Tamnavulin? This Speyside distillery is probably unknown to all but the most devoted whisky drinkers. It’s not a malt you will find in supermarkets, most of the output is used in Blended Whisky production – probably mostly by owners Whyte & Mackay. It’s not a desirable whisky for collectors and not too often featured by independent bottlers. So why did I pick up a bottle at auction recently? Well, it was cheap-ish and a bottle that had been sitting around for a couple of years judging from the label and the condition of the tin with a bit of rust. I would guess it was bottled around 2005 or not too long after that – the year when the 12-year-old expression was officially launched. Basically this malt piqued my curiosity as to what kind of quality of spirit went into bottle roughly 10-15 years ago before the current explosion in whisky production. Well, this and the fact that I’ve actually never tried a Tamnavulin before… I needed to change that!
Dram data: Distillery: Tamnavulin Bottler: official bottling Distilled: – Bottled: ca. 2005 Age: 12 Limitation: – Cask: oak Alcohol: 40% colouring added / chill filtered Whiskybase link
“Hey mate, would you like to try some Bimber?” “Sorry, what?” “Yeah, Bimber, a new distillery from London, I’ve got a sample pack if you want one.” “Errr… alright, aye, I’ll give it a go.”
That scene, which took place earlier this year at a whisky festival, was probably the strangest way to come across a new distillery. With new distilleries popping up seemingly every week I’ve given up trying to keep track of all the different projects going on around the world right now.
So what’s the deal with Bimber? It’s a London-based distillery and it’s been distilling single malt from floor-malted barley in their direct fired stills since 2016, according to their website. So I guess their first casks are now already legally whisky. I’ll refer you to their website if you want to know more about the distillery itself – I’d only be paraphrasing their website anyway since that’s about all I know. I’ll let the spirit do the talking in this article.
The sample pack contained six bottles – two different new-make distillates and four cask samples of unknown age. Judging by the low cask numbers (the highest is 38) I’d say we’re looking at at least two-year old spirit. How does it nose and taste? I’m glad you asked – let’s dive right in! (No scores given as they are “maturation in progress”.)
Produced from malted Concerto barley and local wheat, and distilled in small batches using traditional copper pot stills, at an elevation of 1300 feet above sea level, Golani is branded as Israel’s first whisky. It won bronze in the Whisky – Israel – Grain – NAS – 40% category at the IWSC 2018.
Dram data: Distillery: The Golan Heights Distillery Bottler: official bottling Distilled: – Bottled: – Age: 36 months Limitation: – Cask: ex red wine (Cabernet) and new charred American oak Alcohol: 40% uncoloured
After the somewhat lackluster experience with the Rampur Select I tasted last week, let’s stay in India and look at this interesting bottling. Independently bottled Paul John, you say? How does that happen? Well, glad you asked! You buy some casks in India, have them bottled and shipped to Scotland, have some unlucky member of the warehouse staff empty all bottles into casks again, roll them into the warehouse for further maturation – and bottle the whisky once someone higher up in the food, err drink, chain decides to do it. Which didn’t take too long in the case of this 5-year-old whisky. Pretty easy, right? Let’s see if it was worth going through all that trouble…
Dram data: Distillery: Paul John Bottler: Cadenhead’s Distilled: – Bottled: Summer 2017 Age: 5 years Limitation: 360 bottles Cask: Bourbon Hogshead Alcohol: 57,4% uncoloured / not chill filtered Whiskybase link
Put your hands in the air if you’ve heard of this distillery before. Quite a few whisky nerds have tried the offerings of the “Paul John” or “Amrut” brands, which produce very solid drams, but Rampur? A first for me in any case. It’s produced by the Radico Khaitan group, a big player in the Indian “whisky” market, (in brackets because much of Indian whisky is made from molasses) this whisky doesn’t have an age statement and was launched as their first “true” single malt release in 2016. My sample is from one of their early batches back in 2016. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Dram data: Distillery: Rampur Bottler: official bottling Distilled: – Bottled: 2016 Age: – Limitation: – Cask: oak Alcohol: 43% colouring added / not chill filtered Whiskybase link
Dram data: Distillery: Amrut
Bottler: official bottling for Taiwan
Bottled: May 2016
Limitation: ? batch 30
Casks: Ex-bourbon – Oloroso – Ex-bourbon
uncoloured / unchillfiltered Whiskybase link
Intermediate Sherry? Now what’s that supposed to mean? Easy! The whisky was first matured in Ex-bourbon casks, then transferred to Spanish oak Oloroso-seasoned casks for a year before a final maturation in ex-bourbon again. That’s a lot of cask-swapping! Let’s see if it was worth the effort!
Colour: reddish amber
The nose is quite strong on the alcohol – no wonder, it is clocking in at 57% ABV! Behind the alcohol, there’s the first waft of slight, fragrant oak and a mixture of herbs and spices. Oriental cough medicine, perhaps? The European oak influence is noticeable! Let’s wait a few minutes! Zzzzzzzzzzz. It’s opened up a bit! Now traces of orange juice, chocolate-covered orange peel appear on a bed of sultanas and molasses. It’s been a while since I last spent such a long time just nosing a dram, if that means anything… The interplay of the freshness and the darker notes works rather well! On to the palate!
Dram data: Distillery: Royal Lochnagar
Bottler: official bottling
Age: 12 years
coloured / chill filtered Whiskybase link
While this should probably be tasted head to head with a recently bottled sipling, lacking a sample of one I’ll have to make do with what I’ve got – a Royal Lochnagar distilled in the “dark days” of the 1980s, bottles sometime in the 90s. Let’s see how this one fares!
Colour: light copper
The nose is quite delicate upon the first contact, with the alcohol vapours being somewhat noticeable. Once the nose cuts through that, there’s a tiny whiff of smoke – not peat smoke, mind you – on a base of sweet things! Vanilla, sweetened coconut milk, fudge, dried mango pieces, canned peaches and apricots with a pinch of ready-made spice mixture on top. This is very likeable indeed and quite a lot deeper than modern supermarket drams in this price range. Let’s see if it holds up on the palate!Continue reading “Tasting: Royal Lochnagar 12 yo – 1990s bottling”
Dram data: Distillery: Glenlivet
Bottler: Official Bottling
Bottled: June 2014
Age: 16 years
Casks: 1st fill ex-bourbon
unchillfiltered and uncoloured Whiskybase link
Oh, a mystery whisky! I love tasting mystery whiskies – even if there’s a chance I’ll make an utter fool of myself, but that’s part of the game! Let’s dig in!
Tasting notes: Colour: apple juice
The nose is pleasant and light on the first nose with a hint of alcohol dominating. Light vanilla, red apples and red pears, strawberries, dried pineapple, summer honey, candyfloss and dextrose sugar pieces for athletes with added lemon aroma and heather tips. With time and careful nosing there’s quite a lot going on here, creating a summer-dram profile. Not too much oak influence, if you asked me I’d put this at about 10 years. My first intuition says Highlands (or maybe Speyside). A very clean and unobtrusive style of whisky – a Glenmorangie with more oomph than the 10yo or a slightly richer Glenlivet? Something along those lines. Even if it’s not, that’s what it reminds me of and it smells familiar. Definitely modern whisky and I’m 99,9% sure it’s Scotch malt whisky (leaving a tiny margin of error open, because, well, you never know, blind tastings are funny things). On to the palate now! Continue reading “Blind tasting: Glenlivet Nadurra 16 yo batch 0614C”
Dram data: Distillery: undisclosed (see below…)
Age: 40 (stated; actually 43yo*)
Casks: ex-bourbon (my impression)
Unchillfiltered; uncoloured Whiskybase link
Unless I’ve lost the ability to count, this is whisky review #200 – time for a small celebration! How about… oh, a 40yo “undisclosed” Single Speyside malt by William Cadenhead’s? Only they could be so cool as to print the completely unrelated letter combination “Glenfarclas” just above the bottling number. No, I’m sure these letters don’t mean anything to anybody… I love you guys up there in Campbeltown!
40,2% ABV – this better not be weak on the nose! Ah…. no! Oh! Ah! Properly aged whisky from a refill ex-bourbon cask, that’s a style I love! Golden honey with a bit of beeswax, majestic oak jam cupboard (just the right amount of oak) with a leather jacket and garden herbs for drying hanging from a hook on the side, sweet summer sunset in an orchard captured in a glass, tropical fruits (dried mangos and papayas ), condensed orange juice, slightly vanilla-flavoured Virginia pipe tobacco (non-vulgar vanilla!), ah, what a lovely, dense yet still elegant and fragrant mixture. Just the dram to pour those “age doesn’t matter” folks, that’ll teach ’em! Continue reading “Tasting: William Cadenhead 40yo Single Speyside Malt (Review #200)”
Dram data: Distillery: undisclosed
Bottler: Svenska Eldvatten
Casks: Single Cask
Unchillfiltered; uncoloured Whiskybase link
We are getting very close to the 200th whisky review here at MaltKlaus’ headquarters, so let’s find something mysterious in the sample pile… An undisclosed Highland malt, perhaps? Yes, this should do nicely!
Colour: amber with a golden sheen
The nose leaves no doubt: sherry cask at work here! Probably European oak, too. On the first contact we’ve got a mixture of fresh lemon with peel, a drop of lime, melissa and mint on the one hand and dried plums, fresh figs, a handful of dates on the other. It’s balanced out with a whiff of wet autumn forest, spent cloves, a cinnamon stick used for three consecutive brews of mulled wine (red wine!) and the smell of walking past an oriental spice shop. A very nice balance between distillery character and cask, still on the light side. Continue reading “Tasting: North Highland 1995 18 yo undisclosed Single Malt by Svenska Eldvatten”