Category Archives: Scotland

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

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

Ledaig 10 yo

Tasting: Ledaig 10 yo

Ledaig 10 yoDram data:
Distillery: Tobermory
Bottler: original bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: ca. 2015
Age: 10 years
Limitation: –
Casks: –
Alcohol: 46,2%
unchillfiltered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

I’ve reviewed quite a lot of “special” whiskies lately – it’s time to look at the “daily dram” category again. This one fits the bill nicely, affordable, and presented the way we like it (no chill filtration, no fake colour). Oh, and it’s been called “the new Ardbeg” by some. Let’s verify that claim!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 green barley
The nose is just how I like a relatively young, heavily peated dram to be! Peat bonfire smoke (is that even a thing?) up front, like a South coast Islay, with phenols, dirty oil rags and a hint of iodine. Well, no wonder, since the malt is supplied from the Port Ellen maltings on Islay. It is, however, not only just smoke and a whole lot of nothing – there’s more going on! Fresh ginger, pepper and eucalyptus provide a welcome punch, after which sweeter notes start to appear. There are hints of fudge, vanilla, sugar-coated shortbread and a touch of flowering herbs. Vibrant, kicking, young, yet with a good balance, I can see why people compare it to Ardbeg 10. Continue reading

Convalmore 1977 40 yo – Cadenhead’s 175th anniversary

Tasting: Convalmore 1977 40 yo – Cadenhead’s 175th anniversary

Convalmore 1977 40 yo – Cadenhead’s 175th anniversaryDram data:
Distillery: Convalmore
Bottler: Cadenhead
Distilled: 1977
Bottled: 2017
Age: 40 yo
Limitation: 522 bottles
Casks: Butt
Alcohol: 56,8%
unchillfiltered / uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Another whisky in the stunning lineup to celebrate Cadenhead’s 175th anniversary! I only have a very small sample left, so I’ll make the best of it to get my first tasting notes for a Convalmore up!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 gold
The nose is still surprisingly vibrant and alive for a 40 yo whisky! Definitely not an overoaked, dead dram (hey, I’ve seen it happen, they usually come in crystal decanters and expensive lacquered boxes!)! A massive waft of orange peel up front, mixed with gooseberries, apricots, mangos, sweet grapes, pickled ginger – let’s call it a seasonal (summery) fruit basket. But there’s more to it! A few mint leaves rubbed onto a lacquered oak box (ahem) held together by a leather belt, a cinnamon stick and a pinch of ground allspice. Noses more like a 25 yo whisky at first, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, does it? Give it time and time and time again, and it settles down, with the fruity notes getting darker / more condensed. Continue reading

Jura 1986 30 yo by Cadenhead's

Tasting: Jura 1986 30 yo by Cadenhead’s

Jura 1986 30 yo by Cadenhead'sDram data:
Distillery: Jura
Bottler: Cadenhead’s
Distilled: 1986
Bottled: 2016
Age: 30 years
Limitation: 66 bottles
Casks: Bourbon Barrel
Alcohol: 42,5%
unchillfiltered / uncoloured
Whiskybase link

That sample took a while to reach me! It went from Salzburg to Vienna, was forgotten and finally found its way into my hands at its bottling place, Campbeltown, this May, only for me to bring it back to Austria to finally taste it. Apparently, it’s a very good Jura (which you can’t say of all whiskies by this distillery), so I’m very much looking forward to giving it a go!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 gold
The nose is rather promising. Rich and properly aged with quite a noticeable oak influence, but not too much. We’ve got an oak storage cupboard with a slight layer of waxy varnish and quite a few kinds of fruit – dried bananas, dried peaches, dried pineapple, tinned lychees, sweet red apples, rhubarb some pickled ginger. Add to that a hint of orange peel, honey and a box of tutti frutti. This is unlike most Juras I’ve tasted – the spirit has been taken over by the cask in a very advantageous way. Continue reading

Bladnoch Samsara NAS limited release

Tasting: Bladnoch Samsara NAS limited release

Bladnoch Samsara NAS limited releaseDram data:
Distillery: Bladnoch
Bottler: Official bottling
Distilled: – (2009 or before)
Bottled: 25.04.2017
Age: NAS
Limitation: –
Casks: Californian red wine and bourbon casks
Alcohol: 46,7%
unchillfiltered / uncoloured
Whiskybase link

During the last 2 decades, the future of the lowlands Bladnoch distillery in Wigtown looked very grim – twice. Once before it was purchased by Irishman Raymond Armstrong and family (who initially wanted to turn it into housing) and for the second time when it went into receivership a few years back. It looked like it was gone for good – but then Australian yoghurt entrepreneur David Prior purchased the place – and is now essentially gutting the interiors, building a new distillery in the old buildings, to be restarted soon. To bide them over until they can sell their own spirit, they are tapping into the old stocks maturing at the distillery, made by either of the previous owners. This NAS “Samsara” expression is made up of stock distilled during the Armstrong era, making it at least 8 or 9 years old, as the distillery hasn’t produced anything since 2009. I quite liked expressions created during the Armstrong ownership, so I’m curious to find out what the new owners have created from the old stock!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 red gold
The nose is Bladnoch-y with a twist. It starts off fresh, with citrus, bananas, red and green apples showing off the spirit style. But there’s more, the influence of the red wine casks is very apparent. Bitter grape peel, slightly acidic dry wine, wine gums, an old banana, green grass, sweat and spices – cinnamon and cloves. Hmmm. Hmmmm…. Wine maturation of whisky can go many ways, and while the wine casks don’t overpower the distillery character, I’ve always found Bladnoch to work best in plain ex-bourbon casks or sometimes the odd sherry butt (the ones with quite a bit of sherry oomph). This feels like a whisky of two hearts, with the different flavour profiles almost fighting each other. Not bad, and there might be a few people who see themselves drawn to that style, but it doesn’t really do it for me. Continue reading

Banff 1976 40 yo - Cadenhead's 175th anniversary

Tasting: Banff 1976 40 yo – Cadenhead’s 175th anniversary

Banff 1976 40 yo - Cadenhead's 175th anniversaryDram data:
Distillery: Banff
Bottler: Cadenhead’s
Distilled: 1976
Bottled: 2017
Age: 40
Limitation: 192 bottles
Casks: ex-bourbon hogshead
Alcohol: 51,2%
unchillfiltered / uncoloured
Whiskybase link

This 40 yo Banff, distilled in 1976, was part of the 175th anniversary bottling by the independend bottler Cadenhead’s, and we got the chance to try it during the matching tasting with Mark Watt during the Campbeltown whisky festival 2017. I liked what I tasted (I had it at a tie with the Rosebank), so I brought most of the sample home for a proper tasting session. Let’s do this!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 coppery gold
The nose is anything but weak – still going strong after 40 years in a hoggie! What did they do differently in the 70s? Many drams from that era (even ones bottled at a relatively young age) have such a rich, fruity, waxy palate that has rarely been produced since. We’ve got orange peel, waxed red apples, tinned peaches and tangerines, brown banana, banana bread, strawberries in milk chocolate. In short: a complex, rich summer fruit salad served on sweet bread. (Please, hipsters, don’t make that a thing!). Oak, you ask? Well… just a smidgen of oak influence and a light generic herbal note holding everything together in the background, but this is mostly distillate and age talking here. With extended time in the glass, the herbal notes intensify a bit.

Continue reading