Monday, 30 December 2013

Glenfarclas 40 and a random flight

Advent Calendar 24/24!

I must say the advent calendar has been as interesting and educational as I’d hoped, but it’s been almost hard work keeping up with the damn thing.  The final sample is the Glenfarclas 40 year old, a quite sublime whisky and as old as any I’ve ever tasted.

I’ve waiting until now to try this as I had a power cut and frankly, its been a bit end of days round these parts.  My palate has only just recovered from the shock! 

I thought I’d preface the 40 with a couple of other Glenfarclas I have in stock.

Glenfarclas 2003, The W Club Launch, 46% B⊕

glen2003-whiskysss

Nose – Tight rum and raisin, rich dried figs.  Brightly sweet, wet varnish.  Sweet pine resin, marker pen and the sweet top note of petrol.  A slightly sulphurous back note.  Pleasant but obvious (the tone of the whisky, not the sulphur - which is fine).

Body – Spicy wood, chilli, less sweet than the nose suggests.  Less rich also, a bit artificial.  The balance is a little off - too sweet.

Finish – Short, uncomplicated, otherwise unflawed.  Slightly sulphurous backing with well integrated plan oak.  Lingering oily raisin and wood is very pleasant.


What's not good about it:
Obvious rum and raisin, un-interesting body and quite short finish.  Lacks complexity and elegance.

What’s good about it:  Does what is says on the tin.  Well balanced, deep nose, young, chocolaty.

Glenfarclas 28 yo, SMWS 1.168 (Delightfully Dulcet Deliciousity), 53.3% A⊕

28737-large

Thanks for Johnnie Stumbler (gentleman, scholar, etc) for a drop of this stunner.  As the SMWS advertise, these single casks bear no relation to the distillery’s core range.  This seems a perfect advert for the SMWS, bearing Glenfarclas’ DNA but hardly recognisable as such.  Its also amazing.

Nose – Deep yet bright. Ripe cherry, almonds, a little marker pen with a light, cereal backing. Strawberry jam on shortbread.  Wonderfully light, refreshing red fruit over the top of it all – underneath a sultry, musky backbone.

Body – Rich, fruitily spiced cereal.  Bright and sweet with an unfaltering base of ripe, matured and very natural malt.  Stunning, plus strawberry burps.

Finish – Long, wooded, more malt.  Strays into bitterness briefly before returning with sweet, oily malt and lingering almonds.


What's not good about it:  Finish just falters with that bitterness – momentarily unbalanced.

What’s good about it:  Stunning nose, use of strawberries, incredible integration, intensely fruity yet beautifully balanced, no off notes whatsoever.  I’ll be keeping an eye out for this at auction.

Glenfarclas 40 year old, 46% A⊕+

Glenfarclas40

This has more in common with the W Club bottling than the SMWS, although it is, of course, significantly more mature.

Nose – Deep but light, extremely smooth.  Some light Mexican spice.  Deep, stewed plums (no sharpness, just the mellowed body).  The dark mellow fruit is perfectly balanced by that Glenfarclas sherry oak.  There’s also a chew/fruit salad/wham bar edge to it that’s deeply sweet and tropical - all backed by leather and ancient varnished wood.  A little musk, dark rich and fruity, marker pens and lychees.  Wow.

Body – Rich, creamy, extremely smooth oily wood.  Raisin halo, chocolate and malt.  Deeply luxurious.

Finish – Long, chocolate and raisins like a fruit and nut bar.  Orange zest.  Rinses down into milk chocolate and glace cherries.


What's not good about it: Nothing, unless you don’t like this style.

What’s good about it:  Bright, balanced, rich nose.  Incredibly chocolatey.  Well integrated and smooth, but doesn’t lack structure.  Smooth, well integrated wood tannins on the palate.  Deep, long, wooded finish.  Just stunning. 

Thanks Master of Malt for the education. 

Friday, 27 December 2013

Yamazaki 12 year old

Advent Calendar 23/24.  I tasted this on day one of a 4 day power cut that certainly took the edge off xmas!  What a nightmare.  So these notes are late, but I had no power to light up the computer to post it.  And the experience was so unpleasant I’m not in the mood to try what was in the 24th, which I’m seriously looking forward to.  Anyway, I did enjoy this – I’ve had it before but lost my notes.

Yamazaki 12 year old, 43% A+

yamazaki-12-year-old-whisky

Nose – Candy sweet, with blood orange and spray furniture polish.   Dark cereal and chocolate.  Immediately impressive, then lacking complexity and rather too sweet.  But then the lovely orange note wins you back a bit.

Body – Deep, rich malt., beautiful integration with a kiss of smoke with the orange zest and bitter wood.  Dark, bookcasey complexity underneath.    Rich, citrusy and delicious. 

Finish – Drops into sharp wood, finale of orange zest and grapefruit.


What's not good about it: Finish too short, nose just on the wrong side of sweet.

What’s good about it:  But otherwise beautiful.  Seriously good delivery on the palate.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Glenfiddich 15 years old Distillery Edition

Advent Calendar 22/24.  This is an old favourite that I picked out of a police line-up a while ago as my favourite Glenfiddich. My tastes have moved on a bit since then though and this seems a little more robust that it perhaps once used to, but still a good pick and great value.

Glenfiddich 15 years old Distillery Edition, 51% A+

gfdob.15yov1 (1)

Nose – Fresh but rich.  Honeyed apples, a little cereal edge providing structure to a lightly sherried profile. Sweet and well balanced.

Body – Spicy, firmly and brightly wooded, boldly malted.  A honeyed, cereal delivery.

Finish – Long and sweet.  Loads of cough candy and a lingering pear and wood bitterness. 


What's not good about it: Quite bright, sharp and sweet.  Reasonably challenging and a really structured malt, which lacks a little opulence.

What’s good about it:  Really fabulous nose, very sweet and balanced but with depth and freshness. Long, interesting finish, good fruit and a good balancing wood spice and structure.

Scapa 16 year old

Advent Calendar 21/24.  Never had a Scapa before. 

Scapa 16 year old, 40% A-

Scapa_16_Years_4d78a6772a387

Nose – Light, fresh, a little burnt orange marmalade, loads of mellow orange citrus and grapefruit, cream and malt.  Buttered toast.  Very pleasant, sweet and fruity.

Body – Creamy, more mellow fruit, very smooth but then with a touch of raw malt and a little spicy wood midway.

Finish – Ripe, structured, balanced – medium/long length.  Some more citrus.  Long malt at the finish.


What's not good about it:  The wood spice is a little high in the mix.  Not massively exciting – a little polite but without the elegance that needs.

What’s good about it:  Fruity, sweet, great malt.  Sweet and balanced delivery.  Finish is fine.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Johnnie Walker 18 year old Platinum Label

Advent Calendar 20/24.  This came out of the calendar on the day I visited the SMWS rooms in Greville Street and had my mind opened by a happy range of single cask blockbusters.  I think 2014 is going to be very interesting!  This ones alright though – I tasted it at the Whisky Show and thought a bit more of it than I do now.

Johnnie Walker 18 year old Platinum Label, 40% A-

blend_joh103

Nose – Classical, fruity, waxed, then deeply and beautifully waxed, but with a smoky dustiness (like barley dust) that catches a little and reduces the opulence a touch. At first absolutely beautiful but deeper investigation reduces the charm.

Body – More classicism, deftly balanced peat.  Polite, refreshing, nicely fruity, characterful but not exactly complex.

Finish – Functional.  Wood rapidly dominates with chilli and bitterness, and the balance of the whole falls apart.


What's not good about it: Nose is dusty and the balance goes downhill from the nose.

What’s good about it:  Smooth, pleasant, classic profile and easy drinking.

Auchentoshan Three Wood

Advent Calendar 19/24.  I’m a little behind again due to the logistics of the hangover season.  Even if the body is tired, the palate is still having fun with the calendar.  Another distillery under the microscope…

Auchentoshan Three Wood, 43% A⊕

auchentoshan-three-wood-lowland-single-malt-scotch-whisky-70cl-43-abv

Matured in three different casks – PX, Oloroso and bourbon.  Beautiful colour.

Nose – Musky coffee, darkly sweet, a herby quality.  Slowly reveals deep, dark fruit with cherries and rich wood.  Some bakewell tart.  Takes a while to open up and reveal itself. A dark, complicated and delicious nose.

Body – Rich mince pie with brandy butter.  Dried cherries, plum, raisin and almonds.  Silky, smooth, fiery and intensely rich.

Finish – Balanced, smooth and sweet finish.  Quite hot, medium length.

What's not good about it: A little overt.  Finish lacks complexity.

What’s good about it: Beautiful nose, deliciously sweet, rich palate.  Deeply rich and smooth, incredible value.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Yellow Spot 12 year old

Advent Calendar 18/24.  Only a week until the big day!  I’ve been avoiding Irish whisky for the same reason that I’ve been avoiding posh gin.  I don’t need another obsession, and there’s only so much hard liquor that you can drink on a school night.  Still, needs must…

Yellow Spot 12 year old, 46% A+

Yellow Spot Whiskey

Aged in bourbon, Spanish sherry and Malaga wine casks.

Nose – Deeply rich and sherried, loads of dried apricots and dark mango.  A hint of butane.  Lightly spiced dark wood and bright notes of perfume and fresh wax.  Fantastically balanced.

Body – Sweet, tropical, and then a massive spice onslaught.  Very good, loads of wood structure and fruit.

Finish – Lingering tropical fruit, more wood spice and chilli.  Plenty of richness and complexity – floral, honeyed, spicy and complex with a herbal greenness behind that.   Right at the end this does wash away to leave a perfumed bitterness.

What's not good about it: A touch too spicy, lacks some finesse

What’s good about it:  Fabulous nose, loads of intensity and richness, smooth but bold.  Lovely.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Glenlivet Nadurra 16 year old

Advent Calendar 17/24.  Nadurra is another I’ve tried before and have given the same score to now.  I’m a fan of Glenlivet and this is a good one, particularly in the nose (where all the action is anyway).

Glenlivet Nadurra 16 year old, 55.5% A+

230484372

Nose – Complex, well balanced tropical, floral, candlewax and fresh wood.  A little air freshener or anti-perspirant.  Rich, cereal backing, dried figs, beautifully integrated malt.  Beautiful, well made and rich.

Body – Dark, very spicy, deeply malted, rich and balanced.  Hard to fault.

Finish – Continues, then develops into a less balanced, sweeter malt where the cereal dominates.


What's not good about it: Finish is a little short and sharp.

What’s good about it:  Beautiful nose, rich spicy palate.  Delicious and well structured.

Balvenie Caribbean Cask

Advent Calendar 16/24.  Another repeat tasting, but not one that I’m sorry to undertake.  This was my favourite in a blind vertical of Balvenies, but that was faint praise.  Hopefully time and education will have opened my mind to this well respected, rum finished whisky.

Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask, 43% B⊕

SP-Balvenie-Carib-Rum-Cask-14

Nose – Honeyed, darkly malted fruit.  Rich, peppery, dark wood and roses – almost meaty.  But very nice.

Body – Sweet, smooth, lacking a little structure.  A plain malt but pleasant enough.

Finish – Short, malty, a bit watery, a backing of spicy malt.  Lacks balance – not that its too sweet, but that it tips into bitter wood too far at the end with no transition.


 

What's not good about it: Lacking structure, too smooth and short, falters at the end.

What’s good about it:  Very pleasant drinking throughout, good malty sweetness, nothing off-putting.

Dalmore 18 year old

Advent Calendar 15/24.  I’ve never had a Dalmore before, despite viewing many sweating bottles that cost multiple thousands of pounds under hot LED lamps in the Whisky Shop.  I have to say, on that basis alone I’m more of a Whisky Broker than a Dalmore man.

Dalmore 18 year old, 43% C

dalmore-18-year-old-whisky

Nose – Sour sherry, sweet malt, wet leather, old raisins.  A damp, wooden nose with a clumsy sherry belt.  There is richness and depth but without balance.  This damp taint doesn’t count for much.

Body – Sweet, the sweet malt, a bright, sour note.  Some chilli spice with wood.  Initially pleasant but then it unravels. 

Finish – Lingering sweetness and quite a lot of depth, then a faint, but sudden sulphurous taint which goes quickly but the reappears, further muted, later.

What's not good about it: One-dimensional, unbalanced, sour nose and that sulphurous taint.

What’s good about it:  Good palate, malty richness.


Monday, 16 December 2013

Tomintoul 14 year old

Advent Calendar 14/24.  This is my first taste of Tomintoul, amazingly.  It won’t be my last.  The advent calendar is certainly paying dividends.

Tomintoul 14 year old, 46%, A⊕

414-3002700-14P04TSA_M

Nose – Gently bright, some cereal sourness, lightly waxed, warm fruit and elegant malt.  Mango cordial, vanilla and floral, sweet and carefully structured.  Lovely.

Body – Clean, light wood, fresh mango and fruit, creamy oak. 

Finish – Long and structured, creamy fruit, gives way to structured, fizzy wood.  Very well balanced.

What's not good about it: Nose is initially too light but rewards further digging. 

What’s good about it:  Elegant, sure footed, beautiful to drink.  Excellent whisky – well made and a real pleasure.

This reminds me massively of the Arran 14, and the way in which its a bit better is complicated.  Its just more confident, less overt, a bit more elegant and that little bit more rewarding.  Compared to the Arran 14 – the nose is less chocolaty, more overtly fruity and brighter, but still with a similar malt richness and fruit backing.  The nose on the Arran is a bit better as its more intense.  Both are beautiful to drink.  On the palate, this is more elegant, less rich, just as structured and fizzy.  Both are fruity, well balanced and delicious but this Tomintoul is just that little bit more floral and accomplished..

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Balcones Single Malt and a quick vertical

Advent Calendar 13/24.  I’ve been considering a Balcones vertical for a while, so the inclusion of the single malt in the advent calendar encouraged this quick flight.  Thanks to Scott Munro for the other two samples!

Balcones Single Malt, 53% A

balcones-texas-single-malt-whisky-big

Nose – Fresh, sherried, furniture polish, red apple, some musty wood behind this and a little ground almond.  Very good – just holding back from being a tropical assault. 

Body – Very spicy, immediate hit of barley and cereal sourness.  A deep malt sweetness, sharp wood at the side of the palate.

Finish – Very hot, quite long, well structured but lacking a little richness.


What's not good about it: Nose indicates a fruit bomb which isn’t delivered.  That’s just expectation management.  A little lacking in richness perhaps?

What’s good about it: Fantastic nose, loads of structure, bold, different and well made.

Balcones Baby Blue 100% Corn Whisky, 46% A+

Baby Blue-new label

Nose – Deep, rich, waxed fruit.  Really smooth, quite creamy, banana and green apple with only muted brightnesss – no off-putting sour, over-ripe or sharp notes.  Yet very ripe, balanced and moreish.

Body – Deeply sweet (the sweetness is deep rather than bright), corny, rich and malty.  Very, very smooth, but still has enough fire, spice and structure to balanced the corn sweetness.  Lovely.

Finish – A little fizzing. Ripe, medium finish.  Well balanced and smooth.  Lingering newly cut oak.


What's not good about it: Could do with more structure, just a little, plus a bit of a longer finish. 

What’s good about it: Really complex, ripe, full and rich and seriously delicious.

Balcones Brimstone, 53% A+

BrimstoneScrub oak smoked corn whisky – the whisky itself is smoked, rather than the grains.  No idea how.  This is Texan BBQ in a whisky.

Nose – Oak smoke, the inside of the lid of a Weber Smoky Mountain.  Ash, fireplace, underneath lurks marker pen, wet charred tree and burning oak, and some fresh, dry oak.  Oddly tropical and delicious.  Liquid BBQ competition.

Body – Initially malty sweet, then like licking sandalwood joss sticks.  Deeply aromatic and perfumed, totally remarkable.

Finish – Like sucking sandalwood joss sticks.  Numbing.  Long and bold, but surprisingly balanced.  Then a whole raft of Mexican things, like agave, tequila, Mescal and roasted grasshoppers.

What's not good about it: Not exactly approachable, and not what you’d expect from “whisky”.  Not sure when I’d go for this if I owned a bottle.

What’s good about it:  Fascinating, beautifully balanced, evocative, zero off notes, very well made – long, odd and beautiful. 

Friday, 13 December 2013

Arkwright’s Festive Five Tweet Tasting

Quite an unusual line up this time, with the brown stuff from five different countries blind tasted with a surprisingly cognisant group of tasters. 

  1. Hibiki 12 year old – Japan
  2. Penderyn Sherry Wood – Wales
  3. Glendronach 15 year old – Scotland
  4. Amrut Kadhambam – India
  5. Heartwood Release the Beast – Australia

download (2)

Evan Williams Single Barrel 2003 Vintage

Advent Calendar 12/24.  Midway through, a quite ordinary bourbon at first blush but does develop with some perseverance. 

Evan Williams Single Barrel 2003 Vintage, 43.3% A-

evan-williams-single-barrel-2003-vintage-whiskey

Nose – Wooded honey, raisin, demerara sugar.  Depth is an issue – feels like its about to go somewhere but doesn’t get there.  Then some crayons and sherry depth.  Pleasant but ordinary.  The one-dimensionality that Smooth Ambler isn’t, but perfectly pleasant.

Body – Sweet, then rich, then perfumed, then spicy, then toffee malt, then sharp oak water.

Finish – Pleasantly spicy oak, washes away to leave very lovely, honeyed malt.  Great landing.


What's not good about it: Almost an ordinary bourbon.  Palate is unbalanced.

What’s good about it: Smooth, tasty, good finish.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Adnams Whisky

Adnams brewery are a well awarded spirits distiller as well as beer creators and architect of many of my most hopped hangovers.  Three years ago they started distilling whisky proper, and now the results are just old enough to be called whisky.  The first ever batch from this distillery been released as a limited edition.

Adnams Single Malt #1, 43% C+

12_03_13_adnamwhiskey_3

Nose – Raw, toasted barley.  A little butane.  A powdery deodorant edge.  Grain, toast, granite.  Functional.

Body – Raw barley comes through again but with lush malt  honey in the wings.  Some plastic cement. Cough medicine.

Finish – Smooth, creamy finish.  Surprisingly long, good wood backing.  Promising.


What's not good about it: Painfully young.  Poor nose.  Raw cereal.

What’s good about it: Promising sweetness, good finish. 

Adnams Triple Grain #2, 43%, B⊖

610306.20131205094002

Made with malted barley, oats and wheat.

Nose – Austere, light but lurking fruit.   A floral edge, almost soapy.  Go digging and there’s a background of tropical fruit and wallpaper paste.  Subtle but curiously pleasant.

Body – Raw cereal again, but suddenly smooth (wheat influence, apparently).  There’s a red fruit dimension and a little chocolate and a little swimming pool, but not in a very good way.

Finish – Again, quite long, this time quite balanced with an undercurrant of tropical fruit.  The constant raw, young cereal is a bit of a cross to bear though.  Taste like distilled, unhopped beer!


What's not good about it: Clumsy and unbalanced.  Raw.

What’s good about it: Great finish given its sins, like the lurking sweetness.  Very interesting.

Adnams Spirit of Broadside, 43% A

AdnamsTheSpiritofBroadside

Finally, I couldn’t resist a drop of this anomaly.  This isn’t whisky, its distilled broadside beer including hops.  I believe hops are used post distillation too as the heat of the still drives off the citrus flavour of the hops.  Whatever the method, this captures the spirit of the ale very nicely – without toasted or burnt notes from the distillation and is like drinking a fresh pint of broadside.  Very nice.

Nose – Really beery!  Sweet, malty, hoppy – smells fizzy although presumably that’s by association with the hops.  Really great hops; dry, sweet, lovely structure and the hoppiness is balanced to the sweetness perfectly.  Underneath that, a sweet, sherried edge.

Body – Sweet, a bit meaty, drying hoppy mid-range, sweet again then…

Finish – Medium, spicy wood takes over, well balanced.  Very good!

Mackmyra Brukswhisky

Advent Calendar 11/24.  Never had a Swedish whisky before this and frankly, I did fear for it.  Not entirely unfounded as it turns out but this whisky has its merits.

Mackmyra Brukswhisky, 41.4% B+

mackmyra-brukswhisky-the-swedish-whisky

Nose – Floral, malt, wet cardboard and a little roast pork, some toasted black pepper, loads of cream.

Body – Vanilla cream, whisky cream flavoured boiled sweets, a little harsh edge of unbalanced wood.

Finish – Loads of vanilla, rolling vanilla.  The wood structure is unbalanced here, out of step with this otherwise simple (but pleasingly sweet) whisky.


What's not good about it: Unbalanced, so much vanilla, and apart from the nose, one-dimensional

What’s good about it: Good, complex, expensive nose with rich barley.  Lovely arrival, but a bit bumpy after that point.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Grant’s 25 Year Old

Advent Calendar 10/24.  Ah – hello track 5.  This is the most elegantly balanced whisky I’ve ever tasted.  And – is it the advent calendar reference that’s making these all so chocolatey?

Grants 25 Year Old, 40% A⊕

grant-s-25-year-old-blended-scotch-whisky-scotland-10484964

Nose – Rich, christmassy (although that could be projection of the time of year), very elegant but brightly fruity, very smooth.  Structured, hints of PVC cement, backing of tropical fruit balanced with wood.  Complex and fascinating.

Body – Rich, spicy, loads of chocolate and raisins.  Some bookcase, then polished furniture and light, balanced malt.  Effortlessly complex and smooth.

Finish – Perfect balance, a little drying note at the end counterpointed by a fruity finale.  Mango burps.  Big breeze of milk chocolate and malt through that ending – stunning.

What's not good about it: Finish is a bit short.  Longer finish and there’d be another + at the end of the rating.

What’s good about it:  Enormous elegance and balance, seriously delicious.  Whoever put this together (25 whiskies) is either very, very lucky or very, very good.  Despite the big bucks (£160) and the (relative to the cost and the other elements) shortish finish I’m seriously tempted.

Bowmore Darkest

Advent Calendar 9/24.  I’ve been here before if only briefly and in amongst a few titans.  Nice to try it in a quiet room, at a microscopic pace.  Shows it off a bit better.

Bowmore 15 Year Old Darkest, 43% A+

bowmore_darkest_15yo_withlogo

Nose – Sweet, dark raisin, plastic book covers, tropical notes well balanced with sweet smoke.  Ashy background.  Really lovely integration.

Body – Deep, dark ash, polished, dark furniture, red fruit, sweet malted backing – almost cloyingly sweet then…

Finish- Very long, waves of sherry versus wood smoke and ash, lovely oak integration.  Lingering sweetness but now fresh, not cloying.


What's not good about it: Can’t stand up to the Octomore or the Laphroaig 15 sherry monsters, but then it doesn’t need to (half the price).

What’s good about it: Rich, sweet, delicious BBQ smoke, loads of dark fruit, loads of malt.  Very well made.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Blue Hanger, 9th Release, Berry Bros & Rudd

Advent Calendar 8/24.  This is a blend I’ve not had before – previous batches sound a bit better to me, you can do a lot better for £70+.  Definitely track 4 on the advent calendar.

Blue Hanger, 9th Release, Berry Bros & Rudd, 45.6% B+

vatted_blu5

Nose – polite, slightly sour nose with overripe pear, some candle wax and a little dry earth. 

Body – Sharp, structured body with a quick backslap of smoked malt.  Quite austere and a little punishing.

Finish – Medium, sharp, very drying.  Not really unbalanced, just not much fun.


What's not good about it:  Sharp cider edge, just too dry.

What’s good about it: Yet its balanced. 

Not badly made.  Just not, you know, very good drinking.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 year old bourbon

Advent Calendar 7/24.  Relatively speaking, we’re about track 3 in the album now, where you’d expect to find a slow burner you’ll still be coming back to in a decade.  Track 2 should be “immediately satisfying but no staying power” and track 4 “filler”.  Track 5 is where it’s at of course.

Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 year old bourbon, 49.5% A⊕

136330

60% corn, 36% rye, 4% malt

Nose – Deep, really deep raisin, cherry, polished furniture, warm leather, vanilla soaked prunes.  Really rich, savoury nose with balancing dark fruit sweetness.  A bourbon but with more structure.

Body – Wow.  Smooth spice, freshly kilned oak planks, pepper and chilli raisins.  Loads of structure, very sweet and very smooth.

Finish – Medium with striking citrus wood intensity. 


What's not good about it:  Nothing really – could have a longer finish?

What’s good about it:  Multidimensional intensity for a bourbon, loads of structure, sweet, savoury, very very good.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Chivas Regal 18 year old

Advent Calendar 6/24.  For some weird reason I didn’t expect this – and even weirder I’ve never had any Regal before.  This is pretty good, but at £50 out played by single malts who came in to bat earlier in the week.

Chivas Regal 18 year old, 40% A

Chivas-Regal-18-Year-Old

Nose – Chocolate, cherry chocolate, waxed fruit.  Impeccably smooth, balanced, with an elegant nutty malt.  Lovely and warm with a honeyed, Speyside halo.

Body – Mild, milk chocolate malt with some watery orange behind it.  More chocolate than any other whisky I’ve tasted. 

Finish – just a gentle fade of what’s come before.  Incredibly smooth, quite rich, not too long.


What's not good about it: Finish is unremarkable, palate lacks structure and fire.

What’s good about it:  Chocolatey, balanced nose, always smooth, absolutely delicious.  Very pleasant.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Glen Garioch 12 Year Old

Advent Calendar 5/24.  Interestingly, having tried this I now “get” the Virgin Oak.  Once the dust has settled from this advent calendar rollercoaster, expect a re-review.  And the Milroys GG – jesus.  Suddenly I’m a Glen Garioch fan.  A keystone dram then, and thank you Masters of Malt for the advent education, just on schedule.   As my English teacher once commented after the first two blockbuster pages of a story I wrote when I was 15 – “Nice start, but can you keep it up?”

Glen Garioch 12 year old, 48% A+ 

Glen-Garioch-12-Year-Old

Nose – Initially fruity, with a toasted, malted, chocolate backing.  And a musty note – buttered toast and is it baby’s head or is that just what it smells like round here?  Really intriguing, sweet malty character.  Touch of caramelised apple.  Lovely.

Body – Smooth, smooth malt.  Deep, brown sweetness, rich malted wood and loads of milk chocolate. A blip of structural wood and then…

Finish – Medium/long finish, rich, sweet and well integrated.  Just a light backing of sechuan peppercorn citrus.  Very nice.

What's not good about it:  I could handle a little more fruit, more structure, but at this price…

What’s good about it:  Great value, complex nose, ripe malt body, good, sweet finish.  Lovely.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Glencadam 21 year old

Advent Calendar day 4/24.  My first Glencadam was 2 nights ago at TWE people’s vote where I was largely unimpressed but liked the nose.  So I opened up today’s door on the adcal, and thought – 21 is impressive but Glencadam isn’t.  Wrong.

Glencadam 21 year old, 46% A

414-3002700-146PO2TS_M

Nose – Fresh, sweet, floral.  A malted, meaty backnote.  A little powdery love-hearts flutter, some apple and glacé cherry.  Wonderfully sweet, moreish nose.

Body – Ripe, malted candied body with good balance and structure.  Some waxy fruit and then…

Finish – Very long, sweet finish.  Well structured with breathes of malted chocolate.  Right at the end, lingering sechuan peppercorns and citrus.  Quite the belter.


What's not good about it: Not much.  Perhaps the balance could have been a shade sweeter?

What’s good about it:  Deep, floral, expensive nose.  Ripe, smooth, fruity body.  Long, balanced finish.  Very lovely.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Nikka Whisky From the Barrel

Advent Calendar day 3/24.  I’m a big fan of this blended CS Nikka blockbuster and reviewed it a while back – always worth revisiting a whisky with pen and paper to see how you and it have changed.

Nikka Whisky From the Barrel, 51.4%,  A⊕

nikka-from-the-barrel-500mlfile_14_132

Nose – Floral, sweet but robust, elegant, tropical fruit with a classy oak background and a faint whiff of peat.  At the edges of this balanced, robust nose is a halo of expensive orange and sherry.  Beautiful.

Body – Citrus and orange fruit in perfect balance with polite peat and wood.  Very smooth yet spicy and structured, sweet with a little drying peat.

Finish – Long, balanced; great journey through orange zest to the end.

What's not good about it: If anything, a little too polite?

What’s good about it: Poised, elegant, rich, sweet, delicious, very well executed.  And incredibly good value.

Talisker Port Ruighe

Advent Calendar day 2/24 - I’m posting this a day late due to the fact that I had nine whiskies last night at the TWE People’s Vote tasting, and couldn’t do this justice coming back from London at midnight, somewhat worse for wear (and in any case, on the wrong day).  This is a sweeter, less peaty Talisker finished in ruby port casks.

Talisker Port Ruighe, 45.8% A-

TaliskerPortRuighe (1)

Nose – Dark, lightly waxed peat, crayons, then eventually some rich fruit, white grapes with a spicy, christmas malt backing.  Then a little smoked mackerel, which remains.

Body – Spicy, peppery, sweet, quite harsh peat, but quite balanced.  Wooded malt and pepper, with light fruit behind it and a salty, coastal demeanour. A bit of sprayed anti-perspirant.

Finish – The mackerel.  Finish is quite long but majors on pepper.

What's not good about it: By the numbers – a bit unremarkable.  The mackerel edge is a little off putting, the body is a bit miserly, if robust.

What’s good about it: Generally fault free, well balanced


Monday, 2 December 2013

TWE Whisky of the Year–The People’s Vote!

Celebrate!  Nearly present time and the whisky world is fully engaged.  The Whisky Exchange’s final tasting of the year is, for the first time, a tasting to decide which of TWE’s staff’s favourite sub-£50 drams are the best.  All of these are sub-50, single malts, no cask strengths, readily available.

We tasted these blind but here’s what they were:

  1. Glencadam 15 year old
  2. Glenmorangie 10 year old original
  3. Benromach 10 year old
  4. Balvenie Doublewood 12 year old
  5. Tamdhu 10 year old
  6. Glenfarclas 15 year old
  7. Kilchoman Machir Bay
  8. Lagavulin 16 year old

While we voted, we tasted a ninthGlengoyne 1990.

photo (1)

 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Balvenie Doublewood 17yo

This is the first sample in my Master of Malt [non-premium] advent calendar.  I’m hoping for an education in the run up to christmas!  This should have been a good opener but I’m not a fan of Balvenie – doesn’t matter how hard I try it doesn’t do it for me (I did a blind tasting I haven’t blogged a while back which included this – haven’t blogged it because the results were so dismal).  I loved it 10 years ago (had a bottle of Doublewood 12 at one point and a couple of others) but I was drinking whisky with ice back then and I’ve changed!  Looking at twitter everyone’s into it – I dunno, maybe I’m weird.

Balvenie Doublewood 17 year od, 43% B

balvenie-doublewood-17-year-old-whisky

Nose – Sweet, honeyed mango and vanilla.  Sort of herby (cut flower stalks?) bitterness next, with notes of cut grass.  This astringency knocks the balance of the nose, which promised to be quite lovely.

Body – Good malt, fine balance of wood and malt sweetness.  But lacks any mid-range whatsoever. 

Finish – Weak, short to medium finish.  Watery, like it was never there…(£73!)


What's not good about it: Unbalanced, no mid-range, not pleasant overall, no finish.

What’s good about it: Decent structure, liked the malt.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

A flight of Big Peats

The original Scallywag, DLaing’s Big Peat is a high quality blend of Islay single malts (Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and Port Ellen according to the labels - presumably not too much of the latter but you can really taste the Ardbeg!).

Like other high quality blends the producer buys casks from distilleries of a specific age and type but the contents can be variable.  In a large blend individual casks don’t make much difference, but in a relatively small batched whisky such as this, its feasible that the contents will change depending on the batch (the vatting) so Big Peat ordinaire might be different depending on the month. 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Old Pulteney Tweet Tasting

A rare TT not organised by the whisky wire!  I tried the 12 and the 21 at The Whisky Show (amazing to see I’ve given the 12 the same score in the dark quiet of my study compared the insanity of the whisky show!) and thought the 12 was good but the 21 better.  OP has been on my hit list since then, so I was pleased to get a spot on this tasting.  We tried the 46% Navigator (NAS), the 12yo and the new “peated cask” 23yo 1990 vintage.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Kilchoman 2007 Vintage

Kilchoman is a “new” distillery on Islay (2005) which is showing no fear and no weakness in its entrance straight into the big league (its pretty tough sharing your geographic designation with Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabain, Coal Ila, Lagavulin and Laphroaig!).  Kilchoman has its own maltings, grows its own barley and has an expression entirely produced at the farm/distillery to show that off.  This focus on terroir inevitably shows through in the quality of the distillate and the whisky.

I bought a bottle of their second club release simply because it entered the world on the same day my daughters entered the world – so I won’t be tasting that until 2031.  However I did secure a sample of the new 2007 vintage to try at the same time.

Kilchoman 2007 Vintage (6yo), 46% A+

Kilchoman 2007 Vintage

Nose – Fresh fruit, peat, fresh cut cherries.  A dusty, wooded edge with barley and backed by phenols. Really fruit, fresh peat nose, beautifully done.  A university library (un-laminated books, floor cleaner, linoleum, dust and polished wooden book cases). 

Body – Fresh apples (without skin), barley, some numbing citrus.  Very fresh but structured, no off notes, lovely integration.

Finish – Reasonably long, good peat fire and finish, well balanced.  Wood bitterness very well balanced right to the end.  Extremely well made, big fan.

What's not good about it:  Not quite a blockbuster yet.

What’s good about it: Clean, fresh, fruity, well balanced, refreshing, effortless, beautifully made. 

Many thanks to Kilchoman distillery for the sample.


Monday, 25 November 2013

Arran Tweet Tasting November 2013

Another cracker from the Whisky Wire, this time on Arran, one of my favourite distilleries.  Loads of character, interesting and beautifully made whiskies, lots of variety, single casks, different finishes.  What’s not to like?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

English Whisky Company Chapter 7, Rum Cask

I missed out on the English Whisky Company at the Whisky Show due to extreme excitement and my inability to pass by other stands without embarking on a full vertical.  In other words I didn’t get round to them (and they were pretty busy).  So when bottle swapping with Steve Prentice (of Somerset Whisky Blog) I jumped at the chance of a drop of his bottle of Chapter 7.  

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 3

This expression from BenRiach owned distillery Glendronach appeared nearly a year ago as a small batch, cask strength whisky.  Combining PX and Oloroso sherry casks creates a deeply sweet but balanced whisky.  I’m a fan of Glendronach (and BenRiach) and this expression in particular, and so I was really keen to try out batch 3.

Yes it’s a NAS, but so is Tomatin Decades.

Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 3, 54.9% A⊕

868

Nose – Rich raisin, fruit and nut bar, lots of malt, lots of cracked black pepper and honeyed breakfast bar.  Sweet and richly honeyed, fresh pineapple, but backed by woody Oloroso giving balance.  A little waxy bookcase, honey glazed pistachios and toast with honey.  Lovely, addictive nose.

Body – Chocolatey, sweet, real dark malt note, very nicely integrated.  Some cherries.

Finish – Medium to long, fizzing.  Sweetness slightly overstays its welcome but isn’t cloying as it’s initially balanced by oak and then by citrus elements which survive to the end.

Whats not good about it: Just steps one foot the wrong side of sweet.

What’s good about it:  Stunning nose, well balanced, fresh but rich, bit spicy and absolutely delicious.

Thanks for Glendronach for the sample. I’ll be buying a bottle of this.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Scallywag

I’ve been waiting eagerly for this to find its way to me.  I’m a huge fan of Big Peat (Douglas Laing’s other vatted malt), and a huge fan of sherried Speyside malts which bodes well for this.  Thanks to Scott Munro (aka @KiltedMoose), expert drammer and games journalist for the sample.

Scallywag, 46%, A

1-47-im-wy-main_image-5028

Nose – Sweet sherry and waxed pears.  Structured, fresh orchard fruit – quite floral.  Some wood, a bit one dimensional but very pleasant given the cost. 

Body – Stickily sweet, PVA glue.  Good, rich malt comes to the rescue.  Structured, a little uncomplicated, but a lovely drop.  Very moreish.

Finish – Surprisingly long, good wood.  Balanced finish.


Whats not good about it: Lack of complexity.

What’s good about it: Scratches the sherry itch with style, great value

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Two older Whisky Broker casks–Ardbeg & Bunnahabhain 21

I owe my discovery of the Whisky Broker (http://www.whiskybroker.co.uk/) to Tom Thomson of Tom’s Whisky Reviews, who revealed to me that my much loved Tomatin Burns Malt (at Whisky Barrel – inexplicably still available) is actually a WB cask that was previously released for a tenner less by WB before being bought up and sold by Whisky Barrel.  Since then I’ve realised that if you look really closely it says whiskybroker.co.uk in tiny tiny letters at the bottom of the bottle.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Milroy’s of Soho–Tweet Tasting 2

Another well executed TT courtesy of Whisky Wire.  All the whiskies are exclusive Milroy’s bottlings (and only the first has added colour or chill filtering).  Here’s the line-up (my notes and ratings are as tasted blind)

  1. Milroy’s Finest Blended Scotch Malt
  2. Glen Elgin 17 yo 1995, 348 bottles
  3. Zuidam Dutch Rye Single Cask
  4. Milstone 14 yo
  5. Milroy’s Single Cask Peated Malt
  6. Milroy’s Exclusive Glen Garioch 1978 Single Cask

Thursday, 31 October 2013

That Boutique-y Whisky Company–Loch Lomond Batch 1

This is the other half of this review.  The Inchmurrin single malt was glorious, lets see about the Loch Lomond single grain. 

TBWC Loch Lomond Batch 1 52.4%, A⊖

Loch Lomond Batch 1

Nose – Floor polish, orange peel, pine and a freshly opened box of dates.  Musky.  Spiced but unbalanced.  Got a real Campari thing going on.

Body – Rich, medicinal, warming spices and cloves.  Sharp wood edge.

Finish – Not as luxurious on the finish as expected.  Very long finish with a bitter edge.

This is remarkable but unhinged.

WhiskyBroker Bruichladdich 9 year old

Bourbon Barrel 638.  273 bottles.  Grows on you.

I was pointed at WhiskyBroker by Tom of Tom’s Whisky Reviews, who told me that my much loved Tomatin Burns Malt from Whisky Barrel started life as a Whisky Broker bottling.  Thought I’d give a couple of bottles a whirl to see what they’re like.

Bruichladdich9yo600x161

WhiskyBroker Bruichladdich 9 year old, 50% – A

Nose – Faint, some fruit, a savoury edge (I initially feel its burnt onions but later this wears off).  A bit polite but hints at tropical fruit. Faint wax and a little mango, and some drying peat.

Body – Refreshing, fruity, lovely mouth feel.  Very pleasant, actually quite delicious, but a little polite.  Some fresh apple and a peat backing.

Finish – Surprisingly long, never unbalanced.

Friday, 25 October 2013

That Boutique-y Whisky Company–Inchmurrin Batch 1

Part of a recent batch of new releases from TBWC, the praise was too glowing from the creators for me to ignore.  Last time I got such a recommendation it seriously paid off.

Inchmurrin is the name given to a style of whisky made by Loch Lomond distillery.  I’m tempted by the single cask grain in the same batch now.

TBWC Inchmurrin Batch 1 54.7%, A⊕

Inchmurrin Batch 1

Colour – burnt orange.

Nose – Deep honey, orange and beeswax, and a touch of furniture polish and turmeric.  Roast sesame seed and sunflower seed dipped in honey.  Beautiful sherry.

Body – Spicy, explosive, honeyed fruit.  Very oily – dark orange oil.

Finish – Long, oily finish.  Deep orange oil and orange peel.  Finally, custard creams.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Tweeddale Blend–Batch Vertical

This vertical was arranged by the Whisky Wire and I was really excited to be part of it, particularly as I discovered at their stand at the whisky show that we were to try all four batches of the Tweeddale blend, the first of which is now unavailable.  The blend comes from Alasdair Day’s great grandfather where it had been commercially sold as the Tweeddale blend since 1899, production stopping and all casks sold off after 1940 due to WW2.  The original recipe was noted in Richard Day’s cellar book from this time, and resurrected by Alasdair in 2010 as the Tweeddale blend batch 1.  Since then three more batches have been produced, with the recipe being altered slightly each time to include a different grain and to swap out one of the malts (the remaining malts are tapped from the same casks for each batch and are simply getting older each year).

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

BenRiach Deep Dive

BenRiach is a fiercely independent Speyside distillery producing some very interesting whiskies and many specialised or experimental finishes and bottlings.  In fact the range is a bit much to get your head round at first.  There are a number of unpeated and peated whiskies in the core range, a regular cadence of single cask bottlings and some very old, well respected and very expensive bottlings I probably will never get to try, let alone get my head around.  Whatever you think of the whisky, and some of these are very, very good, you’d have to admit it must be pretty great working at BenRiach.

 

Friday, 11 October 2013

Laphroaig 1998–TWE hand picked single cask

This little number was recommended to me by Billy of TWE during an email exchange about me looking for that the Edradour Sauternes I tried at the Whisky Show.  Its beautiful, really lovely, but just too expensive. Maybe one day.  Anyway, we got onto talking about Laphroaig and it turns out he helped choose the single cask (refill sherry butt 700393) that turned into 551 bottles of this.  He called it big peat and big sherry and hence his perfect whisky and I can see why, its stunning.

photo

Laphroaig 1998–TWE hand picked single cask A⊕+

Nose – Deep, deep dark fruit.  Marker pens and sauna.  Prunes soaked in rum with mascarpone eaten next to a bonfire. Very sexy sherry, well integrated with smoke.  Beautiful and very rich, OMG.

Body – Deep, perfect peat.  Rich tropical fruit tries and briefly manages to appear before being swept away by a wave of classic and intense Laphroaig peat.  Toe curlingly intense.

Finish – Medium.  Rich, peppery tannins and massive peat and oak integration. 

Stunning.  Better buy a couple more… thanks Billy!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

TWE Whisky Show 2013

The Whisky Exchange’s Whisky Show is a massive, annual whisky tasting.  Saturday, Sunday with a trade show on Monday, each day is 6 hours of unlimited tasting of (this year) over 500 whiskies.  There was whisky from Scotland, Japan, New Zealand, England, Wales, America and India.  There were cocktails, whisky and food pairings, whisky and jazz pairings, and a man bothering a barrel with a hammer.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Whisky Exchange–8th Birthday Tasting

The Whisky Exchange is a national treasure, and just round the corner from my office.  It’s a wonderful place to discover artisanal tequila, small batch bourbons and of course a whole universe of Scotch whiskies. 

Last night we attended TWE’s 8th birthday tasting – 6 whiskies that are 8 year olds but were all bottled in the 70s and 80s and so represent a different age of whisky making, when more distilleries made their own floor malts and stills were fired with coal, and there was a lot less consistency and some incredible complexity at only 8 years.  All of the whiskies we tasted last night stand up to 25-30 year old whiskies we’re bottling today.  What an incredible set of whiskies!

  1. Glen Scotia 8yo Bot 1980s OB, 40%
  2. Springbank 8yo Oval Bottle Bot 1970s OB, 43%
  3. Glendronach 8yo Dumpy Bottle Bot 1980s OB, 45.4%
  4. Glen Garioch 8yo Dumpy Bottle Bot 1980s OB, 40%
  5. Aberlour-Glenlivet 8yo Bot 1970s OB, 50%
  6. Ardbeg 1991 8yo #629-630 Signatory, 43%

Out of all of these rare bottles, the Springbank appears to have been the last bottle in existence, the rest are still available.

IMG_0993

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Glenlivet Quercus 17 year old

This is a sample I had from the Whisky Shop rather than a full bottle.  Its delightful, I’m not sure about the cost/value equation but I have to say I would consider it if I didn’t have so many other whiskies to try with that money first.

Glenlivet Quercus 17 year old Whisky Shop exclusive, 52.1% A⊕

The-Glenlivet-Quercus-Single-Cask

Nose – Fresh fruit, apples and pears.  Citrus fruit, oranges and limes.  Refreshing and inviting coconut and orange, sandalwood, cider.

Body – Fizzing, creamy body with hard wood.  Smooth and mouth coating.  Effortlessly balanced creamy oak and vanilla.  Fine malt palate.  Very well presented and refreshing.

Finish – Sechuan peppercorns.  Long, long finish with loads of toasty oak and spice.  Beautiful, supple, well balanced.  Some well integrated bitterness.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

CÙ BÒCAN - The new expression from Tomatin!

It's here!
Announced just now through a twitter tasting is Tomatin's new expression, CÙ BÒCAN.
The whisky is lightly peated single malt (PPM 15) - the distillery hasn't traditionally made peated whiskies but for the last eight years has been putting aside small amounts of peated malt.  This expression will be made in small batches of 60,000 litres per year - its a no-age-statement whisky with 8 year old peated malt in and the age of this will increase each year.  Batch 1 is 18,000 bottles and available now at http://tomatin.com/shop/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=51.

Bowmore Masterclass and a new expression–Devil’s Cask

Last night at The Whisky Exchange’s Bowmore tasting, we were treated to 90 minutes of real education from Bowmore’s brand ambassador and Master of Malt Iain MacCallum (who describes himself as a “professional travelling alcoholic”), and we got to taste (and pre-order!) Bowmore’s fantastic new expression, Devil’s Cask, which is a real belter (a sherried Tempest).
Mind you there wasn’t any of the 1957 on offer, but with only 12 bottles in existence that’s understandable.  Instead we had (from left to right) the 12yo, the 15yo Darkest, the 18yo, the 25yo, the Tempest (batch 4), the new Devil’s Cask (sample bottle) and the 23yo Port Wood
image4

Friday, 30 August 2013

Tomatin Vertical

I recently attended a tasting with the Birmingham Whisky Club.  I happened to be in Birmingham for work and this coincided.  I ended up having a fantastic evening, met some great people and discovered my favourite distillery, Tomatin.  And I also had to extend my scoring system!

Tomatin are a Highland distillery with an interesting history including being the largest in Scotland for a time, and were bought by a Japanese corporation in the 80s.  Most of the distillate is used for blends including some of their own, but the single malt is beautifully balanced and fruited.  All the whiskies start in Makers Mark and Buffalo Trace bourbon casks. 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Glen Garioch – Virgin Oak

This is a limited release that I bought on the strength of another virgin oak cask whisky that needs a bit of time for me to process and get my head around – however I enjoyed the (very expensive) other whisky so much I went for this untasted. 

All in all I think a bit of a subtle number for my tastes, but wears its heart on its sleeve.

Notes on the bottle are as follows:

Made from the inner heartwood of 100 year old oak trees, grown in the North American mountains, each barrel has been heavily charred inside to activate the wood’s vanilla and oak spices in readiness for the maturing spirit. 

Glen Garioch Virgin Oak – 48% - A

photo

Nose – Savoury pastry with buttered malt.  Bit of an odd, rotten edge with a cherry background and some spicy mixed fruit.  There’s something a bit musky here which is a bit sexy and a bit off putting.  Interesting and weird, like truffles on pasta, I like it.

Body – Toasted malt and bread, very hot.  Some water opens up a more delicately fruity body which is quite elegantly savoury.

Finish – Medium with the same funk from the nose.  A little too short to be truly interesting.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Nikka – Whisky from the barrel

Nikka Whisky From The Barrel, 51.4%,  A⊕

image2

 

I heard about this whisky on the famous Joe Ellis’ Whisky Wednesday vlog at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEgpm5HiV-g and then when it was on offer at Flaviar.com, I took the chance to buy a couple of bottles.  I’d honestly never tried a Japanese whisky before, and met a few people at the recent Tomatin tasting in Birmingham who were raving about Yamazaki, so just went for it.  I was very glad I did, this is an awesome whisky, especially for a no-age-statement blend.  Very well recommended.

japan_nik10Nose -  Sweet, robust, beautiful and elegant, with mango and permanent marker.  Savoury back note, stunning.

Body – Deep oak and robust but well integrated peat.  Loads of backbone.  Woo smoke and fruit, stunning.

Finish – Long, smoke and beautifully oaked. Balanced and flawless finish.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Arran Blind Tasting

Arran looked like the kind of whisky I’d like from the reviews but I hadn’t tried any until they released and I bought the Devil’s Punchbowl 2.  This sold out in about 20 minutes, I didn't really have chance to taste it before taking the plunge.  I thought it was (think it is) excellent but the power of the blind tasting (remove marketing, experience the whisky naked) showed it up against its peers, particularly (and gallingly) the Devil’s Punchbowl 1.  On the back of that purchase I also went for the Whisky Club’s exclusive 15 year old bottling, which is stunning.  Armed with these two I thought I’d go for the vertical with the Whisky Tasting Club’s Arran tasting (http://www.thewhiskytastingclub.co.uk/Arran.php) which also has the now (of course) unavailable DP1.



Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Glenfiddich Blind Tasting

Glenfiddich and Iain Banks is where I started with Scotch whisky.  I read Iain’s book “Raw Spirit” when I heard about his terminal illness.  His review of the Glenfiddich 21 yo Gran Reserva Rum Cask Finish was enough to make me buy a bottle – and at over £80 a bottle it was the most expensive bottle of whisky I’d bought, of any kind, and I fell in love with it.  5 years ago+ I used to drink scotch but with ice, I now know that was all wasted money and time – ice destroys whisky.  5 years ago I switched to bourbon and ice and was enjoying that.  Iain’s book made me try good scotch without ice and nothing’s been the same since, I now get it.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Laphroaig Blind Tasting

This was my first tasting from the whisky tasting club:
http://www.thewhiskytastingclub.co.uk/laphroaigTasting.php
There are a few places you can get “tastings”. Master of Malt do tasting sets, just pick the set and order it.  They typically charge you double the cost of the whisky and that covers their posh wax sealed 3cl bottles and P&P.  They have a really good range.  Flaviar want you to sign up for tastings on a regular basis – they’re really hooked into social media and you get money off for FB posting or tweeting when you buy from them, which I have a fair bit due to the deals on whisky.  The Flaviar tasting sets then take some time to arrive as they take all orders before shipping but its a cool service and a great offering with whisky at serious discounts.  This one from the whisky tasting club is simple but I like the format – you get 5 5cl plastic bottles in a slim box that fits through your letterbox so you don’t have to be in to receive it.  I like the 5cl bottles, it gives you enough for a proper tasting and a bit to come back to another day.  And the guys running it are just university lecturers who are doing it because they love it.  Anyway, onto the tasting: