Showing posts with label 23 Years. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 23 Years. Show all posts

Singleton of Dufftown 18 Years Review - Glenburgie 1999-2012 (Chester) Review - Linkwood 1984-2014 (Malts of Scotland) Review


“Speyside Special # 4”

Introduction:

Most of you know that I mainly use samples and miniatures when preparing my Reviews. At the request of many of my 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 a specific region like today or with specific bottlers, countries or distilleries. The reviews in these Specials will concentrate on the Whisky 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 random mature Speyside Single Malts. Enjoy!
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Whisky Review # 773

Country:Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Singleton of Dufftown
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 18 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Mostly Ex-Bourbon casks. A little Sherry Wood in the mix as well.
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 60-70 (November 2018)
Buying Advice: 😑 I don't feel anything when sipping this Malt. P/Q ratio okay.

Colour:

Golden Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Light, Sweet, Fruity, Malty and Syrupy. I get some European Sherry Wood in the mix. It's not bad but there's no excitement at all. It's more or less the same feeling I get when nosing Knockdhu Single Malts. A bit boring. I expect much more depth from an 18 year old Single Malt.

Main Aromas:

Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Plums and Raisins, Dark Red Berries, Fruit Candies, Bounty Candy Bars and Oak Char.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Brown Sugar, Butterscotch, Red Apples, Heather-Honey, Nuts, Wax, Orange, Lemon, Pineapple, Leather, Tobacco, Tea and Ginger.



Palate:

A little Watery as a result of the low ABV. Bitter-Sweet, Syrupy, Malty, Medium-Dry and again slightly boring.

Main Flavours:

Malted Toasted Barley, Caramel, Syrup, Toffee-Apples, Dark Berries, Dried Fruit like Apricots and Plums, Oak-Char, Orange, Menthol, Cinnamon and Cloves.       

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Nuts, Vegetables, Banana Bread, Pineapple, Pepper, Aniseed, Licorice and Herbal Tea.

Finish:

Short to Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet, Malty and Buttery. The Bitterness increases towards the Medium-Dry end. I find Malted Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Toast, Butter, Vanilla, Toffee-Apples, Mixed Dried Fruit and Nuts, Orange, Tea, Heather-Honey, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, light Menthol and Licorice. The Finish suffers even more from the low ABV.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Nose turns into Barley-Water and not too much else. On the Palate, the Fruit advances but as a whole the Malt becomes dangerously Thin. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 80.5

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

Drinking Experience:

Okay/Good. Boring.

Conclusion:

The Dufftown distillery was founded in 1895 and is part of Diageo. It produces a staggering 6 million litres per year. Around 97% of the production disappears in blends like Johnnie Walker, Bell's and Dewar's. Most of the rest is destined for the Single Malt basic core range that consists of the 12, 15 and 18 Years old. In recent years a number of NAS Malts like the Trinite, Liberte and Artisan were released.

The 18 Years was launched in 2006, originally for Travel Retail only. A few years later it was introduced to the rest of the world as well. I must admit I'm quite disappointed with this Dufftown. I usually like 15-18 year old Single Malts but in this case I can't connect to the Spirit. There's no surprise, no wow factor, no depth and no complexity. Just thin rivers of Malt matured in lack luster Wood. It is not really bad of course and the Price/Quality ratio is okay. But this Spirit does not warm my heart, nor my soul. A pity.


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Whisky Review # 774

Country:Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenburgie 1989
Bottled By: Chester Whisky & Liqueur in 2012
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky (Cask # Unknown) - 212 Bottles
Age: 23 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 54.8% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Bourbon Cask
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 110-120 (November 2018)
Buying Advice: 🎡 For curious adventurers. This isn't mainstream Speyside.

Colour:

Chardonnay/White Wine (Natural Colour)

Nose:

A combination of Bitter-Sweet and Sour Aromas. Fruity, Dry and Mineral. Quite Fresh when considering its age. Please give it enough time in the glass as it opens up a bit slowly. The Alcohol is quite noticeable.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Cereals, Vanilla, Yeast, Wax, Grass and Straw, Floral and Herbal notes, Nectarine, Apple, Plums, Fresh Lumber, Lemon, Cinnamon and Pepper.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Grapefruit, Red Berries, Pineapple, Wet Rocks and Sand, Dusty Track, Oak Char, Mint, Cloves, Peach-Flavoured Yogurt and White Wine.



Palate:

Bitter-Sweet, a little Hot and Sour. The Oak and Alcohol are more noticeable. Not as Fresh as the Nose. Lots of Wood spice. Quite Dry.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Cereals, Vanilla, Straw, Grass, Cooked Apples, Pears, Nectarine, Lemon, Oak Char, Pepper, Ginger, Cloves and Cardamom.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Strawberry-Flavoured Yogurt, Candied Fruits, Orange, Nuts, Papaya, Nutmeg, Herbs, White Wine and Coconut.

Finish:

Middle-Long with Bitter-Sweet and Sour notes. The Oak is more noticeable and so is the Alcohol. I find Toasted Cereals, Dough, Yeast, Wax, Wet Rocks/Sand, Vanilla, Cooked Apples and Pears, Strawberry, Papaya, Nectarine, Straw, Grass, Hazelnut, Lemon, Toasted Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Menthol, Licorice and Coconut. Quite Dry.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and that helps to calm down this Malt. The Nose becomes even more Fruity and the Wood and Wood spices are a little bit softer on the Palate. You can add a few drops to this Glenburgie although it takes away a bit of the Wild Heart of this Spirit.

Rating: 85

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

Drinking Experience:

Good.

Conclusion:

The Glenburgie distillery was founded as Kilnflat in 1810 by William Paul. It only became Glenburgie in 1878 and is located in Glenburgie, Forres (Morayshire). It exchanged hands a couple of times before being bought by Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard) in 2005. Glenburgie is one of the principal malts in Ballantine's. The only official distillery bottling is the 17 Years Cask Strength. For other expressions we have to look to Independent Bottlers.

The 1989 bottled by Chester that I'm reviewing today is certainly not the most accessible Speyside Malt I've tasted so far. You have to make an effort to get to the heart of this Glenburgie as the Wood and Wood spices are quite dominant on the Palate. The ABV is quite high as well. But if you're patient enough you will start to appreciate the slightly wild character of this Spirit. This is far from your average caramelised mainstream Malt. It might not be any one's immediate favourite but it's well worth exploring. The P/Q ratio is okay given the age.


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Whisky Review # 775

Country:Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Linkwood 1984
Bottled By: Malts of Scotland in 2014 - Bottles: 227
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky (Cask # MoS 14045)
Age: 30 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 52.1% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Bourbon Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 220-280 (November 2018)
Buying Advice: 😏 Nice Single Malt. I was expecting a bit more though given the age of this Linkwood and its price.

Colour:

Golden Straw (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Still relatively Fresh for a 30 Year old Malt despite the presence of Varnish and Oak. The Alcohol is noticeable as well so be sure to give it enough time in the glass before Nosing. On the Nose this Single Malt presents a combination of Fruity, Floral and Herbal notes. It's not really Sweet and Medium-Dry. Not very complex for a 30 Year old Speyside.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Grass and Straw, Stewed Orchard Fruit, Lemon, Orange, Pineapple, Charred Oak, Mint and Dusty Track.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Brown Sugar, Butterscotch, Bourbon, Heather-Honey, Berries, Herbal Tea, Nuts, Apricot-Flavoured Yogurt, Cooked Vegetables and Licorice.



Palate:

The Wood and Wood spices are quite present now. Still, I like the combination of Bitter-Sweet, Sour, Fruity, Floral and Herbal notes. The Alcohol is noticeable. Medium-Dry Palate.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Caramel, Pineapple, Papaya, Kiwi, Cherry, Green Apple, Seville Orange, Lemon, Grass & Straw, Charred Oak, Herbal Tea, Pepper, Ginger,  and Cinnamon.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Buttered Toast, Nuts, Cloves, Aniseed, Licorice and Espresso.

Finish:

Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. A few Sour notes as well. Increasing influence of Wood spices towards the Medium-Dry end. I find Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Grass & Straw, Heather-Honey, Charred Oak, Green Apple, Lemon, Grapefruit, Seville Orange, Bourbon, Cinnamon, Pepper, Ginger, Aniseed, Menthol and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and that helps calm down the Malt a little. It is certainly easier to drink it this way but you do miss quite a bit of intensity. The Fruit really develops on the Palate though. The Finish starts to resemble a puff of a Menthol Cigarette! I prefer it Neat but you can certainly experiment with a bit of Water.

Rating: 86

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

Drinking Experience:

Good.

Conclusion:

The Linkwood distillery is located in Elgin and was founded in 1821 by P. Brown. Their Spirit has always been an important part of many Blended Whiskies. The only official core bottling is the 12 Year old Flora & Fauna. There are many independent bottlings around like the one I am reviewing today. The average production amounts to around 4 million litres per year. Linkwood is owned by the Diageo Group.

This 30 Year old Linkwood is certainly a well-made Single Malt. Very consistent from Nose to Finish. Wood and Wood spices are quite present of course but that is only natural after 30 years in the cask. And it's really nice to enjoy a Whisky that has its own character and was not made to impress millions of people all around the world. Having said that I must admit that I was expecting a more complex Malt. Having tasted a few Linkwood Malts in the meantime I tend to think it's not a coincidence that the bulk of the Spirit of this distillery is used in Blended Scotch Whisky. Because it's solid but not exceptional. Even after thirty Years!

Jan van den Ende                                                             November 14 , 2018

Hammer Head 1989 Review


“Hammer and Sickle”

Country: Czechoslovakia
Brand: Hammer Head 1989
Type: Single Malt Whisky 
Age: 23 Years
ABV: 40.7% 

Colour: Golden

Nose: The Wood is quite present but I certainly would not have given this Hammer Head 23 Years in a Blind Tasting. The Nose is mostly Sweet but also slightly Sour at times. I find Dark Fruit like Plums or Berries, Citrus, Papaya, Malt, Buttered Croissant, Nuts, Vanilla Ice Cream, Fresh Herbs, Dirty Road, Polished Wood, Ginger and a hint of Licorice. Even at 23 Years, the Alcohol is not fully integrated. I kept thinking that the young German Slyrs Whisky might smell somewhat like this after a maturation of 23 years.  

Palate: There is a slight off-note but I'm not sure what it is. It reminds me of an Impregnating Agent for Wood. At first I thought of Varnish but it's stronger than that. Other than that, the Palate is quite Creamy and Bitter-Sweet with Vanilla, Toffee, Malt, Dark Fruit, Nuts, Oak, Orange Peel, Bitter-Lemon, Honey, Aniseed, Licorice and Cinnamon.   

Finish: A bit on the Short side, Creamy and Bitter-Sweet with Butter Biscuits, Malt, Oak, Vanilla, Dusty Road, Cigar Tobacco, light Pepper, Licorice and some Menthol. After a while I get a hint of Espresso.  

The Hammer Head does not improve with added Water.

Rating: 82.5

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


General Remarks: The Hammer Head 23 Years was distilled shortly before the fall of communism and the division of the country. It was distilled in the town of Pradlo, close to Plzen from local Barley and it matured in Czech Oak Casks. The Barley was milled with an old Hammer mill if you were wondering where the name came from! It was bottled in 2012 by the new owners of the Distillery (Stock Spirits from the UK) to avoid that the ABV would fall below 40%. It is sold at prices that range from 50 to 70 US Dollars (August 2015).  

Drinking Experience Neat: Good with the exception of the Off Note on the Palate. 

Conclusion: First of all it's a nice feeling to taste a Whisky that was distilled before the fall of the Berlin Wall. And in Czechoslovakia of all places. A country that's more famous for its Beers. And that did not change when the country was split up in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There is some local whisky to be had nowadays but it's certainly difficult to find outside the production areas. With the exception of the Hammer Head of course. A 100% local whisky that was distilled with local Barley and Water and matured in local Oak. And the end product is certainly not bad. The Nose is the best part with nice ripe Fruit, Dusty Vanilla and Butter. On the Palate I found this slight off-note that turned me off a little bit although its impact decreases with sufficient air. Other than that the Palate is quite Creamy with Dark Red Fruit, Vanilla, Aniseed and Licorice. The Finish is a bit on the short side for a Single Malt of this age but there are some nice notes of Cigar Tobacco, Licorice and Menthol. It's a pity really that the production of Single Malt was discontinued at the Pradlo facility after the fall of communism. The Hammer Head clearly shows the potential of this distillery had it been given the opportunity!

Jan van den Ende                                                                  August 20, 2015

Pradlo

Blair Athol 1989 Review


“These Bells Didn’t Quite Toll For Me”

Country: Scotland
Region: Central Highlands - Pertshire
Brand: Blair Athol 1989 (Anam Na H-Alba)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 23 Years
ABV: 49.9 %
Sample provided by Thomas from Germany. Many Thanks!

For Whom the Bells Tole!

Colour: Amber with Reddish tones

Nose: I'm not sure I would have identified this Blair Athol as a Single Malt in a Blind Tasting. My first impressions are Grains, Grass, Straw, Dried Fruits, Oak, Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Toffee, Candle Wax, light Pineapple and Buttered Toast. Make sure you give this Whisky enough time in the glass. After a while I find some traces of Honey, Black Coffee, Red Grapes, Plums, Pears and Red Berries. And finally light Spices like Nutmeg and Cinnamon. The Alcohol is sufficiently integrated. I can't say I'm excited about this Nose although there's nothing wrong with it and the Port Pipe did give some extra Aromas. I find it a bit dull, musty and lifeless. 

Some of the Nice Bells on Display

Taste: Strong Delivery thanks to the high ABV. Spices and Citrus are my main impressions. I find slightly Bitter Orange, Grapefruit Juice, Tangerine, Vanilla, Red Grapes, Barley, Treacle, Cocoa Powder, Raisins, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cloves and Licorice.

Finish: Middle-Long, Spicy and slightly Salty with Bitter Orange, Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Powder, Espresso Coffee, Vanilla, Toffee, Plums, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, Oak, light Licorice, light Menthol and Mulled Red Wine.

Warehouses at Blair Athol

I added a little Water and on the Nose Sweet Barley, Honey, Floral tones, Pineapple, Red Fruit, Orange and Plums come to the foreground. The Nose of this Blair Athol certainly comes alive with a bit of Water. Palate and Finish do not benefit in the same way however as Spices and Licorice start to dominate. 

Rating: 85

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


General Remarks: This Blair Athol 23 Years Single Cask Whisky was distilled on the 1st of June 1989 and was bottled on the 6th of December 2012 by Indie Whisky bottler Anam Na H-Alba from the town of Oberhausen in Germany. It matured in an Ex-Bourbon Hogshead before being finished in a Ruby Port Pipe. Only 85 bottles went to the market and I was lucky enough to get a sample. This Blair Athol is non Chill-Filtered and naturally coloured. It was bottled at Cask Strength. The Bottles were sold at around US$ 85 a piece, relatively cheap for a Single Malt of this age.

Royal Wedding Bell Blues

The Blair Athol Distillery was founded in 1798 by John Stewart and Robert Robertson. It changed hands several times and today it's part of the Diageo Group. Blair Athol is the home of Bell's Blended Scotch, the best selling Whisky in England. Blair Athol possesses a semi-lauter Mash Tun, 6 Washbacks made of stainless steel and 2 pairs of Stills. The annual production lies around 2,5 million litres. As almost all production goes into Bell's, it's rare to find a Single Malt of this Distillery. The best known was the 12 Year old Flora & Fauna. From time to time you can find an Indie bottling. The name Blair Athol means Plain of the new Ireland. The Water comes from Allt Dour Burn. We visited the distillery on a rainy Monday, the 26th of May 2014. We didn't do the Tour but enjoyed a dram in the nice Visitor Centre where you can find a lot of Whisky-filled Bells on display. Blair Athol is a very picturesque distillery and it's certainly worth a visit when you're in Pitlochry.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Strolling around at the VC

Conclusion: Difficult to score this Blair Athol. It has sufficient Aromas and Flavours, the high ABV works well and the Wood does not dominate the Spirit. And the Port Finish did contribute in a positive way in this case. The reason I still give it "only" 85 points is that this Single Malt misses the Wow factor. Five minutes after I finished the dram I had forgotten all about it. In fact, in a Blind Tasting Session I would have thought it to be a Grain Whisky or a high end Blend. I would not be surprised if that would be the reason that most of the production of this Distillery disappears in the successful but quite mediocre Bell's Blend. It could well be that the Spirit is not really interesting enough to do well as a Single Malt. I would need to try some other Blair Athol expressions to be really sure of that. This specific Bell did not really toll for me though!

Jan van den Ende                                                                       May 4, 2015