Tamdhu CS Batch # 5


”Love Me Like Tamdhu 


Whisky Review # 947

Country: Scotland

Region: Speyside
Brand: Tamdhu Cask Strength - Batch 5
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 59.8% (Around Cask Strength)
Maturation: 1st and 2nd Fill Ex-Oloroso Sherry-Seasoned Casks from Jerez, Spain
Chill Filtration: No
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brasil. Many Thanks!
Price Range: US$ 75-90 (May 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 Okay, certainly at around US$ 75
Buying Advice: 👍 If you like heavily Sherried Speysiders this will serve you well

Colour: Copper (Natural Colour)

Nose:

A true to form Sherry nose with lots of Dried Fruit, Dark Chocolate and Fruit Cake. Quite Sweet of course but not over the top. Some sour notes for balance. It's a relatively young Single Malt and the Alcohol is noticeable.

Main Aromas:

Toasted and Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Honey, Fruit Cake, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Raisins, Plums, Dates, Bananas and Prunes, Orange, Dark Berries & Cherries, Roasted Nuts and Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Dusty Oak, Cloves, Nutmeg & Ginger.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Caramel, Red Apple, Lemon, Grapefruit, Nectarine, Straw, Marzipan, Dried Herbs, Tobacco, Leather, Coconut Cask, Green Leaves, Dusty Track, Licorice, Mint, Cinnamon and Pepper.


Palate:

The Palate follows the Nose with lots of (Dried) Dark Fruit, Nuts and Spices. The strong ABV is quite noticeable. The relative Youth of this Tamdhu is quite clear. The taste is mainly Sweet but is balanced with Sour and Bitter notes. Not bad but a bit predictable.

Main Flavours:

Toasted and Malted Barley, Vanilla, Honey, Toasted Nuts, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Raisins, Plums, Apricots, Bananas and Dates, Blackberry, Orange, Red Apple, Dark Chocolate, Fruit Cake, Dusty Oak, Pepper, Ginger, Cloves, Nutmeg and Licorice.  

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Caramel, Toffee, Treacle, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Straw, Nectarine, Cherry, Grapefruit, Lemon, Leather, Tobacco, Herbal Tea, Dusty Track, Cinnamon, Menthol, Aniseed and strong Espresso.


Finish:

Quite long and a little hot. Mainly sweet with a few sour notes as well. Increasing bitterness towards the dry end. The high ABV can't hide the relative youth of the spirit. I find Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Caramel, Honey, Dried Fruit like Sultana, Plum, Apricot, Banana and Prunes, Blackberries, Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Red Apples, Roasted Nuts, Dark Chocolate, Dusty Track, Leather, Tobacco, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves, Nutmeg, Menthol, Aniseed, Dusty Oak and strong Espresso. A hint of Cigar Boxes after a while.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and that helps to calm down the Alcohol. The nose gets more Malty and Nutty though, especially Walnuts. The palate almost transforms into a liquid Fruitcake. You can certainly add a bit of Water but be sure to nose and taste it neat as well.

Rating: 84.5

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. Could do with a longer maturation.

Conclusion:

The Tamdhu Distillery was founded in 1896 by a group of Whisky Blenders of which William Grant was the most important. It is located in Knockando/Aberlour in Morayshire. It closed from 1911 to 1913, 1928 to 1948 and 2009-2011 when it was bought by the current owners Ian MacLeod. Under the old owners (The Edrington Group) most of the spirit went into Blends like Cutty Sark, Vat 69, White Horse, The Famous Grouse and J&B. The new owners however are keen to put Tamdhu on the Whisky map as a premium Single Malt. But of course it will also be used for MacLeod's own Blends like King Robert II. The current production amounts to 3,1 million litres. The core range includes the 10, 12 and 15 Years as well as the CS I'm reviewing today.

It's not often that I get to taste a Single Malt of this Distillery and the Cask Strength does not disappoint, especially when you're into Sherried Speysiders. It's not quite my preferred type of Whisky though. I find it rather predictable and a bit boring. But that's just me of course. I do have a specific issue with this Tamdhu though. It's a little too Young and, as a consequence, a bit too Hot & Nervous. This would be much better with additional cask time. Still, if you like Sherried Speysiders/Highlanders like Glenfarclas and Glengoyne you should give this Tamdhu a chance.  

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                            May 17, 2022

Aberlour Casg Annamh


”The Candy Man”


Whisky Review # 946

Country: Scotland

Region: Speyside
Brand: Aberlour Casg Annamh - Batch 5
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 48%
Maturation: Mix of Ex-Bourbon Casks and Ex-Oloroso Sherry Casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 45-65 (May 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 Okay at around US$ 45
Buying Advice: 👎 Better avoid this one and stay with the A'Bunadh 

Colour: Golden Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Please give this Aberlour a bit of time in the glass before Nosing. It helps to calm down the initial waft of Varnish that greets the Nose. The influence of the Sherried Casks is there but it's not at all overwhelming. The Nose is basically Sweet with lots of Orange and Dried Fruit. A few Sour notes help to balance things out. The Alcohol is noticeable. The Nose feels Young but is okay though nothing special. The Fruity notes are a bit Artificial and remind me more of Fruit-Flavored Candies with the exception of the Orange note.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Caramel, Dried Fruit like Plums, Apricots and Raisins, Orange, slightly Sour Red Berries, Maraschino Cherries, Yeast, Dusty Oak, Ginger, Cinnamon and Mint.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Golden Syrup, Brown Sugar, Apple, Pear, Nectarine, Lemon, Banana, Glue, Nougat, Varnish, Forest Floor, Dry Earth, Tobacco and Pepper.


Palate:

Young, Medium-Dry and Slightly Hot. Mostly Sweet but with a few Bitter and Sour notes for balance. The Alcohol is really noticeable. The Fruit notes are even more Artificial than on the Nose unfortunately. I'm not impressed with this Casg Annamh.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Caramel, Buttered Toast, Artificially Flavored Candies (Cherry, Apple, Strawberry, Raspberry, Pear, Banana), Orange, Nectarine, Yeast, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves, Licorice, Menthol and Dusty Oak.  

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Toffee, Vanilla, Lemon, Nougat, Grass, Varnish, Milk Chocolate, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Dusty Track and hints of Metal Pipes.


Finish:

Middle-Long, Young, Spicy and slightly Hot. Mainly Sweet but with a few Sour and Bitter notes as well. Medium-Dry towards the end. The Alcohol is quite noticeable. I find Sweet Barley, Toffee, Honey, Caramel, Vanilla, Artificially Flavored Candies (Strawberry, Apple, Raspberry, Cherry, Pear) Orange, Lemon, Nectarine, Varnish, Yeast, Milk Chocolate, Herbal Tea, Grass, Dusty Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cloves, Licorice and Menthol. After a while i get a very strong note of Tutti Frutti Bubblegum.

Drinking Advice:

With added Water it becomes even more Edgy and Artificial. A couple of drops to ease the Alcohol perhaps but no more!

Rating: 82

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good. Nothing special

Conclusion:

The Aberlour distillery was founded in 1879 by James Fleming and is located in the little village of the same name in Banffshire, Speyside. Since 2001 it is owned by Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard). The capacity of Aberlour is around 3,8 million litres per year. The core range includes the 12, 16 and 18 Years as well as the A'Bunadh and the Casg Annamh.

Casg Annamh means Rare Cask in Gaelish. It matured in a mix of European Oak Ex- Oloroso Sherry Casks and two types of American Oak Ex-Bourbon casks.

I'm not impressed with this Aberlour expression. It's not really bad but it's Young, Hot and even a little on the Thin side despite the more than adequate ABV. In fact the Alcohol is noticeable throughout the Nosing and Tasting procedures. What most bothers me though is the Artificiality of the Fruit notes. A bit irritating even. So if you like Aberlour, avoid this one and stay true to the A'Bunadh series that still offer the best this distillery has to offer IMHO and at somewhat affordable prices. There's simply nothing Rare about this Casg Annamh! 

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                            May 10, 2022

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Highland Park Full Volume


”The Rain, The Highland Park and Other Things” 

Whisky Review # 945

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park Full Volume - Limited Edition - 481 Casks
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: Distilled from March to September 1999 - Bottled 2017 - Around 17 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 47.2%
Maturation: First-Fill Ex-Bourbon Casks (Mix of Barrels and Hogsheads)
Filtration: Filtered at 4 Degrees Celsius
Price Range: US$ 85-125 (May 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 Okay at around US$ 80. I wouln't pay more though!
Buying Advice: 😐 Better go for the standard 18 Years

Colour:

Pale Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Highland Park Malt usually matures in Sherried Wood so it would be extremely hard to recognize this Full Volume as HP in a Blind Tasting. The Ex-Bourbon casks would probably lead you in the false direction of a lightly Peated Highland Malt. Which is not necessarily a bad thing of course. The strong Vanilla & Fruit notes and the hints of Wax and Varnish confirm the 1st Fill quality of the casks. The Nose is mostly Sweet but a few Sour notes provide balance. The (Peat) Smoke is a mere after- thought but it does give an extra dimension to the Full Volume. It's not a great Nose but it's pleasant and confy. The Alcohol is noticeable but not in a nasty way. To be honest I would give it less than 17 years.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Toasted Barley, German Butter Biscuits, Vanilla, Honey, Apple, Pear, Toasted Pineapple, Orange, Lemon, Salted Nuts, Grass and Straw, Dried and Fresh Herbs, Toasted Oak, Cinnamon and Cloves.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Brown Sugar, Caramel, Wax, Glue, Yeast, Banana, Grapefruit, Gooseberry, Coconut, Green Mango, Marzipan, Green Leaves, Wet Forest Floor, Wet Stones, Earthy Peat, Tobacco, Cold Cigar Smoke, Pepper, Nutmeg and Mint.


Palate:

The Palate tries to follow the Nose and while the basis elements are still there they are presented in a slightly less harmonious way. It's even a little Edgy, Dirty and Hot at times. Sweet & Sour notes still prevail but a light Bitterness pops up around the corner. How many times Highland Park Malts have disappointed me on the Palate. A pity!

Main Flavours:

Toasted/Malted Barley, Butter Biscuits, Vanilla, Honey, Apple, Pear, Orange, Banana, Lemon, Grapefruit, Gooseberry, Grass & Straw, Dusty Track, Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves and Mint.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Salted Caramel, Yeast, Wax, Bounty Bars, Nectarine, Mango, Salted Nuts, Herbal Tea, Earthy Peat, Cigar Smoke, Soot, Wet Stones, Nutmeg, Ginger and Tobacco.


Finish:

Middle-Long. Sweet and Sour at first but with increasing Bitterness towards the Dry end. It's a little Thin despite the sufficient ABV. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Honey, Apple, Pear, Nectarine, Bounty Bar, Grapefruit, Gooseberry, Orange, Lemon, Banana, Toasted Oak, Wax, Resin, Yeast, Hay and Grass, Herbal Tea, Dusty Track, Cocoa Powder, Tobacco, Dusty Peat, Cigar Smoke, Soot, Wet Cardboard, Wet Rocks, Tobacco, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves & Menthol. The Alcohol is much more present at this point.


Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve this Highland Park.

Rating: 84 

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but nothing special

Conclusion:

The distillery was founded in 1798 by David Robertson. It is located in the small town of Kirkwall on the isle of Orkney. Orkney is still quite strongly influenced by its Viking past & the distillery has increasingly used this past as a rather successful marketing tool. Highland Park currently produces around 2.5 million litres of Alcohol & is owned since 1997 by the Edrington Group. The core range basically consists of the 10 (Viking Scars), the 12 (Viking Honour), the 15 (Viking Heart), the 18 (Viking Pride), the 21, 25, 30 and 40 years, Cask Strength, Dragon Legend & Viking Tribe.

We visited Highland Park in May 2019 and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit despite the terrible weather. Orkney is a special place and I understand the tradition and the bond with the Viking ancestors. It's such a pity that the distillery regularly distorts this picture with mediocre, expensive "Cult" Single Malts based on that theme.

The Full Volume was launched in 2017. Both radios and whiskies have to be tuned to produce the best sound and taste. But once again I think that the Highland Park commercial department exaggerates with the concept of the Full Volume. Both the name and the "threatening" Black Bottle and Packaging suggest a very strong and unforgiving Single Malt. But the opposite is the case. The Nose, although pleasant, is affable but not powerful. And the slightly Edgy and Hot Palate and Finish do not spell fine-tuning in my opinion. Once again suggestion and reality are two different things. I can't await the day that Highland Park simply decides to make good Malt Whisky without all the (Viking) bells and whistles.

While I was writing this review it started to rain and I was already looking forward to watch the Moto GP training in Jerez in Spain. Hence the title of this review. It's a funny coincidence by the way that the motor races are in Jerez and I'm reviewing a HP that matured in Ex-Bourbon casks 😀.  

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                             May 3, 2022

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

Union Virgin Oak Finish


”State of the Union” 


Whisky Review # 944

Country: Brazil
Region: State of Rio Grande do Sul
Brand: Union Virgin Oak Finish
Type: Single Malt Whisky - Distilled in the "old" Veranopolis Distillery
Age: NAS (Presumably 7 Years)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Casks (5 Years) with Virgin Oak Finish (2 Years)
Chill Filtration: No
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Average Price: US$ 50 (April 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👍 About right. The lowest price I saw was US$ 46
Buying Advice: 😀 If you want to experiment good Brazilian Whisky, start here!

Colour:

Golden (Natural Color)

Nose:

I'm welcomed by the Sweet smell of Vanilla and Fresh Buttered Pastry along with a hint of Varnish from the New Oak. It's quite Young and a little Thin but certainly not unpleasant. One of the better (if not the best) Brazilian Malt I've nosed so far.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Good Quality Normandy Butter, Vanilla, Fresh Puff Pastry filled with Peaches or Apricots, Honey, Raisins, Charred Oak and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Caramel, Golden Syrup, Nougat, Straw, Fresh Bread, Toasted Pineapple, Milk Chocolate, Dusty Track, Varnish, Almonds, Biscuits, Pepper and Ginger.


Palate:

Young, a little Thin, slightly Hot and Bitter-Sweet. Clean without Off-Notes.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Honey, Butter Biscuits, Peanut-Milk Chocolate, Peach, Plum, Charred Oak, Cinnamon, Pepper and Nutmeg.    

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Caramel, Toffee, Golden Syrup, Nougat, Straw, Raisins, Vanilla-Flavored Coffee, Mint and Ginger. A touch of Lemon and Dusty Track.  

Finish:

Middle-Long and mostly Sweet with an increasing Bitterness towards the end that does not seem totally out of place though. It's Young, a little Thin and slightly Hot. Quite Dry towards the end as well. I find Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Toffee, Charred Oak, Honey, Butter Biscuits, Straw, Nougat, Peanut-Milk Chocolate, Raisins, Cinnamon, Pepper, Vanilla-Flavored Coffee and hints of Mint and Lemon.  

Drinking Advice:

Due to the small size of the sample I only tasted this Union neat.

Rating: 82.5 

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

The Union Distillery was founded in 1948 and started with the production of Wines and Spirits. In 1972 it was bought by the Borsato and Ziero families who changed the focus of the company to the production of Malt Whisky blessed by an abundance of crystal clear Water in the region. To obtain various Aromas and Flavors, a mix of differently Charred Casks were used (Levels 1,3 and 4). The Spirit for this Virgin Oak Finish was still produced in the old Veranopolis Distillery but in 2015 this was replaced by a new production facility in Bento Goncalves.   

I'm impressed by the quality of this Brazilian product. Style-wise it's somewhere between Bourbon and Scotch. It's still a bit Young but it's already good enough as a sipping Whisky. It would be great to try a fully matured Union in the future. Yes, it's a bit Young and Hot and a Thin but Aroma- and Flavor-wise this distillery is going in the right direction and I wish them lots of success. 

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                           April 26, 2022

Wardhead 1997 (Carn Mor)


”Songs from the Wood” 


Whisky Review # 943

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Wardhead 1997 (Carn Mor - Celebration of the Cask Series)
Distilled on: 20-02-1997
Bottled By/For: Morrison & MacKay (MMcK) on 01/08/2018
Type: Single Cask Blended Malt Scotch Whisky - Cask # 43 - 354 Bottles
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 54.6% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 140-160 (April 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 Okay. A 21 Year old Single Malt is never cheap these days!
Buying Advice: 😔 Not bad at all but probably only for Woody Woodpeckers!

Colour: Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose:

A Mix of Sweet and slightly Sour notes. Quite Malty and Yeasty. The Oak is quite noticeable and so is the Alcohol. There's still sufficient Glenfiddich Fruit to be noted but this Spirit could have done with fewer years in the casks. Anywhere between 15 and 18 years would have been just fine. The Nose is not unpleasant but nothing out of the ordinary as well.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, German Butter Biscuits, Honey, Yeast, Green Apple, Pear, Mix of Nuts and Dried Fruit like Apricot, Gooseberry, Grapefruit, Slightly Dusty Casks, Cinnamon and Mint.    
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Toffee, Wax, Resin, Powder Sugar, Grass/Straw, Mandarin, Banana, Lemon, Strawberry Yogurt, Melon, Pineapple, Nougat, Floral Soap, Tobacco, Green Leaves,  Wet Rocks, Fresh and Dried Herbs, Ginger and Pepper.


Palate:

The Sweet and Sour notes of the Nose are still there but they are threatened by the Bitterness of Cask and Wood Spices. I miss balance here. Either Mr. Morrison or Mr. MacKay should have bottled it a few years earlier in my opinion 😉. The Alcohol is noticeable as well. Somehow I got images of an Apple Pie that was kept in a brand new wooden box for a couple of weeks!

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Syrup, Honey, Wax, Resin, Yeast, Dough, Pear, Green Apple, Mandarin, Banana, Gooseberry, Grapefruit, Bounty Bars, Capuccino, Earth, Dusty Charred Oak, Coconut, Pepper, Ginger and Mint. 
         
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Vanilla, Grass and Straw, Melon, Lemon, Strawberry, Leather, Herbal Tea, Tobacco, Aniseed, Licorice and Cinnamon.
 
Finish:

Quite Long with lots of Bitter Oak and Menthol. Quite Dry towards the end. Oak and Wood Spices are really controlling the Sweet Malt and Sour Fruit at this point. This really should have been bottled earlier. Still, it's better than most of today's boring Malts. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla Ice Cream, Toffee, Honey, Wax, Simple Syrup, Grass/Straw, Green Apple, Pear, Banana, Green Grapes, Gooseberry, Grapefruit, Lemon, Mandarin, Toasted Almonds, Charred Oak, Wax, Cacao Powder, Herbal Tea, Floral Soap, lightly Burnt Marshmallow, Green Leaves, Leather, Tobacco, Cinnamon, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Aniseed, Mint and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

You can certainly add a spoonful of Water to this Wardhead thereby diminishing the Bitterness somewhat and increasing the Fruitiness. It obviously loses some of the original raw character as well. I liked it both ways actually.

Rating: 86

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. Would be better with less cask time.

Conclusion:

William Grant & Sons are the owners of the Speyside distilleries Glenfiddich and The Balvenie. When they sell Casks with Glenfiddich Spirit to Independent Bottlers like Morrison & MacKay, they add a teaspoon of The Balvenie and label it as Wardhead. This way, the independent bottlers can't sell it as Glenfiddich and also not as Single Malt as the minimum amount of The Balvenie classifies the mix as a Blended Malt.

I fully enjoyed this Tasting session. Let me explain. On the one hand this Malt has certainly overstayed its time in the cask causing a Bitterness that will not please most Whisky lovers as it compromises the Fruitiness of the Glenfiddich Spirit. But on the other hand it shows Character, something I so dearly miss in todays Mainstream Malt Madness. If you like the standard Glenfiddich expressions you should not go for this one but if you're looking for some Raw Woody Adventure you should give this Wardhead a chance!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                           April 20, 2022