Thursday, 22 March 2018

Cadenhead's Small Batch March 2018

The square bottles are my favourite.

Strathclyde 1993, 28 years old, 55.8% B+

2 barrels, 390 bottles

STRATHCLYDE 28 55.8 390 BOTTLES 2X SMALL BARRELSNose - Obvious grain at first. Then fruit, a little austere but fresh and ripe. Gentle toffee, a cap from a cap gun, green apple and butter. It's very gentle but quite reassuring. Flintier with water, old ice cubes - maybe cider ice lollies.

Body - Wood, cream and more apple (apple pie now). Lots of oil. More astringent with water.

Finish - Short but chocolatey, woods and some tannins later but the fruit is quickly spent.

A decent drinker and a rather intriguing but comforting nose, but otherwise a little ordinary.

Teaninich 2006, 11 years old, 55.2% A+

2 bourbon hogsheads, 450 bottles

TEANINICH 11 55.2 450 BOTTLESNose - Bright and chalky, good wax and a slightly agave character. Some unlit Marlboro lights, some midget gems (lots with water). The nose reminds me of a hot summer night in a whisky bar.

Body - Clean and delicious, more tobacco plus licked cigarette papers and black pepper catching near the tonsils. Toasted marshmallow with water.

Finish - Long, quite spicy, black grape skins and cigar wrappers. Oilier with water, more fruit in the finish and reduced spice.

A robust, honest and delicious drammer. Ordinary but good for it (in contrast with the Strathclyde).

Auchroisk 2006, 11 years old, 46% B+

2 bourbon hogsheads, 783 bottles

AUCHROISK 11 46 783 BOTTLESNose - Sweet and cold, icing sugar and crushed granite but with a little hint of Islay in it. Depth too; caramel, fig rolls and a slightly musky cask. Clean and straightforward, maybe a little flypaper.

Body - Dusty radiator, some travel sweets, more of that ethereal smoke but definitely lacking midrange in the delivery. Some kind of red fruit with time, but I'm searching.

Finish - Better in the finish, the cask fruit joins back in with an oily, peppery ending.

Cannon fodder.

Dailuaine 2004, 13 years old, 46% A-

1 bourbon cask, 432 bottles

DAILUAINE 13 46 432 BOTTLES S/CASKNose - That's more like it, a lot more character here from ever-reliable Dailuaine - strawberry/custard tart with a glass of slightly sour Amontillado sherry and an old leather jacket. Burning coal in a cooperage.

Body - Sour but waxy, liquorice torpedoes and cheap chocolate but again, these 46%ers struggle with the delivery. The mouthfeel does build on the repeated sips though, there's more of that strawberry (dried strawberries I think, maybe strawberry Nesquik).

Finish - Medium and full of sawdust - big tannins at the side of the mouth.

A lot more going on in this one, good fruit and a good drammer, but fans of the square bottles should look elsewhere.

Aultmore 1997, 20 years old, 51.8% A⊕

2 bourbon hogsheads, 450 bottles

AULTMORE 20Nose - Ripe. Crushed flower stalks, strawberry laces and custard powder. Whistle pops. Dunnage warehouse.

Body - Herbal and complete, freshly picked bay leaves with a very pleasing, mouth filling malt character, slightly fizzing. Hard nut toffee.

Finish - Long and woodsy, a really compelling "have another sip" character - tannins and balance. Whiteboard markers and screen cleaner at the end. "In a good way".

Robust and delicious, what works here is the compelling, I can't put the glass down, delivery. I didn't get to add water.

Tullibardine 1993, 24 years old, 43.6% B⊕

444 bottles

TULLIBARDINE 24 43.6 444 BOTTLESNose - Rich with red wine, toasted sourdough bread, cut grass and hard sugarwork. New carpet and a new visitor centre, waxy cask, charcoal (reassuring again). Warmer with water, I'm definitely in the visitor centre now, excited to try some of the whisky.

Body - Green and astringent, runner beans? Then a rich fruit, good cask and cut red cherry.  Quite restrained though, with some minerality. Weaker with water, some cardboard. Damn, the ABV was low to start with though.

Finish - Medium to short, an oily, gentle landing.

Evocative on the nose, bit of a let-down after unfortunately.

Glen Spey, 22 years old, 57.9% A+

2 hogsheads, 438 bottles

GLENSPEY 22Nose - A musky, slightly ethereal character, gentle sweetness with a touch of tobacco, some crushed malt.

Body - Delicious and deep, restraint is a virtue here with good quality chocolate ice cream, crushed blackberries, clotted cream and hot wort.

Finish - Big and bitter (like that wort), quite long too with black cherries and even a little Ribena at the end.

This has quite a lot to give and would probably be an interesting whisky to live with over a whole bottle.

Benrinnes 20 years old, 54%, A⊕+

3 bourbon barrels, 408 bottles [sold out]

BENRINNES 20 S/BNose - Sharp, mineral, crushed wet rock and a proper underlying sweetshop note. Ripe green apple and teenage girl's perfume, in front of really old cask and a hot summer's evening on exhale.

Body - Big, old, tropical and everything you'd want from a Benrinnes, I am amazed this is only 20 though. Extraordinarily ripe with fresh sawdust and salt and pepper. Even better with water, overripe guava and mango chunks with red chilli powder.

Finish - Long, well-structured with an insistent tropicality and an almost cheesy age to it.

An absolute blockbuster, I would have guessed it was distilled in the 70s.

Linkwood 1992, 24 years old, 50.9% A⊕

384 bottles

LINKWOOD 20 53.7 498 BOTTLESNose - Sweet, gentle, again a good wax cask here with cut flower stalks, new magazines and some lightly charred oak (dry, cold). This is elegant where the Benrinnes was blustering. Slightly richer, slightly more chocolatey with water.

Body - Perfectly delivered - soft, fruit toffee at first, felt lined box and a distant fire. Structural woods. Fruitier with water but there's a slightly unsettling bitterness to the wood.

Finish - Long, slightly fizzing with chocolate and fresh cut red chilli.

Another delicious old whisky - as you would expect from Linkwood (and Benrinnes) - more restrained than the Benrinnes and excellent for it.

Cadenhead's Creations, Light Creamy Vanilla, Vatted malt, 1991, 26 years old, 43.8% A+'

228 bottles. Aultmore-Glenlivet, Braes of Glenlivet, Bruichladdich, Glen Grant-Glenlivet, Glenlivet (Minimore), Strathisla and Tamdhu. "This blended malt is from a single cask that was vetted together in 2006" - so it must be a bunch of cask ends or bottles, even, stuck in a single cask for 12 years! A very low ABV for a 26 year old, must be some water or something very old in there too.

CREATIONS 26 43.8 VOL 288 BOTTLE APROXNose - Old but weak (I worry I can't appreciate stuff under 50% anymore, sometimes). There's wax and fruit, there's sweets and icing sugar, there's even a little sesame snaps but it's very quiet.

Body - Actually I think this has just had a few litres of something very understrength and very old added to it. Lots of wax, dusty and slightly cheesy, this is almost peppery and full of understated tropicality.

Finish - Very long and biting at the sides of the mouth. There's a bigger finish than the body, and that's why I think it's been doctored with 30% ancient (forgotten) cask.

I'm probably wrong about all that old cask stuff, and just can't get on with the low ABV, but putting that aside this is superb. It's just too gentle for me. This would be an amazing base for one of your own blends.

Glenrothes 1997, 20 years old, 56.2% A+'

3 butts, 1524 bottles [sold out but with that outturn there must be more somewhere]

GROTHES 20 SHERRY CASKNose - Dark, restrained, waxy with dark roasted coffee and blackcurrant chews. Very clean though, a little bit hard but lots of fruit. Waxier with water, blacker fruit, chocolate malt, milky coffee.

Body - Sharp but very rich, quite hot but real depth of fruit and quite biting oak. Much more speyside with water, lots of chocolate still.

Finish - Long with fizzing black fruit, a touch of liquorice imp.

Super rich and almost chewy to drink, full of blackcurrant chews and oak. Delicious.

Ledaig 1997, 20 years old, 52.8% A+'

[didn't hit the shop]

ledaig 20Nose - Deep, slightly dirty, hind-brain-grabbing peat. Reminds me a bit of Big Peat through a soft filter. There's something in here funking it up though, something like cheesecake (with vanilla), bonfire night (gunpowder and wood smoke) and Hershey's chocolate. Reminds me somehow of a Sauternes cask finish.

Body - Dirty again, very ashen and quite numbing in the delivery. Lopped hedges, orange twists and red wine. More fruit juice with water. Delicious.

Finish - Medium with jelly sweets behind the acrid peat. Liquorice root.

A big, bruising peater, no let up for the 20 years here and no hint of refreshers or anything ghostly. But the presentation is perfect for that - young Ledaig is phenomenal and this is simply a more nuanced version of that.

Monday, 19 March 2018

It’s all about Springbank


Thomson Bros, Dornoch, Springbank, 1950-1978, 54.7% A⊕⊕

Read all about it at Whiskyfun – a real honour to be able to try this.

springbankNose - Quite enormous really; huge black fruit, heavily polished with custard creams and fresh cut apple wood chunks and old oak staves. A polished veneer of wood over damp cigar tobacco, chewed liquorice root, travel sweets and quite old bandages still in their paper wrapper. It's quite a bright nose given the years, full of life, fruit, wax and dust. With water, more summery, a gala melon note to it with coconut and cream.

Body - Speechless. It's perfectly Springbank, they really haven't changed anything in the last 50 years. Intensely old Campbeltown, dusty with so much oil to it. Intense blackcurrant, it'd be jam if it wasn't so phenolic - it's almost formic. Cigarette tar on the lips, intensely peppery but so fruity.

Finish - Extremely long, the Springbank and oil dies down to reveal the enormous amount of wood tannin that's been lurking. After that, the very old Springbank comes back with ancient lemon and licked deodorant, it's so oily its practically greasy. With time the wood starts to palate crush, but the fruit never ends. With water, it ends more peppery and fizzing but you still want more.

Of course the nose on this is phenomenal, but the delivery is a real eye opener. Such intensity, perfect integration, and 100% Springbank. Don't go changing.

A real privilege to taste this thank you Ian for sorting me out.

Springbank private cask from Ronnie, 8 years old, "David Middleton", Cask 225/2000 A⊕

April 2000-Feb 2009

IMG_4503Nose - Surprisingly appley and winey, I wasn't expecting that. Really beautifully fruited, clean and composed. Jelly sweets with a glazing of petrol and furniture polish. There's a real perfection in here though, how is this only 8? Even more sweetshop with water, nearly pear drops.

Body - Very full bodied and balanced but with sharp, hard fruit, like a hard green apple. There's gunpowder, fly paper and cracked black pepper too, but the fruit carries it through. Water brings barley sugar and orange segments.

Finish - Long with oiled tools and a mouthfilling, fizzing Campbeltown peat. Even better with water - more mature, longer finish.

What an absolutely cracking whisky, the random excellence of young Springbank. Thanks Ronnie!

Whisky Broker Springbank 20 years old, Sherry hogshead 108, 48.9% A⊕-

Nose - Dark and sweet/sour, black cherry and sour coffee. Caramel ice cream and dark chocolate chips, cigars… the sherry is intense here, but there's that dusty, oily, meaty aged Springbank behind it, there's no doubting this dram's provenance. Also, oddly, blueberry muffins. Earthier with water. It's a phenomenal nose.

Body - Gentle with chocolate sponge, baked apple, intense cigar water and flashes of cabbage. Those are always saved by refreshers and dusty, fruity Campbeltown but the sulphur does worry when it shows.

Finish - Long and mouth-wateringly refreshing. Blood orange segments and chewed matchsticks.

A slightly deranged whisky, with glimpses of brilliance in among the filth and gunpowder.

I'm torn between A+ and A⊕ and I'm giving it some ⊕ because it's so utterly crushable, but I'm adding a little minus there too - because it's so bonkers and you wouldn't come to the bottle for a dram often. That nose though - pure filth.

Campbeltown blended malt, living cask Edinburgh, 57.2% A+

Bottled on 27 Jan 2018 by Whisky Rover - thanks! Blend of Longrow, Kilkerran and Springbank.

IMG_4548Nose - Icing sugar, fresh and clean with light underlying wax, liquorice allsort "the white bit" and orange jelly sweets.

Body - Big and dusty, sawdust and lots of Springbank peat. Seared peaches, Marlboro light and reduced red wine.

Finish - Quite burnt, a few flashes of sulphur (there's a fair whack of sherry cask in here) and black pepper.

Light on the nose, but strikingly good in the delivery, this is a triumph from the living cask (although all I've had from those casks in Campbeltown have been excellent). If I lived in Edinburgh or Campbeltown I would drink mainly from these casks.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Kilkerran CS 8 years old, late 2017 edition

Kilkerran CS 8 years old, late 2017 edition, 55.7% A+

kilkerran-8-year-old-cask-strength-whiskyNose - Sweet, then waxy and mineral. The balance of sweet and peat is spot on, very harmonious. Refreshers, patchouli joss sticks and bath bombs. There's a touch of petrol station/travel sweets in here, with freshly de-podded peas. Very grown up and a lovely balance.

Body - Quite hot and biscuity, backed by Kilkerran's usual rich fruit and some obviously good casks. More balanced sweetness, radiator at the back.

Finish - Long with a real focus on the cask - dusty, fruity toffee, fresh laundry and more refreshers.

This is delicious, interesting and balanced, with a dusty maturity and full of Campbeltown character. Very good.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Glenmorangie Spìos - The Ninth Private Edition

The ninth Private Edition. Fully matured in casks that previously held a 95% rye whisky for 6 years.

Glenmorangie Spìos - The Ninth Private Edition, 46% A+

glenmorangie-spios-private-edition-whiskyNose - Very fresh, quite arrestingly so with Manzanilla, waxy cask and a lovely deep citrus tone to the nose. That bright lemon and lime is almost fizzing but balanced by a vanilla depth from the wood. Juicier with water, like fruit salad chews and hand soap. This feels like a fantastic cask.

Body - Soft fruit, quite tannic in the delivery though with stewed tea, chewed lolly sticks and a touch of cracked black pepper. Fruitier again with water, tropical fruit squash.

Finish - The black pepper becomes more bitter, grapefruit pith and charred oak. Quite a long, robust finish with that refreshing citrus fizzing throughout.

Another delicious private edition Glenmorangie. Come for the fruit and juice, stay for the structure – this one is particularly compelling.  I’m beginning to quite like these.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Two Old Cadenhead's

Cadenhead's Mortlach, 1987, 30 years old, 53.5% A⊕

mortlachNose - A double edged sword - one side is deep and fruity, sweetshop and jelly. The other side is tobacco, wood, cask, pellet hops. There's a sourness, overripe fruits, behind it as well as hints of travel sweets and sunscreen. And also something slightly off, sweaty - but not off-putting. It's quite masculine for all that sweetshop, quite butch, very senior. All that is quite messy and disintegrated neat but it comes together a bit better with water.

Body - Menthol and wax, crushed blackboard chalk and cherry lip balm. Something like natural gas too. Dustier with water, slightly more robust but the fruit comes through better, plus the wood.

Finish - Medium and a little cheesy with age (although still very strong). Charred oak and liquorice imps. Tropical burps with high alpha hops.

This is big, important, fruity… but it doesn't quite come together to live up to its full potential. It should be a blockbuster with those notes, it's only excellent.

Cadenhead's Littlemill, 40 years old, 41.2% A+

IMG_4454Nose - Green apple, ripe pear, old cigar, Pritt stick and old UHU glue. There's just the most delicate, yet intense fruitiness to this, and quite herbal - rosemary, cut hedge, crushed flower stalks and hot summer grass… and the cleanest funk I've ever smelled - fresh sweat and women's perfume. It is definitely, beautifully, very old school too. Waxier and more medicinal with water.

Body - Less good news in the initial delivery, this is very near the edge, obviously (ABV wise) and it shows in the delivery. Cardboard at first, more of that hedge, a little bong water with preserved lemons and thyme. Repeated sips benefit from the build-up of flavour, there's more wood and more coffee, baked apples and dark chilli chocolate.

Finish - Cocoa powder and full on coffee beans - high quality beans in chocolate. Quite a long, wood led finish, a touch medicinal at the end.

This is over the hill. There's lots to love in here, the nose is remarkable, and it's a privilege to try it but it's gone too far and the ABV has dropped too low.

Thanks Ronnie for the chance to try this ancient whisky!