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

Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1997 Review

“Sweet Sixteen”

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1997 (Batch 4/502)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 16 Years
ABV: 43% 
Chill-Filtration: Yes 
Whisky Review # 603
Buying Advice: 😊 Positive. Good Malt although I personally prefer the regular 16 Years.

Colour: Rich Gold (Artificially coloured) 

Nose: This is only my second Lagavulin and I'm nosing and tasting this DE right after having reviewed the Lagavulin 16 Years for the second time. On the Nose, the 1997 DE is a bit shy in comparison. So be sure to give it enough time in the glass before Nosing. The PX finish did add some Aromas but also slightly diluted the Islay character of the Lagavulin. The Cold Smoke and Earthy Peat are still there off course but they remain in the background together with the soft Tar, the Soot, the Salt Water, the Fish and the Iodine. I find Toasted Barley, Brown Sugar, Treacle, Pine Resin, Dried Fruits (Raisins, Plums and Apples), Lemon, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Sour Red Grapes, Tobacco, Herbal Tea, Leather, Salted Almonds, Cinnamon, Cloves, Mint, Oregano and Dark Chocolate. The Nose is Sweet but not overly so and does present some Mineral notes as well. The Alcohol seems more present than in the 16 Years. Remarkable! It's a pleasant Nose but it is a little Shy and Laid-Back, especially in the direct confrontation with the 16 Years. 

Palate: Slightly Thin and quite a bit Sweeter as expected. The PX casks did their trick and manage to adjust the Islay features. If that's a good thing or not is up to one's personal taste. For me it's perhaps a little too sweet. I find Toasted Malt, Vanilla, Dusty Peat, light Cold Smoke, Ashes, Tar and Brine, lightly Smoked Fish or Shell Fish, Wet Grass, Tobacco, Leather, Herbal Tea, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Figs and Apple, slightly Sour Red Grapes, Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Mint, Licorice and hints of Cocoa and Dark Chocolate.  

Finish: Middle-Long and slightly Thin but pleasant and Well-Balanced with a good combination of Sweet, Sour, Salt, Oak and Spices. Perhaps a little Bitter towards the end. I find Toasted Cereals, Salted Butter, Cold Smoke, Dusty Peat, Ashes, light Iodine, Green Apple, Lemon, slightly Sour Red Grapes, Tobacco, Salted Butter, Leather, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Licorice, Menthol, Oak, light Tar and a hint of Bitter Chocolate and Espresso.   

This Lagavulin does not like added Water. Better sip it neat!

Rating: 85.5   

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

General Remarks:

The Lagavulin Distillery is located near Port Ellen on the island of Islay. It was founded in 1816 by John Johnston. It's part of the Diageo Group. The distillery has a very limited core range i.e. the 12 Year old CS, the 16 and the Distillery Edition that was launched for the first time in 1998. It is basically a standard 16 Year old that matured in Ex-Bourbon casks before being finished for a couple of months in Ex-Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks. Prices are usually in the 70-100 US Dollar range (March 2017). 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: The Lagavulin DE 1997 is a good Malt and an almost perfect way to start appreciating Islay Malts. It's a pleasure to sip this Malt and it is extremely drinkable. But it has some flaws when compared to the regular 16 years. The Nose of the DE is quite introvert and it needs a lot of time to open up. I also believe that any Sherry cask finish should enhance the character of the Spirit but not change it too much. In this case however the PX casks did their job a little too good in my opinion. As a result the Lagavulin DE 1997 became a very pleasant Single Malt that many people will enjoy. I did as well but it's a bit too much Middle of the Road. I miss the Edge and Bite of the regular 16 Years. With this statement the prosecution rests and will enjoy another dram. Because it is very drinkable!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    March 20, 2017

Talisker Distillers Edition 2015 Review


Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Skye
Brand: Talisker Distillers Edition 2015 (TD-S 5RD) 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 10 Years 
ABV: 45.8% 
Chill-Filtration: Likely
Whisky Review # 599
Buying Advice: 😄  Positive. Good Malt and Excellent Price/Quality Ratio.

Colour: Chestnut/Oloroso Sherry (Likely Artificially Coloured)

Nose: A Coastal Malt without any doubt! My first impression is Tarred Driftwood and I will certainly sniff the air around this Distillery during my upcoming visit in May this year! After a while this Wood mingles with a mix of Salted Nuts and Dried Fruit (Sultanas, Raisins, Apricots and Plums). These are the main drivers on the Nose of this Talisker. I also find Sweet Barley, Toasted Cereals, Brown Sugar, Toffee, Vanilla, Dirty Earth, Distant Factory Smoke, Sour Apples, Citrus Peel, Floral Perfume, light Iodine, Leather, Dusty Old Books, Dried Herbs, Light Aniseed, Pepper and Menthol. The Alcohol is quite present! The Sherry casks were very active considering the fact that this Talisker was only finished in those casks for a couple of months. I could imagine that regular Talisker 10 drinkers would feel that the Sherry overpowers some of the original characteristics but personally I feel that Talisker Spirit and Sherry go well together. 

Palate: Good delivery thanks to the adequate ABV. On the Palate, this Talisker is mostly Sweet with some Bitter and Sour notes as well. I find Sweet Barley, Toasted Oak, Vanilla, Toffee, Butterscotch, Salted Nuts, Brine, Dirty Earth, light Smoke, Cocoa Powder, Sour Apples, Smoked Fish on the BBQ, Leather, Ashes, Pepper, Cinnamon, Mustard, Aniseed, Licorice, Dried Herbs and Menthol.

Finish: Quite Long, Bitter-Sweet, Spicy and Ashy. A little Dry and slightly Sour towards the end. I find Sweet Barley, Malted Cereals, Dirty Earth, light Smoke, Wet Stone, Brine, Salted Fish sprinkled with Lemon, Salted Nuts, Cocoa Powder, Grapefruit Juice, Sour Apples, Leather, Licorice, Pepper, Cinnamon, Mint and a mere hint of Dark Chocolate. It is not as Peppery as the regular 10 Years but it's still tasty enough. The Finish really invites you to take another sip!   

I added a little Water and on the Nose you get more Floral Perfume, Lemon and Grapefruit. The Dirty Earth and Peat develop on the Palate together with some Juicy Oranges. With a little Water you'll get rid of most of the Alcohol and that's not a bad thing in this case. This Talisker certainly accepts a little water and I must admit I liked it both ways!  

Rating: 86.5   

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

General Remarks:

The Talisker distillery is located in Carbost on the shores of Loch Harport on the Isle of Skye. It was founded in 1830 by Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill and produces around 3 million litres of Alcohol per year. It is part of the Diageo Group. Almost on a yearly basis, a Distillers Edition is launched, usually a more or less Standard 10 Years expression that received a Sherry Cask Finish. The 2015 Edition was distilled in 2005. It matured for around 10 years in Ex-Bourbon casks before finished for a couple of months in Ex-Amoroso Sherry casks. It won't be easy to find these days but prices were usually in the 60-70 US Dollar range (March 2017). In the meantime, the Distillers Edition is part of Talisker's core range.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good stuff and not too expensive!

Conclusion: I must admit that I'm a fan of the Talisker 10 and Talisker 18. The first one is wild and rough with this unforgettable Pepper jive and the latter one is well-balanced, especially on the Palate. This 2015 Distillers Edition has a bit of both of them and I quite liked it as well. It's kind of rough on the Nose, more balanced on the Palate and with an inviting Finish. Good Price/Quality ratio as well. I will certainly try and taste the more recent Distillers Edition during my visit to Talisker. It won't be easy to find but I can certainly recommend the 2015 DE! Much better than their recent NAS expressions!   

Jan van den Ende                                                                      March 2, 2017

Bladnoch 19 Years Review

“Interesting Rebel Without a Cause”

Country: Scotland
Region: Lowlands
Brand: Bladnoch 
Bottling Series: Belted Galloway Cattle Label
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 19 Years 
ABV: 55% 
Chill-Filtration: Likely.
Whisky Review # 598
Buying Advice:😐 Neutral. Interesting but Expensive. Not my Style. 

Colour: Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose: The Alcohol is quite strong and it's not easy to find your way around it. Be sure to give this Bladnoch enough air contact. Malt and Straw are the main drivers on the Nose but a few surprising artificial Tropical Fruit notes appear as well. I find Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Heather-Honey, Dried Grass/Straw, Vanilla, Yeast, light Sherry, Mixed Citrus Peel, Hazelnut-Chocolate, Oak, Floral Perfume, Cinnamon and hints of Cardboard, Mint, Coconut, Pear, Pineapple and Mango.

Palate: Dry, Malty, Oaky and Spicy. The Alcohol remains very present. I find Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Grass and Straw, Vanilla, Toffee, Green Coffee Beans, Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, Floral Perfume, Tutti-Frutti Bubble Gum, Coconut, Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom, Oak, Hazelnut-Chocolate, Heather-Honey and a sprinkle of Mint. 

Finish: Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet and Spicy. Very Dry towards the end. I find Toasted Barley, Toast, Grass/Straw, Nuts, Vanilla, Toffee, Lemon, Grapefruit, Herbal Tea, Oak, Coconut, Pear, Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom and light Menthol.  

I added a little Water and on the Nose you get more Malt, Citrus and Perfume. On the Palate, the added Water helps to kill the Alcohol bite. The Finish gets a bit weak though. My advise is to carefully add a few drops at a time until you find the perfect balance. 

Rating: 82.5  

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

General Remarks:

The Bladnoch Distillery is located in Bladnoch, Wigtown and was founded in 1817 by Thomas and John McClelland. It changed hands various times before being mothballed by United Distillers in 1993. A year later it was bought by Raymond Armstrong but unfortunately the distillery went into administration in 2014 and was put up for sale again. In 2015 it was bought by David Prior, an Australian businessman who wants to put Bladnoch on the whisky map again. The 19 Years I'm tasting today was distilled around 1990 and bottled in 2009. It most likely matured in a mix of Refill Ex-Bourbon and Refill ex-Sherry Casks but I'm not absolutely sure about that. It's quite expensive and prices are usually in the 150/200 US Dollar range (February 2017).

Drinking Experience Neat: Quite interesting. It's not my style though.

Conclusion: This is my third mature Bladnoch and I am pretty sure now that it's not my favourite style of Whisky. I must admit though that's it's interesting and different. But I find it a bit too much Rebel Without a Cause. My main problems with Bladnoch are the lack of Balance and the very present Alcohol. A little Water helps to control the latter but also takes away quite a bit of the character. Because this Single Malt certainly does not lack personality. You will remember Bladnoch once you've tasted it. It doesn't quite work for me but do give it a try when you encounter it as taste is of course a very personal matter. It is quite expensive as it has become a bit of a cult name in the Whisky world. Let's see if the new owners with their new equipment can come up with a slightly more balanced Whisky in the future without compromising the "old" Bladnoch style too much.

Jan van den Ende                                                               February 27, 2017

Miltonduff 1987 (Private Cellar) Review

“The Heart of Ballantine’s”

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Miltonduff 1987
Bottled By: Forbes Ross & Co Ltd, Rutherglen (Private Cellar Series)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 20 Years
ABV: 43% 
Chill-Filtration: No 
Whisky Review # 597
Buying Advice: 😒  Negative. Too expensive for what it offers.

Colour: Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose: Based on Colour and Aroma I assume that this Miltonduff matured most likely in Refill Ex-Bourbon Casks. Be sure to give this Malt enough time in the glass as the Aromas are liberated quite slowly. My first impression is Strawberry Yogurt and that's quite unusual. On the Nose this Miltonduff is quite Light and a bit Introvert. The casks have not been very active. I further find traces of Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Honey, Vanilla, Pancakes with Maple Syrup, Citrus Peel, Apple, Pear, Banana, Pineapple, Peach, Resin, Floral Perfume, Grass, Nutella, Oak, Wax and Cinnamon.  

Palate: The Delivery is on the Light side. This Malt would have been better when bottled at 46%. On the Palate this Miltonduff is Bitter-Sweet and presents some Toasted Cereals, Barley Sugar, Vanilla, Caramel, Salted Almonds, light Honey, Lemon, Grapefruit, Oak, light Licorice, light Aniseed, Pepper, Cinnamon, light Tobacco, Wax, light tropical Fruit (Pineapple or perhaps Banana) and Cocoa.   

Finish: Rather Short, Bitter-Sweet and slightly Herbal with some Acid - and Metallic tones as well. I find Toasted Cereals, Salted Almonds, Grapefruit Juice, Vanilla, Oak, light Tobacco, Dried Herbs, Pepper, light Menthol, light Aniseed, light Licorice, Lemon and, after a while,  Strawberry-Flavoured Milk Chocolate. 

I added a little Water and on the Nose you will get more Malty and Floral notes. Some Banana Ice Cream as well. Palate and Finish do not improve however.

Rating: 83.5 

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 21

General Remarks:

This distillery was founded in 1824 and is located in Elgin. A huge reconstruction of the distillery took place in 1974. It changed hands various times over the years but since 2005 it is owned by Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard). Most of the production is destined for the Chivas blends. More specifically, Miltonduff and Glenburgie form the heart of Ballantine's. You don't encounter many official Distillery Single Malts so you need to look for Indies. Forbes Ross was founded in 1953. Their current status is dissolved however. You can still find this Malt on the Internet. I've seen prices in the US Dollar 100/150 range (February 2017).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but without any Wow factor.

Conclusion: I'm not impressed by this Miltonduff, especially when you consider the current price level. It's not bad but it misses character and personality. I can see why most of the output of the distillery disappears in the Ballantine's Blend. Not at all my favourite Blend by the way. Some excellent casks could have given the Spirit a Face lift. I must conclude however that the casks weren't very active. This was only my first mature Miltonduff so unfortunately I can't make any comparisons. I will try to get some additional samples from more renowned Independent Bottlers like Gordon & MacPhail. Maybe that can change my mind about this Distillery. For the time being however I can't recommend this Single Malt as it is currently too expensive for what it offers.

Jan van den Ende                                                               February 24, 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

The Dalmore 18 Years Review

“What If…?”

Country: Scotland
Region: Northern Highlands
Brand: The Dalmore
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 18 Years
ABV: 43% 
Chill-Filtration: Yes 
Whisky Review # 595
Buying Advice: 😕  Negative. Good Malt but way too expensive. 

Colour: Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: The Sherry Cask influence is quite clear. I also pick up a little Sulphur but it's not really a problem here. I would have expected for the Alcohol to be fully integrated but that's not the case. It's quite noticeable actually. On the Nose, the Dalmore 18 Years is Rich and Sherry-Sweet with some Sour and Herbal notes as well. I find Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Brown Sugar, Butterscotch, Treacle, Toffee, Dried Fruits (Raisins, Sultanas, Apricot), Stewed Fruit (Apple, Strawberry and Pear), Red Wine, Vanilla, Orange Peel, Peanut Butter, Christmas Cake, Oak, light Licorice, light Aniseed, Cinnamon, light Ginger and hints of Dark Chocolate, Leather, Tobacco and Espresso. There's more than enough to discover on the Nose but the combo is slightly on the Heavy side. It might do well though as an after-dinner Whisky accompanied by a nice Medium-Strong Cigar. 

Palate: The Delivery is a little Thin. This really should have been bottled at around 46%. On the other hand the Alcohol itself remains quite noticeable. I know this sounds a bit like a paradox but I can't find a better way to describe it. I also find a light Sulphur/Rubber note again. Nothing too serious though. On the Palate this Dalmore is mostly Sweet and offers Malted Barley, Caramel, Stewed Apples and Pears, Plums, Dried Fruit (Raisins, Sultanas), Nuts, X-mas Cake, Marzipan, slightly Bitter Orange, Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Mulled Wine (spiced with Pepper, Cinnamon, Clove and Nutmeg), Licorice, Aniseed, Ginger, Mint and a few Herbs.   
Finish: Quite Long, Bitter-Sweet and Medium-Spicy. The Oak influence is quite clear by now and the end is a bit Dry and perhaps a tad too Bitter. I find Malted Barley, Caramel, Toffee, Treacle, Butterscotch, Bitter Orange, Marzipan filled with Almonds, Stewed Apples and Pears, Cocoa Powder, Mulled Wine spiced with Pepper, Clove, Cardamom and Cinnamon and hints of Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Plum Jam, Aniseed and Tobacco. The Alcohol remains noticeable.

Added water does not improve the Dalmore 18 Years in my opinion. I got some more Orange and Nuts on the Palate and some extra Tobacco in the Finish. My advise is to sip it neat. 

Rating: 85 

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

General Remarks:

The Dalmore distillery is located in Alness in the Northern Highlands. It was founded in 1839 by Alexander Matheson. In 2014 Emperador Inc. bought the distillery from Whyte & Mackay. The core range basically consists of the 12, 15, 18 and 25 Years Old plus the 1263 King Alexander III and the Cigar Malt. The 18 Years I'm tasting today matured for 14 Years in Ex-Bourbon Casks, followed by 3 Years in Ex-Matusalem Oloroso Sherry butts. Finally, the Spirit was married for another year in upstanding Ex-Sherry butts. The 18 Years is quite expensive at an average 140 US Dollars (February 2017). 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. The Finish is perhaps a tad too Bitter.

Conclusion: Let me start by saying that the Dalmore 18 Years is not a bad Single Malt. Certainly not if you're into Sherried after dinner Malts. But it's quite expensive and at this price level it should have been bottled at at least 46%, it should not have been artificially coloured and it should not have been Chill-Filtered. The use of only first class casks could have saved us from the Sulphur notes and the slightly excessive Bitterness in the Finish. There are too many ifs and buts to fully recommend this 18 Years. Better stay with the Dalmore 15 Years if you want a better Price/Quality ratio. You might also consider the very easy-going Dalmore 12 Years if you want to try out this Distillery.

Jan van den Ende                                                               February 13, 2017