Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Springbank Local Barley 2018, 9 years old

This is the fourth of five local barleys, I wonder what could be coming after?  I have to say I am bored to tears now of whisky terroir and barley bothering on social media (and the other things that go round and round and round in whisky interest bubbles), but that doesn’t stop the casks being great.

The other bottlings are listed below:

LB 1 2016, 16 years old

LB 2 2017, 11 years old

LB 3 2017, 10 years old

Springbank 9 years old, Local Barley, 57.7% A⊕

Optic from High Cattadale Farm, July 2009 – October 2018, 9700 bottles

springbank-9-year-old-local-barley-whiskyNose - Sweet, jewelled, quite hard and oily, like a younger Springbank should be. There's a delicate dustiness behind that, a meaty, Longrow-y peat with charred wood chunks, coconut ice and quite a lot of wax. Some gunpowder, quite flinty, confident but it could be a bruiser…

Body - Big, very sweet but really richly delivered, there's no immaturity here - if anything the intensity is nicely offset by rich fruit, cereal and some wax. It feels older than 9 and I would have definitely guessed Longrow in a blind tasting. Quite a lot of Campbeltown filth in the delivery, slightly rotten citrus and a touch of plastic.

Finish - Long and citrus sweet, with lemon bonbons, lemon peel and blood orange. Biting peat at the end, numbing bitterness (grapefruit) but still well balanced.

A masterclass in young (for Scotland) whisky and Campbeltown maturation. Rich but intense, fruity but really structural, verging on dirty but still clean and hard. This is another really confident Local Barley. One more for the set…

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Diageo Special Releases 2018

Sadly I couldn’t attend this year, despite getting access I was foiled by my ridiculous existence and had to look after kids or something.  I love going to that tasting! 

Ed kindly score some of these two for me though, bah.  Cheers mate.

Talisker 2009, 8 years old, Diageo Special Release 2018, 59.4% A+'

talisker-8-year-old-special-release-2018-whiskyNose - Bright, waxed and jewelled, with orange curd, joss sticks, lolly sticks and wet, charred wood. Really arresting.

Body - Soft but fruity, then structurally peated with coal, crushed lumpwood charcoal and burnt toast. That's all at the top, burnt and cereally, but gummy fruit sweets and wax underpin it.

Finish - Medium and peppery, the persistent fruity, waxy funk behind it. It ends slightly rotten, but that wasn't unwelcome.

Surprisingly special, I'm not sure why I had such low expectations, it wasn't the age. The peppery peat is quite clumsy I suppose but that supple, waxy, slightly dirty fruit is very exciting.

Cladach Blend, Diageo Special Release 2018, 57.1% A-

cladach-special-release-2018-whiskyNose - Sherry cask and a little tequila in here (compared to the Talisker at least). A lot more wax (as you'd hope), practically acrylic with tawny marmalade and sesame snaps.  Very “lacquered”. 

Body – More like “engineered”; it's like the Talisker (that same cooked cereal) but the burnt edges are rounded off. Still it has baked plum and orange juice, flaked almonds and barley sugar. And that kind of cough mixture stickiness. But it's not living up to the nose.

Finish - Long and citrussy; treacle tart with caramelised orange slices.

I love the nose on this, ripe but ethereal, but the delivery pulls too many punches and reminds me of a 40% official NAS release.

I’m sure the other ones were good too.  FFS.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Some Clynelish

Clynelish, distillery exclusive bottling, 46% A+

Thanks to JS for splitting this!

clynelish distilleryNose - Really beautiful, a waxy, slightly sour and floral nose, with charred meats and polished woods. Very old school and grown up, and very inviting.

Body - Slightly austere at first, then peppery and woodsy with cut dandelion stalks and a little burnt toast.

Finish - Medium and a little acrid, but with an undercurrent of soft fruit toffee and brine.

A wonderful nose and then a little bit angular in the delivery unfortunately, but there is some good rich fruit and wax in here.

Thank you Jon for the next two…

Signatory Clynelish 2008, 10 years old, 46% A-

Bourbon cask, 01.03.2008-10.04.2018

clysig2008Nose - Bright, ripe, rich lemon tart, with fat candle wax, lemon sherbets and custard cremes.

Body - Very soft, almost not there. Light, dusty sherbet, orange curd, double cream.

Finish - Surprisingly long and creamy, delicate but insistent.

This is a very light, almost dusty whisky, and good for it. A lovely citrussey nose, there's a big hole in the delivery, but it's a delicious, creamy thing to drink.

Signatory Clynelish 1996, 21 years old, 46% A⊕

Refill butt, 11.12.1996-28.02.2018

clysig1996v11Nose - Big, sour, deep, slightly medicinal with some gunpowder and sawdust. A dirty, sort of sooty, burnt wax but also a bright, orange and mango fruitiness too.

Body - Cleaner than I was expecting, the orange is back with twisted peel and big chunks of flesh. Almost orange furniture polish.

Finish - Medium to long, and with a more peppery orange peel, with cinnamon stick and a little chocolate clove - no hole in the delivery here - it's rich, citrussy and well balanced to the end.

A lovely thing to drink, full of Christmassy orange and spices.

Sjoerd's posh fino cask thing

Thanks to Sjoerd for sending me a nice dram of this beauty.  He sent it in an unmarked sample bottle which I labelled as “Sjoerd’s posh fino cask thing”, which then disappeared into my tangle of untasted samples and I had to ask him what it was.  It’s this.

The Whisky Agency Speyside, 1975 to 2016, 40 years old, full term in fino sherry butt, 55% A⊕⊕

TWAspeysideNose - Light, varnished, with a slightly sour, but very old school vibe to it. Cracked black varnish, buttercream icing and raspberry, and now a deep, ripe wax. Deeper and fruitier as you concentrate on it, touches of cream cheese and ripe mango, with a wonderful structure at the same time. Really interesting and promising, I loved digging for the deep wood.

Body - A gentle considered arrival - old school, a little nutty and a touch of salt, then a big spike of structural wood and candied orange slices.

Finish - Very long and intensely old with liquorice allsorts and christmas cake - that sweet, sour, wax and maturity thing is huge in the finish.

Perfectly judged, left to ripen to exactly the right point. I love whisky that evolves as you concentrate on it. This is complex and engaging.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky

Cotswolds Whisky 4/2017, 46% A+

cotswolds-single-malt-whiskyNose - Fresh but dusty, sweet and lowlandery, cold apple and orange slices. A really lovely, spirity whisky with good, clean cask, men's deodorant and fresh PVA glue.

Body - Off sweet icing sugar with chalky bonbons and yesterday's acrylic paint.

Finish - Short but balanced, orange peel and a touch of liquorice at the end.

A really lovely, young drinking whisky, highly recommended and a promise of great things to come.  Thanks Jon!

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Cadenhead's November 2018 (Autumn Batch 2) outturn

Small Batch 23

Strathclyde 1989, 29 years old, 55.7% A+

Ex-bourbon hogsheads, 330 bottles

STRATHCLYDE%2028%2055.7%20VOL%20330%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - Orange citrus, sawdust and bright, rich musk. Soft, grainy (texture-wise) toffee with milk chocolate and a little black cherry jam. Men's perfume - leather but slightly floral. More sawdust and musk with water.

Body - Deeply sweet, like toffee plus strawberry sauce on an ice cream cone. Some dusty fence behind that, a little new leatherette and a light punch in the nose. More obviously grain-y (whisky-wise) with water.

Finish - Medium and intensely sweet, but not quite cloying. Strawberry tart (French cooked pastry).

A really beautifully sweet, fruity nose, but a bit clumsy and full on in the delivery.

Inchgower 2009, 9 years old, 56.5% B+

2 sherry hogsheads, 582 bottles

INCHGOWER%209%20582%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - A deep one on the nose, almost a little crotchy. But really rich - catching pastry, fruit and nut bars, lots of fat candle wax and some blackcurrant jam (maybe neat Ribena). This doesn't feel overdone, oversherried, or undermatured at all (on the nose at least). With time, crushed blackberries, cut plum and the contents of a tea bag (yes, tea - but dry and small cut).

Body - Very hard and very wooded in the delivery, black pepper and palate biting acidity. Intensely sweet behind it, touching on menthol and lemon. Just pulls that punch near the end of the delivery. Less biting with water, but the reduction in sweetness leaves a hole and makes it more flawed.

Finish - Very long with harsh, bitter and charred woods next to a burning sweetness. You're left with sugar and Ribena at the very end.

Promising nose but clumsy delivery lets it down, reminds me of the virgin oak failures at SMWS. Too much wood, too young.

Creations - Light, creamy, smoky 2007, 10 years old 60.5% A⊕

Campbeltown mix - Longrow, Kilkerran and Invergordon. Approximately 50% malt to grain.

CREATIONS%2010%20C-TOWN%20MIX60.5%20-750x1000Nose - Dusty, musky and fruity. Tobacco peat, reminds me of Ardbeg at first, with a really considered richness to it. Baked plums with orange zest, hot radiator. Really high hopes.

Body - Warm, rich, bold but balanced. Loads of depth, loads of character, this reminds me a lot of the Compass Box flaming heart, with a Springbank note.  The grain is really rounding it out but it's somehow punchier than flaming heart.

Finish - Very long with clove, blackberries and cut oak. Lemon sorbet and vanilla buttercream at the end. Very hot black pepper at the end.

This is a huge success, like an old school Ardbeg sandwiching a flaming heart. Extremely drinkable, I didn't get to add water.

Deanston 2008, 10 years old, 56.2% A+

576 bottles

DEANSTON%2010%2056.2%20576%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - Young and waxy, with hot raspberry compote, flaked almonds and crème patissiere. Rich, grainy and a little clarty, but also confident, satisfying and rich. There's a sort of medical cream in here which is very comforting, perhaps Sudocrem. Better with water, the fruit and wood come together better with the young spirit.

Body - The same sort of thing; this is the kind of confident, young, satisfying whisky that makes you really pucker up in a whisky bar. Lemon pith, hot balsa wood, mulled cider, apple peel - extremely tasty. More pastry with water.

Finish - Long with icing sugar, crisp green apple and cookie dough. A little sherbet lemon with water.

A delicious young drammer, good fruit and structure and wears its spirit well. Recommended.

Ord 2005, 13 years old, 56.5% A+'

1 hogshead, 1 butt, 954 bottles

ORD%2013%2056.5%20VOL%20954%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - Clean and floral; men's perfume again, leather jacket again. Some cherry chocolate and some pot pourri. It has that dusty complexity you'd expect at a distillery tasting.

Body - Oranges, beautiful soft, musky fruit and buttercream icing. Strawberry jam, mango smoothie.

Finish - Short and tasty, a creamy and HQ cask. Echoes of raspberry jam at the end.

A warm, reassuring, soft and deeply fruited whisky, yet not without structure and interest. Lovely.

Benrinnes 2004, 14 years old, 55.4% A

864 bottles

BENRINNES%2014%2055.4%20864%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - Bright but clarty cereal, quite new-makey compared to the Ord. But there are depths behind that - behind royal icing and buttercream - a light sourness, some chewy meringue, some candied peel, soft toffee, some handsoap.

Body - Toasty, unexpectedly dark and fruity, with a lightly dirty note to it - again, it's sort of new-makey (that dirty edge is from the spirit) but had the corners rounded. These must have been very inactive casks? Maybe then finished in first fill…

Finish - A café latte and some iron filings.

It doesn't look good on paper but I actually really enjoyed drinking this - a spirit led whisky rather than a cask led whisky, and that's not a bad thing.

Glenrothes 2001, 17 years old, 53% A-

528 bottles

GLENROTHES%2017%2053%20VOL%2070CL%20-750x1000Nose - Balance and intrigue. Fresh fruit - green apple peel, lime and half-time oranges. Dusty but wet, cold, hard bourbon cask. A fresh and complete dram in a dunnage warehouse. Cut grass with water.

Body - Very sweet and almost liquorice. Icing sugar and coffee, cold eclairs. Chocolatier with water.

Finish - Long and intensely sweet, a little tobacco and chalky bonbons.

This promises a lot on the nose but the delivery is too overtly sweet and doesn't have that complex, grown up fruit I'm after.

Glenlossie 1993, 24 years old, 53.6% A⊕+'

Single cask, 240 bottles

GLENLOSSIE%2024%2053_6%20240%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - Immediately this is obviously old and dry - and tropical. Fresh mango and dried orange slices, with cognac-like dry fruit. It's leathery, but with this creamy, plasticky, felted fruit to it. Dreamy.

Body - Ripe, creamy and intense, with more mango, extra-thick double cream and plastic book covering.

Finish - Very long and rich, and like biting into a cream filled canoli. A biscuity end, finishing like one of those peanut-butter-imperial-stouts. Just have another smell of the empty glass…. Wow.

A beautiful, important whisky and sort flawless. Effortless, at the very least.

Paul John 2011, 6 years old, 56.6% A⊕

1 barrel, 1 hogshead, 564 bottles. Matured 6 years in Goa. High expectations.

paul johnNose - Ripe, dark and sour fruit, like a Victoria plum. A gentle peat behind this, and almost sherried, with yoghurt covered raisins and smouldering hard oak. These Goa matured whiskies have this note like really, really old whisky in them which comes out with time, and is really compelling.

Body - A beautiful combination of melon, fireworks, cloves and charred wood.

Finish - Long and incense-y, dusty fruits and candy cigarettes.

Paul John's whisky often reminds me of ancient Scotch mixed with really young, vibrant sweet whisky.

Highland Park 1989, 29 years old, 40.6% A⊕+

Single cask, 198 bottles

highlandparkNose - Soft, creamy, almost English-hoppy. Refreshers, lemon sorbet, baked apples and Neapolitan ice cream. Lightly waxed, cut floor boards, bright but mellow (baked) citrus. Very delicate, but then it is at a painfully low ABV.

Body - Milky, ancient and delicious. Wet pastry and a fresh pack of Marlboro lights. Rhubarb fool, lemon posset.

Finish - Short and sweet. Ghostly peat at the end.

Crushable, light but luxurious. A bottle of this wouldn't last long (and wouldn't survive long due to the low ABV). Really tasty though, more please.

Auchroisk 2006, 12 years old, 55.3% B+

534 bottles

auchroiskNose - Lemon curd and bay leaves, with tetra pak apple juice and chocolate covered marzipan. Light and chalky with rich cereal.

Body - Sharp and acidic, a little butyric, with lemon tart and caramel. A good balance of sweet, fruit and acid, but a little ordinary I suppose.

Finish - Quite long, more citrus, good tannins.

An decent whisky but nothing much to write home about.

Speyburn 2008, 10 years old, 46% A

speyburnNose - Dark, deep and mucky, with wax, rich, soft butter caramel and charred desiccated coconut. Very meaty, really lives up to the intense colour on the nose.

Body - Fresh and zesty but still with the brown butter, plus chocolate eclairs (the sweets), black cherry jam, burnt pastry and a little black pepper. A really rich, rolling, fruity delivery.

Finish - Short but pleasantly burnt.

I really like this meaty, buttery whisky - I'm so pleased that it lived up to the colour without being forced (like the Inchgower).

Glen Grant 1992, 25 years old, 50.4% A+

Single cask 144 bottles

glengrantNose - Rich cereal, a little citrus, some blackcurrant travel sweets. It's inoffensively matured, polite, a little fruity, with this understated, ripe, caramel complexity

Body - Great depth of toffee and fruit, baked plums and a fizzing gunpowder later on. Some sawdust. It's even riper on the delivery than the nose.

Finish - Short but flashes of citrus sour and tannins punctuate the rich toffee fruit.

Very good... but a bit by the numbers.

Laphroaig 1998, 20 years old, 54.3% A⊕+

LAPHROAIG%2020%20474%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - Dusty, dank, coastal peat. Buttons all pushed! Lightly meaty, damp wood and cherry tunes, hallelujah. It's the fruity side of peat and cut wood.

Body - Soft, glacé cherry and raspberry tea. Brightly wooded and tannic with TCP on the fingers while eating black pepper crisps. Very old school although I would have thought it an old Ardbeg than a Laph...

Finish - Medium, with green apple and Sudocrem.

A stately Islay, beautiful of course.