Friday, 23 February 2018

Green Welly 1993 Glendronachs

It’s like Glendronach are “getting rid” of all their 1993s!  A surprise beauty released by Green Welly to celebrate their 10th year online, then one from Abbey, now two more from Green Welly shipping in a few weeks.


Thanks to GW for sending me samples of these three, much appreciated.

Glendronach 1993, Cask 653, 60.4% A⊕+

Green Welly 10 years online edition.

Full term maturation in Oloroso cask, 19/03/1993, bottled 2017, 407 bottles.

gd1993_653Nose - Rich and ripe as you'd expect; roasted red berries and coffee grounds, strawberry laces and cherry chocolate sponge. With time, the icing off a Mr. Kipling chocolate cupcake. There's a deep balance in that sweet richness though, that I recall from the last Glendronach 1993 I tried (notes below, apparently I didn't publish it!). With time that really deep, reduced sherry tone, reminds me of the big, deep old Japanese sherry casks. A touch of cigar tobacco and some puff pastry with water. The waxy sherry, the Japanese is even more pronounced.

Body - Balance again - cherries and hubba bubba at first, whistle pops and an interesting charred smoke later on. Fluctuates between robust structured oak and flashes of sweetshop fruit. Bright yet deep, and intensely sherried but with herbal notes and well-structured wood.

Finish - Coffee and cough candy, new varnish and cherry tunes. Very long, veering back into cough candy at the end. Numbing wood oils with water.

I love the deep, balanced Japanese feel to this. It's numbing, tannic in its delivery but the fruit is enormous and its very, very drinkable.

Glendronach 1993, Cask 654, 58.9% A⊕+'

Full term maturation in sherry cask, 19/03/1993, bottled January 2018

gd1993_654Nose - Meatier than the 653, less coffee, more biscuit. Chocolate milk with Jaffa cakes. There's a minty, earthier quality to this one, with a little hand cream, a touch medicinal.

Body - Dreamy. Perfectly balanced on cream, red berries, bitter coffee and dark chocolate. It is really, really compelling. Even better with a tiny touch of water, a bit more richness, more cream against the woods.

Finish - Very long, that mintiness really enhances the sherry richness, somehow carrying it further across your palate right up into your hind brain. Old wood varnish (numbing and splintered), licked perfume, cigar tar. Orange zest at the very end.

One of the most addicting whiskies I've tasted, there's something that compels you to have another sip here. I think it's the bracing wood in the finish, but really well balanced.

Glendronach 1993, Cask 655, 59.4% A+

Full term maturation in sherry cask, 19/03/1993, bottled January 2018

gd1993_655Nose - Waxier, more plastic than 654, but that wax is much more grown up and "HQ" - even more cream and less of the challenging cheap chocolate and medicinal notes that 4 had. It's more luxurious. More citrus with water, a mounting orange zest.

Body - Hops, caraway and cigarettes. Oddly much less luxurious than the 4, more herbal and astringent in front of the brown sugar and sherry cask. The chocolate is slightly burnt, the retronasal wax works well though. Better with water, but still a little challenging.

Finish - Herbal cigarettes, beer and sesame snaps. Long but bitter, some lemon pips… slightly awkward compared to the others. With water, the citrus starts to sing and brings another dimension to this sherry and wood onslaught.

Out of all these, this one has the integration issues. This is the one that feels "finished" although obviously it isn't.

Glendronach 1993, 23 years old, Oloroso Cask 40 (batch 13), 58.5% A⊕

I think Jon Webb sorted this one out as a bottle share back in batch 13 days.  I wrote notes back then but forgot about it – there’s a lot of notes I haven’t managed to publish!  Anyway, not GW related but still 93, may as well stick it on the end.

glendronach-23-year-old-1993-cask-40-whiskyNose - That's what Glendronach's (enormous) reputation is built on. It's a perfect sherry bomb, and for me that means that it isn't raisins and sulphur, it has structure, it's fresh, it has perfume as well as being sweet, rich and beautifully (if quite intensely) sherried. This is the perfect sherry nose; soft sherry, window putty, malt loaf, caraway and soft liquorice. Complex, fruity, elegant, intense. Even better with water, the bearing of a 40 year old.

Body - Gentle, roasted plums and tart tatin. Sulphur and fruit with water.

Finish - Charred oak, massive tannins, very spicy, almost peated. Very, very long, burnt raisins and liquorice to finish.

You can't ask for more from a single cask Glendronach.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Bathtub Gin

Bathtub Gin Navy Strength, 57% D

bathtub-gin-navy-strength-ginNose - Bright but clarty, quite cereal and lots of brown sugar. Cinnamon stick and quite christmassy - dried orange peel and ginger.

Body - Spicy and very soapy, icing sugar and way too much powdered cinnamon.

Finish - Medium and horribly sweet. Cardamom ice cream.


Cadenhead's January 2018 AC outturn

This has been in the can for over a week but I haven’t had a minute to stick all the photos together.  Everything is still in stock at time of writing except the Bowmore.

North British, 1989, 28 years old, 59.1% A⊕

northbritishNose - Wax and very creamy, sort of medicinal, like a fungicidal cream would smell. There's a beautiful clean, perfumed fruit too - it's like acrylic paint, new magazine but underneath it that reassuringly deep, old cask. A really beautiful nose. More grown up with water, more apple and harder, cut blonde oak.

Body - Big, ripe, very sweet but right on point with the dusty wood. Some spice balances that intense toffee. A snapped cinnamon stick with water.

Finish - Medium with baked apples and warm ginger. A little clove with water.

A really deep, complex whisky for a grain, and very well put together. Totally crushable too. Winter drinking.

Carsebridge 1976, 41 years old, 49.1% A-

carsebridgeNose - More polished, more berries. Furniture. This is restrained and elegant on the nose where the NB was engaging. Again, this is perfumed and masculine, with green apple chews and cold, wet glass. Bright and confident in its age.

Body - Deep, flashes of meatiness and almost wine cask, a really beguiling spice and cinnamon heat…

Finish - and I was warned about this but the middle drops out of the delivery, leaving a short finish with traces of toffee but not much else.

That drop is much less pronounced with water, there's a chalky bonbon thing going on and the finish goes on a little longer, but this doesn't have enough body to it for me.

Tomintoul 11 years old, 56.1% B⊕

tomintoulNose - Cold, young cereal, a little Brett sourness and a crushed flower stalk. Good birthday candle/buttercream icing combo here, and the fruit is a reassuring - apple chews with a touch of face cream. Better with water, creamier and better integrated with more pronounced cask. Very comforting so far.

Body - Gentle, confident and balanced, the wax and chew sweet carries over from the nose. Not too sweet.

Finish - Short but clean, a touch of bitterness.

Workaday but good for it, a fine drammer.

Speyside 19 years old, 49.4% A+

speysideNose - Ripe, slightly on the turn in fact, with caramel and jammy dodgers, men's perfume and marshmallow.

Body - Very creamy but grown up, actually it's a bit like baileys. In that it's really delicious. Some tobacco but the very careful presentation is a delight, it's lush.

Finish - Short-ish but tannins behind the cream make for a good landing. A touch of Sichuan pepper at the end.

This is an extremely well presented whisky (interesting, well put together and no harsh edges) and would make for a perfect gift to get someone into single cask whisky (with a Glencairn)

Balmenach 2004, 13 years old, 53.2% B+

balmenachNose - Some sort of meat pie (lard crust, stewed beef), crayons and women's perfume. Actually it might be lipstick and foundation.

Body - Deep and intense, liquorice torpedoes and the blue bobbly liquorice allsorts. Water softens the liqourice but brings up more of the paint, cloves and a cloying sweetness.

Finish - Long with licked acrylic paint and chewed liquorice root. There's a really lip smacking depth to the sweetness here - at the end there's soft liquorice.

This is a bit of a clumsy whisky, good nose though.

Glen Moray 1992, 25 years old, 46.2% A-

glenmorayNose - Crushed boiled sweets and sawed oak staves. Cooked orange peel and orange lip salve. There's something spa-like here, hot wood and beauty products you can’t buy unless you’re running a spa business. More robust with water, a flamed orange twist.

Body - Wood glue, maybe Pritt Stick, Tang orange powder. Actually, dried malt extract. Less midrange with water, a little orange funk.

Finish - Long with lazily tropical notes to it. Tannic, bitter citrus peel. Fizzy vitamin C drink with water.

Also clumsy but in a different way - it's full of fruit juice and lip smackingly bitter and sour with citric acid. Much more drinkable than the Balmenach but still awkward.

Mortlach 1988, 29 years old, 55.1% A+'


mortlachNose - Deep and meaty, with permanent markers, black olives, roast pork (and rosemary) and a slightly nutty wine cask - yet it's also fruity, with lots of wax and an obviously good cask (cherry lip salve). It's also light and dusty, with vanilla cream. Bright wood glue with water. I wonder what it was in before the sherry butt (if it was, it isn't mentioned)? With time, that sweet, sour, peanut dipping sauce for chicken satay.

Body - Big, nutty but then zesty with flashes of sulphur. Some cardboard. Good red wine richness and more of that meat stew.

Finish - Long and zesty, and Snickers bar with a glass of cold Sauvignon Blanc. Very long actually, the tail end gets more balanced and sweeter as it develops.

The nose is good here but the delivery really shines. Having said that, it is slightly challenging to drink (numbing, astringent, bitterness against that wine cask) and the casking means it's very different to some Cadenhead's Mortlachs of this age from the past.

Aultmore 1989, 28 years old, 43.4% A

Sherry HHD since June 2015 - 2.5 years. A short finish for Cadenhead's.

aultmoreNose - Very big, with rolling tobacco, old wood varnish, whisky soaked raisins and honestly it reminds me of big old whiskies you get under the counter at a whisky festival. More tobacco with water.

Body - Intense wood and lacquer, I can see why this was pulled from the sherry hogshead so soon, it's verging on virgin oak levels of wood. Cigars and stewed tea, fizzers. Mexican hot chocolate with water, with a unexpected fruity acidity, like an espresso that's posher than you're equipped to appreciate.

Finish - Long and bitingly tannic and drying. Licked cigar. Gently dirty with water, like a reeses peanut butter cup thing.

Delicious but it's a bit confused. I was really expecting to love this one but there's too much wood in it for me.

Tomatin 1994, 23 years old, 47.4% A⊕

Sherry HHD since June 2015.

tomatinNose - Fresh and waxy, more paint (yesterday's paint though) with blackcurrant jam and raspberry herbal tea. Strawberries and chocolate raisins with time.

Body - Rich, soft and huge stewed fruits, raspberry and blackberry pie with ice cream and hot, crisp pastry. Extremely drinkable.

Finish - Long with baked brown sugar, pastry and green apple peel.

Approachable, luxurious and delicious. Recommended.

Strathmill 1995, 22 years old, 50.8% A-

Refill port cask since October 2005

strathmillNose - Wider than the Tomatin, more wood but it's chalky and a little bit minty with wood glue and cola cubes. More black fruits with water, and cut plums and shower gel.

Body - Garibaldi biscuits, cardboard and cigar tobacco. Not what I was expecting at all! Cheap milk chocolate and hazelnuts. Astringency catches at the back of the throat, like TCP lozenges. Like liquorice imps actually.

Finish - Medium with lots of sugar, like chewing on those biscuits. A softer finish with water.

Again I had really high expectations of this one, but it's a little ordinary.

Militonduff 39 years old, 44.6% A⊕'

miltonduffNose - Light, a little sour, some washing up liquid (there is a very good way in which this is like this - sort of like new leatherette), quite floral but - very light. Cheap kids orange drink, men's perfume, and faintly, fruit toffee (strawberry I think).

Body - Very, very poised, very elegant. Rich wood but baked plums and soaked raisins. Really rich and complete in its austerity.

Finish - Quite short but backed up by ghostly old wood. The fruit and a certain tannic, charred cask note fades out to the end.

This is the kind of understated, beautiful whisky that just makes sense. It's weirdly light but it does hang together well, in the same way that the Aultmore doesn't.

Bowmore 2002, 15 years old, 54.3% A+'

bowmoreNose - Clean, precise minerality, pure ozone and rock, sugar coated, cold and wet. The cask is very present and very clean. There's a hint of dirty young malt here too. Paint and petrol with water.

Body - Sweet, intense icing sugar and white paint, bitter malt. Softer and more complicated with water, ripe peaches and banana milk. A proper, single cask, indie delivery.

Finish - Long and sweet, candy shells and white pepper. Slightly dirty at the end.

This is really good. If you're struggling to keep up your Bowmore quotas (because you keep necking them) this is a good bet.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Longrow Red 2018, Cabernet Franc

Longrow Red, 11 years old, Cabernet Franc finish, 55.9% A+

9 years in bourbon, finished for two years in Cabernet Franc Barriques from the De Torren Private Cellar in Stellenbosch, South Africa. 9000 bottles, bottled on 23rd January 2018. Less than 100 casks of Longrow are filled each year making every bottle of Longrow a limited release. Cherish these releases!

IMG_4227Nose - Restrained sweetness, raspberry jam, quite flinty at first. It's quite an aggressive peat  (remembering that this is only 11 years old), there's some gunpowder - quite Ledaig-like here. Underneath that a bedrock of softer Campbeltown peat and a very light fruity funk. There is something a little clumsy in the nose though, a raw cereal tone, although it improves with time and could be because the bottle is new open.

Body - Sweeter now, with ripe plum, cream, fizzers and engine oil. The fruit is most developed in the initial delivery, giving way to ice cream wafers and juniper. The wine cask builds as does the sweetness and funky peat. Sour fruit and red wine with water, but much gentler and a richer experience.

Finish - Fizzing with jammy dodgers (lots of biscuit), and lots of cream (texture and flavour) at the end, with liquorice Sichuan peppercorns and engine oil.

Expectations are high for this, and it is a quite challenging Longrow in terms of peat levels and youth. Time and water do wonders for the experience, which also brings out the wine cask a lot more. This is good, the delivery is particular delicious, but it's a fair distance from last year's Malbec.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Chorlton Whisky

I can only apologise for how long I’ve had these kindly donated official samples!

They have been very well picked.

By the way my new year’s resolution is to write as little as possible in the intro to my whisky reviews.  Personally, I now scroll through them to get to the tasting notes so I’m giving up the back story for now (not that I really got into having one).  It’s just whisky.

Burnside 20 years old, 51.7% A⊕

burnside1Nose - Gentle, damp but with dusty, toffee depth and a really beautiful cask and wood to it. Every year is well represented here, it smells like an OB. Ripe, to the point of greasy mango, some black forest and a little pineapple. Lovely.

Body - Gentle again, but there's an insistent burnt splint and hot radiator note here, and a touch of heat. Some sourness to that mango.

Finish - Slightly plasticky but robust woods and sugar are well balanced against each other, with a really deep sweetness at the end and more overripe tropical fruit.

A really, really classy nose here with quite a lot of first fill bourbon character to the delivery. Absolutely delicious though, I quite like the burnt note in the delivery but the intense sweetness and that sour note in the delivery throws it a little.

Bealach Ruadh, 8 years old, 58% A+'

bealach1Nose - Perfect young Caol Ila (I will assume) - crushed shells, lemon and ozone, that fresh funk of cuttlefish bone - really dusty, malty and invigorating. Lemon and buttercream icing on vanilla sponge. More mineral with water, cold wet glass.

Body - More vanilla, intensely but very perfectly peated and drifting into slightly rotten and medicinal. Fresher with water, green apple skin and a touch of clove.

Finish - Coffee, biscuit, lemon tart. Very high cocoa dark chocolate with water.

Perfect young Islay.  Well recommended.

Ledaig 10 years old, 57.4% A+

ledaig1Nose - Also very "pure" to the distillery, an almost creamy edge to a fresh, cereal peat here. Lemon curd, laurel leaves and blackcurrant jam, women's perfume and Victoria sponge. Rich, but vibrant and fresh. A touch of petrol with water. Delicious.

Body - Extraordinarily fruity (raspberries, gooseberry fool), but then spray deodorant and chocolate sponge. Unacceptably astringent with water.

Finish - Long, intensely drying, lots of bitter wood but it works perfectly.

A bruiser, and a very compelling one. I liked this more than the Caol Ila at first but it was more tiring, however the nose on this is extremely classy.