Monday, February 8, 2016

Kilkerran - Work in Progress 5 - Bourbon Wood versus Sherry Wood

The Glengyle Distillery has for a couple of years released different expressions in their "Work in Progress" line up. In 2013 they released the number 5 in this range. An 9 year old expression, one matured in bourbon - and the other in Sherry wood. Of each 9000 bottles were released at 46%. A sample of these has been sitting on the shelf for a while now, and I thought it might be fun to put them next to each other to see what the differences are. First up is the Bourbon Wood expression...

On the nose I find it to be a bit malty combined with olive oil, earthy and also some leather almost in it. Some red apple sweetness but also citrus freshness combined with almonds, spices, salt and feeling of a lake that is low with water revealing some briny, dirty earthy notes of wet wood, mud and dried seaweed. It sounds not that good, but it is not all bad trust me...

The palate is sweeter and more fruitier then the nose shows but the malt, and bit dryness of leather and nutmeg makes it interesting. The earthy notes are pushed to the back to make room for the sweeter ones and the medium length finish is filled with creamy vanilla and liquerish.

Scoring me an 7,5 out of 10. It grows on you with every sip even when it shows notes of being young on one side but shows promise for sure. Lets have a look at the Sherry Wood what the differences are between them.

The nose on this one shows some of the earthy notes like on the Bourbon Wood. But it is more creamy and marzipan together with sweet forrest fruits, oranges, coffee, salty, rubber and enhanced feeling of the leather note also found earlier on the other nose. Can feel the similarities but this one seems to be more balanced maybe?

The palate also has these notes clearly on it. Sweet, fruity, spices, crème brulee, marzipan, raisin, clover honey and honeysuckle. The medium length finish has a mixture of these soft vanilla and honey notes combined with some liquerish and almonds. Score 7,5 out of 10. I have not tried others of the WIP Sherry Wood range but I would say 9 years is very pleasing.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Glenfarclas 105 - 20 year old

In a lovely tasting at the Whisky Shop Dufftown I had a taste in the line up of the Glenfarclas 105, 20 years of age and bottled at 60%.

The nose is rich, sweet and I find loads of dried figs and prunes on it. Soft but also a bit dirty leather, sultanas and sour dough bread. There is a lot of lovely rich and sweet fruit on this nose but a bit locked to be honest and hard to determine them all. With some time it releases a soft fresh equaliptus note.

Palate has a very smooth velvet mouth feel with honey, raisins, dried cranberries, apricots, fresh figs, crème brulee and dark rich chocolate. Freshly baked muffins with those chocolate fillings that are still a bit liquid...

Hazelnut Nutella, toffee, mocha, fresh but soft creamy lemon and coffee. Orchard fruit notes but also sweet and sticky fresh tropical fruit cocktail. Liquorish and vanilla on the finish that is also of a good length. Scoring me an 8,5 out of 10. Lovely whisky. A real treat this one...

Benrinnes 17 years old - 1994/2011

Bottled specially for the Whisky Shop Dufftown is this Old Malt Cask bottling from the Benrinnes distillery. Distilled in May 1994 and bottled in July 2011 at 55,1% producing 300 bottles. Matured for 17 years in a first fill sherry butt with reference DL REF 7437.

On the nose I am getting a dense set of different flavours. Wood polish, orange, cherry, blackcurrant, vanilla, plums and raisins most of all, but also some other notes behind it all that I don' t seem to be able to access at this moment.

The palate is sweet and waxy with loads of raisins, vanilla, cherry, toffee, spices, lush cakes and a thick waxy mouth feel. Medium length finish with some coffee and sugar notes.

But also a good dose of caramel bitterness. That last is what makes me score it an 7 out of 10 and not higher. It is sweet and thick but gets overpowered a bit by this sadly.

SMWS 76.110 Summer Fruit Salad With Cream

The SMWS release from the Mortlach distillery called 76.110 " Summer Fruit Salad With Cream" is distilled on the 24th of April 1986 and matured in a refill ex bourbon hogshead producing after 27 years at 58,80% in total 242 bottles.

On the nose I first get some baked banana on the BBQ, vanilla, raisins, red apple, butterscotch, milk chocolate, oak, baking spices, cardamom, creamy and fruit. Tasting some I find it sweet and creamy just like the nose I would say on the first impression, but then it slowly changes in more a combination of floor wax and honeysuckle. It has some great fresh fruit notes in it and showed me also some fennel, cinnamon, anise and nutmeg.

Fresh candied lemon, ginger, orange, white chocolate and vanilla pods change slowly to some more heavier fruit notes mixed with soft oak. The medium length finish has a lot of raisin, dried cranberry, toffee, maple syrup and honey on it. It has lots of sweet fruit notes but the candy sweet notes overpower them a bit. Both on the nose as palate I am getting after a bit some warm grilled pineapple and carrot cake. Scoring me an 8 out of 10. Very sweet but lovely dram. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Caol Ila Natural Cask Strength

A couple of years ago when we were at the Caol Ila distillery and purchased a pack with three different expressions from them in 20cl bottles to try at home. One of these is a natural cask strength version at 58%. They have been sitting on the shelf for some while now, and time to have a closer look at them. The other two in the package where the 12 year and 18 year old.

Coastal, freshly grinned coffee, seashells and the smell of young green leaves on the nose. It maybe sounding like crazy combinations but it feels like standing on a pier with the sea wind and smells of tar, seaweed and clams. Diving your head into a freshly cut hedge or smelling the rocks on the beach, never done that? Go crazy and try it, you will be amazed of the array of smells that is out there to discover.

The palate delivers the same feeling, but also adds a collection of different fresh and sweet fruits to it together with sultanas and creamy vanilla. Red apple, oranges, mandarines, banana, melon with a hint of salty capers. That all with a sweet liquerish medium length finish. Call me crazy, but I like it. Giving it an 8 out of 10.

SMWS - 50.58 - A seesaw of spring cleaning and scones

SMWS bottling named and numbered 50.58 "A seesaw of spring cleaning and scones" is an 24 year old from the Bladnoch distillery. Distilled in 1990 and bottled in 2014 at 55% after being matured in a refill ex-bourbon barrel, producing in total 90 bottles.

The nose gives me first a strong smell of paint and also a bit earthy and floor wax feeling. There is also a strong sweetness from canned pineapple syrup juice. Some different fruits, black pepper, candied ginger, dried dates and fresh citrus notes of lemon and pomolo with just a hint of cherry blossom. 

Palate is quite honeyed with loads of chocolate chip cookies, fruit and toffee. Red chilli pepper spiciness mixing with oranges, ripe banana, waxy, vanilla and sultanas. It has something tropical fruity about it but also some orange rind bitterness? Medium length, sweet and fruity finish. Scoring me an 7 out of 10. Finding it just to be a bit too waxy on the nose and palate. 

Wemyss Malts - Spice King 5 year old

From Wemyss Malts comes the Spice King at an age of 5 years old and bottled at 40%.

The nose shows me some herbal and spice notes. It is sweet with some heather, red current, oak and biscuits... Sweet on one side and also some crispy cereal on the other side mixed with dried banana slices in it.

The palate is much like the nose and it feels very balanced. Creamy vanilla and honey with some dried fruits and fresh ones also. Red apple, banana, lemon, pear juice and plums. Whole grain cookies, black pepper, caramel and some cocoa powder.

Finish is middle length and has some wood notes on it. It feels young a bit and crisp. But also honey sweet... Not blown away with it must say, scoring it an 7 out of 10. I reviewed the 2015 edition before and scored it a bit higher. The 5 year old I find to be a bit young maybe compared to that one...

Deanston 12

The Deanston distillery is a lovely place to stop for a tour and a look around the shop and cafe. In 2014 WhiskySpeller visited the distillery and wrote something more about it and took some photos. I think there it also was that we took a sample home of the 12 year old expression bottled at 46,3%. The label displaying the old cotton mill that it was before. A place I found that is working hard to keep the connection with its history, local surroundings and people alive. Being true to heritage and tradition. Lets have a look at the 12 year old expression shall we and see what I can find in it?

On the nose some fresh hay, barley, honey, warm roasted nuts, toffee, vanilla, grapefruit, lemon curd and orange marmalade. The palate shows some bit dry nuts, butter, cereal, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, orange, lemon, banana, gooseberry, red apple, white grapes and some light note of clove and ginger. On the medium length sweet finish there is some creamy vanilla. Scoring me an 7 out of 10. It is just a bit too high on citrus and different nut notes for me. But a fresh and sweet dram for sure.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Gordon & Macphail - The MacPhail's Collection - Bunnahabhain 8 year old - Heavily peated

This expression from Gordon & Macphail comes from the Bunnahabhain distillery and is matured in a refill ex-Sherry butt and is bottled on 18/04/2014 at 43%. For The Wood makes the Whisky campaign they have send over a sample of this one. In 2014 we purchased a bottle of it and made some notes. It was emptied far too quickly sadly so glad to have another chance to see what I now find of it. On my first look at it I found the following.

Sweet nose, light peaty, raisin sweet, heather honey, chive, sharp citrus, something candy and mint, and orange chocolate sweets. Some soft stone fruits like mango, biscuit, warm baking spices, red apples, ginger, cinnamon, candy syrup, slight note of clove, rich vanilla, and many many rich fruit notes almost more tropical when sitting a while longer in the glass.

Creamy palate, peaty, chocolate, bit salty, lots of dried fruits, biscuits, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, candy syrup, bit earthy, lavender, heather, a honey marinaded ham. Mandarines, dried apple, pomolo and some great other citrus notes. A good length finish. Bit sweet and a bit dry cocoa, with dried fruits, dried apples, mandarin and some pomolo. Scoring me an 7,5 out of 10. A balanced, sweet, and fruity dram. It is not overly strong on the nose and palate, but very nice. Looking at money for value wise, this bottle is around 35 euro and is great! If you would not know that it is 8 years old you would not say it...

Reading my earlier notes I am thinking what more would I be able to add to this long list of notes all ready found. Still loving the sweetness and spices in it on the nose. The soft creamy peat on the palate with many fruit notes of citrus, different berries, cassis, elderflower jam and pomegranate... Great dram. Thanks for sharing the sample Gordon & Macphail!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Gordon & Macphail - Glenrothes 8 years old

From Gordon & Macphail in The Wood Makes the Whisky campaign comes this bottling from the Glenrothes distillery. Bottled after maturing for 8 years at 43% in 2011.

A sweet nose with banana, vanilla, raisin, sulphur, toffee, lime, salty peanuts, orange marmalade, red roasted bell pepper. The sulphur is at first a bit harsh and it needs time to open up.

Creamy palate, fudge, sweet, fruity, vanilla, raisin and cranberry. Light dry note of macademia and cashew nuts. Warm cashew nuts roasted in honey. Roasted paprika powder. Apricot jam, clover honey, grilled pineapple, bit liquerish, canned mixed fruit syrup and some orange marmalade.

The finish is rather short and almost has a strong molasses sweetness on it. It mixes with the sulphur note that comes back also here sadly. That makes me scoring it an 7 out of 10. But that is just me due to not being a huge fan of sulphur. Thanks Gordon & Macphail for sharing this sample to explore.

Octomore 07.4

The Octomore 07.4 is distilled on 21-04-2008 and peated at a level of 167 ppm. In total 12.000 bottles produced on 12 January 2016 at 61,2%. For maturation 25% of the casks spent full term in Virgin oak and 75% of the casks spent three years in first fill bourbon, then two years in virgin oak, then another two years in first fill bourbon. Making the Octomore 07.4 seven years old.

On the nose I get creamy vanilla and lush peaty notes. Sweetness from different red and black forrest fruits. Black current, raspberry, strawberry, red current, red sweet ripe apples, hint of granny smith apple sourness and gooseberries. Floor wax, soft worn leather and pipe tobacco notes. Toffee and mango creaminess is clearly present on the nose for me. Also noticing some equaliptus and orange freshness with dark chocolate mouse following those closely.

Palate is first filled with red and black pepper, salty popcorn, fudge, tobacco, leather, honey, sweet and fruity. Liquerish and baking spices together with the feeling of a Latte Machiato with a good swirl of fudge on it. It is very much like what I found on the nose and gets only sweeter with other fruits and jams. Also notes of French fluffy pastry, cakes and warm chocolate with little marshmallows... So nice this dram... Really are enjoying it very much. Adding some water to it makes the forrest fruit come out more clearly and tones down the hot pepper at the beginning of the palate. Quite a good length creamy sweet finish on it with some notes of honeysuckle and ashes. Scoring it an 9 out 10. Love it. Thanks Bruichladdich for sending a sample of this one to taste! Much appreciated!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Gordon & Macphail - The Macallan - 2006/2015

From "The Wood makes the Whisky" campaign from Gordon & Macphail comes an expression from the Macallan distillery distilled in 2006 and bottled at 43% on 17/11/2015.

On the nose a good amount of sulphur and bit waxy to start with. Then the smell of a very ripe, almost black banana and soft leather. Light note of equaliptus and some stronger ones of dates and oranges. A bit of cocoa powder in the back and it makes me think a bit of Jenever with same sort of herbal notes.

The palate has some fruit sweetness and bit creamy. Hints of malt and good amount of fudge.
Don't think I tasted it before in a whisky but getting baklava on it. Also some mango, banana all mashed up, vanilla and light leather with oranges. Bit weird, but not unpleasant, but also a bit sulphur on the medium length finish mixed within the vanilla and white chocolate.

Nose grows on you with the sulphur must say but on the finish it gives me a bit dry and sourly feeling. Like the feeling of biting into a slice of lime while you had it in your bacardi cola and it comes against your teeth when taking a sip. This whisky leaves me a bit puzzled to be honest. It is ok, but does not feel completely balanced and a bit young? But maybe it is just that I am not a huge fan of sulphur notes. Scoring it an 7 out of 10. Thanks Gordon & Macphail for providing the sample to taste this one.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Benromach 35 year old

Benromach sent WhiskySpeller a sample of the latest release so Thomas and I could have a closer look at it and make a note. This release is an 35 year old bottling at 43% and matured in first fill sherry casks. Here a little bit on what they have to say about it:

The Benromach Distillery Company Ltd. today reveals one of their rarest expressions to date, Benromach 35 Years Old, an exclusive whisky crafted at the distillery before the Urquhart family, owners of leading whisky specialist Gordon & MacPhail, revived it in 1998. Handcrafted using the finest natural ingredients at the Forres distillery, Benromach 35 Years Old is an exceptional whisky with real heritage and an original tale or two, having been laid down to mature in the 1980’s. 

This rare whisky, dating back to a time before Benromach was restored in the ‘90s, exudes the heritage of the Speyside distillery. Created under the watchful eye of Donald MacDonald, former Distillery Manager, the casks this whisky was matured in have long been a part of the Benromach history. Willie McArthur, former malt man and warehouseman, was one of the workers responsible for protecting the precious casks remaining in the bonded warehouses.

Lets have a closer look at it... 

On the nose loads of marzipan, red apple, fudge, tobacco, dates and some honey sweetness mixed with soft dirty leather and old books. It is a bit hold back and bit "thin" on one side but also creamy... Takes a good while to open up more layers and flavours. Getting some syrupy flavours that remind me of elder flower blossom syrup, but also dark forrest fruits, blackcurrant, just unripe red berries, gooseberry sourness, fresh orange juice, lime, cassis, mashed tropical summer fruit, mango creaminess, kiwi and light note of rose hip. 

Palate, well, fruity sweet and creamy must say at first taste. With vanilla, rum soaked raisins, dried apricots, figs, red apple, almonds and zeeuwse bolus (rolled sweet bun with sugar and cinnamon). Makes me think of a coffee cake with some dried fruits in it and thick cream on top. Some mocha, sweet baking spices and creamy vanilla pudding. After a bit, just like on the nose I get red and dark forrest fruits. But also soft creamy honey sweetness and some flowery notes of clover flower, dandelion, violets and roses. The good length finish reminds me a rice pie (rijstevlaai) a bit together with loads of cassis, mocha and marzipan. Both palate and nose need time to open up, the depth of the whisky is not instantly visible. Scoring it an 8 out of 10. Thanks for sharing it with us Benromach! 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

SMWS - 35.112 - Glen Moray - Perfect storm of flavours

The bottling from SMWS called 35.112 Perfect storm of flavours is an 17 year old expression bottled at 51,8% from the Glen Moray distillery. Distilled at the 17th of December 1996 and bottled in 2014 from an 1st fill designer barrel and producing 143 bottles.

The nose gives me some different flower notes and is high on fruit sweetness. Vanilla, raisin, thick, liquerish and creamy. Notes of grilled pineapple, cookie dough, maple syrup, pancakes, banana boat (my version is a warm banana from the BBQ cut open, brown sugar on it and some whisky poured over it set to fire and then topped with chocolate sauce and ice cream), powdered sugar, cactus fruit, persimmon, hint of pomolo and ginger cake. 

On the palate I find a lot of sweetness coming from fruit, fruit and much more fruit... Thick honey comb and fudge notes mixed with some softer flower notes and soft herbal notes. Creme brulee, warm sticky marshmallows, warm anise milk and candied ginger. 

Scoring me an 8/10 even when it is for me a bit on the very sweet side but it is so nice in this case with a good length finish. The palate and finish is full with thick tropical fruit juice notes with mango, oranges, pineapple, passion fruit, papaya and so many other fruits like that coming to mind on the finish. 

Nice rich fruit cake notes, Turkish delight, cream, mocha, dough, pistachio, almonds, chocolate chips, nougat, warm apple pie and dried figs. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Tormore 16

Recently I had a look at the 14 year old expression of Tormore. Another sample that was sitting on the shelf for a while is the 16 year old bottled at 48%. Lets have a closer look at it...

On the nose I find it dark honey sweetness with fruit notes of apricots, red apple, pear, orange and pineapple. Creamy vanilla, sticky toffee pudding, cereal and raisin. It almost has something earthy to it like the smell of a forrest after a storm.

Palate is warm and filled with fruity sweetness just like the nose. Ginger, cereals, raisin, vanilla and dried pineapple I can find in it. That together with cappuccino, pear, melon, coconut milk, roasted paprika powder and black pepper.

The finish is of medium length, sweet and nice, but it is very syrupy and sweet, and also a hint of some sulphur in the end maybe? It takes me back to the earthy forrest notes of the nose. Scoring an 7,5 out of 10. It has something but as said a bit too sweet...

Auchroisk - Flora and Fauna 10 year old

Going through some samples from the Flora and Fauna series at the moment and from the visit to the Auchroisk distillery we brought home a sample of the 10 year old expression bottled at 43%. For the story that WhiskySpeller did about the visit look here or if you want to see some photos have a look here.

On the nose directly I get some marzipan, butter and nuts. Followed by cinnamon and nutmeg mixed with sawdust, malt and something dusty. Very ripe red apples that are already mouldy and yeasting a bit...

The palate shows me some sweet barley with lots of creamy lemon, vanilla and fudge. Lots of fudge and red apple. Some other fruit notes and loads of honey sweetness with some grapefruit, orange and banana.

The finish is quite short and sweet with a hint of bit sour citrus note running through the sweet vanilla. It is a good dram, but overall I find it too sweet and gives me the feeling I am missing something in it... Scoring it an 7 out of 10.

Linkwood - Flora and Fauna - 12 year old

In the Flora and Fauna series is this 12 year old expression from the Linkwood distillery bottled at 43%. In 2014 during the Spirit of Speyside festival WhiskySpeller visited the Linkwood distillery and wrote a bit about that day here. Some pictures can be found here.

On the nose I find a bit of oak sweetness mixed with some floral notes and hints of different nuts. Grassy and pepper notes with almonds, creamy citrus, green apples, grapefruit, orange, cinnamon, cardamom, lime and bit sour yoghurt.

The palate is sweeter then the nose, has more honeyed and fruit notes in it. The nose was richer on the citrus and grassy notes. Still a high level of citrus on the palate but more creamy with vanilla, raisin, banana, red apple, old spice and cashew nuts.

The finish is not that long and had a bit demerara sugar on it with a soft chocolate edge to it. Scoring an 7 out of 10. Just a bit too citrus acidic for my personal taste and it shows its notes not easily must say...

Strathmill - Flora and Fauna - 12 year old

During the visit to the Strathmill distillery in 2014 WhiskySpeller got poured after the tour a lovely 12 year old expression from the Flora and Fauna series bottled at 43%. Some photos of the visit can be found here. Time to open the sample we brought home back then, it has been waiting far to long to be opened...

The nose I find soft sweet and malty with some grassy notes and honey, salty caramel, red apple, fresh pear, sugared sweets, powdered sugar and macademia nuts. Syrupy sweet lush fruit notes with soft baking spices and star anise.

Lovely sweet notes also on the palate with creamy, thick canned fruit syrup notes and fresh apple, banana, pear, fresh plums and oranges. Soft spices and different cake notes. Candied ginger, elderberry, buttercups, creamy clover honey, mocha cream, doughnuts and liquerish.

A medium length finish that is sweet and shows notes of vanilla, raisins, hints of chocolate flakes on big scoops of fresh creamy vanilla ice cream. Balanced and very lovely dram. Scoring it an 8,5/10.