Douglas Laing The Old & Rare - Ardbeg Distillery 1973 - 29 years old

At Whisky Afloat last week Thomas got a sample of this Ardbeg from 1973, 29 years old, from Douglas Laing 'The Old & Rare' collection. Very glad he shared this one with me, it was lovely :-)

Sweet, light earthy peaty feel, floral and soft heather. Warm, toffee, creamy, chocolate, leather.

Soft fruit bowl notes, oranges, marmalade, marzipan, nuts, light green tea notes, salty caramel chocolate and propolis

Light peat mixed with warm cherry's and whipped cream with chocolate sauce sprinkles and honey.

Dried stone fruits, vanilla, raisin, rich fruit cake, brownies, green tea, toffee, warm, light red chili note in the back, orange, banana, a bit salty, lavender

Medium length finish, cocoa, bit chocolate and some warm red fruits mixed with vanilla

8 / 10 balanced, soft and sweet

Benromach Vintage 1976 - Tasting Notes

Thanks to Jan from Van Wees we got a sample send by Gordon & MacPhail of this Benromach 1976 beauty. Being born in 1976 this is something I just had to try out, and was not disappointing for sure!

Rich fruit tones, mocha, honeysuckle, caramel, tea biscuits, candy sweet, dark chocolate, orange, and some citrus freshness coming to the front a bit when warming up.

Bit creamy and brown sugar, pancakes, vanilla, grain oatmeal cookies, vigs, light wood polish, creme brulee and raisins.

Bit dry bitter note at first from dark chocolate at first but then that quickly goes to the back and the sweet rich notes emerge of dried stone fruits, caramel, mocha and warm red apples.

Mandarins, bit mint, creme brulee, vanilla, raisin, chocolate chip cookie, pepernoten, creamy, almond paste, honey and Christmas cake

Medium length finish, creamy, vanilla and dark chocolate

8/10, beautifully rich, warm and balanced. It needs time but then becomes cotton candy sweet in the end.

Brenne - Tasting Notes

Thanks to Bram we got a sample of his bottle of Brenne who traveled with him for a while around. It is one we had our eye on trying for a while now, so very excited to get the opportunity. The sample was from cask no 271, bottled on 18/9/2013 and around 6-7 years old. 

Allison Patel and her husband Nital wanted with Brenne Single Malt Whisky to produce a whisky that embodies the terroir and style of the region in which it is produced: Cognac, France. Not trying to be a Scotch just made in a different country – but truly a French Whisky. 

For the production they are using cool fermentation and small batch production, with distilled it twice in copper alembic stills for a smooth finish. They use new Limousin oak barrels before being finished in Cognac casks, and each bottle comes from a single barrel, after on average aging the whisky for a total of about 7 years. It is bottled at 40% abv. 

The label gives us some more information on Brenne Single Malt "Since 1920, our family owned distillery has been handcrafting some of the finest small batch spirits to come out of Cognac, France. Brenne continues this tradition through the artistry of our 3rd generation master distiller. 

Starting with organic barley harvested from the fields surrounding the distillery and naturally pure water from nearby Charente, he refines the spirit over a live- fire copper alembic still. The whisky is then aged in new French Limousin oak barrels, before being finished in Cognac cask to create a creamy, balanced, more fruit forward profile. Brenne is truly original single malt that is perfectly smooth and refined"

Lets have a look at it shall we?

Sweet cassis and fudge, red fruits, floral, cream bun, vanilla, banana, red berries, and white chocolate. 
Buttery, orange, cinnamon, clove, apricot, green apple, whipped cream, freshly baked white floor bread and rosehip roses...

Sweet rose and floral notes mixed with some nuts and fudge. Very sweet and reminds me of cassis on the nose and also coming through strong on the palate. Many red summer fruits mixed with vanilla and chocolate ice cream and whipped cream on top...

It just keeps on giving me images of desert like foods, fresh pastry with warm apples with backing spices, chocolate croissants and just more like that. It is syrupy sweet with fruit flavors entwined. Apple syrup, chocolate and fresh citrus / mint notes in the back. 

Middle length finish, very sweet, gummibears and fruity. 

7,5 out of 10. Very nice fresh and fruity...

Benromach 10 YO - Tasting Notes

Tasted this lovely Benromach 10 year old a while back. Got a sample send by Gordon & MacPhail and got the chance to have another close look at it. Still lovely 10 year old expression and got some other samples of this distillery, and I look forward to exploring them soon.

Fresh tropical sweet tones, filled also with peaches, apricots, fruit, honey, vanilla and some floral notes. Light smoke detected in the back together with raisin, milk chocolate and whole grain cookies.

A sweet and warm dram. The light smoke, raisin, honey, chocolate, fruits, ripe stone fruits, red apple, vanilla and tropical fruits make it a very pleasant one.

Honey and sweet middle length finish

7 out of 10.

Three Ships - Bourbon Cask Finish - Tasting Notes

Tasting the Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish today from the The James Sedgwick Distillery. What can they tell us about this one?

"This is a pioneer in its own right. Released in 2005, this premium whisky is a first of its kind, a 100% South African blended whisky and is enjoyed by pioneers looking for something unique. This blended whisky consists of malt and grain components that are distilled and matured here in South Africa. After its initial three year maturation period, the blended whisky is placed in first-fill American Bourbon Casks for a further six month marrying period. The casks are imported from America and give this premium whisky a slightly sweeter finish with hints of vanilla and spice."

Thanks Andy Watts for bringing us some samples to explore from South Africa! Was great exploring them! My notes on the Three Ship Select, the 10 year old, the Three Ships 5 year old Premium Select and Bain's can be found by clicking the links.

Soft creamy milk chocolate, fresh citrus notes, almonds, cereal, orange, lime, onion grass, raisin, vanilla, toast, orange marmalade, fresh and sweet

Raisin, vanilla, some chilli pepper in the back and mixed dried stone fruits. Honey sweet, and combined with rich fruit cake with icing sugar on top and fudge next to it. The Tony's chocolate with caramel, chocolate and salt. Citrus freshness and some mint coming through very nice and balanced with the rich sweet notes.

Medium creamy length finish with a chocolate milk mouth feel with a big full spoon of honey

Liked this one, it is soft, but caries a bit through the chilli pepper, and combined with the other sweet notes it does it really well. Scored it a 7,5 out of 10.

Bain's - Tasting Notes

Recently we have been tasting some very nice expressions from the The James Sedgwick Distillery. Andy Watts, master whisky distiller and manager there was in the Netherlands and he brought us some samples to explore from South Africa.

My notes on the Three Ship Select, the 10 year old and Three Ships 5 year old Premium Select whisky can be found by clicking on the links. Soon I will be tasting the Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish, but first it is time to review a cracking Single Grain whisky from this same distillery. Thomas placed his notes also on this one, and I think it is clear we will be looking out for this one for sure. So, what can they tell us about this South Africa's first Single Grain whisky?

Bain's Cape Mountain Whisky is distilled and double matured at The James Sedgwick Distillery which is situated near the foothills of the Bainskloof Pass in Wellington. The Cape Mountains rearing their heads of 850 million year old sandstone are covered by many indigenous fynbos species and this is the canvas against which South Africa's first Single Grain whisky is created.

It takes meticulous care and craftsmanship to create a premium whisky. Our dedicated Distiller, Jeff Green , is responsible for crafting South Africa’s first and only 100% single grain whiskyat The James Sedgwick Distillery. With a love for science and a background in biochemistry, he blends his experience with his passion for premium production to bring us a whisky of international acclaim.

Only the finest South African grain is used to create our elegant premium whisky. Made from water that flows over 850 million year old sandstone and indigenous fynbos, Bain's Cape Mountain Whisky holds a unique and distinctive flavour profile. Our whisky is quite uniquely double matured in specially selected first-fill bourbon casks. After the initial three years' maturation, the whisky is transferred to a second set of first-fill bourbon casks to age for a further two years while continuing to extract further flavour.

Have a look at this nice commercial of Bain's to see the beautiful surrounding it has come from, dont you just want to go there instantly to see it yourself? Want to have a little look inside the process and distillery? Then have a look here or here for more on this...  Also found a review that Ralfy did a bit back on this one, really one to look out for and try it.

Lots of fruit, sweet, liquerish, raisins, rich vanilla, fresh pastries, banana, a custard bun with icing sugar on top.

Fresh summer fruit, little hint of white pepper, pink grapefruit, caramel, toffee, anise. It gives a bit of a bourbon feel to it really. Light (very light) woody notes in the back with fresh strawberries. Fruits, sweet, some spices and creamy chocolate notes.

Dried apricots, mango, hint of coconut, black liquerish, orange, lemon, lots of dried stone fruits, toffee, fruitcake, soft flower honey and caramel.

Sweet vanilla pods, red apple, cherry, red berries, gooseberry, elderflower, Turkish delight, fresh pastries, raisins, chocolate, icing sugar, Victoria sponge cake...

Medium length finish with a sweet, chocolate, toffee and raisin note to it.

Warm, fruity, sweet, very nice! Young and fresh but also rich and complex, but with a soft creamy feel to it. Feels balanced, scored me an 7,5/10

Three Ships 5 year old Premium Select whisky - Tasting Notes

Andy Watts, master whisky distiller and manager at The James Sedgwick Distillery, was recently in the Netherlands, and brought us some samples to explore of the Three Ships Select, Three Ships 5 years old Premium Select, Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish and the South Africa's first single Grain whisky Bain's. 

My notes on the Three Ship Select and the 10 year old can be found by clicking on the links. The next expression I am discovering is the Three Ships 5 year old Premium Select whisky. What do they tell us about the 5 year old?

Launched in 1991, Three Ships 5 Year Old Premium Select whisky is an artful blend of specifically selected South African and Scotch grain and malt whiskies that have been aged for a minimum of five years.
This bold and unpretentious member of our fleet of whiskies has been awarded the World's Best Blended Whisky by the Whisky Magazine's 2012 World Whiskies Awards. This South African and Scotch blended whisky was previously named as the best whisky outside of Scotland aged 12 years and younger in the 2009 Whisky Magazine's Worldwide Whisky Awards! Three Ships 5 Year Old Premium Select was also a gold medal and class winner at the 2010 IWSC in London.

Cinnamon and whole grain bread mixed with the sweet walkers shortbread notes. Vanilla, butter, bit burned toast, grassy, malty and in the back a light smoky feel to it? It makes me think also a bit of grilled mix vegetables and some thick slices of chorizo baked through that. Some earthy mushrooms, ginger, spice and fruit hidden underneath that

Fruit, spice, smooth buttery clover honey and chocolate. There are lots of fruits like a smoothie with mango, banana, peaches and vanilla. Sweet raisin, baking spices like cinnamon and a hint of ginger. The backing spices and dense fruitcake notes are stronger then the baked veggies on the nose. Those were more present there. There are some fresh citrus notes like orange, grapefruit and pomolo. Also very sweet marshmallows, cherries on heavy juice, custard and mint come to mind...

Medium length finish, sweet, sticky honey mouth feel with chocolate and vanilla

Scored me an 7 out of 10. It is warm, sweet, and fruity. Bit too honey and raisin sweet on the teeth must say on the finish but very nice, its a smooth whisky...

Thanks Andy for sharing this one with us, very lovely dram! Looking forward to exploring the other samples! 

Three Ships Select - Tasting Notes

Recently we got the pleasure to share a couple of drams with Andy Watts, master whisky distiller and only the sixth manager at The James Sedgwick Distillery since it was established in 1886. 

A very passionate person about making whisky. He brought us some samples to explore of the Three Ships Select, Three Ships 5 years old Premium Select, Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish and the South Africa's first single Grain whisky Bain's. 

Thanks for sharing those with us Andy, it was great being able to meet you in Amsterdam. Our wish to visit South Africa only became more strongly now and we hope to be able to make the trip soon and to visit the distillery.  First I am tasting the Three Ships Select what was launched in 1977. What are they telling us about it and the distillery?

It's a high-quality, smooth-tasting blend of fine grain and malt South African and Scotch whiskies that have been left to age in specially selected oak casks for a minimum of three years.

With the exception of Three Ships 10 Year Old Single Malt, the fleet of whiskies produced at The James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington are blended whiskies made from a combination of finished malt and grain whiskies. Both the malt and the grain are distilled separately and then, only after a minimum period of three years in wood, do we combine the fruits of our labour to form a blended whisky.

Our internationally acclaimed fleet of whiskies is a testament to a heritage of pioneering craftsmanship that has resulted in South Africa's first whisky brand, the first blend of South African and Scotch whiskies, SA's first single malt whisky and SA's first 100% South African blended whisky.

Please have a look at their website for more information on the James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington or here to read more on the first single Grain whisky in South Africa Bain's. Had a taste of the 10 year old earlier, one to have a closer look at again some day for sure. Now first on to tasting the Three Ships Select.   

Soft and creamy nose. Grain and malty notes at first then some light fresh citrus notes combined with some 7-up. Light metallic but also some floral notes like buttercups and dandelions. Vanilla, sweet notes combined with red apples.   

Light citrus notes combined with the vanilla sweetness. White chocolate, raisins and strawberries. Also some banana, white grapes, red apple and red berries emerge on the palate. 

It is a bit creamy at first, but then changes a bit to a hint of wood and metallic. Makes me think a bit of some walnuts, just a small hint of cinnamon and ice tea combined with a very big slice of lemon in it.  

Not so long finish and sweet for sure. The citrus combined with the white chocolate creaminess comes back after the nuts and ice tea, and leaves a buttery mouth feel.

Scored me an 7 out of 10. It is fresh, fruity and sweet, very nice for a very warm summer day as we are having now. Not too overpowering, all flavors are gently and balanced appearing on the nose and palate... Nice and relaxed....

Soon to follow the notes on the Three Ships 5 years old Premium Select, Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish and the South Africa's first single Grain whisky Bain's . 

The New Zealand Whisky Collecion - Single Cask 1990 - 23 YO - Tasting Notes

Tasting a lovely single cask bottling from the New Zealand Whisky Collection, release 1990, 23 years old. What can they tell us about this one before we dive into our glass to explore it?

These are single cask, cask strength bottlings. Each with hand written numbers and details. Current releases are 1992, 1990, and 1989. A true collector’s items.
Average ABV’s
1992 - 52%
1990 - 62%
1989 - 55%

Our Cask Strength range of Single Malts is a collectible series for the discerning drinker. Aged between 20 and 26 years, these are hand bottled straight from the wood at our Oamaru Cellar Door. No two barrels are exactly the same, so these always have a pleasant surprise up their sleeve. With alcohol content between 49-60%, these Single Malts will satisfy the inquisitive pallet and provide a tasting experience that cannot ever be repeated.

The sample we got from Erik Burgess and the label tells us it is at 63,5%. After giving it a quick sniff, it was clear that it was strong on the nose, and definitely needed a bit of water to smooth it a bit for the nose and palate. Then the party and fun began.

Sticky toffee pudding at first in my glass. Citrus and many floral notes follow with a strong breeze of menthol in it for a bit. Then the roses return with a hint of rye bread and honey suckle. More flower notes like lily (an oriental sweet smelling version) and primrose. Moving on now to the kitchen and getting raisin, cherry, honey, fennel, nutmeg, cookie dough, fudge, lime, pink grapefruit, dark chocolate, vanilla, meringue, crepes, and creamy. A very rich nose.

Warm and spicy at first with some nutmeg, honey, cinnamon, macadamia nuts and cocoa powder.
Some fondant and marzipan notes, with red apples, and there is the sticky toffee pudding appearing again.
Fresh citrus notes coming through the heavier sweet notes after a bit, with some off the flower notes from the nose also coming back. Many notes from the nose can be found back on the palate. A rich and balanced dram it is for sure.

Medium length finish. Bit the cocoa, cinnamon with honey and vanilla riding it out until the end...

At 63,5%, and giving this much strong flavors, and having such a kick it just was surprising to us.
Balanced and rich is the way to describe it, and to be enjoyed slowly. This one gets an 8,5 out 10 from me for sure, wow, love to have more of this beauty for sure.

For more information on The New Zealand Whisky please have a look at their website and discover the different expressions. Was the first time for us tasting whisky from New Zealand and we got send the 21 year old and 15 year old next to this one from Erik Burgess. Absolutely loving it, and love to find some of it in the shops here somewhere, but also wanting more and more to take the trip down there, that we are wanting to do for so long and just visit them. How much can we bring back on the plain from New Zealand? Mhmm lets find out :-) 

The New Zealand Whisky Collection - South Island Single Malt 21 YO - Tasting Notes

Mix of spice and sweet, black pepper, Turkish delight, nougat, fruity, nutmeg, coriander seed, bit tobacco and leather. Mint, light flower notes and grassy notes with a hint of wood. 

Powered sugar, white chocolate, dense fruitcake, red grapefruit, raisin, vanilla, red fruits like raspberry and cranberry. Bit feisty nose with dense notes. Opens up more with a bit of time and reveals the sweet vanilla rich notes... 

Soft flower, fruit notes, and a light earthy note coming through with some sweet fruitcake and nuts. Vanilla, raisin, cereal, pear, grapes, wine gums and most of all many fresh plums. 

Pepper and cookie dough, raspberry and cranberry, but most of all the fresh plums coming through big time. White chocolate and some salmiak... 

Medium length finish with some of the creamy of the white chocolate holding on and a bit dryness of the leather and tobacco. But all covered with rich vanilla. 

At first I thought a bit soft, but after a little bit the spice notes and richer sweet notes came more alive in the glass. Lovely expression scored it a 7,5 out of 10. 

What do they tell us about this expression? 

Made from 100% malted New Zealand barley in the Willowbank distillery, Dunedin. This whisky has been aging in American Oak, Ex-Bourbon barrels for 21 years.

The original release of the South Island Single Malt was in an 18 and 21 year old. The barrels were picked via a multitude of barrel samples sent to Hobart, tasted and matched in CEO Greg Ramsay’s lounge room during the Rugby World Cup by Greg himself, production manager Tom Holder, and, to keep things civilized, good friend and lawyer Brendan. The results spoke for themselves, with the first batch picking up the coveted Double Gold in San Fran.

For more information on The New Zealand Whisky please have a look at their website and discover the different expressions. Hope that they will be more available here soon, love to try more of them. Thanks Erik Burgess for sending us a sample of this.