Benromach 21 Years


"Thin Soldier”


Whisky Review # 1024

Country: Scotland ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ
Region: Speyside
Brand: Benromach
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Mix of 1st-Fill Ex-Bourbon Casks and Sherry Casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Average Price: US$ 120-140 (June 2024)
Price/Quality Ratio: ๐Ÿ˜ Okay I guess given the long maturation
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ‘Ž I think you're much better off with the 10 Years

Color:

Dark Golden/Amber (Natural Color)

Nose:

Please don't nose in the middle of the glass right away. That way you avoid some initial wafts of Wood Polish & Sulphur. I wouldn't give it 21 years in a Blind Tasting as it presents itself lively and fresh. The maturation worked well with balanced Ex-Bourbon & Sherry influences. The Oak and Spices are certainly not overpowering and neither is the Smoke. The ABV is rather low and, as a consequence, the delivery is not as strong as it could and probably should have been.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Butter Biscuits, Vanilla, Yeast, Dried Fruit like Apples, Apricots, Figs, Dates & Plums, Red Berries & Cherries, Candied Orange & Lemon, Milk-Chocolate, Dusty "Dunnage" Charred Oak, Cinnamon, Ginger and Mint.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Wax, Marzipan, Nougat, slightly Sour Grapefruit, Smoke, Earthy Peat, Wet Sand, Nutmeg, Cloves, Rum-spiced Tea, Licorice and very light hints of Varnish, Rubber, Sulphur, Raw Meat and Burnt green leaves.
 

Palate:

The delivery is on the Thin side on account of the "low" ABV. Smoke and Peat are a bit more noticeable now but they remain in the background. The Palate presents some Sweet and Sour notes with a very light Bitterness for balance. Medium-Dry.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Yeast, Dried Fruit like Apple, Apricot, Raisins and Plums, Red Berries and Cherries, Orange, Grapefruit, Dusty Charred Oak, Nuts, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Menthol and Licorice.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Nougat, Marzipan, Lemon, Smoke, Earthy Peat, Soot, Dark Chocolate, Dark Espresso, Peanut Butter, Cloves, Tobacco, Leather & hints of Metal, Burnt Rubber and Raw Meat.


Finish:

Medium-Long. Mostly Sweet and Sour notes. Medium Dry towards the end. It's a bit on the Thin side & there's also a slightly Burnt feel to it. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Yeast, Dried Fruit like Apple, Raisins, Apricots, Dates & Figs, Red Berries & Cherries, Nougat, Orange, Grapefruit, Smoke, Ashes, Dusty Earth, Dusty Charred Oak, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves, Pepper, Nutmeg, Licorice, Menthol, Rum-spiced Tea, Leather and Tobacco.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water kills this Benromach.

Rating: 7.5 (*******1/2)

Nose: 8 - Taste: 7.5 - Finish: 7

*** Important Note with respect to Rating.

If the Final score is 8 or higher you can safely buy the whisky in question if and when it fits your Aroma/Flavor profile. If the score is between 6 and 8 you might want to try it out in the form of a sample or if offered at a good price. Anything below 6 should be left alone when you are looking for a nice sipping whisky. You might still like it of course & I realize pricing is an important item for many whisky fans especially when you are used to enjoy whisky in a cocktail or a mixed drink.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but Thin.

Conclusion:

The Benromach Distillery is located in Forres (Morayshire) & 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 and MacPhail from United Distillers and since 1998 the Distillery is up and running again. The current year production is around 500.000 litres. The  core range includes the 10, 15, 21 and 40 Years and the Vintage Cask Strength. We visited the distillery in May 2014 on a very rainy day and enjoyed a great private tour and tasting. It's certainly worth a visit!

I like this distillery and their 10 Years is one of my favorite to-go-to Malts. But this 21 Years is a bit of a missed chance I'm afraid. It's not a bad Whisky of course but if I would be Gordon or MacPhail I would want to make this their flagship Malt. So I would take even better first class casks & bottle it at a respectable ABV of between 46 and 48% without Chill-Filtration. I would want to create a Green Beret without any flaws and not a Thin Soldier with a few off-notes. As it is I think you can safely stay with the 10 Years for now.

Cheers ๐Ÿฅƒ

Jan van den Ende                                                                        June 13, 2024

Allt-A-Bhainne 2000 (Signatory Vintage)


“The Dark Side of the Malt”


Whisky Review # 1023

Country: Scotland ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ
Region: Speyside
Brand: Allt-A-Bhainne - Distilled: 26-07-2000
Bottled By: Signatory Vintage SWC Ltd, Pitlochry on 28-11-2022
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # 9 - Bottle # 183 of 689
Age: 22 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 52.3% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Hogshead with 27 months Finish in Fresh Sherry Butt
Chill Filtration: No
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Average Price: US$ 220 (June 2024)
Price/Quality Ratio: ๐Ÿ˜ Okay considering the long maturation
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ‘ if you are a true fan of heavy Sherried malts

Color:

Darkest Amber/Brown (Natural Colour) - One of the darkest Malts I've reviewed

Nose:

Be sure to give this Allt-A-Bhainne sufficient time in the glass before Nosing as it opens up slowly. This Allt-A-Bhainne looks and smells Dark and Mature, almost like a Liqueur. It's a classic Sweet Sherry Nose with lots of Dried and Fresh Fruit, Nuts and Caramel. Pretty straight-forward.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Caramel, Demerara Sugar, Honey, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Dates, Figs, Plums and Apricots, Dark Red Berries & Cherries, Wax, Orange-flavored Dark Chocolate, Oak, Mixed Nuts, Dusty Earth, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Mint and Menthol.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Butterscotch, Buttered Toast, Marzipan, Nougat, Brandy, Strawberries and Cream, Dried Herbs, Leather, Tobacco, Cloves and Ginger.


Palate:

The delivery is less compact than you would expect and the Alcohol is noticeable. The Bitter-Sweet Palate basically follows the Nose with all the characteristic Sherry flavors. A few nice Salty and Sour notes. It's well-made but it lacks excitement.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Demerara Sugar, Salted Caramel, Dried Fruit like Plums, Sultanas, Figs & Dates, Dark Red Berries & Cherries, Wax, Orange-flavored Dark Chocolate, Mixed Nuts, Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, Leather, Menthol and Licorice.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Molasses, Toffee, Buttery Puff-Pastry filled with Apricots, Marzipan, Dusty Earth, Dried Herbs, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Ginger and Tobacco.
        


Finish:

Quite Long with lingering Oak and Spices. A mix of Bitter, Sweet and Sour notes. It's rather Dry as well. I find Sweet Barley, Brown Sugar, Syrup, Caramel, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Plums, Sultanas and Dates, Dark Red Berries and Cherries, Wax, Orange-flavored Dark Chocolate, Mixed Nuts, Strong Espresso, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Cardamom, Salt, Tobacco, Licorice and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and that helps to calm down the Alcohol. It also makes this Single Malt less intense and easier to drink. Better try it out both ways.

Rating: 7.5 (*******1/2)

Nose: 7.5 - Taste: 7.5 - Finish: 8 

*** Important Note with respect to Rating.

If the Final score is 8 or higher you can safely buy the whisky in question if and when it fits your Aroma/Flavor profile. If the score is between 6 and 8 you might want to try it out in the form of a sample or if offered at a good price. Anything below 6 should be left alone when you are looking for a nice sipping whisky. You might still like it of course & I realize pricing is an important item for many whisky fans especially when you are used to enjoy whisky in a cocktail or a mixed drink.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but unsurprising.
 
Conclusion:

Allt-a-Bhainne was founded in 1975 by Chivas Brothers, basically as a supplier of Malt for their Blends, principally 100 Pipers. It was mothballed between October 2002 and May 2005. A distillery range of Single Malts does not exist so we have to look at Independent Bottlers. It's a very large distillery with two pairs of stills that produce over 4 million litres per year.

This Allt-A-Bhainne is well-made and quite suitable as an after-dinner Malt. It's a typical sherried Speysider/Highlander in the style of Glenfarclas/GlenDronach but darker. But I also found it a bit too straight-forward and "simple" to really impress. Maybe also a bit Over-Sherried if that's a word. Only for true fans of this type of Whisky.

Cheers ๐Ÿฅƒ

Jan van den Ende                                                                         June 6, 2024

Highland Park 2006 (Gordon & MacPhail)



“The Old Fashioned Way”


Whisky Review # 1022

Country: Scotland ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ
Region: Highlands - Islands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park
Matured and Bottled By: Gordon & MacPhail, Elgin - Connoisseurs Choice Series
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # 4269 - 588 Bottles
Age: 14 Years - Distilled: 22-06-2006 - Bottled: 28-08-2020
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 60.1% (Cask Strength)
Maturation : Refill Sherry Puncheon
Chill Filtration: No
Average Price: US$ 150 (May 2024)
Price/Quality Ratio: ๐Ÿ˜ It's expensive but it does perform
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ‘ If you're into Dirty Malts like Springbank or Ledaig

Color:

Golden Amber (Natural Color)

Nose:

Surprisingly timid despite the high ABV. Quite Dirty as well when compared to the clean mainstream Distillery bottlings. Bits of Sulphur and Phosphorus. The Alcohol is reasonably well-integrated. This HP does not give away its treasures easily so be sure to give it some time in the glass before nosing. You will be rewarded with a Mix of Floral, Fruity, Spicy and Mineral notes with some Coastal influences and some Smoke, Meat and Peat in the background.

Main Aromas:

Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Wax, Honey, Meat and Shell-Fish on the BBC with a sprinkle of Lemon & Sea Salt, Grass, Campfire Smoke, Dirty Earth, Green Apple, Charred Oak, Garam Masala, Curry, Fresh Coriander and Cocoa Powder.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanillas, Smoked Ham, Chalk, Spent Matches, Heather, Wet Rocks, Iodine, Mint, White Bread with Banana and Peanut Butter, Homemade Dried Fruit/Nuts Energy Bars, Aniseed, Cinnamon and hints of Leather, Tobacco and Petrol.
 
Palate:

Much stronger than the Nose would suggest. The Alcohol is certainly noticeable by now. The Palate is Bitter-Sweet and quite Dry and there's a Mineral and slightly Acid feel to it. This is no mainstream Viking HP. Lots of Spices and Herbs as well.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Salted Fudge/Caramel, Grass, Campfire Smoke, Dirty Peat, Chalk, Green Apple, Lemon, Wet Rocks, Charred Oak, Dried Herbs, Garam Masala, Curry, Pepper, Ginger and Strawberry Jam.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Banana Bread, Dried Fruit like Sultanas & Figs, Orange-Flavored Dark Chocolate, Menthol and Licorice.

Finish:

Quite Long and Dry. The Alcohol is quite noticeable at this point. There's a Dirty almost old-fashioned feel to this HP. I find Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Burnt Heather, Campfire Smoke, Dirty Earth, Tar, Soot, Salted Fudge, Smoked Ham, Grass, Green Apple, White Bread and Strawberries, Charred Oak, Banana Bread, Milk Chocolate, Lemon, Indian Spices, Pepper, Aniseed, Menthol and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and that helps to calm down the Alcohol of course. Nose & Palate do not change all that much but the Finish gets loads of Oak, Spices and Menthol. In this case I would advise you to try it both ways.

Rating: 8 (********)

Nose: 8 - Taste: 8.5 - Finish: 8

*** Important Note with respect to Rating.

If the Final score is 8 or higher you can safely buy the whisky in question if and when it fits your Aroma/Flavor profile. If the score is between 6 and 8 you might want to try it out in the form of a sample or if offered at a good price. Anything below 6 should be left alone when you are looking for a nice sipping whisky. You might still like it of course & I realize pricing is an important item for many whisky fans especially when you are used to enjoy whisky in a cocktail or a mixed drink.


Drinking Experience Neat: Interesting and Good

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 12 (Viking Honour), the 15 (Viking Heart), the 18 (Viking Pride), the 21, 25, 30 and 40 years, Cask Strength and Dragon Legend.

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.

This was quite an interesting Tasting experience. Gordon & MacPhail almost never let me down. In this case they show us how Highland Park Malt could and maybe should taste. The distillery seems to be more focused on the mainstream Viking market and probably would not dare to scare off their mainstream followers with a Dirty old fashioned Malt like this. But Gordon & MacPhail can and they deliver. I understand that this expression is not for everyone and it would not sell millions of bottles. But if you like distilleries like Springbank, Glen Scotia and Tobermory you will certainly appreciate this version of a dirty Highland Park. It can't be cheap of course but it's worth the money. As a rule, most distilleries don't make this type of Whisky anymore. And that's a pity!

Cheers ๐Ÿฅƒ

Jan van den Ende                                                                        May 30, 2024

Jack Daniels Single Malt


“Like a Bourbon”


Whisky Review # 1021

Country: USA ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ
Region: Tennessee
Brand: Jack Daniels Single Malt
Type: Single Malt American Whiskey - 100 % Malted Barley
Age: Around 6 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 45%
Maturation: Fresh Charred White Oak Barrels with 2 year Finish in Oloroso casks
Charcoal Filtration: Yes
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Price Range: US$ 90-130 (May 2024)
Price/Quality Ratio: ๐Ÿ‘Ž Too expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ‘Ž Better stick with your favorite JD Bourbon

Color:

Dark Amber with shades of Orange and Brown (Natural Colour)

Nose:

The Nose is Sweet and Sour and Pleasant enough although it still feels more like a Bourbon than a Scottish Single Malt. This shows the powerful influence of the fresh charred American Oak. Lots of Caramel & Vanilla. The Sherry cask influence is not huge but it does add some Dried Fruit and Nuts as well as colour. Please avoid to Nose in the middle of your glass to avoid the Alcohol.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Butter Biscuits, Vanilla, Caramel, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Apples and Plums, Grass, Toasted Oak, Acetone, Glue, Pepper and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Golden Syrup, Maraschino Cherry, Banana, Orange, Dark Berries, Bounty Bars, Floral notes, Mixed Nuts, Brandy, Milk and Dried Herbs.


Palate:

A slightly Thin delivery despite the seemingly adequate ABV. The Palate is a mix of Bitter, Sweet and Sour notes. Quite Dry. The Alcohol is noticeable.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Demerara Sugar, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums & Apples, Banana, Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon & Cloves.  

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Nuts, Grass, Dried Herbs, Maraschino Cherry, Orange, Lemon, Acetone, Glue, Red Berries, Milk Chocolate and Licorice.
       

Finish:

Medium-Long, Bitter-Sweet, quite Dry and Hot. I find Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Burnt Caramel, Dried Fruit like Plums, Raisins and Berries, Apple Cider, Nuts, Orange and Lemon, Charred Oak, Espresso, Licorice, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Menthol, Glue and Acetone.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water kills this JD.

Rating: 6.5 (******1/2)

Nose: 7 - Taste:  6.5 - Finish: 6

*** Important Note with respect to Rating.

If the Final score is 8 or higher you can safely buy the whisky in question if and when it fits your Aroma/Flavor profile. If the score is between 6 and 8 you might want to try it out in the form of a sample or if offered at a good price. Anything below 6 should be left alone when you are looking for a nice sipping whisky. You might still like it of course & I realize pricing is an important item for many whisky fans especially when you are used to enjoy whisky in a cocktail or a mixed drink.

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay at best
 
Conclusion:

Jack Daniels Distillery is located in Lynchburg (Tennessee). It was in fact founded by a man called Jack Daniels back in 1866. It stayed in the family until 1956 when it was sold to Brown Forman from Kentucky.

I'm always open to new ideas and experiments so I was looking forward to try this American Single Malt made by JD. Unfortunately I'm not impressed with the result. The influence of the fresh American White Oak is so big that this JD still feels like a Bourbon or Tennessee Whiskey in the case of JD. And while the Oloroso casks add a bit of Dried Fruit and Nuts it's too little to change the overall picture. All this would still be okay if the prices were in line with the regular JD. It's way more expensive though and I can't find sufficient justification for that. I would advise you to forget about this Single Malt until the prices have come down. In the meantime just stay with your favorite Jack Daniels. In my case that's the Silver Select!

Cheers ๐Ÿฅƒ

Jan van den Ende                                                                         May 23, 2024

Glenmorangie 16 Years The Tribute


“Tribute (Not Quite) Right On”

Whisky Review # 1020

Country: Scotland ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ
Region: Northern Highlands
Brand: Glenmorangie The Tribute - Heritage Spirit Batch
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 16 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price range: US$ 80-110 (May 2024)
Price/Quality Ratio: ๐Ÿ˜ Okay when you can find it at around US$ 80
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜œ It's okay when you're having a party. It's too simple to really enjoy as a sipping Malt though.

Color:

Golden Amber (Artificially Colored)

Nose:

Young and slightly underwhelming. I would never have stated the correct age of this Single Malt in a Blind Tasting. I find clear Bourbon vibes with a little Smoke and the traditional Oranges. Mainly Sweet and Sour notes but I also get a bit of Salt. Nose carefully to avoid the Alcohol.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Orange, Nectarine, Grass and Straw, Light Smoke, Dusty Earth, Wax, Flower Stall, Charred Oak, Cinnamon and Ginger.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Lemon, Pear, Apple, Mixed Nuts, Bounty Candy Bars, Drinking Yogurt with Tropical Fruit Flavor, Nougat, Wet Paper, Nutmeg and a distant hint of Plastic.  
 

Palate:

The arrival is a bit on the Thin side. An ABV of around 46% would have been more appropriate for this 16 Year old Single Malt. As was the case on the Nose you don't actually feel the age of this Glenmorangie. It's more than likely that a mix of 2nd and 3rd Re-fill casks were used for maturation. I find mostly Sweet and Sour notes as well as a bit of Salt and a very light Bitterness.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Wax, Grass and Straw, Light Smoke, Dusty Track, Apple, Pear, Orange, Floral Perfume, Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Aniseed and Mint.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Lemon, Grapefruit, Nectarine, Nougat, Herbs, Milk Chocolate, Cloves, Ashes and a distant hint of Plastic.


Finish:

Not bad but a bit on the Short side and a little Hot. A mix of Sweet, Sour and Salty notes with a very light Bitterness towards the Medium-Dry end. It's more a drinking Whisky than a sipping one. Not too much going on but very drinkable! I find Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Wax, Light Smoke, Dusty Earth, Mandarin, Orange, Pear, Tangerine, Nougat, Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cloves and Mint.

Drinking Advice:

No need to add Water to this Glenmorangie. 

Rating: 7 (*******)

Nose: 7 - Taste: 7.5 - Finish: 7

*** Important Note with respect to Rating.

If the Final score is 8 or higher you can safely buy the whisky in question if and when it fits your Aroma/Flavor profile. If the score is between 6 and 8 you might want to try it out in the form of a sample or if offered at a good price. Anything below 6 should be left alone when you are looking for a nice sipping whisky. You might still like it of course & I realize pricing is an important item for many whisky fans especially when you are used to enjoy whisky in a cocktail or a mixed drink.

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Okay/Good

Conclusion:

The production at this Tain based Distillery started in November 1849. By the end of the 1930's, the McDonald family took control of Glenmorangie. They only sold the distillery to Vuitton/Moรซt Hennessy in 2004. Since 1994, Glenmorangie has been very actively experimenting with different Wood Finishes. The current core range includes the Original 10 Years, the 18 years, the Signet and three Wood Finishes i.e. the Quinta Ruban (Port), the Lasanta (Sherry) and the Nectar d' Or (Sauternes). In the last years however, Glenmorangie launched a large number of Special editions and Travel Retail specials such as the 16 years The Tribute I'm reviewing today. The Tribute is lightly peated like in the past. Currently, around 7.1 million litres of Spirit are produced. We visited the distillery in May 2017. The whole place looks impeccable and the Still House (Cathedral), VC and Shop are really beautiful.

If you're going to throw a party & your guests like Whisky this Glenmorangie might just be the Malt to go for. It's Light and very drinkable. But be careful! It's easy to drink more than you should or so I've heard ๐Ÿ˜Ž. But this Tribute has some flaws that make it less interesting as a sipping whisky. First of all it doesn't feel like a 16 Year old Single Malt and I feel that the rather inactive casks are to blame for that. I also believe that an ABV of say 46% would have done this Glenmorangie a lot of good. As presented it makes a rather Thin impression. So if you happen to own a few bottles of this Tribute I would urge you to send the invitations for the party right away!

Cheers ๐Ÿฅƒ

Jan van den Ende                                                                            May 16, 2024