Gerlachus WiskiE Batch 10 Review


“Child in Time”

Whisky Review # 718

Country: The Netherlands
Region: Limburg
Brand: Gerlachus WiskiE - Batch 10 (Bottle # 148) - Bottled October 8, 2016
Type: Single Malt WiskiE 
Age: NAS - Probably 6-12 months. 
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Fresh French Oak (Quercus Robur)   
Chill Filtration: No           
Price Range: Around US$ 40 for 0,5 Liter (April 2018)
Sample provided by: Jan Bronkhorst. Many Thanks!
Buying Advice: 😒 Nose Okay. Palate & Finish are not. Negative P/Q ratio.      

Colour

Chestnut (Natural Colour). Very dark colour for a Spirit that matured less than 1 year. It suggests intense Wood contact using small casks and maybe Oak chips. I don't have specific information on this though.

Nose

The dark colour can't hide the fact that we are Nosing a young Spirit. I must admit however that you wouldn't give it 6-12 months. The process used by this Dutch distillery certainly succeeds in disguising the fact that we are dealing with a very young product. The Nose is very Soft and Sweet and relatively Simple but doesn't present any aggressive (off-) notes.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Cereals, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Pencil Shavings, Toffee, Vanilla, Nuts and Nutshells and Dried Fruit (Apricot and maybe Plums).       

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, inexpensive Brandy, Nougat, Apple, Resin and Pear and perhaps Peach both on Heavy Syrup. A very distant hint of Smoke.


Palate:

Not aggressive but very Thin and Watery. The Alcohol is much more present. It's hard to picture it as a Whisky/WiskiE at this point.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Cereals, Alcohol, Toffee, light Citrus, Pepper, Pencil Shavings, Varnish and Menthol*.                   

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Nutmeg, Cloves, Soft Smoke and Candies*.    

* Please note that most Flavours are mere hints/suggestions with the exception of Cereals, Wood Spice and Alcohol.
         
Finish:

Short, Watery and Thin. The Alcohol is much more noticeable by now. Sweet at first but quite Dry towards the end. I find Toasted Cereals, Sugar, Margarine, Fresh Oak, Varnish, Toffee, Artificially Flavoured Fruit Candies, Menthol, Pepper and a puff of Smoke.      

Drinking Advice:

On account of the small size of the sample, I only tasted this Gerlachus neat. I can easily imagine however that added Water will probably kill Palate and Finish.

Rating: 70      

Nose: 18.5 - Taste: 17  - Finish: 17 - Overall: 17.5    

Drinking Experience:

Borderline. Saved by the Nose.

Conclusion:

Gerlachus is located in Hulsberg (Limburg) and was founded in 2002 as a Beer Brewery. In the meantime they also produce WiskiE, Whisky and Liqueurs. The Gerlachus WiskiE/Whisky is made of Malted Barley, some of it peated. Gerlachus is distilled twice in a copper pot still. Half of the production matures for 3 Years in Oak Quarter casks and will be bottled as of September 2018 as Whisky. The other half matures much shorter but more intensive. During around six months, the casks are matured using different temperatures, different humidity and different pressure. It's tested before bottling to verify if the Spirit needs to mature a bit longer. At this stage it can't be called Whisky by law, hence the name WiskiE.

The sample I'm tasting today is part of Batch # 10, Bottle # 148 out of a total of 150. The dark colour suggests a longer maturation than six months. The capacity of the distillery was increased in 2015.

This Gerlachus WiskiE makes it clear that modern production techniques are quite capable of speeding up the maturation process. I must admit that I was impressed by the Nose and Colour of this WiskiE. The Nose is quite simple but not unpleasant and it misses any aggressive (off-) notes. The very Thin, Watery and almost flavourless Palate and Finish however also clearly show that making a real Whisky requires a lot more time and effort. I applaud the initiative and I'm certainly looking forward to experiment a matured Gerlachus. But making Gin might perhaps be a better option to improve cash-flow than WiskiE. 

Jan van den Ende                                                                     April 23, 2018

Lochside 1991 (Daily Dram) Review


“Behind Closed Doors”

Whisky Review # 717

Country: Scotland
Region: Eastern Highlands
Brand: Lochside 1991- Closed Distillery (1992)
Bottled By: Daily Dram in 2008 - 252 Bottles
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 17 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Refill Sherry cask  
Chill Filtration: No           
Price Range: US$ 450-500 (April 2018). Will be hard to find though.
Buying Advice: 📈 For investors and collectors only.     

Colour

Light Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose

This is only my second and probably my last Lochside. It's really like Nosing a piece of history. That said, this Single Malt needs a lot of airtime before you start Nosing as there's a huge initial waft of Varnish or Pain Thinner. This does diminish over time but it never totally disappears. I would normally connect that to New Oak but that's not the case here. This Lochside matured in a Refill Sherry cask and not a particularly active one at that. There are no Sherry monsters in sight. The Nose is mostly Sweet and Fruity but a few Sour and Floral tones pop us as well.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Butterkekse (German Butter Biscuits), Toast, Fresh Puff Pastry, Lemon, Banana, Nectarine, Hay, Fresh Herbs and Cinnamon.    

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Apple, Pineapple, Grapefruit, Honey, Raisins, Nuts, Cinnamon, Cocoa Powder, Oak, Fanta Orange, Bourbon-like Glue and slightly Sour Passion Fruit.     
  
Lochside 1991 DD

Palate:

Bitter-Sweet, a little Sharp and Nervous and quite Dry. A few Sour and Green notes as well. It's in line with the Nose but less Fruity.

Main Flavours:

Barley, Toast and Salted Butter, Varnish, Seville Orange, Nectarine, Grapefruit, Slightly Sour Passion Fruit, Banana, Refill Oak, Cinnamon, Cocoa Powder and Pepper.               

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Dried Fruit, Peanut Butter, Papaya Cream, Nutmeg and Espresso.  
           
Finish:

Middle-Long, a little Sharp and Edgy and basically Bitter-Sweet. Some Sour notes towards the Dry end. You really wouldn't give it 17 years at this point. I find Malt, Dark Chocolate, Refill Oak, Grapefruit, Varnish, Espresso, Strawberry Jam (the kind of industrialised small cartons you get for breakfast at three star hotels), Pepper and a bit of Dried Fruit (Banana, Plums perhaps) and Nuts.     

Drinking Advice:

I added the famous 4 drops of Water and that helps to get rid of the Varnish on the Nose that becomes quite Fruity and Malty. Like one of those French Puff Pastries filled with Peach that you buy in Brittany and Normandy. Palate and Finish do not change a whole lot but become more user-friendly. My advise would be to add a few drops of Water in this case.

Rating: 84     

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

Drinking Experience:

Interesting/Good.

Conclusion:

The Lochside Brewery was founded in 1781 in Montrose (Angus). In 1957 it was bought by Macnab Distilleries Ltd and was converted into a Whisky distillery that produced both Grain and Malt Whiskies. It was owned by Allied Domecq when mothballed in 1992 and demolished in 2005. A large part of the output was used in Spanish Blends and the Sandy Macnab Blend. The latter Brand is now owned by Chivas Regal (Pernod Ricard). 

Daily Dram is a joint-venture between The Nectar, Zolder Belgium and the Dutch importer Bresser & Timmer.

I certainly liked Tasting this Lochside. First of all because it's a part of history and also because the Malts distilled in 1991 and before still show stubbornness and quite a bit of character. Nothing mainstream as yet. It also has its flaws of course. The cask was not first class (Varnish) and the Spirit certainly could have done with a few more years in the cask. It's a bit Rough and Edgy but also quite consistent from Nose to Finish. I would certainly like to try other Lochside expressions but that won't be easy if not impossible. Buying a bottle of this Single Malt at the current price level does not make sense from a Flavour/Aroma point of view. But to become the owner of a piece of history might be a good proposition for the collectors among us!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     April 16, 2018

Related image

Ardbeg An Oa Review

Image result for ardbeg an oa

“Say It Loud I’m NAS and I’m Proud”

Whisky Review # 716

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Ardbeg An Oa
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46.6%
Maturation: A variety of casks. Bourbon and Virgin Oak are the most important 
Chill Filtration: No          
Price Range: US$ 60-70 (April 2018).
Buying Advice: 😀 Positive. Nice, Young, Modern Ardbeg.    

Colour

Pale Gold (Natural Colour)

Nose

Sweet, relatively Young, a little Dry and Coastal. The Smoke and Peat are still there but not in a dominant way. The Alcohol is not totally integrated. The Sherry cask influence is quite limited.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Buttered and slightly Burnt Toast, Salted Caramel/Toffee, Herbal Tea, Brine, Ashes, Candle Wax, Coconut, Banana, Green Apple, Smoke, Dusty Earth, Lemon, Grapefruit, Tobacco, Cinnamon, Pepper and Cocoa Powder.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Floral Soap, Fish/Shellfish on the BBQ, Iodine, Tar, Soot, Seaweed, Nuts, Mint, Aniseed, Licorice, Ginger, Dried Fruit and Leather.    


Palate:

It is definitively a Young Whisky but somehow the quality of the casks mitigate this fact. It's a little Thinner than I expected and the Alcohol and Virgin Oak are more noticeable. Still nothing that suggests a large number of PX casks in the mix. Peat and Smoke are more noticeable at this point. The Palate is a mix of Sweet, Bitter and Salty notes. Not bad at all.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Malt, Salted Caramel/Toffee, Smoke, Dusty Earth, Charred Virgin Oak, Lemon, Grapefruit, Green Apple, Cocoa, Milk Chocolate, Wet Rocks, Cinnamon, Pepper, Cloves, Resin, Aniseed and Licorice.           

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Herbal Tea, Ashes, Tar, Fish/Shellfish/Bacon on the BBQ, Nuts, Grass/Straw, Ginger, Nutmeg and Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup.  
           
Finish:

Good Length. Mostly Sweet but quite Lemony at the same time. Dry towards the end. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel/Toffee, Heather-Honey, Herbal Tea, Tar, Ashes, Smoke, Lemon, Fish/Shellfish on the BBQ, Charred Virgin Oak, Aniseed, Licorice, Menthol, Dusty Earth, Caffe Latte, Green Apple, Pepper and Cloves.      

Drinking Advice:

No need to add Water to this An Oa. 

Rating: 85    

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

Drinking Experience:

Good.

Conclusion:

The An Oa is named after the Mull of Oa in the South-West of Islay and offers the location of the Ardbeg distillery a bit of protection against the rough Atlantic. By giving this Ardbeg expression this name, the distillery wants to express that the An Oa shows the softer and rounder side of this distillery without losing out too much on the original Distillery character. It was launched in 2017 and forms part of the core range.

Maturation took place in no less than seven different cask types of which First Fill Bourbon casks, Heavily Charred Virgin Oak and PX casks are the important ones. After maturation, all these casks were subsequently married in a large French Oak vat that can be seen in The Gathering Room at Ardbeg.

I don't like most of the recent Ardbeg expressions that are average at best and way too expensive. So I was pleasantly surprised by the An Oa. It's a Modern Malt that should please consumers. Not too Peaty and reasonably balanced. It also shows that NAS Whiskies can be quite okay if you use innovative ways to mature young Spirit at a time when you have to consider the current lack of good Bourbon and Sherry casks. I think Ardbeg did a good job here. Sure, it's a Young Whisky but it somehow does not feel that way. It's reasonably well-balanced and it's tasty. And it's not too expensive. A worthy new member of the Ardbeg core range. I can recommend it. 

Jan van den Ende                                                                     April 12, 2018



The pictures were taken during our visits to this distillery in May 2017.

Bunnahabhain Ceobanach Batch 1 Review - Bunnahabhain Cruach Mhona Batch 5 Review - Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Creine Batch 2 Review


“Bunnahabhain Special”

Introduction:

Most of you know that I mainly use samples and miniatures when preparing my Reviews. I usually buy these in Holland and sometimes in Germany or the UK. Sometimes I receive samples from friends or readers or independent bottlers. In only two cases I received a few samples directly from distilleries. When planning my reviews I always try to give attention to all Scottish Whisky regions as well as most of the other Whisky/Whiskey/Bourbon producing regions all over the world with special attention to the USA, Ireland and Japan. And last but not least the blends. At the request of many readers I give preference to more recent expressions. As a result my backlog of older samples has increased quite a bit. To do justice to those samples I will review them in the format of Specials. These specials will review specific distilleries or take a look at specific bottlers, countries, regions or Blends. The reviews in these Specials will concentrate more on the Whisky and won't go into details about distilleries, maturation etc. I do hope you will like these Specials just as much as my regular reviews and I look forward to your reactions and suggestions. In today's Distillery-Special I will review three Bunnahabhain expressions. Enjoy!

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Image result for bunnahabhain ceobanach batch 1

Whisky Review # 713

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bunnahabhain Ceobanach - Limited Edition- (Small) Batch # 01
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS (At least 10 Years) - Bottled 2014
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46.3%
Maturation: Bourbon Barrels   
Chill Filtration: No          
Price Range: US$ 60-80 (April 2018).
Buying Advice: 😒 Uninteresting and Thin. Too expensive for what it offers. 

Colour

Pale Straw/White Wine (Natural Colour)

Nose:

A little Thin and obviously relatively Young. Although Peat and Smoke are not exceptionally strong they are the main drivers on the Nose. 

Main Aromas:

Peat (Dirty Earth), Cold Smoke, Peabees, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Grass/Straw, Lemon Peel and White Chocolate. Peabees (Peated Biscuits) is a word I invented when reviewing the Toiteach.
      
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Brine, Tar, Fresh Newspaper, Mint, Leather, Nuts and Nutshells, Apple, Nectarine, Bounty Bars and a few Mineral notes.  


Palate:

A little Thin despite the seemingly adequate ABV. Relatively Young, Medium-Dry, Sweet and a little Salty. A light Bitterness as well.

Main Flavours:

Peat (Dirty Earth), Cold Smoke, Toasted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Brine, Tar, Oak Char, Ashes, Nutshells, Orange, Grapefruit, Apple, Pear and Pepper.     

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Butterscotch, Lemon, Iodine, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Licorice, Lemon-Grass, Mint, Leather and Freshly grated Ginger.   

Finish:

Not very Long, Medium Dry, a little Hot, slightly Meaty and Bitter-Sweet. I find Toasted Cereals, Peat (Dirty Earth), Cold Smoke, Straw, Salted Caramel, Ashes, Tar, Leather, Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, Smoked Mackerel, Oak Char, Licorice, Apple, Sugar, Rubber Tyres, Pepper, Nutmeg and Mint.   

Drinking Advice:

No need to add Water to this Bunnahabhain. It's Thin enough as it is.

Rating: 82

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5  

Drinking Experience:

Okay. No more than that. Nothing to get excited about. 

Conclusion:

The peated Ceobanach was launched in 2014 and is part of Bunnahabhain's core range. Although it's a NAS expression it is generally assumed that the Spirit for this Malt matured for at least 10 Years. It is pronounced as Kyaw-Bin-Och which means "Smoky Mist". It honours the times that the people on Islay used Peat for many things, including producing Bunnahabhain Whisky.

I'm not impressed by the Ceobanach. It's a young and thin peated Whiskey that misses the strength of say young Ardbeg or young Laphroaig. It's almost like a diet version of young Ardbeg. Within the Bunnahabhain portfolio it is somewhat comparable to the Toiteach. I must say I like the latter a lot better. The Sherry cask Finish gives it more depth and it doesn't feel so Thin.        



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Whisky Review # 714

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bunnahabhain Cruach Mhona - Batch # 05
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50%
Maturation: A mix of (mainly) Refill Bourbon casks and some Sherry casks.
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: Around US$ 70 (April 2018).
Buying Advice: 😒 Uninteresting and Thin. Too expensive for what it offers.

Colour

Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Again, a little Thin and Underwhelming. There's a Youngish feel to it, almost like a Gin or Rum or some other white Spirit. Despite the high ABV, the Alcohol is not overpowering. Like with the Ceobanach, the Smoke and Peat are not really strong. Nevertheless they are the main drivers on the Nose. 

Main Aromas:

Cold Smoke, Muddy Earth, Toasted Barley, Burnt Toast, Salted Toffee, Refill Oak, Citrus (Mandarin, Orange) and Pepper.  

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Fish/Shellfish on the BBQ, Cured Meat, Vanilla, Band-Aid, Nuts, Honey, Ginger, Tar, Ashes, Licorice and Menthol.        


Palate:

Young, Sugary Sweet and Dusty. Again, Peat and Smoke are the main drivers. 

Main Flavours:

Muddy Peat, Cold Smoke, Ashes, Tar, Herbal Tea, Licorice, Pepper, Nutmeg, Nut-Shells, Toasted Barley, Mandarin and Salted Toffee. 

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Hospital, Orange, Vanilla, Licorice, Dried Herbs, Earth and Cocoa Powder       

Finish:

Middle-Long and Sweet with a few Bitter notes towards the Medium-Dry end. A little Thinner than you would expect at 50%. I find Muddy Earth, Cold Smoke, Ashes, Tar, Straw, Toasted Barley, Lemon, Mandarin, Grapefruit, Charred Refill Oak, Nuts, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cocoa Powder and a hint of Raspberry.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Malt develops on the Nose. But the New Make Spirit or Vodka feel becomes stronger. Palate and Finish become very Thin. Better sit it neat.

Rating: 82  

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5   

Drinking Experience:

Okay. Uneventful and actually Boring. 

Conclusion:

The Cruach Mhona (Gaelic for Peat Stack) is a lightly peated Bunnahabhain that was launched in 2011, initially only for the Travel Retail shops. Just as the Ceobanach, the Cruach-Mhona totally disappoints me. Another Young, slightly Peaty whisky without depth and character. Apart from a little Citrus it is totally lacking Fruity components. It's quite interesting but not very pleasing that both Bunnahabhains make a Thin impression despite the high ABV. Indifferent Cask Management if you ask me. If you like this distillery you're way better off with the standard 12 years that has a much better Price/Quality ratio.



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Image result for bunnahabhain eirigh na greine batch 02

Whisky Review # 715

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Creine - Batch # 02
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46.3%
Maturation: Marriage of Bourbon Casks and Red Wine Casks from France & Italy.
Chill Filtration: No         
Price Range: US$ 80-90 (April 2018).
Buying Advice: 😒 Not good enough at this price level. Look for alternatives!    

Colour

Amber with a few Reddish notes (Natural Colour)

Nose

Light, Young and Sweet with a few Sour and Salty notes. The Alcohol is not fully integrated.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Brown Sugar, Yeast, Red Wine, Almond Marzipan and Nuts.          

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Dried Fruit (Raisin), Berries, Brine, Hazelnut paste, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Ginger. A Touch of Sulphur right at the start.  


Palate:

Thin, Young, slightly Sharp and quite Dry. 

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Brown Sugar, Salted Caramel, Charred Refill Oak, Dried Fruit  (Orange and Apricot), Artificially Flavoured Candies (Raspberry, Strawberry, Cherry), Pepper and slightly Sour Red Wine.        

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Dusty Road, Brine, Cocoa Powder, Hazelnuts, Ginger and Cloves.         

Finish:

Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet and a little Hot. Quite Dry towards the end. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Toffee, Cocoa Powder, Mulled Wine, Artificially Flavoured Candies (Raspberry,Strawberry), Charred Oak, Hazelnuts, Citrus, Pepper, Cloves and Ginger.     

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Nose becomes even more Yeasty. Palate/Finish do not really improve although the sharpness disappears. It becomes Thin though. 

Rating: 78   

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

Drinking Experience:

Okay I guess. This Whisky leaves me completely indifferent.

Conclusion:

The Eirigh Na Greine (Gaelic for "Morning Sky") was released in 2013, originally only for Travel Retail. The name refers to the Amber colour of this Whisky that was partly matured in Italian and French Red Wine casks. As you know I'm not a huge fan of Red Wine Finishing in general. And this Bunnahabhain won't change my opinion on the subject. The combination of Young Malt, indifferent casks, a high ABV and a relatively short Finish almost never works for me. The result in this case is a Thin, slightly Hot and under matured Single Malt with a few Mulled Red Wine notes. Not at all my style. If you like this type of Whisky however look elsewhere. I can fully recommend the Longrow 11 Years Cabernet Sauvignon.

All in all this was a very disappointing Bunnahabhain session. The way I see it, all three expressions suffer from Youth and indifferent Cask Management. Many people are of the opinion that distilleries do not use their best casks for Travel Retail expressions. I certainly believe this is the case here. If you like Young Bunnahabhain, go for the 12 Years or the Toiteach instead. Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     April 9, 2018



The pictures were taken during our visits to this distillery in May 2014 and May 2017.

Port Dundas 1992 (Douglas Laing) Review


“It’s Graining Again”

Whisky Review # 712

Country: Scotland
Brand: Port Dundas 1992 
Bottled: 2013 - Hunter Hamilton, Glasgow (The Clan Denny) - Cask HH 9452
Type: Single Grain Single Cask Whisky
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 55.7% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Refill Hogshead    
Chill Filtration: No          
Price Range: US$ 200-230 (April 2018) 
Buying Advice: 😕 It's not bad I guess but it's not my kind of thing.  

Colour:

Light Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose:

The Alcohol is quite strong so you need to find your way around that. This Grain Whisky also needs a lot of time in the glass before Nosing. The Port Dundas is Sweet, Fresh, Clean, Yeasty and Earthy on the Nose and it resembles Bourbon. The Nosing of a Grain Whisky takes longer than a Malt Whisky as the Spirit only slowly and (sometimes) hesitantly releases its Aromas.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Cereals, Caramel, Toffee, Caffe Latte, Saw Dust, Artificially Flavoured Candy (Banana, Pear, Cherry, Pineapple), Dusty Track, Straw and Paint Thinner.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Citrus, Charred Oak, Coconut, Menthol, Ginger and Cocoa Powder.   

Image result for port dundas 199221 Years cask 9452

Palate:

The arrival is slightly Thinner than I would expect given the high ABV. On the palate, this Port Dundas is Bitter-Sweet, a little Salty and quite Dry. 

Main Flavours:

Toasted Cereals, Paint Thinner, Salted Caramel, Vanilla (Bourbon), Charred Oak, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Caffe Latte, Artificially Flavoured Candies and Cocoa Powder.  

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Creamy Toffee, Ginger, Honey and Young Dutch Cheese.       

Finish:

Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet, Spicy and a little Hot. A few Salty notes as well right at the end. I find Artificially Flavoured Candies (Pear, Banana), Paint Thinner, Cocoa Powder, Caffe Latte, Vanilla (Bourbon), Salted Caramel, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg and Toasted Cereals.  

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and on the Nose this Port Dundas relaxes and becomes more Fruity. Additional Dairy as well. The strong Pain Thinner retreats and that's a good thing. Palate and Finish do not change significantly but become a little more Friendly as well. My advise is to add a few drops.

Rating: 84 

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

Drinking Experience:

Good and Interesting but not quite my style.  

Conclusion:

There's nothing really wrong with this mature Grain Whisky other than that it is what it is. And you must like this different Aroma/Flavour profile to really enjoy this Port Dundas. Mature Grain Whisky is not comparable to the young Alcohol that is used for Blends. It's quite clear that this Port Dundas interacted well with the cask. Still it's a very direct Spirit and it misses the fine nuances that a well matured Malt whisky brings to the table. Personally I would not spend over 200 US Dollars for this type of Whisky but if you're into Grain Whisky this P. Dundas might just be your kind of thing.  

Jan van den Ende                                                                     April 5, 2018

Glen Calder Review - The Naked Grouse Review, Rock Oyster Review - Big Peat Christmas Edition 2013 Review - Big Peat 25 Years Review


“Blended Scotch Whisky Special”

Introduction:

Most of you know that I mainly use samples and miniatures when preparing my Reviews. I usually buy these in Holland and sometimes in Germany or the UK. Sometimes I receive samples from friends or readers or independent bottlers. In only two cases I received a few samples directly from distilleries. When planning my reviews I always try to give attention to all Scottish Whisky regions as well as most of the other Whisky/Whiskey/Bourbon producing regions all over the world with special attention to the USA, Ireland and Japan. And last but not least the blends. At the request of many readers I give preference to more recent expressions. As a result my backlog of older samples has increased quite a bit. To do justice to those samples I will review them in the format of Specials. These specials will deal with Blended Whisky like today or with specific bottlers, countries, regions or distilleries. The reviews in these Specials will concentrate more on the Whisky and won't go into details about distilleries, maturation etc. I do hope you will like these Specials just as much as my regular reviews and I look forward to your reactions and suggestions. In today's special I will review a mixed bag of 5 Blended Scotch Whiskies. Enjoy!
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Image result for Glen Calder Blended whisky

Whisky Review # 707

Country: Scotland
Region: Glenlivet District/Mainly Speyside
Brand: Glen Calder
Bottled by: Gordon & MacPhail, Elgin
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky - Mix of Grain & Malt Whiskies
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Information not available. Probably mostly Refill Bourbon casks.    
Chill Filtration: Yes         
Price Range: US$ 30-35 (April 2018) 
Buying Advice: 😐 At US$ 30 it's an okay Blend. Don't expect miracles though!

Colour:

Dark Gold (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Light but without the Aggressive Grain Note that I dislike in most Bottom Shelf Blends. The same goes for the Alcohol. It's there of course but it doesn't really spoil the Nosing party. The Nose is Sweet with Fruity, Grassy and Cereal notes.

Main Aromas:

Soft Grain, Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Toast with a Butter/Margarine mix, Toffee, Vanilla, Orange, Straw/Grass, Apple and Green Coffee Beans.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Brown Sugar, Caramel, Yeast, Nuts and Nutshells, Heather-Honey, Dusty Earth, Fresh Herbs, Cinnamon, Oak, Lemon, Grapefruit Juice, Cocoa Powder and a few Green notes that I can't put my fingers on.

Palate:

Relatively Weak delivery. Light, Dry and Sweet. The Alcohol and Refill Oak are more noticeable by now.

Main Flavours:

Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Toffee, Caramel, Resin, Apple, Cinnamon, Refill Oak, Pepper, Cloves and Licorice.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Plum Jam, Caffe Latte, Dusty Earth, Heather-Honey, Cocoa Powder, Caffe Latte  and Menthol.

Finish:

Light, Short, Sweet and a little Harsh. A couple of slightly Bitter notes towards the Dry end. I find Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Caramel, light Spices like Pepper and Nutmeg, Nutshells, Refill Oak, Licorice and hints of Caffe Latte, Menthol, Licorice, Dusty Earth, Apple, Milk Chocolate and Soy Sauce.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Nose gets very Weak. I do pick up a light Peach note on the Palate but all in all you better sip this Glen Calder neat.

Rating: 79

Nose: 21 - Taste: 19.5 - Finish: 19 - Overall: 19.5

Drinking Experience:

Okay 

Conclusion:

The Glen Calder is one of the older Blends in the Gordon & MacPhail portfolio. I even saw a 40 Year Old on the Internet. Apparently it was initially released on the Italian market only but nowadays it is available in most European countries and also in the USA. There is isn't a lot of information available for this Blend with respect to contents and maturation. I think it most likely matured in Refill Bourbon casks. It's a mixture of Grain and Malt Whiskies and most likely those Malt Whiskies are from Speyside. At around US$ 30 the Glen Calder is not a bad option if you're looking for a Blended Whisky. It's quite Light and Sugary Sweet but also less aggressive and more friendly than a lot of its peers. Don't expect miracles though. It is what it is!

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Whisky Review # 708

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands/Speyside
Brand: The Naked Grouse
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: First Fill European Oak Sherry Casks are used in this Blend.
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 35-40 (April 2018).
Buying Advice:😀 Excellent P/Q Ratio. If you like Sherried Whisky, go for it!  

Colour:

Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

The Sherry Cask influence is very clear. I pick up a little Sulphur but it stays well within acceptable limits. The Nose is Thick, Sweet and Malty and most of the usual Sherry cask Aromas are also to be found.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Apricot, Figs and Plums, Caramel, Vanilla, Walnuts, Orange, Peach-Jam, Cherries, Charred Oak, Nutmeg Cinnamon and Milk Chocolate.       

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Polished Leather, Mint, Licorice, Old Books, Smoke, Ashes and Cooked Rhubarb.  


Palate:

The delivery is a little Thin. The ABV is simply too low. On the Palate, the Naked  Grouse is Sweet with a few Sour notes as well. Quite Dry towards the end. I must admit I hardly notice any aggressive Grain components.    

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Dried Fruit like Apricot, Figs, Apple and Raisins, Caramel, Vanilla, Toffee, Sour Cherries, X-Mas Cake, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Chocolate, Nuts  and Charred Oak.   

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Raspberry, Resin, Orange, Herbs, Tobacco, Leather, Aniseed, Licorice, Espresso , Tobacco and Ashes. 

Finish:

Middle-Long, Dry and a bit Light. The ABV could have been slightly higher. Quite Sweet and Spicy. I get in the mood for Christmas! I find Sweet Barley, Caramel, Toffee, X-mas Cake, Chocolate, Nuts, Orange, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Oak, Espresso and hints of Tobacco, Leather and Cigar Ashes.

Drinking Advice:

No need to add Water to the Naked Grouse. It's already sufficiently "Naked".

Rating: 85 

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

Drinking Experience:

Good. The ABV is a tad too low. 

Conclusion:

The Naked Grouse I'm tasting today was one of the last creations of Master Blender John Ramsay who recently retired after having worked for the company for 40 years. His successor, Gordon Motion was also involved in the process. The Single Malts Macallan and Highland Park are at the heart of this Blend that might also contain Glenturret and Glenrothes Malt along with the Grain Whisky. It is said that the components for this Blend matured in First Fill Sherry casks. I think that's likely as far as Macallan and Highland Park are concerned. But I find it hard to believe that Grain Whisky matured in Sherry casks as well. A Finish in Sherry casks might be more likely. If anybody has complete knowledge in this matter, please let me know.

Just very recently this Naked Grouse has been replaced by a new version. This new version is a Blended Malt Whisky and is said to contain Single Malt from the Macallan, Highland Park and Glenturret. The components matured in a mix of First-Fill and Refill Bourbon and Sherry casks and were married for six months in First-Fill Oloroso Sherry Butts. Will try go get a sample as soon as possible.

Back to the "old" Blended Naked Grouse. It's not perfect but it offers a lot of Aromas and Flavours for its Price despite the too low ABV. Okay, there's a little Sulphur and a few slightly Sour notes but if you like the general Sherry Flavour profile you can't go wrong with the Naked Grouse. It's a pity it was discontinued but I'm already looking forward picking up a sample of the new vatted/blended All-Malt version. Cheers! 


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Whisky Review # 709

Country: Scotland
Region: Islands (Orkney, Arran, Jura and Islay) 
Brand: Rock Oyster - Small Batch
Bottled By: Douglas Laing
Type: Blended Scotch Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46.8%
Maturation: Information not available. Most likely Refill Bourbon Casks.  
Chill Filtration: No          
Price Range: US$ 50-60 (April 2018).
Buying Advice: 😒 Too Young for me. Too expensive for what it offers.    

Colour

Pale Straw/White Wine (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Young, Yeasty, Grassy and Salty. Some Sour, Sweet, Mineral and Peaty notes as well. There is a certain New Make feeling to the Nose. Young Arran, Caol Ila and Jura spring to my mind. 

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Toast and Margarine, Yeast, Wet Rock and Sand, Grass, Brine, Smoked Fish/Shellfish, Sour Apple, Pear, Lemon, Coastal Peat and Ashes.  

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Iodine, Band-Aid, Tar, Heather-Honey, Dried Herbs, Grappa, Pepper, Licorice, Oak, Pineapple and Cooked Vegetables.     


Palate:

Bitter-Sweet, Salty, Grassy, Young, a little Hot, Herbal and slightly Metallic.   

Main Flavours:

Toasted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Grass, Green Apple, Pear, Coal, Ashes, Coastal Peat, Tar, Charred Oak, Cinnamon, Pepper and Aniseed.  

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Milk Chocolate, Heather-Honey, Dried Herbs, Leather, Tobacco, Cocoa Powder, Lemon, Grapefruit, Menthol, Cloves and Nutmeg.     

Finish:

Middle-Long, Hot, Bitter-Sweet, Salty and Herbal. A few Metallic and Medicinal notes towards the end. I find Wet Stone, Coastal Peat, Iodine, Cold Smoke, Licorice, Ashes, Green Apple, Pear, Dried Herbs, Pepper, Cinnamon, Menthol, (Shell) Fish, Lemon, Grapefruit and Cocoa Powder.         

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and on the Nose I get a waft of Citronella Insect Repellent and some slightly Burnt Cereals. The Palate becomes more friendly as the Alcohol retreats but the Metallic notes in the Finish increase. I would suggest to try out a few drops at the time.

Rating: 80   

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

Drinking Experience:

Average. Too Young and Edgy for my taste.

Conclusion:

Rock Oyster was launched in 2015 and is part of Laing's range of Blended Malt Whiskies each honouring a specific Sottish Whisky Region. The others are Big Peat (Islay), Scallywag (Speyside), Timorous Beastie (Highlands) and Epicurean (Lowlands). There are lots of people that love Young, Hot Peated Islay Whisky but in general I'm not one of them. Not enough balance for my taste. And too much of a New Make feeling to it. It lacks proper maturation. Therefore the Rock Oyster does not work for me, more so because of the Metallic off-notes. If you love Young, Medium-Peated Whisky however, by all means give it try. Although it is a tad too expensive for what it offers! I would pay maximum US$ 40 for this.


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Whisky Review # 710

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay 
Brand: Big Peat - Christmas Edition 2013 (A Real Cracker) 
Bottled by: Douglas Laing
Type: Blended Scotch Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 54.9% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: No Information available. Probably mainly Refill Bourbon casks    
Chill Filtration: No         
Price Range: Around US$ 70 (April 2018) - Discontinued
Buying Advice: 😐 Neutral. Nice Whisky. Quite expensive though.   

Colour

Pale Straw/White Wine (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Young but less Aggressive than the Rock Oyster above. Dry, Smoky and Grassy. A few Sour, Salty and New Make Spirit notes as well. There is a bit of Fruit but it smells slightly Artificial.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Slightly Burnt Toast, Cold Smoke, Wet Peat, Iodine, Ashes, Fish and Shellfish on the BBQ, Brine, Soot, Tar, Lemon, Green Apple, Sour Cherries, Pear, Grass and Fresh Espresso.            

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Leather, Floral Soap, Almond-Chocolate, Herbs (Mint), Aniseed, Pepper, Unripe Banana and Tea.  


Palate:

Bitter-Sweet, Salty, Grassy, Dry, Young, slightly Medicinal and quite Oily. 

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Cold Smoke, Wet Earth, Iodine, Grass, Tar, Soot, Brine, Ashes, Smoked Fish & Shellfish, Pear drops, Heather-Honey, Charred Oak, Grapefruit, Lemon, Pepper, Espresso, Salted Caramel and Almonds.               

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Rubber, Plastic, Green Apple, Herbal Tea, Licorice, Aniseed, Tobacco, Chocolate and Ginger.           

Finish:

Middle-Long, Young, a little Edgy, Bitter Sweet and quite Dry. I find Salty Toffee, Sweet Barley, Almonds, Milk Chocolate, Cold Smoke, Wet Earth, Ashes, Soot, Tar, Lemon, Fish & Shellfish on the BBQ, Fatty Bacon, Pepper, Aniseed, Licorice, light Plastic, light Oak, light Rubber and Herbal Tea.       

Drinking Advice:

The Big Peat does not improve with added Water  

Rating: 83.5   

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

Drinking Experience:

Good.

Conclusion:

Big Peat is a quite popular heavily peated Blend, made with Malt from Caol Ila, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Laphroaig, Lagavulin and a touch of the closed Port Ellen that gives it extra Sales Power. A Limited Special Edition is traditionally launched around Christmas Time. I'm tasting the 2013 edition today. Despite the fact that this Big Peat is quite Young, it has sufficient Aromas and Flavours to keep you busy for a while. It works much more balanced and less immature than the Rock Oyster for instance. It's a nice dram to enjoy after a walk from Port Ellen to say Laphroaig and Lagavulin. Although the character is slightly more Caol Ila in my opinion. My main problem is the price. You can buy most entry Islay malts for a lot less. So that's what I would do although you can't deny the slick marketing of the Big Peat series.


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Whisky Review # 711

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Bottled by: Douglas Laing - Limited Edition (3000 Bottles) -Bottled 2017
Brand: Big Peat (The Gold Edition)
Type: Blended Scotch Malt Whisky
Age: 25 Years (Distilled 1992)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 52.1% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Info not available. Probably Refill Bourbon Casks.    
Chill Filtration: No         
Price Range: US$ 200-250 (April 2018).
Buying Advice: 😋 Simply Delicious. Must buy if you can spare the cash!    

Colour

Golden Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose:

I really love the smell of fully-matured Islay. Great balance between the peaty elements and the other Aromas. Sweet but in a pleasant way. Nice interplay between Spirit and Wood. The Alcohol is nicely integrated. Not very complex but simply delicious Nose. 

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Burnt Caramel, Hay, Vanilla, Wet Rock, Wet Sand, Fish and Shellfish on the BBQ, light Smoke, Tar, Ripe Bananas and Nuts.            

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather Honey, Lemon, Mandarin, Pineapple, Aniseed, Pepper, Cinnamon, Brine, Peach, Charred Oak, Brine, Iodine and Cured Ham.
     

Palate:

The delivery is not quite as strong as I expected but adequate nevertheless. A nice balance between Sweet, Salty, Peaty, Fruity and Spicy notes. The Oak is more noticeable by now but in a good way. Quite Dry! I'm pretty sure Caol Ila, Laphroaig and Bunnahabhain are part of the Blend. 

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Salty Caramel, Brine, Coastal Peat, light Smoke, Ashes, Smoked Fish, Cured Ham, Pepper, Nutmeg, Apple, Charred Oak, Roasted Nuts, Licorice and Espresso.         

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Soot, Iodine, Seaweed, Pear, Lemon, Orange and ripe Bananas.         

Finish:

Long, Sweet, Fruity, Mineral and Spicy. A light Bitterness towards the very Dry  end. I find Sweet Toasted Barley, Coastal Peat, light Smoke, Ashes, Soot, Salty Caramel, Apple, Pear, Toasted Nuts, Meat on the BBQ, Lemon, Pepper, Cloves, Licorice, Menthol, Aniseed, Dark Chocolate and Strong Espresso.       

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Peat/Smoke retreats even more. It becomes more Fruity but the magical balance is gone. Palate and Finish do not improve with the added Water but you can certainly experiment with a few drops. I prefer to sip it Neat though.


Rating: 90   

Nose: 23 - Taste: 22.5 - Finish: 22 - Overall: 22.5   

Drinking Experience:

Very Good

Conclusion:

At the end of 2017, Douglas Laing released the first of a three part Blended Malt Series called The Gold Edition. The Big Peat 25 years is composed of Islay Malts. Most likely Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain, Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Bowmore are part of this Blend.

I thoroughly enjoyed this Big Peat 25 Years. It's not overly complicated for a 25 Years but it's perfectly Balanced and simply Delicious. It's a Whisky I could sip all day and you can wake me up at night to have another sip! Well-Matured Islay Whisky is without any doubt one of the great Whiskies on Earth. I love the way the distant Smoke and Peat weave their spell around the other Flavour and Aroma components. Big Peat is a good name for Young Islay Malt but not really  for this Limited Edition. It's so much more than just Peat. It's total Islay Heaven. It's not cheap of course but if you have the cash, go for it. You won't regret it. This Big 25 Years is one of the best Whiskies I've tasted so far!   

Jan van den Ende                                                                    April 1, 2018