warm, sugared shortbread (baked with a pinch of vanilla). A nice amount of minerality (crushed shells) is to be found in the background. A no-frills, young, spirit-driven Laphroaig, just the way that style should be. Continue reading

Dufftown 1979-2010 "The Golden Cask"

Tasting: Dufftown 1979-2010 “The Golden Cask”

Dufftown 1979-2010 "The Golden Cask"Dram data:
Distillery: Dufftown
Bottler: The house of MacDuff
Distilled: 1979
Bottled: 2010
Age: ca. 31
Limitation: 395
Casks: Sherry Butt CM156
Alcohol: 51,5%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

People save special whiskies for special occasions, but sometimes it’s drinking a special whisky on an ordinary day that makes for a special occasion. It’s not every day you get to drink a 1979 Dufftown (or any indie Dufftowns, for that matter…), so let’s see if this malt does indeed make this mundane evening special!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 mahogany
Big, bold, dry Oloroso sherry on the nose. Boom. That was to be expected, looking at the colour of the whisky. Huge sherry, European oak and, hello? Where’s the spirit character? Doesn’t really knock me off my socks initially, to be honest, but let’s dive deeper and give it some time! We’ve got liquorice, wood polish, an oak wood tray filled with herbs (including wormwood) and propolis sprinkled on top, distilled plums and cherries, with cherry stone bitterness. The distillate and alcohol give a quite noticeable, fresh, zesty top note. This does nose more like a 10 to 15-year-old whisky filled into very active Sherry casks rather than something from 1979. With a few drops of water, the lighter alcoholic and citrus notes gain influence. Let’s check the palate! Continue reading

Amrut NAS BA24-2016 by Blackadder

Tasting: Amrut NAS BA24-2016 by Blackadder

Amrut NAS BA24-2016 by BlackadderDram data:
Distillery: Amrut
Bottler: Blackadder
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2016
Age: NAS
Limitation: 172
Casks: Ex-bourbon BA24-2016
Alcohol: 61,4%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

Some bottlers bottle their whisky heavily filtered and heavily coloured, some don’t filter and don’t add colouring – and then there’s Blackadder. Their “raw cask” series even puts bits of charred oak (and, in this case, a string of hessian bung cloth(?) into the bottle. Let’s take a look at this example from the Indian Amrut distillery – if I can manage to pour a “not too crunchy” dram from the bottle, that is – I have misplaced my strainer…

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 dark copper red
The nose has quite a lot of alcohol up front – obviously. The nose needs a few seconds to adapt to that. Once we’ve cut through the alcohol layer, a spicy charred cask character awaits us. Burnt fudge, chocolate-covered vanilla caramel, allspice, turmeric and toasted cask. It feels “warm” and satisfying in a way. I have sniffed freshly delivered ex-bourbon barrels in Scotland, which didn’t nose too dissimilar. With water the alcoholic top note disappears into the background, revealing more of the aromas – let there be dried oranges and pickled ginger. On to the palate!

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Tasting: Eden Mill Burns Day 2017 2-yo spirit

Dram data:
Distillery: Eden Mill
Bottler: Original Bottling
Distilled: 2015
Bottled: 2017
Age: 2 yo
Limitation: 500 20 cl bottles
Casks: US Virgin Oak
Alcohol: 43%
uncoloured
Whiskybase link

It’s always fun to taste spirit which can not yet be named whisky because it’s too young. This sample at hand comes from the young Eden Mill distillery in St. Andrews, which I visited in June 2017. I took a sample with me to assess in my usual tasting environment.

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 light gold
The nose is an obvious vanilla bomb, thanks to the quarter cask virgin oak casks being used. Custard cream and flambeed vanilla pudding meet fresh oak juice. Whoa, that’s intense at just 2 years of age. In the background you can still nose the fresh new make and only a slight metallic note, but the oak has really taken over already. Actually, I’m impressed how clean this noses at just 2 years. Also in the background is a caramel and malty note which I would at least in part attribute to the (for a Scotch) very unusual grain bill, including Crystal and Brown malt. There’s a herbal, spicy side to it as well – fresh juniper berries and allspice, I’d say. Actually, this reminds me of a vanilla-flavoured winter warmer tea with an added shot of alcohol. Quite a bit strange and unconventional, but they are in their experimentation phase right now!   Continue reading

Caperdonich 1977 39 yo – Cadenhead’s 175th anniversary

Tasting: Caperdonich 1977 39 yo – Cadenhead’s 175th anniversary

Caperdonich 1977 39 yo – Cadenhead’s 175th anniversaryDram data:
Distillery: Caperdonich
Bottler: Cadenhead
Distilled: 1977
Bottled: 2017
Age: 39 yo
Limitation: 462 bottles
Casks: Butt
Alcohol: 50,4%
unchillfiltered / uncoloured
Whiskybase link

This is the last one in the trilogy of whiskies distilled in the 1970s at now “lost distilleries”, bottled for the 175th anniversary of the independent bottler Cadenhead’s. Unlike the Convalmore, I’ve got a slightly bigger sample, so let’s give it a thorough taste!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 mahogany
This is the most heavily sherried whisky of this release! The nose is immediately filled with deep, dark, bold aromas. Oak floorboard polished with wax (but not too oaky!), liquorice, cherry and plum syrup, herbal Swiss cough drops rubbed in allspice and forgotten for a few years in a rusty tin box. In fact, can I please call this a fruity cough syrup for grown ups? In a good way, of course! Not much sweetness going on, which is good, but the cask is definitely strong and not much distillery character remains – which is to be expected from a sherry monster of such a calibre. Still a very good balance between oak and fruit, this has not yet gone overboard! Let’s check the palate!  Continue reading