Thursday, 25 June 2015

Expensive Laddies

There’s a galling trend for Bruichladdich to be quite expensive, but very good.  And ultimately, worth it.  It’s almost as if they know exactly how much they can get away with!

The first set are from the Micro Provenance series (previous reviews here) and were released initially as a 3x20cl set for £90 with an associated tweet tasting.  I split this down the middle with my mate Jon but missed the TT.  The relevant full bottles are still available for sale on the Bruichladdich website (£90 each and mostly quite young, although the Pomerol cask is more reasonably aged), but the 3x20cl set sold out very quickly. 

Then High Noon, the Bruichladdich Feis Isle 2015 bottling (£100 for 50cl), some old whisky in here but very winey.  Then the Master of Malt single cask laddie pair.  These were the first to have their new glass stoppers (pretty cool) but at 12 years old and about £120-£130 on release, there was widespread outrage when they came online.  They clearly sold very few and reduced the price to under £100 which was enough for the international bottleshare group to split the pair and hence, the review appears below.  MoM need to be careful with their reputation.

Anyway, the world kept turning, and then Whisky Broker released a 12 year old Port Charlotte with a peculiar wine finish.  This wasn’t expensive (although, as usual, Whisky Barrel bought up half the stock and is now selling it for 20% more) but takes away the taste of price gouging and rounds off the flight – enjoy!

Micro Provenance Cask #014, 63.6% A⊕

2007 Islay Barley Fresh Oak, 468 bottles

Distilled in 2007, bottled in 2015. This single cask is the first ever release of the 2007 harvest of Islay Barley, matured in fresh oak. The barley was grown Rockside Farm on the wild west coast of the Rhinns by Mark and Rohaise French.

b14Nose - Remarkable. This smells old and elegant, like a big Glenfiddich, but with a red wine sauce backing. It has some youth too, some new make cereal behind it, but it so perfectly balanced with fresh red berries, furniture polish and toffee. Wonderful nose, epic cask - big expectations. With water, sweeter and slightly more gentle but no less fun.

Body - Ouch! Youthful intensity, sharp barley, lots of spice and power, seriously lacking in elegance although it certainly works. It's a bit like getting a whiff of someone else's fag and remembering your first cigarettes - it's strong and powerful and you know something important is happening, but the feeling doesn't really feel sustainable. With water, gentler, a bit more together. A lot more water brings sweet soap and less aggression.

Finish - Long, soapy and spicy. Lingering wood, numbing aniseed and tobacco in the mouth. Shorter finish with water and less dimensional - numbing blonde oak and tobacco.

What's not good about it - The delivery doesn't live up to the hype. It needs some old complexity and depth to round this out.

What's good about it - A fantastic nose, clearly something really special cask wise. Compelling and aggressive throughout. It's a pity they don't sell more of the 20cls of this though - one a decade would see you right.

Micro Provenance Cask #007, 63.6% A⊕

2004 Ribera del Deuro, 303 bottles

Distilled in 2004, bottled in 2015. This single cask from Warehouse 11 contains Bruichladdich spirit matured full term for ten years in European oak that previously held wine from the Duero valley, one of Spain's DenominaciĆ³n de Origen on the northern plateau.

b007Nose - Big again. Deep and elegant, dusty and lacquered. Strawberry laces, cherry pipe tobacco and granite. Pure and excellent. Water brings a touch more tobacco, less fruit, but arguably it's more grown up, although a touch of deodorant suggests a teenager.

Body - Spicy, dark and big red wine. Sweet engines, like a big, dirty, wine finished Springbank - and that's before water, at nearly 65% ABV. Remarkable stuff. With water, some sulphur in the immediate delivery, balanced oak and gunpowder, granite, liquorice. Sweeter, but still mature.

Finish - Long, dirty wine (but no sulphur) and tobacco. Drying tannins and constrained spice. Rather compelling.

What's not good about it - Challenging, again, for sure. The sweetness promised in the nose, and that would round out the whole delivery, doesn't happen. But it really works.

What's good about it - Another epic nose, much more accomplished in the delivery. Fruit, balanced sulphur and a big dirty wine finish that's dry but not nutty or overdone. It's like the Longrow Port but drier and sourer.

Micro Provenance Cask #009, 52.1% A⊕+

1992 Pomerol, 296 bottles

Distilled in 1992, bottled in 2015. This single cask from Warehouse 12 contains Bruichladdich spirit that has matured in casks of European oak from one of the great winemakers from Pomerol.

b009Nose - Now this is an exceptional cask. Sweet, pure wood, sweet red wine and a touch of black Chinese vinegar. Intense, bright and venerable, with sour cherries and polish.

Body - Big, juicy, but a bit dry and with copper coins at the side of the mouth. Pine nuts and privet hedge. Deep oak, and lots of age. Really drinkable too. I'm reminded of a big old Balvenie.

Finish - That immediate drying sulphur I love so much, then a little travel sweets, fried parsley, toffee. Perfectly spice. Wonderful stuff.

What's not good about it - struggling to find anything.

What's good about it - Finally a bottle in this set that fires on all cylinders. Balanced, old and elegant, intense and fruity, waxy and numbing. Brilliant.

Bruichladdich High Noon (Feis Ile 2015), 48.7% A⊕

bhnNose - Flipping heck this session isn't getting any easier. It's like he's been blending all his favourites! Immensely dark and sweet, but with that compelling dry, sweaty sock edge that can balance deep toffee and a little metal. Big and beautiful. Expensive. With water, wax, fruit and luxury. Beautiful.

Body - Very, very winey. Dry and nutty, lots of playbark and almonds. Not as luxurious as the nose would suggest, but pretty damn delicious nonetheless.

Finish - Medium and metallic. Ozone and more playbark. How odd! Good fun though.

What's not good about it - Seriously dry on the finish, too much wine.

What's good about it - The best nose of the night. Some big whisky in here. Despite the balance problems, this is beautifully drinkable and I'd happily stick on this for many hours.

Now the MoM single cask laddies.  These are low outturn because they bunged the rest into Darkness! casks for extra sherry.  They’re already pretty silly.  No denying the quality of the spirit even if the first fill tomfoolery is a distraction, but way too expensive.

Master of Malt, Bruichladdich 12 years old, First Fill Bourbon cask, Single Cask Series, 57.3% A⊖

15th July 2002 to 26th November 2014, 114 bottles. Special stopper!

bruichladdich-12-year-old-2002-bourbon-cask-single-cask-master-of-malt-glass-closure-whiskyNose - Dark and intensely first fill bourboned. This smells like a sulphured sherry cask has been racked into a first fill bourbon. Not that this doesn't work on the nose - it's young, brutish and sweet, but simultaneously beautifully spiced, with raisins and big vanilla custard and pastry. A delicious nose. With water, sweeter, more Islay, some truffle honey.

Body - Deeply sweet, toffeed and balanced with drying sulphur and tannins. Lovely. With water, softer and more more rounded.

Finish - And then cabbage. Big, boiled cabbage and cabbage water. Palate destroying sulphur. Hidden behind this may be a brilliant whisky. Except I can't taste anything else but cabbages.

What's not good about it - Sulphur.  Given the colour and sulphur you would call this as a sherry cask – maybe it was in one at some point?

What's good about it - Beautiful nose, lovely initial delivery. Destroyed by sulphur. The good news is that if you're not sensitive (and you should know if you are by now!) you'll love this. I'm somewhat sensitive, and really love it just up until the cabbage stage, and that’s too far for me. If you're very sensitive, you'll be unhappy with this.

Master of Malt, Bruichladdich 12 years old, First Fill Sherry hogshead, Single Cask Series, 62.3% A+

28th June 2002 to 26th November 2014, 86 bottles.

bruichladdich-12-year-old-2002-sherry-cask-single-cask-master-of-malt-glass-closure-whiskyNose - More restrained, fresher cask influence and classic sherry. Quite young though, with dusty raisins, sherry soaked barley and slightly fetid (although no sulphur). A compelling, deep, joss stick like sweetness, if a little one dimensional, neat (but it is 63%!). With (quite a lot of) water, a lovely, complex sweetness develops - cask and spirit together. Polished furniture, leather and roses.

Body - Sherry bomb. Poised on lightly sulphured, nutty, quite dry. Meaty and toothsome, cabbage highlights. No problem though, lovely stuff. More peppery with water, much more with it.

Finish - Very long, slightly peppery, deep spicy sherry, lingering barley. Water, after all this talk of pepper, brings chilli and sesame snaps. There is, sadly, still some cabbage in here but I'm learning to filter it out.

What's not good about it - Still sulphur. For the price, it's another underperforming whisky (you could certainly do better elsewhere)

What's good about it - but price aside, it's rather delicious. A sherry bomb and no mistake.

Regarding the glass stoppers, these are pretty cool.  They look good in the bottle and it’s an interesting curiosity.  The deal is that these won’t degrade over time and there is a tight plastic seal which presumably won’t allow evaporation over time, so the whisky won’t disappear if stored for decades.  Quite a consideration for “looking” whisky that’ll probably never be drunk (unlike these 12 year old indies).




The stopper is very tight indeed, you can pick the full bottle up by the stopper.  To get it off you have to lever it off at the side (the wedge shape internally allows you to do so).  It’s sealed by a plastic ring at the top edge of the stopper.

You can read more about them on the MoM blog here, and even buy one for a quid, here.

Whisky Broker Port Charlotte 2002, 12 years old, Gran Callejo Wine Cask, 55% A+

Goodness me we need some peat and something a bit more down to earth price wise. This Whisky Broker PC 12 sold out in minutes, and I scored one, but Sean sorted me out with a sample so I don't need to crack mine open just yet. Thanks Sean!  Still sold under a different label by Whisky Barrel.

pcwhbNose - Immediately swimming pool - that wet towel thing with damp chlorine. Then the big peat and wine makes me think more of Longrow port cask. Not cutting it after the High Noon as it's another wine finish, and not quite as well done, but I'm pleased for some peat finally, and a lot of earth.

Body - Delicious. Dusty PC, sweet, balanced and clean, although not fresh. More fetid, but still fecund. Orange juice and liquorice torpedoes.

Finish - Juicy, ripe and correct. Long orange juice, bitter peat and oak between. Works well.

What's not good about it - Oddly, compared to the rest of the session, the nose is the weak point. Too much wine, not enough midrange. Mind you, bear in mind that this whisky came after some of the best laddie noses in the business!

What's good about it - Juicy, balanced, delicious delivery. Great fun to drink and very satisfying. And always fun to meet a whisky where the delivery outclasses the nose. Also, thank god for peat, the salt of the whisky world!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Signatory Vintage, Imperial 1995 Cask #50164

Spending, as I do, so much time exploring single cask indies, it’s quite rare that I manage to get notes out while the whisky is still in stock!  This one is though, and comes highly recommended.

Signatory Vintage, Imperial 19 years old, 54.6% A⊕

Hogshead #50164, 21.08.1995 to 06.03.2015, 273 bottles.


Nose – Gentle, but deep and classy.  Ballpoint pen, lacquered wood, sour plum and strawberry chewits. Deep, sharp, balanced and intensely sweet, with bright, waxy cologne highlights and overall, very special.  More so now than when I first opened the sample actually, some time and O2 have opened the nose up.  Water brings a little more citrus fruit and juice, and some pastry.

Body – Intense – lots of toffee, some spice, a lot of wood, some preserved lemon, a backing of spirit sulphur.  Quite a nutty, dry backing behind that sweetness.  This is actually quite a robust whisky, but balanced and engaging.

Finish – Medium, nutty and some pine, drops the ball a little at the end in terms of complexity – at least compared to the nose.  A big, numbing, grapefruit finale.  Delicious stuff though.

What’s not good about it – Robust – if you’re reaching for a gentle, well rounded married malt from the bottler, you won’t reach for this.  Water softens things out a little but it’s less interesting, I’d stick to the full cask strength experience for a bit.  The finish isn’t as compelling as the nose but that’s a minor point when the rest works so well.

What’s good about it – Fantastic nose, great complexity, very interesting and engaging, serious stuff.  What a cracking cask!

Friday, 5 June 2015

Kilchoman 100% Islay, 5th Edition

The 4th is still my summer favourite – everything about it says the second night on a beach holiday.  And classic Kilchoman too – read my rather gushing review from last year here.  2015 brings another batch of this whisky, created entirely on Islay.  I must say I’ve found every single “Islay everything” whisky I’ve tried to be fantastic, what an island.  Hooray for Islay and Kilchoman, and hooray for the 5th edition!

Kilchoman 100% Islay, 5th edition A⊕

kilchoman-100-islay-5th-edition-whiskyNose - Bright ozone and freshly cut grapefruit. Really fruity, like a seabreeze (the cocktail), bacardi, a touch of wet cardboard and just a little cinnamon. Sawdust peat and peppered salami. Bright and summery. Water brings more fruit, refreshers and clean skin.

Body - Sweet then intensely sour (again, like grapefruit), more sawdust and some digestive biscuit. Just an echo of pear drops.  Enormously sweet but balanced by bitter peat.

Finish - Long, lemon scented peat and astringent. Sherbet lemons and cardboard at the end. Lovely.

What's not good about it - not the most complex dram in the world…

What's good about it - … but still one of the summeryist. I love the breezy, lemon juice, clean sweat and grapefruit. And Kilchoman spirit is so damn good…

Compared to the 4th edition (which I have a bottle of and has been open for nearly a year) -

On the nose, the 4th is grapier, winier, more granite peat. Dustier and more sun baked. The 5th is deeper, some more toffee, and a little waxier.

Delivery, the 4th is still wonderful - intense, toasted, bright peat, classic Kilchoman. The 5th is more three dimensional, with an almost Limoncello ending. Wonderful stuff.  Overall, although the 5th looks better on paper the 4th is still my favourite.  A little more austere and more sun bleached – take one on that staycation to Kent.  Both great though.

Thanks to Kilchoman for the sample!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

SMWS June Outturn

This outturn was brought to you by the flavours of raspberry jam, coconut, chocolate hobnobs and too much spice! 

Great outturn this month though. Some interesting “tasting” whiskies in here and a few big “drinking” whiskies too.  If that makes any sense.  Those Islays at the end are massive.  Get ready…

SMWS 17.39, Relax, take it easy, Scapa, 12 years old, 56.1% A⊖

23rd January 2002, refill bourbon, 243 bottles.

20150603_161519Nose - Light, dusty but rich ice cream. Peaches and cream, raspberry jam, pastry and coconut, with a mineral high note. Really beautiful, rich, creamy and delicious. Hopes are set very high. With water, lighter and less of that richness but good light vanilla and lemon.

Body - Initially sweet and delicious, but then spicier and younger than expected. Finally really quite hot and quite harsh – roast (burnt) lemon and lemon pips.

Finish - Long but very hot. Ashen, sour and quite harsh with water.

A beautiful nose but a serious flaw with the heat.

SMWS 7.118, Long johns and velveteen smoking jackets, Longmorn, 12 years old, 59.1% A-

17th September 2002, refill bourbon, 224 bottles.

20150603_163020Nose - Now we're talking - deeper, ruder raspberry jam, on rice pudding, a touch of incense cone, a well seasoned oak log, travel sweets and bakewell tart. Lovely.

Body - Sweet, oak sour, more pastry and spicy again. Deep boiled sweets on the tip of the tongue.

Finish - Long and hot, dry and tannic. Lemon curd.

Better on the spice but still a bit challenging. Again, a lovely nose, lovely fruit but marred by the spice.

SMWS 7.117, Mouth-coating, viscous and weighty, Longmorn, 24 years old, 55.2% A+

15th June 1990, refill bourbon, 244 bottles.

20150603_170535Nose - Ripe, deep and balanced. Toffee pennies, hob nobs, white flowers, coconut ice, hot butter and deodorant. Grow-bag. With water, significantly fruitier, but pleasantly dusty like a hot summer day.

Body - Tobacco, toast and (retronasally) fresh coconut dug out of the shell with your teeth. Sweet but balanced, spicy again. With water, more masculine in the delivery.

Finish - Medium, straying into bitterness. Pine oil. Salt.

Interesting, quite intense. A really compelling savoury pastry and coconut edge, not totally integrated but interesting.

SMWS 30.85, Citric and sweet duality, Glenrothes, 21 years old, 50.2% A⊕+

9th June 1993, refill bourbon, 203 bottles.

20150603_170547Nose - Everything I'd hoped for. Deeply, deeply sweet, quince jelly, Brasso (thanks Ben), Sauternes and copper coins.

Body - Deep, fruity and tropical. Dusty oak and good tannins, macaroons and malted barley. Popcorn and fizzers. Delicious.

Finish - Long and understated, but tannic and drying. Very well poised. Sweeter with water.

A beautifully put together whisky. I'm so happy!


SMWS 48.56, Popcorn in a sauna, Balmenach, 13 years old, 56.3% A⊕

1st November 2001, first fill bourbon, 214 bottles.

20150603_172556Nose - Fresh, bright and zesty. Lemon sherbet, orange ice cream, a touch of garage forecourt and tomato leaf. Balanced by good cask - vanilla cream. Just lovely. With water, the cask comes through a bit more, with just a touch of peat. Beautiful.

Body - Deeply sweet and more pastry, earth and tomato plants. Vanilla cream and chocolate hob nobs with water. Ripe, biscuity and a little pineapple.

Finish - Medium long, Sauternes, deeply sweet. Lovely.

A beautifully made whisky, and wonderful drinking. Not a duff note played.


SMWS 39.106, Deliciously sweet but feisty, Linkwood, 10 years old, 61.1% A⊕

7th May 2004, refill bourbon, 264 bottles.

20150603_174817Nose - Young and feisty, orange zest, tea tree oil, pea pods, fairy liquid and granite. Sweet malt, intensely so, very nice with a big young SMWS nose.

Body - Dark toffee and jaffa cake, blood orange and PVC glue. With water, lovely intensity and more balanced.

Finish - Long and sweetly oaked. Almost endless pain au raisin. Very good indeed, although not quite as good as the Balmenach.


SMWS 121.78, Dinner time!, Arran, 15 years old, 54.9% A⊕

2nd December 1999, refill bourbon, 281 bottles.  A more modern Arran – so younger but made later, rather than (as usual) tasting stuff right at the end stops of how old it can theoretically be.  So they should have got better at making the spirit, right?

20150603_180548Nose - More chocolate hobnobs. Light stone fruit, menthol tobacco, sugar puffs and Victoria sponge. Shampoo, whipped cream and Danish pastries. With water, some acrylic paint and more tobacco. It is very shampoo - in a very good way.

Body - That balanced sweet, dry, oak thing that older Arran is doing so much these days. Unripe apple and suet pastry.

Finish - Long, balancing sulphur. Dusty oak and cherry. Very good.


SMWS 41.65, Sweet couscous with Argan oil, Dailuaine, 30 years old, 48.7% A⊕

25th September 1984, refill bourbon, 86 bottles.  Another ancient Dailuaine!

20150603_181849Nose - Sweet but dry, more fairy liquid, shoe polish and Pritt Stick (in a good way). Oloroso sherry, new printed card (John says vinyl but I think the record cover) and new carpet.

Body - Salted lemons, oak floorboards, nice biscuits, bright, complex wax and coffee. Pretty epic.

Finish - Pepper, grapefruit juice and lingering lemon zest. Quite long, very balanced overall and generally epic. Enormous. But lacking just a touch of midrange.


SMWS 64.61, The Angel and the Devil, Mannochmore, 13 years old, 57.6% A+

5th March 2001, first fill bourbon, 231 bottles.

20150603_183118Nose - Blue cheese and good oak. Dusty cherry, kumquat, and lactic, sour butter. Poster paints and chalk. Takes a good while to open up though, and lacks integration, but interesting.

Body - Lovely. Dark, ripe and cherried, but balanced with dry citric top notes. Some new make - not fully formed, but interesting and oddly compelling.

Finish - Hot and buttery, a little cloying, over the line in terms of sweetness. A confused dram that doesn't quite know what it is.

It took me a while to decide what I thought of this.  It's good, definitely interesting, and quite challenging. I probably wouldn't drink it if I had it at home.  A taster.

SMWS 4.205, A riddle wrapped in a mystery, Highland Park, 14 years old, 62.1% A⊕

2nd June 2000, first fill bourbon, 213 bottles.

20150603_185717Nose - Deep, burnt oak, embers. Beautiful Highland Park toffee. Herbal and intensely sweet with a touch of Germolene. Deeply satisfying, intense and warm, with that earthy, baked pine thing that's so society Highland Park. A really lovely nose.

Body - Ripe, intense orange and toasted oak. Charcoal and chocolate malt. Pickled lemon and Sichuan peppercorns.

Finish - Big, bitter oak and aspirin. Deep toffee. An echo of peat finally. Water brings more toasted notes with salted, roasted peanuts.

The nose is just wonderful. But the delivery is a little bitter. It's still a strong buy.


SMWS 27.109, Guns on the grouse moor, Springbank, 16 years old, 58.3% A⊕

31st May 1998, Refill sherry gorda, 738 bottles.

20150603_190927Nose - Immediately sexy. Mid-range heavy, dry, nutty sherry and Springbank engine oil. None of the over-nutty dryness of the 27.107 though, plenty of sweetness from (yet more) raspberry jam filled fried doughnuts, caught caramel, dark marmalade and good level of sulphur. Incredible on the nose.

Body - Wow. Intense nutty sherry but balanced perfectly against massive character, red wine and stuffed vine leaves. Salty and slow baked ham hock. Complex and winey. Balanced.

Finish - The nuts and wine comes in waves. Lingering cabbagey sulphur takes the edge of the perfection but I would expect this to sort itself with some time and air.

BUY - it's a real shame about that sulphur in the finish (in the nose it's perfect) but I'm confident it'll open up. This is an epic whisky, it's put a real smile on my face.

SMWS 29.161, A bodega is burning, Laphroaig, 14 years old, 60.4% A⊕+

14th April 2000, refill sherry, 494 bottles.  This will be popular, fortunately there’s loads of it.

20150603_192808Nose - Intense and wonderful. Ripe toasted peat, bandages and germolene and toast and butter. The wine is perfect in here. It's like the intense TWE signatory Laph 15 but a bit less intense. Wonderful.

Body - Doesn't disappoint. Big hitting Laphroaig, sherry and TCP. Numbing peat, vinegary and ashen. Fabulous.

Finish - Long, balanced, beautiful. Intensely peated, long burnt barley and burnt sulphur.

Wonderful stuff, again. Society Laphroaigs can do no wrong at the moment. Make no mistake though, this is robust.


SMWS 53.220, Flirting with Florence Nightingale, Caol Ila, 17 years old, 57.2% A⊕

3rd March 1997, refill  bourbon, 253 bottles.  Good to see Caol Ila back on the menu!  You had me worried for a bit then…

20150603_194328Nose - We should have done this before the Laphraoig (sorry John). Sweet and sour, S&V. Barley and acrylic. Cut cherry, spaghetti bolognaise, permanent marker. Strawberry glaze and vanilla essence. Laundrette. In time, some seriously old Islay comes through.

Body - Rich and ripe - Portuguese vanilla tart. Tobacco and licked new leather.

Finish - Salty. Tannic. Leather belt. Big and brutal but also has a backnote of that old dusty Islay thing - that's what you're left with. This is old beyond its years.

Another interesting whisky, but very drinkable too. Tannic, very drying, but loaded with sweetness. Really divided but definitely works. What a remarkable whisky.


Have a great month!