Category Archives: Islands

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

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

Highland Park Ice Edition 17 yo

Tasting: Highland Park Ice Edition 17 yo

Highland Park Ice Edition 17 yoDram data:
Distillery: Highland Park
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2016
Age: 17 years
Limitation: 30.000(!)
Casks: 1st fill ex-Bourbon
Alcohol: 53,9%
unchillfiltered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

When I wrote a rant about the overhyped, way overpriced, marketing-driven Highland Park Ice last year, I never thought I’d actually get to taste the whisky. I was sure Edrington would never send me a sample after what I wrote and I’d also never shell out that kind of money for what I regard as being 10% whisky and 90% hype. However, when an opportunity presented itself recently to get a “dregs bottle” of it, I had no choice but to take it home with me to find out, whether my statement “Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it’s a lovely dram”, made in my rant, was in fact correct. Let’s do it!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 gold
The nose is full of ex-bourbon honesty. Quite fresh, I’m sure there’s loads of refill oak in the mix, which accentuates the character of the distillate. Lemon zest, lemon juice, heather, very slight, fragrant peat smoke (heather bonfire?) up front. Once you cut through these initial, light aromas, you get to a slightly beefier core: A hint of flambeed vanilla pudding, smoked peaches and tangerines and a background layer of oak spices. After a few minutes in the glass, these heavier components take over, increasing the complexity.
Continue reading

Tobermory 19 yo by Cadenhead's

24 drams till Christmas 2016 #14: Tobermory 19 yo by Cadenhead’s

Tobermory 19 yo by Cadenhead'sDram data:
Distillery: Tobermory
Bottler: Cadenhead’s
Distilled: 1995
Bottled: 07.2014
Age: 19
Limitation: 498 bottles
Casks: Sherry Butt
Alcohol: 54,2%
unchillfiltered and uncoloured
Whiskybase link

What’s that wee dusty miniature back there buried below other samples? Tobermory? Haven’t had one in a while – don’t mind if I pour one…

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 amber
The nose opens on… aaah! Dirty sherry whisky profile! None of this highly polished, clinically, modern stuff! Burnt rubber and oily rags with a bottle of Manzanilla poured over them on first contact! Not for wimps, that’s for sure. But what else is there? Almost burnt roasted dried fruits (any fruit, really), lovage, burnt toffee (hey, how many more burnt things can you cram into a Sherry butt?), high-octane chocolate and a handful of cloves. Sulphur, you ask? Well… err… maybe a burnt matchstick, but that’s about it. With water: not too much change, just a tad more accessible for people not used to this style of whisky. Let’s check the palate!  Continue reading

Arran 1996-2013 17 yo Bourbon cask #547

24 drams till christmas 2016 #4: Arran 1996-2013 17 yo Bourbon cask #547

Arran 1996-2013 17 yo Bourbon cask #547Dram data:
Distillery: Arran
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: 17.06.1996
Bottled: 10.09.2013
Age: 17 years
Limitation: 202 bottles
Cask: Ex-Bourbon (barrel?)
Alcohol: 52.4%
unchillfiltered and uncoloured
Whiskybase link

One thing I like about the Arran distillery is their twice-yearly release of official single cask bottlings at very affordable prices. This is one of them – from a few years back. What intrigued me to buy it back then was the extremely dark colour for an ex-bourbon whisky…

Tasting notes:
Colour: amber
The nose is perhaps not the most typical Arran profile, thanks to the “freak cask”, but it’s certainly a good one! Right off the start we’ve got a light citrus on caramel and almost smoky toasted chocolate-covered toffee with creme brulee (now that’s a first for me, don’t beat me up about the spelling, please!). There are also tropical fruits – dried mango and papaya with lychees but also apricots and physalis. A hint of oak and slight cask spices in the background. Light-ish, as is the Arran style, but sophisticated and fruity, very nice! On to the palate! Continue reading

Tasting: Abhainn Dearg NAS Single Malt

Abhainn Dearg NAS Single MaltDram data:
Distillery: Abhainn Dearg
Bottler: Original bottling
Distilled: 2008(?)
Bottled: ?
Age: NAS
Limitation: –
Casks: Single Cask
Alcohol: 46%
Unchillfiltered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Now that the blog’s moved to the new domain and the new server, let’s find something interesting to review for the “first” post on the new site. How about this one? A single malt from the only distillery on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides? A rather low-key and rarely mentioned farm distillery with a homemade setup! I finally tracked down a mini in Speyside this year! Info on it is hard to come by – the website describes it as the inaugural bottling (no other miniature available?) and the mini itself mentions it’s a single cask bottling. Without any further info I’ll have to classify it as NAS of unknown vintage… Well, let’s crack it open and have a wee nose and taste!

Tasting notes:
Colour: 
pale white wine
The nose opens on a light whiff of alcohol, quite fresh – minty – with a touch of vanilla, custard and a very noticeable background oak note which I can only describe as new oak press board in a joiner’s workshop – strange, but interesting! There’s also a light citrus-like note, something along the lines of a mix of slightly older limes and tangerines. with a slice of ginger thrown in for good measure. Very fresh and light overall, but no off notes as can often be found in very young 3yo whisky. Continue reading

Nosing, tasting and casting my vote for the #ArranWhiteStag second release

Nosing, tasting and casting my vote for the #ArranWhiteStag second release

Nosing, tasting and casting my vote for the #ArranWhiteStag second releaseThree drams of Arran Malt, sent to 20 panel members, all to be tasted completely blind, in a quest to choose which one will become the second “White Stag” release. This will be a single cask bottling of Arran whisky, exclusive for the members of the (free!) White Stag club. I was chosen as one of the panellists and now face the hard task of choosing my preferred sample. All drams were tasted on the same evening at the same time – first the nose of all three drams, then palate and finish afterwards. Hey, you’re here for the whisky, so let’s get going!

Sample 1

Info: Single Sherry Butt No. 96/1320 filled on 17th September 1996. 54.5% abv. 3 votes overall
Colour: 
copper gold
The nose opens on what I love about Arran. Perfect dram to start with! Light fruits (red apples, sweet pears), orange juice, orange peel, the signature is there. It’s also getting a bit tropical with mango and sweet pineapple. Progressing into darker berries with a slightly bitter note of cracked berry seeds on light, fragrant oak. Delicate, yet with a substance in the background provided by the cask. Continue reading

Arran Amarone Finish NAS

24 drams till Christmas tasting #23: Arran Amarone Finish NAS

Arran Amarone Finish NASDram data:
Distillery: Arran
Bottler: Original bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: ca. 2013
Age: NAS
Limitation: –
Casks: Amarone finish
Alcohol: 50%
unchillfiltered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour: amber with cherry juice
The red wine finish is very apparent on the nose! An initial blast of fresh citrus fruits (ripe oranges and tangerines) with red fruits (cherries, brambles, strawberries, cassis) and cask spices (allspice, cloves). Initially I was not a fan, the freshly opened bottle was a tad too young, but it improved greatly with oxygenation. Adding a tablespoon of water and time in the glass helps to bring out the fruits even more.
Continue reading

24 drams till Christmas tasting #21: Jura Prophecy NAS

Jura Prophecy NASDram data:
Distillery: Jura
Bottler: Original bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: ca. 2014
Age: NAS
Limitation: –
Casks: Limousin oak
Alcohol: 46%
unchillfiltered; coloured
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour: light amber (coloured, what a shame!)
You can smell the spitting distance to Islay on the nose! Peat smoke, the phenolic kind, dominates on first contact. Salted toffee, heather, spent ground coffee, cocoa beans, malt syrup and vanilla-infused palm honey with star anise and cinnamon from the Limousin oak. The advertising says the “finest and rarest aged” whiskies were used, but that doesn’t mean anything.
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Arran Quarter Cask distillery exclusive

24 drams till Christmas (blind) tasting #16: Arran Quarter Cask distillery exclusive

Arran Quarter Cask distillery exclusiveDram data:
Distillery: Arran
Bottler: Original bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2014-ish
Age: NAS
Limitation: 438 bottles
Casks: quarter cask finish
Alcohol: 52,8%
unchill filtered; natural colour
Whiskybase link

Blind tasting notes:
Colour: light gold
The nose is initially on the light side, getting darker and richer as time passes. 40-43% ABV would be my guess. We’ve got vanilla, honey, heather, a hint of toffee, baked apple with brown sugar, sweet flowers, fragrant oak, slight spices and dried fruits (raisins) in the background.
Continue reading