Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Rumbullion!

I’m still mainly staying clear of rum and gin, on the basis that I don’t need another spirit obsession.  If you saw the shelves in my study where the books used to be, you’d agree!  And it’s not all Kindle’s fault. 

These are spiced rums, and are a cut above Sailor Jerry with lots more orange and clove to the fore rather than massive belts of vanillin, although the genre itself is a little too sickly sweet for my palate. 

The standard Rumbullion has been around since 2011, and the newly released XO 15 year old is claiming to be the world’s first “super-premium spiced rum”.  It is significantly better than the standard release and worth the premium, and in a different class to Sailor Jerry.  Thanks to Maverick drinks for the samples!

Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Rumbullion!, 42.6%

rumbullion-spiced-rumNose - Cloves, honey, nutmeg, pomanders (orange with cloves stuck in it), beeswax polish, orange juice, orange blossom? Raisins soaked in rum, sandalwood and hot cross bun.  There is vanilla but it’s hidden behind all that orange.  There is some wood...

Body - Sweet, orange, ginger, cardamom, cointreau, a bit like Kings Ginger to drink neat, but not as nice.  

Finish - Cloyingly, saccharin sweet, quite long, boiled sweets, the citrus bitterness almost balances it out but doesn’t quite.

Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Rumbullion! XO 15 years old, 42.6%

RumbullionXO-bigNose - Sweeter, brighter wax, less overtly sweet.  Marzipan, creamily floral, some kind of white blossom, kumquats. Baked apple and cinnamon.  Wood varnish (freshly painted), shoe polish.  Much better integration and balance.

Body - Something Asian, a slight note of durian, more joss stick, mango and loads of Barfi (Indian sweets made of condensed milk, thanks Google).  An appealing rotten note.

Finish - Clean, not too sweet although still very sweet, much better balance.  Very long and descends into Indian sweets rather than saccharin.  Rather good.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Whisky Barrel Burns Malt, Springbank 14 yo

A Whisky Barrel exclusive, like all Burns Malts this is an ex-Whisky Broker stunner, and everything I could have wanted from a Whisky Broker Springbank.  Thankyou!

Not much left apparently, nor of the ‘broker/burns malt Tomatin which I have stocked up on, you can still get here and I reviewed here.

Burns Malt (Whisky Broker) Springbank, 14 years old, 54.3%

27/11/1998 - 12/02/2013, Bourbon barrel No. 448 A⊕

springbank-burns-malt-14yoNose - Sweet toffee, tobacco and spicily wooded nose.  Clearly a Springbank, I would have guessed ex-sherry except for the barrel - are we sure there’s no sulphur in pure Springbank new make?  Fresh, clean, complex and oily, the kind of paradox that has provoked a whole shelf of Springers in my study.  With water, more fruit and brighter refreshing notes of cherry, apple and ozone.  Retains the wood and intensity though.

Body - Spicy, oaky, balanced, petrol notes, drying sulphur and toasted crisp breads.  An air of dark, molasses and caramel.  With water, more jelly sweets and red cherries but still has that air of authority I love in Springbank.  As you explore it further with water, it responds in exactly the way you’d want, with the nose and finish surviving but different fruits and jellies making themselves known.  

Finish - Quite long, oily, malty, with expensive sulphured overtones.  I love it, a definite re-buy.

What’s not good about it - Lacks a little intensity on the delivery with water, and a little over priced given how spectacular the OB 12yo CS is (particularly the latest batch I think) at £10+ less.

What’s good about it - Wall to wall Springbank magic; oily, engines, sulphur, complexity, length, balance and plain delicious.  Buy now.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Glenrothes Sherry Cask Reserve

A fine NAS sherry dominated dram from Glenrothes.  If you’re looking for something to spend hours nosing and easy drinking this is a good bet.  My tastes are set a bit further over to “challenging” but I can appreciate this. Beautiful toffee and sherry on the nose and great structure.

From the press release: Bottled at 40% abv,The Glenrothes Sherry Cask Reserve will be available from brand owner Berry Bros. & Rudd Spirits and its representatives in key markets for an RRP of £55 per 700ml bottle.

The Glenrothes Sherry Cask Reserve, 40% A+

Glenrothes-Sherry-Cask-ReserveNose - Dark tobacco and leather, Seville orange juice, Serrano ham, herbal greenness and wet oak.  A youthful sherried nose and rather good - well balanced and not overly sweet or raisiny, but with loads of depth, and a lovely lick of sulphur.  

Body - A little spice, sweet sherry, nice wood but lacks a little intensity.  Has a wet cardboard note to the delivery that I associate with young sherried drams.

Finish - Medium, balanced but approaching one dimensionality on the bitter and sweetness at the end, but with some good tobacco notes coming through.

What’s not good about it - Lacks intensity and interest in the delivery

What’s good about it - Fantastic nose, loads of depth and balance.  Love the darker, older tones with the leather and tobacco, and well judged sulphur.  I could session this all day long, but not sure it’s set at that price point.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Kilchoman PX Sherry Cask Finish, Abbey Whisky exclusive

It’s a cracker.

Kilchoman Cask Strength, PX Sherry Cask Finish, Abbey Whisky exclusive, 58.3% A+

11.6.2009 - 17.7.2014, Cask number 285/2009, 4.5 years in fresh bourbon barrel, followed by 4 months in a PX cask.  Only available from Abbey Whisky.

kilchomanpxNose - Dark, medicinal peat, a little raw sugar, BBQ char-sui pork in hoisin sauce, lots of seville orange juice and dried fruit - raisins and mixed peel.  With water, some more sweet shop fruit notes (midget gems and travel sweets) comes through as well as a little (for once, lit) cigarette.

Body - Phenolic, sweet and bitter, toasted, ashen sherry.  Intensely sweet in fact, and balanced with ashes with something like aspirin at the back of the throat.  

Finish - Long, young, a touch raw, very spicy and tons of numbing ashes.  Fizzing refreshers around the side of the palate and lingering sweet fruit against the peat.  Rather moreish.

What’s not good about it - A little raw, but offset by the intensity.  Lacks complexity.  A touch expensive. As with other young, intensely sherried whiskies I’ve had this strays a little into “cocktail” due to the extreme influence of the sherry.  I personally don’t see that as a bad thing though.

What’s good about it - Intense sherry Islay experience, deep dark PX, loads of zesty citrus, balanced by long, all consuming ash and bandages. I hope there are some PX casks at Kilchoman with spirit sitting in them full term!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

SMWS August Outturn–Micro notes

Just a sketch, as usual, and an indication of whether I think you should buy (if you were so inclined!)

13.46, Dalmore, Something sweet for a beekeeper, A

IMG_20140731_180023661_HDRNose – Lovely cereal and toffee balance, intensely honeyed and floral, backnote of musk and dandelion. With water, intensity remains but better poise, a little more citrus, extremely sweet and pastried.

Body – Herbal and wooded. Intense sweetness but balanced by wood and a slight peat note. Some overt citrus and wood spice. Rather good. More bitter with water.

Finish – Citrus, wood sour, stewed tea. With water, numbing, raw wood, some musk develops but doesn’t hold together at the end.

A bit young.

1.184, Glenfarclas, Few and far between…,  A⊕+

IMG_20140731_190141677_HDRNose – Sweet tobacco, pencil topping rubbers, sherried ?? Absolutely beautiful, fruity, balanced and darkly sweet.

Body – Intense, sweet and biscuit

Finish – Long, fresh, sexy and balanced

BUY

35.122, Glen Moray, Perfumed lady at a garden fete, A⊕

IMG_20140731_192740335_HDRNose – Beautiful floral toffee, dark oily and satisfyingly sweet. Clean, planed oak, coffee.

Body – Sweet, spicy, wooded and perfect balance

Finish – Spiced, quite long, beautiful. A little stewed tea at the end and unsettled but very good overall.

BUY

50.55, Bladnoch, High class luxury, A⊕+

IMG_20140731_193836695_HDRNose – Dark, complicated, the honeycomb middle of a crunchie (debate over what this is called –hokey pokey??), soft toffee, buttery flapjack, lightly herbal with parsley. Softly beautiful. Some chocolate.

Body – A little spice, acrylic paint, complex.

Finish – Lovely and gentle but a little short.

BUY

9.89, Glen Grant, Balanced and harmonious, A⊕+

IMG_20140731_195941668_HDRNose – Balanced tobacco (Marlboro Red), boiled sweets, fence, cherry and apple, a lovely thread of wax (floor polish). Just beautiful – the balance between sweet and masculine is spot on.

Body – Massively sweet, spicy and wood balance.

Finish – Long and fabulous, not cloying.

BUY

53.210, Caol Ila, Fantastic stuff, A⊕+

IMG_20140731_201500010_HDRNose – Islay perfection: dark, spicy salami, loads of toffee, ancient smoked ham, old bandages, burnt newspaper, green unripe pear. Exquisite.

Body – Spicy fennel, boiled sweets.

Finish – Long, ashen, balanced and excellent. Intense ashes.

BUY

29.157, Laphroaig, Heidi's holiday to Islay, A⊕+

IMG_20140731_203857220Nose – darkly peated, loads of sulphur, ham and mozzarella, parsley and rolling tobacco. And massive sherry peat!

Body – Massive ash, peat and hugely sweet. Burning logs, sherry, sulphur and ash. Still balanced.

Finish – Long, sweet, a little vegetal.

BUY

39.101, Linkwood, Sophisticated adult sweetness, A+

Nose – Golden, sweet berries, honey toffee, remarkably sweet, very balanced but a bit one dimensional.

Body – Toasted oak on top of the sweetness and balanced.

Finish – A little cloying at the end, but seriously drinkable. Very oily, quite balanced before that.

121.73, Arran, A layered sponge fruit cake, A+

IMG_20140731_214340511Nose – More beery than normal, more cherries and tobacco

Body – Immense toffee Finish – A little odd savoury edge

44.60, Craigellachie, Growing on you, A⊕

IMG_20140731_214331109N – perfumed, flower stalks, floral and lovely

B – Sweet tobacco, beautiful

F – Lovely and long, marshmallows

BUY
 

26.103, Clynelish, Fresh and Lively, A⊕

IMG_20140731_214349263Nose – Bold, intense, wooded, balanced by restrained sweetness and tobacco.  Stunning Clynelish.

Body – Delicious toffee and tobacco, extremely sweet.

Finish – Long, tobacco, fab. 

Light on the nose, epic delivery, quite dry, sappy and tannic.

BUY

53.184, Caol Ila, Fairground on the beach, A⊕

Not from the August outturn.

N – dark and rich, toffee smoke, b – sweet and ashen, f – long

BUY

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Three Independent Springbanks

A couple of NAS boutique-y single malt springers and a truly epic (of course) SMWS single cask.  Oh the intensity!

Springbank Batch 1, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 54.6% A⊕

springbanklabel-bigNose - Warm wax, floral elegance, sweet, ripe fruit - cherry, peach - and a good backbone of cereal and old oak.  Just lovely, this is the kind of nose that got me into whisky.  With water, more wax and something medicinal from my childhood - Amoxicillin - and chew sweets, and a beautiful deep, sulphured sweetness.  And some hobnobs.  Love it.

Body - Unexpectedly spicy and sharp.  Doesn’t really take any prisoners undiluted.  With water, lots more sweet shop notes and toffee come through, and loads of numbing sulphur.

Finish - Long bitterness undiluted.  With water that classy, oily sulphured note comes through more, although it’s still a little bitter.

What’s not good about it - A little thin in the delivery diluted, harsh and bitter without water.

What’s good about it - But a fantastic nose, everything I could hope for in the nose, and lovely richness and fruit in the delivery. 

Sold out, but samples still available.

Springbank Batch 2, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 53.1% A⊕

That_Boutique-y_Whisky_Company_-_Springbank_Batch_2Nose - Wow.  Happily very similar to batch one but with the bright fruit turned up a notch and the darkly brooding wax turned down a notch.  Bright, complex wax, juicy red and tropical fruit, hubba bubba, and all backed by toasty new fence panels.  Lovely.  With water, the wood complexity comes up a notch and the fruit doesn’t suffer.

Body - That’s better - rich fruit and tobacco, tons of wood and dark furniture polish.  With water, I think I prefer it slightly less initially but the end is better balanced..

Finish - Long, long, and very bitter undiluted.  A lingering waxy tropicality and coastal peat.  Challenging but very good.

What’s not good about it - A bit unbalanced, a bit chaotic.

What’s good about it - But very interesting for it.  Also it’s a wonderful, complex and satisfying whisky to drink.  Buy now.

Comparing batch 1 and 2:

n - 1 is dark, more sulphured, more smoke and better balanced.  2 is more sweetly fruited, still stunning and more floral.  1 just takes it on grounds of elegance but both are stunning.

b - 1 is overall classier, more sulphured and spicy.  2 has a little less aggression but still provides many of the same experiences with a little more fruit.  

Overall - there’s very little in this.  Batch 1 is my preference, but only just, and objectively the 2 might actually be better.  Batch 1 is a bit OTT on the spice but makes up for it with superior sulphur and wood.  Batch 2 is still awesome, and batch 1 is sold out, so…

SMWS 27.92, Springbank, Wake-up call, 10 years old, 53.5%  A⊕+

March 31 2000, Refill ex-bourbon barrel.  Bought and (AFAIK) only available as part of the (excellent) Surf and Turf Seaside BBQ “might minis” set of four 10cl bottles.

27.92Nose - Go go go SMWS!  Enormous intensity and balance of refreshing, juicy fruit, waxed marker pens, cherry and almond.  Absolutely delicious and so fresh and fruity.  Balancing notes are oily, slightly coastal, furniture polish and Victorian oak floorboards.  Stunning.

Body - Sweet, ice pops, fruit, balancing sulphur and wax all the way.

Finish - Long, sweet, balanced but staggers a little with the bitterness, recovered by oily complexity.  What a whisky.

What’s not good about it - You can only buy it as part of a set of 4 minis.  I need at least a litre of this.

What’s good about it - A perfect, delicious and incredibly expensive Springbank nose.  Doesn’t let you down in the delivery either.  Lots of oily, coastal, sulphured wood and fruit.  Fabulous.

Three Highland Parks

I’ll be back to my Springbank obsession after a bit of the slowly developing Highland Park fun I’ve been having.  Here’s the 12, which I’d never really sat down with before, and got to appreciate as part of the White Lyan Tweet Tasting, followed by yet another pair of stunning HPs from SMWS.

Highland Park 12 year old, 40% A

HP-12yo-bottle-packNose - Comforting, waxed, sweet and toasty wood. A little cereal rawness but no problem.  Some chocolate covered popcorn (always welcome) and fresh, clean cherry.  A touch of teenagers deodorant (Lynx Oriental kinda thing), some sweet preserved lemon, and something herbal. There’s a sour note developing - swimming pool?  The perfume brings me back.  It’s rather good.

Body - Light, quite sweet, a little malt, a little toasty peat.  Very mild, a little watery for my tastes, but nicely done.  Some nuts and toffee.

Finish - Some fresh Marlboro. An oily delivery, quite long in the finish, and a little austere at the end.  But very pleasant overall, especially the structured, toffee wood bitterness that develops right at the end.  I do so value a whisky that takes you for a consistently interesting ride and leaves you wanting more.

What’s not good about it - Weak initial delivery.  Lacks intensity overall.

What’s good about it - Rather good, classy nose and sees things through very well for the price.

SMWS 4.189, Highland Park, 13 years old, Cracking!, 59.4% A⊕+

24th August 2000, 206 bottles, first fill ex-bourbon barrel.

IMG_20140730_185045158Nose - Initially wax, then blackcurrants and Ribena generally, some cherry, some balancing smoke and quite a lot of menthol and mint fags.  Quite refreshing, as well as reasonably intense.  As you progress, the mint becomes the main body of every inhalation, bookended by boiled lemon sweets, tobacco leaf and furniture polish.  Extremely enticing.

Body - Sweet, sweet and chew bars, then sulphur and smoke.  Citrus elegance, fruit and toffee.  Lovely.

Finish - Long, long lingering wham bar, then long sulphur and wood.  Finally, tobacco and wood shavings.  So, so interesting, and deeply delicious.  

What’s not good about it - Nothing, assuming you’re not offended by the menthol nose.

What’s good about it - Balance, complexity, refreshing, perfumed and masculine.  No wonder HP are so adept at producing OB single malts when this kind of barrel is tumbling out into IBs.  

SMWS 4.190, Highland Park, 22 years old, Big boys smoking in the sauna, 53.9% A⊕+

31st May 1991, 246 bottles, refill ex-bourbon hogshead.

IMG_20140730_185107465Nose - Tasty, oaky, slightly restrained charred wood (although the bottle is newly open and could be a bit closed down), Marlboro light and sweet red cherry - which starts to come out of the closet more and more as you investigate.  Light fruity wax and fresh tobacco leaf.   An almost strict character, but hiding some rather delicious fruit.  I can see it’s quite grown up, and what are they doing in the sauna?

Body - Ripe, sweet, but austere and wooded.  Serious numbing smoke pokes it’s head out and then ducks back in.  With water, the fruit and tobacco develop (as they will) but the intensity has gone.

Finish - Really sweet character develops, long toffee notes balanced by spicy wood.  Very, very long and deeply sweet.  Really double sided, with tropical burps to boot.  With water, the peat starts to dominate, with more tobacco, and rather good it is too.

What’s not good about it - Not exactly a beginners malt.  Quite challenging and austere, and weirdly two faced.

What’s good about it - Complex, fascinating, masculine and feminine.  Uncompromising and very rewarding.