Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Hazelburn 15 years old, Cognac Butt

End of 2018 release, a single cognac butt official release.  Darren had split a cage cognac HB he bought after Campbeltown festival 2017 (I think) which was legendary, so much so that I drank my share before I could write notes.   You sometimes do see cage previews of official releases as cage bottles at festival I think.

Anyway, this was only ever going to go one way.

Hazelburn 15 years old, Cognac Butt, official bottling, 53.9% A⊕

hazelburn-15-year-old-single-cask-whiskyNose - It has that super-ripe-almost-rotten-fruit vs burnt caramel thing first and foremost. An extremely enticing balance on that ethereal fruit and peat Hazelburn - bubble gum, burnt planks and silly putty. It's really fruity.

Body - Cigarette tobacco, strawberry Nesquik, black pepper and whistle pops. That black pepper and lowlander-Campbeltown-peat character work really well to balance out the weird fruit, and as a drink it is absolutely crushable.

Finish - Long and sweetshoppy, bourbon cask candy but there are the echoes of grape. Cigarette tobacco and smoke, duck pancakes and lolly sticks. Punches keep being pulled just before they overwhelm, and the result is very moreish.


I’m just in love with Hazelburn at the moment, I have an open bottle of the 10 year old on my shelf and I turn to it all the time.  This one doesn’t disappoint either.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Chorlton Winter 2018 bottlings

I wrote these notes a little while ago but the end of the year was a bit hectic, so apologies.  The Nevis is still available though and the Coig thingy hasn’t even been released yet.  I would definitely recommend them both.

Thanks David for sorting me out with (some of) these samples, and thanks Ed for sharing the Nevis.

Ben Nevis 21 years old, 52.2% A⊕+

170 bottles

bennevis1Nose - Dark, almost rotten fruit with deodorant, cut, ripe mango, hairy peaches and Haribo. That's the kind of weirdness I love in Ben Nevis, and this is a wonderful one - ripe fruit and plenty of wax and structure.

Body - Tobacco, burnt caramel, sesame snaps and sangria. Lightly butyric.

Finish - Long and full of fruit - travel sweets and a little hubba bubba. Weird lowlandery peach at the end.

This is a real cracker. I love finding these.

Coig Deicheadan, Butt 17 years old, 45.6% A⊕

coigNose - Crushed granite, bright red apple, cherry lip salve and strawberry Nesquik. There's a nice little dirty note underneath that, leather and tarte tatin, dried fruit cake. Christmas cake.

Body - Quite gentle with felt and cardboard, orange segments and fruit toffee.

Finish - Something extremely Christmassy in here, I actually think it might be the smell when you cut wedges off the base of the new fir tree when you're trying to jam it into the base. It's literally that Christmassy. A long finish, with strident tannins and bracing wood against the fruit. Lots of citrus and orange peel at the end.

An extremely delicious blend of stuff that was supposed to be the Christmas bottling but didn't make it to being bottled in time. A great shame as it would have been perfect! I hope it will be out for Burns night.

Ardmore, Barrel, 9 years old, 60.1% A+

153 bottles

ardmore1Nose - Sweet and dusty wood, with burnt cereal, air freshener and cut privet hedge. Floral, stalky with bright burnt peat. Dustier with water, chalky, and a little metallic.

Body - Delicate, considered and delicious, exceeding expectations from the nose. Barley sugar and toffee apples. Much fruitier with water, more complete.

Finish - Long and deeply sweet, with soft brown sugar, malt extract and just a little popping candy.

This is another cracking young Ardmore. I tasted a 4 year old Ardmore in a Springbank dunnage warehouse a late last year and it was absolutely stunning, bought it immediately. This is similarly age-defyingly-good.

Orkney, hogshead, 9 years old, 63.1% B+

191 bottles

orkney1Nose - Crushed malted barley, hard and cold with old freezer ice and cut grass. Whistle pops. More musk, more fruit with water, but even more frost blown.

Body - Stern but sweet, with Marlboro lights, black pepper and crème brûlée. Fruitier with water, more tobacco.

Finish - Medium to short, warm white wine with an underlying fug of cream and sugar.

A hard, closed, slightly grumpy whisky. This grew on me but the Ardmore is a lot better.

Monday, 24 December 2018

SMWS Advent Day 24 - 51.9, Bushmills, Sinful indulgence

SMWS Advent Day 24

SMWS 51.9, Bushmills, Sinful indulgence, 15 years old, 54.2% A⊕+

bushmillsNose - Floral and flinty ahead of the polished, Irish sweetness. A beautifully ripe, almost tropical fruit, ripe papaya and old school permanent markers. Classy stuff.

Body - Big, ripe, richly creamy with strawberries and gooseberry fool.  Toasted, tropical cask.

Finish - Medium, with prickly with Sichuan pepper and cough candy. Very oily though, extremely complete.

Absolutely superb stuff this, and all the better for me because I bought a bottle on Phil's recommendation (I think!) and haven't opened it yet. Even though I think I promised him I would.

Seven left in stock at time of writing.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

SMWS Advent Day 23 - 5.65, Auchentoshan, Cocktail Hour

SMWS Advent Day 23

Hallelujah!

SMWS 5.65, Auchentoshan, Cocktail Hour, 15 years old, 56.3% A+

16th January 2003, 202 bottles, first fill bourbon

auchentoshanNose - A bit like a warm Compass Box whisky, that gentle toasted oak, and then the weirdness from the triple distilled spirit - the peaches I want and expect from Auchentoshan, jelly sweet peach slices with double cream over strawberry jelly.

Body - Peaches again, very sweet cask but off dry spirit, preserved lemon and cracked black pepper. Wagon wheels (the weird chocolate and marshmallow). Acrylic paint and linseed oil.

Finish - Medium and hot, slightly Sichuanese. Oily at the end.

Weird and wonderful, I do miss getting to try society 5s.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

SMWS Advent Day 22 - 54.63, Aberlour, 2000: and some face odyssey

SMWS Advent Day 22

SMWS 54.63, Aberlour, 2000: and some face odyssey, 17 years old, 54.2% A-

10th February 2000, 210 bottles, 2nd fill bourbon

aberlourNose - Crackery. A little sesame and some sandalwood, fresh acrylic varnish and wood dust from sanding it. A bright, hard sweetness; simple boiled sweets crunched, and a creamy perfume.

Body - Full bodied in its second fill bourbonry, with clean apple wood, moisturising cream and the oiliness of double cream in the mouth.

Finish - Oddly short, cream and that crackery, peppery cereal at the end.

Good nose, and very drinkable, if a little ordinary.

Friday, 21 December 2018

SMWS Advent Day 21 - Peat Faerie Batch 03, 10 years old

SMWS Advent Day 21

Peat Faerie Batch 03, 10 years old, 50% A+

PFNose - Sweet-sour-medicinal, quite spirity and plastic-glue-y. Good, rich malty sweetness underneath, some crushed shells and seaside, some cracked black pepper crisps.

Body - Balanced and quite accomplished compared to how I remember batch 1, some refreshers and even a little clove.

Finish - Long and dustily balanced between crushed boiled sweets, sawdust and liquorice imps. The dry edge really makes it, makes you want to come back and have another sip.

I remember batch one being a distinct disappointment in the delivery but this is much better. Maybe my dram of batch 1 suffered from being just open whereas this advent dram has been through all sorts of punishment to get to me.

Suffice to say, I like this a lot more than I was expecting to.

I think the 10 year old is sold out but the 7 year old Peat Faerie Jnr. (batch 4) is available.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

SMWS Advent Day 20 - 66.118, Ardmore, A drizzle of syrup on salted ribs

SMWS Advent Day 20

SMWS 66.118, Ardmore, A drizzle of syrup on salted ribs, 11 years old, 59.8% B+

6th March 2006, 304 bottles, refill bourbon

ardmoreNose - Meaty, cereal peat, kind of dusty with a burnt pastry feel to it. Cut quince (how can things smell hairy? They do), quiche (I guess that's just baked egg with the pastry), and a vaguely sour seafoody thing.

Body - Bright, hot and sour, the whisky equivalent of lime and fish sauce (though it doesn't taste of either). Sweet cask and quite young peated spirit.

Finish - Medium with green chilli and white pepper.

A by the numbers Ardmore. John McC always liked society 66s but I often found them unremarkable, and this is the same.  Not to say I haven’t had some absolute crackers though!