24 drams till Christmas 2016 #11: The Macallan Edition No.2 NAS

The Macallan Edition No.2 NAS

The Macallan Edition No.2 NASDram data:
Distillery: Macallan
Bottler: Official bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2016
Age: NAS
Limitation: –
Casks: 7 different types
Alcohol: 48,2%
unchillfiltered and uncoloured
Whiskybase link

The Macallan, probably one of the most widely recognised luxury whisky brands in the world, released their 2nd “edition” whisky, this time made up of no less than seven different cask types. It would be rude not to give it a proper review after being given a blind sample for a competition amongst malt mates!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 amber
The nose opens with dense, heavily sherried, aged aromas. You could bury your nose in there for a long time. Let me rephrase that – you CAN! The European oak spices dominate, paired with mixed sherry impressions. Cinnamon, star anise and a pinch of nutmeg rubbed on a new leather jacket lying on a boardroom with old oak flooring. Raisins, caramelised ginger, dark chocolate too.
Very interesting and dense – but after close to a quarter of an hour in the glass and having taken a sip something happens: The nose gets much lighter, less “dark” and intense. Most whiskies improve with time in the glass, this one, strangely, seems to lose. A LOT! This happened to me on the first, blind tasting and now upon retasting as well. Let’s see what the palate has in store! Continue reading “24 drams till Christmas 2016 #11: The Macallan Edition No.2 NAS”

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24 drams till Christmas 2016 #9: Glen Keith 1992 21 years by Archives

Glen Keith 1992 21 years by Archives

Glen Keith 1992 21 years by ArchivesDram data:
Distillery: Glen Keith
Bottler: Archives
Distilled: 10.1992
Bottled: 03.2014
Age: 21 years
Limitation: 218 bottles
Casks: Bourbon Barrel 120599
Alcohol: 51,5%
unchillfiltered and uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Another “first” for the blog – I can hardly believe I’ve never officially tasted a Glen Keith before?

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 light gold
The nose opens on the sweet and fruity side, but with a lightness to it at the same time! Sweet oranges, a hint of wax, sweet fruits (grapes, apricots, mangos) and light vanilla dominate the initial impression. We’ve got an ex-bourbon fruit bomb here! As time passes, the aromas get more complex and richer, the fruits get darker, with an almost jammy/syrupy aspect to them. Let’s see what the palate has in store! Continue reading “24 drams till Christmas 2016 #9: Glen Keith 1992 21 years by Archives”

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Tasting: Inchgower 2002 – 2016 by G&M Connoisseur’s Choice

Inchgower 2002 - 2016 by G&M Connoisseur's Choice

Inchgower 2002 - 2016 by G&M Connoisseur's ChoiceDram data:
Distillery: Inchgower
Bottler: Gordon & Macphail
Distilled: 2002
Bottled: 06.05.2016
Age: ca. 14 years
Limitation: –
Casks: refill sherry hogsheads
Alcohol: 46%
unchillfiltered and uncoloured

It’s been a while since I last had an Inchgower – they’re not a very prominent distillery in the whisky shops, with no widely available official release by Diageo we have to rely on the independent bottlers!

Tasting notes:
Colour: red gold
The nose starts off fruity and aromatic. Not an in-your-face sherried whisky, it shows an elegant restraint, yet still loads of character. Apple and pear compote (including slightly green peel) with honey and the odd dried date thrown in. There’s also a hint of honey-covered crunchy muesli in the background with a whiff of fragrant oak. Oh, and a cinnamon stick and exactly two cloves. Fruity, but not overly sweet – the magic of good refill casks! Let’s check the palate now! Continue reading “Tasting: Inchgower 2002 – 2016 by G&M Connoisseur’s Choice”

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Blind tasting: Glenlivet Nadurra 16 yo batch 0614C

Glenlivet Nadurra 16 yo batch 0614C

Glenlivet Nadurra 16 yo batch 0614CDram data:
Distillery: Glenlivet
Bottler: Official Bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: June 2014
Age: 16 years
Limitation: –
Casks: 1st fill ex-bourbon
Alcohol: 55,2%
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”

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Tasting: William Cadenhead 40yo Single Speyside Malt (Review #200)

William Cadenhead 40yo Single Speyside Malt

William Cadenhead 40yo Single Speyside Malt Dram data:
Distillery: undisclosed (see below…)
Bottler: Cadenhead’s
Distilled: 1970s
Bottled: 09.12.2015
Age: 40 (stated; actually 43yo*)
Limitation: –
Casks: ex-bourbon (my impression)
Alcohol: 40,2%
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!

Tasting notes:
Colour: 
honey
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)”

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Tasting: Tomintoul Tlàth NAS

Tomintoul Tlàth NAS

Tomintoul Tlàth NASDram data:
Distillery: Tomintoul
Bottler: original bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2016
Age: NAS
Limitation: –
Casks: American oak
Alcohol: 40%
chill filtered/unknown colouring status
Whiskybase link

When the press release for the Tomintoul Tlàth (which translates to gentle, mellow) hit my inbox, something caught my eye. These past few years distilleries seemingly seemed to battle out a competition on who could do the most finishes, find the most extravagant casks and come up with all kinds of nonsensical tweaks of the whisky theme. Not this one, it is plain and simple, a “collection […] of whiskies of various ages matured in first-class American oak bourbon barrels”. My preferred style of Scotch. And attached with it: No far-fetched story, no flannel and a “daily dram” worthy price tag of about 30 GBP/39€ (I’ve seen street prices announced for less than that). Yes, it’s NAS (no age statement), but we’ll see whether it’s one of the good ones. Let’s dig in!
Tasting notes:
Colour: 
gold
The nose fits the “the gentle dram” tagline. A slight alcoholic hint up front which disappears quickly revealing notes of citrus and orange with a touch of menthol, sugar-reduced cake frosting with a dash of lemon juice in it, a sneaky lychee, gooseberry and a slice of apricot with a mixture of vanilla and caramel pudding in the background (not too loud on the vanilla). We’ve got 20°C inside – this works quite well. Light, fresh and young-ish, but with a twist to keep it interesting. Continue reading “Tasting: Tomintoul Tlàth NAS”

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Tasting: Tormore 10 yo (late 70s / early 80s bottling)

Tormore 10 yo (late 70s / early 80s bottling)

Tormore 10 yo (late 70s / early 80s bottling)Dram data:
Distillery: Tormore
Bottler: official Long John bottling
Distilled: late 60s/early 70s
Bottled: late 70s / early 80s
Age: 10 years
Limitation: –
Casks: –
Alcohol: 40%
unknown filtering/colouring
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour: 
orange-ish gold
On the nose you immediately get a hard to define smell from yesteryear, something lost in modern day whisky. In this case it is comprised of waxy fruits, oranges, red apples, apricots and sweet tinned peaches+tangerines wrapped in wax paper. This reminds me of a 30 yo Tomatin I have yet to review – that kind of fruitiness is lost in modern whiskies. Very lovely stuff indeed. Not over-the-top complex or mid-90s score worthy, just oh so much more lovely than 99% of current mass-market supermarket whiskies (which, essentially, is what this was 30-some years ago). Back to the nose. The fruitiness is paired with background notes of an old leather book cover, pickled ginger, the tiniest hint of menthol, chewing gum base rubberiness (Hubba Bubba chewed on for 2 hours?) and a whiff of makeup powder sprinkled over an oak stave used for maturing Cointreau (as if…). Very delightful stuff indeed, perfect for this hot summer weather! Continue reading “Tasting: Tormore 10 yo (late 70s / early 80s bottling)”

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Speyside trip 2016: Part three – Coleburn/Murray McDavid – Strathspey steam railway tasting

Liquid sunshine!

After the two rather long and eventful previous days, our group was keen on taking it easy on the third day. The entire day was centred around a steam train ride and everything else was planned around it.

Coleburn

Coleburn Warehouses
Coleburn Warehouses

So we started off as a group of four, Kat Presley, my brother and I hitching a ride with Crystal Coverdale to the decommissioned (since 1985) Coleburn distillery. What’s so interesting about an old, dismantled distillery with no equipment left inside? The warehouses! The re-founded independent bottler Murray McDavid (the original company was sold in the course of the Bruichladdich takeover in 2013) bought them in 2013 and now they’re used to mature their casks of whisky – stock they bought from the original Murray McDavid owners. We were met there by distiller and master blender David Simpson, who prefers the title of “Whisky Creation”. After an introduction to the company we were led into the warehouses and were free to roam around and look at all the different casks stored on site (including bourbon and they also talked about vodka and rum). The oldest cask on site is a 1962 North British, in case you were wondering! Well, it’s a traditional dunnage warehouse on two floors, as you can see in the pictures. I’ve seen my fair share of warehouses, so instead of peeking at all the casks and labels I mostly engaged in conversations with David and another lad – Tony Whitnock, former excise officer for Coleburn and other distilleries, joined our group and had a few stories to tell and confirm (involving “copper dogs” for sneaking out whisky from the warehouses…) which was a nice added touch. That’s the guy you want to sit down with for a few drams and listen to stories of bygone times! Continue reading “Speyside trip 2016: Part three – Coleburn/Murray McDavid – Strathspey steam railway tasting”

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Speyside trip 2016: Part two – Dalmunach – Tamdhu (+Maltings) – Glasgow Distillery Presentation – #whiskyfabric dinner

Dalmunach still room

Scotland is a very diverse country and it is easy to forget how remote it can be when you’re in the central belt or the more populated areas. But when you’re trying to locate a big distillery, in the middle of nowhere, with no mobile reception for miles, you sometimes start to question your navigation skills. What? There’s supposed to be a distillery at the end of this 1.2-track, broken up, pot-holey road with no signs pointing you anywhere? Yep, there sure is – and what a distillery!

Dalmunach Distillery

Dalmunach Distillery
Dalmunach Distillery. Photo credit: Johannes Doblmann

Pulling into the Dalmunach car park we (my brother Johannes and I) were met by malt mates Lora Hemy and Peter Moser, with Crystal Coverdale  having traveled with us. Speyside is a big area – but somehow you keep bumping into the same people! Distillery tours are always best with partners in crime!

“Dalmunach? Never heard of it!” you might be inclined to say, unless you’re one of the most die-hard whisky geeks. The new 10-million-litre distillery was constructed on the site of the previous Imperial distillery, which had been mothballed for several years and, since 2013, is now officially a “lost” distillery. Construction of the new site was in the hands of Douglas Cruickshank, a former Chivas executive, who started his career at the Imperial site at age 15. Talking about creating a legacy! Dalmunach is owned by Chivas/Pernod Ricard and is to produce spirit for the blended whisky market, relieving stocks of the likes of Glenlivet and Longmorn. Production is overseen by Trevor Buckley, distillery manager and our “tour guide” that day.

Trevor Buckley showing the group around
Trevor Buckley showing the group around

The distillery is not open to the general public, thus instead of entering a big, branded visitor’s centre, we met in the distillery “lobby”, which is dominated by a strange round, familiar shape. Wood from one of the old Imperial washbacks was integrated into the structure of the new distillery, housing for example the manager’s office, as Trevor pointed out to us. You can spot it in the first picture – the round structure in the middle.
Joining us on our tour was also architect Mark, responsible for this stunning piece of functional, modern architecture, tucked away invisibly, like a hidden gem, by the river Spey. The plant has a layout of three strands, reflecting the three distinct production processes: Mashing, fermentation and distillation. And what a spacious layout it is! Lots of room, big, windows drawing ones eye to the stunning scenery all around. Continue reading “Speyside trip 2016: Part two – Dalmunach – Tamdhu (+Maltings) – Glasgow Distillery Presentation – #whiskyfabric dinner”

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Speyside trip 2016: Part one – Boortmalt Maltings Buckie – Speyside Cooperage – Auchroisk Distillery

Auchroisk #whiskyfabric group picture
Plane to Aberdeen
Our plane to Aberdeen

Going somewhere for the first time is always filled with anticipation and excitement. In the last week of April 2016 my brother Johannes and I packed our backpacks for our first ever ‘real’ trip to the Speyside in Scotland. While we’ve been to Scotland many times before and even visited Benromach and Glen Moray last year, this was to be our first proper visit to the current heart of Scotch whisky production. Well, our decision to head there might have been triggered by the fact that there was a whisky festival going on at that time – the Spirit of Speyside Whisky festival. You might have heard about it. If not – click the link! Part of the festival excitement had to do with us meeting friends old and new as nine of us whisky geeks (that would be Jo, Johanne, Crystal, Viva, Kat, the Spellers and us two boys) shared a house for a week – a bit out of the way in Cullen (home of the famous Cullen Skink fish soup), but it was comfy and cheap – perfect as a base camp! And right next to our base camp – the next town, literally – was the first destination of our first tour on the first day of #dram16, Thursday, the 28th of April.

Boortmalt Maltings in Buckie

Boortmalt Maltings in Buckie
Boortmalt Maltings in Buckie

It’s Wednesday morning, the sun is shining (for the most part) and we’re driving our car towards Buckie to take a look at the Boortmalt maltings operation there. What better way to start a whisky festival than looking at how THE main ingredient in malt whisky production, malt, is made? At the door we were greeted by plant manager Gary and led into the board room for tea and cookies. Not a bad way to start the day indeed. The day even got better when we bumped into house mate Crystal for the first time as well as Lora and Rachel – always great to meet fellow malt mates at festivals!

Malting barley is a three-step process. At first you “steep” the dried barley in water to raise water content of the grain, as can be seen in the second picture, which was taken at the time when the steeping vessel was “stirred” by way of introducing compressed air from the bottom. Once a moisture content of approximately 45% is reached, the water is drained and the barley transferred to the germination chamber.

Steeps at the Maltings
Steeps at the Maltings

Under controlled climatic conditions the barley begins to grow during the modification phase, where enzymes break down the proteins and carbohydrates, essential for fermentation later on in the production of whisky. After germination has arrived at a critical point, the barley is kilned – you could also call it heat-dried, to terminate the germination process, or otherwise a barley plant would grow and we wouldn’t want that to happen, now would we? Drying is achieved by introducing hot air through the bottom of a perforated floor. Sometimes peat is used during the first phase of kilning to create smoky flavours, at the Buckie maltings they only produce unpeated malt, from local (Scottish) Concerto barley. They once tried making a peated batch, but after burning 40 tonnes of peat only got them about 10 ppm in the malt, the trials were abandoned. Continue reading “Speyside trip 2016: Part one – Boortmalt Maltings Buckie – Speyside Cooperage – Auchroisk Distillery”

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