Saturday, April 25, 2015

Arran - 1st White Stag bottling - Tasting Notes

At the #ArranWhisky Twitter Tasting last week I had a taste of the first White Stag bottling. This is bottled at 54,2% and this single sherry cask was the first bottling chosen by the Arran White Stag tasting panel.

This one is a Sherry Oloroso refill Hogshead, 18 years old in May, being released in June for the online White Stags. Only 214 bottles worldwide and available of this beauty.

Vanilla, sweet, fruit, and with a hint of lemon mint freshness, custard, ginger, red apple, star fruit, blackcurrant, black berries and a hint of some wood. There are some rich stronger notes underneath I can’t put my finger on, feels like cherries and dark chocolate. Marzipan and coconut (the outside shell of it), aniseed, oranges, toffee, some coffee notes, Brazilian nuts and some dry spice notes.

Like the notes on the nose really, very balanced and rich. Sweet with a wind of citrus freshness through the red apples and red summer fruit combined with after that some darker summer fruit, going from raspberry to cherry.

Medium length finish, sweet and honey creamy, like clover honey. Dried fruits, toffee and chocolate in the end. It has been lingering through the palate also combined with the cherries. Bit dry cocoa powder between my teeth in the end. Brownie with cherries and thick cream on top and some grilled pineapple.

8 out of 10 for this lovely whisky for sure! Great combinations of flavours in it.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Arran - Single Bourbon Cask 99/103 - Tasting Notes

The Arran Single Bourbon Cask 99/103, bottled at 55.3% Perfect harmony between the spirit and bourbon casks. This one is a first fill Bourbon Cask, just short of 14 years old. Tasted this lovely expression in the #ArranWhisky Twitter Tasting. Enjoyed this one very much. 

Vanilla, honey, red apples, green apples, citrus, cream, puff pastry, fudge, some pepper and lots of sweetness and lots of fruits.  Rich nose, keeps coming after a bit with new notes. Eucalyptus, orange, and some rich flower notes…. ? Mushy banana, custard, maple syrup...

Fruit, sweet, very creamy, black pepper, red apples, citrus byte, fresh, white chocolate, sultana, vanilla, fudge, red summer fruit, banana, white grapes and like a rich fruitcake. Spicy, fruity, sweet and high on the creamy mouthfeel. Like white chocolate covering my whole mouth. Little hint of coconut and some nuts in the back entwined with all the fruit sweetness?

Medium length finish, sweet, creamy and white chocolate. There is some warm milk chocolate with cream on top in there. But also some dark chocolate, almost espresso note. after eights, the orange and chocolate sweets and some biscuits

8/10 for sure! Very full, rich and nice expression. Bit sharp and creamy, but nice, complex and keeps developing.

Arran - 18 year old - Tasting Note

The Arran 18 Year Old: Produced from un-peated malted barley & matured in a selection of ex-Sherry casks. The last in a trilogy of releases of 16, 17 & 18 year old whisky. Had a first taste of this one at the #ArranWhisky Twitter Tasting. Great expression again from this distillery.

Sweet, fruit, light bit malty note, cream, rich notes, bit dades and some light leathery note. Red apple, fudge, vanilla, chocolate, cassis, red summer fruit in the back. Apple strudel feel with powdered sugar, some citrus freshness, brambles, raspberry and lemon drizzled sponge cake.

Sweet, fruit, red apples, vanilla, raisin, honey sweet, dades, sponge cake, creamy, kiwi, orange, little bit of lemon, chocolate, dried mango, dried pineapple, hint of eucalyptus and sweet dried fruits like dried apricots and dried banana.

Medium length finish, sweet, fruit and a bit of red apple and some banana. Definitely chocolate, marzipan and vanilla. Thinking of a chocolate fountain where you stick some fruits in, lovely lush.

An 8 out of 10 for this great dram. Sweet, fruity and balanced.

Arran - Sauternes Cask Finish - Tasting Notes

The Arran Sauternes Finish, one of their 3 Cask Finish whiskies, bottled at 50%, non chillfiltered and no additional colouring added. After maturing in oak casks for approximately 8 years, this bottling was finished in a selection of Sauternes wine casks.

Had the pleasure of tasting this one in an #ArranWhisky Twitter Tasting. Lovely expression and you can really feel the influence of the Sauternes wine casks coming back in it.

Sweet, fruit, raspberry, strawberry, honey, creamy, gingerbread, white pepper, little bit of middle eastern spices and some orange.

Chilli pepper, sweet, fruit, liquorice, red summer fruits, hint of orange and red apple. Banana, creamy, milk and white chocolate, vanilla, sultana, dried vigs, cinnamon. Almost like a banana milkshake and a hint of salt? Peaches and pineapple juice...

Soft and creamy, medium length finish. Very sweet with chocolate and red summer fruit.

An 7/10 at least, I find it very sweet on the palate, that lowers it a bit. But balanced and lovely dram for sure, nice for after dinner dram :-)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Balvenie - Cask #17703 - 1974 / 2014 - Tasting Notes

First of all have to say - we did not take a picture and we did not took it home to enjoy - no we did not. Sorry. we did. But what do you expect when you can draw yourself something from the cask with friends from a 40 year old Balvenie in the warehouse...? And we were the designated drivers that day, so no option on enjoying it there and then... Being Warehouse 24 members and on an amazing trip through Speyside with friends this was one of the big highlights to visit this distillery and share the passion with friends of these lovely expressions from this distillery.

One of the perks of being a Warehouse 24 member is when you take a tour there and mention that you are member, they let you draw something from a lovely cask to enjoy in the tasting after the tour. Well, weren't we lucky with a 40 year old lovely whisky set before us? We had to track it down through the warehouse by knowing only the number first, but with a good plan of attack with the whole group involved we located it quickly. Only big smiles on the faces when seeing what was before us to taste.

So lets dive into this lovely dram and think back of the good times there spend with friends... On the nose first comes to mind a strong feeling of cocoa powder. Sweet, dark, dense notes of rich fruit, dark honey, dried fruits, rich dark forrest fruit jam, black current, vanilla, chocolate and mocha. Makes me think a bit of a rich and dense Christmas pudding. There is so much to be found in this one beside the lovely sweet notes. Fresh citrus and mint notes, giving me the feeling of a rich fruit bowl.

Ok, time to take a sip, because I could nose this for hours for sure. OMG. Can imagine the smiles on the faces of the group when this warm and rich dram was tasted. What an explosion of flavours in your mouth and a long finish. The notes from the nose come back perfectly and balanced though out. Creamy, rich, fruity, sweet and velvet feel almost. The different flavours keep coming to the front, from orchard fruits to more exotic fruit types and dark forrest fruits. Spices and sweet pastry notes and a light lovely toasty note underneath. Scoring this whisky? Well, would say a 9 out of 10 for sure. Too bad we could not purchase a full bottle of this one...

The Balvenie - Portwood 21 - Tasting Notes

At Whisky by the Sea I tasted this lovely Balvenie. Well tasted..? For more on that better have a look here for that story. Still my cheeks blush in a dark red colour when thinking of this moment...

Beautiful combination of the rich Balvenie notes and port wood. Fruit, honey, sweetness, vanilla and raisins come to mind first. Lovely full and warm dram.Enjoyed a dram and will sure be on the look out for this one to have at home. Lovely expression once again from this distillery!

Well... that was the story so far on this one, until we were at the distillery last year for a tour with friends. Due to us being the designated drivers we got permission to pour our glasses in little sample bottles to take home. So, here am I again with the Portwood 21. And now without spilling it :-)

What does The Balvenie first tells us about this expression before going to the tasting notes?
To create The Balvenie PortWood Aged 21 Years, a marriage of rare Balvenie is transferred to port casks, or pipes, which have held fine port wines. Here it is sampled regularly by The Balvenie Malt Master to ensure that just the right amount of character is imparted by the port casks, enhancing and developing the single malt whilst preserving its original characteristics. In duty free The Balvenie PortWood Aged 21 Years is non chill-filtered and bottled at a higher strength of 47.6% abv.
What do I find in this whisky? The nose and palate are both very much in balance and give me a fresh citrus note with creamy and sweet fruits. Lemon grass, macademia nuts, pomolo, honey, rich vanilla, raisin, red grapes, red apple, blackcurrant, red berries, and a soft note of some raspberries underneath. Bit of cherries and cranberry with toffee floating through it. Bit dry and darker note lingering in the back that I just cant put my finger on. There is a high chocolate note on the long finish filled with a tropical fruit layer. Lovely creamy sweet mouth feel left. This is a whisky that makes you smile when sipping it. Scoring it an 8 out of 10, and putting it on the wish list even more when looked at it more closely.

The Balvenie - 15 year old - Single Barrel Sherry Cask #609 - Tasting Notes

The Balvenie Single Barrel Sherry Cask has been matured exclusively in a single European oak sherry butt for at least 15 years. Bottled at 47,8%, bottle number 496, drawn from cask #609. Due to us being the designated drivers when we were visiting the Balvenie late last year we were allowed to fill a sample to enjoy home so we could make some proper notes on it.  A lovely dram to sit back and enjoy while thinking back of an amazing trip made with a group of friends. Great times and fun had that day for sure when visiting the distillery. 

Rich notes of dried fruits, tobacco leafs, thick, sweet, cream, chocolate, espresso bitter, cranberry, roses, red apple, orange, plumbs, some spices and making me think of mocha Java cake a bit. 

The flavours of the nose come back perfectly on the palate. Creamy and with just a hint of citrus freshness. Thick rich notes, with lots of fruits and pastry notes. Like eating a lush chocolate cake with a good marzipan topping on it. A cake filled with some fudge, red fruits and other dried fruits also. Chocolate and the mocha notes mixing with the fresh and sweet fruit notes, lifting each other up. 

Long and warm length finish. Soft creamy mouth feel left behind with some chocolate and sweet fruit notes. Creamy, vanilla and sultana's soaked in a good spirit.

Lovely balanced dram, full of rich notes. Loved this one also on the première at the Spirit of Speyside Festival and glad I had a chance to have another taste of this expression. One surely to keep an eye out for for the collection. Scoring it an 8 out of 10. It needs some time to open up fully, it does not give away all its secrets at once that's for sure.

The Balvenie - Single Barrel 12 yo - 1st fill #12760 - Tasting Notes

From The Balvenie Distillery at the tour we got a sample home (due to us being the designated drivers) from bottle 62 from cask #12760 to enjoy at home. What does The Balvenie tell us about this range of Single Barrel First Fill 12 years old?
The Balvenie Single Barrel First Fill has been aged in a first fill, ex-bourbon cask for at least 12 years. Almost all Scotch Whisky is matured in casks previously used by Bourbon distillers. When brought to Scotland and used for the very first time they are known as ‘First Fill’.
Our Malt Master samples the aged whisky, cask by cask and selects only those characterised by sweetness and subtle vanilla oak to be bottled as The Balvenie Single Barrel First Fill. A series of “limited editions” - Each bottle is one of no more than 300 drawn from a single cask and each is hand-numbered and carries the number of the cask in which it matured. 
Dr Andrew Forrester, UK Brand Ambassador says: “As no two casks will ever produce the same whisky and there are no more than 300 bottles from any single cask, every batch of The Balvenie Single Barrel First Fill will have a unique identity. Due to the experience David Stewart has from over 50 years at The Balvenie however, we can expect a consistent character to this dram and boy, it is a good one”.
On the nose I get lots of creamy notes, sweet, bit charred wood notes, spices, vanilla, puff pastry and toast. There is some fruit sweetness lying underneath a creamy clover honey layer. Banana, red apple, raisins and strangely makes me think of some crispy backed bacon and a stack of american pancakes with maple syrup.

The palate continues lovely with these same notes, feels like a balanced dram, rich, sweet and full of fruits. Some lovely malty notes underneath mixing with some citrus freshness, and again with that the same feeling I got for the pancakes on the nose. I find the finish a bit too short I must say, a bit soft, and just giving me vanilla and honey mostly.

For the price of this one I am not too blown away with it. It is a nice dram, like it for sure, but think I would reach more quickly to another bottle from their line if I had the choice. Never the less. It is a good and balanced dram, that scores at least a good 7 out of 10 for me.

The Balvenie - Doublewood 12 - Tasting Notes

From The Balvenie comes a lovely expression that I seem to have always in the collection at home somehow. Great dram just to relax with. What do they tells us about it from The Balvenie?
The Balvenie DoubleWood is a 12 year old single malt which gains its distinctive character from being matured in two wood types. Over the period of maturation it is transferred from a traditional oak whisky cask to a first fill European oak sherry cask. Each stage lends different qualities to the resulting single malt ~ the traditional casks soften and add character, whilst the sherry wood brings depth and fullness of flavour.
Earlier on I published some short notes on this one all ready. But found that it was time to come back to it again and put the spotlight on it. See what I can find more in it, because just as whisky, also with time, your palate and nose matures. So even with not liking it one day, don't hesitate trying it again later on, you could be surprised by what you find sometimes.

Vanilla, ginger, raisin, lemon curd, plums, dark chocolate, apples, sweet, fruit, dried apricots, honey, light note of tobacco, caramel and black ground pepper.

Clover honey, raisin, vanilla, fudge, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, walnuts and a light touch of wood. Chocolate and rich fruitcake with all sort of dried stone fruits in it... Flowery notes appearing a bit through the honey and fudge sweetness. Smooth and velvet mouth feel, with a touch of fresh stuffed pastry with vanilla pudding and topped with powder sugar.

Warm, spices and honey linger on on the middle length finish. A bit of cocoa powder feel is left behind with some cinnamon and dash of lemon.

Balanced, nice and warm dram. 7,5 out of 10 was my first score a while back. But with some time and coming back to it, I must say I find this a good balance between what you get for your money and raising the score to 8 out of 10. You can never go wrong with this one.

The Balvenie - 16 Years Triple Cask - Tasting Notes

The first time I encountered this whisky was at an all Balvenie tasting, later on I got my hands on a sample to have a closer look. What does Balvenie tells us about this expression?
The Balvenie Triple Cask range, which comprises of the 12 year old, 16 year old and 25 year old expression, is created by combining The Balvenie that has matured in the three most traditional types of cask – first-fill bourbon, refill bourbon and sherry – in a large wooden vessel known as a marrying tun. These new marriages of The Balvenie are made to precise recipes refined over time by our Malt Master David Stewart to ensure that each captures the distillery’s distinctive rich, smooth and honeyed style. Exclusively available in Travel Retail.

From the first made quick notes during the tasting I wrote down: first this one felt a bit dusty, but with a bit warming up and time it became more sweeter. Mix of fruit and nuts. Some dades and vanilla, sweet but with a bit wet wood, and eastern spices. 

Coming back to it I still find the nose a bit too soft, but do not get the wet wood again. There is more a mix of vanilla overpowering with some citrus and nuts coming forward. Raisin and rich fruit cake, green apples mixed with pomegranate.

On my first visit to this whisky I got mostly sweet, honey, heather, red summer fruits, vanilla, dade, plums, nut bread, citrus, chocolate, and fruit. Coming back to it the added notes from the nose come more to the front first and then the second layer behind it reveals some more dense sugary sweet fruit notes like a warm caramel red apple. The nutty and citrus notes mixed through it. Fruity, honey and dried fruits for sure... 

Medium length finish, with citrus, orange, nuts and dark chocolate.

7 out of 10. Balvenie 16 Years Triple Cask is bottled at 40%. My opinion on it in the end does not change a lot. It is a balanced and fruity sweet dram. But has a bit too much of a new wood note going through it, might be the nuts influence (and I am not a huge fan of those) so that brings my score down.