Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Longrow Red 2018, Cabernet Franc

Longrow Red, 11 years old, Cabernet Franc finish, 55.9% A+

9 years in bourbon, finished for two years in Cabernet Franc Barriques from the De Torren Private Cellar in Stellenbosch, South Africa. 9000 bottles, bottled on 23rd January 2018. Less than 100 casks of Longrow are filled each year making every bottle of Longrow a limited release. Cherish these releases!

IMG_4227Nose - Restrained sweetness, raspberry jam, quite flinty at first. It's quite an aggressive peat  (remembering that this is only 11 years old), there's some gunpowder - quite Ledaig-like here. Underneath that a bedrock of softer Campbeltown peat and a very light fruity funk. There is something a little clumsy in the nose though, a raw cereal tone, although it improves with time and could be because the bottle is new open.

Body - Sweeter now, with ripe plum, cream, fizzers and engine oil. The fruit is most developed in the initial delivery, giving way to ice cream wafers and juniper. The wine cask builds as does the sweetness and funky peat. Sour fruit and red wine with water, but much gentler and a richer experience.

Finish - Fizzing with jammy dodgers (lots of biscuit), and lots of cream (texture and flavour) at the end, with liquorice Sichuan peppercorns and engine oil.

Expectations are high for this, and it is a quite challenging Longrow in terms of peat levels and youth. Time and water do wonders for the experience, which also brings out the wine cask a lot more. This is good, the delivery is particular delicious, but it's a fair distance from last year's Malbec.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Chorlton Whisky

I can only apologise for how long I’ve had these kindly donated official samples!

They have been very well picked.

By the way my new year’s resolution is to write as little as possible in the intro to my whisky reviews.  Personally, I now scroll through them to get to the tasting notes so I’m giving up the back story for now (not that I really got into having one).  It’s just whisky.

Burnside 20 years old, 51.7% A⊕

burnside1Nose - Gentle, damp but with dusty, toffee depth and a really beautiful cask and wood to it. Every year is well represented here, it smells like an OB. Ripe, to the point of greasy mango, some black forest and a little pineapple. Lovely.

Body - Gentle again, but there's an insistent burnt splint and hot radiator note here, and a touch of heat. Some sourness to that mango.

Finish - Slightly plasticky but robust woods and sugar are well balanced against each other, with a really deep sweetness at the end and more overripe tropical fruit.

A really, really classy nose here with quite a lot of first fill bourbon character to the delivery. Absolutely delicious though, I quite like the burnt note in the delivery but the intense sweetness and that sour note in the delivery throws it a little.

Bealach Ruadh, 8 years old, 58% A+'

bealach1Nose - Perfect young Caol Ila (I will assume) - crushed shells, lemon and ozone, that fresh funk of cuttlefish bone - really dusty, malty and invigorating. Lemon and buttercream icing on vanilla sponge. More mineral with water, cold wet glass.

Body - More vanilla, intensely but very perfectly peated and drifting into slightly rotten and medicinal. Fresher with water, green apple skin and a touch of clove.

Finish - Coffee, biscuit, lemon tart. Very high cocoa dark chocolate with water.

Perfect young Islay.  Well recommended.

Ledaig 10 years old, 57.4% A+

ledaig1Nose - Also very "pure" to the distillery, an almost creamy edge to a fresh, cereal peat here. Lemon curd, laurel leaves and blackcurrant jam, women's perfume and Victoria sponge. Rich, but vibrant and fresh. A touch of petrol with water. Delicious.

Body - Extraordinarily fruity (raspberries, gooseberry fool), but then spray deodorant and chocolate sponge. Unacceptably astringent with water.

Finish - Long, intensely drying, lots of bitter wood but it works perfectly.

A bruiser, and a very compelling one. I liked this more than the Caol Ila at first but it was more tiring, however the nose on this is extremely classy.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Cadenhead’s 175th Anniversary Collection

This was a special set bottled, one cask for each shop, to mark the 175th anniversary (on top of the monthly releases and the green label square bottles which were all incredible).  Each shop blind tasted all the casks on offer and picked one.  If two shops picked the same cask, the shop open the longest got first dibs (I think I’m remembering that right?) but in the end, every shop picked a different cask.  I sort of ran the tasting in the London shop and we settled on the Glenburgie, which I reviewed here, which also has the shop to cask mapping if you’re interested. 

They didn't pull any punches with the choice of casks for this lot and there are some very special bottles in here, including a proper Laphroaig and a really special sherry Springbank. 

Arran 21 years old, 49.5% A+

1995, hogshead, 270 bottles.

IMG_3720Nose - Chalky but glazed, a touch of petrol and a deep fruited sweetness (verging on sweetshop - strawberry chews). But fresh too; clean wood, cold warehouse. Much waxier with water, the "good cask" thing I was feeling neat comes through more, slightly cheesey on exhale but it's beautifully fruity.

Body - Sweet but intensely mineral, the fuse on a firework. Strawberry tarts and black pepper. Much less interesting with water.

Finish - Short and slightly effervescent, strawberry laces and a little lemon sherbet.

Beautiful undiluted, gentle drinking but fresh and fruity. A little ordinary on the delivery with water.

Teaninich 23 years old, 52.3% A+'

1993, hogshead, 252 bottles

IMG_3721Nose - Bright and mineral, with green apple, candy cigarettes, softened candle wax rolled between the fingers and chilled white wine. Some Foxes glacier fruits - but it is quite hard.

Body - Very sweet but balanced with that grapey minerality, quite refreshing with flashes of charred wood. It's woodier with water, and even more assertive.

Finish - Medium, oily and chalky, with Chardonnay tannins and ripe pear skin. Very refreshing.

This would be a perfect whisky for a hot Summer day, even slightly chilled. It has quite a young character (I'm more used to 30 year old Teaninich), but that's not a problem as it's so drinkable and delicious.

Bruichladdich 25 years old, 53.8% A

1992, hogshead, 216 bottles

IMG_3718Nose - This is the nose I'd hoped it would have; very light gun oil, a gentle coastal sweetness, hard green apples, split dandelion stalks and cold, Summer soil. Fruitier with water, some tobacco and vaguely sweet shoppy.

Body - Zesty and perfumed, chewed flower stalks, double cream and cigarette tar on the lips. There’s a coastal quality set against the completely “ordinary” character of this.  Creamier and softer with water, quite chewable.

Finish - Long, peppery with gentle liquorice imps and lots of caramel. Almost completely white with water.

This is just a gentle, old, elegant Bruichladdich. No innovation or fireworks here, just honest drinking whisky, and it brings to mind the kind of thing you think when sipping on a younger whisky that has spent 30 years in bottle and you think “why don’t they make them like this anymore?”.  It has experience where the Teaninich has confidence.

Tullibardine 23 years old, 48.6% A⊕

1993, hogshead, 252 bottles.  Finished in Lafitte since 2009.

IMG_3717Nose - Dirty wine cask. Sherry vinegar at first, slightly rotten red apples, with dark chocolate and dried cherries, and seared beef fat. There's hints of nuts but they're drowned out by chocolate and vinegar. Behind the funk there's a really wonderful cask (red fruits and wax), chocolate vanilla sponge and ozone.

Body - Remarkable, intense, and it takes right to the end of the delivery to produce the nutty notes. Before that it's fruity, with a little coffee and waxes.

Finish - And then quite a lot of sulphur, just treading the line and veering into and out of cabbage, and then a very long finish - nutty and fruity right to the end. Cleaner with water, except in the nose.

Playing a very dangerous game with the sulphur this one, retronasally there's an almost disqualifiable amount of cabbage but it just holds the line.  And those are the best ones. However this is a highly subjective thing and I would caution anyone who doesn't definitely enjoy sulphur in their whisky on this one, but I love it.

Pulteney 26 years old, 52.6% A⊕+

1990, barrel, 168 bottles.

IMG_3715Nose - Waxy, dank, a little funk, that salty, toasty, slightly burnt and slightly coastal Pulteney thing. Dried orange slices, milk chocolate, and a really wonderful black fruit and waxy cask. Even more berries with water, crushed mineral. Glorious.

Body - Soft, ripe and fizzing with pomander, refreshers and orange cream Quality Street. Dusty and charred with water.

Finish - Long and peppery, charred peat and sandalwood.

An enthralling Pulteney with real gravitas. Delicious.

Cooley 25 years old, 54.8% A+'

1992, barrel, 186 bottles.

IMG_3719Nose - Darkly peated with shovel-fulls of crushed blackberries, blueberries and fresh cigar tobacco. Coal dust and cold air.

Body - Ripe and dusty, with Ribena, gunpowder and Rennies. Cereal in front of the fruit though, sawdust off a power tool (charred wood and oil with it). More robustly peated with water.

Finish - Numbingly dusty, alka-seltzer - then blackcurrant Lemsip.

A quite heavily peated whisky where the fire does kind of get in the way of the huge amounts of fruit. Nevertheless this is chewy and delicious.

Springbank 13 years old, 57% A⊕+

2003, butt, 540 bottles.

IMG_3713Nose - Sweet, slightly sour and winey, this is either a funky sherry cask or a red wine cask (although I've still got the sandalwood from the Cooley in my palate). It has brown sauce, caramel glazed hazelnuts and cherry lip salve. Fruitier with water.

Body - Dirty, fizzing, very sweet and quite a lot of sulphur, I'm going with a red or white wine cask. There's a really grown up, rich fruit here too, a restrained sweetness and lots of refreshers. Dustier with water but the sulphur doesn't quite blend in so well. Phenomenally drinkable though.

Finish - Medium and fruity. The sulphur keeps popping up but it's not cabbagey and works very well. The wood seems absolutely ancient at the end, but dusty rather than glazed.

Absolutely delicious, a total blockbuster this one. I would have guessed a chardonnay Longrow for it, on balance. I will treasure my bottle of this.

Laphroaig 18 years old, 57.4% A⊕+

1998, hogshead, 246 bottles

IMG_3714Nose - Gloriously bright, mineral peat (although more coastal than medicinal, I suppose those days are gone) - fresh, cold and delicious, buttercream icing on top of carrot cake and a sort of rich, cereal funk. Crushed crab shells and refreshers. Laphroaig fans will be excited by this nose.

Body - Soft, creamy and coastal, ethereal vanilla and a little herbal - somewhere between marijuana and thyme.

Finish - Long and very gentle, with orange, lime and crushed blackcurrants, although catching a little cereal and charred wood peat at the back of the throat. But the delivery is extremely… considered. Balanced peat, sugar, fruits and wood all the way. Actually I suppose the empty glass does rather reek of old bandages.

After all that's been before, this is extremely "official" - the kind of delivery you'd expect in an OB. A truly fantastic whisky, a proper cask of Laphroaig.

Bowmore 16 years old, 54.8% A

2001, hogshead, 294 bottles.

IMG_3716Nose - Hard, green, but sweet and cold. Grapey I suppose? There's a proper warmth to this too, waxy and chalky, which bodes well for the delivery. Orange sorbet and birthday candles. Even better with water, green apple and washed apple skin, a little smouldering wood and CK One.

Body - Clean, white and waxy, very soft indeed, a lot softer than the Laphroaig and nowhere near as peated. Weaker with water.

Finish - Short and clean, some oils at the end and fizzing, sugary sweets. It feels watered down, neat, but more robust, watered.

Super soft and pillowy, this is of course very drinkable but not exactly what you were expecting from a 16 year old Bowmore.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Campbeltown Very Last 2017 AC outturn

Oops – I thought the last outturn was the last of 2017.  I honestly couldn’t comprehend having any more Cadenhead’s.  But I did actually know about this one, I’d seen the list, I’d just blocked it out!  It’s been a busy time.

The Nevis.  The Linkwood.

Glen Spey 16 years old, 55.4% A-

GlenSpeyNose - A lovely chalky and lightly sweet character on the nose, with a touch of laundered towel on hot radiator. This has some of that excitement of a dram at the end of a distillery tour, and a little travel sweets. Lemon sherbets after sipping. Even better with water, it reminds me more of a new library - new varnished wood, plastic book coverings and new carpets.

Body - Sharp and sweet, with gooseberry fool, preserved lemons and white chocolate. Creamy and rich but that lemon leaves it feeling quite young, and slightly hot. A lot sweeter with water, some refreshers, but still lacking that midrange.

Finish - Long and hot with roasted lemon shells and caught raisins. Fruitier with water, peaches and orange peel twists.

A good drammer but young and without the confidence and integration to make that properly work.

Aberlour 17 years old, 52.8% A+

aberlourNose - Sweeter, fuller, a tiny touch of funk, some modelling clay and a little coffee. This is grown up in a different way to the Glen Spey, there's a deep stone fruit and waxiness behind the clay and sugar. An exciting and compelling nose. Even better with water, it gets darker, fruitier and the sulphur becomes more toasted, more serious.

Body - Deep and dank, coffee again then very distinct red boiled sweets and a lovely touch of sulphur. I am surprised this is a bourbon cask. As it develops a touch of bitterness comes through but take it slowly, concentrating on the nose, and stick with the fruit, sweetshop and waxes (milky coffee with water).

Finish - Medium with fruit polos and pink peppercorns. A little charred oak at the end.

Delicious and exciting, but in the end perhaps a little delicate? The nose is especially good though.

Glen Moray 19 years old, 55.5% A⊖

glenmorayNose - Hard, glazed but fruity, particularly compared to the Aberlour. But classier, with cherry boiled sweets, fizzy cola balls, rosemary and hot radiator. It's restrained but very deep.

Body - Soft, fruity, a touch of fizz but really rich, one of those intensely oily, fruity and satisfying deliveries that are so relaxing to drink. It is also immensely sweet, more so with water.

Finish - Long, with more fizzy boiled sweets, Foxes glacier mints, red currants and a little stewed tea.

The sugar builds and builds with this one, it is almost unbearable after a while. Which is a shame as it's absolutely delicious at first.

Linkwood 20 years old, 57% A⊕

linkwoodNose - Very fresh and summery, melon with raisins and vanilla custard, almost French strawberry tarts actually. The wood is gentle, high quality, and lightly waxed. Melon going on mango, with time. All still green, though, with sawdust and lime curd. More tropicality with water, great balance.

Body - Deep and tropical, balanced and confident, this has lime juice and oils on your hands after making a margarita, and a rich tannin at the side of the mouth.

Finish - Kind of short (in a very mature way) but lightly fizzing all the way down, like a big fruit bomb Scotch (although a lot more restrained than that).

I can't quite believe this is 57%, it feels like 42%, but somehow it's all even better with water - more cream, more tropical fruit, more structure, more lime. Very delicious and drinkable, perhaps just a little bit pedestrian for all that (it's not a '76 Tomatin, despite my gushing), but nevertheless an excellent whisky and is highly recommended.

Glen Grant 22 years old, 57.2% B⊕

glengrantNose - Slightly sweet and sour, with sawdust, red wine reduction, drilled out bricks and art room clay. I tried this at Darrenmas and was underwhelmed as I often am with Glen Grant, although in a saner environment I do admire the deep wax, but this is very refill sherry.

Body - Much better than I remember actually; ripe fruits, mint leaves, fizzing orange powder, earth. But that mint and sharp, flinty refill sherry butt is what's bothering me. Fruitier and more toffeed with water, a touch of coffee wood and cereal.

Finish - Long and pointedly sweet, mint bonbons and icing sugar.

This just doesn't hang together for me, sharp refill sherry and quite thin and icing sugary, although the nose grew on me with time.

Glentauchers 41 years old (1976), 42% A⊕+

[Sold out]

glentauchersNose – Depth and alien tropicality, but not flabby - it's actually quite zesty and robust. It's got tropical fruit squash (neat), cut mango, and recent cut old oak floorboards.

Body - Immense depth, with fruit toffee, coconut, wet oak and a slightly rotten, slightly sour fecundity. Sesame snaps and Thai coconut soup.

Finish - Coffee beans, glazed fruit, very long but alien fruit all the way. That fruit is just balancing out the wood, only just. Obviously no water added.

Meeting an old master. This has been a great year for Glentauchers at Cadenhead’s and elsewhere, and this is a great end to it. Old, practically doddering, this has been plucked at the very last moment and is utterly delicious. To be enjoyed by the cut crystal tumbler-full.

Mortlach 14 years old, Guyanese rum since October 2014, 55% A+'

[Sold out]

mortlachNose - Robust - toffee pennies, hard, charred oak, cut grass and a lot of caramel. The rum is an insistent backnote here, with real burnt sugar and crushed flowers. It's compelling. Dustier but fruitier with water.

Body - Dirty, dusty, very dry with black pepper biltong and nutty wine cask… and a touch of banana Nesquik.

Finish - The rum kicks in at the end, with petrol, bitter woods (perhaps chewed aspirin) and more black pepper. After the dram, it feels like you have been drinking rum, not whisky. A big, yellow cask.

That big, rich Mortlach spirit works brilliantly against the rum cask, the effect is as compelling as it is challenging. Recommended.

Ben Nevis 21 years old, 51.1% A⊕'

Ben Nevis 21-750x1000Nose - Funk, fruit and toffee. Stewed raspberries, with membrillo, Ribena and Campari. There's some funk, and a moist cigar too. Some Ben Nevis’s are sublime – all barely restrained filth and fruit - and some are very ordinary. This one is in the first camp, and I'm always on the lookout for them.

Body - Soft, ripe fruit, burnt marshmallow and sulphur. As rich and warm as the Linkwood, not really tropical but dirty, creamy and full of just on the turn orchard fruit.

Finish - Long with blue cheese and peppery oatcakes.

Two big thumbs up. This would go very, very well after the port. I didn't get round to adding water. Merry xmas.

Auchroisk 16 years old, Lafitte cask since 2009, 54.4% A⊖

[Sold out]

auchroiskNose - Sweet but hard, like a hazelnut shell, with extra strong mints, baked red apple skin and vanilla sponge. Cigars, maybe it's cigar boxes, and a touch of stewed beef.

Body - Buttercream icing with strawberry, strawberry jam and then a big whack of nutty red wine cask. Flashes of sulphur. The savoury wine cask is absolutely delicious.

Finish - The nuttiness is almost at bong-water levels by the end, and we're firmly in Victoria sponge territory with the jam. It's all beef at the end.

Quite an extreme wine cask to end the year on, which veers into cabbage at points. The Glengoyne from last month was a lot better presented. This one is just too hardcore.

Glen Scotia 18 years old, sherry butt, 56.9% C⊕

scotiaNose - Big and fruity, dusty and full of age, this has sweet and sour sherry on top of cereal, with blackcurrants (and blackberries), Parma ham and gunpowder. Dustier, more compelling with water, some proper age on it once the funk recedes.

Body - Sweet sherry, refreshers, lots of sulphur, a little cabbage but pulled back into boiled sweets and Christmas cake icing with marzipan. Dirty – and living dangerously. Chalkier with water, very distinct cabbage.

Finish - Long and winey, lots of sulphur, but a really beautiful cask fruit with it.

There's an incredibly beautiful whisky here trying to escape a nasty, dirty cask, and not succeeding. When you play the game of sulphur you either win, or you die.


Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Springbank Society–Longrow 9 years old, 2017 release (and friends)

A bit of a catch up in honour of the new society bottling, a 9 year old multi-cask Longrow.   Longrow is good.

First off a couple of Longrow 18s. 

Longrow 18 years old, 2016 release, 46% A⊕'

longrow-18-year-old-whiskyNose - Boiled sweets dusted with sugar, car air freshener, old varnished oak and whistle pops. There is that very lovely sweet and dusty character you get when the harsh peat, originally balanced by sweetness, ages out to ethereal. This is what I love in 18 year old Longrow and 26 year old Bowmore.

Body - Gentle and dreamy, dusty old peat and cream, refreshers and an ethereal Asian fruit. This develops with more intense wood and green Sechuan pepper.

Finish - Very long and gently fruited with perfect balance between oak, fruit more robust, slightly peppery peat.

If this came out of Islay it would be 25 years old, hailed as a masterpiece and cost £600.  Coming out of Springbank… you can see why everyone who gets it is so obsessed.

Otherworldly and mature way beyond 18, how do they make whisky age so well in Campbeltown?  Thanks to Greg for the share of this one.

Longrow 18 years old, 2017 release, 46% A⊕

IMG_3784Nose - Deeper and winier, there's a nuttier sherried note in here that's beefing up the maturity, with a touch of coffee and lots of window putty. That ethereal peat is lost in the sherry, but in return there is a grown up, waxy, lacquered sweetness.

Body - Peppery with real wine cask and a fair bit of sulphur, but gentle with chilli chocolate and honey, back with the refreshers with time.

Finish - Long, hot with sulphur and the return of the '16's ethereal peat. The final delivery is quite intense but really compelling.

Very different than the 16 tasted side by side, although both are excellent. I had originally tasted the 16 at the end of a tasting at Cadenhead's in London, and thought it was amazing. Since then, I've had an open bottle of the 17 since it was released and thought it was similar but better. However trying them side by side I definitely prefer the 16. Either way, this is a real cork chucker for a long night with friends.

I will be all over the Longrow 18s from now on, like the Springbank 18s that nonchalant excellence makes them great session drams.

Next the most recent Springbank Society release. Big thanks to Andrew Purslow for splitting his bottle so we could try this.

Springbank Society late 2017 release, Longrow 9 years old, Fresh Sauternes hogshead, 56.3% A+

IMG_3785Nose - Sweet and fruity, like neat tropical squash. This has young, robust peat in the nose, lots of sugar and oil, caramel and lit patchouli joss sticks. There's an oily, woodsy confidence to it - lots of earth and engine. A little bit sexier with water (toffee apples), a little bit meatier too.

Body - Extremely sweet with cigarette smoke, rollie tar and WD40. Even sweeter with water.

Finish - Peppery, very long with chocolate icing and the coconut ├ęclair from Quality Street.

Another intense bruiser, but this time the Longrow carries through that dusty intensity.

Next a whisky from the Campbeltown warehouse tour. This one I had to try, thanks to Brora (who has abandoned his own blog preventing me from linking to him) for getting me this one.

Longrow 15 years old, Warehouse tour, Chardonnay cask since 2008, 56.2% A⊕+

IMG_3786Nose - Perfect, dusty, ancient peated whisky, with loads of Campbeltown in it. This I would have picked as over 18, more like 20 years old. I often think the Longrows come out less peated than the Springbanks and this seems so gentle and ethereal. It's talcum powder, peach, damp cigars and bramley apple. It's beautiful.

Body - Deep, meaty, with definite burning coal fires and an incredible sweetness behind it. The dusty refreshers continue in parallel with nutty red wine cask. Dirtier with water.

Finish - Enormous - lots of clove (it's palate wrecklingly clovey), liquorice and TCP. Indian almond cake and cardamom at the end.

This is a phenomenal whisky, totally crushable and absolutely fascinating. Great wine cask and I love the cloves in the finish.

Next some cage drams from my last visit to Campbeltown, where I just bought anything with Longrow written on it.

Longrow duty free sample, 9 years old, refill port butt, 58.8% A+

IMG_3788Nose - Reminds me of an old flintlock gun - shards of stone, gunpowder and oak. Then plums, wax and milky coffee. Robust, young, rich (quite chocolatey) spirit and a very gentle, but noticeable hand from the cask.

Body - Sweet and sharp, Ribena and gooseberry fool.

Finish - Chocolate and green peppercorn sauce, very long and a slightly dirty peat.

What's really special here is that mineral, chalky nose with the robust, confident spirit.

Longrow duty free sample, 13 years old, first fill bourbon, 56.8% A⊕

IMG_3787Nose - Much sweeter and cleaner, and dusty, closer to the 18yo 2016 above. Mineral and chalk - like the refill port, this has a gentle warmth (baked green apple) with modelling clay. More intense, more waxy with water. Beautiful, really.

Body - Gently sweet, frangipane and baked apricot, the vanilla cream from the FF is perfect against that apricot tart. There's significant peat in here but it's structural to all that fruit, oil and vanilla.

Finish - Long and creamy, ripe banana, more peppercorn sauce, maybe with offal now.

Really tasty stuff, if you've got casks of this knocking about and you're sloshing it into the live cask at the Campbeltown shop, you might as well bottle it for the cage eh?

Longrow duty free sample, 16 years old, first fill sherry, 46.1% A⊕'

Nose - Up with the 18s now in terms of maturity, this is full of wax and Vimto, teenage perfume and cigarettes. There's big fruit here, oranges and melon in with the blackcurrants. After sipping, a touch of sulphur. Fruitier with water. Reminds me of the summer nights of the early 90s.

Body - Very gentle, light fruit sauce on vanilla ice cream and a cigar on the side.

Finish - Quite a lot of red wine cask in the finish. Short to medium and really gentle but then, right at the end, big, menthol, numbing oils.

Evocative always gets extra points.

I also bought the living cask Longrow from the Campbeltown shop but I think I necked it before making notes… oops.  Sort of pointless making notes anyway as they were glugging another random unmarked bottle into the cask as I bought it.

Finally the recent Longrow Red. I didn't buy enough bottles of this.  I tried this quite a lot during the 2016 Campbeltown festival but then it spent another year in the vatting casks.

Longrow Red, Malbec (2017 edition), 13 years old, 51.3% A⊕+

IMG_3789Nose - After quite a lot of writing that sherry casks smell like red wine casks, it's great to actually have a wine cask. It's harder than the sherry, and there's a proper clay note in here, like river bed clay. Dried hibiscus flowers, baby's breath (maybe even baby sick again), evaporated red wine and a snuffed candle.

Body - This is where this whisky really shines, and it is really hard to say why it's so good without using words that I've used elsewhere but meant it less. It's the vanilla, it's like an "Eat" Victoria sponge slice, with candied oranges slices and angelica but for some reason it really, really works. One taste and you start googling a backup bottle.

Finish - Ripe, a little sulphur, more cake, lots of fruit. Fizzing with the ghostly notes from the 18 at the top and a touch of heat from the sulphur, then extra strong mints which bring you back for more.

I hesitated with the extra + but it really is that good. Ripe, lots of fruit, but totally balanced with the clay and a quite ferocious menthol numbing finish.

I kept a leftover sample from last year's Campbeltown festival where we tried vatting samples of this Longrow in multiple tastings. I was very impressed with that then, but this has sat around for ages since. Notes published before.  So just for fun…

Nose - it's sweeter, slightly more medicinal and more berried. It's waxy, but more birthday candles (prelude to that sponge slide perhaps) than clay.

Body - Hotter and more ordinary, a bit more gunpowder and cardboard. Cranberry.

Finish - More bitter, hotter pepper.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Springbank Local Barley 2017 edition

The third (sort of) yearly release for the local barleys – of 5.  The first one was released in February 2016, the second in February 2017, both of the previous years were characterful and excellent whiskies, I believe the first one will be the oldest of the whole set. 

Springbank Local Barley, 10 years old, 57.3% A⊕

Belgravia barley from West Backs Farm, June 2007 to November 2017, 9000 bottles

springbank-10-year-old-local-barley-whiskyNose - Coffee and a little butyric at first glance, then lots of wax, royal icing and pine needles (ahem). Underneath, waxy cask, quite hard but with red fruits and buttercream. Dominantly creamy and waxy, none of the brimstone of young Springbank and a rather beguiling chalkiness. The coffee becomes danker, slightly oily with water.

Body - Sweet, but balanced with absolutely classic Springbank oils, a touch of marzipan, gunpowder and Shreddies. Fruitier and dustier with water, much more of the character of the 18 year old, and a really delicious development, very sippable.

Finish - Medium to short, peppery at first with liquorice imps, green apple and that butyric note back at the end. Softer but more cereal and pepper with water, wet oak and a touch of chilli pepper at the end.

I'm very pleased with this year's LB, it's got class and maturity, but really spiky and interesting to match its age, and very in character for a flagship official Springbank release. Hope you got yours!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Cadenhead’s end of 2017 Small Batch

One last batch before the end of the 175th anniversary, some great ones here.  The Dufftown is a real smasher.

Thank you Cadenhead’s for an absolutely epic year of whiskies.  It’s been very expensive but you’ve set me up for life!

Strathclyde 28 years old, 46% A

Strathclyde 28 46 V -750x1000Nose - Gentle, creamy, a little caramel and good dusty, charred wood with a solid fruit backbone. It's a cross between hand soap and mature cask, very feminine and perfumed, with flashes of wax and char.

Body - Soft lemon sherbet and a fresh bouquet of flowers, extremely easy drinking with orange squash and cut oranges.

Finish - A very long and gentle delivery, just the most polite hints of grain character and wood. A little white wine and sherbet at the end.

This is the easiest drinking whisky I've tasted for a while, this would be a perfect poolside dram, late summer easy drinking. Well recommended.

Dufftown 10 years old, 56.8% A⊕

Dufftown 10 56.8 -750x1000Nose - Waxy, mineral, slightly butyric, apples on the turn, a little hot and sweaty. The wax pulls it together but it is quite… savoury. The fruit deepens and sweetens with time, water further accentuates the wax.

Body - Big, rich, with a real complexity and maturity way beyond 10, that funky note is a little like the cheesy elements you get in really old whisky. Oaked chardonnay, but slightly hot (verging on the ammonia in blue cheese). Water softens the ammonia, and brings a more complex cask, slightly charred and plenty of lacquer.

Finish - Long and peppery, with lots of oil and deep fruit - blackberry and baked apple. Waxed furniture and pear drops at the very end.

A really complex, interesting and delicious whisky at such a tender age! Very impressive.

Glenburgie 13 years old, 54.7% B+

Glenburgie 13 54.7-750x1000Nose - Musky and a lot more restrained than the Dufftown, this has the middle knocked out and is a lot more elegant, with cut grass, washing up liquid, snapped crayon and a little cigar wrapper. Whistle pops with water.

Body - Simple compared to the fireworks of the Dufftown, with clean apple, candy cigarettes and a touch of chewed liquorice root. More fruit and wood spills with water.

Finish - Medium long with Werther's originals and aging chilli flakes. Very peppery at the end.

Quite ordinary after the Dufftown and following on the heels from the rest of the year's Glenburgies, although a decent drinker.

Mannochmore 20 years old, 52.7% A+'

M_More 29 52.7 -750x1000Nose - Fresh with furniture polish and bright cask, but also oranges beginning to mould and old cut oak. Fungicidal cream, in a good way. The fruit is complex and intriguing, but it gives way to cream if you push on it too hard.

Body - Sweet, balancing wood, a touch of Sangria/mulled wine with walnuts in toffee. Another one with real age on it, but real structure too.

Finish - Quite a bit of chilli heat, almost peppered biltong. There's lacquered wood behind that, dusty oranges and charred wood.

A really robust, important whisky, bordering on blustering. I'm scoring this lower than the Dufftown as it's just less fun to drink, but it's a really good taster.

Strathmill 24 years old, 50.3% A-

Strathmill 24 50.3 -750x1000Nose - Very waxy, green apple sweets and baked apples, with lots of nougat in rice paper and just a little parkin.

Body - Extremely drinkable, a gentle introduction of tobacco and baked apples, something slightly fetid (bong water?), it seems to build structure the more you sip it though. More cigarette paper than cigarette with water (liquorice papers?).

Finish - Rollies with warm white wine and Haribo – reminds me of university. A thoroughly sweet backbone carries this whisky well to the end.

Complex and a little challenging, this is very interesting but I think I'm more in the mood for fun whisky.

Glen Grant 24 years old, 45.9% A+

Glen Grant 24 45.9 -750x1000Nose - Acrylic paint, clumped and quite thick, with a really deep, lacquered wood behind it and lots of apricot jelly sweets. The fruit here is absolutely delicious.

Body - Clean and fruity but it has a rather ordinary cereal leading edge at first. This then develops into something like marmalade, but it's less robust than that.

Finish - Medium short with ripe fruit and slow developing charred wood and pepper.

This is an accomplished, gentle whisky with good character. I've drunk a lot of good, old indie Glen Grant in the last few years and I'm not usually blown away, and delicious though this is, it's no exception.

Linkwood 24 years old, 52.9% A+

Linkwood 24 50.9 -750x1000Nose - Big and rich, this has mint toffee, liquorice imps, buttercream, old candle wax and yesterday's charred wood chunks. Apple chews and spent coffee grounds with water.

Body - Gentle with coffee, ants, Hershey's chocolate and chewed pencils. Mouth filling fruits and chocolates filled with soft toffee with water.

Finish - Seville oranges, fence panels. Big tannins at the end, and Mexican hot chocolate, maybe coffee with water. Numbing wood oils at the very end.

Tasty but slightly too blustering and unstructured for me.

Bunnahabhain 27 years old, 42.6% A⊕

Bunn 27 42.6-750x1000Nose - Thick, intense, medicinal and white, with chalk, mint bonbons, white gloss paint, lilies and a slightly swiney crackling and pork note.

Body - Soft and alien, gentle peat and dusty wood, pizza dough and clay. It's a slightly unreal delivery; chalk and carbon in charge, lots of gentle, sweet, toffeed fruit backing it up.

Finish - Very gentle, quite short with a touch of coffee and chocolate sponge, hazelnut icing. No water of course, this is on the cusp of aging out.

Meaty, quite weird and very old, this is one of those haunting whiskies that more rightly deserves to be seen off out of a large tumbler by a roaring fire.

Glenlossie 42 years old, 44.2% A⊕

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glenlossieNose - Deep, polite but intense. Toffee apples smashed onto whisky soaked staves, a really bright (if understated) old cask lacquer, and hazelnut membranes. Pork, sandalwood joss sticks and smouldering smoker pellets with water.

Body - Extremely gentle… but it's biscuity, funky and slightly charred, with smashed coconut, caught coconut biscuits, mature cheddar and fruit and nut chocolate. All wood with water, some rice vinegar and cider ice lollies.

Finish - Short at first but it builds, with raisins, flashes of sulphur, charred dried apricots and red currant glaze. Overpowering wood tannins at the end, as is to be expected.

Big, old stuff. Moments away from oblivion.

Glengoyne 21 year old, 52.9% A⊕

Chateau Laffite cask since 2009

Glengoyne 21 52.9 -750x1000Nose - Slightly sharp and nutty, this is older, sharding gloss paint. Underneath there's toasted hazelnuts and chocolate chips. There's a vinegar to this though, a refill wine feel. After sipping, there's more of an orange juice and peel thing behind the nuttiness.

Body - Sweet and sour, with pickled walnuts, fried parsley and a really lovely rich, savoury mouthfeel. Again, on second sip the oranges come out, and it's practically Asian in its fruitiness.

Finish - Long, surprisingly fresh. The wine cask has had an unexpectedly delicious and sweet effect on this whisky. Reminds me of a hot, warmly spiced samosa on a winter high street.

Phenomenally drinkable, I had high hopes here but the massive sweetshop, orangey sweetness under the wine cask surpassed them.

Pulteney 11 years old, 55.8% A-

Pulteney 11 55.8 -450x600Nose - Distinctly salty, with courgette flowers pulled apart and that lovely, sweet, cereal led coastal quality that makes OP so moreish. Raw apple jelly cubes, bandages and more jelly sweets.

Body - Immediately delicious, this has fractured caramel (toffee apple), alka seltzer and apple pie. It's full of baked goods and laundry, and a whole bag of granulated sugar.

Finish - Long and fizzing, plenty of sugar. Palate bending amounts of sugar actually, although it's tolerable due to the nose and the desire to go back there.

The nose was fantastic here but the delivery just overpowered me. I wanted to like this more than I did.

Cadenhead's Creations, Light Fruity Smoky, Vatted Malt, 20 years old, 45.2% A⊕'

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vattedNose - Light, fruity, dusty… erm, smoky! There's that chalky, dry Longrow in here, reminds me of the 21 year old from the festival a couple of years ago. Coffee granules and old rolling tobacco.

Body - Dusty and very old Longrow, with chalk, cocoa powder and lots of minerality. There's a hint of tropicality behind this, ripe mango slices.

Finish - Medium with banana milkshake powder and mild chilli powder. Powdered egg at the end.

Light, fruity, dusty more like. This is a beguiling whisky. I know it wasn't massively popular at the London tasting but I'm a big fan. There's a huge chunk of Campbeltown in this one.

Happy Christmas Smile