Showing posts with label 15 Years. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 15 Years. Show all posts

Bowmore Darkest Review

“The Dark Side of the Malt”

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bowmore Darkest (Bottled Around 2014)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years
ABV: 43% 
Chill-Filtration: Yes
Whisky Review # 607
Buying Advice: 😐  Neutral. P/Q Ratio is okay. Too Much Sherry IMHO.

Colour: Very Dark Amber/Mahogany with a hint of Orange. This is indeed one of the darkest coloured whiskies I've ever seen or tasted. There was really no need to add Caramel in my opinion.  

Nose: The Sherry cask influence is obvious and I detect a little Sulphur. Nothing alarming though. Typical Bowmore Aromas like Smoke, Peat, Tar, Perfume, Wet Stone, Brine, Rubber and Iodine are noticeable but in a very subdued manner. They are being pushed back by Dried Fruit (Raisins, Sultanas, Plums and Dates), Berries, Caramel, Treacle, Vanilla, Toffee, Rum Soaked Fruitcake, Bourbon, Malt, Baked Apples, Light Citrus, Leather, Menthol and hints of Pepper, Cinnamon, Espresso and Bitter Chocolate. After a while I find a very faint BBQ Aroma. On the Nose, the Bowmore Darkest is a combination of a Sherried Speysider and a lightly peated Islay Malt. I'm sure this might confuse a few people. Personally I think that a slightly shorter Oloroso Finish (1,5 - 2 Years) and an ABV of 46% would have made this a better proposition. As it stands, it's okay on the Nose but rather unbalanced. 

Palate: The delivery is a bit on the Thin side. On the Palate as well, the typical Bowmore Aromas only play second fiddle. Light Smoke, light Wet Peat, Tar and Iodine are there but in the background. The main drivers are Barley, Caramel, Toffee, Treacle, Butterscotch, Dried Fruit like Plums, Sultanas and Apples, Nuts Berries, Leather, Grapefruit Juice and a few Herbs and Spices like Mint, Pepper, Clove and Cinnamon. Hints of Dark Chocolate and Tobacco.   

Finish: Middle-Long, quite Dry and basically Sweet. A light Bitterness pops up towards the end. Some Citric, Sour and Salty notes as well. Without a doubt it's my favourite part of this Single Malt. I find Sweet Barley, light Peat, Smoke, Iodine and Tar, Sulphur, Caramel, Toffee, Espresso, Blackberries (the Fruit), Oak, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove, Licorice, Mint, Lemon, Grapefruit, Mixed Nuts and Dried Fruit, Dark Chocolate, slightly Sour Apples and this distant hint of raw Meat just placed on the BBQ.     

The Bowmore Darkest does not improve with added Water. Better sip it neat. 

Rating: 84.5    

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

General Remarks:

The Bowmore Distillery was founded in 1779 by John Simpson. It's the oldest Islay distillery, located in Bowmore. Since 1994 it is completely owned by Morrison Bowmore Distilleries, part of the Japanese Suntory Group. It's one of the very few Scottish Distilleries with an active Malting Floor that provides around 30% of the Malt used by Bowmore. The 15 Years Darkest is part of Bowmore's core range for the domestic markets alongside the 12 Years, the 18 Years, the 25 Years and the NAS Small Batch Reserve. 

The Bowmore Darkest was launched in 1999, at first as a NAS expression. Later it was upgraded to a 15 Years Single Malt and this change significantly increased its popularity. It matures for 12 years in Ex-Bourbon casks before being finished for 3 years in Ex-Oloroso casks. The average price is around 65 US Dollars (April 2017).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: The Bowmore Darkest is a tough one to call. It's certainly not a bad Single Malt and the Price Quality ratio is good. But, and I've said it before, I believe that a Wine Finish of any kind should enhance the original qualities of the Spirit and not overwhelm them. And the latter unfortunately is the case here. It's coming across as a Sherried Speysider with an Islay Finish. A bit weird if you ask me. Therefore, my humble suggestion to Bowmore would be to cut the Ex-Oloroso Finish to something between 1,5 and 2 years, increase the ABV to 46% and get rid of the Caramel colouring. In this way you might probably create an interesting alternative for people that love Lagavulin 16 or peated BenRiach. At times like these I would have loved to have a career in the Whisky world. Back to reality and the Bowmore Darkest. As it stands it's a somewhat underwhelming hybrid between Speyside and Islay with a good Price/Quality ratio. So by all means give it a try when you have the chance!   

Jan van den Ende                                                                        April 3, 2017

Dailuaine 1997 Review

Country: Scotland 
Region: Highland - Speyside
Brand: Dailuaine 1997 (Van Wees - The Ultimate Series) 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age:  15 Years
ABV: 46 %
Date: 24/04/2014

Colour: Light Golden

Nose: Floral, Earthy, Fruity and Grassy. I find Grasses, Straw, Earth, Dirt, Dried Herbs, Oak, Toast, Citrus, Toffee, Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Cinnamon, Sweet Licorice, Peach, Apple, Banana and a hint of Salted Meat. Have no idea where that comes from! The Alcohol is still around and not fully integrated.  

Palate: Eau de Vie (Poire), Grass, Licorice, Earth, Dirt, Dried Herbs, Malt, light Pepper, light Ginger, Citrus, Vanilla and Nut Shells.

Finish: Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet with Oak, White Grapes, Almonds, Bitter Orange, Grass, light Pepper, light Cloves and light Licorice.  

I added a bit of Water and Malt and light Honey appear on the Nose. A bit of Marzipan on the Palate. You can certainly play with a bit of Water.

Rating: 83.5

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

General Remarks: The Dailuaine 1997 I'm tasting today was distilled on the 1st of May 1997 and was bottled by Independent Bottler Van Wees on the 11th of January 2013. It matured in Hogshead # 6017, is Uncoloured and Not Chill-Filtered. It is sold at around 55 US Dollars.

The Dailuaine Distillery (Green Valley in Gaelic) was built in 1852 and is part of the Diageo Group since 1998. It has an annual production capacity of around 3.4 million litres of Alcohol. Most of the production is used in the Johnnie Walker Blends. Occasionally, casks are sold to Indie Bottlers like van Wees, located in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: Not the best Dailuaine I've tasted so far. But a fair Price/Quality ratio. I would have liked to see more Fruity tones in this 1997 expression. The way it is, the slightly dusty Bourbon Cask is a bit too dominant on the Palate and in the Finish. I wouldn't say "No" if a dram of this Dailuaine was offered to me but I wouldn't buy a full bottle either. If you like Dusty Eau de Vie (Pear), you might want to give this Dailuaine a try.

Jan van den Ende                                                                  April 2014

Highland Park Loki Review

Country: Scotland 
Region: Highland-Island-Orkney
Brand: Highland Park Loki 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years
ABV:  48.7 % 
Date: 16/08/2013

Colour: Light Gold/Amber

Nose: Take your time with the Loki. Sour, Malty and Spicy at first with Green Apples, Balsamic Vinegar, Oat Porridge with a knob of Butter, Aniseed, Salt and Cardamom. A bit later some Oak, Menthol, Citrus Peel, Heather and Mineral tones. Only after 20 minutes or so I get some Fruit like Passion Fruit or Pineapple and hints of Sherry and Tobacco. I had expected much more in this department.

Palate: Quite different from the Nose. Fruity with Grapefruit, Lemon, Orange Peel and Pineapple. But I am also pleasantly surprised by a nice touch of Cigar Smoke. Additionally I get Spices like Nutmeg and Ginger, light Licorice, Nuts, Vanilla and slightly Sour Oak.

Finish: On the short side and a bit Thin but quite tasty with Sugar coated Lemon Peel, Milk Chocolate, Marzipan, Cinnamon, Cloves, light Pepper, Vanilla, Orange Marmalade and a tad of Smoke. Quite Dry eventually.

No need to add Water to the Loki despite the high ABV. The Alcohol is in Harmony with the rest of the flavours and aromas. 

Rating: 84.5

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

General Remarks: Highland Park, founded in 1798, is the most northerly distillery in Scotland and is located on the Orkney Isles, off the North-East coast of Scotland. Highland Park is one the very few remaining distilleries that malts (at least part of) the Barley on its own malting floor. The distillery uses local Orcadian Peat, that mostly consists of Heather and other Plants. Only a limited amount of the Malt is dried with Peat though. The Loki is the second expression in The Valhalla Collection, the first being Thor. Loki was the trickster God, a very treacherous character in the Nordic mythology who could change his shape and sex. Highland Park Loki mainly matured in traditional American and Spanish Oak casks but some heavily peated casks were used as well. The Loki is very expensive at 200 to 250 US Dollars, is bottled at Cask Strength and comes in a wooden frame inspired by a Viking long-ship. It's very difficult to get as the production was very limited and collectors were quick to grab their chances!

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: First of all I think it's great that Highland Park managed to match the whisky with the character of Loki. Because Nose and Palate of this Single Malt are two different stories. The Nose is quite disappointing really but on the palate the combination of Fruit and light Smoke works fine for me. The Finish is tasty but on the short side. The Loki is certainly different from the Standard Highland Park bottlings and I enjoyed tasting the sample. But no way I would spend 250 US Dollars on this Single Malt despite the nice packaging and presentation. Even Loki himself would not be able trick me into that! 

Jan van den Ende                                                             August 2013