Allt-A-Bhainne 1991 Signatory Review

“A Question of Balance”

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Allt-A-Bhainne 1991 (Signatory Vintage) - Cask Strength Selection
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 21 Years
ABV: 55 % 

Colour: Light Gold

Nose: Sweet Ripe Fruit like Mango and Pineapple. But also the specific Dutch treat "Beschuit Met Muisjes" (See Picture Below). It's a sort of Crispy Biscuit with Aniseed Topping. It's mainly served to celebrate the birth of a Son (Blue and White) or Daughter (Pink and White). Some Honey and Vanilla as well. The Alcohol is not totally integrated and stings a bit so be sure to give this Malt time to open up. With time, the Pineapple gets stronger and stronger and is now accompanied by Banana Ice Cream, Bread Dough and Orange. I'm not quite convinced by the Quality of the Cask. In all those long 21 years, it did not add a lot to the Aroma of the Spirit. Bitter Almonds mostly. This Bitterness and the Alcohol spoil some of the Nosing fun I'm afraid. A pity really! 

Beschuit Met Muisjes

Palate: Less Sweet than I expected after the Nose. Quite Punchy and Herbal actually. I find Orange Juice, Lemon, Herbal Tea, Vanilla, Banana, Mango, Oak, Caramel/Toffee, Honey, Pepper and Cinnamon. A hint of Tobacco as well.

Finish: Long, Sweet, Sour, Spicy and, unfortunately, quite Bitter towards the end with Malt, Orange (Juice), Toffee, Banana, Lemon, Honey, Heather, Grass, Oak and Herbal Tea.

With a bit of Water the Alcohol retreats of course and that's a good thing. On the Palate and in the Finish, Spices and Herbs starts to dominate. My advise is to Nose and Taste this Allt-A-Bhainne both Neat and with a bit of Water.

Rating: 84

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

The Allt-A-Bhainne Distillery!

General Remarks: This Allt-A-Bhainne was distilled on the 9th of July 1991 and was bottled on the 6th of October 2012. It matured in a Ex-Bourbon Hogshead (#90114). All Casks for the Cask Strength Selection Series are individually selected and bottled by Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co.Ltd, from Pitlochry, Scotland. This particular Allt-A-Bhainne costs around 100 US Dollars. This recent distillery was founded in 1975 by Chivas Brothers, bought by Pernod Ricard in 2001. Most of the spirit goes into Blends, some is bottled as Single Malt under the name Deerstalker and some casks are bought by Independent bottlers.

Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co.Ltd. is an independent bottler, founded in 1988 by Andrew - and Brian Symington. In 2002 they bought the Edradour Distillery.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: The Spirit of Allt-A-Bhainne is Nervous but Fruity and Pleasant. But in my opinion it needs First Class Wood to interact. And I don't think that's the case here. I believe this was a Refill Cask and it did not gave enough Aromas and Flavours to the Spirit. On the contrary, it added a certain Bitterness I could easily live without. The Allt-A-Bhainne 1991 is not a bad Single Malt but it does not deliver sufficiently to justify its price. I did like the Spirit however and I will try to find other Indie expressions.   

Jan van den Ende                                                            August 26, 2014

South Islay Jewel 5 Years Review

"A Jewel That Needs To Be Tamed"  

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: South Islay Jewel (Anam Na H-Alba " The Soul of Scotland Series") 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 5 Years
ABV: 59 %
Sample Provided By Thomas from Germany. Many Thanks!

Colour: Pale Gold/White Wine

Nose: New Spirit, Apples and Pears, Cold Smoke, Wet Earth, Ashes, Tar, light Rubber, light Leather, Charred Oak, Salted Raw Meat, Fish and Shell Fish, Burnt Toast, Light Iodine, Sweet Toffee and a bit of Citrus. Good interplay between the Cask and Spirit during the 5 Years. The Alcohol is very strong and it's quite difficult to Nose around it. It's your typical young Islay Malt. You either like it or you don't!

Palate: Sharp, Young, Dirty and Edgy with Sweet Peat, Cold Smoke, Wet Earth, Soot, Tar, Brine, Herbal Tea, Burnt Toast, Medicinal Tones, Vanilla, Lemon,  Aniseed, Pepper and Salt.

Finish: Middle-Long and Strong thanks to the high ABV. I find Charred Oak, Tar, Ashes, Wet Clay, Leather, Cold Smoke, Menthol Cigarettes, Grapefruit Juice, Cold Black Coffee, Herbal Tea, Vanilla and Fish marinated in Salt, Pepper and Mint. It's quite Dry in the end.

With a teaspoon of water this young Jewel settles down a bit without losing too much of its original characteristics. On the Nose, the Peat and Smoke become slightly more Civilised and you'll find more Salt and Brine. On the Palate it's almost like tasting a peated New Spirit. Quite Sweet really. The Finish is way shorter with Water. Still, on account of the high ABV, I recommend to add a bit of Water. 

Rating: 85.5

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

General Remarks: Today's Single Cask Mystery Malt from Southern Islay was distilled in 2007 and bottled in March 20-13 at Cask Strength by Independent Whisky bottler Anam Na H-Alba from the town of Oberhausen in Germany. It matured in a Fresh Bourbon Hogshead, is Uncoloured and Not Chill-Filtered. It sells at around 70 US Dollars.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: In a Blind Tasting I might have easily identified the Nose of this Jewel as a peated Kilchoman. The Peat and Smoke are quite similar to the Loch Gorm I tasted the other day. But on the Palate the Sea Elements would wash away that theory quickly. It's probably a young Ardbeg but I wouldn't put all my money on it as I sense some traces of Lagavulin as well. In any case it's a very young Islay that is almost too strong and fiery to taste neat. It does not happen a lot but in this case I recommend to add some water. I won't drink this every day but The South Islay Jewel is a good effort by Anam Na H-Alba. It beats Smokehead in my opinion!

Jan van den Ende                                                            August 24, 2014

Is this the Jewel's Home?