Connemara Peated 2001 Review

“A Missed Opportunity”

Country: Ireland
Brand: Connemara 2001 Peated Single Cask
Type: Single Malt Whiskey
Age: Slightly over 10 Years
ABV: 46%
Whisky Review # 554
Sample provided by Jan from the Netherlands. Many thanks! 

Colour: Chardonnay (Artificially Coloured). Based on the Colour I would say that Cask # 1075 was not a very active one. 

Nose: While the Alcohol is noticeable, it doesn't seriously affect the nosing procedures. The Peat and Smoke are there of course but not in an aggressive way when compared to the standard Peated Connemara. The Peat also smells different when compared to the Islay Malts. The Connemara Peat reminds me more of a Car Repair Shop with Aromas such as Rubber, Diesel, Metal and Plastic. I do get Soot and Ashes as well. Among the other Aromas I find Toasted Barley, Straw, Heather, Nuts, Dried Herbs, Citrus, Pear, light Vanilla and a hint of Aniseed. The Nose confirms that Cask # 1075 has not been very active. While not bad, I had slightly higher expectations of this Cask Strength expression. It's all a little bit understated. 

Taste: Good delivery thanks to the correct ABV. Sweet with a light Bitterness for Balance. I find Earthy Peat, Burnt Grass, Straw, Toasted Cereals, Rubber, light Plastic, Diesel, Vanilla, Pear, Lemon, Grapefruit, Marzipan, Pepper, Aniseed, Oak and Toasted Nuts.   

Finish: Quite Long. Sweet at first but Dry later on and with a light Bitterness towards the end. I find Earthy Peat, Smoked Meat, Soot, Ashes, Rubber, Plastic, Diesel, Straw, Grass, Caramel, Toasted Barley, Pepper, Ginger, Salted Nuts, Licorice, Pear Drops, Lemon and a touch of Vanilla. 

With a couple of drops of water the Nose becomes very Grassy. I also get an image of Smoked Pears. Quite unusual! On the Palate, Grapefruit Juice, Pepper and Ashes come to the front. I find a little Milk Chocolate as well. As usual I prefer to sip it neat but you can carefully add a few drops of Water if you like!

Rating: 82.5 

Nose: 20.5 – Taste: 20.5 – Finish: 21 – Overall: 20.5 

Bottle # 142

General Remarks: The Connemara Peated Cask Strength Whiskey is part of the standard Distillery Expressions. The Single Cask I'm tasting today however was especially selected for the International Whisky Festival that took place in the Grote Kerk in The Hague from November 18 - November 20, 2011. Ex-Bourbon Cask # 1075 was distilled on March 13, 2001 and bottled on September 13, 2011. My sample was drawn from bottle # 142. Connemara is double-distilled at the Cooley Distillery that is owned by Beam Suntory since 2012. The peated Malt is actually bought from Port Ellen at Islay. I'm pretty sure there will be a few bottles of this special edition around but I have no idea of the prices. At the time it was sold at around 70 US Dollars but I would expect the price to be considerably higher today.

Drinking Experience Straight: Good but slightly below expectations.  

Conclusion: As you all know I am in general not a huge fan of Irish Whiskey. I believe that Triple Distillation takes away too many Aromas and Flavours. But this Connemara is only Double-Distilled and bottled at 46% so my expectations were higher than usual. I must admit though that I was slightly disappointed although this Connemara is not at all a bad Whiskey. First of all there's the Peat. It's in no way aggressive but it does have these Diesel, Rubber and Plastic characteristics that you have to like. It's kind of weird as Cooley buys the peated Malt from Port Ellen on Islay. My second issue is with the cask. Most of the Aromas and Flavours I found are quite understated and the Toasted Grain and Pear are still quite evident. The cask was not able to supply lots of additional impressions to the Spirit. With a better cask this could have been a great Irish Whiskey. As it stands, it's good but not special.

Jan van den Ende                                                                 August 29, 2016

Cooley Distillery

Slyrs Fifty One Review

Country: Germany
Region: Bavaria
Brand: Slyrs Fifty-One
Type: Single Malt Whisky 
Age: NAS
ABV: 51%
Chill-Filtration: No
Whisky Review # 553

Colour: Golden with a touch of Light-Brown (Natural Colour)

Nose: At first I get a strange Aroma that reminds me of Cooked Vegetables. It is important to give this Slyrs enough time in the Glass as this rather weird Aroma tends to diminish over time. The (fortified) Wine casks are certainly noticeable. Next to the Veggies, I find Malted Barley, Butterkekse (German Butter Biscuits), Vanilla, Straw, Fresh Oak, Plums, Grapes, Pear, Unripe Apricots, Raisins, Dried Herbs and a touch of (Milk) Chocolate. It´s Sweet but not in an annoying way. It is still a relatively Young Whisky and the Alcohol is not fully integrated. Like many West-European Whiskies it feels like a hybrid between Whisky and Fruit Liqueur.

Palate: Strong and Sweet Delivery with Spices and a light Bitterness. The Youth and Alcohol are more noticeable when compared to the Nose. I find Toasted Malt, Vanilla, New Oak, Nut Shells, Straw, slightly Bitter Orange, Plums, Grapes, Dried Fruit, Dried Herbs, Dark Chocolate, Pepper, Cardamom, Nutmeg and Cloves. 

Finish: Middle-Long, Spicy and Bitter-Sweet. Dry towards the end. I also find a light Plastic-like Off-Note. Besides that I get Toasted Malt, Oak, Plums, Bitter Citrus, Pepper, Cloves and a little Dark Chocolate. For me it´s the better part of this Slyrs.

I added a little Water and the Alcohol naturally retreats. Vanilla, Barley and Butter Biscuits take control and some of the Aromas and Flavours are lost. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 77.5

Nose: 19 - Taste: 19 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 19.5

General Remarks: In 1994, Florian Stetter, a member of the Bavarian Distillery Guild visited Speyside and saw the likeness of the region with Bavaria. So he decided to try and produce a Single Malt Whisky in Bavaria. He started distilling in 1999 at the Fruit Spirits Distillery Lantenhammer. But in 2007, the Slyrs Distillery was opened in the township of Neubach (Schliersee) as part of said Lantenhammer. As of 2011, Slyrs became the largest German Whisky Distillery. The name Slyrs goes back to 779 when five monks founded a monastery near Lake Schlier and called it Slyrs. It is also the name of a locally found green-yellow clay. The name Fifty-One refers to the ABV of this Slyrs Expression. It is made by combining various Ex-Bourbon casks. Part of this Blend is then finished in a mixture of Ex-Sherry, Ex-Port and Ex-Sauternes Casks. The price of this Slyrs varies a lot from place to place but usually lies in the 40-60 Euro range.

Drinking Experience Neat: A little disappointing on account of some Off-Notes.

Conclusion: Earlier I tasted the standard Slyrs 2009 and 2011 expressions. I liked both better than this Fifty-One expression although I found the Cooked Vegetables note in the 2009 as well. But the 2009 and 2011 were young, vibrant and promising when given time to mature a bit more. The Fifty-One on the other hand, while not bad and more complex, feels a bit tired and heavy. If you generally like (Red)Wine finished Whisky or Port Wine you might give this Slyrs expression a chance. Personally I prefer the regular Slyrs expressions over this Fifty-One. 

Jan van den Ende                                                                 August 15, 2016

Meyer´s Blend Superieur Review

"La Douce France"

Country: France
Region: Alsace
Brand: Meyer´s Blend Superieur
Type: Blended Whisky 
Age: 5 Years
ABV: 40 %
Chill-Filtration: Yes
Whisky Review # 552

Colour: Golden (Artificially coloured)

Nose: Better as expected to be honest. The Grain Alcohol is there but not in an offensive way. It´s Fruity and it actually reminds me more of a Fruit Liqueur than a Whisky. There´s a lot of Vanilla as well and I also find some Toast and Margarine, a little Malt, Soft Wood tones, Orange, Plums, Bread Dough and a touch of Flowery Honey and Dusty Road. It´s not bad, it´s just different. It actually smells better than a lot of Scottish Bottom Shelf Blends.

Palate: Creamy and Fruity with some Wood Spice for balance. I find Grain Biscuits, Malt, Orange, Red Grapes, Plums, Caramel, Vanilla, Golden Syrup, Honey, Soft Oak Tones and some Pepper.    

Finish: Middle-Long and quite Fruity. I find Grain Biscuits, Malt, Toasted Oak, Orange, Red Grapes, Plums, Vanilla, Golden Syrup, a little Honey, Soft Oak and White Pepper. Only a very light Bitterness towards the end. 

No need to add Water to this Blend. 

Rating: 76.5

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

General Remarks: The Meyer Distillery was founded in 1958 in the little village of Hohwarth by Fridolin Meyer. Originally it only distilled Fruit but since 2007 it started producing Whisky as well. Meyer produces both the Blend I´m tasting today as well as a 5 Year old Single Malt. The whisky is double distilled in copper stills and matures a.o. in Ex-Sherry casks from Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. The Blend Superieur costs around 30 US Dollars (August 2016).

Drinking Experience Neat: Different but Good

Conclusion: Meyer´s Blend Superieur really surprised me in a positive way. You just need to accept that it smells and tastes slightly different when compared to Scottish Whisky. In fact, it reminds me more of a Fruit Liqueur (Plums).  But it´s well-balanced and it tastes and smells better than a lot of cheap Bottom Shelf Blends. It´s also more agreeable than most of the other West-European Whisky I have tasted so far. You can enjoy this Blend neat and there´s no need to add Water or Ice. Like most West-European Whiskies it´s not really cheap but in my opinion the Price-Quality ratio is good enough. I must admit I´m really looking forward to try Meyer´s Single Malt as well!

Jan van den Ende                                                                   August 1, 2016

Old Keeper Review

“Please Keep This Away From Me“

Country: Scotland
Brand: Old Keeper
Region: Distilled and Blended in the Highlands
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Produced By: Abbeyhill Distilling Co. Ltd, Edinburgh, Scotland 
Age: NAS (3-5 Years)
Chill-Filtration: Yes
ABV: 40%
Whisky Review # 551

Colour: Light Golden (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Young, Sharp, Dusty and not very pleasant. Grain Alcohol and something I can only describe as a mixture of Varnish and Nail Polish are the main drivers. I also find Sugar, Burnt Grass, Refill Oak, Sweaty Feet and traces of rotten Fruit, Bitter Herbs and Vanilla.

Taste: Young, Sharp, Bitter and Sugary Sweet. I find Grain Alcohol, Bitter Herbs, Refill Oak, Burnt Grass, Pepper and a little Honey and Vanilla.       

Finish: Short and Sharp with Alcohol, Bitter Herbs and Pepper leading the way.

Added Water does not improve anything. 

Rating: 65 

Nose: 16 - Taste: 17 - Finish: 15.5 - Overall: 16.5

General Remarks: The Old Keeper is sold in Germany by the Supermarket Chain Aldi (Sud). It´s very cheap with prices between 10 and 15 US Dollars (July 2016). I´m sure it contains at least 70% 3 Year Old Grain Alcohol. It´s not possible to determine any specific Malt Whiskies used in this Blend.

Drinking Experience Neat: Unpleasant

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Borderline drinkable but without providing any satisfaction. 

Conclusion: The only positive aspect of the Old Keeper is its low price. I´ve seen it as low as 7 Euros. Other than that, this Blended Whisky is better left alone. If you are low on cash, Bourbon and Vodka are much better options. It really hurts to know that some Single Malt(s) are used for the Old Keeper!

Jan van den Ende                                                                   July 18, 2016

The Famous Grouse 12 Years Review

“This Bird Has Flown”

Country: Scotland
Brand: The Famous Grouse
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Age: 12 Years
ABV: 40%
Chill-Filtration: Yes
Whisky Review # 550

Colour: Deep Gold (Artificially Coloured) 

Nose: Just like in the 15 Years that I reviewed earlier I find a peculiar Aroma in the 12 Years that I can't quite place. It's something that reminds me of Cooked Vegetables with a little added Sulphur but that doesn't make a lot of sense, does it. Anyway, it's clear that there are some Refill Macallan Ex-Sherry casks in the mix. The rest is mostly Glenrothes I think while it's very hard or even almost impossible to detect Highland Park. Is there the faintest puff of Smoke in the background? It could be but I'm not gonna put a lot of money on that. On the Nose, this Famous Grouse has Sweet notes but there's a slightly Sour touch to it as well. I find Toasted Barley, Toast with a mix of Butter and Margarine, light Honey, Toffee, Caramel, Hay, Dried Apricot, Apples, Plums, Nuts, light Vanilla, Orange, Nougat and hints of Espresso and Milk Chocolate. The Alcohol is not fully integrated. At this price level, it's not at all bad but objectively speaking there's not too much of interest going on.

Taste: Not unpleasant but slightly on the Thin Side. The Oak, Spices and Alcohol are more noticeable now. I find Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Oak, Toffee, Caramel, Cocoa Powder, Dried Fruit (Apricots and Raisins), light Sherry, Apples, Tutti Frutti Bubble-Gum, Orange, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon and traces of Chocolate and Sulphur.      

Finish: Middle Long and Bitter Sweet with Oak and Spices leading the way. I find Toasted Barley, Dried Fruit, Walnuts, Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, light Honey, Toffee, a little Sherry, Vanilla and traces of Aniseed, Licorice, Cocoa Powder, Tutti Frutti Bubble Gum, Orange and Rum. 

I added a bit of Water and you get more Barley, Vanilla and Apples on the Nose. Palate and Finish become too Thin. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 81 

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

General Remarks: The Famous Grouse 12 Years Blended Malt was a limited Travel Retail edition at first. Today you can buy bottles in other places as well but the number is dwindling as the Edrington Group discontinued the Famous Grouse Expressions with Age-Statement. 

It is said to contain Malt Whisky from a/o Glenrothes, Macallan, Glenturret and Highland Park. These are all distilleries owned by the Edrington Group. The price can vary depending on where you live but it's usually around 30 US Dollars. (June 2016).

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good  

Conclusion: It's a pity for us consumers that the Edrington Group discontinued this Blended Malt with Age-Statement as the Price/Quality ratio is excellent. I would prefer this Famous Grouse 12 years over most of the well-known Blended Whiskies anytime. It's a very easy going Blended Malt that reminds me mostly of Glenrothes. A little Macallan is there as well but its hard to detect Highland Park. It's quite similar to some of the recent mainstream NAS Single Malts from the Speyside area. But with a much better Price/Quality ratio! What a pity this Grouse won't fly anymore! You should not expect a very complex Whisky but if you find it at around 30 Dollars just buy it!

Jan van den Ende                                                                      June 30, 2016


The Dalmore Luceo Review

“Modern Mainstream Malt”

Country: Scotland 
Region: Northern Highlands 
Brand: The Dalmore Luceo
Type: Single Malt Whisky 
Age: NAS 
ABV: 40%
Chill-Filtration: Yes
Whisky Review # 549

Colour: Mahogany (Artificially Coloured with Caramel E 150A)  

Nose: Quite Sweet. The effects of the Sherry Finish are clearly noticeable. It's a pity that this type of Whisky is artificially coloured. Quite unnecessary! I find Sweet Barley, Butter Kekse (German Butter Biscuits), Almond Liqueur, Dried Fruit (Raisins), Toffee, Maraschino Cherries, Marzipan, light Vanilla, Mandarin and traces of Espresso and Milk Chocolate. The Alcohol is mild. It's not bad but I can't get excited about it either.

Palate: Slightly Thin Delivery. Again, the Sherry cask Finish is clear. It's mostly Bitter Sweet with Barley Sugar, Raisins, Plum Jam, roasted Nuts, Marzipan, Orange, Cocoa Powder, light Cinnamon, light Ginger, light Pepper, Espresso and traces of Milk - and White Chocolate. 

Finish: On the short side, a little Thin and Bitter Sweet with Toffee, Sweet Barley, Raisins and assorted roasted Nuts, Demerara Sugar, Marzipan, slightly Bitter Oranges, Cocoa Powder, light Cinnamon, light Pepper, light Ginger, fresh Espresso and Milk Chocolate.  

I added a little Water and you get some more Malt and a little Honey on the Nose. Palate and Finish become too Thin. 

Rating: 82

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

General Remarks: 

The Dalmore Luceo is one of four NAS Dalmore expressions created by Richard Paterson and called The Fortune Merita (Fortune Favours the Brave) Collection. Initially they could only be acquired in Travel Retail shops but now they are widely available. All four have matured in Ex-Bourbon casks made of American White Oak. The difference lies in the finish. All four are finished in different Ex-Sherry casks from Gonzalez Byass, a long term partner of Dalmore. The Regalis is finished in Amoroso, the Dominium in Matusalem, the Valour in a mix of both Matusalem - and Port Wine and the Luceo in First-Fill Apostoles. The latter is in fact a 30 Year old Palo Cortado, sweetened with PX. The Luceo was named after the clan MacKenzie motto "Luceo Non Uro" (I Shine) and was launched in late 2014/early 2015. It costs around 110 US Dollars (June 2016). 

In 1263, King Alexander III was almost gored by a mighty Stag. One of the ancestors of the Mackenzie Clan saved him with a single arrow shot. As a reward the Clan won the right to bear a Stag's Head with twelve (Royal) points to its antlers in their Coat of Arms. The Mackenzie Family later became the owners of The Dalmore Distillery and added the Stag emblem to their bottles. The Distillery was founded in 1839 by Alexander Matheson and is located in the town of Alness in the Northern Highlands. In 2014, Emperador Inc. bought the distillery from United Spirits - Whyte & Mackay.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but a bit Boring!  

Conclusion: Undoubtedly, Richard Paterson is a very skillful blender of Grain- and Malt Whiskies. With the Dalmore Luceo Single Malt he follows the same principle, namely how to design a whisky that will appeal to the mainstream public and won't scare off anyone. I must admit he succeeded. The Luceo is Sweet but not to Sweet, Bitter but not too Bitter, Thin but not too Thin and Spicy but not too Spicy. And the Sherry Finish delivers some nice additional "Christmas" notes like Dried Fruit, Marzipan and roasted Nuts that most people will like as well. The downside is that as such the Luceo is a very predictable Single Malt without any real highlights and certainly without the "Wow" factor. 
And it's quite expensive for a NAS Single Malt at over a 100 US Dollars. To sum it up, this every body's friend that comes in a very nice bottle and is coloured at will might appeal to a lot of people. Personally, I'm disappointed as this Luceo is yet another example of the current trend to launch average and quite expensive Modern Mainstream Malts. 

Jan van den Ende                                                                     June 27, 2016

Dalmore Distillery (Picture Credit: Bestdrink CZ)