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

Ardbeg Mor Review - Ardbeg Kelpie Review- Ardbeg Galileo Review


“Ardbeg Special”

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 distillery like today or with specific bottlers, countries or regions. 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 Ardbeg Single Malts. Enjoy!
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Image result for ardbeg mor 46%
Whisky Review # 806

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Ardbeg Mor 2nd Edition - Distilled 1998 - Bottled 2008 - Limited Release
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 10 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Cask
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 600 - 800 (March 2019) - 4,5 liter Bottle
Buying Advice: 😋Very nice young Ardbeg.  P/Q ratio: 👎 Absurd prices!

Colour:

Chardonnay (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Very pleasant and well-balanced young Islay Malt. Campfire Smoke and Coastal Peat are quite present but certainly not in an annoying way. The Nose is not at all complex but if you like young Islay whisky you will love it. I wouldn't say it's better on the Nose than the regular 10 Years but it does have more balance. I like it a lot!

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Campfire Smoke, Coastal Peat, Smoked Fish/Shellfish sprinkled with Lemon, Tart Apple, Pear, Ashes, Tar, Polished Leather Upholstery and Bitter Chocolate with a very high percentage of Cacao.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Brown Sugar, Salt Water, Ocean Spray, Wet Sand, Pineapple, Nectarine, Smoked Ham, Iodine and Almond Marzipan.



Palate:

The relative youth of the Spirit is more noticeable at this point and also in the Finish. Still it's very pleasing and warming and it makes a great dram to enjoy on a cold and windy Islay day after a walk from Port Ellen to the distillery.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Burnt Toast, Cold Cigar Smoke, Clay, Tar, Ashes, Soot, Iodine, Toffee, Fish & Shellfish, Lemon, Leather, Pepper and Cocoa Powder.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Tart Apple, Pear, Banana, Salt Water, Cinnamon, Almond-Marzipan, Dusty Warehouse, Licorice, Menthol and a hint of Rubber/Plastic.

Finish:

Quite Long, Sweet at first but with a little more Bitterness towards the Dry end. It's a little Edgy thanks to its relative youth. I find Toasted Barley, Cold Cigar Smoke, Wet Clay, Ashes, Tar, Toffee, Cheese, Lemon, Salted Fish and Shellfish, Salty Bacon, Toasted Almonds, Leather, Pepper, Cinnamon, Aniseed, Licorice, Menthol, Espresso and a hint of Rubber/Plastic.

Drinking Advice:

The Mor does not benefit from added Water. The ABV of 46% is spot on.

Rating: 87

Nose: 22.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience:

Good

Conclusion:

The current Distillery was founded in 1815 by John MacDougall close to the little town of Port Ellen on the island of Islay. In 1997 the distillery was bought by The Glenmorangie Company (part of French based Moet Hennessy) from the previous owners Allied Distillers. This company closed Ardbeg between 1981 and 1989 and only produced yearly during 2 months between 1989 and 1997. As a result, Ardbeg is lacking older stocks and is almost forced to launch Limited Editions while maintaining a very limited core range that consists of the 10 Years, Corryvreckan, An Oa and the Uigeadail. Like Glenmorangie, Ardbeg likes to experiment with Wood, Toasting and NAS expressions. In 2018 Ardbeg will produce around 1,4 million liters of Alcohol.

The Ardbeg Mor First Edition was launched in 2007 and was bottled at Cask Strength. At the moment you will have to pay around U$ 1200-2000 for a 4,5 liter bottle. That's crazy!

The Ardbeg Mor Second Edition that I'm tasting today was released in 2008 and bottled at the usual Ardbeg 46%. By the way, the Gaelic word Mor means big or magnificent. Quite an appropriate name for a 4,5 liter bottle.

I've said it before and I will say it again. Limited Distillery Editions should be bought at the distillery as soon as released. After a while the bottles become scarce and prices rise through the roof. In this case that's a real pity cause this Mor is a great young Islay Malt and I would love to buy bottles of this quality at a reasonable price to be able to enjoy this Arbeg Mor and Mor. Unfortunately, only a limited number of Ardbeg fans will have access to the Mor 2nd Edition at the current price level. As a small comfort, we do still have the regular 10 Years!


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Image result for ardbeg kelpie

Whisky Review # 807

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Ardbeg Kelpie
Type: Single Malt Whisky - Limited Edition - 60.000 bottles
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Mix of Bourbon Casks and Virgin Black Sea Oak Casks
Chill-Filtration: No
Price Range: 140-230 (March 2019)
Buying Advice: 😑Average Young Malt. P/Q ratio: 👎Way too expensive!

Colour:

Golden Straw

Nose:

This is quite different from your regular Ardbeg. Not as much Peat and only mild Smoke. It's quite Sweet but not really in a Fruity way. It's more the Vanilla of the Virgin Oak. It's a rather Light Nose and there's a Young feeling to it as well. It's not really unpleasant but a bit artificial.

Main Aromas:

Toast and Margarine, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Brine, A Manure/Straw mixture, Dusty Earth, Dough, Gooseberries, Smoked Fish/Shellfish, Driftwood, Herbal Tea, Cheese, Lemon, Pepper and Cocoa Powder.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Sweet Barley, Heather-Honey, Toffee, Marzipan, Nectarine, Banana, Band-Aid, Wet Rocks, Plastic, Rubber, Motor Oil, Soot, Mushrooms, Ginger and Nutmeg.


Palate:

I wouldn't call it Watery but it is rather Thin. The relative Youth of the Spirit is crystal clear. The Palate is a combination of Sweet, Salty, Bitter and Green notes. Lots of Pepper, Menthol and Grassy notes.

Main Flavours:

Burnt Toast, Vanilla, Toffee, Wet Earth, Cold Cigar Smoke, Soot, Ashes, Iodine, Brine, Grass, Smoked Fish/Shellfish and Bacon, Lemon, Driftwood, Grapefruit, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Menthol and Bitter Chocolate.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Sweet Barley, Treacle, Heather-Honey, Dough, Dusty Track, Licorice, Rubber, Plastic, Herbal Tea, Nectarine, Marzipan, Nutmeg, Caffe Latte and Cheese.

Finish:

Quite Long and very Sweet. A bit of Woody Bitterness towards the Dry end. A little on the Light side. This is very Young Whisky in my opinion. I find Burnt Toast, Salty Toffee, Wet Peat, Grass, Brine, Tar, Ashes, Soot, Dough, Cigar Smoke, Wet Newspaper, Iodine, Rubber, Plastic, Lemon, Grapefruit, Green Apple, Smoked Fish/Shellfish, Cured Meat, Marzipan, Driftwood, White Pepper, Cinnamon, Clove, Licorice, Menthol, Caffe Latte, Green Tea, Cheese and Cocoa.

Drinking Advice:

The Kelpie does not improve with added Water as it dangerously moves towards New Spirit.

Rating: 82.5

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

Drinking Experience:

Okay

Conclusion:

The Kelpie I'm reviewing today was released in 2017 on the occasion of Feis Isle 2017. This one was bottled at 46%. A Committee Release bottled at 51.7% was released as well. According to the legend a Kelpie is a mysterious Water Spirit that might take the form of various animals such as Horses, Bulls or Dogs. The Kelpie 46% was partly matured in Ex-Bourbons Casks (around 55%) and Virgin Black Sea Oak casks from the Adyghe Republic in the Caucasus (Around 45%). The latter casks were imported by Bill Lumsden, distilling Director or Ardbeg and Glenmorangie.

I'm a big fan of Ardbeg and three of their whiskies are in my Top 20 so far. You can look it up here. But lately too many of their Limited Editions do not convince me. Let's take the Kelpie. It's a younger version of the 10 Years "enriched" with Spirit that matured in exotic Virgin Wood and sold at more than double the price of the standard 10 Years. Does that make sense! No, No and No in my opinion. I advise you to leave this stuff alone. It's not worth your money! Let's end this Review on a positive note. I do like the fact that new forms of Wood are tested and I congratulate Ardbeg in this respect. But these new ways should always seek to enhance the mature Spirit. Unfortunately, that's not the case with the Kelpie!


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Image result for ardbeg galileo

Whisky Review # 808

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Ardbeg Galileo - Limited Edition - 15000 Bottles
Type: Single Malt Whisky - Distilled 1999 - Bottled June 2012
Age: 12 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 49%
Maturation: Mix of Ex-Marsala Casks (Sicily) and Ex-Bourbon casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 220-340 (March 2019)
Buying Advice: 😀Interesting and Different Ardbeg. P/Q ratio: 👎

Colour:

Light Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Again quite different from your basic Ardbeg. The Sweet Nose reminds me more of X-mas than of the South-Eastern coastline of Islay. There is some Peat and Smoke of course but they linger in the background. The Marsala casks are certainly noticeable but they do not overwhelm at the same time. The Nose is quite introspective so be sure to give Galileo enough "space" time in the Glass. This Nose might perhaps not please all hardcore Ardbeg fans but it is an interesting experiment nevertheless.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Caramel, (Dried) Fruit like Dark Berries, Raisins, Plums and Apricots, Red Wine, Sweet Red Apple, Fruitcake, Peat, Soft Smoke, Grass, Lemon, Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg and Cloves.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Honey, Shredded Coconut, Dusty Earth, Iodine, Soot, Tar, Ashes, Wet Rock and Sand, Fish and Shellfish, Cured Meat, Roasted Nuts, Banana, Peach, Pineapple, Ginger, Cinnamon, Menthol, Charred Oak, Dairy and Leather.


Palate:

Bitter-Sweet with a few Sour elements. The Islay notes are more present now. It's not a Fresh Fruity Sweetness. It reminds me a lot more of Fruit-Flavoured Candies really. The Palate is a bit of a mixed bag and I miss cohesion. I'm sure it's going somewhere but where exactly...

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley,Toast, Salted Toffee, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Apricots, Red Apple, Fruitcake, Cold Cigar Smoke, Earthy Peat, Tar, Soot, Cured Meat and Smoked Fish, Red Wine, Toasted Nuts, Pineapple, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Cherry-Flavoured Cough Pastilles, Blackberry Flavoured Yogurt, Iodine, Cocoa Powder, Charred Oak, Licorice, Menthol and Leather.
  
Finish:

Middle-Long, quite Spicy & Salty, Bitter-Sweet at first but slightly Sour towards the Dry end. I find Sweet Barley, Toast, Salted Caramel, Treacle, (Dried) Fruit like Plums, Raisins and Dark Berries, Red Apple, Cold Cigar Smoke, Earthy Peat, Ashes, Soot, Iodine, Tar, Rubber, Grass, Herbal Tea, Red Wine, Charred Oak, Citrus, Smoked and Cured Meat, Gooseberries, Dairy, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger and Cloves, Cocoa Powder and Leather. A light Metallic Off-Note right at the end as well as some Roasted Coffee Beans.


Drinking Advice:

Due to the small sample I only nosed/tasted this Galileo neat.

Rating: 86

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

Drinking Experience:

Good and Interesting.

Conclusion:

The Galileo was launched in 2012 to celebrate Ardbeg's experiment to send a small amount of their whisky into space at the end of 2011 aiming to find out how Whisky would mature in a zero-gravity environment. The Galileo was named after the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei. Despite all this the Ardbeg Galileo does not actually contain traces of the Space Whisky.

It's not easy to judge this Galileo. It's not your average Ardbeg and at times it works a bit confusing. But it's also an interesting experiment and there's no law that says that all Ardbegs should taste the same. In fact they don't already! I wouldn't drink it on a regular basis, even if the price was reasonable which it isn't. But I do think there's a place for this type of expression in the portfolio of this distillery as not everybody appreciates drinking an ash tray. My advise to Ardbeg would be to maintain their current core range but continue to surprise us with new ideas. At a reasonable price though as otherwise the pleasures will only be shared with the happy few!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                   March 20, 2019


All Pictures were taken during our visits to Ardbeg in May 2014 and May 2017

Port Charlotte 2010 MRC 01 Review


“The Peated Promise”

Whisky Review # 804

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Port Charlotte 2010 MRC: 01 - Bottled : 2018 - 8000 Bottles
Distilled at: Bruichladdich - Limited Edition
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS (Around 7 Years)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 59.2%
Maturation: First-Fill Bourbon - and 2nd fill Bordeaux casks. Finish: MR casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 110-120 (March 2019)
Sample provided by: Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Buying Advice: 😊Good Single Malt. P/Q ratio: 😒Quite expensive for its age!

Colour:

Dark Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose:

A Sweet and Medium-Dry combination of Red Wine, Red Fruit and Coastal Peat. It works quite well actually. Unfortunately, the Spirit is rather young and the high ABV is a bit cumbersome. The Malt for this Port Charlotte is peated at 40 ppm but it is nicely tamed by the Red Wine casks. I can only imagine how good this Whisky could have been if matured for 12-15 years. It's still good but a bit too Rough and Edgy to fully convince.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Red Wine, Red Berries like Blueberries & Raspberries, Wet Clay, Orange Flavoured Dark Chocolate and Roasted Coffee.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Lemon, Tar, Ashes, Soot, Iodine, Dark Cherries, Oak Char, Nuts,  Salted Fish/Shellfish/Bacon, Straw, Leather, Tobacco, Cinnamon and Mint.


Palate:

Mainly Sweet with a little Bitterness towards the end. The high ABV can't hide the relative Youth of the Spirit. Peat and Smoke are much more noticeable at this point.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Wet Peat, Cold Smoke, Hospital, Ashes, Salted Caramel, Red Berries, Red Wine, Orange, Charred Oak, Fish/Shellfish/Bacon on the BBQ, Nuts, Lemon-Grass and Pepper.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Honey, Coconut, Tar, Soot, Dark Cherries, Straw/Grass, Salted Nuts, Dried Herbs, Tobacco, Leather, Cinnamon, Cloves and Licorice.


Finish:

Sweet, Ashy and Dry. Peat and Smoke are more noticeable now. I find Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Honey, Sweet Peat, Hospital, Ashes, Charred Oak, Banana, Dark Red Fruit, Red Wine, Salted Fish/Bacon, Nuts, Espresso, Lemon-Grass, Citrus Fruit, Pepper, Cloves, Leather, Licorice, Herbal Tea, Tobacco and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and on the Nose the rather Sharp Alcohol retreats. The Peat comes more to the forefront now while the Fruit is less intense. The Palate becomes a little more Creamy but the Finish looses intensity. As usual, this is a personal matter but a few added drops can't hurt in my opinion.

Rating: 86.5 

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

Drinking Experience:

Good

Conclusion:

Bruichladdich was founded in 1881 by William Robertson and William and James Greenless. In 2003 the distillery was bought by Burn Stewart Distilleries, part of Distell Int. Ltd. The distillery and surroundings really needed investments as we witnessed during our visits in 2014 and 2017. And finally this is really going to happen. Some warehouses will be demolished and new ones will be constructed closer to the sea. All other buildings will be refurbished and a much needed new Visitor Centre will be created. All this will probably be ready by 2022.

The distillery produces over 2 million litres per year of which 35% is peated. The core range includes the 12, 18, 25 and 40 Years as well as the peated Toiteach A Dha and Stiuireadair.

The Port Charlotte I'm reviewing today was released in 2018. It is made with 100% Scottish Barley from the Invernesshire region. The Spirit matured for 50% in First-Fill Bourbons casks and 50% Second Fill French Red Wine casks that were subsequently married and finished for a year in Red Wine casks from the Bordeaux Chateau Mouton Rothschild. That explains the MRC in the name of this Single Malt. In the old days it was usual to ship French Wine in casks to the UK to be bottled there. These casks were then bought by the Whisky industry to mature their Spirit. This lasted until cheaper Bourbon casks became available. The MRC 01 seeks to revive this relationship between Scotland and France.

The Port Charlotte 2010 MRC 01 is a good Single Malt but it could have been a great one. How? The maturation time should be increased to 12-15 Years. That would automatically bring the ABV to a more suitable level. The MR Finish could be a bit longer and/or you could introduce a number of First-Fill Red Wine casks to the maturation. As so often is the case, the idea behind the MRC 01 is good but it simply does not get enough time to truly develop its potential. It's still a good Single Malt but it could have been so much more!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    March 1, 2019

Mortlach 16 Years Distiller's Dram Review - Mortlach 16 Years Flora & Fauna Review

Image result for mortlach 16 years

“The Battle Of The Mortlachs”

Whisky Review # 802

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Mortlach Distiller's Dram
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 16 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43.4%
Maturation: A Mix of First-Fill and Refill Sherry Wood
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: Around US$ 90 (February 2019)
Sample provided by: Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Buying Advice: 😃Good Modern Sherried Malt. P/Q ratio: 😔Borderline!

Colour:

Oloroso Sherry (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Nice Clean Sherry without a trace of Sulphur. Sweet, Waxy and Fruity. Alcohol and Oak are noticeable. There is a little bit of the Mortlach Meatiness but it is well hidden amongst the other Aromas. The Nose is quite pleasant although slightly "Middle of the Road".

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Demerara Sugar, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums & Figs, Baked Apple, Dusty Oak, Banana, Orange, Cinnamon and Ginger.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Caramel, Heather-Honey, Dark Berries/Cherries, Almond Nougat, Dusty Leather Upholstery, Forrest Floor, Milk Chocolate, Milk/Cheese, Nutmeg, Cloves, Mint and mere hints of Smoke and Tobacco.

Related image

Palate:

Quite Oily and just a wee little bit on the Thin side. This Mortlach Spirit can very easily handle an ABV of 46-48%. Still, it's a nicely matured Malt with a balanced Sherry influence. A little bit more of Mortlach Meat in the background. On the Palate, the 16 Years is Bitter-Sweet with some Sour elements. A little less added Caramel wouldn't hurt as well!

Main Flavours:

Malted Cereals, Demerara Sugar, Caramel, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Plums, Dark Red Fruit, Apple, Seville Orange, Oak Char, Dirty Earth, Cinnamon, Mint, Pepper, Cloves and Cocoa Powder.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Vanilla, Gooseberries, Banana, Pear, Milk/Cheese, Nuts, Nutmeg, Tobacco, Dusty Leather and Varnish.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet & slightly Mineral towards the Dry end. I find Malted Cereals, Demerara Sugar, Dried Fruit (Raisins, Plums & Dark Berries), Dusty Track, Apple, Pear, Seville Orange, Oak Char, Cocoa Powder, After Eight Chocolate, Varnish, Pepper, Cloves, Nutmeg, Mint, Caffe-Latte, Pipe Tobacco &  Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Nose becomes very Fruity indeed. The Finish gets extra Spice. In this case I enjoyed the Spirit both with- and without Water so be sure to try it out both ways.

Rating: 86

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

Drinking Experience:

Good

Conclusion:

Mortlach was founded in 1823 by James Findlater and is located in Dufftown, Keith, Banffshire. It is owned by Diageo. The distillery has a cult status mainly because of the 16 Years Flora Fauna that I am reviewing today. This expression was discontinued in 2014 however and replaced by a new range that consisted of the Rare Old, Special Strength, 18 Years and 25 years. All four were mainly matured in Ex-Bourbon Barrels and were launched in 50 cl bottles at rather high prices. This move was not appreciated by the fans and in 2018 Diageo launched a new core range that consists of the 12 Year old Wee Witchie, the 16 Year old Distiller's Dram I am reviewing today and the 20 Year old Cowie's Blue Seal. I have to give credit to Diageo for listening to their clients although I imagine that decreasing Mortlach sales were the decisive factor to review the core range.

I did not taste any of the former core range expressions that were launched in 2014 and discontinued in 2018. I do feel however that this 16 Years Distiller's Dram will be quite successful. And it will probably please both Mortlach fans and new customers as it is much cleaner and more accessible than the old Mortlachs while keeping a good part of the Distillery character. The Cask Management is good and the Sherry casks add to the Spirit without dominating it. In short, a "Modern" Mortlach and one of the better new Single Malts I've tasted recently. It's still a bit expensive though. I'm curious to see how it compares to the old Warhorse, the 16 Years Flora & Fauna!

Jan van den Ende                                                                February 25, 2019

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Image result for mortlach flora & fauna

Whisky Review # 803

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Mortlach Flora & Fauna - Discontinued
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 16 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Mixture of First-Fill and Refill American and European Sherry Wood
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 240-260 (February 2019)
Sample provided by: Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Buying Advice: 😀Nice Old Style Mortlach. Current P/Q ratio: 👎Discontinued!

Colour:

Mahogany/Brown (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Strong Sherry Cask influence. It's a bit Dusty and Old-Fashioned but I don't get any Sulphur. Lots of Dried Fruit, Nuts, Orange and Spices. The Alcohol is there so you need to Nose your way around that. Certainly more Meaty than the new 16 Years reviewed above. Still, I like both noses as they are.

Main Aromas:

Malted Barley, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas, Apricot, Apple and Banana, Orange, Blueberry Muffins, Nuts, Heather-Honey, Grass, Dusty Charred Oak, Wax, Fresh Herbs, Pepper, Cinnamon and Mint.   

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Buttered Toast, Toffee, Vanilla, Tangerine, Lemon, Pineapple, Floral Soap, Tea, Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger, Tobacco and hints of Rubber and Varnish.
Related image

Palate:

Nice combination of Sweet, Bitter and Sour. Once again, this Spirit deserves an ABV of 46-48%. It's a little more Dirty, Meaty and less polished than the new 16 Years and the Sherry cask influence is stronger but it's good in its own right.

Main Flavours:

Malted Barley, Brown Sugar, Dark Fruit like Cherries, Plums and Sultanas, Nuts,  Orange, Wet Stone, Dusty Track, Charred Oak, Dark Chocolate, Pepper, Clove and Cinnamon.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Apple, Raisins, Tangerine, Lemon Ice Tea, Grass, Mint and Aniseed.

Finish:

Middle-Long and Medium-Dry. Mainly Sweet with a light Bitterness towards the end. I find slightly Dirty Sherry, Toasted Malt, Caramel, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Treacle, Dark Red Fruit like Cherries, Stewed Apple, Sultanas, Walnuts, Orange, Lemon Ice Tea, Caffe Latte, Charred Oak, Brandy, Pepper, Cloves, Cinnamon, Tobacco, Dark Chocolate, Mint and Aniseed.

Drinking Advice:

The Flora and Fauna 16 Years does not need added Water.

Rating: 85.5

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

Drinking Experience:

Good

Conclusion:

That was an enjoyable Mortlach session! Both expressions are different but good in their own rights. The Flora & Fauna is more old fashioned Mortlach. It's a bit Dirty and Dusty and also more Meaty. The new Distiller's Dram is more Modern, polished and accessible. The Flora & Fauna has got more Distillery character but that might not be to every body's liking. The new 16 Years maintained sufficient distillery character but makes Mortlach more accessible. Cult Vs Mainstream? That's perhaps a bit too strong but I think you got the picture. The good news is that both Mortlachs are very enjoyable Single Malts. I'm hard pressed to name a favourite but in the end I go with the new Distiller's dram. And that's quite remarkable as I am usually rather conservative with regards to Whisky. That's a real compliment to Diageo! I do not always share their strategy but in this case they got it right. Mortlach is dead! Long live Mortlach!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                February 25, 2019

 

Laphroaig Four Oak Review



“Laphroaig Water”

Whisky Review # 801

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Laphroaig Four Oak
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Bourbon, Quarter, Virgin American Oak, European Oak Hogsheads
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 55-75 (February 2019)
Buying Advice: 😡Come On Laphroaig, you can do much better! P/Q ratio: 👎

Colour:

Golden Straw (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Young, Light, Sour and Dusty. Some of the famous Laphroaig Aromas are there but in a Watered-Down form. Re-Fill Wood and New Oak are noticeable and so is the Alcohol. The Nose is not really bad but it kinda smells like work in progress.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Cereals, Slightly Burnt Toast, Dirty Peat, Cold Smoke, Caramel, Lemon Ice Tea, Grass, Green Apple, Unripe Banana, Wood Pellets, Smoked Fish, Floral Soap, Salt and Espresso.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Iodine, Soot, Ashes, Tar, Plastic, Rubber, Gas Station, Cheese, Mineral notes, Bounty Candy Bars and a hint of Sweaty Feet.


Palate:

Young and Thin. A mix of Sugary Sweet and Sour notes. Lots of Alcohol. Again this feeling of Unfinished Business.

Main Flavours:

Peated Grist, Dirty Peat, Cold Smoke, Salted Caramel, Floral Perfume, Smoked Fish and Shellfish, Green Apple, Pear, Green Banana, Lemon, Licorice, Pepper & Nutmeg.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toasted Nuts, Vanilla, Soot, Ashes, Tar, Plastic, Rubber, Iron and Espresso.


Finish:

Middle-Long and very Thin. A mixture of Sugary Sweet and Sour with a bit of Bitterness that develops with time. Medium Dry. I find Peated Grist, Salted Caramel, Dirty Peat, Cold Smoke, Soot, Ashes, Brine, Iodine, Floral Soap, Lemon, Grapefruit, Smoked Fish & Shellfish, Vanilla, Espresso, Licorice, Pepper, Nutmeg and Casted Iron. Clearly a very young Islay Malt. The Alcohol is still noticeable.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water completely kills this Four Oak. It's already Thin enough as it is.

Rating: 78

Nose: 20 - Taste: 19.5 - Finish: 19 - Overall: 19.5

Drinking Experience Neat:

Okay

Drinking Experience on the Rocks:

Okay

Conclusion:

Laphroaig is located a few miles outside Port Ellen on the island of Islay and was founded in 1815 by Alexander and 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 favourite distilleries. The 10, the discontinued 18 and the old 15 Years are some of my all time favourites. 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.

The Four Oak was launched in 2017, initially for Travel Retail only. It is a vatting of young Laphroaig Spirit that matured in Ex-Bourbon barrels, Quarter Casks, Virgin American Oak barrels and European Oak hogsheads.

Whisky derives from the old Scottish Gaelic word Uisge-Beatha, Water of Life. It seems to me that Laphroaig takes this a bit too literally with this Four Oak. You use Water for making Whisky but it should not taste as such! Laphroaig used to be a Single Malt that you either liked or hated. With Single Malts like the Four Oak that's not the case anymore. This is overpriced young Islay malt that should probably convince newbies that Peated Whisky is not something you should be afraid of. I know there's a shortage of aged Spirit and I know there's a shortage of good and affordable casks. But I also know that you can't (yet) replace sufficient maturation by New Wood and Smaller Casks.  The Four Oak is a good example of that. It smells and tastes like a rush job. I don't think that Laphroaig is doing itself and the market a favour by releasing Single Malts like this. This is not the way to go. Laphroaig should not be a whisky that's kinda Peaty, kinda Light, kinda Watery and kinda okay.
  
Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 February 8, 2019

Glenburgie 1997 (Douglas Laing) Review - Tormore 2004 (Gordon & MacPhail) Review - Tamdhu 1987 (Mo Or) Review


“Speyside Special # 5” 

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 form of Specials. These specials will deal with a specific region like today or with specific distilleries, bottlers or countries. These reviews 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 Speyside Single Malts. Enjoy!
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Image result for hunter laing glenburgie 15 Years old malt cask 50%

Whisky Review # 797

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenburgie - Speyside Edition Nr. 4 - Especially bottled for Germany
Bottled by: Douglas Laing - The Old Malt Cask Series in April 2013 - 708 bottles
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years - Distilled June 1997
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50%
Maturation: Refill Sherry Butt
Chill Filtration: No
Average Price: US$ 65 (January 2019)
Buying Advice:😀Pleasant Easy-Going Speyside Malt with a good P/Q ratio 👍.

Colour:

Old Gold (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Sweet and a little Meaty and Dusty. A few Sour notes as well. The Sherry Cask influence is clear. Please give this Glenburgie enough time in the glass before Nosing as the Alcohol is quite present. I find a little bit of Sulphur as well but it stays within acceptable limits. The Nose is okay but nothing out of the ordinary.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Cereals, lightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Nuts, Dried Fruit like Sultanas & Plums, Caramel, Straw and Grass, Apple, Pear, Orange, Pineapple, Dried Herbs, Dusty Earth, Oak, Pepper, Mint and Cloves.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Toffee, Heather Honey, Wax, Red Grapes, Red Berries, Grapefruit, Wet Rocks/Sand, Cinnamon and a twist of Lemon.

Image result for speyside region

Palate:

Bitter Sweet, Malty and Fruity. A few Sour notes. Watch out because it goes down dangerously easy!

Main Flavours:

Toasted and Malted Barley, Butterscotch, Caramel, Straw and Grass, Apple, Pear, Orange, Pineapple, Dried Herbs, Pepper, Ginger and Cardamom.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Buttered Toast, Honey, Strawberries, Grapes, Lemon, Passion Fruit, Nectarine, Lemon, Nuts, Oak, Fruit-Flavoured Tea, Cloves, Cinnamon, Licorice & Nutmeg.

Finish:

Middle-Long. Bitter-Sweet with a few Sour notes. Quite Fruity. The Oak and Oak Spices are more noticeable towards the Dry end. A little bit of Alcohol remains present. I find Toasted and Malted Cereals, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Straw/Grass,  Apple, Pear, Fresh Strawberries, Orange, Grapefruit, Pineapple, Wax, Dusty Track, Oak, Coconut, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Menthol and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Alcohol retreats on the Nose. But you will loose a bit of density at the same time. Palate and Finish do not change a lot. As usual adding Water is a personal decision. I prefer it neat but this Glenburgie easily accepts a few drops.

Rating: 85

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

Drinking Experience:

Good

Conclusion:

The Glenburgie distillery was founded in 1810 by William Paul, initially under the name Kilnflat, It closed in 1870 & reopened as Glenburgie in 1878. Since 2005 the distillery is owned by Chivas Regal (Pernod Ricard). Glenburgie is one of the three main Malt components of the Ballantine's Blend. The other two being Miltonduff and Glentauchers. The only current official Single Malt is the 15 year old. Production amounts to around 4.2 litres per year.

You can't go wrong with this Glenburgie. It's a Fruity and pleasant Speyside Malt that would be a perfect day-to-day dram if you like this type of Whisky. There's nothing really special about it but there's nothing wrong as well. Just easy-going and relaxing. The P/Q ratio is correct and I certainly recommend this Malt.

File:Glenburgie.jpg

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Image result for tormore 2004 gordon & macphail 61.2%

Whisky Review # 798

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Tormore 2004 - Distilled on 14-06-2004
Bottled By: Gordon & MacPhail, Elgin on 04/05/2016
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 11/12 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 61.2% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: First Fill Ex-Bourbon Barrels - Casks 895-898
Chill-Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 55-75 (January 2019)
Buying Advice: 😕Unbalanced. Too high ABV. P/Q Ratio: 👎

Colour:

Light Golden/Pale Straw (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Sweet, Clean and Malty. Not bad bud a bit plain and unexciting. The Alcohol is quite noticeable as could be expected given the very high ABV.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Caramel, Straw/Grass, Nectarine, Banana, Pear, Bounty Candy Bars, Dried Herbs, Cinnamon and Mint.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Butterscotch, Toffee, Rose Water, Milk Chocolate, Charred Oak, Apple, Lemon, Gooseberry and Dusty Track.

Image result for spey river

Palate:

The Alcohol is very strong and it's quite difficult to find your way around it. This Malt definitively needs added Water. The Palate is Sweet, Tannic and Fruity and you will find lots of Oak and Wood Spice.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Straw, Green Apple, Pear, Banana, Gooseberry, Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Menthol, Mint and Cardamom.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather Honey, Brown Sugar, Lemon, Grapefruit, Raspberry, Marzipan & Milk Chocolate.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Tannic and Bitter-Sweet. A few Sour notes as well. Increasingly Bitter towards the Medium-Dry end. Aggressive Alcohol. I find Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Herbal Cough Syrup, Straw, Banana, Pear, Oak, Lemon Grass, Pepper, Cinnamon, Menthol, Mint and Milk Chocolate.

Drinking Advice:

Adding a few drops of Water is a must in this case and you won't hear me say that a lot! The ABV of 61.2% is simply too high for this relatively Young Spirit. The added Water does not significantly change the overall profile but it's just a little easier to drink it this way.

Rating: 80

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 19.5 - Overall: 20

Drinking Experience:

Okay

Conclusion:

The Tormore distillery was founded in 1958 in Grantown on Spey by Schendley Int. who needed a Single Malt for their Long John Blend. Since 2005 it is owned by Chivas Regal (Pernod Ricard). Most of its production is destined for Blends like Long John, Ballantine's and Cream of the Barley. The two official Single Malts are the 14 & 16 Years. Production amounts to around 4.8 million litres per year.

I'm usually a big fan of Gordon & MacPhail but in my opinion they have got this one wrong. I love Cask Strength Whiskies but this Tormore Spirit is simply too Young and, well delicate, to accept such a high ABV. As a result I can't find any balance here. I can pick up individual Aromas and Flavours but the sum of them is not coherent. It just does not seem to go anywhere. It's not a cheap Single Malt as well and given the above I would not recommend it.

 File:GB 1990089.jpg

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Image result for tamdhu 1987 46% Mo Or

Whisky Review # 799

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Tamdhu 1987 (Release # 17) - Distilled 02/07/87
Bottled By: Mo Or (The Whisky Talker) on 02/12/2010
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky - Cask # 3649 - 656 Bottles
Age: 23 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Oloroso Sherry Butt
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: Around US$ 140 for a 50 cl Bottle (January 2019)- Hard to Find!
Buying Advice: 😀Nice Sherried Speysider. Should have been bottled at CS.

Colour:

Dark Amber with Shades of Orange (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Sweet, Mature and Complex. Clear Sherry Cask influence. Lots of Dried Fruit, Nuts and Dark Chocolate. The Alcohol is nicely integrated. The Oak is there as well of course and it's a bit Dusty but it's just part of the Aroma profile and does not dominate. Nice!

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Dried Fruit (Apricot, Raisins, Dates), Mixed Nuts, Orange Marmalade, Dark Chocolate, Dried Herbs, Nutmeg, Ginger and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Butterscotch, Straw, Red Apples, Dusty Oak, Dry Earth, Mint, Leather, Tobacco, Licorice and Espresso.


Palate:

A little on the Thin side which comes unexpectedly after the fine Nose. On the Palate this Tamdhu is Medium Sweet, quite heavy on the Sherry but with a few Herbal, Bitter and Sour notes for balance. Dry towards the end.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Toast, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Apricots and Dates, Orange Marmalade, Dark Chocolate, Mixed Nuts, Espresso, Pepper, Ginger and Mint.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Caramel, Toffee, Treacle, Straw, Dusty Oak, Dry Earth,  Red Apples, Fruitcake and Lemon.
  
Finish:

Middle-Long, Dry and a little Thin. Mostly Sweet but with a few Bitter, Herbal and Oaky notes as well for balance. I didn't notice it on the Nose but Palate and Finish clearly show that this Tamdhu should have been bottled at Cask Strength. I find Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Toast, Dried Fruit like Apricots and Raisins, Orange Marmalade, Honey, Dark Chocolate, Mixed Nuts, Espresso, Dusty Oak, Dry Earth, Tobacco, Pepper, Menthol and Aniseed.

Drinking Advice:

On account of the small sample, I only tasted this Tamdhu Neat. It didn't feel like it on the Nose but Palate and Finish clearly show that this Tamdhu should have been bottled at Cask Strength.

Rating: 86.5

Nose: 22.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience:

Good.

Conclusion:

The Tamdhu distillery was founded in 1896 by a group of Blend producers lead by William Grant. Ian MacLeod Distillers bought Tamdhu in 2011 from Edrington and it currently produces around 4 million litres per year. Tamdhu is used in Blends like Cutty Sark, J&B and the Famous Grouse but more and more it also produces Single Malt whiskies. The core range includes the 10,12 and 15 Years.

This Tamdhu is a nice Sherried Speysider but I do think that Mo Or should have bottled it at Cask Strength. As it is, Palate and Finish are a bit on the Thin side and slightly disappoint after the very nice and full Nose. A 23 Year old Whisky can't be cheap of course but at Cask Strength the P/Q ratio would have been in order even considering it would have been a bit more expensive. Since it was bottled at 46%, I find the price tag a bit hefty though.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 January 29, 2019

Image result for tamdhu distillery