Thursday, 7 March 2019

Cadenhead's Spring 2019 Authentic Collection

I still can’t sensibly publish photos with this thing.  I suspect google may abandon blogger.com altogether shortly.

Tomatin 9yo (2009) 60.1%: HHD B

Nose - Hard with cold pears, pear drops and vanilla buttercream. That cakiness develops into acrylic paint and strawberry jelly with cream. More fruit, more cream with water, finally some proper cask (shaved, slightly waxed).

Body - Rock hard, slightly burnt, with boiled sweets and yesterday's gloss paint. Much sweeter with water, still burnt and cereal.

Finish - Short with crushed ice, new plastic and a little chocolate muffin. Saccharin sweet with water.

A hard, young, tiring whisky. Maybe I shouldn't have started with it, I don't usually love young Tomatin though.

Balmenach-Glenlivet 14yo (2004) 54.9%: HHD A+

Nose - Much more like it, a deeper feel already, with sour fruit top notes, furniture polish - rose water spilled on a polished table (or maybe Turkish delight). A touch of leather with water.

Body - Ripe and perfumed, but with excellent fizzing wood contrast to the pink rose character. Softly sweet. Drier with water, even more balance.

Finish - Long and overripe again, tea tannins balance perfectly at the end, bringing you back for the next sip.

An extremely well judged whisky. Great structure, that lovely rose character and good fruit, perfume and wood balance.

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 16yo (2002) 55.2%: HHD A'

Nose - Boiled sweets, fruit polos? Torn laurel leaves, hot water crust, a little leatherette. Very gentle, quite wine-like though with a touch of the distillery visitors centre.

Body - Off dry, slightly burnt underneath, retronasal salted caramel. Very oiled, quite a classy balance of sugar, wax and cask.

Finish - Long and peppery, fruit oils are building though. Liquorice root at the end.

A subtle and undemanding whisky that builds complexity and black pepper and liquorice as you sip it. Quite rewarding, if unconventional.

Arran 22yo (1996) 49.6%: HHD A-

Nose - It's verging on "big" but the balance is there, it plays around with tropical. There's gentle fruit toffee, a lovely old bourbon cask, proper fruit polos now and a little banana Nesquik.

Body - Unexpected - coffee, cocoa powder, charcoal, sawdust, salted McCoys crisps. A much bigger wood influence than I was expecting and hoping for, much drier and it drowns out the fruit.

Finish - Medium, more Hershey's-like chocolate, with hazelnuts and roasted lemon shells at the end.

I was ready to raise my "important whisky" flag but this swerved it massively in the delivery. The fruit is struggling to emerge from all that wood unfortunately. A shame.

Glenallachie-Glenlivet 26yo (1992) 54.8%: HHD A⊕+

Nose - Another big nose, slightly sweaty this one but lots of baked citrus, some plum and hoppy beer. Deep orchard fruit too - ripe cut green apple and baked Bramleys.

Body - Beautifully soft with candy cigarettes, tropical cask (mango smoothie) and marijuana smoke.

Finish - Medium, creamy and well poised. Some hot chocolate at the end, with a slug of Amarula in it.

This is an important whisky.

Miltonduff 9yo (2009) 62.0%%: Brl (Jamaican Rum Cask since Oct '14) A+'

Nose - More beautiful fruit, with linseed oil, lots of candle wax and acrylic paints. Extremely oily in fact. The rum cask is rather obvious if you're looking for it (over a four year finish), but balances the spirit's fruit and the previous cask very nicely. The result is a big but balanced fruity and petrolly, characterful nose.

Body - Soft but sweet and sour with more wood oils, sherry vinegar and sherbet.

Finish - Short but oily, teases burnt plastic but the tannins and fruits work very well. Fly spray at the end.

I've just realised how young this is, it spent half its age in the rum cask - what a triumph this finish is.

Benriach-Glenlivet 10yo (2008) 56.0%: Madeira Cask (Dec '17) A+

Nose - A step down in intensity from the Miltonduff, I put this after it because of the wine. This has red berries, dried orange and rosemary, orange cream and sprayed furniture polish. It's quite christmassy but a little compressed.

Body - Expressive, oily and creamy. Cadbury's fruit and nut bars, boot polish. Flashes of tobacco.

Finish - Medium, with baked plums and frangipane. Great tannins too.

This turned out to be a soft, extremely toothsome and delicious whisky. Sort of chuggable actually.

Cooley 11yo (1992) 49.5%: Brl A⊕'

11 years old, as apparently you can only age Irish whisky in Ireland - and that's the age it came to Campbeltown.

Nose - Tobacco, then (and this time I'm really serious) the most intense fruit polos. It's so fruity, it's practically nail varnish on top of scented erasers. There's a formic, lacquered base to it though, like air fresheners over rotting fruit. There is, after sipping, an almost crotchy dirtiness to it too.

Body - So dark it's purple, a rotten peat with chocolate icing, blackcurrant starburst after some black jacks.

Finish - Medium to long, with hand soap and blackcurrant jam. Extremely ripe, then dusty chocolate at the end.

Ridiculous whisky, almost pornographic. My burps are now completely tropical.

Benrinnes 21yo (1997) 53.7%: Brl A⊕

I'm having to leave the Benrinnes to the end now as it keeps wrecking my palate\expectations with its tropical fruit and excellence.

Nose - Dusty, elegant cask, the kind of fruit driven, complex and balanced profile I'd expect. More damn fruit polos, posh unisex perfume, Seville orange ice cream.

Body - Ripe with rolling fruits and sugars, more ice cream, pronounced but correctly judged woods.

Finish - Peppery royal icing, liquorice imps and a little charred oak.

Another superb Benrinnes - it's actually a little less intense than some of the last few but restraint isn't a bad thing. The fruit is down a notch, the wood is up one.

Ardbeg 25yo (1993) 51.6%: HHD A+

Nose - Ghostly, dusty, sweet but breaded with sweet liquorice, blackcurrant tunes, E45 cream and mint matchmakers.

Body - Creamy but almost gone, dried sawdust and Vimto, a little cardboard. It really, really reminds me of cutting hedges, and burning them on a rainy day.

Finish - Peppered steak, maybe beef crisps. More mint chocolate, and hot wort.

I don't know why this feels so ancient, when its 51.6% and only 25 years old, but it does. The peat is 35+ year old Caol Ila level. I really like the bold, peppery character behind it, and this is very good (particularly the nose) but the delivery is a little too vegetal and damp to be luxurious. Having said that, to be that evocative is no mean feat and only the most haunting whiskies manage it.

Ardmore 8yo (2010) 54.2%: Sherry HHD (since Aug '17) A-

Nose - Ripe and waxed, with fountain pen ink and more chocolate cupcakes. Sandalwood.

Body - Sweet but sharp with chocolate milk and joss sticks. Lacking midrange.

Finish - Peppery with splints and cigar tobacco.

A little unfair to have this now but… a decent whisky if a little heavy on the sandalwood and chocolate.

The English Whisky Company 8yo (2010) 64.9%: HHD A+

Nose - Swimming pool, complex cask, sea shells and planed oak. The contrast between the sea and the oak is perfect.

Body - Reminds me of Kilchoman 100% Islay, with its cereal, lemon sherbet and nicely judged pastry peat.

Finish - Long with peppery peat, burnt wood.

By the numbers excellence from English Whisky, again.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Compass Box Stranger & Stranger

I’m still struggling to post to the platform I chose back in 2004!  But I’m still writing notes.

Compass Box, Stranger and Stranger, 46% A⊕+

Nose - Deep fruit and wax, slightly medicinal with a little bit of clove and antiseptic cream. The fruit is really very old - not totally tropical though, but loads of gravitas. Typically balanced and luxurious with that dusty alien note a little bit of weirdness to match the packaging.
Body - Soft and creamy, tiny licks of liquorice and charred sandalwood, lots of chocolate covered raisins and brazil nuts. Newly cut cedar wood.
Finish - Medium to short, Hershey's chocolate and a little PX sherry.

Dependably excellent, this is another superb bottling from Compass Box. I adore the balanced blend and whatever the wacky wood was that contributed 1%, it really lifts the overall whisky. Really luxurious and very interesting to drink.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Cadenheads January 2019

This has taken a while.  The tool I use to write these posts has stopped working, so I’m a bit stuffed for uploading images.  So I’m just posting this without images for now. 

I need to move to a different platform but I really have better things to do than a big website migration!  Anyway, I hope it’s of use.

Benriach-Glenlivet 10yo (2008) 57.6%: 2 x HHD A+

Nose - Young and orchardy, with new emulsion paint and a fruity, zesty, exciting character. Creamy and perfumed.

Body - Deeply sweet right at the front but then that quickly balances to a much more savoury character, like a pear and chorizo pastry. Some pear drops, actually.

Finish - More sweetshop, some cloudy apple juice. Short and peppery after that with a touch of chilli.

Youthful but balanced by quite an elegantly savoury character and good fruits in the delivery.

Bruichladdich 30yo (1988) 48.9%: HHD A⊕

Nose - Creamy and mineral, with a deep seated but very softly spoken cask; ghostly tropical fruits, cigarette smoke, whistle pops. Something sort of medicinal in the air too, a cross between fungicidal cream and kids toothpaste. Old school and understated.

Body - Charred oak, new balloons, liquorice imps and the sherbet dib-dab-dibber. Candy cigarettes.

Finish - Medium to long and more citrussy fizzing than fruity. Peppery tannins and wax at the end.

Very grown up, very refill bourbon. A classy sipper for the garden.

Benrinnes 18yo (2000) 57.5%: 4 x Brl A⊕

Nose - Bigger and even more old school than the laddie, with a more robust, and more complete character but it's definitely less refined. More cigarettes, more liquorice and a bright tropicality.

Body - Bright, lots of fruit, bitter wood though and something like a lemon curd. Pineapple cubes.

Finish - Very long with creamy fruits and mint bonbons. It reminds me of the syrup around glace cherries.

A big fruit bomb of a whisky, as expected. Very dependable distillery from Cadenhead's.

Bunnahabhain 9yo (2009) 58.9%: 2 x HHD B+

Nose - Lemon cheesecake, cough candy and those French coconut and meringue balls. Warm, baked complexity drives through the zesty youth.

Body - Sweetshoppy, yet a very pulled punch. Fizzing on the lips, cardboard, a little formic.

Finish - Long and intensely sweet on the tip of the tongue, if hollow elsewhere.

A potentially great balance of baked and citrus let down by it being a little bit of an anti-climax.

Cameronbridge 34yo (1984) 52.8%: Brl A⊕+

Nose - Bright, beautiful fruit, with real depth and an almost porky fat to it. Jewelled fruit syrup, complex and varnished woods. Somewhere between lipstick, Pringles and linseed oil.

Body - Fruit polos. Cigarette tobacco. There's a Chinese fruit/sugar/tannin/chilli thing going on here.

Finish - Long with an insistent fruit; gentle and creamy but quite alien.

Utterly delicious, weird and wonderful in that way the best grains sometimes are.

Craigellachie-Glenlivet 9yo (2009) 55.1%: 2 x HHD A⊕

Nose - Super confident this one; waxed paper and drumsticks (sweets), starburst sweets and rhubarb and custards.

Body - A wonderful off dry, burnt fruit delivery - quite unexpected from the nose and much more grown up than I was expecting.

Finish - Short and dusty, like a much older whisky. Oily at the end.

A complicated, burnt and dry-yet-fruity whisky. Challenging and still luxurious.

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 9yo (2009) 65.3%: 3 x HHD A+

Nose - Attack of the young fruity bourbon casks! Even sweeter and brighter than the others, like a jelly sweet in a hot toddler's hand. Cocktail territory.

Body - Oily boiled sweets, like a cherry tune but without the medicinality. Extremely drinkable.

Finish - Medium - the fruit is overblown and almost dirty now, but the peppery tannins make me want more.

Only vague hints at the age on this one, a robust and compelling drammer.

Ord 10yo (2008) 57.7%: 2 x HHD A+

Nose - Waxy, sweet sour, slightly burnt plastic and grapefruit segments. A little musky, cold cut oak. Strawberry laces.

Body - Dry with matchsticks (the wood, not the chocolate), refreshers and orange powder.

Finish - Long and sickly-citrus-sweet, lots of oils and hints of coffee granules.

Another excellent off-dry drammer. I love the hot citrus oils in this, and the nose is very grown up and elegant. Wonderful stuff.

Port Dundas 30yo (1988) 51.3%: HHD A-

Nose - Bright, clean, green apple. Fruit toffee, cold custard and just a little coffee. Something burnt in among the sugar.

Body - A creamy grain, with salted caramel and Horlicks ice cream (try it). Peppery.

Finish - Long and deep, intensely sweet and still a little charred; tart tatin and struck flints.

A big, creamy whisky, obviously grainy but lacking some luxury and integration (given the age).

Tomatin 10yo (2008) 55.5%: 3 x HHD A

Nose - Hard and young, lemon slices and cold apple, praline. Friable pastry, and just a tiny amount of crushed Fizzers. Maybe some ripe pear too.

Body - Much sweeter and cleaner than I was expecting, much fruitier and very delicious.

Finish - Medium, gently fruited with love hearts and lemonade.

A younger presentation but very interesting for it. A sweeping, peppery but sweet and refreshing delivery after the rather clumsy nose.

Tullibardine 25yo (1993) 43.2%: HHD B+

Nose - Fresh and fruity, then marzipan and Milliput. Sandy, clarty and slightly petrolly, this smells like almonds, shortbread and beaches. And flat cola.

Body - Green papaya, cream soda sweets and Mr. Kipling French Fancies.

Finish - Short and more of that fake vanilla cream, and some of yesterday's charred wood.

This is seriously odd, it doesn't really work for me.

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.