Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Campbeltown Very Last 2017 AC outturn

Oops – I thought the last outturn was the last of 2017.  I honestly couldn’t comprehend having any more Cadenhead’s.  But I did actually know about this one, I’d seen the list, I’d just blocked it out!  It’s been a busy time.

The Nevis.  The Linkwood.

Glen Spey 16 years old, 55.4% A-

GlenSpeyNose - A lovely chalky and lightly sweet character on the nose, with a touch of laundered towel on hot radiator. This has some of that excitement of a dram at the end of a distillery tour, and a little travel sweets. Lemon sherbets after sipping. Even better with water, it reminds me more of a new library - new varnished wood, plastic book coverings and new carpets.

Body - Sharp and sweet, with gooseberry fool, preserved lemons and white chocolate. Creamy and rich but that lemon leaves it feeling quite young, and slightly hot. A lot sweeter with water, some refreshers, but still lacking that midrange.

Finish - Long and hot with roasted lemon shells and caught raisins. Fruitier with water, peaches and orange peel twists.

A good drammer but young and without the confidence and integration to make that properly work.

Aberlour 17 years old, 52.8% A+

aberlourNose - Sweeter, fuller, a tiny touch of funk, some modelling clay and a little coffee. This is grown up in a different way to the Glen Spey, there's a deep stone fruit and waxiness behind the clay and sugar. An exciting and compelling nose. Even better with water, it gets darker, fruitier and the sulphur becomes more toasted, more serious.

Body - Deep and dank, coffee again then very distinct red boiled sweets and a lovely touch of sulphur. I am surprised this is a bourbon cask. As it develops a touch of bitterness comes through but take it slowly, concentrating on the nose, and stick with the fruit, sweetshop and waxes (milky coffee with water).

Finish - Medium with fruit polos and pink peppercorns. A little charred oak at the end.

Delicious and exciting, but in the end perhaps a little delicate? The nose is especially good though.

Glen Moray 19 years old, 55.5% A⊖

glenmorayNose - Hard, glazed but fruity, particularly compared to the Aberlour. But classier, with cherry boiled sweets, fizzy cola balls, rosemary and hot radiator. It's restrained but very deep.

Body - Soft, fruity, a touch of fizz but really rich, one of those intensely oily, fruity and satisfying deliveries that are so relaxing to drink. It is also immensely sweet, more so with water.

Finish - Long, with more fizzy boiled sweets, Foxes glacier mints, red currants and a little stewed tea.

The sugar builds and builds with this one, it is almost unbearable after a while. Which is a shame as it's absolutely delicious at first.

Linkwood 20 years old, 57% A⊕

linkwoodNose - Very fresh and summery, melon with raisins and vanilla custard, almost French strawberry tarts actually. The wood is gentle, high quality, and lightly waxed. Melon going on mango, with time. All still green, though, with sawdust and lime curd. More tropicality with water, great balance.

Body - Deep and tropical, balanced and confident, this has lime juice and oils on your hands after making a margarita, and a rich tannin at the side of the mouth.

Finish - Kind of short (in a very mature way) but lightly fizzing all the way down, like a big fruit bomb Scotch (although a lot more restrained than that).

I can't quite believe this is 57%, it feels like 42%, but somehow it's all even better with water - more cream, more tropical fruit, more structure, more lime. Very delicious and drinkable, perhaps just a little bit pedestrian for all that (it's not a '76 Tomatin, despite my gushing), but nevertheless an excellent whisky and is highly recommended.

Glen Grant 22 years old, 57.2% B⊕

glengrantNose - Slightly sweet and sour, with sawdust, red wine reduction, drilled out bricks and art room clay. I tried this at Darrenmas and was underwhelmed as I often am with Glen Grant, although in a saner environment I do admire the deep wax, but this is very refill sherry.

Body - Much better than I remember actually; ripe fruits, mint leaves, fizzing orange powder, earth. But that mint and sharp, flinty refill sherry butt is what's bothering me. Fruitier and more toffeed with water, a touch of coffee wood and cereal.

Finish - Long and pointedly sweet, mint bonbons and icing sugar.

This just doesn't hang together for me, sharp refill sherry and quite thin and icing sugary, although the nose grew on me with time.

Glentauchers 41 years old (1976), 42% A⊕+

[Sold out]

glentauchersNose – Depth and alien tropicality, but not flabby - it's actually quite zesty and robust. It's got tropical fruit squash (neat), cut mango, and recent cut old oak floorboards.

Body - Immense depth, with fruit toffee, coconut, wet oak and a slightly rotten, slightly sour fecundity. Sesame snaps and Thai coconut soup.

Finish - Coffee beans, glazed fruit, very long but alien fruit all the way. That fruit is just balancing out the wood, only just. Obviously no water added.

Meeting an old master. This has been a great year for Glentauchers at Cadenhead’s and elsewhere, and this is a great end to it. Old, practically doddering, this has been plucked at the very last moment and is utterly delicious. To be enjoyed by the cut crystal tumbler-full.

Mortlach 14 years old, Guyanese rum since October 2014, 55% A+'

[Sold out]

mortlachNose - Robust - toffee pennies, hard, charred oak, cut grass and a lot of caramel. The rum is an insistent backnote here, with real burnt sugar and crushed flowers. It's compelling. Dustier but fruitier with water.

Body - Dirty, dusty, very dry with black pepper biltong and nutty wine cask… and a touch of banana Nesquik.

Finish - The rum kicks in at the end, with petrol, bitter woods (perhaps chewed aspirin) and more black pepper. After the dram, it feels like you have been drinking rum, not whisky. A big, yellow cask.

That big, rich Mortlach spirit works brilliantly against the rum cask, the effect is as compelling as it is challenging. Recommended.

Ben Nevis 21 years old, 51.1% A⊕'

Ben Nevis 21-750x1000Nose - Funk, fruit and toffee. Stewed raspberries, with membrillo, Ribena and Campari. There's some funk, and a moist cigar too. Some Ben Nevis’s are sublime – all barely restrained filth and fruit - and some are very ordinary. This one is in the first camp, and I'm always on the lookout for them.

Body - Soft, ripe fruit, burnt marshmallow and sulphur. As rich and warm as the Linkwood, not really tropical but dirty, creamy and full of just on the turn orchard fruit.

Finish - Long with blue cheese and peppery oatcakes.

Two big thumbs up. This would go very, very well after the port. I didn't get round to adding water. Merry xmas.

Auchroisk 16 years old, Lafitte cask since 2009, 54.4% A⊖

[Sold out]

auchroiskNose - Sweet but hard, like a hazelnut shell, with extra strong mints, baked red apple skin and vanilla sponge. Cigars, maybe it's cigar boxes, and a touch of stewed beef.

Body - Buttercream icing with strawberry, strawberry jam and then a big whack of nutty red wine cask. Flashes of sulphur. The savoury wine cask is absolutely delicious.

Finish - The nuttiness is almost at bong-water levels by the end, and we're firmly in Victoria sponge territory with the jam. It's all beef at the end.

Quite an extreme wine cask to end the year on, which veers into cabbage at points. The Glengoyne from last month was a lot better presented. This one is just too hardcore.

Glen Scotia 18 years old, sherry butt, 56.9% C⊕

scotiaNose - Big and fruity, dusty and full of age, this has sweet and sour sherry on top of cereal, with blackcurrants (and blackberries), Parma ham and gunpowder. Dustier, more compelling with water, some proper age on it once the funk recedes.

Body - Sweet sherry, refreshers, lots of sulphur, a little cabbage but pulled back into boiled sweets and Christmas cake icing with marzipan. Dirty – and living dangerously. Chalkier with water, very distinct cabbage.

Finish - Long and winey, lots of sulphur, but a really beautiful cask fruit with it.

There's an incredibly beautiful whisky here trying to escape a nasty, dirty cask, and not succeeding. When you play the game of sulphur you either win, or you die.


Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Springbank Society–Longrow 9 years old, 2017 release (and friends)

A bit of a catch up in honour of the new society bottling, a 9 year old multi-cask Longrow.   Longrow is good.

First off a couple of Longrow 18s. 

Longrow 18 years old, 2016 release, 46% A⊕'

longrow-18-year-old-whiskyNose - Boiled sweets dusted with sugar, car air freshener, old varnished oak and whistle pops. There is that very lovely sweet and dusty character you get when the harsh peat, originally balanced by sweetness, ages out to ethereal. This is what I love in 18 year old Longrow and 26 year old Bowmore.

Body - Gentle and dreamy, dusty old peat and cream, refreshers and an ethereal Asian fruit. This develops with more intense wood and green Sechuan pepper.

Finish - Very long and gently fruited with perfect balance between oak, fruit more robust, slightly peppery peat.

If this came out of Islay it would be 25 years old, hailed as a masterpiece and cost £600.  Coming out of Springbank… you can see why everyone who gets it is so obsessed.

Otherworldly and mature way beyond 18, how do they make whisky age so well in Campbeltown?  Thanks to Greg for the share of this one.

Longrow 18 years old, 2017 release, 46% A⊕

IMG_3784Nose - Deeper and winier, there's a nuttier sherried note in here that's beefing up the maturity, with a touch of coffee and lots of window putty. That ethereal peat is lost in the sherry, but in return there is a grown up, waxy, lacquered sweetness.

Body - Peppery with real wine cask and a fair bit of sulphur, but gentle with chilli chocolate and honey, back with the refreshers with time.

Finish - Long, hot with sulphur and the return of the '16's ethereal peat. The final delivery is quite intense but really compelling.

Very different than the 16 tasted side by side, although both are excellent. I had originally tasted the 16 at the end of a tasting at Cadenhead's in London, and thought it was amazing. Since then, I've had an open bottle of the 17 since it was released and thought it was similar but better. However trying them side by side I definitely prefer the 16. Either way, this is a real cork chucker for a long night with friends.

I will be all over the Longrow 18s from now on, like the Springbank 18s that nonchalant excellence makes them great session drams.

Next the most recent Springbank Society release. Big thanks to Andrew Purslow for splitting his bottle so we could try this.

Springbank Society late 2017 release, Longrow 9 years old, Fresh Sauternes hogshead, 56.3% A+

IMG_3785Nose - Sweet and fruity, like neat tropical squash. This has young, robust peat in the nose, lots of sugar and oil, caramel and lit patchouli joss sticks. There's an oily, woodsy confidence to it - lots of earth and engine. A little bit sexier with water (toffee apples), a little bit meatier too.

Body - Extremely sweet with cigarette smoke, rollie tar and WD40. Even sweeter with water.

Finish - Peppery, very long with chocolate icing and the coconut ├ęclair from Quality Street.

Another intense bruiser, but this time the Longrow carries through that dusty intensity.

Next a whisky from the Campbeltown warehouse tour. This one I had to try, thanks to Brora (who has abandoned his own blog preventing me from linking to him) for getting me this one.

Longrow 15 years old, Warehouse tour, Chardonnay cask since 2008, 56.2% A⊕+

IMG_3786Nose - Perfect, dusty, ancient peated whisky, with loads of Campbeltown in it. This I would have picked as over 18, more like 20 years old. I often think the Longrows come out less peated than the Springbanks and this seems so gentle and ethereal. It's talcum powder, peach, damp cigars and bramley apple. It's beautiful.

Body - Deep, meaty, with definite burning coal fires and an incredible sweetness behind it. The dusty refreshers continue in parallel with nutty red wine cask. Dirtier with water.

Finish - Enormous - lots of clove (it's palate wrecklingly clovey), liquorice and TCP. Indian almond cake and cardamom at the end.

This is a phenomenal whisky, totally crushable and absolutely fascinating. Great wine cask and I love the cloves in the finish.

Next some cage drams from my last visit to Campbeltown, where I just bought anything with Longrow written on it.

Longrow duty free sample, 9 years old, refill port butt, 58.8% A+

IMG_3788Nose - Reminds me of an old flintlock gun - shards of stone, gunpowder and oak. Then plums, wax and milky coffee. Robust, young, rich (quite chocolatey) spirit and a very gentle, but noticeable hand from the cask.

Body - Sweet and sharp, Ribena and gooseberry fool.

Finish - Chocolate and green peppercorn sauce, very long and a slightly dirty peat.

What's really special here is that mineral, chalky nose with the robust, confident spirit.

Longrow duty free sample, 13 years old, first fill bourbon, 56.8% A⊕

IMG_3787Nose - Much sweeter and cleaner, and dusty, closer to the 18yo 2016 above. Mineral and chalk - like the refill port, this has a gentle warmth (baked green apple) with modelling clay. More intense, more waxy with water. Beautiful, really.

Body - Gently sweet, frangipane and baked apricot, the vanilla cream from the FF is perfect against that apricot tart. There's significant peat in here but it's structural to all that fruit, oil and vanilla.

Finish - Long and creamy, ripe banana, more peppercorn sauce, maybe with offal now.

Really tasty stuff, if you've got casks of this knocking about and you're sloshing it into the live cask at the Campbeltown shop, you might as well bottle it for the cage eh?

Longrow duty free sample, 16 years old, first fill sherry, 46.1% A⊕'

Nose - Up with the 18s now in terms of maturity, this is full of wax and Vimto, teenage perfume and cigarettes. There's big fruit here, oranges and melon in with the blackcurrants. After sipping, a touch of sulphur. Fruitier with water. Reminds me of the summer nights of the early 90s.

Body - Very gentle, light fruit sauce on vanilla ice cream and a cigar on the side.

Finish - Quite a lot of red wine cask in the finish. Short to medium and really gentle but then, right at the end, big, menthol, numbing oils.

Evocative always gets extra points.

I also bought the living cask Longrow from the Campbeltown shop but I think I necked it before making notes… oops.  Sort of pointless making notes anyway as they were glugging another random unmarked bottle into the cask as I bought it.

Finally the recent Longrow Red. I didn't buy enough bottles of this.  I tried this quite a lot during the 2016 Campbeltown festival but then it spent another year in the vatting casks.

Longrow Red, Malbec (2017 edition), 13 years old, 51.3% A⊕+

IMG_3789Nose - After quite a lot of writing that sherry casks smell like red wine casks, it's great to actually have a wine cask. It's harder than the sherry, and there's a proper clay note in here, like river bed clay. Dried hibiscus flowers, baby's breath (maybe even baby sick again), evaporated red wine and a snuffed candle.

Body - This is where this whisky really shines, and it is really hard to say why it's so good without using words that I've used elsewhere but meant it less. It's the vanilla, it's like an "Eat" Victoria sponge slice, with candied oranges slices and angelica but for some reason it really, really works. One taste and you start googling a backup bottle.

Finish - Ripe, a little sulphur, more cake, lots of fruit. Fizzing with the ghostly notes from the 18 at the top and a touch of heat from the sulphur, then extra strong mints which bring you back for more.

I hesitated with the extra + but it really is that good. Ripe, lots of fruit, but totally balanced with the clay and a quite ferocious menthol numbing finish.

I kept a leftover sample from last year's Campbeltown festival where we tried vatting samples of this Longrow in multiple tastings. I was very impressed with that then, but this has sat around for ages since. Notes published before.  So just for fun…

Nose - it's sweeter, slightly more medicinal and more berried. It's waxy, but more birthday candles (prelude to that sponge slide perhaps) than clay.

Body - Hotter and more ordinary, a bit more gunpowder and cardboard. Cranberry.

Finish - More bitter, hotter pepper.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Springbank Local Barley 2017 edition

The third (sort of) yearly release for the local barleys – of 5.  The first one was released in February 2016, the second in February 2017, both of the previous years were characterful and excellent whiskies, I believe the first one will be the oldest of the whole set. 

Springbank Local Barley, 10 years old, 57.3% A⊕

Belgravia barley from West Backs Farm, June 2007 to November 2017, 9000 bottles

springbank-10-year-old-local-barley-whiskyNose - Coffee and a little butyric at first glance, then lots of wax, royal icing and pine needles (ahem). Underneath, waxy cask, quite hard but with red fruits and buttercream. Dominantly creamy and waxy, none of the brimstone of young Springbank and a rather beguiling chalkiness. The coffee becomes danker, slightly oily with water.

Body - Sweet, but balanced with absolutely classic Springbank oils, a touch of marzipan, gunpowder and Shreddies. Fruitier and dustier with water, much more of the character of the 18 year old, and a really delicious development, very sippable.

Finish - Medium to short, peppery at first with liquorice imps, green apple and that butyric note back at the end. Softer but more cereal and pepper with water, wet oak and a touch of chilli pepper at the end.

I'm very pleased with this year's LB, it's got class and maturity, but really spiky and interesting to match its age, and very in character for a flagship official Springbank release. Hope you got yours!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Cadenhead’s end of 2017 Small Batch

One last batch before the end of the 175th anniversary, some great ones here.  The Dufftown is a real smasher.

Thank you Cadenhead’s for an absolutely epic year of whiskies.  It’s been very expensive but you’ve set me up for life!

Strathclyde 28 years old, 46% A

Strathclyde 28 46 V -750x1000Nose - Gentle, creamy, a little caramel and good dusty, charred wood with a solid fruit backbone. It's a cross between hand soap and mature cask, very feminine and perfumed, with flashes of wax and char.

Body - Soft lemon sherbet and a fresh bouquet of flowers, extremely easy drinking with orange squash and cut oranges.

Finish - A very long and gentle delivery, just the most polite hints of grain character and wood. A little white wine and sherbet at the end.

This is the easiest drinking whisky I've tasted for a while, this would be a perfect poolside dram, late summer easy drinking. Well recommended.

Dufftown 10 years old, 56.8% A⊕

Dufftown 10 56.8 -750x1000Nose - Waxy, mineral, slightly butyric, apples on the turn, a little hot and sweaty. The wax pulls it together but it is quite… savoury. The fruit deepens and sweetens with time, water further accentuates the wax.

Body - Big, rich, with a real complexity and maturity way beyond 10, that funky note is a little like the cheesy elements you get in really old whisky. Oaked chardonnay, but slightly hot (verging on the ammonia in blue cheese). Water softens the ammonia, and brings a more complex cask, slightly charred and plenty of lacquer.

Finish - Long and peppery, with lots of oil and deep fruit - blackberry and baked apple. Waxed furniture and pear drops at the very end.

A really complex, interesting and delicious whisky at such a tender age! Very impressive.

Glenburgie 13 years old, 54.7% B+

Glenburgie 13 54.7-750x1000Nose - Musky and a lot more restrained than the Dufftown, this has the middle knocked out and is a lot more elegant, with cut grass, washing up liquid, snapped crayon and a little cigar wrapper. Whistle pops with water.

Body - Simple compared to the fireworks of the Dufftown, with clean apple, candy cigarettes and a touch of chewed liquorice root. More fruit and wood spills with water.

Finish - Medium long with Werther's originals and aging chilli flakes. Very peppery at the end.

Quite ordinary after the Dufftown and following on the heels from the rest of the year's Glenburgies, although a decent drinker.

Mannochmore 20 years old, 52.7% A+'

M_More 29 52.7 -750x1000Nose - Fresh with furniture polish and bright cask, but also oranges beginning to mould and old cut oak. Fungicidal cream, in a good way. The fruit is complex and intriguing, but it gives way to cream if you push on it too hard.

Body - Sweet, balancing wood, a touch of Sangria/mulled wine with walnuts in toffee. Another one with real age on it, but real structure too.

Finish - Quite a bit of chilli heat, almost peppered biltong. There's lacquered wood behind that, dusty oranges and charred wood.

A really robust, important whisky, bordering on blustering. I'm scoring this lower than the Dufftown as it's just less fun to drink, but it's a really good taster.

Strathmill 24 years old, 50.3% A-

Strathmill 24 50.3 -750x1000Nose - Very waxy, green apple sweets and baked apples, with lots of nougat in rice paper and just a little parkin.

Body - Extremely drinkable, a gentle introduction of tobacco and baked apples, something slightly fetid (bong water?), it seems to build structure the more you sip it though. More cigarette paper than cigarette with water (liquorice papers?).

Finish - Rollies with warm white wine and Haribo – reminds me of university. A thoroughly sweet backbone carries this whisky well to the end.

Complex and a little challenging, this is very interesting but I think I'm more in the mood for fun whisky.

Glen Grant 24 years old, 45.9% A+

Glen Grant 24 45.9 -750x1000Nose - Acrylic paint, clumped and quite thick, with a really deep, lacquered wood behind it and lots of apricot jelly sweets. The fruit here is absolutely delicious.

Body - Clean and fruity but it has a rather ordinary cereal leading edge at first. This then develops into something like marmalade, but it's less robust than that.

Finish - Medium short with ripe fruit and slow developing charred wood and pepper.

This is an accomplished, gentle whisky with good character. I've drunk a lot of good, old indie Glen Grant in the last few years and I'm not usually blown away, and delicious though this is, it's no exception.

Linkwood 24 years old, 52.9% A+

Linkwood 24 50.9 -750x1000Nose - Big and rich, this has mint toffee, liquorice imps, buttercream, old candle wax and yesterday's charred wood chunks. Apple chews and spent coffee grounds with water.

Body - Gentle with coffee, ants, Hershey's chocolate and chewed pencils. Mouth filling fruits and chocolates filled with soft toffee with water.

Finish - Seville oranges, fence panels. Big tannins at the end, and Mexican hot chocolate, maybe coffee with water. Numbing wood oils at the very end.

Tasty but slightly too blustering and unstructured for me.

Bunnahabhain 27 years old, 42.6% A⊕

Bunn 27 42.6-750x1000Nose - Thick, intense, medicinal and white, with chalk, mint bonbons, white gloss paint, lilies and a slightly swiney crackling and pork note.

Body - Soft and alien, gentle peat and dusty wood, pizza dough and clay. It's a slightly unreal delivery; chalk and carbon in charge, lots of gentle, sweet, toffeed fruit backing it up.

Finish - Very gentle, quite short with a touch of coffee and chocolate sponge, hazelnut icing. No water of course, this is on the cusp of aging out.

Meaty, quite weird and very old, this is one of those haunting whiskies that more rightly deserves to be seen off out of a large tumbler by a roaring fire.

Glenlossie 42 years old, 44.2% A⊕

[Sold out]

glenlossieNose - Deep, polite but intense. Toffee apples smashed onto whisky soaked staves, a really bright (if understated) old cask lacquer, and hazelnut membranes. Pork, sandalwood joss sticks and smouldering smoker pellets with water.

Body - Extremely gentle… but it's biscuity, funky and slightly charred, with smashed coconut, caught coconut biscuits, mature cheddar and fruit and nut chocolate. All wood with water, some rice vinegar and cider ice lollies.

Finish - Short at first but it builds, with raisins, flashes of sulphur, charred dried apricots and red currant glaze. Overpowering wood tannins at the end, as is to be expected.

Big, old stuff. Moments away from oblivion.

Glengoyne 21 year old, 52.9% A⊕

Chateau Laffite cask since 2009

Glengoyne 21 52.9 -750x1000Nose - Slightly sharp and nutty, this is older, sharding gloss paint. Underneath there's toasted hazelnuts and chocolate chips. There's a vinegar to this though, a refill wine feel. After sipping, there's more of an orange juice and peel thing behind the nuttiness.

Body - Sweet and sour, with pickled walnuts, fried parsley and a really lovely rich, savoury mouthfeel. Again, on second sip the oranges come out, and it's practically Asian in its fruitiness.

Finish - Long, surprisingly fresh. The wine cask has had an unexpectedly delicious and sweet effect on this whisky. Reminds me of a hot, warmly spiced samosa on a winter high street.

Phenomenally drinkable, I had high hopes here but the massive sweetshop, orangey sweetness under the wine cask surpassed them.

Pulteney 11 years old, 55.8% A-

Pulteney 11 55.8 -450x600Nose - Distinctly salty, with courgette flowers pulled apart and that lovely, sweet, cereal led coastal quality that makes OP so moreish. Raw apple jelly cubes, bandages and more jelly sweets.

Body - Immediately delicious, this has fractured caramel (toffee apple), alka seltzer and apple pie. It's full of baked goods and laundry, and a whole bag of granulated sugar.

Finish - Long and fizzing, plenty of sugar. Palate bending amounts of sugar actually, although it's tolerable due to the nose and the desire to go back there.

The nose was fantastic here but the delivery just overpowered me. I wanted to like this more than I did.

Cadenhead's Creations, Light Fruity Smoky, Vatted Malt, 20 years old, 45.2% A⊕'

[Sold out]

vattedNose - Light, fruity, dusty… erm, smoky! There's that chalky, dry Longrow in here, reminds me of the 21 year old from the festival a couple of years ago. Coffee granules and old rolling tobacco.

Body - Dusty and very old Longrow, with chalk, cocoa powder and lots of minerality. There's a hint of tropicality behind this, ripe mango slices.

Finish - Medium with banana milkshake powder and mild chilli powder. Powdered egg at the end.

Light, fruity, dusty more like. This is a beguiling whisky. I know it wasn't massively popular at the London tasting but I'm a big fan. There's a huge chunk of Campbeltown in this one.

Happy Christmas Smile

Friday, 1 December 2017

Cadenhead’s Rum Catch-up

I’m just starting to get into rum, I’m struggling with the geography but enjoying the booze.  I have notes here from the recent Cadenhead’s rum outturn, quite a lot of which sold out immediately but then came back in, and remain in stock.  I also have notes I’ve been collecting from a tasting at the London Cadenhead’s shop and from bottles or cask ends I’ve opened at home.  Most of that is still in stock too.  I present all these as an innocent but obviously from a whisky background.  There’s some good stuff here though.  In the new outturn, the Panama and the older Trinidad stood out – I didn’t get to try the younger Trinidad yet though.

October 2017 outturn

Panama 9 years old, single cask, 46% A+

PANAMA 9 -750x1000Nose - Deep at first, brown sugar, caught crackling, and a real abundance of wood. The rum character is a little minty (spearmint) on top of the richness and cask, and there's a men's perfume thing in here.

Body - Sweet, gentle and deliciously poised between mint and fruit (mango and apple).

Finish - Medium to short, with a great progression into wood tannins and oils, but it remains fresh and sweet to the end. Quite tannic at the end which brings you back in.

It doesn't say how many casks are in this, but it's a very nicely put together rum for long term sipping. Fruity, balanced, but quite masculine and really delicious to drink. Perfect for a party or a sitting round a fire.

Jamaican 14 years old, 46% B+

JAM 14 -750x1000Nose - Darker and dustier - sawdust - with blackcurrants, liquorice torpedoes and a vegetal note, petrichor. Hints of medicinal creams too, I don't know what it's called but it's given to toddlers with eczema. There's also, on exhale, a really interesting chalky/waxy note. I like the restrained and slightly challenging feel to this.

Body - Bright, a little sour with big cereal notes - crushed barley and aspirin, burnt toffee with anise and fried cinnamon stick.  Not restrained at all.

Finish - Long and quite hot at the back of the palate, a little like being punched in the nose. Salt and vinegar chipsticks at the end.

An interesting rum, but for me it's too hot and challenging to be offered at 46%. The panama is a much more pleasant proposition.

Trinidad, Trinidad Distillers, TMAH, 25 years old, 64.3% A⊕+

Trinidad 25 -750x1000Nose - Fresh, with coffee chocolate, freshly cut oak staves, peeled satsumas and something like talcum powder or travel sweets. On reflection, there's something like a metalwork room - oils and swarf. Then again, there's a fruity, waxy, beautiful cask feel to this that I'm guessing has more to do with 25 years in a Scottish whisky warehouse than Trinidad.

Body - Soft with black fruit again and a really gentle, oily wax. Beautiful fruit, it's unmistakably rum flavoured but it's a stunning spirit of any kind, really.

Finish - Long but gentle and extremely fruity, full of wild blackberries and slightly under ripe pear.

Hauntingly delicious. At 64%, I didn't get round to adding water. Two bottle territory, perhaps.

Guyana Enmore, MEV Pot Still, 26 years old, 57.2% A⊕

Enmore 26-750x1000Nose - Even brighter, waxier and fruitier than the others combined, the rum and wood come together in a really bizarre way (reminds me of felt lined boxes, old women's perfume and jewellery). The fruit is brighter, and more distinct than the Trinidad, with green apple skin, papaya and sultanas.

Body - Much dirtier than expected, dry and nutty and full of ants and chapulines, charred raisins, pink peppercorns and burnt toffee. More balanced with water, the fruit comes through more - watermelon and lime?

Finish - After that shock, though (which I'm sure is fully in character for the distillery) we're back in Scotland with a very long, rich and slightly mentholated finish, with lots of sesame and travel sweets.

This is a remarkable spirit, but at this stage in my rum journey I'm not sure I'm speaking the same language as it.

Barbados Foursquare, column/pot still (blended from both?), 11 years old, 60.9% A+'

Barbados 11 Foursq-750x1000Nose - More men's perfume, this rum stuff is very masculine, with boiled sweets, Haribo and, very distinctly, white truffle. This also has an element of "I've been stored in Campbeltown", by which I mean it has characteristics like matured Scotch - it is lovely though.

Body - Sweeter than the others, it's certainly simpler but it has a real creamy luxury to it that belies the 61% strength. More fruit with the brown sugar with water, a touch of gunpowder.

Finish - Some of that dirty rum feeling at the end, it's quite short and tannic with burnt sugar and it's a little swiney.

My palate is awash with parma violets and fruit now. Rum is a lot more tiring to taste than Scotch. This one is undeniably delicious, again.

Guyana Diamond, MPM Pot Still, 14 years old, 59.1% B⊕

Diamond 14 59.1 -750x1000Nose - Deep and slightly damp (wet rugs) but with this really intense, quite exciting character to it - charred lemon, gunpowder, cut wood, Fizzers and something else - cloudy lemonade? Alka-seltzer? There's a touch of insect funk here too, and the pollen laden stamens of just opened lily. Even more floral with water.

Body - Balanced, toffeed but then there's this Friday night on Poland street thing with cigarette smoke, BBQ and exhaust fumes. It is extremely dry and quite peppery, but there's that insistent rummy burnt toffee thing too.

Finish - Medium with lots of toffee pennies and a touch of smoked salmon and cream cheese.

Another one that's too weird for me (and I thought I liked the weird ones before). A fantastic nose though.

Older releases

These are mainly from May 2017 and before. These first two I have bottles of, the rest I tried the a tasting in the Cadenhead's shop.

Cadenhead's Green Label, Haitian Rum, 5 years old, 46% A+'

IMG_3624Nose - Clean but still slightly waxy and plasticky, some mint, a deep, Scotchy wood sweetness to this, with lime marmalade, milk tart and fresh, citrus woods. Pure summer.

Body - Green apple, oranges, papaya. A gentle sweetness against that very lightly funky rum dryness.

Finish - Clean and short, a residual fizzing sweetness and wood.

Absolutely crushable this stuff, I have been chugging through my bottle of this during the summer months, nothing starts a Friday evening better. It's light and fruity, balanced with some really lovely wood.

Cadenhead's Caroni, 1998, 18 years old, 175th anniversary, 65.8% A⊕

IMG_3625Nose - Sweet but dry, raisins and cardboard, a really elegant and interesting wood, and there's something like joss stick, fence panel in here weirding it up a little. It's quite a familiar nose to a whisky enthusiast though. Big, deep "sherry", lots of wood, lots of raisin. Quite Japanese actually.

Body - Really ripe, varnished wood and cloves. It's pure sherry bomb, crossed with BTAC black wood. More fruit with water, big raisin tannins too. Delicious.

Finish - Long, balanced, black cherries and more high quality raisins. After a very long time, I get the aftertaste of rum, with lovely echoes of ripe tropical fruit, mint bonbons, royal icing and apples. This was a big one.

Dark, delicious and very compelling, I can see what the fuss was about.

Brazil, Epris BMC, 15 years old, 45.4% (Cask Strength) A-

IMG_1940Nose - Perfumed, gentle sawdust, quite sweet, quite xmassy. Plastic book covering.

Body - Clean, apple and raisins, liquorice and icing sugar. Good wood, quite whisky-like except for the perfume.

Finish - Zesty and really clean, drying, delicious.

Lovely, perfumed and springlike

Bardbados - 11 years old, 46% A-

IMG_1941Nose - Slightly dirty, sweet petrol, dirty with a little truffle. Good cask wax.

Body - Vanilla sponge, surprisingly gentle with apple juice

Finish - Short with peppery tannins.

A dirty nose but a really clean (slightly too gentle) delivery

Belize, travellers distillery, 2005-2016 - 63.4% A+

IMG_1942Nose - Sweet with lacquered wood, zesty.

Body - Dark, intense wood, very sweet with blackcurrant. Lots of lemon pepper.

Finish - Dark chocolate and bitter wood, very long.

This could have been a whisky - somewhere between Scotland and America. Intense

Cuba, Sancti Spiritus distillery, CMA, 17 years old, 62.8% A⊕

IMG_1943Nose - Sweet and sour like a lambic, floral wood, perfumed again.

Body - Remarkable, this is bright, Bretty and herbal. Really rich with water, exceptional.

Finish - Long and medicinal.

This is fabulous. Very unpopular with the rest of the table though (like cough syrup!)

Guyana, 16 years old, 46% A⊕

IMG_1944Nose - Waxier, slightly funky, leather strop and old man's hair wax - brylcream? Really grown up and interesting, delicious.

Body - Oddly balanced between rosehips and purple sprouting broccoli.

Finish - a lovely, gentle finish. Fruity at the end.

Classic Rum - 2017 batch 1, 50% A+

A vatting of dark rums

IMG_1945Nose - Gentle with toffee chocolate, red berries and floor wax.

Body - Toffee pennies, rosemary and oak.

Finish - Really sweet, molasses and dark chocolate.

Gentle, good for drinking rather than thinking.

Fiji, 13 years old, 56.9% A⊕

IMG_1946Nose - Plastic and vanilla, herbal and fruit polos, really deliciously rich. Acrylic paint and chalk. Bizarre and delicious.

Body - Really sweet and rich, pure vanilla cream

Finish - Fruit, mint and tequila. Quite hot at the end.

Phenomenal at first but the finish is a little biting and detracts from the insanity.

Guatamalan, 8 years old, 46% A

IMG_1947Nose - Clean and sweet, apple juice and liquorice

Body - Edinburgh rock and pear drops

Finish - Intensely sweet, with wax and bonbons

Quite ordinary compared to the others

Thursday, 23 November 2017

SMWS Black Friday offers

Just a quick note to say there are black Friday and cyber Monday offers at SMWS.
Black Friday is reduced membership fees, Cyber Monday gives you 15% off across the site (using the code CYBER15) - end date for this has been extended to Wednesday

Offer details: 15% off site-wide*
Code: CYBER15
Terms and Conditions: *Excludes bottles which are part of The Vaults Collection (24.129, 25.70 and 29.234)
Start Date: 7.00am – 27.11.17
End Date: 23.59pm – 29.11.17

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The Whisky Show 2017 "art of" bottlings

The show bottlings for the 2017 whisky show had success written all over them from the start.  TWE selection, fantastic artwork, a great theme, great value.  The stand at the show was the one I directed everyone to when they asked what’s good – that and the Signatory one next to it. 

I tasted the Glenrothes and Springbank early on on the Saturday and was blown away by the Glenrothes in particular.  The Springbank lived up to expectations.  The rest were bottles I didn’t pay much attention to at the time – they were good but it’s a whisky festival, it’s not the best place to focus.  Fortunately, our Darren was good enough to buy the whole set on the spot and split all the bottles with our club, and so I bring you these notes.  I hope you can see that I’m just as gushing when I pay for samples as when they’re provided free of charge!  haha.

Anyway, this is my shelf at home – that’s how good they are.  They are mostly still in stock.


Miltonduff 17 years old, art of whisky fermenting, 54.5% A+

miltonduffNose - Clean, but ripe fruit (galia melon), cough candy and crushed candle wax. It is exceptionally fresh, green and Spring-like, with a delicate, bright wood to it. Lovely. Colder with water, a little apple mint and a lot more minerality.

Body - Clean and delicious, fizzing with sherbet and toffee but almost chewy. Sourer with water, more fizzing but more toffee.

Finish - Very long with Smucker's goober grape (swirled peanut butter and grape jelly) plus slightly charred wood. More ordinary with water, although more charred.

A delight, particularly neat. And a real drinker. 

Glentauchers 19 years old, art of whisky bottling, 53.5% A⊕'

glentauchersNose - Waxier and darker, this has fountain pen ink, blackberries, and a gentle but reassuring cask musk. With time that black fruit develops - a touch of Ribena, some purple Refreshers (do they taste different? Maybe it's parma violets) and some poster paint. Extremely classy and a little bit sexy.

Body - Rich and fruity, blackcurrant mirror-glaze tart with a French cooked pastry and those weird orange Revels.

Finish - Very long, mouth coating and ripe, fizzing wood and spikes of sour fruit. Finally, vanilla sponge with icing. Everything is a little bit muted with water, better experienced neat.

Absolutely fantastic - really complex, loads of fruit, well structured. Highly recommended.

Balblair 19 years old, art of whisky mashing, 55.59% A⊕'

balblairNose - Slightly meaty, a little menthol, a lot of treacle tart but mostly this beautifully elegant wood and fruit character. Also, newly laid asphalt, candy cigarettes, ozone and a touch of fresh towels. Complicated and excellent. More lemon or orange curd with water.

Body - More of that menthol, with a slightly citrus character, which seems young at first but with wood and toffee, develops into a really floral, woodsy elegance - more limoncello than lemons. Extremely drinkable, very Balblair indeed.

Finish - Long and full of numbing, slightly clarty oils. Echoes of eucalyptus oil and cut oak planks.

This is absolutely superb also, a big whisky but really crushable. It's more restrained than the Glentauchers but a little bit more rewarding in some ways for it. Also highly recommended, and will happily scratch a HQ Balblair itch if you have one.

Glenrothes 27 years old, art of whisky aging, 51.1% A⊕+

glenrothesNose - Big, bright, but classical and balanced. Perfect old bourbon Glenrothes. Musky cask, a touch of char, a lot of green apple, some spent fireworks and even a little bandage. But it's the delivery I remember curling my toes at the whisky show.

Body - Enormous - intensely fruited, lots of big, deep toffee and cigarettes, hints of sulphur with gentle, but mature wood. Scotch.

Finish - Long with numbing oils, soft toffee pennies, baked apples and cigar tobacco. The lingering feeling is one of warm, relaxed luxury. Afterwards you're left with a real glow.

I bought two of these. Just love it.  It’s a perfect expression of Speyside.

Clynelish 21 years old, art of whisky distilling, 56.1% A+'

[sold out]

clynelishNose - Mineral, wax, restrained peat, and a little bit of changing room action - towels, talcum powder, feet, slightly off-date fungicidal cream and “men together”. Also though, well cared for leather, softmints and potting compost.

Body - A really wide and all-encompassing arrival with chocolate covered raisins, hard pears, Mr.Kipling French Fancies and salted caramel.

Finish - Long but slightly bitter, with Sichuan peppercorns, toast and honey, and charred oak chunks.

A phenomenal nose, a delicious delivery but not up there with the unpeated ones so far.

Springbank 24 years old, art of whisky, 51.7% A⊕+

[sold out]

springbankNose - Immediately this is the kind of sexy stuff that makes old Springbank so enticing - dusty, seductive, fizzy, ghostly peat perfectly blended with old wood, bright but winey, lots of baked pineapple and bounty bars but dry as a bone.

Body - Tobacco, wet wood, dried banana and orange peel. Arresting and very drinkable. Some coffee with water.

Finish - Long with more lemon zest peat and struck flints. Longer with water, with more refreshing fruits.

This is exactly what you would hope for - a big old Springbank but with the corners not yet blended out. Delicious, complex, it transports you directly to Campbeltown.

Caol Ila 7 years old, art of whisky malting, 45.8% A⊕

caolilaNose - Remember how good young Caol Ila can be? Just like Ledaig, this makes you double take. Acrylic paint with wet yeast, fresh bandages and Germolene. Both the Germolene and the yeast get right up in your sinuses in a kind of oily way, just like this does. Ultra-HQ.

Body - Clean and fruity, with very distinct, freshly crushed* malted barley and faint extra strong mints (if you see what I mean, it's not extra strong but it's that character of mint). Gentle at first, the pepperyness builds.

Finish - Long and honest, with white pepper (slightly funky), preserved lemons and hot spring rolls.

Surprisingly gentle, and extremely good. This is going to break my embargo on buying yet more Caol Ila.

* I say this as a man who owns a malt mill