Showing posts with label Blended Malt Scotch Whisky Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blended Malt Scotch Whisky Review. Show all posts

Johnnie Walker Green Label 2017 Review

“I Thought I Knew You”

Whisky Review # 624

Country: Scotland
Brand: Johnnie Walker Green
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: A Mix of Refill Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Sherry Casks.  
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 40-60 (July 2017) 
Buying Advice:😔  Below US$ 50 it's still a bargain. Don't expect Heaven!

Colour: Light Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: There are some Sherry casks in the mix and I detect a Sulphur note. It's nothing serious though. I also find some dried Fruit (Raisins, Apricot) and Nuts. It's not a very expressive Nose actually. I think that large numbers of refill casks were used. You need to take your time with the Green Label to discover some additional notes. They are there though. I find Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Caramel, Sweet Pastry, Toffee, Grass, Apple, Lemon, Orange, Milk Chocolate, Banana-Cake, Mint and a sprinkle of Nutmeg. The Caol Ila influence is limited. I get a little Dirty Earth, Smoke from a very distant fire and hints of Leather, Bacon and Tobacco. The Alcohol is not strong but it's not completely integrated as well.


Palate: Quite Sweet but still a little on the Thin side despite the 43% ABV. It's not as easy-going and smooth as I found it in 2012. More Talisker perhaps? A few Sour and Bitter Citrus notes as well. I find Toasted Cereals, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Musty Straw, Heather-Honey, Nuts, Refill Oak, Orange, Grapefruit, Apple, Salt, Pepper, Cinnamon and hints of Tobacco, Espresso, Herbal Tea and Chocolate.  

Finish: Medium Long and Bitter-Sweet. Dry in the end with a bit of an odd note that reminds me of Wall Paper Paste although I have never tasted that stuff. But that came to my mind. I also find Toasted Cereals, slightly Burnt Salted Nuts, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Honey, Orange Peel, Apple, Pepper, Cinnamon and hints of Tobacco, Bitter Chocolate, Smoke and Cigar Ashes.


Drinking Advice:
I added 4 drops of Water and the Malt develops on the Nose. Some Shortbread perhaps. On the Palate and in the Finish, I get quite a bit more Talisker Pepper. Very interesting! My advise would be to try it both ways. I preferred to Nose the JW Green neat but enjoyed the added Pepper on the Palate. I liked it even better over ice. The Fruity (Linkwood) notes shine better that way. 

Rating: 83    

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

General Remarks:

Johnnie Walker Green was launched in 2005. In 2012 it was discontinued world-wide with the exception of Taiwan. In 2015 it re-appeared cautiously in the North American market and in April 2016 it made its permanent world-wide come back. This time for good according to Diageo. It never became quite clear why this successful Blend was discontinued in the first place but one can assume that dwindling 15 Year or older stocks of one or more of the key Malts were the probable course. I also suspect that the other JW Blends are much cheaper to produce and thus show higher profit margins. We will probably never know what happened exactly. In any case it's back and that's a good thing. I reviewed the JW Green earlier in January 2012 and gave it a good score. I'm curious to learn if the "new" version is just as good. Johnnie Walker Green Label is made using an undisclosed number of Single Malts. We do know however that the heart is formed by Cragganmore with additional important roles for Talisker, Linkwood and Caol Ila. It's quite affordable for a 15 Year old Malt and the Price/Quality ratio is good.

Drinking Experience: Good.



My mind must be playing tricks on me! Either that or my Nose and Taste buts have developed a whole lot in the last 5 years or so. Is this the same Green that I reviewed in 2012? Back then I found it to be smooth on the Palate but that's certainly not the case right now. I thought it to be a little Edgy, moderately "Dirty" and certainly more Spicy. I have visited both Talisker and Cragganmore and those 2 distilleries come to mind when Nosing and Tasting the Green. It's difficult to detect Caol Ila but Linkwood is certainly there as well. A little change in the formula perhaps? Less quality casks to control the production costs? Or is it just me? In any case, I will have to downgrade the JW Green to 83 points at this point in time. It's still good value for money though if you can get it below 50 bucks. It has lost a bit of the magic though. At least in my opinion.

Jan van den Ende                                                                       July 12, 2017

Caol Ila

Mackinlay's Shackleton The Journey Review

“An Expensive Journey Through the Past”

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands (Mainly)
Brand: Mackinlay's Shackleton The Journey
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Bottled by: Whyte & Mackay
Age: NAS  
ABV: 47.3%
Whisky Review # 556

Colour: Golden Straw

Nose: My first impressions are Dirty Floral Peat, Diesel, Tar, Ashes and Manure. Certainly different from our modern Highland Malts. It's very interesting to smell peated Dalmore. I also pick up light Jura influences. The Journey needs time in the glass to reveal additional Aromas. After a while I find Grass, Straw, Toasted Cereals, Dried Fruits, Nuts, Vanilla, Citrus Peel, Mandarin Juice, Licorice, light Vanilla, Overripe Banana, Toffee, Pineapple Jam, Orchard Fruit, Aniseed and light Spices. It's all a little Edgy, Dirty and Sharp. Unfortunately, the Alcohol is not fully integrated. It somehow smells "old" and authentic but I can't say The Journey smells extremely agreeable. I certainly was expecting a bit more.      
Taste: The Delivery is on the Thin side despite the adequate ABV. On the Palate, the Journey is Bitter Sweet. I find Dirty Peat, Factory Smoke, Citrus Peel, Oak, Dried Fruits, Nuts, Caramel, Toffee, Malt Biscuits, light Honey, Straw, Licorice, Pepper, Nutmeg, Menthol, Dried Herbs, Espresso and Dark Chocolate.       

Finish: Quite Long, Bitter Sweet, Medium-Spicy and Dry towards the end. The Journey retains its Rough and Dirty character until the end. I find Toasted Grain, light Honey, Caramel, light Vanilla, Dirty Earth, Factory Smoke, Lemon Peel, Peanut Butter, Dried Herbs, Grass, Grapefruit, Orchard Fruit, Tobacco, Aniseed, Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg and Menthol. I detect a light Metallic Off-Note.    

The Journey does not improve with added Water. 

Rating: 81.5    

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

General Remarks: Let's start with a little history that explains the release of this very special Blended malt:

In June 1907, the Glen Mhor distillery in Inverness, Scotland, received an order from the famous explorer Ernest Shackleton for 46 cases of Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt, one of the more indulgent items included in the provisions designed to sustain his British Antarctic Expedition of 1907.

In 2007, a few crates of this Whisky were discovered in Antarctica. The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust requested Master Blender Richard Paterson to try and recreate this Blend. He succeeded and raised over 300.000 US Dollars for Charity in the process. This Blend was called Mackinkay's Shackleton Rare Old Highland Malt "The Discovery".

In 2012, Paterson was approached again by the Charity and Ernest's grand-daughter Alexandra to produce a second edition of the Blended Malt, this time to coincide with the first authentic re-enactment of Shackleton's Antarctic Survival Journey of 1916. It's called Tom Jarvis' Shackleton Epic. Paterson accepted this new challenge as well and created "The Journey", using a rare 1980 cask of Glen Mhor, some peated Dalmore and malt from a/o Glenfarclas, Mannochmore, Tamnavulin, Ben Nevis, Aultmore, Fettercairn, Old Pulteney and Jura.

Unfortunately I have not yet been able to secure a sample of The Discovery, so I won't be able to compare the two expressions. For The Journey, Richard used whiskies in the 8 to 30 years range with Glen Mhor being the oldest. Both Ex-Sherry and (mostly) Ex-Bourbon casks were used in the process. Prices vary a lot depending on where you live. The average price is around 110 US$ (09/16). Bottle and Packaging are nicely done and based on the original.  

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Disappointing  

Conclusion: I know that this Whisky raised money for a good purpose and I'm sure that Richard Paterson put in a lot of time and effort. And I have to admit that there is an air of authenticity around. It smells and tastes "dirty" from start to finish. I can really imagine that Whisky tasted somewhat rough like this at the beginning of the 1900's. So in that aspect, the Journey gives us at least an idea. However, I also believe that a lot of young, indifferent Malt went into the Blend, leaving it Edgy, Sharp and without much balance. As such it is way too expensive for what it really offers despite the nice packaging and the fascinating story. Many people have commented on the fact that The Discovery was much better so I must try and secure a sample of that one to be able to compare the two Mackinlay's Shackleton expressions.   

Jan van den Ende                                                               September 5, 2016

Westport 1997 (Wilson & Morgan) Review

“Glenmorangie in Disguise”

Country: Scotland 
Region: Highlands
Brand: Westport 1997 (Wilson & Morgan - Barrel Selection)
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Age: 16-17 Years
ABV: 48%
Chill Filtration: No

Colour: Full Dark Gold (Natural Colour) 

Nose: Full and Mature. Good Balance as well. The Alcohol and Oak are nicely integrated. The Glenmorangie Oranges are certainly there and I also find Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Butterscotch, Sherry, Dried Apricots, Almond, Mandarin, Heather-Honey, Peach Jam, light Vanilla, Espresso, light Pepper, light Mint, Cinnamon and hints of Tobacco and Leather. There is a Sweet Floral note too but I can't put a name to it. After a while I get some Plums as well. This Malt is well-made and not too Sweet despite the long years in the Sherry casks. Good Wood management.      

Palate: Pleasantly Sweet with nice Spices. I find Toasted Barley, Butterscotch, Orange, Mandarin, Sherry, Dried Apricot, Walnuts, Floral Tea, Cherries, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cardamom and hints of Leather and Wet Stones.  

Finish: Quite Long. A nice combination of Bitter-Sweet, Spicy and Sour notes. Again nicely balanced. I find Toasted Barley, Oak, Orange, Mandarin, Lemon Zest, Sherry, Walnuts, Nutmeg, Ginger, Pepper, Cinnamon and a distant hint of Leather.

With some added Water the Nose gets more Malty- and Floral notes. The Peach develops as well. Palate and Finish do not really improve with added Water but you can carefully play with a couple of drops at a time. Don't overdo it though! 

Rating: 87 

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

General Remarks: Westport is of course not an existing distillery. This blended Malt is in fact a Glenmorangie mixed with a tiny bit of Glen Moray. The reason for this is that Glenmorangie does not allow Independent bottlers to print the Distillery name on the label. So while this is technically a Blended malt, it is in fact a Glenmorangie Single Malt. This Westport was distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2014 for Independent Bottlers Wilson & Morgan in the Barrel Selection Series. It matured in Refill Ex-Sherry Butts # 3358 and 3359. Only 1292 bottles went to the market. It costs around 70 US Dollars but the availability is limited. 

Drinking Experience Neat: Very Enjoyable. 

Conclusion: Very nice malt. It shows once again that carefully chosen casks make all the difference. The Westport maintained the Glenmorangie Distillery profile while the Refill casks added a gentle touch of Sherry and nice Spices. It's Sweet but not cloyingly so and there are no Sharp edges. The Alcohol and the Wood are nicely integrated and there's balance between Sweet, Spicy and Sour Aromas and Flavours. It's not an extremely complicated Malt but it's well-made and very tasty. I wouldn't mind owning a bottle or two of this Westport. It makes a great after dinner Whisky. Congrats to Wilson & Morgan for a job well-done! 

Jan van den Ende                                                                     May 30, 2016

Scallywag Small Batch and Scallywag Cask Strength Review

“Who Let The Dogs Out”

Country: Scotland 
Region: Speyside
Brand: Scallywag (Small Batch)
Bottled by/for: Douglas Laing, Glasgow
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Age: NAS 
ABV: 46%

Colour: Golden Amber (Natural Colour) 

Nose: The Sherry influence is there but it's a bit Dusty and Tired, almost Stale. 
I suspect that many older Refill casks went in the mix. I also believe that the heart of this Blend is formed by Glenrothes. On the Nose, this Scallywagg is mostly Sweet although it's got some Sour, Herbal, Spicy and Metallic notes as well. I find Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Toast with Margarine, Toasted Barley, Nuts, Straw, Toffee, Vanilla, Treacle, Dried Fruit, Overripe Apple, Citrus, Cherry Flavoured Candies, Floral tones, Chocolate, Tobacco, Dusty Road, Ginger, light Pepper, Cinnamon and other Christmas Spices. The Spirit is still Young and the Alcohol is not fully integrated. After a while I get some Heather-Honey as well. It's not bad but it's a bit of a mixed bag without sufficient balance.

Palate: Malty and Quite Spicy. Much more so than the Nose would want you to believe. Less Sweet as well and a bit Sour. It's a Scallywag indeed! I find Toffee, Toasted Barley, Caramel, Dried Fruits (Raisins), Vanilla, Refill Oak, Orange Peel, Tobacco, Dried Herbs, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, Cardamom, Apple Sauce, Cherry Flavoured Candies and Chocolate.      

Finish: Short, Bitter-Sweet, Spicy, Herbal and slightly Sour. I find Sugared Cereals, Malt, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Dried Fruit, Green Apple, Tobacco, Licorice, Menthol, Charred Refill Oak, Alcohol, Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom, Herbal Tea, Citrus Peel, Nuts and Dark Chocolate. A bit Edgy and Dry towards the end. 

I added a bit of Water but the Scallywag Small Batch does not improve that way. It's a bit more Floral on the Nose and with some extra (Wood) Spice on the Palate. 

Rating: 80.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good 

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Country: Scotland 
Region: Speyside
Brand: Scallywag Cask Strength (Limited Edition # 1)
Bottled by/for: Douglas Laing, Glasgow
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Age: NAS 
ABV: 53.6%

Colour: Dark Gold (Natural Colour)

Nose: Although the Nose of the CS is not significantly different from the Small Batch it does become clear that selected casks were used for this quite Limited Edition. The Sherry notes are once again clear but this time with less Sour notes. And no Metals around. Glenrothes still dominates with its Nutty and Spicy character. I find Buttered Toast with Peach Marmalade, Toasted Barley, Nuts, Straw, Caramel, Vanilla, Marzipan, Espresso, Dried Fruit, Honey, Orange, Cherry Flavoured Candies, Floral tones, Milk Chocolate, Tobacco, Salt, Ginger, Nutmeg, Pepper, Cinnamon and Cloves. The Spirit is still Young and the Alcohol is not fully integrated. Despite this, the CS leaves a more balanced impression than the Small Batch.  

Palate: Sherry and Spices. The Macallan makes itself known. Again, the heavy Spices come as a surprise after the Nose. I find Toasted Barley, Roasted Nuts, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Dried Fruit, Apple Sauce, Chocolate, Dried Herbs, Oak, Alcohol, Orange Peel, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg and Cardamom.     

Finish: Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet, Spicy, Herbal and slightly Sour. I find Cereals, Malt, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Dried Fruit, Green Apple, Tobacco, Chocolate, Licorice, Menthol, Charred Refill Oak, Alcohol, Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom, Dried Herbs, Citrus Peel, Marzipan and Dark Chocolate.

I added a bit of Water and you get more Tobacco and Spices on the Nose. Almost like an After Shave with those characteristics. The Palate and Finish become Sweeter and the Chocolate notes become stronger. There is certainly room to play with a bit of Water. 

Rating: 84

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

General Remarks: The name of this Blended Malt was inspired by the long line of Fox Terriers owned by the Laing family through the years. Fox Terriers are known for being Sweet and Mischievous at the same time. It was launched in 2013 and forms part of a series of four called Remarkable Regional Malts that covers the Highlands (Timorous Beastie), Speyside (Scallywag), Islay (Big Peat) and the Islands (Rock Oyster). The Scallywag CS was launched as a Limited Edition in 2015. Only 6000 bottles went to the market. It is not Chill-Filtered and contains Single Malt from a/o Glenrothes, Macallan and Mortlach. It matured in a mix of Refill Ex-Bourbon Hogsheads and Refill Ex-Sherry Butts. It sells at an average 70 US Dollars (February 2016).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good  

Conclusion: The presentation of the Scallywag is certainly original. It's funny to see that the Fox Terrier on the CS Packaging has wide open eyes and looks more confident than the one pictured on the Box and Bottle of the Small Batch. That surely is representative for the two Blended Malts. The CS is stronger and more balanced than the Small Batch and has less Off-Notes. It's clear to me that selected casks were used to compose the CS. When compared Head-to-Head, the CS is the clear winner although it's quite expensive for such a young Whisky. The main difference is that the Small Batch comes close to being a young Glenrothes in disguise that matured in indifferent Refill Casks. The CS clearly benefits from being composed of selected casks. It makes this Blend more balanced and gives the Macallan more room to shine. So despite the price difference my advice is to stick with the CS if you can afford it and leave the Small Batch alone.   

Jan van den Ende                                                               February 14, 2016