Tuesday, 26 August 2014


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

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

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

Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Rumbullion!, 42.6%

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 22 August 2014

Whisky Barrel Burns Malt, Springbank 14 yo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Glenrothes Sherry Cask Reserve

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

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

The Glenrothes Sherry Cask Reserve, 40% A+

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Kilchoman PX Sherry Cask Finish, Abbey Whisky exclusive

It’s a cracker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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