Category Archives: Lowlands

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

Glasgow Distillery new make + 8-month-old spirit

Tasting: Glasgow Distillery new make + 8-month-old spirit

Glasgow Distillery new make + 8-month-old spiritEvery time a new distillery opens up, everyone wants to know, what it’s going to be like when it’s whisky. Stills are tuned to support the style the distillers want to achieve, mashing and fermentation are dialled in to support wanted and get rid of unwanted characteristics – as much as possible. And then, after distillation is complete, there’s the choice of which type of casks to fill. Decisions, decisions – and they all influence what the final products is going to be like – a product no one can predict with 100% certainty. I was given samples of both the new make and an 8-month-old spirit, matured in a virgin American standard barrel from the Glasgow Distillery at an event during the Spirit of Speyside festival last month, so let’s have a peek at where they’re at so far, shall we?

New Make – unpeated, 63.4% ABV

Colour: Crystal clear
The nose is, of course, quite a bit alcoholic, but not astringent. On the lighter side of the different new makes I’ve had so far – almost a bit floral (no FWP!), with red berries, wee bitter bramble seeds and cereal (wet oats) in the background. A hint of what remains after distillation as pot ale is to be detected, but that’s the job of the casks to get rid of, perfectly normal! Continue reading

Bladnoch 2001 11 yo lightly peated Sherry cask 280

24 drams till Christmas tasting #17: Bladnoch 2001 11 yo lightly peated Sherry cask 280

Bladnoch 2001 11 yo lightly peated Sherry cask 280Dram data:
Distillery: Bladnoch
Bottler: original bottling
Distilled: 16.11.2001
Bottled: 25.06.2013
Age: 11 years
Limitation: –
Casks: Sherry cask #280
Alcohol: 55%
unchillfiltered; natural colour
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour: amber
The nose, although it is not a triple distilled whisky, is initially that of a typical, light, fruity, sherried Lowlander. Slightly alcoholic (no wonder at 55% ABV and 11 years of age), with a noticeable citrus note, diluted dark fruit puree, spices (allspice and cloves), dried orange peel, molasses and fruit bread. Getting darker and more interesting as time passes on. But, wait, what’s that?
Continue reading

Kingsbarns Spirit Drink (New Make)

24 drams till Christmas tasting #7: Kingsbarns Spirit Drink (New Make)

Kingsbarns Spirit Drink (New Make)Dram data:
Distillery: Kingsbarns
Bottler: Original bottling
Distilled: 2015
Bottled: 29.07..2015
Age: 0 years
Limitation: –
Casks: no aging
Alcohol: 63,5%
Unchillfiltered, uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Well, that’s a first for the blog! New-make spirit from the Kingsbarns distillery, owned by the Wemyss Malts company and opened in 2014. I’ve tasted many a new make before, so I feel very confident about doing this with proper notes for the first time. Since we’re already a week into the “24 drams until Christmas” series it’s probably a good idea to spice things up a little and take a look at what will be whisky in a few more years.

Tasting notes:
Colour:
crystal clear (anything else would be quite questionable, would it not?)
The nose is quite alcoholic, so you have to be careful not to burn your nostrils – no wonder, unaged and at filling strength of 63,5% ABV. Quite clean and fruity. Continue reading

McClelland's Lowland (Auchentoshan) NAS

24 drams till Christmas tasting #3: McClelland’s Lowland (Auchentoshan) NAS

McClelland's Lowland (Auchentoshan) NAS Dram data:
Distillery: undisclosed Auchentoshan
Bottler: Mc Clelland’s (Morrison Bowmore)
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2015-ish
Age: NAS
Limitation: –
Casks: –
Alcohol: 40%
chill filtered; coloured
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
E150a gold
The nose starts off slightly alcoholic, even at 40% ABV. Ah well, it’s a young malt, it is. The aroma is rather generic and a bit boring – vanilla, malt, caramel, dried oranges, custard, a hint of chocolate spices and yeast – rinse and repeat. No off notes (unless you count the alcohol which might only appear so strong because the aroma is rather weak). Very likeable and unobtrusive, just not very engaging, that’s all. Continue reading

Littlemill 24 yo 1990 by Cadenhead's

Tasting: Littlemill 24 yo 1990 – 2015 by Cadenhead’s

Littlemill 24 yo 1990 by Cadenhead'sDram data:
Distillery: Littlemill
Bottler: Cadenhead’s
Distilled: 1990
Bottled: 2015
Age: 24 years
Limitation: 582 Bottles
Casks: Bourbon hogsheads
Alcohol: 53,7%
unchillfiltered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
light gold
The nose is prototypical Littlemill. Lots of fruit skins – apples, grapes, pears. Also notes of citrus, white peaches, apple juice, diluted grape juice, rhubarb, grapefruit, milled stone dust and a light sweet white wine note in the background. Continue reading

Tasting: Littlemill 1989 24y by Archives

Dram data:Littlemill 1989 Cask 42 by Archives
Distillery: Littlemill
Bottler: Archives
Distilled: 10.1989
Bottled: 02.2014
Age: 24 years
Limitation: 178 bottles
Price at the time of purchasing: – (sample)
Cask: Bourbon Hogshead #42
Alcohol: 53%
Unchillfiltered, uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
pale gold.
The nose  is alive and kicking, it doesn’t seem like a 24-year-old dram at the first glance. Definitely not a first-fill cask, which emphasises the distillery’s character. A wee bit spirity, freshly mown grass, hay, clove, white pepper, real bourbon vanilla pods, hints of citrus, apples, malt and a slightly dusty note in the background. Continue reading

Tasting: Bladnoch 1990 cask# 4644

bladnoch1990_cask4644Dram data:

Distillery: Bladnoch
Bottler: Official bottling
Distilled: 31.08.1990
Bottled: 07.06.2013
Age: 22 years
Limitation: unknown
Price at the time of purchasing: 62€
Cask: Single bourbon cask #4644
Alcohol: 52.4%
Unchillfiltered & natural color
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:*
For a 22 year old whisky the color is very light (might have been a refill cask), but this dram is a prime example of color being a poor indicator of quality. At 52,4% alcohol you get a fresh, clean, vanilla-honey sweetness as the first impression but the alcohol note fades quickly, even without adding any water. Continue reading