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⊕


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⊕


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⊕+


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+


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-


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-


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⊕


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+


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⊕


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


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⊕


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


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

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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-


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+


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⊖


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


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+


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⊕


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+


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+


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⊕


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


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+ 


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


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⊕


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


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.