Thursday, 31 July 2014

SMWS August Outturn–Micro notes

Just a sketch, as usual, and an indication of whether I think you should buy (if you were so inclined!)

13.46, Dalmore, Something sweet for a beekeeper, A

IMG_20140731_180023661_HDRNose – Lovely cereal and toffee balance, intensely honeyed and floral, backnote of musk and dandelion. With water, intensity remains but better poise, a little more citrus, extremely sweet and pastried.

Body – Herbal and wooded. Intense sweetness but balanced by wood and a slight peat note. Some overt citrus and wood spice. Rather good. More bitter with water.

Finish – Citrus, wood sour, stewed tea. With water, numbing, raw wood, some musk develops but doesn’t hold together at the end.

A bit young.

1.184, Glenfarclas, Few and far between…,  A⊕+

IMG_20140731_190141677_HDRNose – Sweet tobacco, pencil topping rubbers, sherried ?? Absolutely beautiful, fruity, balanced and darkly sweet.

Body – Intense, sweet and biscuit

Finish – Long, fresh, sexy and balanced

BUY

35.122, Glen Moray, Perfumed lady at a garden fete, A⊕

IMG_20140731_192740335_HDRNose – Beautiful floral toffee, dark oily and satisfyingly sweet. Clean, planed oak, coffee.

Body – Sweet, spicy, wooded and perfect balance

Finish – Spiced, quite long, beautiful. A little stewed tea at the end and unsettled but very good overall.

BUY

50.55, Bladnoch, High class luxury, A⊕+

IMG_20140731_193836695_HDRNose – Dark, complicated, the honeycomb middle of a crunchie (debate over what this is called –hokey pokey??), soft toffee, buttery flapjack, lightly herbal with parsley. Softly beautiful. Some chocolate.

Body – A little spice, acrylic paint, complex.

Finish – Lovely and gentle but a little short.

BUY

9.89, Glen Grant, Balanced and harmonious, A⊕+

IMG_20140731_195941668_HDRNose – Balanced tobacco (Marlboro Red), boiled sweets, fence, cherry and apple, a lovely thread of wax (floor polish). Just beautiful – the balance between sweet and masculine is spot on.

Body – Massively sweet, spicy and wood balance.

Finish – Long and fabulous, not cloying.

BUY

53.210, Caol Ila, Fantastic stuff, A⊕+

IMG_20140731_201500010_HDRNose – Islay perfection: dark, spicy salami, loads of toffee, ancient smoked ham, old bandages, burnt newspaper, green unripe pear. Exquisite.

Body – Spicy fennel, boiled sweets.

Finish – Long, ashen, balanced and excellent. Intense ashes.

BUY

29.157, Laphroaig, Heidi's holiday to Islay, A⊕+

IMG_20140731_203857220Nose – darkly peated, loads of sulphur, ham and mozzarella, parsley and rolling tobacco. And massive sherry peat!

Body – Massive ash, peat and hugely sweet. Burning logs, sherry, sulphur and ash. Still balanced.

Finish – Long, sweet, a little vegetal.

BUY

39.101, Linkwood, Sophisticated adult sweetness, A+

Nose – Golden, sweet berries, honey toffee, remarkably sweet, very balanced but a bit one dimensional.

Body – Toasted oak on top of the sweetness and balanced.

Finish – A little cloying at the end, but seriously drinkable. Very oily, quite balanced before that.

121.73, Arran, A layered sponge fruit cake, A+

IMG_20140731_214340511Nose – More beery than normal, more cherries and tobacco

Body – Immense toffee Finish – A little odd savoury edge

44.60, Craigellachie, Growing on you, A⊕

IMG_20140731_214331109N – perfumed, flower stalks, floral and lovely

B – Sweet tobacco, beautiful

F – Lovely and long, marshmallows

BUY
 

26.103, Clynelish, Fresh and Lively, A⊕

IMG_20140731_214349263Nose – Bold, intense, wooded, balanced by restrained sweetness and tobacco.  Stunning Clynelish.

Body – Delicious toffee and tobacco, extremely sweet.

Finish – Long, tobacco, fab. 

Light on the nose, epic delivery, quite dry, sappy and tannic.

BUY

53.184, Caol Ila, Fairground on the beach, A⊕

Not from the August outturn.

N – dark and rich, toffee smoke, b – sweet and ashen, f – long

BUY

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Three Independent Springbanks

A couple of NAS boutique-y single malt springers and a truly epic (of course) SMWS single cask.  Oh the intensity!

Springbank Batch 1, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 54.6% A⊕

springbanklabel-bigNose - Warm wax, floral elegance, sweet, ripe fruit - cherry, peach - and a good backbone of cereal and old oak.  Just lovely, this is the kind of nose that got me into whisky.  With water, more wax and something medicinal from my childhood - Amoxicillin - and chew sweets, and a beautiful deep, sulphured sweetness.  And some hobnobs.  Love it.

Body - Unexpectedly spicy and sharp.  Doesn’t really take any prisoners undiluted.  With water, lots more sweet shop notes and toffee come through, and loads of numbing sulphur.

Finish - Long bitterness undiluted.  With water that classy, oily sulphured note comes through more, although it’s still a little bitter.

What’s not good about it - A little thin in the delivery diluted, harsh and bitter without water.

What’s good about it - But a fantastic nose, everything I could hope for in the nose, and lovely richness and fruit in the delivery. 

Sold out, but samples still available.

Springbank Batch 2, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 53.1% A⊕

That_Boutique-y_Whisky_Company_-_Springbank_Batch_2Nose - Wow.  Happily very similar to batch one but with the bright fruit turned up a notch and the darkly brooding wax turned down a notch.  Bright, complex wax, juicy red and tropical fruit, hubba bubba, and all backed by toasty new fence panels.  Lovely.  With water, the wood complexity comes up a notch and the fruit doesn’t suffer.

Body - That’s better - rich fruit and tobacco, tons of wood and dark furniture polish.  With water, I think I prefer it slightly less initially but the end is better balanced..

Finish - Long, long, and very bitter undiluted.  A lingering waxy tropicality and coastal peat.  Challenging but very good.

What’s not good about it - A bit unbalanced, a bit chaotic.

What’s good about it - But very interesting for it.  Also it’s a wonderful, complex and satisfying whisky to drink.  Buy now.

Comparing batch 1 and 2:

n - 1 is dark, more sulphured, more smoke and better balanced.  2 is more sweetly fruited, still stunning and more floral.  1 just takes it on grounds of elegance but both are stunning.

b - 1 is overall classier, more sulphured and spicy.  2 has a little less aggression but still provides many of the same experiences with a little more fruit.  

Overall - there’s very little in this.  Batch 1 is my preference, but only just, and objectively the 2 might actually be better.  Batch 1 is a bit OTT on the spice but makes up for it with superior sulphur and wood.  Batch 2 is still awesome, and batch 1 is sold out, so…

SMWS 27.92, Springbank, Wake-up call, 10 years old, 53.5%  A⊕+

March 31 2000, Refill ex-bourbon barrel.  Bought and (AFAIK) only available as part of the (excellent) Surf and Turf Seaside BBQ “might minis” set of four 10cl bottles.

27.92Nose - Go go go SMWS!  Enormous intensity and balance of refreshing, juicy fruit, waxed marker pens, cherry and almond.  Absolutely delicious and so fresh and fruity.  Balancing notes are oily, slightly coastal, furniture polish and Victorian oak floorboards.  Stunning.

Body - Sweet, ice pops, fruit, balancing sulphur and wax all the way.

Finish - Long, sweet, balanced but staggers a little with the bitterness, recovered by oily complexity.  What a whisky.

What’s not good about it - You can only buy it as part of a set of 4 minis.  I need at least a litre of this.

What’s good about it - A perfect, delicious and incredibly expensive Springbank nose.  Doesn’t let you down in the delivery either.  Lots of oily, coastal, sulphured wood and fruit.  Fabulous.

Three Highland Parks

I’ll be back to my Springbank obsession after a bit of the slowly developing Highland Park fun I’ve been having.  Here’s the 12, which I’d never really sat down with before, and got to appreciate as part of the White Lyan Tweet Tasting, followed by yet another pair of stunning HPs from SMWS.

Highland Park 12 year old, 40% A

HP-12yo-bottle-packNose - Comforting, waxed, sweet and toasty wood. A little cereal rawness but no problem.  Some chocolate covered popcorn (always welcome) and fresh, clean cherry.  A touch of teenagers deodorant (Lynx Oriental kinda thing), some sweet preserved lemon, and something herbal. There’s a sour note developing - swimming pool?  The perfume brings me back.  It’s rather good.

Body - Light, quite sweet, a little malt, a little toasty peat.  Very mild, a little watery for my tastes, but nicely done.  Some nuts and toffee.

Finish - Some fresh Marlboro. An oily delivery, quite long in the finish, and a little austere at the end.  But very pleasant overall, especially the structured, toffee wood bitterness that develops right at the end.  I do so value a whisky that takes you for a consistently interesting ride and leaves you wanting more.

What’s not good about it - Weak initial delivery.  Lacks intensity overall.

What’s good about it - Rather good, classy nose and sees things through very well for the price.

SMWS 4.189, Highland Park, 13 years old, Cracking!, 59.4% A⊕+

24th August 2000, 206 bottles, first fill ex-bourbon barrel.

IMG_20140730_185045158Nose - Initially wax, then blackcurrants and Ribena generally, some cherry, some balancing smoke and quite a lot of menthol and mint fags.  Quite refreshing, as well as reasonably intense.  As you progress, the mint becomes the main body of every inhalation, bookended by boiled lemon sweets, tobacco leaf and furniture polish.  Extremely enticing.

Body - Sweet, sweet and chew bars, then sulphur and smoke.  Citrus elegance, fruit and toffee.  Lovely.

Finish - Long, long lingering wham bar, then long sulphur and wood.  Finally, tobacco and wood shavings.  So, so interesting, and deeply delicious.  

What’s not good about it - Nothing, assuming you’re not offended by the menthol nose.

What’s good about it - Balance, complexity, refreshing, perfumed and masculine.  No wonder HP are so adept at producing OB single malts when this kind of barrel is tumbling out into IBs.  

SMWS 4.190, Highland Park, 22 years old, Big boys smoking in the sauna, 53.9% A⊕+

31st May 1991, 246 bottles, refill ex-bourbon hogshead.

IMG_20140730_185107465Nose - Tasty, oaky, slightly restrained charred wood (although the bottle is newly open and could be a bit closed down), Marlboro light and sweet red cherry - which starts to come out of the closet more and more as you investigate.  Light fruity wax and fresh tobacco leaf.   An almost strict character, but hiding some rather delicious fruit.  I can see it’s quite grown up, and what are they doing in the sauna?

Body - Ripe, sweet, but austere and wooded.  Serious numbing smoke pokes it’s head out and then ducks back in.  With water, the fruit and tobacco develop (as they will) but the intensity has gone.

Finish - Really sweet character develops, long toffee notes balanced by spicy wood.  Very, very long and deeply sweet.  Really double sided, with tropical burps to boot.  With water, the peat starts to dominate, with more tobacco, and rather good it is too.

What’s not good about it - Not exactly a beginners malt.  Quite challenging and austere, and weirdly two faced.

What’s good about it - Complex, fascinating, masculine and feminine.  Uncompromising and very rewarding.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Springbank–a couple of blends

Here’s some blends produced by Springbank, including (one assumes), a large quantity of Springbank single malt, but also other stuff (grain of course, and other malts).  They’re both great, particularly the Campbeltown Loch, but the Springbank CV really stands out now as a total bargain.

Campbeltown Loch, 21 years old, 46% A⊕+

campbeltown-loch-21-year-old-40-percent-whiskyNose - Glorious sweet, sappy bourbon intensity.  Brightly waxed, with intriguing blonde wood notes and a background of tobacco and engine oil.  A real carpenters workshop behind this, right down to the pencil shavings.  Rather epic.

Body - Extremely sweet, toffee pennies and smoky caramel.  Intense aged hardwood and a little bitterness.  SMWS single cask intensity.

Finish - Oily, dark toffee, long and satisfying.  Balanced, complex and highly drinkable.

What’s not good about it - Nothing - this is a fabulous blend.  40% Girvan and 60% single malt, this displays the usual excellence from the producers.

What’s good about it - Trademark complexity, touching sweet, sour, salt and smoke on the nose.  No let up in excellence in the delivery.

Thanks to Johnnie Stumbler for the sample!

Spirit of Freedom 30 year old, 46% A+

75% malt, 25% grain.

spirit-of-freedom-30-year-old-blended-scotch-whiskyNose - Intense quality; aftershave, leather and oak panelling.  Bright glace cherries, pencil shavings, cigarette tobacco and floral notes.  Fabulous nose with plenty of structure and fun, living up to it’s bargainatious yet ancient billing nicely.

Body - The initial delivery is slightly disappointing given the nose.  A little sour and smokier than expected, without the intensity I was expecting.  Spicy wood and juicy tobacco leaf, some apple and bitter liquorice stick.

Finish - Deep toffee offsetting the spicy sour notes.  Quite long, balanced but lacking some midrange.  Ultimately unbalanced as the bitterness and sweetness fall out of favour.  

What’s not good about it - Lack of midrange near the end of delivery and a bit of harsh landing.

What’s good about it - Fabulous nose, loads of intrigue and opulence, tobacco and hashish.  Much of the delivery is spicy, excellent and moreish.  Just falls down a bit at the end.  An interesting antidote to the NAS debate, as it’s heavily age statemented but probably is correctly priced at about £70.  For the same money, the 15 year old Springbank single malt is half the age and much better.

Compared to the Campbeltown Loch 21: n- the 30 is more masculine, aftershave and wood, where the 21 is fruitier with more wax (although both are waxy, the 30 is more crayons).  I prefer the nose on the 30 but there’s not much in it.  b- the 30 is more austere, sourer and a little thinner.  The 21 has much more intensity, a longer development and a beautiful landing.

Compared to the Springbank CV: n- not much comparison here, they are very different.  The CV makes the 30 smell overly weak and icing sugary, but the 30 makes the CV smell like a Diageo special release.  It’s wonderful.  b- compared directly, the difference on the body is less marked in the initial delivery but the CV takes over later on, with long, long drying notes of sulphur and lots of complexity.

Monday, 28 July 2014

SMWS 50.58, A seesaw of spring cleaning and scones!

Why is there only 90 bottles of this?  *Clickety*

SMWS 50.58, Bladnoch, 24 years old, A seesaw of spring cleaning and scones!, 55%, A⊕+

26th January 1990, 90 bottles, refill ex-bourbon barrel.

50.58Nose - Solvent sweet, thinners, plastic book coverings, cherry ripe sweetness and fresh gloss paint on freshly planed pine wood.  Deep down in there there’s something extremely fruity.  Quite a challenging and curious nose, a resinous deep wax running through it, with just the slightest hint of drying peat, mature oak notes and something oddly vegetal - sliced carrots?  And something meaty and fatty like a French pate.  I get the bread.  Complicated.  With water, more cherry notes start to come through and that fruitiness comes out - cherry, orange, juicy pineapple and loads of menthol.  And some pencil shavings.  Much more rounded, more complexity, more citrus fruit.

Body - Undiluted, very hot and sappy.  Spicy, with lingering toasted notes and great belts of toffee.  With water, significantly more wood and quite a fruit bomb with orange, and waxy, musky cherry.

Finish - Quite wood sour in the finish with long oily waxed tones.  With water, much more soapy wax and really oily, with the fruit chews on the label coming to the fore.  Long numbing finish and a tropical after glow.

What’s not good about it - Needs water, undiluted is quite severe.

What’s good about it - But you can spend a long time adding water and enjoying how it unfolds.  With water, lots of fruit, wax, well integrated mature wood, and loads of body.  Great complexity, loads of challenge and interest, keeps on giving.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Springbank Vertical

OK now I’m hooked.  Right then OB range, let’s be having you.

Springbank CV, 46% A⊕

A NAS Springbank, discontinued I think but available from Arkwrights at the time of writing, and something of a bargain too at £35.

springbank-cvLargeNose - Sweet, waxed peat, and a little sweat.  Deep toffee, ripe, ripe pears and a touch of amyl nitrate.  Extraordinarily lush, sweet, toffeed, wooded and just a balancing note of masculinity and tobacco.  Another glorious, complex and balanced nose from Springbank - seriously waxy and interesting.

Body - Oily again, more robust with coastal edges.  Perhaps more obviously sweet with icing sugar in the delivery than the some of the others.

Finish - Long, bitter engine oil and peat notes, well balanced just straying into one-dimensionality in the very end.  And a little overbalanced into oily versus structure and wood at the end.  Goodness me for this money though, they can do no wrong.

What’s not good about it - Icing sugar and lack of complexity at the end?

What’s good about it - Everything else punches in the 80-100 quid bracket - wow what a whisky!

Springbank 10 year old, 46% A

springbank-10-year-oldNose - Dark demeanor, light peating, sour pears, rich toffee, balancing sulphur and lots of wood structure.  Some slightly coastal notes - smoked mackerel and brine.  Rather good.

Body - Toffee, sulphur and balancing peat, a little thin although topped and tailed by interest (sweet toffee, sulphur and peat) and complexity (wood, coastal and red berries).  Lacking midrange near the end but plenty of substance initially.

Finish - Long, peat coming through against the sulphur, eventually straying into watery wood bitterness a little.  

What’s not good about it - Midrange, a little thin compared to its siblings.

What’s good about it - Expensive feel on the top and bottom for the money - although I prefer the CV.

Springbank 15 year old, 46% A⊕+

springbnak15yoboxNose - Darkly waxed, a little vegetal (carrots), dark toffee, balsa wood and PVA glue.  Some minerality.  Apples and engine oil, pears and pine.  Trainers and tarmac.  It’s all pretty complicated, poised and of course, perfectly balanced and rather exciting.  The empty glass (and I guess the full glass) has this kebab shop air to it (not in a bad way) of pickled chilles and meat.  This has the most sulphur of all so far, and it’s so perfectly pitched.I think it’s just wonderful.

Body - Peat and sherry, but encased in toffee and oak.  I guess that’s whisky for you, but it’s so beautifully expressed here.

Finish - Long, long toffee, sharply sweet and wooded.  Epic.

What’s not good about it - Nothing... actually... perhaps the wood in the final, final moments strays into bitterness a little far.

What’s good about it - Long, great complexity.  Enormous balanced sherry notes and wood backing.  Intense, balanced and a long finish.  Not much else to ask for.

Springbank 18 year old, 46% A⊕

Springbank18-LARGENose - Restrained, a little more classical, but still has that darkly understated tropicality the other malts have.  Wax, ripe pear, a hint of cherry and that beautiful balanced peat that Springbanks have.  I love the way the range are all such great blends of sherry, bourbon and peat.  The results are beautiful.

Body - Sweet landing, waxed bourbon and then sherry.  Oddly uncomplicated compared to the 15, but still destroys most 18 year olds.

Finish - Long but sour but with expensive waxed edges.  Bitterness again, and a little one dimensional in the icing sugar sweetness.

What’s not good about it - Long, bright icing sugar sweetness is a little dull compared to other expressions.  The nose is more restrained.  It’s not, in my opinion, as good as the 15.

What’s good about it - Lovely peat and sweet balance, intense sherry and oak sweetness.  A fabulous dram despite the competition from its siblings.

Comparing the 15 and the 18.

15 n - more peat, more ripe dark cherry and red fruit, more rich wax.  b - more structure, more tropical, more smoke at the back

18 n - restrained but classier, more wax and lipstick, more strawberry.  b - more tropical at the front, bitterness at the back, more tobacco.  Comparing them side by side, the 18 is clearly superior.  Comparing them sequentially, I enjoyed the 15 more.  Weird that.

Springbank 21 A⊕+

springbank-21jr-oude-uitgaveLargeNose - Intense fruitbomb nose and bubblegum, old-Tomatin like but lacking some of that three dimensionality.  Faint backing of oil and structure but it’s hidden a little more behind the lewd front notes and the Marlboro lights.  It’s still balanced but younger expressions had more impact with the integration between the masculine and feminine aspects.  On further investigation, this 21 is showing recesses of complexity and perfume.  Reluctant and a little shy, but has depth.  

Body - An amazing, long, intense and complicated development.  From initial fruit explosion to dark, bitter, long and deep finale, this delivery can’t really be broken into body and finish.  Although maybe....

Finish - an unexpected sherbety and bright, citrusy finish arrives way after you would expect, with oil, wax and peat balancing everything out.  The intensity is there and bright and bold.

What’s not good about it - Doesn’t give up its treasures easily.  Compared to the rest of the range, very expensive (at release, now it’s sold out it’s way over the mark).

What’s good about - Complicated, challenging, exciting and extremely well played.  An enormous, easily misunderstood whisky.

My money is on the 15.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

SMWS–Joe’s retirement tasting!

Joe McGirr has been with the SMWS for almost exactly 10 years.  He’s had a number of roles including the renovation of Queen Street, and for the last four years he’s been manager at Greville Street in London.  He and Tom Thomson really introduced me to the society – Tom sent me my first tastes and got me interested, and Joe made sure I got hooked and became a member.  At the start of August he’ll be leaving (to join the London Distillery company as Chief Operating Officer) and this tasting, at the sign of the don restaurant in Bank, was his last with the SMWS. 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Springbank 12 year old Cask Strength batches

Springbank don’t add the batch number to their bottles of the massively wonderful and wholly recommended 12 year old CS.  This causes lots of confusion for retailers and customers, if they want to go by the batch number.  David Allen was good enough to provide me with a definitive list, which I provide here for the education and enjoyment of all.  You can identify the batch by the (so far unique) alcohol ABV.
EDIT: Feb 10 2014 - added batch 10
Batch # Year Month ABV
1 2010 January 54.6%
2 2010 September 58.5%
3 2011 September 55.3%
4 2012 February 55.1%
5 2012 August 52.2%
6 2013 January 53.1%
7 2013 July 50.3%
8 2014 January 52.3%
9 2014 July 54.3%
10 2015 February 53.2%

So -
Batch 7 at TWE http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/P-21414.aspx
Batch 8 at TWE http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/P-23467.aspx
Batch 5 at TWE http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/P-17954.aspx
Batch 8 (not 7) at Green Welly http://www.thegreenwellystop.co.uk/whiskyshop/springbank-12-year-old-cask-strength-batch-7/prod_3237.html
Batch 7 (not 6) at Master of Malt http://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/springbank/springbank-12-year-old-cask-strength-batch-6-whisky
Batch 10 at Green Welly https://www.thegreenwellystop.co.uk/whiskyshop/springbank-cask-strength-batch-10/prod_3818.html

Monday, 7 July 2014

Rundlets and Kilderkins Horizontal

Three Springbank expressions all matured in small barrels (15 and 18 gallons) so as to mature faster.  At the Springbank masterclass, David Allen told us that they wouldn’t ever make any more Rundlets and Kilderkins expressions as the cost was too high – they should just put the bottle price up!

Hazelburn Rundlets and Kilderkins A⊕+

image_HAZEL10RK_1Nose - Intensely sweet, fruity, cherried, light, sweet men's perfume and waxy leather.  Much more wax and expense than I remember at the masterclass.  A peat edge, some black pepper and some charcoal.  Great depth balanced by charred oak notes.

Body - Creamy, sweet, toffee and some spice.  Chocolate notes and a little swimming pool.  Intense, sappy pine.

Finish - Medium, chocolaty, fizzing at the end.  Great light sulphur and petrol tones.  Just delicious.

What’s not good about it - Very little, perhaps a little on the sherbety, fizzing, light side (due to the 2.5x distillation perhaps) but that’s its character.

What’s good about it - Deep complexity, intensity and balance.  Great fruit and toffee delivery, some chocolate, balanced wood and spice.  Lovely stuff.

Springbank Rundlets and Kilderkins A+

springbank--rundlets-and-kilderkins--abbeywhisky-250Nose - Immediately arresting, very, very lovely on the nose.  Deep dark wax, toffee, old wood, juicy red fruit and leather, raspberry and cherry liqueur, and brown sugar dissolved in melted butter.  The sweet fruit is expertly balanced again, with spicy, waxed wood, bright leather and light herbal notes of sage and rosemary. With water, the fruit recedes a little leaving a little more in the way of cigar tobacco, leather and light toasty, toffeed peat.  Still lovely.

Body - Oily, a little fried fish, toasty, raisins, some intensity but quite restrained (in some dimensions) given what I was expecting from the nose.  

Finish - Long, oily, rich and good apple juice and intense pine wood.

What’s not good about it - The delivery lacks a bit of balance and fruit, water doesn’t open it up much.  A small let down given the nose.  Some unwelcome bitterness in the finish.

What’s good about it - But what a fabulous nose.  Loads of balanced, intense fruit and dark tones, great complexity.

The Springbank has such a wonderful nose I’m disappointed that the body isn’t quite so stunning.  It’s not bad - it’s just shown up compared to the Hazelburn which does deliver, and to my expectations.  Thanks to Chris for the sample!

Longrow Rundlets and Kilderkins A⊕+

lgrob.2001Nose - Sweet peat and cider vinegar.  Smokey toffee.  Deep fried whitebait and tartar sauce.  Bright, creamy wax.  Apples and fresh oak staves.  Very exciting and mouthwatering, deeply sweet and savoury.

Body - Smooth, intense delivery, with unripe apples, intense toffee, musky leather and book bindings.  A torrent of oak and malted barley.  

Finish - Long, sour cherries, toffee pennies.  Wonderful balance and character, complexity and confidence. 

What’s not good about it - I guess challenging - the character is toasted, savoury vinegar offset with balanced peat so it’s quite a toothsome, fish and chipsey kind of dram.  

What’s good about it - But that’s pulled off effortless and with real virtuosity.  Complexity, character, integration and balance are all spot on, plus it’s really different.  It’s almost like a good blend, the range of components and their integration.  I love it.

Thanks to Chris for the sample again!

HazelRowBank Rundlets and Kilderkins A⊕

Ralfy did it so I thought I would too, but with the Rundlets and Kilderkins range.  Equal proportions of each three, “bottle matured” for 2 weeks in a 3cl sample bottle.

Nose - Sweet with red cherry and light wax, offset with a subtle coastal smoke, loads of apple and red apple skin.  A little ozone.  A rather lovely, classy toasted peated edge, some cigar tobacco and toffee apple.  Very good!

Body - Sweet, cigars, a little vegetal, bright pine notes, waxy and long oily salted caramels.  

Finish - Quite long, loads of cigar, oily toffee penny and a little bit of damp charred oak.

What’s not good about it - Well, you have to buy three bottles to make it.  The initial part of the delivery is a little thin or perfumy, but that’s made up for almost immediately.

What’s good about it - But otherwise it’s actually pretty good.  Loads of toffee, great light peat, like the musky, dirty backing to the fruity wax. Tempted to make more than 3cl now...