Bowmore 15 Years Golden & Elegant


“Bow More Mr. Nice Guy”


Whisky Review # 1028

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bowmore Golden & Elegant
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 15 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Marriage of 1st Fill Bourbon Casks and Hogsheads
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 60-90 (July 2024)
Price/Quality Ratio: ๐Ÿ‘ Quite good for a 15-Year old Single Malt
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ It's not bad but too Thin and Artificial for me

Colour:

Deep Golden (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

A bit Thin and Artificial with Sweet, Sour & Salty notes. Light Smoke coming from a BBQ party held by your neighbor a few houses down the road. The Sherry cask influence is very limited. Bowmore's Perfumed Tea is certainly there though. I would expect more from a 15 Year-old Single Malt from Islay.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Lightly Burnt Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Farmyard, Grass, Hay, Perfumed Tea, Milk-Nuts Chocolate, Tropical Fruit Cocktail, Banana Bread, Sweet Apples, Citrus Fruit, Dusty Oak, Aniseed, Ginger and Mint.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Toffee, Ham, Bacon and (Shell)Fish on the BBQ sprinkled with Lemon and Herbs, Soot, Iodine, Resin, Peat Smoke, Marzipan, Wet Newspaper, Archive Boxes, Tobacco, Polished Leather and Rubber/Plastic.


Palate:

Slightly Thin & a little Sharp. The Alcohol is certainly more noticeable now. As on the Nose the general feeling is slightly Artificial. Peat, Smoke and Ashes are more present as well. Mainly Sweet but with Sour, Salty and Bitter accents. It's okay but no more than that.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Yeast, Smoke, Peat, Ashes, Soot, Meat & Fish on the BBQ sprinkled with Lemon & Herbs, Perfumed Tea, Banana Bread, Red Apple, Citrus Fruit (Orange, Grapefruit), Toasted Pineapple, Coconut, Licorice, Pepper and Aniseed.

Supportive Flavour Accents:
   
Honey, Toffee, Resin, Milk-Nuts Chocolate, Polished Leather, Tobacco, Apricot Jam, Cloves and Nutmeg.


Finish:

Short/Middle-Long & on the Thin side. A little Harsh as well as the Alcohol is more noticeable. Sweet at first but with a light Bitter note toward the Dry end. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Caffe Latte, Resin, Peat/Smoke, Ashes, Soot, Perfumed Tea, Nuts & Nutshells, Red Apple, Nectarine, Apricot, Citrus Fruit, Dusty Oak, Tobacco, Leather, Roasted Pineapple, Pepper, Ginger, Aniseed & some Menthol. Artificially-flavored Candy after a while.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water kills this Bowmore.

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


Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Good

Conclusion:

Bowmore is the oldest Islay Distillery and was founded in 1779 by David Simpson. It changed hands various times along the years but since 1994 the Japanese Suntory group controls Bowmore. Bowmore still malts around 25% of the Barley on their premises. They currently produce over 2.15 million liters of Alcohol p.a. The Bowmore core range includes the 12, the 15 the 18 and 25 Years. Some of the Bowmore Spirit is used in Blends like Rob Roy and Black Bottle. We visited the distillery in 2014 & 2017. I absolutely love the Malting Floor, the Shop & Visitor-Centre. Certainly well-worth the visit.

It's not easy to find really good Whisky in the Travel Retail shops these days. And this Bowmore 15 Years is not an exception. It's not really bad and certainly fairly priced but it's also Thin, slightly Artificial and Emotionless. And that's not what I look for in a 15 Year old Single Malt from Islay. What a difference with the great old 17 Years. But unfortunately they don't make Whisky like that bo more ๐Ÿ˜œ

Cheers! ๐Ÿฅƒ

Jan van den Ende                                                                          July 25, 2024

Ben Nevis 2013 (Signatory Vintage)


“Dirty Work”


Whisky Review # 1027

Country: Scotland ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ
Region: Western Highlands
Brand: Ben Nevis - Distilled: 17-10-2013
Bottled By: Signatory Vintage SWC Ltd, Pitlochry on 19-11-2021
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Casks # 426 & 430 - Bottle: # 441
Age: 8 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Refill Hogsheads
Chill Filtration: No
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Price Range: US$ 40-45 (July 2024)
Price/Quality Ratio: ๐Ÿ˜‘ Okay I suppose but not worth buying
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ก Unpleasant is such a nice British understatement!

Color:

Pale White Wine (Natural Color)

Nose:

Young, Light, Raw, Funky and, frankly, not very pleasant. New Make Spirit mixed with Metal parts. Rotting Fruit/Vegetables. It's been a while since I nosed anything like this. Please give it enough time in the glass to be able to spot some slightly more conventional Aromas as well. The Alcohol is not integrated at all.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Margarine, Grass, Green Apple, Sour Berries & Yellow Prunes, Pear, Lubricant, Plastic, Cabbage, Dirty Smoke and Soot, Nuts and Nutshells, Overripe Banana, Musty Oak, Cheese, Licorice, Milk Chocolate and Aniseed.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Nectarine, Orange, Rubber, Rusty Metal, Chalk, Dirty Earth, Herbal Tea, Wet Rocks, Leather, Tobacco, Pepper and Ginger.


Palate:

Young, Thin, Harsh, Unfinished. The Raw Alcohol is King here. The label states that this is a Ben Nevis but if it would have stated "Cheap Blend" I would have believed it as well. I can't understand that Signatory Vintage would see fit to bottle this Single Malt at this point in time.

Main Flavours:

Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Grass, Dirty Smoke and Ashes, Grass, Sour Green Apple, Grapefruit, Mirabelle Plums and Berries, Nut-Shells, Musty Oak, Licorice, Aniseed and Pepper.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Wax, Pear, Nectarine, Unripe Banana, Citrus Peel, Metal, Wet Stones, Wax and Chalk, Milk Chocolate, Fish Oil, Stale Black Coffee, Cinnamon and Ginger.


Finish:

On the Short Side and quite Thin. Some Sweet notes initially but with increasing Bitterness towards the Dry end. The harsh Alcohol is very present at this point. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, slightly Sour Apples, Mirabelle Plums, Grapefruit & Berries, light Factory Smoke, Dirty Earth, Nut Shells, Fish Oil, Yeast, Musty Oak, Licorice, Grass, Metal, Cinnamon and Pepper.

Drinking Advice:

Due to the size of the sample I only tasted this Ben Nevis neat.

Rating: 5.5 (*****1/2)

Nose: 5.5 - Taste: 5.5 - Finish: 5

*** 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: Unpleasant
 
Conclusion:

Ben Nevis Distillery was founded in 1825 by Long John MacDonald and is located at the foot of the famous Ben Nevis Mountain, close to Fort William (Inverness-Shire). Since 1989 it is owned by the Nikka Whisky Distilling Co.Ltd (Asahi Breweries). Some of its Malt is used in Blends like Dew of Ben Nevis, Glencoe and some Japanese Blends. The annual production currently amounts to around 2 million liters.

I have reviewed a few Signatory Vintage expressions in the last few months and I was not overly enthusiastic about them. But this the worst of them all by far. This Ben Nevis is Too Young, Thin and Harsh and presents various funky off-notes. It should not have been bottled this way. I like Ben Nevis as they are usually not as mainstream as many other distilleries today. But this SV expression should be left alone. Maybe it's a good idea to bury the remaining bottles deep below Mount Ben Nevis and open them in 50 years or so. Who knows!

Cheers ๐Ÿฅƒ

Jan van den Ende                                                                          July 11,2024

Bruichladdich 20 (Third Edition)


“It's Not Right but It's Okay”


Whisky Review # 1026

Country: Scotland ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ
Region: Islay
Brand: Bruichladdich - Distilled 1985
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Bottled 2005
Age: 20 Years - Third Edition
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon casks with short Malmsey Madeira Hogshead Finish
Chill Filtration: No
Average Price: US$ 210-240 (July 2024)
Price/Quality Ratio: ๐Ÿ˜’ Quite expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ Simply Okay is not good enough for me at this price level

Color:

Amber with shades of Orange (Natural Color)

Nose:

Sweet and Sour Fruit with a touch of coastal Peat/Smoke in the background. The Alcohol is well-integrated. The short Sweet Madeira finish certainly made its mark. Quite enjoyable.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Salted Toffee, slightly Sour Red Berries, Cherries and Plums, Dried Fruit like Prunes, Raisins, Dates and Figs, Red Wine, Milk Chocolate, Wet Stones & Sand, Dusty Oak, Marzipan and Cinnamon Rolls.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Vanilla, Yeast, Resin, Banana Bread, Citrus like Orange and Lemon, Green Apple, Campfire Smoke, Dirty Earth, Salted Almonds, Dried Herbs, Tobacco and White Pepper.
 

Palate:

A pleasant but unremarkable mix of Sweet, Sour, Bitter and Salty notes. Lots of Fruit, Nougat and Herbs.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, slightly Sour Red Wine, Red Berries, Cherries and Plums, Nougat, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums & Apricots, Citrus (Orange/Lemon), Dried Herbs, Dusty Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg and Cinnamon.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Vanilla, Marzipan, Green Apple, Nectarine, Butter Scotch-Chocolate, Yeast, Resin, Wet Rocks, Tobacco, Leather, Cloves, Espresso and a hint of Peat-smoke.


Finish:

On the short side for a 20 Year old Single Malt. Sweet and Sour notes at first but with increasing Bitterness towards the Medium-Dry end. The Alcohol is noticeable at this point. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Resin, Yeast, Slightly Sour Red Wine, Red Berries and Cherries, Nougat, Chocolate, Citrus, Dried Herbs, Dusty Oak, Tobacco, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves and a touch of Peat-smoke. A light Metallic note after a while.

Drinking Advice:

A little added Water is nice on the Palate but wipes out the Finish. A few drops will do here.

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

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 the Classic Laddie and a 10-year old Port Charlotte. The annual production amounts to around 1.4 million litres.

This 20-year old Bruichladdich is not an easy one to review. The Nose is okay but the Palate is unremarkable and the Finish is very Short. Don't get me wrong, this Bruichladdich is not a bad Single Malt. But a 20 Year old Single Malt that will set you back at least US$ 200 should be a dram you'll never forget! But my ink is not dry yet and I've already forgotten this Third Edition. And that's not just my age! ๐Ÿ˜œ

Cheers ๐Ÿฅƒ

Jan van den Ende                                                                           July 4, 2024

Blair Athol 2007 (Signatory Vintage)


“That Don’t Impress Me Much”


Whisky Review # 1025

Country: Scotland ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ
Region: Southern Highlands
Brand: Blair Athol - Distilled: 07-09-2007
Bottled By: Signatory Vintage SWC Ltd, Pitlochry on 19-01-2022
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # 1 - Bottle # 509 of 670
Age: 14 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 54.3% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Refill Hogsheads with 35 months Finish in Fresh Sherry Butt
Chill Filtration: No
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Average Price: US$ 125 (June 2024)
Price/Quality Ratio: ๐Ÿ˜‘ Rather expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜‘ Try a sample first before buying a full bottle

Color:

Golden (Natural Color) - The Sherry Butt did not provide a lot of extra color

Nose:

Please give this Blair Athol enough time in the glass before Nosing and don't nose in the middle of the glass to avoid the initial wafts of Alcohol. The Nose is a Grassy, Fruity and slightly Acidic mix of Sweet & Sour notes. The influence of the Sherry cask Finish is limited. There's a slight edgy "unfinished" feel to the Nose.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Butter Biscuits, Vanilla, Grass, Orange, Mandarin, Nectarine, Slightly Sour Berries, Cherries & Yellow Plums, Milk Chocolate,  Dusty casks in a Dunnage Warehouse, Cinnamon, Mint and Ginger.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Caramel, Honey, Wax, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Bananas and Figs, Green Apples & Unripe Pears and Bananas, Lemon, Nuts, Fresh Herbs, Acetone, Pork Sausages & Cloves.


Palate:

The slightly Edgy and "Raw" impression remains on the Palate presenting a mix of Bitter, Sweet, Sour & Dusty notes. Dry as well. Spirit & Casks have somehow not managed to produce a sophisticated end product. Something is just not there but it's not easy to pinpoint the problem. I believe that the casks are the main issue in this case.

Main Flavours:

Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Grapefruit, Orange, Lemon, Slightly Sour Berries, Cherries and Yellow Plums, Dusty Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Licorice and Nutmeg.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Apples, Nuts, Tangerine, Banana, Milk Chocolate, Pork, Herbal Tea, Ginger, Aniseed and Mint.


Finish:

Middle-Long with Bitter, Sweet and Sour notes. The Bitterness increases towards the rather Dry end. Still Fruity (Citrusy) but also more Herbal and Spicy at this point with Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Honey, Orange, Grapefruit and Lemon, Mixed Dried Fruit and Nuts, slightly Sour Berries, Cherries & Yellow Plums, Banana, Milk Chocolate, Dusty Oak, Pork, Herbal Tea, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Aniseed, Mint and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

Due to the size of the sample I only tasted this Blair Athol neat.

Rating: 7 (*******)

Nose: 7 - Taste: 7.5 - Finish: 6.5

*** 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
 
Conclusion:

Blair Athol was founded in Pitlochry (Pertshire) in 1798 by John Stewart & Robert Robertson, initially under the name Aldour. Only in 1825 did it receive its current name. It was mothballed in 1932 and bought by Arthur Bell & Sons, a family owned Blender. Production restarted in 1949 and from then on and until today Blair Athol became the heart of Bell's Blended Whisky. Eventually, the distillery, via take-overs, became part of Diageo. Only very few Single Malts are launched from time to time by Blair Athol so we mostly depend on independent bottlers in this respect. The only regular official bottling is the 12 Years Flora & Fauna. Blair Athol currently produces around 2.8 million litres of Alcohol per year.

I'm not impressed by this Signatory take on Blair Athol. I think the casks are to blame for this lackluster impression as the spirit itself seems Fruity enough. But somehow the marriage does not work and there's this constant feeling of a half-finished product. It's quite Sour and Acid as well and the Alcohol is never far away. I'm glad I had a sample to try and I would urge you to do the same before buying a full bottle of this Blair Athol.

Cheers ๐Ÿฅƒ

Jan van den Ende                                                                         June 27,2024

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