Logan Heritage Review

“Never Judge a Whisky By the Cover”

Country: Scotland
Brand: Logan Heritage
Bottled by: White Horse Distillers, Edinburgh (Diageo)
Type: Blended Whisky
Age: NAS (Said To Be Around 8 Years)
ABV: 40% 
Chill-Filtration: Yes 
Whisky Review # 590
Buying Advice: 😐  Neutral. Not Good enough to sip neat. Okay over Ice. 

Colour: Light Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Young, Light and mainly Sweet. The Alcohol is quite noticeable and so are the Refill Ex-Bourbon casks. The dark colour of this Blend suggests a decent portion of Caramel colouring. I also detect a very faint Peat Smoke but it's clear that the Lagavulin part in this Blend is very limited. In addition, I find Toasted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Caramel, light Vanilla, light Heather-Honey, Salted Nuts, Dried Fruits, Cooked Vegetables, Green Apple and hints of Ginger, Cinnamon and Leather. There are no real off-notes but the Grain Alcohol tends to dominate the relatively weak Malt Aromas.     
Palate: Young, Light and quite Sweet. The delivery is on the Thin side. I find Toasted Cereals, Caramel, Sugar, light Vanilla, Grain Alcohol, very Light Smoke, Refill Wood, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Licorice, Green Apples and Light Honey. On the Palate it's clear that the Heritage Blend does not have the same quality as the discontinued Logan 12 Years that I reviewed earlier.

Finish: Short and Sweet with Toasted Cereals, Refill Wood, Grain Alcohol, Sugar, Licorice, Nut Shells, Pepper, Ginger and slightly Sour Green Apples. A whiff of Smoke. Medium-Dry towards the end. 

I added a little Water and on the Nose some Floral Soap Aromas develop. Palate and Finish become too Thin. 

Rating: 78  

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

General Remarks:

The Logan Blend was first introduced in 1903 and was named after James Logan, a one time Scotch Whisky blender. The Logan Heritage was launched in 2014 in Portugal by Master Blender Caroline Martin to celebrate the 111th Birthday of the Brand Name. At the same time it replaced the Logan 12 Years Old Blend. Logan is said to use 24 Grain- and Malt Whiskies for this Blend including Lagavulin (Islay) and Glen Elgin and Craigellachie (Speyside). The Heritage Blend is not very expensive and usually sells in the 20-30 US Dollar range (January 2017).

Drinking Experience Neat: Below Average

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Okay

Conclusion: It's a real pity that Diageo discontinued the Logan 12 Years as it was a simple but quite enjoyable, highly drinkable and sufficiently matured Blend at a reasonable price. That's why it had to go of course. It has now been replaced by the Heritage, a NAS Blend that can't stand in the shadow of its former big brother. Despite the Classy, though Old-Fashioned presentation and bottle, the Heritage is in fact a relatively cheap Bottom Shelf Blend. There is nothing interesting going on and it's not suited to sip neat. Over Ice this Blend is okay though nothing special. The 12 Years will be sorely missed!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 January 19, 2017

Glen Elgin

Yamazakura 16 Years Review

“Withered Blossom”

Country: Japan
Brand: Yamazakura
Type: Blended Whisky
Age: 16 Years
ABV: 40% 
Chill-Filtration: Yes 
Whisky Review # 589
Buying Advice:😞  Negative. Too expensive. Good alternatives available! 

Colour: Light Golden (Artificially Coloured) 

Nose: It almost smells like a mixture of Scotch and Bourbon. Both the Corn and the Malt are recognisable. The Alcohol is present as well and so is a whiff of Varnish at the start of the Nosing experience. It is advisable to give this Blend sufficient time in the glass. On the Nose, the Yamazakura is mainly Sweet with some Floral - and Fruity notes. I find Toasted Cereals, slightly Burnt Toast, Vanilla, Caramel, Butterscotch, Honey, Sugar, Green Wood, Resin, Plum Jam, Banana Ice Cream, Sweet Apples, Christmas Cake, Salted Nuts, Cinnamon, Lemon-Pepper, Clove, light Ginger, light Nutmeg and hints of Marzipan and Pineapple. On the Nose, the Yamakazura is somewhat similar to the Hibiki 17 Years I reviewed earlier. The Hibiki presents more balance though.      
Palate: Light and Thin Delivery. Bitter-Sweet with some Sour notes towards the end. The Alcohol is not well-integrated. I find Toasted Cereals, Vanilla, Honey, Coconut, Banana, Orange, slightly Sour Cherries, Plum Jam, Lemon-Pepper, Clove, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Licorice, Oak and Cocoa Powder. 

Finish: Short and Sweet with a light Spicy/Alcohol kick. Quite Dry and slightly Bitter with some Sour Cherries in the end. I also find Toasted Cereals, Vanilla, Varnished Oak, Plum Jam, Orange Flavoured Chocolate, Red Apples, Lemon Juice, Banana, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon and light Licorice. 

I added a little Water and on the Nose the Yamazakura becomes quite Floral, almost like a light Floral Perfume. Some extra Malt and Butterscotch as well. Palate and Finish become too Thin. This Blend would benefit from a slightly higher ABV.

Rating: 81.5 

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

General Remarks: The Sasanokawa Shuzo company, based in Koriyama, Japan produces Spirits since 1765. Initially mainly Sake and Shochu but, since 1946, also Whisky. The Yamazakura (Mountain Cherry Trees) 16 Years is a limited edition and only 1992 bottles were made available to the European market. The Yamazakura Blend consists of 80% Corn and 20% Malted Barley. It matured in Ex-Bourbon barrels for 16 years, was blended in steel tanks before returning to Ex-Bourbon casks for a few months. There are some bottles available on the Internet at an average price of 150 US Dollars (January 2017).

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay 

Conclusion: I had expected more to be honest. The presentation and packaging are excellent and the name Yamazakura suggests a gentle, Floral character. In fact, this Blend is dominated by the Grain Alcohol that gives this Whisky a slightly Harsh profile without a lot of balance. You do get some slightly Sour Cherries though! The Nose is the best part and there are some nice Aromas to be discovered. You need to find your way around the Alcohol and Varnish though. Make sure you give this Blend lots of time in the glass to open up. The Palate and Finish are quite Thin and Short respectively. This Whisky would have benefited from a higher ABV. As it stands, the Price/Quality ratio of the Yamazakura 16 Years is inadequate. If you're looking for a nice Japanese Blend, go for the Hibiki 12 Years instead.  

Jan van den Ende                                                                 January 16, 2017

Sasanokawa Shuzo Distillery

BenRiach 15 PX Finish Review

“Whisky Sour”

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: BenRiach Pedro Ximenez Finish
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years
ABV: 46% 
Chill-Filtration: No
Whisky Review # 588
Buying Advice: 😐  Neutral. It's not a bad Sherried Speysider but there is fierce competition in this specific segment. Aberlour, Glenfarclas and the Highland Malt Glendronach come to mind.  

Colour: Dark Copper (Natural Colour)

Nose: Full and Sweet with a couple of Sour notes as well. The 1 Year PX Cask Finish clearly left its mark. Judging by the colour and the Aromas these casks must have been saturated with Sherry and/or Paxarette (Sherry Syrup). I do not identify any significant presence of Sulphur. I find Sweet Barley, Christmas Cake topped with Maraschino Cherries, Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Caramel, Honey, Butterscotch, a mix of Dried Fruits and Nuts containing Raisins, Sultanas, Plums, Prunes, Figs, Dates, Apple and Walnuts, Marzipan, Bourbon, Red Grapes, Charred Oak, Dusty Shelf, Straw, light Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove, a pinch of Salt and hints of Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Herbal Tea and Tinned Pineapple in Syrup. It's not bad but a little on the Heavy side. The distillery character is practically "Gone with the (Sherry) Wind". Okay After-Dinner Alternative for Brandy or Port Wine. Unfortunately the Alcohol is not fully integrated.
Palate: The delivery is a little Thin despite the good ABV. The Alcohol is noticeable. On the Palate, this BenRiach is Bitter-Sweet, Medium Dry and Spicy with some Sour notes as well. I find Sweet Barley, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, a mix of Dried Fruit, Walnuts, Honey, Charred Oak, Dried Herbs, Orange Peel, Espresso, Strong Black Tea, Mulled Wine, Bourbon, Grapefruit Juice, Honey, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove, Menthol, Licorice, Dried Herbs and Dark Chocolate.       

Finish: Middle-Long, Medium-Dry, Spicy and Bitter-Sweet. Some Sour notes as well. I find Sweet Barley, Toffee, Caramel, Dried Fruit, Walnuts, Dark Chocolate, Orange Peel, Maraschino Cherries, Mulled Wine, Bourbon, Pepper, Clove, Ginger, Menthol, Licorice, Dried Herbs, Grapefruit Juice, Charred Oak and hints of Espresso and Strong Black Tea.

PX Sherry Cask (Credit: Nosh Online)

I added a little Water and on the Nose Sour Cream and Floral Soap develop. Some Citrus as well. Quite different! On the Palate you get some extra Citrus, Vanilla and Red Berries. A bit too much Licorice and some Wallpaper Paste in the Finish. Still, you can certainly experiment with a little water here.   

Rating: 84

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

General Remarks:

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 2016. The core range includes the NAS Heart of Speyside, the 10, 16, 20, 25 and 35 years. On a regular basis, the distillery also experiments with peated whiskies and various types of Finishing.

The 15 Years PX Finish was launched by the end of 2006 as part of the Wood Finish Series. It matured for 14 years in Refill Ex-Bourbon casks and for 1 year in Refill Ex-PX Sherry butts, procured in Jerez de la Frontera in Southern Spain. The sample I'm tasting today was bottled around 2014. In the meantime this 15 Year PX has been replaced with the 17 Year PX. Therefore it won't be that easy to find the 15 PX. It's still out there on the Internet though with prices in the 60-70 US Dollar range. Depending on where you live additional taxes will increase the final consumer price (January 2017). 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: The BenRiach 15 Years PX Finish is not a bad Single Malt. It might serve well as the occasional After-Dinner Whisky. Personally I find it a bit too heavy to consider drinking it on a more regular basis. I don't think it's a very well-balanced Whisky. It feels like the Sherry was forcefully imposed on the Ex-Bourbon matured Spirit. I'm also not that fond of the Sour notes as they are a bit strong. And, finally, it's a pity that the Alcohol is not fully integrated. The Price/Quality ratio is not too bad but I've had better Sherried Speysiders during the years.

Jan van den Ende                                                                 January 12, 2017

Wemyss Malts Fruit and Nut Fudge 1989 Review


Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands
Brand: Wemyss Malts Fruit and Nut Fudge 1989
Specially Selected By: Wemyss Vintage Malt Ltd. 
Procured from: Cigars and Spirits
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky
Age: 19/20 Years
ABV: 46% 
Chill-Filtration: No
Whisky Review # 587
Buying Advice: 😞  Negative. Very plain for a mature Single Malt.

Colour: Golden Sunlight (Natural Colour)

Nose: My first impression is that there's not too much going on here. I would have expected much more depth and complexity given the age of this Malt.  The Alcohol is certainly noticeable and I also get something that reminds me of Varnish. This Malt certainly needs some time in the glass to open up. After some time I find Toasted Cereals, Butter Biscuits, light Floral tones, Dried Herbs, Oak, light Heather, light Lemon, light Caramel, light Resin, Refined Sugar and Bread Dough. No idea why this is called Fruit and Nut Fudge. With some imagination I think I get some slightly bitter Almonds and perhaps a tiny bit of Dried Apricot. But that's all. After half an hour or so I get some Vanilla and Cinnamon from the cask as well as some unripe Nectarine. I'm quite disappointed with this Malt. It actually smells more like an indifferent Blended Whisky than a mature Single Cask malt.

Palate: Better - and a little more interesting than expected after the boring Nose. It's slightly Creamy, Bitter-Sweet, Herbal, Spicy and Hot. Dry towards the end. The Alcohol is not fully integrated. I find Toasted Cereals, Toast, Charred Oak, Brown Sugar, light Vanilla, Toffee, light Citrus, Nectarine, Nut Shells, Dried Herbs, Herbal Tea, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Menthol and a hint of Dairy or perhaps White Chocolate.  

Finish: Middle-Long, slightly Creamy, Hot, Herbal and Spicy. Sweet at first but Dry and a little Bitter towards the end. I find Toasted Cereals, Toasted Oak, Toffee, light Vanilla, Nut Shells, Dried Herbs, Herbal Tea, Nectarine, Dusty Road, Varnish, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger and Menthol.

I added a little Water and the Alcohol and Varnish retreat on the Nose. Some faint Floral and Fruity notes appear. On the Palate and in the Finish the Malt becomes less Hot & Spicy but also quite Thin. A bit of extra Mint-Toffee perhaps. I suggest you carefully add a few drops at a time to find the ABV level that best suits you. 

Rating: 78.5

Nose: 18.5 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 19.5

General Remarks:

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.

The Wemyss Malts Fruit and Nuts Fudge 1989 matured in Ex-Bourbon casks and was bottled in 2009/2010. The spirit was distilled in 1989 at the Aberfeldy distillery, located in Aberfeldy (Pertshire) in the Southern Highlands. It won't be easy to find at this moment but I saw it on the Internet at around 75 US Dollars (January 2017). Aberfeldy is owned by John Dewar & Sons Ltd, part of the Bacardi Group. Most of the output is used in Dewar's White Label and the 12Y -, 18Y - and Signature Blends. The core Single Malt range consists since 2014 of the 12, 16 and 21 Years old as well as an 18 Years old exclusively for the Travel Retail Shops.  

Drinking Experience Neat: Below Average.

Conclusion: I was very curious as I only tasted one other Aberfeldy before. (Aberfeldy 1994 Old Malt Cask). Unfortunately I was very disappointed with this Wemyss Expression. The Nose of this Aberfeldy is very plain and to be honest resembles more an average Blended Scotch. On the Palate and in the Finish it's better but never really convinces. Too much Spices, Herbs, Menthol and Alcohol and too little Fruit and Nut Fudge. I really can't understand why it's called this way! It will be very difficult to find this expression nowadays but I would advise against buying a full bottle anyway if you should find it. Better try out a sample first like I did. If they are still around that is. I procured mine via Cigars & Spirits.

Jan van den Ende                                                                   January 9, 2017

Aberfeldy Distillery

"Nuts" was the famous negative response of the American General Anthony McAuliffe in Bastoge (Belgium) in December 1944 when the Germans suggested him to surrender the surrounded city during the Battle of the Bulge.

Auchentoshan 1990 (Archives) Review

“Strange Bird”

Country: Scotland
Region: Lowlands
Brand: Auchentoshan 1990 (Whiskybase Archives Series)
Bottling Series: The Indian Ducks and Their Allies
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky
Age: 23 Years
ABV: 47.7% 
Chill-Filtration: No
Whisky Review # 586
Buying Advice: 😕  Negative. Too Weird, Too Bitter and Too Expensive.

Colour: Pale Straw/White Wine (Natural Colour)

Nose: I wouldn't give this Malt 23 years. The slightly Dusty Wood is there but it certainly does not dominate the Nose of this Auchentoshan. As usual, the triple distillation gives the Spirit a Soft - and Light Aroma profile. It's Malty, Bitter-Sweet and Mineral with Sweet Malted Barley, Cake with a dollop of Cream, Wet Stone, Grass and Straw, light Heather-Honey, Dirt Road, Salted Nuts, light White Orchard Fruit, light Vanilla, light Citrus, light Pepper, light Cinnamon, light Licorice and a light off-note that reminds me of an Insect Repellent that my late mother used to apply to me when I was a kid. I can't remember the brand I'm afraid. It's a bit of a weird mix of Aromas. It's not bad but I can't say I really like it. The Alcohol is still quite present which comes as a surprise at this age.    

Palate: The Oak and Wood Spices are much clearer now. On the Palate, this Auchentoshan is Bitter-Sweet, Herbal and Mineral. There are almost no Fruity notes around. A bit of Citrus, Pear and Green Apple. I find Malted - and Toasted Cereals, light Vanilla, light Heather-Honey, Grass and Straw, Dirty Road, Dried Herbs, Pepper, Salty Licorice, Menthol, Aniseed, Grapefruit-Juice and Dried Coconut. It's not a boring Single Malt but it's kinda strange and too bitter for my taste. The lack of Fruit is remarkable.

Finish: Bitter-Sweet and Herbal with a Metallic off-note right at the end. It's not overly long and that's an advantage in this case. I find Toasted Cereals, Charred Oak, Dried Herbs, School Milk, light Citrus, light Vanilla, Salty Licorice, Pepper, Menthol, light Heather-Honey, Oak and a hint of Coffee. Where are the Fruity notes? A touch of Green Apple perhaps. The Bitterness remains in your throat for a quite a while. Not really pleasant.  

I only had a small sample of this Auchentoshan at my disposal so I only tasted this Malt neat.

Rating: 81

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 19.5 - Overall: 20

General Remarks:

The Auchentoshan distillery was founded in 1823 and is located in Dalmuir, close to Glasgow. It exchanged hands a couple of times before being bought by Morrison (Bowmore) in 1984. Morrison of course was bought by Suntory from Japan in 1994. From then on the distillery has become very popular again. It's one of the few remaining Lowland distilleries and it's the only Scottish one that maintains triple distillation.

The Auchentoshan I'm tasting today was distilled on the 11th of November 1990. It matured for 23 Years in a Hogshead with Cask # 6850 and was bottled at Cask Strength in September 2014. It's a joint bottling by Whiskybase and the German Independent bottler Whiskyfassle. Each company brought 71 bottles to the market place. It will be very hard to find nowadays but I've seen a bottle on the Internet that was priced at around 150 US Dollars (January 2017).

Drinking Experience Neat: Strange

Conclusion: This Auchentoshan is anything but boring. I must admit it's the first time I have tasted a Whisky that leaves me confused. There's a lot to discover if you take your time but I don't always like what I find. Or don't find for that matter. Because this Single Malt almost completely lacks Fruity notes, especially on the Palate and in the Finish. And that Fruit is needed to give this Single Malt Balance. I also don't like the Metallic Off-Note and the Insect Repellent on the Nose is kinda unique as well. But the one thing that bothers me most of all is the Bitterness on the Palate and in the Finish. Too much for me! If you can find a sample you should give it a try for sure. But I wouldn't spend 150 US Dollars or so on a full bottle. Strange Bird that Indian Duck! 

Jan van den Ende                                                                   January 6, 2017

The Fellowship Malt Review

“The End Justifies the Means”

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: The Fellowship Malt
Bottled By: Gordon & MacPhail, Elgin. 
Bottled For: The Rotary Club of Elgin c/o The Mansion House Hotel, Elgin.
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 10 Years
ABV: 40% 
Chill-Filtration: Yes 
Whisky Review # 585
Buying Advice: 😔  It's a good cause and the Price/Quality ratio is okay. Don't expect miracles though!

Colour: Light Golden Hay (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Light and Malty. I'm pretty sure the Spirit matured in Refill Ex-Bourbon casks. The Alcohol is not fully integrated. I find Malt Biscuits, Buttered Toast, Toffee, light Vanilla, light Heather-Honey, Grass and Straw, light Refill Wood, Nut Shells, light Dirty Earth, light Orange Peel and hints of Coconut and Milk Chocolate. Some light Floral - and Fruity notes (Apple/Apricot) as well. On the Nose, the Fellowship Malt is not really bad but quite light and slightly boring.

Palate: Light, slightly Watery delivery. Quite Spicy as well which comes as a bit of a surprise after the soft Nose. I find Sugared Cereals, Malted Barley, Toffee, light Vanilla, Caramel, light Heather-Honey, Apple, Pear, light Refill Wood, Alcohol, Lemon, Pepper, Cinnamon, light Nutmeg, Ginger, Aniseed and Licorice.

Finish: Short, mostly Sweet and Medium Dry with a slight Alcohol/Pepper bite at the end. I find Malted Cereals, Sugared Nuts, Caramel, Toast, light Heather-Honey, Dirty Earth, Citrus Peel, Pepper, Aniseed, light Ginger, light Cinnamon, Licorice, light Menthol, light Refill Wood and some Cocoa Powder. 

I added a little Water and on the Nose you get a bit more Fruit (Pear, Pineapple) and some Ginger cookies. Palate and Finish become too Thin. Better sip this Malt neat.

Rating: 81

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

General Remarks: Since 2009, the Rotary Club of Elgin, Scotland has been promoting the sale of a 10 Years old Speyside Single Malt. The actual bottling, sales and distribution were outsourced to local Independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail. All commissions went directly to the Rotary Foundation to support an ongoing campaign against polio. In the meantime these commissions have covered the costs of well over 500.000 inoculations against this disease. The official sales prices is around 35 US Dollars although you might find it cheaper sometimes in British supermarkets. (January 2017). To be honest I have no idea where this Mystery Malt was distilled. When tasting, distilleries like Glenlivet, Glen Moray, BenRiach and Cardhu came to my mind. If you have additional info on this, please leave a comment!

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay.

Conclusion: One can only applaud the initiative of the Rotary Club of Elgin. The fight against polio is indeed important. I also understand the need to offer a Malt at a reasonable price to stimulate sales. In today's expensive Whisky world you can't expect a superb Malt at 35 US Dollars. As a result, the Fellowship Malt is a light Speysider that matured in indifferent refill casks. It's not bad and the Price/Quality ratio is okay. But don't expect much depth and substance. But like I said in the heading of this post " The End Justifies the Means". Finally I would like to wish all the readers of Best Shot Whisky Reviews and their families a good and healthy 2017. Let's make the world a better place! Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                   January 4, 2017