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

Bruichladdich Octomore 08.1 Masterclass


”Smoke Screen”


Whisky Review # 904

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bruichladdich Octomore 08.1 (167 PPM) - Masterclass
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Limited Edition - 42.000 Bottles
Age: 8 Years (2008-2017)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 59.3% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: First Fill Ex-Bourbon Casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 150-180 (February 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎 Too expensive for such a young Single Malt.
Buying Advice: 😐 It's okay but try to find the 07.3 instead!

Colour:

Golden Sunlight (Natural Color)

Nose:

Soft despite the high ABV. And the 08.1 is not a Peat Bomb either. Of course Peat and Smoke are there but they're merely weaving a nice background for the other Aromas. The Nose is certainly not spectacular. Even a little plain. It's quite Sweet with a few Sour notes for contrast. A little bit Young, Dirty and Edgy. Make sure to give it a little time in the glass before Nosing and avoid Nosing in the middle of the glass as the Alcohol is more noticeable that way.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Distant Campfire Smoke, Coastal "Wet" Peat/Clay, Lots of Citrus Fruit like Orange and Mandarin, Cafe Latte, Green Bell Pepper, Smoked Bacon, Pepper, Cinnamon, Sour Berries, Espresso and Mint.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Tar, Brine, Ashes, Iodine, Farmyard, Green Apple, Roasted Pineapple, Wet Stones and Sand, Lemon-Infused Tea, Milk Chocolate, Nutmeg, Rubber, Plastic and Leather.


Palate:

Peat and Smoke come into play as does the Alcohol. This Octomore is best enjoyed in little sips. It's mainly Sweet with a few Sour notes for balance. It actually tastes quite Young and that's a bit surprising. Young Kilchoman came to my mind. There's a little bit of Plastic around as well. It's not really an off-note but it might not be to everyone's liking.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Malt, Barley Sugar, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Buttered Toast, Cold Campfire Smoke, Coastal Peat/Wet Clay, Tar, Soot, Orange, Mandarin, Green Apple, Green Bell Pepper, Schwarzwalder Schinken, Charred Oak, Dried Herbs, Pepper, Nutmeg and Menthol.
  
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Ashes, Iodine, Brine, Wet Grass, Wet Sand & Stones, Gooseberry, Lemon, Farmyard, Caffe Latte, Cinnamon, Ginger, Plastic, Leather & Roasted Nuts (Almonds and Walnuts).
 

Finish:

Long and quite Sweet with Dryness developing towards the end. The Alcohol is more noticeable by now. The Spirit coats your mouth in a pleasant way and invites you to have another sip. I mainly find Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Apricot-filled Buttered Puff Pastry, Cold Campfire Smoke, Coastal Peat, Tar, Ashes, Iodine, Soot, Honey, Green Bell Pepper, Dried Herbs, Burnt Grass, Honey, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Bitter-Lemon, Orange, Menthol, Plastic, Charred Oak & Leather.   

Drinking Advice:

I added Water but this Octomore almost becomes liquid Peppery Smoke. Better sip it neat despite the high ABV.

Rating: 86

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

Bruichladdich was founded in 1881 by Barnett Harvey. During its history it was mothballed various times, the last time in 1998. In 2012 the Islay distillery was bought by Remy Cointreau (France). Since, Bruichladdich is showing a healthy growth again. The distillery produces 3 types of Single Malt, i.e. the unpeated Bruichladdich & the heavily peated Port Charlotte & Octomore. The basic core range includes Classic Laddie and a 10-year old Port Charlotte. The annual production amounts to around one million litres. About 10% of that is Octomore. Octomore by the way means " The Big Eighth". This is a medieval division of common ground.

The Octomore 08.1 was distilled in 2008 using 100% Scottish Barley from the 2007 Harvest. It matured in First Fill American Oak and the casks were provided by a.o. Buffalo Trace, Clermont Springs, Four Roses, Heaven Hill and Jack Daniels.

After the delicious 07.3 this 08.1 was a bit of a disappointment. It's not bad mind you but a bit plain, youngish and unexciting. No way I would pay over US$ 150 for this Bruichladdich. It's just not worth that kind of money. Don't let the Smoke Screen fool you. It's accepted that most Single Malts tend to get better with time. That's not the case with the Octomore though. It shines brighter in its early years. All in all I would rate this Octomore as merely regular. 

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     February 24, 2021

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Glenfiddich Vintage Cask Collection Peated


”Wasted Time”


Whisky Review # 898

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenfiddich Vintage Cask Collection - Peated Single Malt
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: European Sherry Wood & Bourbon casks married in Solera Vat # 3
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 100-130 (December 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎Too expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: 😐 The Peat is nice but it's way too Thin on the Palate.

Colour:

Amber with shades of Orange (Artificially Colored)

Nose:

Nice balance between Peat, Sherry Wood and Bourbon casks. It's a bit on the Thin side caused of course by the low ABV. The good thing is that the Alcohol is hardly noticeable on the Nose. Main Drivers are Smoke, (Dried) Fruit and Earthy notes. All in all quite pleasant.

Main Aromas:

Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Smoke, Earthy Peat, Pear, Apple, Straw and Grass, Orange Marmalade, Dairy and Cinnamon.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Honey, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Forest Floor, Dried Herbs, Fruit Cake, Yeast, Leather, Pork on the BBQ, Milk Chocolate, Dried Apricot and Pepper.



Palate
:


A big disappointment after the agreeable Nose. It's way too Thin on the Palate and all the good work of the distillery in creating this Single Malt goes to waste. The subtle Smoke and Peat work well with the Fruity Glenfiddich Spirit but with this ABV it tastes more like a peated Fruit Juice than a Single Malt Whisky. I really hope that Glenfiddich will continue to experiment with peated Whisky but I urge them to give these special Single Malts a more adequate ABV of around 46% and a bit more of well-aged Whisky. Then we're really talking! I almost forgot to mention that it's mainly Sweet on the Palate. Flavor-wise it basically follows the Nose.

Main Flavours:

Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Smoke, Earthy Peat, Apple, Pear, Orange Marmalade, Cinnamon, Ginger, Charred Oak and Floral notes.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Toffee, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Apricots, Milk Chocolate, Lemon, Yeast, Pork on the BBQ, Pepper, Leather, Tobacco and Dried Herbs.
 

Finish
:


Middle-Long & mainly Sweet with a light Bitterness towards the end. It's quite Thin and the raw Alcohol is noticeable at this point. It's Medium-Dry in the aftertaste and I find a light Metallic off-note. I find Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Toffee, Apple, Pear, Banana, Smoke, Earthy Peat, Floral notes, Yeast, Leather, Tobacco, Roasted Marshmallows, Honey, Cocoa, Pepper, Cinnamon, Licorice, Ginger and Charred Oak.

Drinking Advice:

No Need to add Water to this Glenfiddich. It's Thin enough as it is.

Rating: 84.5

Nose: 22.5 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience Neat: Good Nose but too Thin on the Palate

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Smooth and Very Nice.

Conclusion:

Glenfiddich was founded in Dufftown in 1886 by William Grant. It's one of the few distilleries that is still in the hands of the founder's family. In the year 1963 it became the first whisky that was marketed worldwide as a Single Malt. It was the first Single Malt to appear in the Travel Retail and Duty Free shops as well and the chance is huge that Glenfiddich was your first Single Malt. It was mine! It is also the first distillery that opened a visitor centre, back in 1969. The current core range consists of the 12, 15, 18, 21, 26, 30  and 40 years old. We visited the distillery in May 2014 and May 2019. Despite the large number of visitors they still do a good job on the Tours.

Following the success of the innovative Solera Vatting for the 15 Yr Solera Reserve, Glenfiddich has created three new Solera Vats. The Vintage Cask is the 3rd release in this series and all three are sold exclusively in Global Travel Retail. This vatting contains whiskies aged in either European Spanish sherry - or 1st fill Bourbon casks  using heavily peated whisky (25 ppm). That comprises around 50% of the vatting and as it is blended with other whiskies it's brought down to about 10-15 ppm in the glass. Glenfiddich Vintage Cask harks to the past, when the distillery's output was partly peated.

Sometimes it's not easy to be a Whisky fan these days. Take this Glenfiddich for example. You know this could be a great Single Malt if longer-matured Whisky and a more appropriate ABV would be applied. The price would suggest something like that to be possible. Instead we get a relatively Young, not fully-matured Whisky that is bottled at the absolute legal minimum of 40%. Does that make sense? No! You're just paying way too much for a Young, Thin Whisky that comes in a nice bottle and fancy box. It's such a pity, the more so as the Glenfiddich Spirit and Peat combine well as can be ascertained on the Nose. So I would really like to ask the distillery to consider making a fully-matured peated Single Malt bottled at 46%. I am sure it would please many Whisky fans all around the world! As it is today I can't recommend this Single Malt at this price level.

Cheers!


Jan van den Ende                                                                 December 30, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

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I would like to Wish all my readers and whisky fans all over the world a better, healthier and more recognizable 2021. Because 2020 really sucked! Big Time! Stay Healthy and enjoy your Whisky in a safe way! Cheers, Jan.

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Highland Park Valknut


”Love Triangle” 

Whisky Review # 895

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park Valknut
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46.8%
Maturation: Sherry-Seasoned American and European Oak + Ex-Bourbon casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 60-80  (November 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👌Okay. It's a little expensive for such a Young Whisky.
Buying Advice: 👍 One of the better HP's I've tasted in recent years. 

Colour:

Light Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Pleasant but slightly on the Thin side. The Sherry influences are rather limited. Peat and Smoke weave their spell but they do so in a quiet way. Sweet & Sour notes are in the mix. The high ABV can't hide the fact that this is a rather young Whisky. A hint of Sulphur but nothing too serious. Malt, (Dried) Fruit, Coastal notes and Spice are the main drivers.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Earthy Peat, Smoke from a Distant Fire, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Apricots, Sweet Apple, Fresh Herbs, Dusty Oak, Dough, Pepper and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Buttered Toast, Heather-Honey, Nectarine, Grapefruit, Lemon, Floral Perfume, Wet Rocks, Nuts, Wax, Straw and Grass, Varnish, Leather, Cloves and Aniseed. A hint of Fish on the BBQ.


Palate:

Not unpleasant but Young and on the Thin side. This Valknut almost screams for an appropriate maturation time to provide it with strength and character. It's a pity really because this Valknut is a potentially excellent whisky! The Palate is Medium-Dry and mainly Sweet but you will find a few Sour and lightly Bitter notes as well for balance.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Earthy Peat, Distant Smoke, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Sultanas, Sweet Apple, Orange, Nectarine, Pepper, Cinnamon, Aniseed, Cloves, Nutmeg and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Grapefruit, Lemon, Toasted Pineapple, Blackberry, Fresh Herbs, Leather, Cocoa Powder, Meat and Fish on the BBQ and Peanut Butter.


Finish:

Middle-Long, Medium-Dry and quite Sweet. A few Bitter and Sour notes towards the end. Peat and Smoke remain discretely in the background although there's perhaps a bit more of it around than in your average Highland Park. I find Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Salted Caramel, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Plums, Nuts, Dusty Charred Oak, Peat/Smoke, Ashes, Citrus Peel (Orange/Lemon), Wet Rocks, Meat and Fish on the BBQ, Grapefruit Juice, Dark Chocolate, Fresh Herbs, Pepper, Cloves, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Leather, Mint, Aniseed and Licorice.


Drinking Advice:

A few drops of Water really help to open up the flavors. But don't overdo it as it drowns quickly.

Rating: 86

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

The distillery was founded in 1798 by David Robertson. It is located in the small town of Kirkwall on the isle of Orkney. Orkney is still quite strongly influenced by its Viking past & the distillery has increasingly used this past as a rather successful marketing tool. Highland Park currently produces around 2.5 million litres of Alcohol & is owned since 1997 by the Edrington Group. The core range basically consists of the 10 (Viking Scars), the 12 (Viking Honour), the 18 (Viking Pride), the 21, 25, 30 and 40 years.

The Viking Legend Series consists of the Valkyrie, the Valknut & the Valhalla, made in partnership with Danish designer Jim Lyngvild who was responsible for the bottle and box design. His 36th grandfather was Ragnvald Eysteinsson, the first Earl of the Orkney Islands. The word Valknut means literally "Knot of Those Slain in Battle". Its symbol of inter-linked triangles on the packaging represents the transition from earthly life to heavenly life. Valknut was released in 2018 and uses a small portion of Orkney-Grown Tartan Barley.

We visited Highland Park in May last year and I really enjoyed the visit despite the terrible weather. Orkney is a special place and I understand the tradition and the bond with the Viking ancestors. It's such a pity that the distillery regularly distorts this picture with mediocre, expensive "Cult" Single Malts based on that theme. But, to be fair, the Valknut is one of the exceptions to the rule. It has its flaws, mainly because it's under-matured. But it also shows a masterful discrete touch of Peat and Smoke that is rare these days. It wouldn't be my favorite whisky to take to heaven once slain on the battlefield but I do consider it to be one of the better Highland Park Whiskies that has been released in recent years. So help me Odin! 

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    November 28,2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

Laphroaig 1997 (Sansibar)


”Money Money Money”


Whisky Review # 890

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Laphroaig 1997-2016 - Limited Edition
Bottled By: Sansibar, Germany - 241 Bottles
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky
Age: 18 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 53.4% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Cask
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 300-350 (September 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎I like it but it's really expensive.
Buying Advice: 😋 Not the best matured Islay I've tasted but very nice anyway!

Colour:

Chardonnay (Natural Color)

Nose:

Well-Matured Islay Malt. This Laphroaig still possesses most of the maritime notes of a young Islay but it presents them in a more warm and mellow way. The Nose is mainly Sweet but there are some lightly Bitter and Sour notes for balance. It's not sensational but certainly pleasant.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Campfire Smoke, Maritime Peat, Burnt Rubber, Cigar Ashes, Iodine, Hospital, Bacon and Pork on the BBQ, Lemon, Grapefruit, Red Apple, Damp Dunnage Warehouse, Salted Nuts and Menthol.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Biscuits, Wet Grass, Freshly printed Newspaper, Tar, Soot, Leather, Tobacco, Dark Chocolate, Dried Apricot, Herbal Tea, Pepper and Ginger.


Palate:

I really like fully matured Islay Whisky and while this Laphroaig isn't the best I have tasted so far it is certainly pleasant enough. It's probably a tad too Sweet to be a real winner but I love the coating mouth-feeling that matured peated Islay Malts offer. Only the price prevents me from sipping a dram of this type of Whisky every single day. But you should certainly enjoy one if you have the chance to go to Islay. I've been lucky enough to visit Islay in 2014 and 2017 and I can only recommend it with all of my heart.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Campfire Smoke,  Maritime Peat, Cigar Ashes, Iodine, Red Apple, Lemon, Grapefruit, Menthol, Pepper, Licorice, Herbal Tea and Damp Wood.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Toffee, Dried Apricot, Straw and Grass, Bacon on the BBQ, Salted Nuts, Tobacco, Leather, Aniseed, Cinnamon and Ginger.

Finish:

Middle-Long/Long. Sweet with a few Bitter and Sour notes for balance. Medium-Dry towards the end. I find Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Butter, Vanilla, Dried Apricot, Campfire Smoke, Maritime Peat, Cigar Ashes, Soot, Rubber, Tar, Charcoal, Bacon on the BBQ, Leather, Iodine, Dusty Oak, Lemon, Grapefruit, Orange-Flavored Bitter Chocolate, Cinnamon, Pepper, Ginger, Menthol, Licorice, Aniseed and Ginger.


Drinking Advice:

No need to add Water to this Laphroaig.

Rating: 87.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

Laphroaig is located a few miles outside Port Ellen on the island of Islay and was founded in 1815 by Alexander & Donald Johnston. It was bought by Beam Suntory in 2014. Since, the distillery has launched a number of NAS Whiskies that received mixed critics. I find this a pity as I used to consider Laphroaig one of my favorite distilleries. The 10, the discontinued 18 and the old 15 Years are some of my all time favorites. I also love to visit the place and the people. I really hope Laphroaig is not steering too much towards mainstream Whisky but at the moment it kinda looks that way.

Sansibar Whisky is a German Indie bottler founded by Jens Drewitz and others who taste and hand-select almost all casks they buy at the distilleries.

Fully-Matured Islay Whisky is probably my favorite type of Whisky. There's no other Whisky that gives me this complete feeling of well-being on the Palate. And while this Laphroaig is a little too Sweet for me I thoroughly enjoyed the tasting session. It can't be cheap of course but US$ 300 or more is a really steep price. Do as I did and try to get a sample somewhere. It's worth the investment!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                               September 21, 2020

Glenfiddich 18 Small Batch Reserve



”Eighteen Without a Bullet”


Whisky Review # 889

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenfiddich 18 Small Batch Reserve - Batch # 3464
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 18 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Mix of Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Oloroso Sherry casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 70-90 (September 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 Okay
Buying Advice: 😔 Nice for Beginners. Not really interesting for the long-time fans

Colour:

Mahogany (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Can a Scotch Single Malt smell like Comfort Food? Probably not but it was the first thing that came to my mind when smelling this Glenfiddich. The comfortable but not overly exciting Aromas of a well-matured modern mainstream Malt. It's agreeable and forgettable at the same time. The Sherry notes are present but not in a very pronounced way. The Nose is Medium-Sweet and ever so slightly Meaty.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Toffee, Marzipan, Sweet Apples & Pears, Dried Fruit like Figs, Raisins and Apricot, Grass and Straw, Nutella, Dusty Casks and Wood Shavings, Cinnamon, Mint and Ginger.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Demerara Sugar, Salted Caramel, Marshmallow, Honey, Vanilla, Wax, Floral Soap, Ripe Banana, Mixed Citrus Juice, Bounty Candy Bar and Pepper.



Palate:

Arrival and Mouthfeel are quite Thin. It should be a crime against the Whisky-loving community to bottle an 18 year old Single Malt at 40%. It's a damn shame! This would be so much better at 46%! Otherwise the Palate is friendly enough to appeal to beginning whisky drinkers. For the advanced fans it holds few secrets like most modern mainstream Malts. The Palate is mainly Sweet with a few light Bitter and Sour notes for balance.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Toffee, Bounty Candy Bars, Rum-Soaked Raisins, Dried Apricots/Figs, Orange Peel, Sweet Apples/Pears, Nutella, Dusty Casks, Cinnamon, Ginger and Licorice.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Salted Caramel, Marzipan, Fruit Cake, Straw, Wax, Espresso, Mixed Citrus Juice, Pepper, Nutmeg and Mint.


Finish:

Short/Medium-Long, Thin and mostly Sweet. A little bit Dry towards the end. I find Toasted Barley, Toffee, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Honey-Nut Cereals, Fruit Cake, Rum-Soaked Raisins, Orange Peel, Bounty Candy Bars, Dried Apricot, Sweet Apples & Pears, Dusty Oak, Herbal Tea, Tobacco, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Mint and Licorice. After a while some Strawberry Cake and Espresso.

Drinking Advice:

This Glenfiddich does not need added Water.

Rating: 84

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Good

Conclusion:

Glenfiddich was founded in Dufftown in 1886 by William Grant. It's one of the few distilleries that is still in the hands of the founder's family. In the year 1963 it became the first whisky that was marketed worldwide as a Single Malt. It was the first Single Malt to appear in the Travel Retail and Duty Free shops as well and the chance is huge that Glenfiddich was your first Single Malt. It was mine! It is also the first distillery that opened a visitor centre, back in 1969. The current core range consists of the 12, 15, 18, 21, 26, 30  and 40 years old. We visited the distillery in May 2014 and May 2019. Despite the large number of visitors they still do a good job on the Tours.

After Maturation, Malt Master Brian Kinsman hand-selected 150 exceptional casks and married those in large wooden tuns for another 3 months. So the distillery goes a long way to present this Small Batch Reserve. And then bottles it at 40%! Does that make sense? To me it doesn't! Better to use this fine new bottle and packaging and present a truly up-graded 18 Years with 100% First Fill casks, Natural Color, No Chill-Filtration and a decent ABV of 46%. Now that would make an impact. As it is though the Small Batch Reserve is a nice gift for beginning whisky fans but that's about it. Come on Brian, think this one through again!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 September 14, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

Bruichladdich Octomore 07.3 Review


”Octomore Than Words”


Whisky Review # 886

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bruichladdich Octomore 07.3 (169 PPM) - Islay Barley
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Limited Edition
Age: 5 Years (2010-2015)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 63% (Around Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon American Oak Casks + Spanish Red Wine Cask Finish
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 200-240 (August 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👍It's too expensive given its age but it's delicious!
Buying Advice: 😍 Great Octomore. The best I had so far!

Colour:

Pale Straw (Natural Colour)

Nose:

You would expect an explosion of Peat & Smoke given the 169 PPM but that's not the case. It's prominent of course but in a sort of laid-back style. Quite pleasant. Of course you can feel the high ABV but again it's not overwhelming. The influence of  the Red Wine Finish is limited but it does bring a little Berry Sweetness to the peat bog. It's all well-balanced and the smell of freshly polished old Leather reminds me of those private gentleman's clubs in London. In short, I like it!

Main Aromas:

Malted, Toasted Sweet Barley, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Toffee, Vanilla, Coastal Peat, Cold Smoke, Soot, Brine, Honey Glazed Bacon, Green Apple, Banana, Polished Leather, Dried Herbs, Wood Shavings, Blueberry Muffins, Mint & Tobacco.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Caramel, Butterscotch, Demerara Sugar, Yeast, Ashes, Iodine, Straw/Cow Manure Mix, Fish and Shellfish on the BBQ sprinkled with Lemon, Nuts, Pear, Nectarine, Mushrooms, Violets, Vegetable Oil, Nougat and Pepper.


Palate:

The ABV is quite high of course and that might turn off a few of you. But if you like strong peated Whisky this Octomore is a real treat. What a pity that Bruichladdich doesn't fully mature this range or at least some like the 07.3. Give this some 15 years in good casks, apply the same Finish and I'm pretty sure the result would be stunning and would go straight to # 1 in my Top Whisky list. But it's only a 5 Years old Malt and you can tell at this point. It's still pretty good though!

Main Flavours:

Sweet Toasted and Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Coastal Peat, Cold Smoke, Soot, Ashes, Brine, Green Apple, Nectarine, Grapefruit, Shellfish and Fish on the BBQ sprinkled with Lemon, Herbal Tea, Blueberry Muffins, Toasted Pineapple, Leather, Tobacco, Mint, Licorice, Ginger and Nutmeg.
  
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Demerara Sugar, Nougat, Iodine, Tar, Straw mixed with Cow Manure, Wood Shavings, Damp Dunnage Warehouse, Pear, Honey-Glazed Pork, Diesel Oil, Pepper, and Cinnamon.


Finish:

Long, Sweet, Powerful and Creamy. The Alcohol is quite strong at this point. Some Sour, Bitter and Mineral notes as well towards the Medium-Dry end. Its Youth is more obvious here as well. What a pity! Imagine a fully matured Octomore 07.3! That would be great! Back to reality: I find Sweet Malted & Toasted Barley, Toast, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Fudge, Demerara Sugar, Coastal Peat, Cold Smoke, Ashes, Soot, Iodine, Tar, Brine, Toasted Pineapple, Green Apple, Nectarine, Fish & Shellfish on the BBQ sprinkled with Lemon, Honey-Glazed Bacon, Straw mixed with Cow Manure, Vegetable Oil, Leather, Wet Rocks/Sand, Herbal Tea, Wood Shavings, Strong Espresso, Pepper, Cinnamon and Ginger.

Drinking Advice:

I added Water and although that helps calm down the Alcohol it also awakens some less wanted notes like PVC Pipes, Rubber and Green Garden refusal on the Nose. Palate and Finish become easier to drink but it does take away a lot of the strong Magic. If you can handle it, sip it straight!

Rating: 90

Nose: 23 - Taste: 22.5 - Finish: 22 - Overall: 22.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Excellent

Conclusion:

Bruichladdich was founded in 1881 by Barnett Harvey. During its history it was mothballed various times, the last time in 1998. In 2012 the Islay distillery was bought by Remy Cointreau (France). Since, Bruichladdich is showing a healthy growth again. The distillery produces 3 types of Single Malt, i.e. the unpeated Bruichladdich & the heavily peated Port Charlotte & Octomore. The basic core range includes Classic Laddie, Islay Barley 2010 and Black Art 5. The annual production amounts to around one million litres.

The Octomore 07.3 was distilled with Barley from James Brown's Octomore farm (Lorgba field) on the island of Islay. It was harvested in 2009, distilled in 2010 and bottled in November/December 2015. The spirit matured on Islay in American Oak Ex-Bourbon casks that were married with Tempranillo Red Wine casks from the Northern Spanish Wine Region of Ribera del Duero (Castile & Leon).

Viva Bruichladdich! This Octomore 07.3 really did it for me despite its youth. I can only imagine how good this would be after 15 years or so. I really hope the distillery will at least fully mature one Octomore some day! Still, the 07.3 is a very good Malt if you like strong peated Islay. This is certainly not for everybody but during the Tasting session this 07.3 took me back to the Rhinns of Islay on a fresh and windy day in 2014. And I loved every minute of it. Back then and now!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                        August 10, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Fettercairn 1988 (Antique Lion's of Spirits) Review


“ Jailbreak”


Whisky Review # 884

Country: Scotland
Region: Eastern Highlands
Brand: Fettercairn 1988 (Birds Label)
Bottled By/For: Antique Lion's of Spirits in 2016 - 292 Bottles
Type: Single Malt (Single Cask) Scotch Whisky
Age: 28 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50.6% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon cask
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 310-340 (July 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😔It's quite interesting but it's a lot of money. A sample will do!
Buying Advice: 👍It's got character and it's different. Unusual in 2020!

Colour: Pale Straw/White Wine (Natural Color)

Nose:

Make sure to give this Fettercairn some time in the glass before Nosing to get rid of the initial strong waft of Varnish. Once gone the Nose makes a balanced but quite straight-forward impression. It's Medium-Sweet, Buttery & Fruity but also provides Dairy, Grassy and Floral notes. Quite pleasant with well-integrated Alcohol.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Toasted Barley, German Butter Biscuits, Vanilla, Apricot-Flavored Yogurt, Citrus Peel (Orange, Mandarin, Lemon), Pineapple, Forest Floor after Rain, Grass & Straw, Milk Chocolate and Polished Leather Upholstery.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Buttered Toast, Heather-Honey, Bread, Yeast, Wax, Toffee, Nectarine, Green Apple, Pear, Marzipan, Caffe Latte, Salty Bacon, Wet Paper, Slivovitz, Cigar Ashes, Banana Ice-Cream and Cinnamon.



Palate:

Bitter-Sweet, Fruity and Herbal. A few Sour and Dairy Notes as well. Wood and its Spices are more noticeable now and so is the Alcohol. It's got quite some character of its own, something you hardly find in modern whiskies anymore. This is far from Mainstream Malt and also quite different from the mediocre Fettercairn introduction Malts.


Main Flavours:

Sweet Malted and Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Yeast, Grass and Straw, Citrus Peel (Orange, Mandarin, Lemon), Green Apple, Marzipan, Apricot-Flavored Yogurt, Green Apples, Pineapples, Milk Chocolate, Dried Herbs, Cinnamon, Ginger, Pepper and Cloves.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Buttered Toast, Wax, Golden Syrup, Slightly Sour Berries, Slivovitz, Rum-Soaked Raisins, Banana Ice-Cream, Damp Wine Cellar, Caffe-Latte, Nutmeg, Mint and Leather.



Finish:

Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet and Medium-Dry. The Bitterness increases towards the end. The Cask speaks louder here along with its Spices. The Alcohol is also more noticeable at this point. It's quite different from your average Single Malt vintage 2020 and that's a big plus. You could argue though that it overstayed its time in the cask with a few years. I find Sweet Malted and Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Pineapple, Banana-Flavored Ice-Cream, Milky Way Candy Bars, Salted Caramel, Honey, Wax, Yeast, Grass and Straw, Marzipan, Dusty Oak, Citrus Peel, Green Apple, Plum Jam, Leather, Yogurt, Dried Herbs, Cinnamon, Ginger, Pepper, Cloves and Mint.

Drinking Advice:

This Fettercairn does not improve with added Water.

Rating: 86.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

The Fettercairn Distillery was founded in 1824 by Sir Alexander Ramsay and is located in Fettercairn, Laurencekirk, Kincardineshire in the Eastern Highlands. It changed hands many times in the past but mainly belonged to Whyte & MacKay that was bought by Emperador Inc. in 2015. The two pairs of stills produce around 1,5 million litres of Alcohol per year. The core range exists of the 12, 28, 40 and 50 Years.

The new core range was launched in 2018 to put Fettercairn back on the Single malt map. As known, this Malt is mainly used for the Whyte & MacKay blends. We visited Fettercairn in May 2019 and it's well-worth the effort of getting there. Wonderful small, picturesque distillery. The visitor accommodations are still rather primitive but the Tour is quite nice.

Antique Lion's of Spirits is a recent collaboration between Lion's Whisky, Whisky Boutique (Italy) and Jens Drewitz from German Indie Bottler Sansibar.

I really enjoyed tasting this Fettercairn although I felt it somehow didn't give me its full potential. Personally I would have bottled it a few years earlier in order to get a better balance between cask and spirit. The Cask did give the spirit character and a mind of its own and that's great & a rare thing these days. But I got the impression that the spirit got slightly "mad" and unbalanced in its wooden prison. Well, maybe that's just me. In any case this Fettercairn is really nice to sort out and try to find its soul. It can't be cheap of course but it's well worth the ride.

Jan van den Ende                                                                            July 20,2020