Dalmore Castle Leod 1995 Review, Dalmore Valour Review, Dalmore Dominium Review


“Dalmore Special”

When planning my reviews I always try to give attention to all Scottish Whisky regions as well as 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 specific distilleries like today or bottlers, regions or countries. The reviews in these Specials will concentrate more on the Whisky itself and won't touch too much 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 this special I will review three expressions produced at the Highland Distillery Dalmore. Enjoy!
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Whisky Review # 767

Country: Scotland
Region: Northern Highlands
Brand: Dalmore Castle Leod (Home of Clan Mackenzie) 1995 - Discontinued
Type: Single Malt Whisky - Limited Edition - 5000 Bottles - Bottled 2011
Age: 16 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: American White Oak casks and Spanish Sherry Wood finished for 18 months in Bordeaux Premier Cru Red Wine casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 380- 480 (October 2018)
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ Good Single Malt. Negative P/Q ratio. A collectors item!

Colour:

Dark Amber with a touch of Orange (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Sweet and a little Heavy. The Red Wine (Cabernet-Sauvignon) Finish is quite noticeable. A distant hint of Sulphur perhaps. A mix of Brandy and Port Wine comes to mind. It's not bad but a little odd.

Main Aromas:

Malted Barley, slightly Burnt Toast, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Plums, Treacle, Brown Sugar, Salted Caramel, Seville Orange, Dark Chocolate, Ginger and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey Nut Breakfast Cereals, Vanilla, Butterscotch, Yeast, Oak, Cooked Pears, Grilled Pineapple, Nutmeg and Leather.



Palate:

Bitter-Sweet and quite Dry. The Oak is much more noticeable than on the Nose. The Red Wine casks are very present. This Dalmore could or perhaps should have been bottled at around 50%. And should not contain added Caramel.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Butterscotch, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Plums, Toasted Almonds, Seville Oranges, Dark Chocolate, Port Wine, Oak, Ginger and Cinnamon.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Straw, Coconut, Espresso, Licorice, Lemon, Pepper, Cloves, Dark Berries, Mango Cream and overripe Bananas.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet and Medium-Spicy. The ABV could have been a little higher. It's not really Thin but I miss a bit of a kick. It sort of fades away. Quite Dry towards the end. I find Toasted Barley, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Plums, Nuts, Salted Caramel/Toffee, Seville Oranges, Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Mulled Red Wine, Oak, Pepper, Ginger, Cloves, light Licorice, Dark Berries and overripe Bananas.


Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Nose relaxes. The overall Aroma profile does not change significantly but the balance between Whisky and Red Wine improves. Nice, clear Dark Chocolate notes. This improved balance continues on the Palate. The Finish gets an extra Spicy kick. The Castle Leod clearly improves with added Water!

Rating: 85.5

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

Drinking Experience:

Good. A bit too much Red Wine influence for my personal taste. Added Water improves the balance.

Conclusion:

The Dalmore distillery is located close to Alness and was founded in 1839 by Alexander Matheson. It is owned by Whyte & Mackay Ltd, part of Emperador Inc. During the last 15 years or so, Master Blender Richard Patterson did a lot to reposition Dalmore as a worldwide Single Malt. The distillery currently produces around 4 million litres.

This Single Malt was launched in 2011 with the specific aim to raise money for the maintenance of Castle Leod, home to the Mackenzie clan. it followed the success of the Dalmore Mackenzie that had been released a year earlier.

The Castle Leod is a well-made Single Malt that will certainly please the fans of the Whisky/Red Wine combination. Usually I'm not a big fan of this combo as the Red Wine tends to dominate the Whisky. That's also the case here although I do not complain about the quality of the Wine casks that were used. I believe that this Dalmore would have benefited from a slightly shorter Red Wine Finish and a slightly higher ABV. The Castle Leod was released as a limited edition and, as a consequence, has been discontinued in the meantime. Current prices for the remaining bottles are usually between 400 and 500 US Dollars. That's way too expensive for what this Whisky offers.



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Whisky Review # 768

Country: Scotland
Region: Northern Highlands
Brand: Dalmore Valour
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: I- Ex-Bourbon Casks, II- Ex-Sherry Wood, III - Port Pipe Finish.
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 60-70 (October 2018)
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ก Young Whisky that tries to hide behind a variety of Wood.

Colour:

Amber/Copper (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Relatively Young, Malty and Bitter-Sweet. The Alcohol is not fully integrated. I also find a fair amount of Sulphur. The influence of Sherry Wood and Port Pipes is noticeable but at least part of the casks is of indifferent quality.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Brown Sugar, Treacle, Caramel, Dried Fruit like Apricots, Raisins and Plums, Toasted Nuts, Seville Orange, Dirt Road, Ginger and Dark Red Fruit.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Almond Liqueur, Vanilla, Marzipan, Dusty Oak, Cardboard, Varnish, Milk Chocolate, Lemon, Tobacco, Leather and Cloves.



Palate:

Young, Thin, Sharp and Bitter-Sweet. The Bitterness increases along the way. The Alcohol is noticeable. There's a Blended Whisky feeling to this Dalmore.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Caramel, Treacle, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums, Apricots & Figs, Nuts, Seville Oranges, Lemon, Red Wine, Dark Berries, Pepper, Ginger and Tea.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Prune Obstler, Dusty Oak, Varnish, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Cloves, Nutmeg and Espresso.

Finish:

Young, Thin and Short. Sweet at first but with increasing Bitterness towards the Dry end. I find Toasted Barley, Caramel, Butterscotch, Dried Fruit like Raisins & Plums and Figs, Seville Orange, Coconut, Nuts and Nutshells, Dusty Refill Oak, Dark Berries, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon and Cocoa.


Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve this Dalmore. It's already too Thin and Rough as it is.

Rating: 77.5

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 19 - Finish: 18.5  - Overall: 19.5

Drinking Experience:

The Nose is sort of okay. The rest is below average.

Conclusion:

The Valour started its maturation in American White Oak Ex-Bourbon Casks from Boston and Clermont. The spirit was subsequently transferred to 30 year old Matusalem Oloroso casks from Gonzalez Byass. Finally the combo was finished in Douro Port Pipes from Portugal. It was released in 2013, initially for the Travel Retail market only.

The Dalmore Valour is another one of those Travel Retail releases that combines Young Whisky and a variety of indifferent Wood for some added Aroma/Flavour. I can't recommend the Valour. Better stay with the regular 12 and 15 Years if you are a Dalmore fan.


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Whisky Review # 769

Country: Scotland
Region: Northern Highlands
Brand: Dalmore Dominium
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon casks with Matusalem Sherry Finish
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 100-120 (October 2018)
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ Not bad but a little too expensive for what it offers.

Colour:

Amber/Mahogany (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Sweet, Dry & a little Dusty. Not bad though. Again, I pick up some Sulphur. The Alcohol is not fully integrated. Be sure to give this Dalmore enough time in the glass. The Sherry Cask influence is certainly noticeable.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Toffee, Dried Fruit like Dark Berries, Sultanas, Raisins, Dates and Plums, Mixed Nuts, Orange, Lemon, Milk Chocolate,  Marzipan, Ripe Banana, Pineapple and Ginger.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Farm Yard, Dusty Track, Dried Herbs, Honey, Tea, Oak, Tinned Peach or Nectarine, Leather, Menthol and Cloves.


Palate:

Bitter-Sweet and slightly on the Thin side. An ABV of 46% would have helped in this case. The Sulphur is still noticeable. The Palate basically follows the Nose.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Toffee, Caramel, Dried Fruit like Dark Berries, Raisins, Plums and Figs, Mixed Nuts, Orange, Lemon, Pineapple, Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger and Tobacco.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Honey, Dusty Old Shelves, Dusty Track, Herbal Tea, Ripe Bananas and Nutmeg.

Finish:

Short to Medium-Long. Sweet at first but with increasing Bitterness towards the Dry end. I find Toasted Barley, Dried Fruit like Dark Berries, Raisins and Plums, Mixed Nuts, Brown Sugar, Honey, Dusty Old Shelves, Bitter Chocolate, Espresso, Orange, Toffee, Caramel, Honey, Straw, Pineapple, Tobacco, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger and Cloves.



Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and on the Nose some Floral and Perfume notes appear. The Orange becomes even more clear. Palate and Finish remain more or less the same but you almost forget you're drinking Whisky this way. A little bit dangerous!

Rating: 84.5

Nose: 22 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience:

Good

Conclusion:

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 ownership is also called Dominium. The Mackenzie Family later became the owners of The Dalmore Distillery and added the Stag emblem to their bottles.

The Dalmore Dominium 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 Collection was launched in 2016.

Dalmore Single Malts almost never surprise. You will always get lots of Caramel, Dried Fruits, Nuts, Spices, Bitter Chocolate and Oranges. Depending on the cask or casks used for Finishing some extra Flavours/Aromas are added. The main differences between Dalmore Malts are usually caused by Age and Cask quality. The combination of mature Dalmore and good casks produces a good Single Malt, especially if you like the basic X-Mas-like Aroma/Flavour profile. Young Dalmore Spirit enhanced by exotic casks and provided with fancy names and stories should be left undisturbed. You're usually safe with the core range that also provides the best Price/Quality ratio.

Jan van den Ende                                                                 October 18, 2018

The Pictures were taken during our visit to Dalmore in May 2017

Glenfarclas 40 Years Review


“Wooden Heart” 

Whisky Review # 766

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenfarclas
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 40 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: A mix of First-Fill and Refill Ex-Sherry Casks - Bottled: July 2011
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 900-1100 (August 2018) - Limited Edition
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜‹ Woody and Tannic but really Delicious!

Colour:

Dark Amber 

Nose:

Deep and Complex. Amazingly Fresh for a 40 Years Old. Good Mix of First-Fill & Refill Sherry casks. Sweet with lots of Oak, Dried Fruits and Nuts. A few Sour notes for balance. I don't find any relevant Sulphur. The Alcohol is perfectly integrated. Very nice nose! Be sure to give it enough time in the glass before Nosing.

Main Aromas:

Buttered Toast, Butter Kekse (German Butter Biscuits), Vanilla, Caramel, English Marmalade, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Apricot, Cassis Liqueur, Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder, Quality Oak, Almonds, Apple, Cigar Box, Polished Leather Upholstery, Cinnamon and Pepper.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Sweet Barley, Butterscotch, Dusty Track, Pine Resin, Nectarine, Fresh and Dried Herbs, Roasted Coffee Beans, Marzipan, Pipe Tobacco, Ginger, Cloves and Mint.


Palate:

Wood and Wood Spices are quite strong but thanks to the quality of the casks I don't mind it this time. On the Palate the Glenfarclas presents a mix of Bitter, Sweet, Sour, Spicy, Bourbon and Tannic notes. Quite Dry. Good stuff!

Main Flavours:

Vanilla, Rich Toffee, Demerara Sugar, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas, Apricots and Plums, Walnuts, Apple, Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder, Fresh Polished Leather Upholstery, Orange Marmalade, Strong Espresso, Cigar Box, Cinnamon, Pepper and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Sweet Barley, Caramel, Dusty Track, Mint, Walnuts, Dark Berries, Pipe Tobacco, Cloves and Nutmeg.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet, Dry and Tannic. Lots of Wood but it's not really over the top. There is enough Fruity Sweetness to counterbalance the Wood and Spices. I find Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Rich Toffee, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Apples, Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder, Strong Espresso, Fresh Polished Leather Upholstery, Orange Marmalade, Cigar Box, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Menthol, light Licorice, Walnuts, Pine Resin and Marzipan. The Finish invites you to have another sip at once!



Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Malt relaxes. Wood and Wood Spices are less aggressive this way. The general Aroma/Flavour profile does not change a whole lot. This is really a matter of personal preference. I prefer it neat to get the full intensity of this Glenfarclas.

Rating: 89

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

Drinking Experience:

Very good.

Conclusion:

The distillery was founded in 1836 by Robert Hay in Ballindalloch (Banffshire). It was bought by the Grant family in 1865 and it remains in their possession until today. The core range consists of the 8, 10, 12 , 15, 21 and 25 years, the 105 CS and the NAS Heritage. The Glenfarclas Malt is also used in Blends like the Isle of Skye. Glenfarclas produces around 2 million liters per year. The distillery only uses Ex-Sherry casks to mature the Spirit.

Glenfarclas operates 3 pair of directly fired stills. They are the largest stills on Speyside. The Lyne arms mostly point downwards. The stills produce a full, nutty, lightly peated and sherried Spirit. The water is drawn from the Green Burns.

The 40 Years was launched during the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in 2010. The miniature I'm using today was bottled on July 7, 2011. Despite the steep price increase in the last years, the Glenfarclas 40 Years is still relatively inexpensive when compared to other Single Malts of this age.

I'm usually not a big fan of Single Malts with a very strong Wood Flavour. The cask should always serve the Spirit and not the other way around. But I would like to make an exception for this batch of the Glenfarclas 40 years bottled in 2011. The quality of the Wood is such that I really enjoyed the experience. Very consistent from Nose to Finish. What a pity I only had a miniature bottle! I just wanted to keep on sipping!

Jan van den Ende                                                                  August 24, 2018

BenRiach 1999/2014 Cask 7466 Review - BenRiach Dun Bheagan 1999/2012 (Ian MacLeod) Review - BenRiach Authenticus 21 Years Review


“BenRiach Special”

When planning my reviews I always try to give attention to all Scottish Whisky regions as well as 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 specific distilleries like today or bottlers, regions or countries. The reviews in these Specials will concentrate more on the Whisky itself and won't touch too much 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 this special I will review three expressions produced at the Speyside Distillery BenRiach. Enjoy!
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Whisky Review # 763

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: BenRiach 1999 - Bottled in October 2014
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky - Cask #7466 - 302 Bottles
Selected and Bottled for: The Netherlands
Age: 15 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 53.3% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Virgin Oak Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: Around US$ 80 (August 2018)
Buying Advice:๐Ÿ˜ It's okay but the Wood is too dominant for my taste!

Colour:

Light Copper (Natural Colour) - Very Dark Colour - Active Cask.

Nose:

Sweet with lots of Fruit and Vanilla. The Virgin Oak is noticeable and cask #7466 must have been an active one. It yielded 302 bottles and that's quite a lot in my opinion. Still, no other casks are mentioned.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Butter Kekse (German Butter Biscuits), Vanilla, Cake and Whipped Cream, Banana, Apple, Pear, Bounty Candy Bars, Virgin Oak, Varnish, Marzipan, Grass, Ginger and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Butterscotch, Golden Syrup, Nuts, Pineapple, Nectarine, Sawdust, Milk Chocolate, Lemon, Orange and Mint.


Palate:

Sweet with developing Bitter & Sour notes. The Virgin Oak is too strong for me.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Sugared Almonds, Apple, Pear, Orange Peel, Oak, 
Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger and Cinnamon.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Caramel, Milk Chocolate, Golden Syrup, Honey, Grapefruit, Lemon, Earth, Grass and Coconut.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet and Woody. Medium-Dry towards the end. The Oak is too strong for my personal taste. I find Sweet Toasted Barley, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Virgin Oak, Honey, Sugared Almonds, Grass, Syrup, Apple, Orange Peel, Lemon(Grass), Varnish, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Licorice and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:
Due to the small size of the sample, I only tasted this BenRiach neat.

Rating: 82.5

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

Drinking Experience:

Not bad but way too Woody for me.

Conclusion:

The BenRiach distillery was founded in 1897 by John Duff & Co and is located in Longmorn, Elgin (Morayshire). It changed hands a couple of times in its history but in April 2016 it was bought by Brown Forman. BenRiach produced more or less 2,3 million litres in 2017. The core range includes a/o the NAS Heart of Speyside, the 10, 16, 20, 25 and 35 years. The peated varieties include a/o the Birnie Moss, the Curiositas 10, the Septendecim 17 and the Authenticus 25. I have not yet been able to visit this Distillery. We passed by in 2014 but it was closed for maintenance at the time. BenRiach Spirit is also used in Blends like Chivas Regal, 100 Pipers and Queen Anne.

The BenRiach 1999 specially bottled for The Netherlands is a bit of a Strange Kinda Woman as the Deep Purple song goes. It doesn't smell and above all taste like your regular Single Malt from this Speyside distillery. The main reason in my opinion is the extremely active Virgin Oak cask. The Wood completely dominates the Spirit, especially on the Palate and in the Finish. Too much so for my taste. So while this is not a bad Single Malt I wouldn't want to own a full bottle of this. For Oak Ridge Boys fans only!


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Whisky Review # 764

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Bottled by: Ian MacLeod
Brand: BenRiach Dun Bheagan 1999
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 12 Years - Bottled 2012
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Petrus Gaia Wine Finish - Casks 90281 + 90282 - 730 Bottles
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: Around US$ 50 (August 2018) - Very difficult to find.
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜‘ Price/Quality ratio is okay. Not my type of Whisky though.

Colour:

Orange Blossom Honey (Natural Colour)

Nose:

I find both Sweet and Sour notes and a little bit of Sulphur. Nothing serious though. On the Nose this BenRiach is a little introvert so be sure to give it enough time in the glass. The ABV is not very high but the Alcohol is presentThe Red Wine Finish is noticeable but not in an overwhelming way. The Nose is a bit plain I'm afraid.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Butter Kekse (German Butter Biscuits*), Toffee, Milk Chocolate, Honey, Sugared Almonds, Stewed Apples, Cinnamon, Sour Berries/Cherries and Red Grapes.

* You will really notice the Butter Kekse if you rub a bit of Whisky in the palm of your hand. Give it a try!

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Floral notes, Marzipan, Orange, Banana, Pear, Pepper, Nutmeg, Clove, Yeast and Dried Fruit. A little Leather perhaps.



Palate:

A little Thin and slightly Hot. A combo of Bitter Sweet and Sour notes. Lots of Wood spice. Our French friend Petrus Gaia is noticeable but does not dominate.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Caramel, Toffee, Milk Chocolate, Sour Berries/Cherries, Oak, Red Grapes, Pepper, Cloves, Licorice and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Marzipan, Orange, Lemon, Dried Fruit, Nuts, Nutmeg and Cardamom.

Finish:

A little Thin, Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet with developing Sour notes towards the Medium Dry end. Quite Hot & Peppery. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Honey, Almonds, Dried Fruit, Dusty Track, Milk Chocolate, Oak, Dark Red Fruit, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Menthol and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Alcohol naturally retreats on the Nose. You also loose quite a few Aromas this way. Simple Orchard Fruit takes the lead. The Palate and Finish become less sharp as well but also end up on the plain side. I prefer to sip it without added Water.

Rating: 82

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

Drinking Experience:

Okay. Nothing more. The Red Wine Finish is not too dominant. I'm not too crazy about the casks though.

Conclusion:

I'm not sure what type of casks were used to mature this BenRiach. I do know however that it was finished for an unknown period of time (probably a few months) in a cask or casks that previously held Red Wine produced at Chateau Petrus Gaia situated to the south of the Dordogne river in Ruch in the Bordeaux region. This French Chateau uses Merlot (80%), Cabernet-Sauvignon (16%) and Cabernet Franc (4%) grapes.

I'm not too fond of Red Wine cask finished Whisky in general but in this case the result is okay I suppose. The Petrus Gaia cask(s) add Sweetness but not in an annoying way. I can't get really excited about this BenRiach though and I think the casks are to blame. They add a type of almost aggressive Wood spice that I don't really care for. Again, this is not a bad Single Malt but I would not buy a full bottle of this although the Price/Quality ratio is quite acceptable. Let's hope the third and last of today's BenRiachs can bring a smile to my face!
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Whisky Review # 765

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: BenRiach Authenticus (Peated Malt)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: A mix of Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Sherry Casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 150-190 (August 2018) - Discontinued
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜€ Good Single Malt. Discontinued - Quite expensive now!

Colour:

Golden Sunlight (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Nice Peat, even after 21 Years. There are some Medicinal notes too that remind me of a well-matured Southern-Islay Malt. The Sherry is noticeable although it remains in the background. The Alcohol is nicely integrated. On the Nose, this BenRiach doesn't really show a lot of complexity but it's pleasant enough.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Toast, Earthy Peat, Soft Smoke, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Apricot, Stewed Apple, Dried Herbs, Aniseed, Cloves, Cinnamon and Bacon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Iodine, Bandage, Wet Sand, Heather-Honey, Pine Resin, Leather, Orange/Lemon Peel, Ripe Pineapple, Almonds, Nutmeg and Pepper.


Palate:

A little Thin despite the good ABV. On the Palate this BenRiach presents a mix of Bitter, Sweet and Sour notes. The Alcohol is more noticeable. Strong Licorice & Menthol notes. Quite Dry.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Earthy Peat, Soft Smoke, Cigar Ashes, Smoked Meat and Bacon, Tar, Herbal Tea, Dark Red Berries, Green Apple, Charred Oak, Sweet Licorice, Menthol, Aniseed, Pepper, Cinnamon and Cocoa Powder.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Figs, Mixed Nuts, Citrus Peel, Straw/Manure, Lavender, Mustard Seeds, Leather and Tobacco.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet, slightly Medicinal and a little Hot. Some Sour notes as well towards the Dry end. I find Toasted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Tar, Earthy Peat, Soft Smoke, Ashes, Smoked Meat, Iodine, Straw/Manure, Charred Oak, Heather-Honey, Dried Herbs, Mixed Dried Fruits and Nuts, Dark Red Fruit, Green Apple, Black Tea, Pepper, Cinnamon, Mustard Seeds, Licorice and Menthol. Dark Chocolate after a while.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Peat/Smoke retreats on the Nose. A bit more Apples and perhaps Pears appear. Palate and Finish become too Thin for my taste. Even more Menthol in the Finish.

Rating: 85.5

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

Drinking Experience:

Good. A bit too much Menthol and Licorice on the Palate and in the Finish for my personal taste.

Conclusion:

The peated Authenticus 21 Years has unfortunately been discontinued in the meantime but has been replaced by the peated Authenticus 25 Years. The 21 years has always  been a limited edition with a total of 4800 bottles per year. I bought a miniature in 2011. I believe it was bottled around 2009.

The 21 years is a well-made Single Malt but it has its flaws as well. I think that the ABV is a tad too low. The powerful Spices and Wood that come with old age deserve a stronger Alcohol companion. As it stands, the Nose is not spectacular and complex but okay. Palate and Finish suffer a bit from the strong Licorice and Menthol that take control. I personally believe that this Single Malt would shine when matured between 15 and 18 years. Still, the 21 Years Authenticus is by far the best of the three BenRiach expressions I'm presenting today! Cheers and until next week!

Jan van den Ende                                                                  August 20, 2018

Wemyss Malts Barbeque Sauce 1990 (18 Years) Review - Wemyss Malts Sea Smoke 1984 (24 Years) Review


“Wemyss Malts 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 for the next months I always try to give attention to all Scottish Whisky regions as well as 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 an independent bottler like today or with specific countries, distilleries or regions. The reviews in these Specials will concentrate on the Whisky and won't go into too much details of 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 two Single Malts released by Wemyss Malts UK, respectively distilled at Mortlach (Speyside) and Caol Ila (Islay). Enjoy!
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Whisky Review # 761

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Wemyss Malts Barbeque Sauce 1990
Tube sold by: Cigars and Spirits
Distilled at: Mortlach
Type: Single Malt (Single Cask?) Whisky - Bottled August 2008 - 576 Bottles
Age: 18 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 55% (Around Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Cask? (See Colour!)
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 80 (August 2018) - Discontinued - Hard to Find
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜‘ It's okay but no more than that. It isnt' worth US$ 80!

Colour:

Copper (Natural Colour). Very dark colour for the Natural Colour/Bourbon Single Cask combination. I have no official explanation for this. Is it a Single Cask? It's very strange that no cask number is mentioned. One Bourbon cask would give around 200 bottles after 18 years. The total of 576 bottles suggests a larger cask or more than 1 cask (Probably three). Is European Oak involved somehow? Was/Were the cask(s) heavily Charred? If anybody knows more please leave a comment in the Comments sector!

Nose:

Mostly Sweet and quite Fatty. A few strange Notes include Compost Heap, Paint Thinner, Driftwood and Metal. The intensity of these off-notes diminishes over time so make sure to give this Mortlach sufficient time in the glass. The Alcohol is noticeable. There are lots of Aroma Accents to be discovered but it's a bit of a mixed bag and I miss Balance and Direction. I would not have recognised this as a Mortlach in a Blind tasting.  

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Dough, Biscuits, Apricot Filled Puff Pastry, Old Book Shelves, Roasted Coffee Beans, Compost Heap (including overripe Fruit like Apples and Pears & wasted Vegetables), Mint, Candyfloss and Raw Bacon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Caramel, Sugared Almonds, Heather-Honey, Dusty Track, Bitter Orange, Cinnamon, Driftwood, Cigar Box, Paint Thinner/Varnish, Bounty Candy Bars, Slightly Sour White Grapes and Leather.


Palate:

Sweet, quite Dry and slightly Hot with developing Bitter and Sour notes.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Sour Yellow Plums, Pear, Milk Chocolate, Wet Rocks, Lemon, Pepper, Cinnamon and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Toffee, Grapefruit, Apple, Grappa, Sour Berries, Heather-Honey, Stewed Rhubarb, Dusty Track, Charred Oak, Bitter Orange and Nutmeg.

Finish:

Middle-Long and quite Hot. Sugary Sweet at first but with increasing Bitter - and Sour notes towards the Medium-Dry/Dry end. A Metallic off-note stays with you for a minute or so. I also find Toasted Cereals, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Charred Oak, Bitter Orange & Grapefruit, Unripe Berries, Lemon, Grappa, Milk Chocolate, Pear,  Wet Rocks, Dusty Track, Pepper, Ginger and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and that helps relaxing this Malt a little bit. The overall Aroma/Flavour profile does not change a whole lot but it's easier to enjoy this way. In this case I therefore recommend a few drops of Water.

Rating: 80.5

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

Drinking Experience:

Okay but confusing and not really Satisfying.

Conclusion:

The Wemyss Family has been involved in the Single Malt business ever since the turn of the 19th century when John Haig built his first distillery on Wemyss land.
Their range of Single Cask Whiskies was conceived with the aim of making them more accessible and understandable. That's why the Wemyss Malts are named after the Aromas and Flavours rather than simply mentioning the Distillery name. A Wemyss tasting panel, lead by Isabella Wemyss and Charlie MacLean have the pleasant task of identifying the casks that will be used for the Blended Malt - or Single Cask range.

This Tasting Session was more like a Wrestling Match. At times I would find an interesting Aroma or Flavour but a few moments later I was punched in the face by some weird off-note. I could have wrestled for hours without the match being declared in favour of one of the extremes. It's a mixed bag of everything and I can't find any Balance and/or Direction. In general I am a fan of the Mortlach distillery but in this specific case I can't relate at all to the malt. I already wrote above that I wouldn't have recognised this Malt as a Mortlach in a Blind Tasting session. The best way to describe my feelings towards this Wemyss expression is that I'm confused. I'm confused about the Colour, the cask or casks, Aromas and Flavours. It's been a while since I encountered such an Unbalanced Malt. Do I recommend it? It's hard to say although luckily for me it will be hard to find as it has been discontinued. I don't think it's worth US$ 80. That's for sure. The rest I'm not very sure about ๐Ÿ˜ต. 

Let's see if the Caol Ila is an easier animal!

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Whisky Review # 762

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Wemyss Malts Sea Smoke 1984
Tube sold by: Cigars and Spirits
Distilled at: Caol Ila
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky - Bottled August 2008 - 248 Bottles
Age: 24 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 55% - At or Around Cask Strength
Maturation: Bourbon Cask
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 250-275 (August 2018)- Discontinued - Hard to Find
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜‹ What a great Single Malt. Safe buy if you can find it!

Colour:

Golden (Natural Colour).

Nose:

Lovely Mature Islay. The Smoke and Peat are there of course but after 24 years they don't control the procedures anymore but act as a solid base for the other Aromas. Quite a few Medicinal and Farmyard notes. On the Nose this Caol Ila is mainly sweet but a few Sour Aromas develop along the way. Quite nice and Well Balanced.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Slightly Burnt Toast, Biscuits, Vanilla, a mixture of Clay, Straw and Cow Manure, Iodine, Band-Aid, Brine, Soot, Dirty Earth, Fish and Shellfish on the BBQ, Smoked Bacon, Wet Rocks, Charred Oak, Leather, Sour Apples, Lemon, Blackcurrants, Herbal Tea, Mint, Cinnamon and Pepper.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Salted Butter, Toffee, Tobacco, Rubber, Toasted Almonds, Dusty Track, Grass, Cloves, Milk Chocolate, Tinned Pineapple and Grapefruit.


Palate:

Well Matured Islay Single Malts are among my favourite Whiskies and this is no exception. Very nice interplay between Cask and Spirit. Good ABV. On the Palate this Caol Ila is Bitter-Sweet, Herbal and Fruity. A few nice Sour notes as well for Balance. Good stuff!

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Grass/Straw, Smoked Fish and Shellfish, Bacon, Soot, Ashes, Iodine, Blackcurrants, Sour Apples, Herbal Tea, Wet Rocks, Charred Oak, Pepper, Mint, Licorice and Aniseed.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Grapefruit, Lemon, Leather, Tobacco, Toasted Almonds, Milk Chocolate, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Espresso.

Finish:

Quite Long, Bitter-Sweet, Ashy, Oily, Herbal and Dry towards the end. I find Toasted Cereals, Vanilla, Toffee/Caramel, Blackcurrants, Green Apples, Lemon, Grapefruit, Smoked Fish and Shellfish, Bacon, Charred Oak, Ashes, Soot, Iodine, Dirty Earth, Wet Rocks, Salted Butter, Leather, Tobacco, Herbal Tea, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Menthol, Aniseed, Licorice, Chocolate and Espresso.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Caol Ila becomes more Fruitier. Not bad as well but less intense. This a matter of personal taste. I prefer it neat but you can certainly add a little Water to this Single Malt.

Rating: 89

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

Drinking Experience:

Very Nice!

Conclusion:

What a come back by Wemyss. What a difference with the Mortlach. This Caol Ila has everything I like in a mature Islay Single Malt. It has depth, it has balance and a very nice interplay between Cask and Spirit. Great Aromas and Flavours and a perfect ABV. There's nothing to complain here. This goes straight into my All Time Top 15. It will be very difficult to find a bottle of this Caol Ila and if you do, you will find it very expensive. But it's worth the effort and the money! If you could see my face right now you would find me smiling from ear to ear. Lovely Whisky!

Jan van den Ende                                                                  August 13, 2018