Bruichladdich 1991 (WM Cadenhead) Review

“Licorice Laddy”

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bruichladdich 1991
Bottled By: WM Cadenhead (Authentic Collection) 
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky
Age: 21 Years
ABV: 52.1% 
Chill-Filtration: No 
Whisky Review # 596
Buying Advice: 😐 Neutral. Good Price/Quality Ratio. Interesting but not exactly my type of Malt. 

Colour: Pale White Wine  (Natural Colour)

Nose: Very Light and Crisp for a Single Malt of this Age. Both the Colour and the Nose suggest a rather inactive cask. I pick up a little Varnish right at the start so it's important to give this Bruichladdich sufficient air contact. The Alcohol is quite strong at first and you need to find your way around it when nosing this Malt. On the Nose, this Malt is Floral, Fruity and Mineral with only the faintest note of Smoke. Quite a bit of Salt though. Other than that I find Malted Cereals, Toast, German Butter Biscuits, Grass, Wet Stone, Lemon, Pear, Vanilla, Nougat, Fresh Mint, Oak and hints of Canned Pineapple and Tobacco. A very Fresh and Medium-Creamy Bruichladdich without too much Depth and Complexity. 

Palate: Bitter-Sweet, Medium-Fruity, Malty and quite Mineral with Sweet Barley, Caramel, Vanilla, Apple, Pear, light Honey, Nougat, Lemon, Grapefruit, light Licorice, light Pepper, Salt, Mint, Oak, Herbal Tea and a very faint Smoky note.

Finish: Quite Long and Creamy. Too much Licorice as far as I'm concerned. I also find Malted Cereals, Barley Sugar, Grass, Mineral and Herbal notes, light Menthol, Pepper, Salt, Oak, Lemon, Grapefruit, Peach and light Nougat. Quite Dry in the end. This is my least favourite part of this Malt.

Due to the fact that I merely had a small sample at my disposal, I only tasted this Bruichladdich neat.

Rating: 84.5

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

General Remarks:

Bruichladdich was founded in 1881 by Barnett Harvey. During its history it was mothballed various times, the last time in 1998. In 2012 the distillery was bought by Remy Cointreau. Since, Bruichladdich is showing a healthy growth again. The distillery produces three types of Single Malt, i.e. the unpeated Bruichladdich, the heavily peated Port Charlotte and the peat monster Octomore. The Bruichladdich I'm reviewing today was distilled in 1991 and matured for 21 Years in an Ex-Bourbon Hogshead before it was bottled at Cask Strength in October 2013 by WM Cadenhead, the oldest Independent Bottler in Scotland that was founded in 1842 by William Cadenhead. Only 276 bottles went to the market and some bottles are still available at prices that are mostly in the US 90/130 range (February 2017). Not that expensive for a quality Single Malt of this age!  

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. A bit too much Licorice in the Finish for my taste!

Conclusion: This is an interesting Bruichladdich. It is similar to the 22 Years I reviewed earlier but it's not quite as good due to some details that might have been caused partly by the indifferent cask. In my opinion, this Cadenhead expression is not as complex, less Fruity and less Well-Balanced. The Licorice in the Finish is a bit too much for me. It's just not my kind of Whisky. Having said that I found the Nosing and Tasting experience quite interesting as I kept discovering new Aromas and Flavours all the time. They might not form a very coherent combo but they are there nevertheless. To sum it up, I liked the Tasting Experience but I wouldn't buy a full bottle. If you like the Aroma- and Flavour profile I have described however you could give it a try as it's reasonably priced for a 21 year old.

Jan van den Ende                                                               February 21, 2017

The Dalmore 18 Years Review

“What If…?”

Country: Scotland
Region: Northern Highlands
Brand: The Dalmore
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 18 Years
ABV: 43% 
Chill-Filtration: Yes 
Whisky Review # 595
Buying Advice: 😕  Negative. Good Malt but way too expensive. 

Colour: Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: The Sherry Cask influence is quite clear. I also pick up a little Sulphur but it's not really a problem here. I would have expected for the Alcohol to be fully integrated but that's not the case. It's quite noticeable actually. On the Nose, the Dalmore 18 Years is Rich and Sherry-Sweet with some Sour and Herbal notes as well. I find Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Brown Sugar, Butterscotch, Treacle, Toffee, Dried Fruits (Raisins, Sultanas, Apricot), Stewed Fruit (Apple, Strawberry and Pear), Red Wine, Vanilla, Orange Peel, Peanut Butter, Christmas Cake, Oak, light Licorice, light Aniseed, Cinnamon, light Ginger and hints of Dark Chocolate, Leather, Tobacco and Espresso. There's more than enough to discover on the Nose but the combo is slightly on the Heavy side. It might do well though as an after-dinner Whisky accompanied by a nice Medium-Strong Cigar. 

Palate: The Delivery is a little Thin. This really should have been bottled at around 46%. On the other hand the Alcohol itself remains quite noticeable. I know this sounds a bit like a paradox but I can't find a better way to describe it. I also find a light Sulphur/Rubber note again. Nothing too serious though. On the Palate this Dalmore is mostly Sweet and offers Malted Barley, Caramel, Stewed Apples and Pears, Plums, Dried Fruit (Raisins, Sultanas), Nuts, X-mas Cake, Marzipan, slightly Bitter Orange, Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Mulled Wine (spiced with Pepper, Cinnamon, Clove and Nutmeg), Licorice, Aniseed, Ginger, Mint and a few Herbs.   
Finish: Quite Long, Bitter-Sweet and Medium-Spicy. The Oak influence is quite clear by now and the end is a bit Dry and perhaps a tad too Bitter. I find Malted Barley, Caramel, Toffee, Treacle, Butterscotch, Bitter Orange, Marzipan filled with Almonds, Stewed Apples and Pears, Cocoa Powder, Mulled Wine spiced with Pepper, Clove, Cardamom and Cinnamon and hints of Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Plum Jam, Aniseed and Tobacco. The Alcohol remains noticeable.

Added water does not improve the Dalmore 18 Years in my opinion. I got some more Orange and Nuts on the Palate and some extra Tobacco in the Finish. My advise is to sip it neat. 

Rating: 85 

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

General Remarks:

The Dalmore distillery is located in Alness in the Northern Highlands. It was founded in 1839 by Alexander Matheson. In 2014 Emperador Inc. bought the distillery from Whyte & Mackay. The core range basically consists of the 12, 15, 18 and 25 Years Old plus the 1263 King Alexander III and the Cigar Malt. The 18 Years I'm tasting today matured for 14 Years in Ex-Bourbon Casks, followed by 3 Years in Ex-Matusalem Oloroso Sherry butts. Finally, the Spirit was married for another year in upstanding Ex-Sherry butts. The 18 Years is quite expensive at an average 140 US Dollars (February 2017). 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. The Finish is perhaps a tad too Bitter.

Conclusion: Let me start by saying that the Dalmore 18 Years is not a bad Single Malt. Certainly not if you're into Sherried after dinner Malts. But it's quite expensive and at this price level it should have been bottled at at least 46%, it should not have been artificially coloured and it should not have been Chill-Filtered. The use of only first class casks could have saved us from the Sulphur notes and the slightly excessive Bitterness in the Finish. There are too many ifs and buts to fully recommend this 18 Years. Better stay with the Dalmore 15 Years if you want a better Price/Quality ratio. You might also consider the very easy-going Dalmore 12 Years if you want to try out this Distillery.

Jan van den Ende                                                               February 13, 2017

Rittenhouse Straight Rye Review

“Tears in Heaven”

Country: USA
Distillery: Heaven Hill, Kentucky
Brand: Rittenhouse Straight Rye
Type: Straight Rye Whiskey
Age: NAS (Said To Be Around 4 Years)
ABV: 40% 
Whisky Review # 594
Buying Advice: 😑 It's Okay if you're on a tight Budget. A Bit Young and Rough though. Good for Mixing! 

Colour: Dark Amber

Nose: Light and Young. Initially, I found some Varnish but it disappears over time. Both the Rye and Corn are noticeable. I also find Biscuits, Honey, Vanilla, Yeast, Brown Sugar, Toffee, Fresh Oak, Malt, Dusty Road, Compost, light Citrus, light Ginger, Cinnamon, Mint and some Floral notes that I can't exactly identify. It's not bad, certainly not at this Price Level. But there's an unfinished feel to this Rittenhouse. It's all a bit Young and Nervous. The Alcohol is not integrated which is no surprise at this age.  

Palate: The Arrival is a bit on the Thin side. On the Palate, this Rittenhouse is Bitter-Sweet with Rye, Corn, Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Toffee, Caramel, light Citrus, Grass and Earth, Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger and Gin infused with Herbs.  

Finish: On the Short side, Bitter, Herbal and Yeasty. Dry in the end with a light Metallic Off-Note. I find Rye, Dusty Road, Dirty Earth, Yeast, light Licorice, light Cinnamon, light Clove, Menthol, Pepper, Herbal Tea and a hint of Cocoa Powder (Toddy).

Due to the fact that I merely had a small sample at my disposal, I only tasted this Whiskey neat.

Rating: 80

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 19.5 - Overall: 20

General Remarks: Before the Prohibition (1920-1933), Rye Whiskey was mainly produced in Pennsylvania and Maryland. After the Prohibition Rye Whiskey practically disappeared but in the last 10 years or so it has become popular again. In the USA the law prescribes that Rye Whiskey is made from a Mash Bill that contains at least 51% Rye. The other ingredients are usually corn and a bit of Malted Barley. It is distilled to no more than 80% ABV and matures in New and Charred American White Oak barrels. Rye Whiskey that matured for at least 2 years and was not blended may be called Straight. Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey is nowadays produced at the Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown and is usually sold in the 18-25 US Dollar Range (February 2017). There's also a 100 Proof Bonded Rittenhouse Straight Rye available. I assume that the higher ABV will enhance the overall Aroma and Flavour Profile. Let's see if I can find a sample somewhere.

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Conclusion: If you consider the price level, the Rittenhouse Straight Rye 80 Proof is not bad. It's very hard to find decent Scotch at this Price Level. On the other hand there's a Young and Edgy feel to it. An unfinished product if you will. I only had a small sample so I didn't try it out but I can imagine that this Rye would cool down over a bit of Ice. You can sip it neat but it's Borderline. The Finish is the worst part of this Whiskey and I didn't like the light Metallic Off-Note. If you're on a tight Budget, the Rittenhouse Straight Rye is certainly an option, especially if you use it for mixing purposes. I do feel however that the 100 Proof would be a big step forward.   

Jan van den Ende                                                                February 6, 2017

Cutty Sark Storm Review

“Great Value For Money”

Country: Scotland
Region: N/A
Brand: Cutty Sark Storm
Type: Blended Whisky
Age: NAS
ABV: 40% 
Chill-Filtration: Yes
Whisky Review # 593
Buying Advice: 😀 Positive. Good Price/Quality ratio. Just don't expect miracles! 

Colour: Light Golden (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Mainly Sweet with some Sour and Salty accents. The Grain Alcohol is very present. A tiny bit of Smoke and Sherry in the background. I also find Toasted Cereals, Toast and Margarine, Earth and Grass, Brown Sugar, Treacle, Caramel, Butterscotch, some Nuts and Dried Fruits (Sultanas and Hazelnut), a little Fruit (Pineapple or perhaps Mango and overripe Bananas), light Citrus, Refill Wood, light Spices (Cinnamon and Nutmeg) and a hint of Tobacco. I can't get excited about this. It's still quite similar to the standard Cutty Sark I reviewed earlier. A bit more Fruit perhaps.     

Palate: Slightly Thin delivery. Light, Bitter Sweet and mildly Spicy. On the Palate and in the Finish, the Single Malt component is more noticeable. I find Toasted Cereals, light Honey, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Caramel, Dried Fruit (Apricot and Sultanas), Pear, slightly Bitter Orange, Vanilla, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Mint, light Licorice, Charred Oak and a hint of Tobacco. The faintest puff of Smoke from a very distant fire.  

Finish: Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet and mildly Spicy. Dry towards the end. I find Sugared Cereals, Vanilla, Charred Oak, slightly Bitter Orange Juice, Menthol, light Licorice, Caramel, Corn Syrup, Sultanas, Pepper, light Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger and a hint of Tobacco. On the Palate and in the Finish the Storm clearly beats the standard Cutty Sark.

Due to the fact that I merely had a small sample at my disposal, I only tasted this Blend neat.

Rating: 79.5

Nose: 20 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 19.5 - Overall: 20

General Remarks:

The first Cutty Sark blend was created in 1923, at first especially for export to the USA during the Prohibition. The logo represents a drawing of a Sailing Ship constructed in Scotland in 1869 that bore the same name. Today the blend is still popular in the USA but also in countries like Spain and Portugal where it is often mixed.

In 2012 Cutty Sark's Master Blender Kirstin Campbell created the Storm. It has a higher Malt content than the Standard Cutty Sark and the Malts used are older as well. The blend consists of Grain Whiskies from Edinburgh's North British Distillery and is said to contain around 20 Single Malts, mainly from Speyside. At its heart lies Glenrothes. Other renowned contributions might include Tamdhu, Highland Park, Macallan and Bunnahabhain. The Grain whiskies are blended together and so are the Single Malts. Afterwards they are then “married” together. Cutty Sark is currently owned by the Edrington Group. The core range consists of the Cutty Sark, the Cutty Sark Storm and the 12 and 18 Years. The Storm is quite affordable and is usually priced in the 25-30 US Dollar range (February 2017).

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Conclusion: The Storm is indeed an improvement over the regular Cutty Sark. Not so much on the Nose but certainly on the Palate and in the Finish where the higher Malt content is noticeable. I also didn't find any off notes in the Storm. At an average 25 US Dollars, the Storm has an excellent Price/Quality ratio and it easily beats most of the Bottom Shelf Blends. It's one of the few cheaper blends that you can actually enjoy neat although it's a bit Thin on the Palate. Don't expect Whisky Heaven when you buy the Storm because that's impossible at this price level. But it's an acceptable Blend with an excellent P/Q ratio. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Jan van den Ende                                                                February 2, 2017


Bunnahabhain 12 Years Review

“A Taste of Bitter Love"

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bunnahabhain
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 12 Years
ABV: 46.3% 
Chill-Filtration: No
Whisky Review # 592
Buying Advice: 😐  Neutral. The Price-Quality ratio is good. Personally I would have liked it better without some of the Dirty and Bitter notes.

Colour: Dark Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose: Relatively Light with some clear Ex-Sherry Cask presence. The hints of Wet Clay and Campfire Smoke are there but they are very mild and remain in the background. I detect some light Sulphur but it's not aggressive. On the Nose the Bunnahabhain 12 is mainly Sweet but not overly so. I also find some lightly Acid, Mineral and Metallic tones. My main impressions though are Toasted Grain, Dried Fruit (Plums, Figs, Sultanas), Caramel, Brown Sugar, Butterscotch, light Honey, light Oak, Orchard Fruit (Apples, Pears), Dark Berries, Coconut, Cocoa Powder, Salted Nuts, Straw mixed with Cow Manure, light Orange, Bourbon (Cinnamon), Clove, Salt, Mint and hints of Mango-Flavoured Tea and Leather. The Alcohol is not fully integrated. I wouldn't call this a very Well-Balanced Nose but it's quite interesting nevertheless.
Palate: Mainly Sweet and Medium-Spicy with Toasted Cereals, Dried Fruit (Figs, Plums, Sultanas), Salted Hazelnuts, Charred Oak, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Butterscotch, light Orange/Mandarin, Berries, Mango, Cocoa Powder, Cinnamon, Pepper, Cardamom, Mint and light Licorice. I get a bit of Sulphur but it's not aggressive. Some Mineral notes as well. Very mild Campfire Smoke and Earth in the background. Hints of Leather and Tobacco.     

Finish: Middle-Long, Salty, Yeasty and Sweet. Dry towards the end with some Metallic notes  and a slightly unpleasant Bitterness. This is easily the worst part of this Bunnahabhain. I find lightly Toasted Cereals, Dirty Sherry, Dried Fruit (Figs, Plums, Sultanas), Nuts, Butterscotch, Bitter Espresso, Charred Oak, Cocoa Powder, Vanilla, Cinnamon, light Pepper, Cardamom and mere hints of Campfire Smoke and Leather.

I added a little Water and the Nose Becomes more Malty with a light Vegetable note that reminds me of Jura. More Vanilla on the Palate. You also get rid of most of the Bitterness in the Finish. You can certainly experiment with a little Water here.  

Rating: 84

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 21

General Remarks:

The Bunnahabhain Distillery was founded in 1881 by William Robertson and the Greenless brothers William and James. It is located close to Port Askay on the island of Islay. Production started in 1883. In 2003, the distillery was bought by Burn Stewart Distillers. The core range includes the 12, 18 and 25 Years as well as two peated Malts, the 10 Year old Toiteach and the NAS Ceobanach.

The 12 Years old received a face lift in the summer of 2010. The ABV increased to 46.3% and the Spirit is no longer Chill-Filtered nor does it receive artificial colouring. Great initiative by Bunnahabhain! The 12 years matures in a mix of Ex-Bourbon casks (around 75%) and Ex-Sherry casks (around 25%). It is not over the top expensive at an average 50 US Dollars (January 2017). 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good except for the Bitterness in the Finish.

Conclusion: Although the distillery launched some peated Whiskies again in the last couple of years, Bunnahabhain is mostly known as the unpeated or very lightly peated Islay Malt. The 12 Years is no exception. Peat and Smoke are extremely mild and merely form a back-up for the other Flavours and Aromas. Unfortunately I have never tasted the "old" Bunnahabhain 12 that was Chill-Filtered, Coloured and bottled at 40%. Therefore I can't make a comparison. I must congratulate Bunnahabhain on the initiative to relaunch the new 12 Years with all the extras without increasing the final price of the product too much. I do feel however that it's probably increasingly difficult and/or expensive to buy quality Ex-Sherry casks. Otherwise it's difficult to explain the dirty notes like Sulphur and Manure as well as the slightly unpleasant Bitterness in the Finish. If not for these points I would have scored this Bunnahabhain a little higher. The Price Quality ratio of this Single Malt is good. But taste-wise I personally prefer the before mentioned peated Toiteach over this new 12 Years. 

Jan van den Ende                                                                 January 30, 2017

A Beautiful Place, Even in the Rain

GlenDronach Revival 15 Years Review

“A Mind Of Its Own”

Country: Scotland
Region: Eastern Highlands
Brand: GlenDronach Revival
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years
ABV: 46% 
Chill-Filtration: No
Whisky Review # 591
Buying Advice: 😄 Positive. Look forward to taste the 2018 release!

Colour: Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose: Full, Sweet and Mature. The Ex-Oloroso Cask influence is more than clear and the Alcohol is nicely integrated. I find Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Caramel, Heather-Honey, Candle Wax, Mixed Nuts and Dried Fruits like Raisins, Sultanas, Apricot and Plums, Fresh Herbs like Coriander, Mint and Parsley, Orange Peel, Rum Soaked Fruitcake, Spiced Wine, slightly Sour Apples, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Oak, Maraschino Cherries covered in Milk Chocolate, Marzipan and traces of Smoke, Soy Sauce and/or concentrated Balsamic Vinegar and Dusty Road. I can't find any significant presence of Sulphur. On the Nose it reminds me of the slightly older GlenDronach Allardice I reviewed earlier. The Allardice however is more all-out Christmas Cake and does not have these kinda Dirty, almost Meaty characteristics that the Revival presents.   
Palate: Full, Meaty, Bitter-Sweet, Medium Spicy and slightly Sour. I find Sweet Barley, Toffee, Caramel, Cocoa Powder, Dried Fruits like Sultanas, Plums and Dates, Mixed Salted Nuts, Orange Liqueur, Dark Red Fruit like Berries or Cherry, Dirty, Dusty Road, Brown Sugar, Espresso with Milk, Buttered Toast, Pepper, Coriander, Clove, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Aniseed, Licorice, Leather, Tobacco, Dried Herbs, Chocolate and Oak. Perhaps a hint of Sulphur here but it doesn't bother me.  

Finish: Quite Long, Bitter Sweet and slightly Sour. Quite Dry in the end. I find Malted Barley, Bread Dough, Vanilla, Caramel, Heather-Honey, Caffe-Latte, Dark Red Fruit (Berries), Orange, Grapefruit, Chocolate, light Smoke, Leather, Tobacco, Oak, Menthol, Licorice, Aniseed, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Pepper, Salt and Dusty, Dirty Road.

I added a little Water and the Nose becomes more Floral and Meaty. Interesting! Palate and Finish just get watered down. I don't think the Revival accepts Water very well. Better sip it neat.  

Rating: 87

Nose: 22.5 - Taste: 22 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21.5

General Remarks:

The GlenDronach distillery was founded in 1826 and is located in Forgue in Aberdeenshire in the Eastern Highlands. It was mothballed between 1996 and 2002. It changed hands a couple of times during its history and finally was bought very recently in 2016 by Brown Forman. The current core range includes the Hielan 8 Years, the Original 12 Years, the Allardice 18 Years, the Parliament 21 Years and the Grandeur 25 Years. The Revival 15 Years I'm tasting today is currently out of the range but is likely to return in 2018. The 15 Years Revival was launched in 2009 and matures in Ex-Oloroso Sherry Casks. The miniature I'm tasting today was bottled around 2013. Hence, it must contain older whiskies as the distillery was closed between 1996 and 2002. You can still find the 15 Years Revival on the Internet with prices usually in the 100-200 US Dollar range (January 2017). It will be interesting to see if the 2018 re-release of the 15 Years can maintain the quality. Given today's Whisky Market that is questionable. But let's wait and see! 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: Solid and interesting Sherried Highlander. The Nose is quite lovely and you can't help but thinking about Christmas. On the Palate and in the Finish however, the 15 Years Revival shows a Darker, Dirtier and Meatier side. Quite interesting really. Mortlach comes to mind here. I could imagine that beginning Whisky drinkers would prefer the Allardice 18 Years I mentioned earlier as this Single Malt is all about Creamy Christmas Cake. But I think that the advanced Whisky drinker would prefer the 15 Years Revival as it's got personality and a will of its own. Let's hope that the 2018 Revival will maintains these rather peculiar characteristics. We don't really need a younger version of the Allardice do we! 

Jan van den Ende                                                                 January 23, 2017