Showing posts with label 21 Years. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 21 Years. Show all posts

Blair Athol 1990 (Douglas Laing) Review


“Bell (‘s) Bottom Blues”

Whisky Review # 622

Country: Scotland
Region: South-Eastern Highlands
Brand: Blair Athol (Douglas Laing - Old Malt Cask Series)
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50%
Maturation: Refill Ex-Bourbon Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: Around US$ 100 (July 2017) 
Buying Advice: 😄 Positive. The best Blair Athol I have tasted so far.

Colour: Pale Gold/Chardonnay (Natural Colour)

Nose: Certainly not overwhelming but quite pleasant and well-matured. Malt, Fruit and Vanilla are the main drivers. The Oak and Alcohol are there but they remain nicely in the background. I find Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Fresh Pastry, Wax, Vanilla, Toffee, Heather-Honey, Salted Nuts, Grass, Dusty Straw, Banana, Orange, Lemon, Mandarin, Pear, Apple, Plums, Pineapple, Cherries, Fresh Herbs, Oak and light Spices like Cinnamon and Ginger.

Visit May 2014

Palate: Sweet, Creamy, Fruity and Spicy wit some Herbal - and Salty notes as well. I find Toasted Barley, Fresh Pastry, Fruit Cake, Honey, Syrup, Vanilla, Oak, Orange, Tangerine, Lemon, Banana, Chocolate, Salted Nuts, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Fresh Herbs, light Licorice, light Menthol and Herbal Tea.  

Finish: Middle-Long, Sweet, Creamy and Spicy with Bitter - and Herbal tones in the end. I find Toasted Cereals, Fresh Pastry, Honey, Vanilla, Banana, Orange, Lemon, Salted Nuts, Plums, Milk Chocolate, White Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Licorice, Herbal Tea, Oak and light Menthol.

Visit May 2014

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and on the Nose the Fruity - and Malty notes seem to develop even further. Palate and Finish become more Spicy and Herbal with developing Menthol and Licorice. You can certainly experiment with a few drops of Water in this case. I liked it both ways.  

Rating: 86.5      

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


General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery, the Bottlers and Today's Whisky:

The distillery was founded in Pitlochry (Pertshire) in 1798 by John Stewart and Robert Robertson, initially under the name Aldour. Only in 1825 did it receive its current name. It was mothballed in 1932 and bought by Arthur Bell & Sons, a family owned Blender. Production restarted in 1949 and from then on and until today Blair Athol became the heart of Bell's Blended Whisky. Eventually, the distillery, via take-overs, became part of Diageo. Only very few Single Malts are launched from time to time by Blair Athol so we mostly depend on independent bottlers in this respect.

Douglas Laing & Co is an independent Whisky bottler that was founded in 1948 by Fred Douglas Laing in Glasgow. Today they are mostly known for their Exceptional Single Casks series as well as the Remarkable Regional Malts Series that includes well-known blended Malt whiskies Timorous Beastie, Scallywag, Rock Oyster and Big Peat. In 1999, the company released the Old Malt Cask Series. Their current directors are Fred Hamilton Laing and his daughter Cara. In 2013, Hunter Laing & Co was founded by Stewart Laing, the other son of Fred. The assets of the old Douglas Laing & Co were split up between Fred Hamilton and Stewart. The Old Malt Cask Series went to Hunter Laing & Co.

The Blair Athol 1990 I am tasting today was distilled in August 1990 and was bottled in August 2011. Only 268 bottles were drawn from the cask but you can still find some on the Internet. 

🍷  The Spirit 

Blair Athol currently produces around 2 million litres of Alcohol using two pairs of pear-shaped Stills with Lyne arms that point downwards creating an aromatic Nutty and Malty type of Spirit. The Water is sourced from the Allt Dour Burn. 

🌲  The Wood:

The Spirit matured for 21 Years in an Ex-Bourbon Refill Hogshead with cask # 7561. This cask wasn't extremely active in my opinion but it did give sufficient Aromas and Flavours to the Spirit while maintaining some of the characteristics of the distillery. Good cask management. 
  
Visit May 2014

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. 

Conclusion:

This is the best Blair Athol I have tasted so far. It certainly holds it ground as a Single Malt in this case. Which proves, as so often, that good casks do produce good Whisky. The Blair Athol 1990 by Douglas Laing is not at all heavy but well-balanced, Fruity and Malty with enough Herbal and Spicy notes for balance. A nice Malt to sip on a sunny Summer Afternoon. I know that Bell's is a popular Blend but it kinda hurts to know that almost all Blair Athol Spirit is matured for a short time in indifferent Refill Ex-Bourbon casks to guarantee Malt supply for this Blend. Because Douglas Laing shows here that Blair Athol could be so much more when given the time and a good cask. I understand it from a commercial point of view but it's a pity nevertheless.

Jan van den Ende                                                                         July 6, 2017

Visit May  2014

Balvenie 21 PortWood Review


“Speyside’s Port Authority”

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: The Balvenie PortWood
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 21 Years
ABV: 43% 
Chill Filtration: Yes 
Whisky Review # 614
Buying Advice: 😐 Neutral. Nice Malt for Port lovers. Negative Price Vs. Quality Ratio. 

Colour: Old Gold/Brandy with a touch of Orange (Probably Coloured)

Nose: An interesting combination of Sweet, Sour, Dusty, Fruity, Floral and Oak tones. The Port Pipe Aromas are unmistakably present. At first I get a bit of the Cooked Vegetables Aromas I often find in the Jura Single Malts. They tend to disappear over time so it's very important to give this Portwood sufficient time in the glass before Nosing. After around 15 minutes I find Toasted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Toffee, Caramel, Wax, Honey, Brown Sugar, Bourbon, Stewed Orchard Fruit, Blackcurrants, Red Wine, Polished Leather Upholstery, Dirty Road, Nectarine, Tinned Pineapple- and Peach slices in Syrup, light Citrus, Cinnamon, Clove, light Menthol and Aniseed. Although noticeable, the Alcohol is still reasonably well-integrated. I also find a hint of Smoke from a very distant fire. There are more than sufficient traces of Aromas to be found if you take the time with this Single Malt. The main drivers however are Sweet Fruit, Buttery Cereals and Polished Leather, accompanied by Wood, Spice and slightly Sour Red Wine. It's not bad but it isn't entirely my style. 

Palate: The delivery is a little Thin. On the Palate and in the Finish the age of the Malt becomes clear as Oak and Wood Spice appear at the front. On the Palate, the Portwood is mainly Bitter Sweet but also with a few Sour Notes. I find Toasted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Caramel, Honey, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Dried Fruit like Apple, Apricot and Plums, Nectarine, Citrus, Dusty Road, Red Wine, Hazelnut, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Aniseed, Cocoa Powder and Tobacco.     

Finish: Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet with a few Sour notes as well. Dry in the end with Tannins and Oak. Unsweetened Cappuccino topped with Cinnamon and Cocoa Powder is my first image. After a little while I also find Toasted Cereals, light Honey, Orange-flavoured Dark Chocolate, Brown Sugar, Red Apples, Nuts, Red Wine, Sour Cherries, Nectarine, Pepper, Aniseed, Nutmeg and Tobacco.   

The Balvenie PortWood does not improve with added Water. Better sip it neat. 

Rating: 84.5        

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



General Remarks: 

The Balvenie distillery was founded in 1892 by William Grant in Dufftown, Keith, Banffshire. Production started in 1893. It's still in the hands of William Grant & Sons. Today it's one the 10 most sold Single Malts worldwide.

A vintage Portwood was released for the first time in 1996. Today the 21 Years Portwood is part of the core range of the distillery. There are two expressions around at the moment. The standard one I'm tasting today and a Travel Retail expression that is bottled at 47.6% and without Chill-Filtration. The Portwood matures for over 20 Years in Ex-Bourbon casks before being finished for a number of months in 30 Year Old Port Pipes. The Price varies a lot from place to place but is usually in the 150/200 US Dollar range (April 2017). That's quite expensive but a 21 Year old Whisky can't be cheap of course. 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good 

Conclusion: The Balvenie is one of those distilleries that produces whole ranges of pleasant, enjoyable Single Malts that are quite mainstream. It's difficult not to like them. On the other hand they all miss the "WOW" factor in my opinion. And that means that the Price/Quality ratio becomes rather important when you are going to buy a Balvenie Single Malt. I kinda liked this Portwood for example but no way I would spend over 150 US Dollars for this Single Malt. It's not special enough for that kind of money. And the same goes for most of Balvenie's special expressions. That's why I always come back to the 12 Years Double Wood as one of my to-go-to drams. Pleasant Single Malt with an excellent Price/Quality Ratio. If you adore Port Finished Single Malts however and you have the cash, this Portwood is certainly not a bad choice. 

Jan van den Ende                                                                      April 27, 2017


Bruichladdich 1991 (WM Cadenhead) Review


“Licorice Laddy”

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bruichladdich 1991
Bottled By: WM Cadenhead (Authentic Collection) 
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky
Age: 21 Years
ABV: 52.1% 
Chill-Filtration: No 
Whisky Review # 596
Buying Advice: 😐 Neutral. Good Price/Quality Ratio. Interesting but not exactly my type of Malt. 

Colour: Pale White Wine  (Natural Colour)

Nose: Very Light and Crisp for a Single Malt of this Age. Both the Colour and the Nose suggest a rather inactive cask. I pick up a little Varnish right at the start so it's important to give this Bruichladdich sufficient air contact. The Alcohol is quite strong at first and you need to find your way around it when nosing this Malt. On the Nose, this Malt is Floral, Fruity and Mineral with only the faintest note of Smoke. Quite a bit of Salt though. Other than that I find Malted Cereals, Toast, German Butter Biscuits, Grass, Wet Stone, Lemon, Pear, Vanilla, Nougat, Fresh Mint, Oak and hints of Canned Pineapple and Tobacco. A very Fresh and Medium-Creamy Bruichladdich without too much Depth and Complexity. 

Palate: Bitter-Sweet, Medium-Fruity, Malty and quite Mineral with Sweet Barley, Caramel, Vanilla, Apple, Pear, light Honey, Nougat, Lemon, Grapefruit, light Licorice, light Pepper, Salt, Mint, Oak, Herbal Tea and a very faint Smoky note.

Finish: Quite Long and Creamy. Too much Licorice as far as I'm concerned. I also find Malted Cereals, Barley Sugar, Grass, Mineral and Herbal notes, light Menthol, Pepper, Salt, Oak, Lemon, Grapefruit, Peach and light Nougat. Quite Dry in the end. This is my least favourite part of this Malt.

Due to the fact that I merely had a small sample at my disposal, I only tasted this Bruichladdich neat.

Rating: 84.5

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


General Remarks:

Bruichladdich was founded in 1881 by Barnett Harvey. During its history it was mothballed various times, the last time in 1998. In 2012 the distillery was bought by Remy Cointreau. Since, Bruichladdich is showing a healthy growth again. The distillery produces three types of Single Malt, i.e. the unpeated Bruichladdich, the heavily peated Port Charlotte and the peat monster Octomore. The Bruichladdich I'm reviewing today was distilled in 1991 and matured for 21 Years in an Ex-Bourbon Hogshead before it was bottled at Cask Strength in October 2013 by WM Cadenhead, the oldest Independent Bottler in Scotland that was founded in 1842 by William Cadenhead. Only 276 bottles went to the market and some bottles are still available at prices that are mostly in the US 90/130 range (February 2017). Not that expensive for a quality Single Malt of this age!  

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. A bit too much Licorice in the Finish for my taste!

Conclusion: This is an interesting Bruichladdich. It is similar to the 22 Years I reviewed earlier but it's not quite as good due to some details that might have been caused partly by the indifferent cask. In my opinion, this Cadenhead expression is not as complex, less Fruity and less Well-Balanced. The Licorice in the Finish is a bit too much for me. It's just not my kind of Whisky. Having said that I found the Nosing and Tasting experience quite interesting as I kept discovering new Aromas and Flavours all the time. They might not form a very coherent combo but they are there nevertheless. To sum it up, I liked the Tasting Experience but I wouldn't buy a full bottle. If you like the Aroma- and Flavour profile I have described however you could give it a try as it's reasonably priced for a 21 year old.

Jan van den Ende                                                               February 21, 2017

Glen Moray 1991 Master of Malt Review


Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glen Moray 1991 (Master of Malt)
Type: Single Cask Single Malt Whisky
Age: 21 Years
ABV: 60.7%

Colour: Pale Gold

Nose: Given the Age and the ABV it is obvious that Oak and Alcohol are quite present. The Spirit is also Creamy and Malty. I find Floral Tones, Orchard Fruit, Nectarine, Tangerine, Grapefruit Juice, Butter, Barley Sugar, Raisins, Custard, Toffee, Wood Spice, Bourbon, Wax and hints of Menthol, Apple Vinegar and Varnish. 

The Malt Bins at Glen Moray

Taste: Fiery and Mouthwatering as was to be expected with Oak, Nuts, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cardamom, Citrus, Pear, Peanut Butter, Stewed Apples, Malt, Toffee, Butter and Menthol.  

The Mash Tun at Glen Moray

Finish: Solid Finish with Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Walnuts, Malt, Menthol, Lemon and Poached Pears. Quite Dry in the end.

Wash Back #4 at Glen Moray

I added a bit of Water and that tames the Alcohol of course. Dried Apricot, Malt and Butter now dominate the Nose. The Floral Tones are enhanced as well. The 
Palate and Finish do not change a lot but it's just easier to drink the Spirit this way. Still, this Glen Moray shows its real character only when you drink it neat.

Rating: 85.5  

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

These Casks Had Just Been Delivered

General Remarks: The Glen Moray 1991 Master of Malt was distilled on the 2nd of July 1991 and matured in a Refill Hogshead with Cask # 5661. A total of 260 bottles were filled in April 2013. This Single Malt was bottled at Cask Strength, is Uncoloured and Non Chill-Filtered. It is priced at around 130 US Dollars.

Some of the Stills at Glen Moray

Drinking Experience Neat: Good 

Conclusion: Let me start by saying that the Glen Moray 1991 is a good Single Malt. As it should be at this price level although it's not too expensive when you consider its age. I like the Nose neat although you have to wind your way through the waves of strong Alcohol. But I must also say that I had expected more complexity and diversity after 21 long years in the Cask. Given the high ABV I would assume that most people would want to add a little Water. But once you do that, there's not too much to discover any more. Apricot, Malt and Butter on the Nose and Oak, Spices, Citrus and Menthol on the Palate and in the Finish. Not all that much for a 21 old Single Malt that will set you back around 130 US Dollars. So while I enjoyed Nosing and Tasting the sample, I would not consider buying a full bottle of this Glen Moray.

Another Pair of Stills

Some Data: The name Glen Moray means "The Glen of the Sea Settlement".  It's located at Bruceland Road in Elgin (Morayshire). The Distillery that was founded in 1897 is currently expanding and at the end of this year will possess 1 Mash Tun, 21 stainless Steel Wash Backs and 6 pairs of Stills. With all this equipment Glen Moray will be able to produce 6,5 million litres annually. Since 2008 the distillery belongs to the French Group La Martiniquaise. No wonder that France is currently one of Glen Moray's main markets. In the past, Glen Moray spirit was mainly used in Blends like Label 5 but under the new owners efforts are made to present Glen Moray as a Single Malt as well. The new visitor centre,  gift shop, coffee shop and tasting area were opened in 2004.

We visited Glen Moray in May 2014

The water for the distillery is sourced from a well by the River Lossie. Glen Moray is open to the public All Year except with Christmas and New Year. The opening hours are from Monday to Friday (9.00 to 17.00) and from May to September also on Saturdays from 10.00 to 16.30. The Standard Tour costs 3 Pounds. An in-depth Connoisseurs Tour called "Fifth Chapter" costs 15 pounds. Pre-Booking for the latter is necessary.

Some Promising Casks in the Warehouse

We visited Glen Moray on Wednesday, May 21 2014. The weather that day was cloudy with the occasional rain. We did the Standard Tour and really enjoyed it. Our guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. After the tour we enjoyed a very cheerful Tasting Session where we sampled the 8, 12 and 16 Years as well as a young peated expression. A tasteful Soup of the Day in the coffee shop closed up our pleasant visit to Glen Moray. I can certainly recommend a visit to this distillery. 

We Tasted Several Expressions After The Tour

And Had a Nice Soup of the Day in the Distillery Shop


Jan van den Ende                                                           January 13, 2015