Laphroaig Four Oak Re-Visit August 2021


”Water of Life”


Whisky Review # 925

History:

On February 8, 2019 I reviewed a sample of the NAS Laphroaig Four Oak, bought from my reliable Dutch supplier Whiskysite. I was not impressed to put it mildly and it was one the worst Laphroaig expressions I have tasted so far. Let's start with an edited shorter version of the above mentioned Review. You can see the complete review here.

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Laphroaig Four Oak
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Bourbon, Quarter, Virgin American Oak, European Oak Hogsheads
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 55-75 (February 2019)
Buying Advice: 😡Come On Laphroaig, you can do much better! P/Q ratio: 👎

Nose:

Young, Light, Sour and Dusty. Some of the famous Laphroaig Aromas are there but in a Watered-Down form. Re-Fill Wood and New Oak are noticeable and so is the Alcohol. The Nose is not really bad but it kinda smells like work in progress.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Cereals, Slightly Burnt Toast, Dirty Peat, Cold Smoke, Caramel, Lemon Ice Tea, Grass, Green Apple, Unripe Banana, Wood Pellets, Smoked Fish, Floral Soap, Salt and Espresso.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Iodine, Soot, Ashes, Tar, Plastic, Rubber, Gas Station, Cheese, Mineral notes, Bounty Candy Bars and a hint of Sweaty Feet.


Palate
:


Young and Thin. A mix of Sugary Sweet and Sour notes. Lots of Alcohol. Again this feeling of Unfinished Business.

Main Flavours:

Peated Grist, Dirty Peat, Cold Smoke, Salted Caramel, Floral Perfume, Smoked Fish and Shellfish, Green Apple, Pear, Green Banana, Lemon, Licorice, Pepper & Nutmeg.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toasted Nuts, Vanilla, Soot, Ashes, Tar, Plastic, Rubber, Iron and Espresso.

Finish:

Middle-Long and very Thin. A mixture of Sugary Sweet & Sour with some Bitterness that develops with time. Medium Dry. I find Peated Grist, Salted Caramel, Dirty Peat, Cold Smoke, Soot, Ashes, Brine, Iodine, Floral Soap, Lemon, Grapefruit, Smoked Fish & Shellfish, Vanilla, Espresso, Licorice, Pepper, Nutmeg and Casted Iron. Clearly a very young Islay Malt. The Alcohol is still noticeable.

Rating: 78

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

Conclusion:

Whisky derives from the old Scottish Gaelic word Uisge-Beatha, Water of Life. It seems to me that Laphroaig takes this a bit too literally with this Four Oak. You use Water for making Whisky but it should not taste as such! Laphroaig used to be a Single Malt that you either liked or hated. With Single Malts like the Four Oak that's not the case anymore. This is overpriced young Islay malt that should probably convince newbies that Peated Whisky is not something you should be afraid of. I know there's a shortage of aged Spirit and I know there's a shortage of good and affordable casks. But I also know that you can't (yet) replace sufficient maturation by New Wood and Smaller Casks.  The Four Oak is a good example of that. It smells and tastes like a rush job. I don't think that Laphroaig is doing itself and the market a favour by releasing Single Malts like this. This is not the way to go. Laphroaig should not be a whisky that's kinda Peaty, kinda Light, kinda Watery and kinda okay.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Re-Visit Laphroaig Four Oak

About a month ago I received a full bottle of the Four Oak as a gift. It was bought at the Travel Retail Shop of the Frankfurt Airport in Germany. I opened the bottle and decided to give the Four Oak another chance. Here are my findings:

Nose:

Not much to add or subtract to my original findings. I think they're spot-on. I do find it a little less Dusty and I will add 0,5 points to the Nose accordingly.

Palate:

It's almost a Peat-flavored Gin. Okay, perhaps I'm exagerating a little but you get the picture. My notes of two years ago totally stand.

Finish:

Very Thin and the worst part of this Laphroaig. No reasons to change the score.

Conclusion:

The Laphroaig Four Oak deserved a second chance on account of the fact that sometimes you will find differences between samples and a full bottle. But that's not the case here. The Four Oak simply isn't a well-made Single Malt and I can't begin to understand why such a fine Distillery would launch a mediocre Malt like this if not out of necessity for lack of aged Spirit and good affordable casks. In any case I do believe that the Whisky Industry should not extensively enter this Road to Nowhere. I added half a point to the Nose so the final score of this Re-Visit is 78.5. And that's not something that Laphroaig should be proud of! 😠

Rating: 78.5 

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

Jan van den Ende                                                                         August 4, 2021 

Maker's Mark 101


”Love on the Rocks”


Whisky Review # 924

Country: USA
Region: Kentucky
Brand: Maker's Mark 101
Distilled at: Maker's Mark Distillery, Loretto, Kentucky
Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Age: NAS (said to be around 6 Years)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50.5%
Maturation: Fresh Charred American Oak Bourbon casks
Chill-Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 35-50 (July 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👍
Buying Advice: 👍 Delicious on the Rocks!

Colour: Bronze (Natural Color)

Nose:

Vanilla and Fruit-filled Puff Pastry are the first impressions. It's quite Sweet but in a sort of relaxing way. The extra Alcohol provides some steroids and my advise would be to Nose along the edges of your glass. You will get much more Fruit that way. I like the Nose of Maker's Mark in general and this is no exception.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Corn, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Toffee, Creme Catalan, Fresh Peach-filled Puff-Pastry, English Breakfast Orange Marmalade, Sawdust, Cinnamon, Cloves, Aniseed and a few Fresh Herbs. 
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Sweet Barley/Grain, Honey, Caramel, Demerara Sugar, Golden Syrup, Cooked Apple, Strawberry Yogurt , Resin, Milk Chocolate, Charred Oak, Leather and a pinch of squeezed Lemon.


Palate:

The Alcohol is noticeable and Wood and Spices come to the front at the expense of the Fruit. Sweet, Bitter and Sour notes are all part of the mix.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Corn, Vanilla, Caramel, Cherry Mint, Apple, Orange Marmalade, Resin, Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves, Menthol and Aniseed.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Grains, Demerara Sugar, Vanilla-Flavored Pipe Tobacco, Honey, Toasted Nuts, Pear drops, Slivovitz, Lemon, Leather, Fresh Herbs and Black Tea.

Finish:

Middle-Long and quite Dry. A mix of Sweet, Sour and Bitter notes. The Alcohol is noticeable. Wood and Spices are in a constant battle with the Sweeter Grain notes and tend to be on the winning side for most of the time. I find Caramel, Sweet Grains, Toffee, Vanilla, Butterscotch, Buttered Toast/Honey, Orange, Baked Apple, Charred Oak, Straw, Nuts, Cocoa Powder, the Famous Dutch Chocomel, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger and Mint/Aniseed.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and that helps to mellow out Palate and Finish. It shows that the ABV of the 46 is the correct one for Maker's Mark Bourbon in my opinion.

Rating: 85.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Drinking Experience On the Rocks: Very Good

Conclusion:

Maker's Mark is America's only handmade Bourbon with each individual batch less than 19 Barrels. The distillery still uses the Sour Mash method where they start each new batch fermentation by using a little of the last. This results in a consistent final product. They rotate the barrels during the season for that same reason. The Mash Bill consists of Corn (70%), Malted Barley (14%) & Red Winter Wheat (16%). By not using Rye, a sweeter and softer profile is created. I have previously tasted the Standard Maker's Mark and the Maker's Mark 46, both of which I liked. In fact, Maker's Mark is my to go to everyday Bourbon. The 101 I'm tasting today, initially was served only to select visitors at the distillery. But in 2018 it was launched as the brand's first exclusive Global Retail bottling.

You can't go wrong with any Maker's Mark edition if you like your Bourbon a little Sweeter and without the Rye component. I like the standard Maker's but it misses a little Punch that both the 46 and 101 provide. The 46 is the best sipping Maker's of the three if you ask me as the ABV is spot-on. The 101 accepts a little Water and therefore it's my favorite Maker's on the Rocks. Simply delicious! With Maker's Mark you'll never enjoy " A Shot in the Dark" 😜 

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                           July 28, 2021


Miltonduff 1988 (Carn Mor)


”Green Green Grass of Home”


Whisky Review # 923
Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Miltonduff 1988 - Distilled on October 27, 1988
Bottled by: MMcK - Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Series - bottled : 06/10/2014
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # 9954 - 144 Bottles
Age: 25 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50.1% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: Around US$ 240 (July 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 Okay for a 25 Year old Single Malt.
Buying Advice: 👍 Certainly if you like your Single Malt Grassy, Citric and Herbal!

Colour: Chardonnay (Natural Color)

Nose:

Please give this Miltonduff enough time in your glass before Nosing as it opens very slowly. Even after a while however this Speyside Malt presents itself as an introvert Spirit. Quite Green, Floral and Grassy. The Oak is noticeable but that's no wonder after 25 years. Still, I wouldn't call Cask # 9954 an extremely active one. It's all very laid-back on the Nose. Not unpleasant though.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, German Butter Biscuits, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Grass & Straw, Pear, Apple and Nectarine, Fresh Oak, Fresh Herbs, Green Tobacco, Cinnamon, Pepper and Wet Newspaper.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Heather-Honey, Bounty Candy Bars, Fresh Pancakes with Golden Syrup, Resin, Wax, Peach-Flavored Yogurt, Floral Soap, Marzipan, Wet Forest, Ginger and Aniseed. A distant hint of PVC Pipes.


Palate:

The Oak and Spices come to the forefront in a combo with Green, Citric and Herbal notes. A nice Salty touch can be noted as well. A mix of Bitter, Sweet, Salty and  slightly Sour notes. It's not your everyday Single Malt profile but I would not mind enjoying a glass every once in a while.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Grass & Straw, Marzipan, Wet Forest, Dusty Oak, Lemon, Grapefruit, Salted Nuts, Pepper, Cinnamon, Aniseed, Nutmeg & fresh Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Wax, Bounty Candy Bars, Green Apple, Nectarine, Fresh Herbs, Green Tobacco, Strawberry-flavored Yogurt, Tutti-Frutti Bubble-Gum, Clove and light Licorice.

Finish:

Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. Some Citric notes as well. Lots of Dusty Oak & Spices at this point but not over-the-top. The Green, Floral and Herbal notes still shine as well. There's a hint of the PVC Pipes again but it's not enough to consider it to be an off-note. I find Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Grass & Straw, Lemon and Grapefruit, Strawberry-flavored Yogurt, Dusty Oak, Milk-Hazelnut-Chocolate, Marzipan, Floral Soap, Fresh Herbs, Iron Bars, Green Tobacco, Pepper, Cinnamon, Aniseed, Ginger, Nutmeg, Menthol, Tutti-Frutti Bubblegum and light Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

A little Water helps to calm down Wood & Spices although the Finish becomes very Minty. I like it both ways though.

Rating: 86

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

Drinking Experience Neat:

Good.

Conclusion:

This distillery was founded in 1824 and is located in Elgin. A huge reconstruction of the distillery took place in 1974. It changed hands various times over the years but since 2005 it is owned by Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard). Most of the production is destined for the Chivas blends. More specifically, Miltonduff and Glenburgie form the heart of Ballantine's. The capacity of the distillery is around 6 million litres per year. The only official bottling is the 15 Years.

Quite a different story when compared to today's Mainstream Malt. This Miltonduff centers around Green, Grassy, Oaky, Herbal and Spicy notes. It's not a complicated Whisky and certainly a bit shy on the Nose. But it's got character and that's very important, at least for me. Not for everyday but certainly nice to sip occasionally. If you like Clynelish, this might be an alternative. It's time that the distillery shows a bit more action on the Single Malt market. Such a pity that most Miltonduff is used for second division blends like Ballantine's Finest. 😡

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                            July 14, 2021

Macallan Enigma


”Macallan Vs. Oakenfold”


Whisky Review # 922
Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Macallan Enigma - Quest Collection
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Bottled 2017
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 44.9%
Maturation: First Fill European Oak Sherry-Seasoned Butts and Hogsheads from a single cooperage-partner, Tevasa in Jerez de la Fronteira
Chill Filtration: Probably
Price Range: US$ 240-360 (July 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎 Extremely expensive for a NAS Whisky
Buying Advice: 😃/😔 Well-made but very expensive Sherried Speysider. 

Colour: Golden Amber (Natural Color)

Nose:

Wafts of Sweet Oloroso and PX Sherry and Fresh European Wood are certainly the first impressions. Dark Fruit and Nuts lead the way in this reasonably Dry mix of Sweet, Sour, Dusty, Woody, Meaty and Spicy notes. The Alcohol is well-integrated. Very good cask management. It's a one-way Sherry street for sure but it's nicely done.

Main Aromas:

Malted and Toasted Barley, Buttered Bread, Demerara Sugar, Candied Orange Peel,  Dark (Dried) Fruit like Sultanas, Apricots, Plums, Prunes & Dates, Dark Chocolate, Mixed Nuts including Candied Almonds, Dusty Oak, Cinnamon and Ginger.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Yeast, Straw, Red Apple, Banana-Bread, Herbs, Strawberry flavored Yogurt, Peaches in Sour-Cream, Meat-Broth, Soy Sauce, Nutmeg, Pepper and Menthol.


Palate:

Medium-Dry and perhaps a little on the Thin side despite the adequate ABV. I think that an ABV of 47/48% would be even better in this case. On the Palate the casks take control and Dark (Dried) Fruit, Nuts, Spices and Oak lead the way. I quite like this mix of Sweet, Sour and mildly Bitter flavors with a nice Salty and slightly Meaty touch. 

Main Flavours:

Malted and Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Demerara Sugar, Dried Fruits such as Sultanas, Raisins, Apricots, Plums and Dates, Candied Orange, Candied Almonds, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Dusty Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Ginger and Mint.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Toffee, Honey, Yeast, Straw, Red Apple, Banana Pie, slightly Sour Berries, Meat Broth and Herbs.


Finish:

Middle-Long, perhaps slightly on the Thin side and a mix of Sweet, Sour and mildly Bitter notes. Well-Balanced in this respect. Flavor-wise the Dried Fruit, Oak & Spice are back in force. A nice Salty touch as well. I find Toasted/Malted Barley, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Demerara Sugar, Toffee, Honey, Straw, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Apricots, Plums and Dates, Red Apple, Candied Orange, Banana Bread, Hazelnut-Milk Chocolate, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger, Dusty Oak and a hint of Iron bars. Medium-Dry.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve this Macallan.

Rating: 86

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

Drinking Experience Neat:

Good.

Conclusion:

The Macallan distillery was founded in 1824 by Alexander Reid and is located in the village of Craigellachie (Morayshire). The majority of the shares is owned by the Edrington Group. The current production lies at around 11.5 million litres per year. The Quest collection was launched in 2017/2018 to replace the 1824 Collection that consisted a.o. of Gold, Amber, Siena and Ruby. While these series focused on color, the new Quest collection that consists of Quest, Lumina, Terra and Enigma focuses on Oak. The Quest collection was initially launched on the Travel Retail market and does not bear an age-statement.

If you like well-made sherried Speysiders and you've got the cash, this Macallan will work out fine for you. It presents a nice combination of Sweet, Sour, slightly Bitter and Dusty notes with a touch of Salt. It's just a little too much on the Thin side to call it a total Sherry-Bomb though. A slightly higher ABV would have really done that trick in my opinion. If you're not into sherried whisky you should leave this one alone though as it's quite one-dimensional on Dried Fruit, Nuts, Spices and Oak. In any case I have to say that the price is really too high for a NAS Whisky despite the fact that good casks were used for this Enigma. And that's a pity 😞.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                              July 7, 2021

All Pictures Taken During Our Visit in May 2014

Glenallachie 15 Years


”A Bitter Pill to Swallow”


Whisky Review # 921
Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenallachie
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 15 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Quite a mix. Specified below under Conclusion.
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 60-80 (June 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👍Reasonably priced for a 15 Years
Buying Advice: 😐Neutral. It's not really bad but just not my thing!

Colour: Mahogany (Natural Color) - Very Dark Color

Nose:

A mix of Sweet and Sour notes. The Sherry influence is quite clear. Dark (Dried) Fruit, Fruit Candies & Nuts lead the way. In a blind tasting I probably wouldn't have given this Malt 15 Years. It's a little Thin despite the adequate ABV. I do believe there's some Fresh Oak in the cask-mix as well.

Main Aromas:

Malted and Toasted Barley, Buttered Bread, Brown Sugar, Nuts like Chestnuts and Walnuts, Dried Fruit like Plums, Prunes and Sultanas, Fruit-Flavored Candies like Apricot or Nectarine, Sour Red Grapes and Cherries, Herbal Tea, Dusty Casks, Wax, Orange-Flavored Chocolate, Straw, Tobacco Leaves, Cinnamon and Nutmeg.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Butterscotch, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Sweet Apple, Marzipan or Turkish Sweets, Dusty Track, Green Plants and/or Vegetables, Floral Soap, Leather, Curry, Pepper and Cardamom. A hint of Snickers candy bars.


Palate:

Again a little on the Thin side. It basically follows the Nose but the Sweet and Sour notes are now accompanied by an increasing and slightly Harsh Bitterness. It tastes a little Dirty and I could imagine the middle cut to be run a bit shorter. Again, Dried Dark Fruit, Nuts and Spices lead the way.

Main Flavours:

Malted and Toasted Barley, Caramel, Brown Sugar, Dark (Dried) Fruit like Prunes, Plums, Sultanas and Dates, Orange-Flavored Dark Chocolate, slightly Sour Cherries and Red Grapes, Chestnuts and Walnuts, Herbal Tea, Dusty Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger, Menthol and Licorice.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Toffee, Butterscotch, Sweet Apple, Tobacco Leaves, Leather, Espresso, Wax, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Soy Sauce and Ashes.

Finish:

Middle-Long. A mix of Sweet and Sour notes with increasing Bitterness towards the rather Dry end. The Finish is quite Spicy and even a bit Hot. I find Malted/Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Toffee, Brown Sugar, Dried Fruit like Dates and Sultanas, slightly Sour Cherries and Red Grapes, Orange-Flavored Bitter Chocolate, Bitter Espresso, Herbal Tea, Tobacco Leaves, Chestnuts and Walnuts, Wood Polish, Dusty Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger, Cardamom, Ash, Licorice and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water further develops the Dried Dark Forest Fruits on the Nose. I do not detect any other additional value so I personnally prefer it neat.

Rating: 84

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

Drinking Experience Neat:

Okay/Good. Not really my type of Whisky. 

Conclusion:

The Glenallachie Distillery is quite new and was founded only in 1967. It is located on a hill above Aberlour, close to Ben Rinnes. It closed from 1987 to 1989 when it was purchased by Pernod Ricard who in turn sold it to The Glenallachie Distillers Company in 2017. Most of the Spirit disappeared in Blends like Clan Campbell, House of Lords, White Heather & Chivas Regal until 2018. At that time a core range was launched by the new owners including the 10 Years CS, the 15, the 18 and the 25. The 15 Years was actually added to the core range in September 2019.

The 15 Years is a marriage of various casks. Some 100% Sherry Matured, Some 100% Sherry Matured although re-racked into new PX & Oloroso Hogsheads and Puncheons and finally some 2nd Fill Bourbon casks also re-racked in PX & Oloroso casks. All spirit that was re-racked matured in the new casks for anything between 18 months and two years.

I suppose that Sherry-Bomb lovers might find this Glenallachie to be an affordable alternative. But I can't say I really like this Whisky. Because there is a sort of Dirty and Bitter over-sherried almost artificial feel to this Glenallachie. Not the good dirty quality of say Springbank or Ledaig mind you. Because that's an asset. In this case it's a liability. I'm not saying this is a bad Single Malt but it's not my kinda Whisky. Happy I only bought a sample!    

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                          June 30, 2021