Benromach Vintage 2009 Batch 1


”Give Me Just a Little More Time”


Whisky Review # 933

Country: Scotland

Region: Speyside
Brand: Benromach Vintage 2009 Batch 1
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: Around 10 Years (Bottled on May 29, 2019)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 58.8% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Mix of First-Fill Ex-Bourbon casks and First-Fill Sherry Wood
Chill Filtration: No
Price Average: US$ 90 (October 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐Okay. A bit expensive for a 10 Year old.
Buying Advice: 👍Slightly Young but well-made peated Speysider.

Color: Golden Amber with Orange hues (Natural Color)

Nose:

The Nose is welcomed by a light but pleasant & aromatic Peat Smoke that combines well with the fruity Sherry cask notes. Despite the high ABV, the Alcohol seems to be well-integrated despite the Malt's apparent youth. The Nose is mainly Sweet with a few Sour and Salty notes for balance. Rather Dry as well. I like the slightly dusty Dunnage Warehouse feeling. Another 5 years or so in the cask would do wonders to this Benromach.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Mix of Straw and Cow Manure, Yeast, Grass, Dried Apricot, Green Apple, Toasted Pineapple, Mandarin, Lemon, Cranberry, Peat, Smoke, Dusty casks in a Dunnage Warehouse, Zigeuner Schnitzel, Herbs, Salted Nuts, Pepper, Mint and Cloves.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Honey, Iodine, Tar, Wet Rocks, Leather, Tobacco, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Licorice and tiny hints of Rubber and Sweaty Feet.


Palate:

The Alcohol is much more present now and that makes the Malt slightly Dirty and edging towards Campbeltown. Not a bad thing though. The pleasant combo of Peat, Smoke and Sherry from the Nose is now accompanied by Smoky, Herbal and Spicy notes. Good Cask Management. The Youth of the Malt remains noticeable though.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Straw mixed with Cow Manure, Green Apple, Toasted Pineapple, Dried Apricot, Cranberry, Lemon. Orange/Mandarin, Earthy Peat (Forest Floor), Smoke, Smoked Ham, Dark Chocolate (70%), Pepper, Nutmeg, Mint and Ginger.  

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Honey, Grass, Tar, Ashes, Dusty Sherry casks in a Dunnage Warehouse, Strong Herbal Tea, Roasted Coffee Beans, Salted Nuts, Cinnamon, Rubber, Leather and Cooked Vegetables.


Finish:

Middle Long/Long. A Mix of Bitter, Sweet, Salty and Sour notes. Quite Dry towards the end. The Alcohol is more noticeable at this point and it even kicks a little. I find Toasted Barley, Mix of Straw and Cow Manure, Salted Caramel/Toffee, Smoke, Dry Earthy Peat, Tar, Ashes, Orange, Lemon, Mandarin, Dried Apricot, Toasted Pineapple, Cranberry, Green Apple, extra strong Black Tea, Espresso, Dark Chocolate (70%), Marzipan, Smoked Ham, Dusty Sherry Casks, Burnt and Wet Newspaper, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, Mint & Ginger. Distant hints of Rubber and Leather.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and that enhances the Fruit on the Nose, especially Apricot and possibly Peach. It also gets less "Dirty" this way. Palate and Finish benefit from a few drops but don't overdo it as you don't want to lose the true character of the Malt.

Rating: 86.5

Nose: 22 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

The Benromach Distillery is located in Forres (Morayshire) and was founded in 1898
by the Benromach Distillery Company. Benromach was mothballed from 1931-1937 and from 1983-1993. In 1993, Benromach was bought by Independent Bottler Gordon & MacPhail from United Distillers and since 1998 the Distillery is up and running again. The current year production is around 400.000 litres. The new core range includes, since 2020, the 10, 15 & 21 Years and the 2009 Cask Strength I'm reviewing today.

I like the way Benromach combines Speyside Malt and Peat just like in the old days. We visited this Speyside distillery in May 2014 and it was certainly one of the more memorable distillery visits. I like this distillery and its parent company Gordon & MacPhail. I have yet to taste a disappointing Malt made by either. With respect to the 2009 Vintage I only have one suggestion. Please consider giving this Malt or a similar expression another 5 years in the cask and you will be able to present a jewel to the market. It will be more expensive of course but it will be worth the wait. Go for it Gordon & MacPhail!!!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                      October 20, 2021

Pictures taken during our visit in May 2014

Malt Whisky Yearbook 2022


                    “A Wee Book on Whisky with Tons of Information"

" In 2005, Ingvar Ronde set out on a quest to try and release the perfect one- volume annual Whisky Book. In 2021 we can safely say "Mission Completed".

Hi Everybody and Welcome at Best Shot Whisky Reviews!

As you all know the purpose of Best Shot Whisky Reviews is to give my personal opinion on Whiskies from all over the world. As it's important to maintain my independent position I'm not engaged in any commercial activity. But, as I have done over the last 7 years, I would like to make an exception to be able to share with you the new edition of The Malt Whisky Yearbook by Ingvar Ronde that has been released every year since 2005. As always, the Malt Year Book is packed with highly interesting stories, this time amongst others about Roasted Malt, the 1823 Excise Act, Local Community Whisky producers, Future Sales predictions based on history, Whisky Legislation & Japanese Whisky. The writers include Charles MacLean, Gavin D. Smith, Neil Ridley, Joel Harrison, Ian Wisniewski and Stefan van Eycken.

The most important part of the book remains the detailed description of Scottish and Japanese Distilleries & slightly shorter presentations about Single Malt Whisky Distilleries from the rest of the world. All in all, a total of 727 Malt distilleries are presented. 

And there's much more such as a new item called Trailblazers of Whisky featuring  seven Whisky icons, a presentation of 150 of the best Whisky Shops in the world, a comprehensive summary of the past whisky year and an entire chapter about the world's most important independent bottlers.

Whisky Statistics, Best Whisky Web Sites (including Best Shot Whisky Reviews 😃), Distilleries per Owner, Closed Distilleries & New Distilleries and Maps complete this Book that also contains more than 500 color photos and over 200 Tasting Notes.

Ingvar Ronde

Year after year, this book not only manages to inform you in depth about the Malt distilleries all over the world but it also gives you solid background info that gives you an idea of the state of today's Whisky market. That's basically all you need if you want to buy one book on Whisky. And that applies to both Whisky enthusiastics and people that work in the Whisky industry.

On top of that, this book is certainly not expensive for what it offers (US$ 20) and is sold in Whisky Shops, International Book Stores, Distillery Visitor Centers and of course at the editor's website:

Malt Whisky Yearbook 2022

I wish you lots of fun with the Malt Whisky Yearbook 2022!

Cheers!

Jan

Bruichladdich Octomore 09.1


”Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire” 


Whisky Review # 932

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bruichladdich Octomore 09.1 (156 PPM)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - 42.000 Bottles
Age: 5 Years (2012-2018)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 59.1% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: First-Fill American Oak Ex-Bourbon/Whiskey casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 170-190 (October 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎 Way too expensive for such a young Whisky.
Buying Advice: 👎In this case better go for young Ardbeg, Caol Ila or Laphroaig.

Colour:

White Wine (Natural Color)

Nose:

Young, Peated Coastal Malt. Smoke and Peat are not overwhelming though. On the other hand, the Alcohol is quite noticeable which is not really a surprise given the high ABV. The Nose is a Light mix of Sweet, Sour, Coastal and Mineral notes. It's okay but I'm not particularly impressed.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Malted Barley, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Cold Campfire Smoke, Wet Earth, Brine, Soot, Iodine, Smoked Fish and Bacon, Lemon, Grapefruit, Green Apple, Dusty Oak, Pepper and Mint.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Brown Sugar/Caramel, Honey, Grass and Straw, Toast with Banana/Peanut Butter, White Wine, Lemon-Tea, Pear, Nuts, Wet Rocks & Sand, Cinnamon, Ginger, Milk Chocolate, Leather and Olive-Oil.


Palate:

A Young and Nervous mix of Sweet, Bitter, Salty, Sour & Smoky notes. The Alcohol is quite strong. The 09.1 certainly does not rank among my favorite Octomores.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Malted Barley, slightly burnt Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Cold Smoke, Wet Earth, Soot, Iodine, Ashes, Charred Dusty Oak, Brine, Walnuts, Lemon, Grapefruit, Fish, Shell Fish and Bacon on the BBQ, Herbal Tea, Pepper, Salt, Ginger and Cardamom.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Caramel, Toffee, Nougat, Yeast, Grass and Straw, Pear, Coconut, Diesel Oil, PVC Pipes, Milk Chocolate, Leather and Cooked Brussels Sprouts.
 

Finish:

Quite Long, mainly thanks to the Peat/Smoke. A bit of an Alcohol kick. Medium-Dry towards the end.  A mix of Sweet, Salty and Sour notes. I find Sweet Malted Barley, slightly burnt Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Toffee, Treacle, Cold Smoke, Wet Earth, Soot, Brine, Ashes, Green Apple, Lemon, Grapefruit, Gooseberry, Sultanas, Herbal Tea, Walnut Shells, Smoked Fish/Shell Fish & Bacon, Milk Chocolate, Dusty Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Licorice, Salt, Cardamom, Wet Rocks & Sand, Stale Espresso, PVC Pipes, Diesel Oil and Cooked Brussels Sprouts.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and although the Nose hardly presents changes, the Alcohol is toned down on the Palate and that's a good thing. The Finish becomes a lot shorter though. Taken everything into account my advise would be to add a few drops of Water to this Octomore.

Rating: 83

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Conclusion:

Bruichladdich was founded in 1881 by Barnett Harvey. During its history it was mothballed various times, the last time in 1998. In 2012 the Islay distillery was bought by Remy Cointreau (France). Since, Bruichladdich is showing a healthy growth again. The distillery produces 3 types of Single Malt, i.e. the unpeated Bruichladdich & the heavily peated Port Charlotte & Octomore. The basic core range includes Classic Laddie and a 10-year old Port Charlotte. The annual production amounts to around one million litres. About 10% of that is Octomore. Octomore by the way means " The Big Eighth". This is a medieval division of common ground.

The Octomore 09.1 was distilled in 2012 with 100% Scottish Concerto Barley from the 2011 harvest. It matured in Ex-Bourbons casks, mainly from Jim Beam & Jack Daniels.

This is certainly not one of my favorite Octomore expressions. It's basically about Youth, Alcohol & Peat Smoke. A bit one-dimensional in my opinion. There's a saying that "There's no Smoke without Fire" and indeed you get lots of both with the 09.1. You will have to dig deep to find the additional Aromas and Flavors. You will have to dig deep in your pocket as well to buy this Bruichladdich. You get way better value for money with young Ardbeg 10, Caol Ila 12 and Laphroaig 10!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                      October 13, 2021

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Inchmoan 10 Years



”We Will Rocks You”


Whisky Review # 931
Country: Scotland
Region: Western Highlands
Brand: Inchmoan (Peated - Around 50 PPM)
Distilled at: Loch Lomond Distillery
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 10 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon American Oak casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Average: US$ 50 (October 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😑Okay
Buying Advice:😔 Good on the Rocks but not sufficiently good as a sipping Malt.

Colour: Chardonnay (Artificially Colored)

Nose:

The first impression is that of a Young, Peated Malt. Somewhere between Laphroaig and Glen Scotia or Ledaig. There's definitively a light Maritime character to this Inchmoan and that's a bit of a surprise. The Alcohol is quite noticeable and it feels a bit Thin despite the adequate ABV. I detect a few Salty, Sour, Dairy, Green & Plastic notes. The fruit is hidden behind the Peat.

Main Aromas:

Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Cold Smoke, Wet Mud, Forest Floor, Grass, Yeast,  Salted Fish/Bacon, Tart Apple, Grapefruit, Gooseberry, Lemon, Plastic, Herbs de Provence, Cardboard Boxes, White Chocolate, Mint and Nutmeg.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Coconut, Iodine, Tar, Brine, Wet Rocks, Mandarin, Pear, Rubber, Dusty Oak, Iron, Leather, Tobacco, Cinnamon, Camembert, Almond Oil and Licorice.


Palate
:


Young. A mix of Bitter, Sweet, Sour, Salty and Green notes. A little Rubber and PVC Pipes as well. Remarkably Dry. The Alcohol is quite noticeable.

Main Flavours:

Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Cold Smoke, Wet Earth, Brine, Salted Fish/Bacon, Wet Newspaper, Wet Rocks/Sand, Lemon, Mandarin, Gooseberry, Grapefruit, Tart Apple, Herbs de Provence, Camembert, Yeast and Pepper.  

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Tare, Ashes, Soot, Iodine, Iron, Salted Almonds, White Chocolate, Nutmeg,  Cinnamon, Iron and Tobacco.

Finish:

Middle-Long. A mix of Sweet, Bitter, Sour & Salty notes. The Alcohol is very present I'm afraid. Quite Dry after a while. The Young feeling remains right until the end. I find Malted Barley, Salty Caramel, Vanilla, Salted Almonds, Cold Smoke, Wet Mud, Wet Rocks/Sand, Wet Newspaper, Iodine, Soot, Rubber, Ashes, PVC Pipes, Stewed Apples, Grapefruit, Lemon, Mandarin, Gooseberry, Dried Herbs de Provence, Dusty Oak, Salted Bacon/Fish, Camembert, Tobacco, White Chocolate, Pepper, Nutmeg & Mint.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and that helps to calm down the Alcohol. But you're left with a Peppery, Peaty Vodka. So better sip it neat or, preferably, on the Rocks.

Rating: 83

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5  - Overall: 20.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Good

Conclusion:

The modern Loch Lomond Distillery was constructed in 1965 by Littlemill Distillery Company but Whisky has been distilled on the shores of Loch Lomond since 1814. In 2014 it was sold to Exponent Private Equity and, finally, in 2019 to Hillhouse Capital Management. Loch Lomond uses four types of Stills including Straight Neck Pot Stills and a Single Grain Coffey Still. It produces both Single Malt & Single Grain Whisky. Around 2,8 million litres of the first and 2 million litres of the latter. Loch Lomond possesses two sub-Brand Names namely Inchmurrin for Fruity and Sweet Malt and Inchmoan for Peated and Spicy Malt. Inchmoan uses a combination of Malt Whisky from their traditional Swan neck pot still and the straight neck pot still.

In general I'm not too fond of Young Single Malts that present a relatively high ABV and/or are heavily peated. On many occasions these features try to hide the Youth and the indifferent Cask management. I feel that's very likely the case here with this Inchmoan. Unfortunately the peat conceals most of the Fruity notes as well. It's not really a bad Single Malt and the Rubber/Plastic/Iron off-notes are within limits. But the reasons mentioned above do prevent this Inchmoan from being a truly enjoyable sipping Malt. On the Rocks it's just fine though and that's the way I'm going to enjoy this bottle of Inchmoan!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                         October 6, 2021

Compass Box Great King St. Glasgow Blend



”Where the Streets Have No Name”


Whisky Review # 930

Country: Scotland
Brand: Compass Box Great King St. Glasgow Blend
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky - Batch GB 209 - Bottled: 2020
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Mix of Bourbon & Sherry Wood with new French Oak Finish (3%)
Chill Filtration: No
Average Price: US$ 47 (September 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👍 Okay/Good given the variety of the components.
Buying Advice: 😐 It's okay I guess but too Thin and Bland for me.

Colour:

Golden Amber (Natural Color)

Nose:

Young and on the Thin side. A mix of Sweet and Sour notes with Tart, Mineral and Smoky accents. The Sherry influence is rather limited. I pick up various Aroma and Flavor nuances but it takes a lot of time and patience.

Main Aromas:

Grain Alcohol, Malted & Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Apricots and Raisins, Toasted Pineapple, Lemon & Orange Zest, Smoked Fish, Shellfish & Bacon, Cold Campfire Smoke, Wet Mud, Grass, Leather, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Mint.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Demerara Sugar, Nectarine, Tart Apples, Strawberry-flavored Yogurt, White Chocolate, Roasted Nuts, Oak, Brine, Wet Rocks/Sand, Ashes, light Iodine, Pepper, Cloves, PVC Pipes and Olive Oil. Some Bananas from time to time.


Palate:

Young, slightly Oily and on the Thin side. The Grain Alcohol is clearly noticeable. The Malt cask influence is limited. Laphroaig is the only Malt you can pick up reasonably easy. The Palate presents a mix of Bitter-Sweet and Sour notes with Salty, Herbal, Spicy and Smoky nuances.

Main Flavours:

Grain Alcohol, Toasted Malt, Salted Toffee, Vanilla, Grass & Straw, Campfire Smoke, Charred Oak, Wet Mud, Lemon, Grapefuit, Seville Orange, Toasted Pineapple, Smoked Fish, Shellfish and Bacon, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Licorice and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:
   
Honey, Ashes, Iodine, Wet Rocks/Sand, Dried Fruits like Raisins and Apricots, Wax, Roasted Nuts, Dried Coconut, Herbal Tea, Leather, Tobacco, Nutmeg, Aniseed and Cloves. A hint of PVC Pipes.

Finish:

Short/Middle-Long and again on the Thin side. The Grain Alcohol is clearly present. The same can't be said from the Sherry casks unfortunately. The Finish is a rather disappointing mix of Bitter-Sweet and Sour notes laced with Herbs, Spices and Salt. Quite Dry in the end. I find Grain Alcohol, Toasted Malt, Burnt Toast, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Honey, Lemon, Grapefruit, Seville-Orange, Roasted Nuts, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Dates, Campfire Smoke, Wet Earth, Ashes, Charred Oak, Herbal Tea, Espresso, Dark Chocolate, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cloves, Licorice, Aniseed & Menthol. A hint of PVC Pipes.


Drinking Advice:

Added Water turns this Glasgow Blend into a Laphroaig infused Grain Alcohol. Better sip it neat or, preferably, on the Rocks.

Rating: 82

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Drinking Experience On the Rocks: Good

Conclusion:

First of all some information on this Blend and the series as mentioned on the label.

" The Great King St Range from Compass Box is dedicated to creating contemporary Scotch Whiskies in the full-flavored style of the great 19th century Blending Houses. In creating these Blends we drew on archive recipies from the golden age of Whisky making then updating them with our own 21st century custom cask maturation techniques. The result is a style of Blended Scotch unlike anything else available today".

"In the Glasgow Blend we have combined the smoky marine character of mature Islay Malt Whisky with the rich Fruitcake character of Sherry cask matured Speyside Scotch and the deep Vanilla richness of aged Lowland Grain. The combination is bold, peaty and sherried, a quite fitting Blend for the people of Glasgow who have historically preferred fuller bodied and more flavor-packed whiskies than their counterparts in other areas of the world".

This Glasgow Blend consists of 35,2% Single Grain Whisky from the Cameronbridge distillery matured in First-Fill Bourbon Barrels, 29% of (most likely) Aberlour Malt matured in First-Fill Sherry Butts, 18% of Laphroaig Malt that matured in Refill Ex-Bourbon casks, 9,9% of Clynelish Malt matured in First-Fill Ex-Bourbon barrels, 5,1% of (most likely) Benrinnes matured in Re-vatted Sherry Butts and 2,6% of a Highland Malt Blend containing (in the specific 2020 Bottling) 60% Glen Moray, 25% Tomatin and 15% Balmenach. Earlier batches contained Clynelish, Teaninich and Dailuane. The information provided by Compass Box is truly unique in today's Whisky world and highly commendable.

This is not an easy Blend to review. The P/Q ratio is quite okay and it's not bad when compared to the average Scottish Blends. But it's clear to me that Compass Box aimed to keep the price at a reasonable level and that shows of course in the ultimate Aroma and Flavor profile. The casks used for maturation of the various Malts were certainly not the most active ones, especially the Sherry Wood. As a result the Grain Alcohol and the Laphroaig Malt are the main drivers of this Blend. The ABV of 43% is not quite enough to carry sufficient other Aromas and Flavors to our Nosing and Tasting systems, resulting in a rather Thin profile. Compass Box wanted to produce a full-bodied and flavor-packed Blend to honor the tradition of the Glasgow people. I don't think they quite succeeded in doing so. This Blend will probably be more popular in areas Where the Streets Have No Name!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                  September 29, 2021