Tag Archives: tasting

Deanston 1994 19 yo by Cadenhead's

Tasting: Deanston 1994 19 yo by Cadenhead’s Small Batch Collection

Deanston 1994 19 yo by Cadenhead'sDram data:
Distillery: Deanston
Bottler: Cadenhead’s
Distilled: 1994
Bottled: 2014
Age: 19 years
Limitation: 846 bottles
Casks: Butts
Alcohol: 56,4%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

I guess everybody has one – a distillery whose products they’re struggling with. There are very few of them – but Deanston is amongst them. It’s hard for me to find a Deanston malt that “connects” with me – for whatever reason. So what drove me to purchase this bottling by Cadenhead’s? Don’t remember! Let’s see if this is a Deanston malt that “works” for me…

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 dark straw
The nose is pretty light – second fill butts were probably used for maturation. We’re greeted by lemon, citrus peel, a whiff of alcohol, unripe grapes and grape seeds on a bed of candyfloss. A mix of limoncello and grappa, perhaps – aged in oak barrels. After 19 years this is still rather spirit-driven, which is not a bad thing unless you’re expecting a sherry bomb. Let it sit for quite a while and more subtle nuances appear, together with a grape and apricot sweetness and fruitiness. Not a dram to be rushed. Quite good so far – let’s see if it’s the same on the palate! 

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Benromach 1998 20th anniversary bottling

Tasting: Benromach 1998 20th anniversary bottling

Benromach 1998 20th anniversary bottlingDram data:
Distillery: Benromach
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: 1998
Bottled: 2018
Age: 19-20 years
Limitation: 3000 bottles
Casks: 1st fill oak casks
Alcohol: 56,2%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

20 years ago, Gordon & Macphail brought back Benromach distillery and started distilling again. To commemorate this occasion, they bottled a 20th anniversary edition of 19-20 yo whiskies, made during the first year the distillery was back up and running. Just 3000 bottles are available (400 at the distillery) and should be hitting stores at the time of posting in spring 2018. Since the distillery sent over a sample for a tweet tasting it would be a shame not to do proper tasting notes. Let’s dive in!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 red-gold
The nose has a bit of an alcoholic kick at first. This will work nicely with a bit of water, but let’s stay with “neat” for a while! There’s the tiniest hint of signature Benromach smoke paired with pepper and citrus – and then the fruits appear – strawberries, strawberry-flavoured gummy bears (is there such a thing?), red apples and red pears, condensed apricot juice with flower petals on top (no FWP!). A nice balance between cask and spirit, not overdone on either side. Time to add a few drops of water! Ah! That worked wonders, unearthing a hint of earthiness and a hint of oak, balancing out the whisky. A rock-solid, well-made dram. Let’s check the palate!  Continue reading

Amrut Intermediate Sherry NAS b.30

Tasting: Amrut Intermediate Sherry NAS b.30 Indian Whisky

Amrut Intermediate Sherry NAS b.30Dram data:
Distillery: Amrut
Bottler: official bottling for Taiwan
Distilled: –
Bottled: May 2016
Age: NAS
Limitation: ? batch 30
Casks: Ex-bourbon – Oloroso – Ex-bourbon
Alcohol: 57,1%
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!

Tasting notes:
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! 

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Royal Lochnagar 12 yo - 1990s bottling

Tasting: Royal Lochnagar 12 yo – 1990s bottling

Royal Lochnagar 12 yo - 1990s bottlingDram data:
Distillery: Royal Lochnagar
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 1990s
Age: 12 years
Limitation: –
Casks: –
Alcohol: 40%
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!

Tasting notes:
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

Compass Box Spice Tree

Tasting: Compass Box Spice Tree NAS

Compass Box Spice TreeDram data:
Distillery: –
Bottler: Compass Box
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2014 (ongoing batches)
Age: NAS
Limitation: –
Casks: French/American oak
Alcohol: 46%
not chill filtered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Spice tree – I’m sure quite a few of you will already be familiar with this whisky – but here’s a short summary for those who aren’t: John Glaser of Compass Box once created a whisky by this name. This original version used “inner staves” in the maturation/finishing casks – basically adding additional staves of oak into the casks to impart their character. This practice was ultimately deemed illegal – and the whisky was discontinued. The version that’s now on the market (since 2009) claims to achieve the same result – but adhering to the rule set for Scotch Whisky. Never having tasted the “illegal” product I’ll take a look at the current offering:

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 honey
Yes, there’s spice on the nose! Who’da thunk! Like sticking your nose into grandma’s spice cupboard! We’ve got allspice, clove, cinnamon and a pinch of ground ginger sprinkled over a soft and sweet base of honey, Italian sweet almond cookies and shortbread. The French oak is strong in this one – but not overpowering and working well with the complex, tightly woven vatted, err, blended malt base. Let’s check the palate! 

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WFFA 2000 17 yo "Orkney" Single Malt

Tasting: WFFA 2000 17 yo “Orkney” Single Malt

WFFA 2000 17 yo "Orkney" Single MaltDram data:
Distillery: Shhh… it’s a secret distillery on Orkney!
Bottler: WFFA
Distilled: 2000
Bottled: 2017
Age: 17 years
Limitation: 266 bottles
Casks: refill hogshead
Alcohol: 58,1%
not chill filtered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Boy, how time flies, it’s already in the middle of February and I haven’t posted a whisky review yet! I’ve been feeling under the weather and feeling the blues quite a bit lately – not ideal prerequisites for an unbiased review, so I didn’t write one. Right, let’s get back on track with this 17-year-old mystery Orkney distillery bottling (I could tell you but then I’d have to… you know… ), which was a cask share between a bunch of online friends in a super-secret Facebook group. *Cue mysterious music*
Right, so, how is the whisky?

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 golden honey
On the nose we’ve got a touch of alcohol – no wonder given the rather high ABV! Beneath the pleasant alcoholic freshness, there’s a pleasant whiff of smoke (burning heather and roses), followed immediately by honey, pickled ginger, caramelised orange rind, lemon peel, tinned tangerines, golden syrup and oak wood shavings. The original character of the spirit has been well-preserved by the cask, not overwhelming the delicate, light notes, which is a profile I really like. Let’s move on to the palate!

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Tasting: Highland Park 40 yo

Highland Park 40Dram data:
Distillery: Highland Park
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: ?
Bottled: 2008
Age: 40 yo
Limitation: –
Casks: refill casks
Alcohol: 48,3%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

Finally, there it is: The culmination of the vertical Highland Park tasting. The coveted, sought-after, eye-wateringly expensive 40-year-old. Let’s see what all the fuss is about!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 amber
The nose is surprisingly light and fragrant. If the 30 yo was a Rock & Roller on crack and steroids, this is a laid-back soul singer. Err, yeah, enough with these silly comparisons, what do we actually smell? Undeniable oak in the background. Think disused, aged, dusty library shelves someone now uses to bake Christmas bakery on, infusing them with spices (star anise, allspice) and sprinkling rum aroma on top of dark fruits (dried plums and dates). Vanilla-infused icing and dark chocolate are also involved. All of this happened a few days ago and the aromas are muted and starting to fade slowly. A very intriguing, complex nose, but someone turned down the volume just a bit too much. Let’s check the palate!

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Highland Park 30 yo

Tasting: Highland Park 30 yo

Highland Park 30 yoDram data:
Distillery: Highland Park
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: ?
Bottled: 2013
Age: 30 yo
Limitation: –
Casks: refill sherry casks
Alcohol: 45,7%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

Two whiskies down, two to go in this vertical tasting series of Highland Park. Let’s pour the 30 year-old next!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 amber
The nose is the most expressive of the range so far. There’s a vibrant oaky not up front – but not too much oak. There are spices, a whole bucket of spices, including cinnamon, star anise and allspice. Someone’s thrown a very sweet, candied orange into the bucket as well and poured some caramel and maple syrup (the oak aged variety) over the mixture. Oh, and don’t forget the sultanas. In fact, this smells like a dusty, oaky whisky-infused fruit cake you can buy in the visitor’s center of many a Scottish distillery (it does get dusty if you leave it open for months. Ask my brother!). Can’t say, I’ve seen them at Highland Park, come to think of it. Oh, and what’s that? Just the hintiest hint of smokiness in the background adding to the complexity. Properly aged whisky, not overdone, not too less. I just hope it doesn’t disappoint on the palate!

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Highland Park 25 yo

Tasting: Highland Park 25 yo

Highland Park 25 yoDram data:
Distillery: Highland Park
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: ?
Bottled: 2012
Age: 25 yo
Limitation: –
Casks: mainly European oak sherry casks
Alcohol: 45,7%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

After starting off with the 21-year-old Highland Park in this vertical tasting series, let’s take a look at the 25-year-old next. The use of mainly European oak sherry casks should make for quite a difference…

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 medium amber
The nose starts off deep, rich, with a lot going on – it reminds me of the Christmas baking season which is upon us! Caramelised orange dried over a bonfire meets pickled ginger, rum-infused sultanas and baked apples with cinnamon and star anise. A retired baker watches his apprentices from a distance and fills his pipe with sweet, black cavendish-laden tobacco, but doesn’t light it. (Oh, come on now, how many have you had today….?) The European oak is there, but it is by no means overpowering or oaky, which is always good to see or, rather, nose. We don’t want oak to spoil the Christmas bakery, don’t we? Let’s check out the palate before my mind wanders off completely! Continue reading

Highland Park 21 yo

Tasting: Highland Park 21 yo

Highland Park 21 yoDram data:
Distillery: Highland Park
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: ?
Bottled: ?
Age: 21 yo
Limitation: –
Casks: mainly American oak sherry casks
Alcohol: 47,5%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

How about a wee mini-series of Highland Park tasting notes, say, the 21yo all the way up to the 40? I was fortunate enough to visit the distillery this year (click here for an in-depth article) and squirrelled away the samples I got to taste on a later day – which is now. Let’s start with the youngest of the bunch, shall we?

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 light amber
The first aroma I get on the nose is that of a dunnage warehouse. A whiff of earthy notes and a hint of mushrooms, which is gone after a few seconds, to reveal a dense mix of rich vanilla, very light smoke (burning heather), smoke-dried apricots and dates stored in grandma’s spice cabinet next to a fresh orange. They said, this is made up of mainly ex-American oak sherry casks, which accounts for the creaminess and not overwhelming spices. A very nice, complex nose indeed. Let’s check out the palate!
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