Highland Park Dragon Legend Review


“Another Park Another Sunday”

Whisky Review # 866

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park Dragon Legend
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43.1%
Maturation: Mix of European and American Sherry-Seasoned Oak
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 40-60 (March 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: Okay.
Buying Advice: 😑 It's not bad but it's way too Thin/Watery for me.

Colour:

Golden Straw(Natural Colour)

Nose:

Young, Light, Clean, slightly Floral and a little Harsh. The Alcohol is noticeable. Mainly Sweet with some clear Sherry Wood Aromas. This is supposed to be more Peaty than most Highland Park Malt but Peat and Smoke are still quite subdued. It's not unpleasant but it's rather simple and not fully-matured. I can't exclude the use of some Virgin Oak.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Grass and Straw, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Apricots, Earthy Peat, Oak Char, Candied- Orange, Stewed Apples, Red Grapes, Cinnamon, Ginger and Nutmeg.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Golden Syrup, Heather-Honey, Spicy Fruitcake, Wax, Lemon, Hazelnut-Milk Chocolate, Ashes, Polished Leather, Mint and Cloves.



Palate:

Light, Thin to the point of Watery and a bit Harsh. It basically follows the Nose but Smoke and Peat are more noticeable now. Mostly Sweet with a few Bitter & Sour touches.

Main Flavours:

Toasted and Malted Barley, Burnt Straw/Grass/Heather, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Earthy Peat, Smoke, Wax, Candied Orange, Hazelnut-Milk Chocolate, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Licorice and Nutmeg.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Golden Syrup, Apple, Lemon, Nectarine, Polished Leather, Dusty Cellar, Oak Char, Raw Meat, Milk, Soot and Ashes.


Finish:

Middle-Long. A Mix of Sweet, Bitter and Sour notes. It's not bad but suffers from its Thin structure despite the reasonable ABV. I find Toasted Barley, Peat and Smoke, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Hazelnut-Milk Chocolate, Dried Fruit (Raisin, Apricot), Apple, Candied Orange, Oak Char, Lemon, Cinnamon, Ginger, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, Aniseed and Licorice. Hints of Polished Leather, Nectarine, Raw Meat and Red Wine.

Drinking Advice:

This Dragon Legend does not improve with added water. It's already sufficiently Thin as it is.

Rating: 84 

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Thin but Okay

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 and 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 years (Viking Scars), the 12 years (Viking Honour), the 18 years (Viking Pride), the 25, 30 and 40 years.

The Vikings feared and respected Dragons that were said to possess mystical powers although they represented Evil. Viking warrior Sigurd killed the Serpent Dragon Fafnir, drank its Blood and gained powerful gifts such as Prophecy and Wisdom. Wow! 😏

The Dragon Legend was released in 2017. Let's start on the positive side. It's not a bad Highland Park considering it's NAS and quite Young. There are no Off-Notes and it's all reasonably agreeable though forgettable. What kills it for me is its Thin, almost Watery texture. When I think of Vikings and Dragons I think of Strength, Courage, Thunderstorms and the like. What you get with the Dragon Legend reminds me more of an Afternoon Tea event organized by some elderly women than a banquet to the honour of Sigurd. As an entry, lightly peated malt it's okay though and so is its price!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     March 30,2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

Bruichladdich Octomore 07.1 Review


“(Octo) More Than Words”

Whisky Review # 865

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bruichladdich Octomore 07.1 (208 PPM) - Scottish Barley Series
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Limited Edition
Age: 5 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 59.5%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon American Oak casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 120-160 (March 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎Too expensive for such a Young Single Malt.
Buying Advice: 👍Very nice heavily peated Young Islay. 

Colour:

Golden Straw (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Please give this Octomore some time in the glass before Nosing. It's probably the peatiest Single Malt I've tried so far. The 1st impression is peated Grist, something some of you have certainly smelled during a visit to Islay distilleries. The Alcohol is quite strong, no wonder at close to 60%! The Nose presents lots of Burnt, Charred and Medicinal notes that seem to have been infused into the Malt. If you're a beginning Whisky drinker, this Nose might turn you off a little. But after a while in the glass it actually becomes quite balanced and almost soft, albeit a bit one-sided.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Toast, Salted Caramel, Burnt Grass, Dirty Peat, Factory Smoke, Sea Water, Iodine, Bandaid, Rubber, Tarmac, Ashes, TCP Pipes, Green Apple, BBQ Bacon in Honey/Treacle sauce, Charred Oak, Leather, Wet Stones/Sand, Pepper and Aniseed.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Mix of Straw and Cow Manure, Salted Almonds, Soot, Burnt Herbs, Lemon, Pear, Driftwood, Metal and Mint.


Palate:

The Thick and Oily Palate basically follows the Nose. Peat Lovers will certainly appreciate this 07.1 Octomore. Within its (rather limited) peated purpose it does certainly shine although it's a bit on the Sweet side. With a longer maturation this could become a great Islay Malt but that's day dreaming.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Burnt Toast, Salted Caramel, Burnt Grass, Dirty Peat, Factory Smoke, Iodine, Band Aid, Ashes, Soot, TCP Pipes, Rubber, Tarmac, Mix of Cow Manure and Straw, Bacon on the BBQ, Burnt Herbs, Green Apple, Grapefruit, Roasted Nuts, Leather, Wet Stones and Sand, Pepper, Licorice and Menthol.
  
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Lemon, Bitter Orange Juice, Mustard, Charred Oak, Roasted Coffee, Olive Oil, Pear and Ginger.


Finish:

Bitter-Sweet, Medium-Dry and Exceptionally Long. The Alcohol is quite Strong and the Whisky is Young but it's still quite Tasty if you're into peated Malt. The Palate and Finish are quite in line with the Nose. Therefore I find Toasted Malt, Burnt Toast, Burnt Grass, Mix of Straw and Cow Manure, Factory Smoke, Dirty Peat, Iodine, Band Aid, Tar, Rubber, Soot, TCP Pipes, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Burnt Newspaper, Burnt Herbs, Bacon on the BBQ, Charred Oak, Salted Nuts, Roasted Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Green Apple, Lemon, Pepper, Ginger, Licorice, Mustard and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not really benefit this Octomore although you can carefully add a few drops at a time. Don't overdo it though as it can easily drown.

Rating: 86

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

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 and the very heavily peated Octomore. The basic core range for Bruichladdich includes The Classic Laddie, Islay Barley 2010 & Black Art 5. The annual production amounts to around one million litres.

The Octomore 07.1 was released in 2015. At 208 PPM you would expect an insupportable Peat Monster but that's not the case. It's certainly a Peat-Bomb but it somehow manages to maintain a certain balance. If you don't like peated Whisky you should stay away from Octomore in general but for those who love their peat the 07.1 will be a pleasant surprise. My only issues are its Youth and its Price. This could be a really great Whisky if matured for say 15 years. As it is, it's a very nice and balanced Young peated Islay Malt. I wouldn't pay 150 US Dollars for a bottle though. It's just too expensive for a Young Whisky. But I did enjoy the Tasting session!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    March 23, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Glenlivet The Master Distiller's Reserve Small Batch Review


“All the Small Things”
Whisky Review # 864

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenlivet "The Master Distiller's Reserve" Small Batch (# 9378/010)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Mix of Sherry Butts, American Oak and Traditional Oak casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 170-270 (March 2020) - Huge local price differences!
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎It's better than the regular MDR but way too expensive!
Buying Advice: 👎Better stay with the core range. I recommend the 18 Y.

Colour:

Amber with shades of Orange (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Young, Medium-Light and Sweet. Clear Sherry influences. A few Sour & Grassy notes as well. It's okay and not unpleasant. Nothing special though. Much better though than the regular MD Reserve that I reviewed earlier. Certainly a result of the better casks used for this Small Batch.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley Sugar, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Rum-Soaked Fruitcake with lots of Raisins and Sultanas, Apple, Pear, English Breakfast Marmalade, Grass, Caffe Latte, Milk Chocolate, Cinnamon, Ginger and Mint.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Caramel, Toffee, Honey, Nectarine, Mandarin, Lemon, Sugared Almonds, Wet Stones, Floral Perfume, Coconut and Wood Shavings.



Palate:

Young, rather Light and Medium-Dry with Sweet, Bitter, Green and Sour Notes. The Alcohol is noticeable by now.

Main Flavours:

Barley Sugar, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Fruitcake, Green Apple, Pear, Sugared Nuts, Seville-Orange, Grass, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon and Licorice.
  
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Caramel, Honey, Raisins,  Mandarin, Grapefruit, Dusty Track, Mint, Caffe Latte, Metal and Nutmeg.

Finish:

Middle-Long, slightly Edgy and Light with mixed Sweet, Bitter and Sour Notes. The Alcohol is a bit Sharp at this Point showing us the relative Youth of this Single Malt. I find Sweet Barley, Sugar, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Sugared Nuts, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas & Apricots, Honey, Seville Orange, Mandarin, Lemon, Caffe Latte, Floral Perfume, Green Apple, Pepper, Cinnamon, Licorice, Ginger & Mint.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve this Glenlivet.

Rating: 81

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 20  - Finish: 19  - Overall: 20.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Good

Conclusion:

The Glenlivet Distillery is located in Ballindalloch (Banfshire) and was founded in 1824 by George Smith. Since 2001 it is owned by Chivas Brothers Pernod Ricard and in 2018 a new extension of the distillery was approved that will increase the production to around 21 million litres making it the largest Single Malt distillery in Scotland. The Core range includes The Founder's Reserve (NAS), the 12, 15, 18 and 21 Years as well as the XXV and the Captain's Reserve. The Master Distiller's Reserve Small Batch I'm reviewing today was launched in 2011 and is part of the Travel Retail range.

The Small Batch is a step up when compared to the regular Master Distiller's Reserve. The main reason is that better casks were used to mature the spirit. The price increased disproportionally though and that's the principal reason I can't recommend this Small Batch. By the way, Small Batches may vary from time to time of course. This Small Batch benefits from the better casks but still suffers from its Youth and the inadequate ABV. It's an okay introduction to the Single Malt market if you are a fresh whisky traveller. But it doesn't present any sufficiently interesting Aromas and Flavours for long time whisky adepts.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    March 16, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

Teeling Single Grain Review


“I Can’t Stand the Grain”

Whisky Review # 863

Country: Ireland
Brand: Teeling Single Grain
Crafted and Bottled by: The Teeling Whiskey Company, Dublin
Distilled at: Cooley
Type: Single Grain Irish Whiskey
Age: NAS (Said to be 5 Years)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: French Oak California Cabernet Sauvignon Red Wine Barrels
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 30-50 (March 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio:😐Okay at US$ 25.  Too expensive if priced over US$ 30.
Buying Advice: 👎 Young, Rough Grain Alcohol with Spices & Dark Red Fruits.

Colour: Golden (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Be sure to give this Young and slightly Rough Teeling enough time in the glass before Nosing. The Alcohol is quite strong and needs to calm down. It will never completely go away though and that affects the Nosing pleasure in a negative way. On the Nose you'll find Sweet, Bitter and Sour notes. It's quite Fruity actually although it feels rather artificial. The Red Wine casks are noticeable but they didn't give a lot of extra colour to this Single Grain. I believe I find hints of Virgin Oak as well. Although there's 95% corn in the Mash bill, it doesn't smell like Bourbon a lot.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Grains, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Artificially Flavoured Candies (Apple, Melon, Pear), Orange Peel, Red Wine, Oak, Pepper, and Cinnamon.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Vanilla, Demerara Sugar, Dusty Track, Forest Floor, Dried Herbs, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Aniseed, Licorice, Leather/Nail Polish & Raw Minced Meat.

Image result for teeling whiskey trinity pack

Palate:

Young, Unbalanced, Dry and slightly Rough. The Grain Alcohol is everywhere. Again a mix of Sweet, Bitter and Sour notes.

Main Flavours:

Cereals, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Sour Red Wine/Red Berries, Slivovitz, Orange Peel, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Wax, Treacle, Vanilla, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Artificially Flavoured Candies (Apple, Pear, Nectarine), Dried Herbs, Dusty Earth, Licorice, Aniseed and Leather-Polish.

Finish:

Quite Short and Dry. Only the Alcohol, Cereals and Caramel stay a little longer. It's what you would expect of a Young and Light Grain Whiskey. I find Cereals, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Treacle, Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Sour Red Wine, slightly Bitter Oak, Orange Peel, Hazelnut, Sultanas, Cocoa Powder, Slivovitz, Pear, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger and Cinnamon.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and that cuts a bit of the Alcohol of course. But the Single Grain becomes more something of an Apricot Fruit Liqueur on the Nose. The Taster becomes too Thin though and the Finish virtually disappears. Better sip it Neat.

Rating: 77

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 19.5 - Finish: 18 - Overall: 19

Drinking Experience Neat: Borderline Okay.

Conclusion:

In 1989, John Teeling started the Cooley Distillery together with his sons Jack and Stephen. John sold the distillery in 2011 to Beam-Suntory. Part of the agreement was that Teeling retained 16.000 casks of ageing Cooley Whiskey. In 2012, Jack and Stephen founded Teeling Whiskey Company, bottling the Cooley casks under the Teeling label. Subsequently they founded a new distillery in the year 2015 in Dublin but also continue to bottle the sourced Cooley casks that have aged sufficiently.

The Triple-Distilled Single Grain was released in 2013. The Mash Bill consists of 95% Corn and 5% Malted Barley.

In my opinion, Single Grain Whisky in general benefits from maturing for a long number of years (around 20) in good casks. It's very difficult to produce a good Single Grain in a short period of time. Teeling tried to partially attend this issue by maturing the Spirit in Red Wine casks. The Young Grain Alcohol remains all over the place though although admittedly the casks add some dark Red Fruit and Wine tones. The casks weren't particularly active though as they could not add a whole lot of colour to the Spirit during the 5 Years or so of maturation. So while I applaud the innovative effort by Teeling I can't really recommend this Single Grain. It might serve for cocktails if you can get it at around US$ 25.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     March 9, 2020

Johnnie Walker A Song of Fire Review



“Baby Dragon”

Whisky Review # 862

Country: Scotland
Brand: Johnnie Walker A Song of Fire (Limited Edition)
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40.8%
Maturation: Probably Refill Bourbon Casks with some Sherry Wood & Virgin Oak
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 32-38 (March 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: Just Okay. It's a nice bottle for your GoT collection though!
Buying Advice: 👍 It's a little Thin but the Bottle will convince you. Just once!

Colour: Light Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Light, Young, a little Musty and Sweet. The Dragon probably just flew over Caol Ila a few times and picked up a bit of the Smoky Air around the distillery. Cause there's only a thin veil of Cold Campfire Smoke around. A little (Dried) Fruit, some Citrus and a few Nuts and Spices and that's about it. The Grain Alcohol is noticeable but it's not too sharp.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Grains, Caramel, Brown Sugar, Mixed Dried Fruit and Nuts, Dusty Earth and Cold Smoke, Orange and Lemon Peel, Leather, Dried Herbs, Milk Chocolate and Pepper.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Vanilla, Malted and Toasted Barley, Refill Oak, Cooked Apples, Plastic, Perfume, Cinnamon, Cloves, Aniseed and BBQ.

Image result for johnnie walker a song of fire
Palate:

Light, Young, Thin, Bitter-Sweet & a little Hot & Sour. The Grain Alcohol comes to the front and Smoke and Dusty Track are more noticeable as well.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Cereals, Grain Alcohol, Toffee, Caramel, Dried Fruit like Apricot, Salted Nuts, Orange Peel, Cold Smoke, Dusty Road and Pepper.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toasted Malt, Vanilla, Wax, Honey, Leather, Milk Chocolate, Ashes, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Lemon and Artificially Flavoured Strawberry Yogurt.


Finish:

Short/Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet, Young, Spicy, Thin and a little Hot. The Grain Alcohol rules by now and images of Peppered Vodka appear. I identify Toasted Cereals, Grain Alcohol, Caramel, Toffee, Dried Fruit like Apricots & Salted Nuts, Cold Smoke and Dusty Road, Refill Oak, Leather, Ashes, Dried Herbs, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Citrus and Artificially Flavoured Strawberry Yogurt.

Drinking Advice:

You can add a few drops of Water but I prefer it Neat or on the Rocks.

Rating: 77

Nose: 19.5 - Taste: 19.5 - Finish: 19 - Overall: 19

Drinking Experience Neat: Just Okay

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Light but Okay

Conclusion:

Diageo and HBO work together in celebrating the enormous success of Game of Thrones. As successors to The White Walker Blend released in 2018 two new Blends saw the light last year. A Song of Fire representing the House Targaryen and A Song of Ice representing House Stark that I reviewed earlier this month.  A Song of Fire comes in a very nice frosted bottle that shows a Dragon, the House Targaryen's house sigil, in a fiery setting with deep Red Colours. At its heart lies Caol Ila, one of Scotland's Islay distilleries. It is bottled at a weird ABV of 40.8%. Quite unusual!

Like A Song of Ice, his hot sister does not provide Whisky heaven. It's too Thin for that and the Aroma/Flavour profile is pretty basic. But it's less Harsh than JW Red and if you buy it at a Travel Retail Shop like I did you get a very nice bottle for US$ 19. It's much more a Collectors Item than anything else but as a one time buy it will serve you well.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     March 2, 2020