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

Arran 21st Anniversary Limited Edition Review


“Fighting Spirit”

Whisky Review # 660

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Arran
Brand: Arran 21st Anniversary Limited Edition (Special Release)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 52.6%
Maturation: Sherry Casks   
Chill Filtration: No    
Price Range: US Dollars 200-250 (November 2017)
Buying Advice: 😏 Not bad but too expensive. Go for the 18 Years! 

Colour: Golden Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose: Sherry casks without any doubt. Some New Wood as well I think as I pick up this typical Varnish note I always find in West-European mainland Malt. A distant hint of Sulphur but nothing serious. Sweet and Sour notes are both present on the Nose. I find Toasted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Pear, Sweet Apple, Orange, Mandarin, Mango-Chutney, Pineapple in Heavy Syrup, Raisins, Heather-Honey, Wax, Hazelnuts (Nutella), Dusty Road, Chocolate Milk (Chocomel), Ginger, Nutmeg, light Pepper, Lemongrass and Mint. Distant hints of Green Vegetables, Wet Paper, Armagnac and Tobacco. It's a bit of a mixed bag and while it's not bad, I miss a bit of direction and balance. The Alcohol is reasonably well-integrated though.

Beautiful Arran - May 2017

Palate: Strong Delivery thanks to the more than adequate ABV. Bitter-Sweet with a few Sour notes. I find Toasted Cereals, Caramel, Vanilla, Marzipan, Red Apple, Pear, Orange, Mandarin, Grapefruit, Peach, Hazelnuts (Nutella), Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Tobacco, Oak, Sultanas, Pepper, Cloves, Nutmeg, Ginger, Menthol, Dried Herbs and Dirt Track. The Oak is quite strong by now.                

Finish: Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. Quite Dry and Tannic. Some Bitter notes towards the end. The Oak is even more present at this stage. I find Toasted Cereals, Caramel, Vanilla, Sweet Apple, Orange, Mandarin, Lemon, Marzipan, Dark Chocolate, Assorted Nuts (Almonds, Hazelnut), Espresso, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Menthol, Tobacco, Dried Herbs and hints of Varnish, Sulphur, Rhubarb and Peach-Flavoured Yogurt.  

Drinking Advice:
I added a little Water and the Alcohol retreats of course. But although this Arran gets more Creamy on the Palate, it's just not the same Whisky anymore. I often wonder if I should continue adding Water to the Whiskies I review. Sure, you may get some additional Flavours and/or Aromas but you change the character of the Whisky as presented by the Makers. If you have any thoughts on this issue, please let me know!

Rating: 85.5 

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


General Remarks:
🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

Arran Distillery was founded by Harold Currie in 1993 and started production in 1995. Business is going so well that the owners (Isle of Arran Distillers) are in the process of building another distillery (Lagg) on the Southern part of Arran that will probably take care of the peated expressions. Production of this new distillery could start in 2018. The Arran core range now consists of the 10, 14 and 18 Years as well as the NAS Whiskies Robert Burns, Lochranza Reserve and Machrie Moore. We visited this distillery in May this year and absolutely loved it. Great tour, very friendly people, a nice shop and a good lunch restaurant. I can fully recommend a visit more so as the isle of Arran is a very nice and relatively quiet place. 

In June 2016, the distillery celebrated its 21st birthday, a.o. by launching the Whisky I'm reviewing today. It's a limited edition and only 5988 bottles went for sale. It's a NAS Whisky but it was made by vatting selected casks from the first three years of production (1995, 1996, 1997). This special release was bottled at Cask Strength.

Visit May 2017
🍷  The Spirit 

The average fermentation time at Arran is 60 hours. The Distillery operates four Stills. The Lyne arms are practically straight and produce a Light, Sweet, Fruity Spirit. The Water is sourced from Loch na Davie. The current Master-Distiller is James MacTaggart who just celebrated his 10th anniversary with Arran.

Visit May 2017
🌲  The Wood:

The Whisky used to compose this Limited Edition matured 100% in Ex-Oloroso Sherry Hogsheads.

Drinking Experience: Good. I expected more though.

ConclusionI like this Distillery and their concept but this Limited Edition is not among my favourite Arran expressions although it's not bad. But it lacks balance and cohesion. It's almost as Wood and Spirit didn't really come to terms with each other. Maybe the Arran Spirit is too Gentle to mature in 100% Ex-Sherry casks. Who knows! In any case this Arran, while not bad, is way too expensive for what it offers. My advise would be to leave this baby alone and go for the 18 Years instead.   

Jan van den Ende                                                              November 23, 2017

Visit May 2017

Springbank 18 Years Review


“A Dirty Mind is a Joy Forever”

Whisky Review # 660

Country: Scotland
Region: Campbeltown
Brand: Springbank
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 18 Years (Bottled 2016)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: A Mix of Sherry - and Bourbon casks  
Chill Filtration: No   
Price Range: US Dollars 150-180 (November 2017)
Buying Advice: 😃 Not cheap of course but it has this "something"!

Colour: Deep Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose: Dirty and Musty are the first impressions that spring to my mind. There's some Sulphur there while I also get notes of Gasoline, Plastic and Cow Manure. An interesting start of procedures! It's quite Light for an 18 Year old actually. Be sure to give it sufficient time in the glass before Nosing. I also find Malted Grain, slightly Burnt Toast, Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Toffee, Salted Caramel, Toasted Nuts, Hay, Dirt Track, light Peat/Smoke, Heather-Honey, Cocoa Powder, Toasted Oak, Mineral notes, X-mas Cake, Sushi, Orange, Blueberries, Dried Banana Chips, Pineapple, Pepper, Cinnamon, Mint and interesting hints of Tobacco and Leather. The Alcohol is noticeable. I had expected more cask influence to be honest. I must assume that large numbers of Refill casks have been used. But there's this Dirty, Dusty authentic feel to this Single Malt that I like. It's not as fresh and lively as the 10 Years but it's thoroughly interesting.    

Palate: The best part of this Springbank in my opinion. I really like this almost old-fashioned feel. It's Dirty, Dusty, Musty, Bitter-Sweet and slightly Sour with Toasted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Dirt Track, Wax, Salted Nuts, light Peat/Smoke, Cocoa Powder, Orange, Grapefruit, Lemon, Raisins, Strawberry Jam, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, light Licorice, Ginger, Aniseed, Menthol, Ashes, Leather and Tobacco. A hint of Sulphur. A bit of Melon after a while.         

Finish: Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet, Spicy and Herbal. A few Sour notes as well. The Dirty Peat/Smoke is more noticeable by now. I find Toasted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Toasted Oak, Bitter Chocolate, Orange, Blueberries, Dirt Track, Green Apple, Grapefruit, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cardamom, light Licorice, Dried Herbs, Menthol, Aniseed and hints of Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Tobacco, Leather, Diesel and Ashes. The Alcohol is still there as well.   

Drinking Advice:
I added a few drops of Water and you do get rid of most of the Alcohol. But it's not the same Whisky anymore and Plastic and Rubber notes come to the front. Better sip it neat and hate it or love it!    

Rating: 87 

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


General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The Springbank distillery was founded in 1828 in Campbeltown and is owned by the Mitchell family since 1837. In the past, Campbeltown was home to over 30 distilleries but only Springbank and Glen Scotia have survived. The Springbank distillery produces three whiskies. The lightly peated Springbank that is distilled two and a half times, the heavily peated Longrow that is distilled twice and the unpeated Hazelburn that is distilled three times. Springbank is a very traditional  distillery and the whole Whisky making process is done at their premises. That includes malting 100% of the Barley. Because of this, Springbank became a sort of cult distillery with many loyal fans. Prices increased accordingly during the last 10 years. We visited the distillery in May this year and absolutely loved it! It's like going back in time. I can fully recommend a visit!

The 18 Years was first launched in 2008 but a new edition and format was introduced in 2010. Since then, the 18 Years has become an annual limited edition. The 2016 expression I'm tasting today consists of "only" 7200 bottles.

Visit May 2017

🍷  The Spirit 

Springbank operates 1 Wash still and a pair of Spirit stills. Their Lyne arms are slightly pointing downwards and produce a medium-bodied, Sweet, Spicy and Oily spirit. The water is sourced from the Crosshills Loch.

Visit May 2017

🌲  The Wood:

The 18 Years matured in a mix of 80% Ex-Sherry casks and 20% Ex-Bourbon casks. Mostly Refill casks I would say.

Drinking Experience: Good and Interesting.

Conclusion: This is not for everyone! Beginning Whisky drinkers might not fancy Gasoline, Rubber, Plastic and Cow Manure. This is certainly not an easy-going Single Malt. Dirty, Dusty and Musty. But also Authentic, Old-Fashioned and full of Character. It's not at all Balanced and the Alcohol is a bit annoying from time to time. But there's something irresistible to this Springbank 18 Years that tells my brain to have another dram! Unfortunately I only have a relatively small sample. The 10 Years is still my favourite day-to-day Springbank but I will certainly try to get me a bottle of the 18 years to be able to enjoy this bag of Oil, Dirt and Manure from time to time. Good Stuff! 

Jan van den Ende                                                              November 20, 2017

Visit May 2017

Tomintoul 33 Years Review


“Shy Guy”

Whisky Review # 658

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Tomintoul (Special Reserve)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 33 Years 
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Most likely a mix of Bourbon and Sherry Casks     
Chill Filtration: Yes   
Price Range: US$ 180-220 (November 2017). Higher prices in some places. 
Buying Advice: 😏 Not really bad but too expensive for what it offers. 

Colour: Golden with hints of Orange (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Quite Light for a Whisky of this age. Clear Bourbon cask influences but there is some Sherry in the mix as well. Mostly refill casks I would think based on Colour and Aroma. On the Nose I detect Sweet, Sour, Green and Yeasty elements. I find Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Toffee, Treacle, Heather Honey, Grass, Straw, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Apricot, Sultanas and Figs, slightly Sour Apples and White Grapes, Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, Gooseberries, Nuts, Wood Shavings, Cinnamon, Ginger, Aniseed, light Menthol and traces of Dairy, Cooked Vegetables and/or Potatoes and Bourbon. The Alcohol is reasonably well integrated. There is enough to discover if you take the time but somehow the add-up of all the components is not quite convincing. "Shy Boy" by Diana King is a song that comes to my mind.   

Palate: By nature the Tomintoul 33 is rather Soft on the Palate but the Alcohol and the Wood provide some Sharp, Edgy elements as well. I find Malted Barley, Sugared Cereals, Brown Sugar, Treacle, Nuts and Dried Fruit, Banana, Mandarin, Orange, Grapefruit, Oak, Stone Fruit, Straw, Grass, Vanilla, Resin, Sugared Tea, Cinnamon, Mint, Pepper, Aniseed and traces of Espresso and Bitter Chocolate. On the Palate this Tomintoul is mostly Bitter-Sweet with some Sour, Herbal and Spicy notes.      

Finish: Middle-Long and mostly Bitter-Sweet with a few Sour, Herbal and Spicy notes. A little Sharp and Tannic. I find Malted Barley, Sugared Cereals, Treacle, Hazelnut/Milk Chocolate, Vanilla, Toffee, Heather Honey, Nuts and Nutshells, Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Aniseed, Menthol, Grapefruit, Orange, Lemon, Hay, Alcohol and a hint of Espresso or Strong Tea.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Nose becomes more Floral but also really Thin. I get some notes of Fresh Peach as well. The Palate becomes Floral as well and almost reminds me of a Perfume. You do get rid of the harshness by adding a few drops of Water. This is not an easy call. Just experiment and add a drop or two at a time. 

Rating: 84.5    

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


General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The Tomintoul distillery was founded in 1965 and was bought in 2000 by the current owners Angus Dundee Distillers who also acquired Glencadam in 2003. It is located in Ballindaloch (Banffshire), one of the highest distillery locations in Scotland. The core range currently consists a/o of the NAS Tlath, the 10, 14, 16, 21 and 25 years old as well as some peated Malts like the Old Ballantruan and the Peaty Tang. The Tomintoul Malt is used in blends like Dundee and Parker's.

The 33 Years was launched in August 2009 to replace the 27 Years that had been released in 2004. Recently, the 33 years has been discontinued as well.

Picture Credit: Whisky.com
🍷  The Spirit:

The Distillery operates two pairs of Stills with Lyne arms that point slightly upwards. They produce a light, Fruity and Floral Spirit. The Water is sourced from the Ballantruan Spring.

Picture Credit: Whisky-News.com

🌲  The Wood:

Unfortunately I do not have any exact information with respect to the casks that contained the 33 Year old Tomintoul during maturation. Based on the Aroma -  and Flavour profile I would assume that we are looking at a combination of refill Ex- Bourbon and Ex-Sherry casks. 

Drinking Experience: Okay/Good. I expected more of a 33 Year old Malt.

Conclusion:

I have tasted quite a few Tomintouls in the meantime and it's fair to say it does not rank among my favourite distilleries. The 33 Years is no exception to the rule although it's not a bad Single Malt. But I can almost feel the tiredness of the Refill casks after 33 long Years. A little added Water helps to clear the air but almost transfers the Whisky in a Floral Perfume. I'm not sure that's what Master-Distiller Robert Fleming had in mind when creating this Single Malt. If you have the spare cash and like the Aroma/Flavour profile by all means give the 33 Years a chance. Although personally I would strongly advise you to try a miniature first before deciding on buying a full bottle. Because prices are quite high, even more so of course after the decision to discontinue the 33 Years.   

Jan van den Ende                                                                November 8, 2017

Picture Credit: Peter Moore

Bunnahabhain 18 Years Review


“Down On Funky Street”

Whisky Review # 654

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bunnahabhain
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 18 Years 
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46.3%
Maturation: A Mix of Sherry and Bourbon Casks    
Chill Filtration: No   
Price Range: US$ 100-140 (October 2017) 
Buying Advice: 😜 Positive. Quite a Personality!

Colour: Mahogany/Chestnut with shades of Brown and Red (Natural Colour)

Nose: My first impression is a Musty Aroma that I can't exactly identify. It has elements of Sulphur, Varnish, Wood Polish and Shoe Polish. It's not really an off-note but it's kinda odd and funky. Be sure to give the 18 Years sufficient time in the glass as this Aroma slowly fades over time. I also find Toasted Barley, Butter Kekse (German Butter Biscuits), Toffee, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Pizza Dough, Marzipan, Sweet Dried Fruit like Raisins, Dates, Apricot and Figs,  Apple-Vinegar, Grapefruit, Blackcurrant Muffins, Leather, Tobacco, Sandalwood, Nuts, Mint, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Wet Rock and Wet Leaves. The Sherry casks have left their marks. The Nose presents some Dirty, Authentic characteristics. This is not your average mainstream stuff. It may not conquer you at the first sniff but it certainly grows on you. The Alcohol is nicely integrated.

On my way to Islay, May 2017

Palate: Good Delivery. The Wood and Wood Spices are more noticeable by now and fight the Sherry cask notes for hegemony. The Palate is Bitter-Sweet, Oily, Woody, Spicy and Herbal. I find Toasted Cereals, Caramel, Brown Sugar, Cocoa Powder, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas, Figs and Banana, Nougat, Tobacco, Leather, Heather-Honey, Pepper, Salt, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Menthol, Licorice, Espresso, Herbal Tea, Grapefruit Juice, Soy Sauce and Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup. 

Finish: Quite Long, Woody, Spicy and Herbal. Mostly Bitter-Sweet. A few Sour notes as well. I find Toasted Barley, Heather-Honey, Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Dried Fruit and Nuts, Red Apple, Pepper, Salt, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Dried Herbs, Menthol, Licorice, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Tobacco, Varnish and Grapefruit. 

Drinking Advice:

This Bunnahabhain accepts a few drops of Water although added Water does not provoke major changes. Just experiment with a few drops at a time. 

Rating: 87   

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


General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The Bunnahabhain distillery was founded in 1881 and is located on the isle of Islay, close to Port-Askaig. Since 2003 it is owned by Burn Stewart Distilleries, part of the South-African Distell Group Ltd. At the moment the distillery roughly produces 1,5 million liters per year. The core range consists of the 12, 18 and 25 Years as well as 2 peated expressions, the Toiteach and the Ceobanach. We last visited Bunnahabhain in May this year and were not impressed with the Tour, the Shop and the general outlook of the distillery. I'm pleased to report that very recently the owners have announced serious investments in the amount of 11 million Pounds. Improvements will be made both in infrastructure and in the production process. Everything will be ready by 2020 and I certainly would love to visit the distillery by then!

The 18 Years has been part of the core range for a long time. But in 2010, the new owners decided to give this expression a face lift. Gone are the Caramel and the Chill-Filtration and the 18 years is now bottled at 46.3%. It also got new packaging and presentation. Well done Burn Stewart!

Visit May 2017

🍷  The Spirit:

The distillery possesses two pairs of Stills with Lyne arms that either have a straight forward or slightly upwards angle. The Spirit is usually light bodied with Sweet Fruit and Nuts. The Water is both sourced from the River Margadadale and Loch Staoisha.

Visit May 2017
🌲  The Wood:

The 18 years matured in a mix of Refill Ex-Bourbon casks (Around 60%) and Refill Ex-Oloroso Sherry butts (Around 40%). Based on the intensity of Aromas and Flavours I assume that the Sherry casks are a mix of active and less active casks. 

Drinking Experience: Good and Interesting

Conclusion:

In places this 18 Years smells and tastes just as Dirty as Bunnahabhain's walls. But in this case it's a compliment. This is a far away cry from today's average Single Malt. It has balls, charisma and personality. It's not a Single Malt that will appeal to everybody and newbies might find it a bit too Funky. But there's a lot to discover in this Bunnahabhain and it's not a Single Malt you're gonna forget after having tasted it. It has its flaws like the Varnish note but overall it shows a kind of messy balance that is quite unique. It can't be cheap of course but if you have the cash and are willing to Strut the Funky Stuff I can fully recommend the Bunnahabhain 18 years. 

Jan van den Ende                                                                 October 9, 2017

Visit May 2017

The Dalmore 1263 King Alexander III Review


“ Touch Too Much”

Whisky Review # 653

Country: Scotland
Region: Northern Highlands
Brand: Dalmore 1263 King Alexander III
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: A mixture of 6 different cask types   
Chill Filtration: Yes 
Price Range: US$ 150-200 (October 2017)
Buying Advice:😒 Negative. Too Expensive for what it offers! Get the 15!

Colour: Mahogany with shades of Red and Brown (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: There are two very clear Aromas that jump at you right from the start. Orange-Flavoured Chocolate and (Fortified) Red Wine. I also find Sweet Barley, Molasses, Brown Sugar, Toffee, Vanilla, Caramel, Dried Fruit (Apricot, Raisins, Plums, Figs, Banana),  Heather-Honey, Nuts, Buttered Toast, Citrus like Lemon and Mandarin, Raspberries, Nougat and light Spices and Herbs like Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger and Mint. Hints of Cassis Liqueur, Caffe Latte and Tobacco. It's not easy to identify the individual Aromas. It's like opening a big jar of Mixed Forrest Fruit Jam. There were actually moments when it felt like I was nosing a Fruit Liqueur rather than a Single Malt Whisky. The low ABV of 40% does not help in this respect either!  It's not bad mind you but a bit over the top.

Visit May 2017

Palate: Thin, Weak Delivery. There should be a law against bottling high-end Single Malts below 46%. I really mean that. As on the Nose, I find a mixed bag of Dried Fruit like Plums and Raisins, an assortment of Red Berries, Sweet Malt, Vanilla, Caramel, Spiced Mulled Wine, Red Grapes, Orange Liqueur, Marzipan, Nougat, Brown Sugar, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Mint, Heather-Honey, Oak and hints of Cloves and Tobacco.
        
Finish: Short and Bitter-Sweet with a few Sour elements towards the Dry end.
I find Toasted Barley, Caramel, Vanilla, Milk Chocolate, Cocoa Powder, Orange Liqueur, Nuts, Marzipan, Spiced Mulled Wine, Red Wine (Especially Madeira and Port), Raspberries, Herbal Tea, light Licorice, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger. Menthol and hints of Tobacco and Cloves.

Visit May 2017

Drinking Advice:

No need to add Water. It's Thin enough as it is.  

Rating: 82.5

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


General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky

The Dalmore Distillery was founded in 1839 by Alexander Matheson. It is located in Alness on the banks of the Cromarty Firth. It is operated by Whyte & Mackay Ltd, owned by Emperador Inc. since 2014. The King Alexander III is part of the core range together with the 12, 15, 18 and 25 Years and the Cigar Malt. At the moment Dalmore produces around 4 million liters of Spirit.

In 1263, Colin Kintail, the leader of the Clan MacKenzie, killed a huge stag which attacked King Alexander III of Scotland. In return the king gifted the 12-pointed Royal Stag emblem to the clan. When descendants of this clan became owners of the distillery in 1867, they decided to put the emblem on each bottle of Dalmore Whisky, a tradition still honoured today. To celebrate the innovative and pioneering values of the Clan, Master Blender/Distiller Richard Paterson created a unique Single Malt in 2008 by marrying 6 differently matured Whiskies.


🍷  The Spirit

Dalmore is equipped with four pairs of Stills of various size and form with high Reflux characteristics. Together these stills produce a slightly heavy and more complex Whisky. The Water is sourced from the river Alness.

Visit May 2017
🌲 The Wood

The 1263 King Alexander III consists of six differently matured Whiskies. In no particular order they are: Bourbon barrels from Kentucky, Matusalem Oloroso Sherry butts, Port pipes, Madeira casks, Marsala casks and Cabernet-Sauvignon barriques from France. The last 3 are not commonly used for maturing Whisky. The King Alexander III is a NAS Whisky but it is generally assumed that the Youngest Dalmore in the Blend matured for at least 12-15 Years.

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Conclusion: I was really looking forward to try out the 1263 King Alexander III but I must admit I was disappointed with this Dalmore experiment. I believe there's a limit to what you can do with with New Make Spirit with respect to Cask Finish/Maturation. In general I'm not really a big fan of Red Wine Finishing but there are certainly moments where it works. The Longrow 11 Red is a good example of that. But in the case of this Dalmore there's just too much (Fortified) Red Wine influence. As a result of this you get this strange mixture of an Orange Liqueur and a big jar of Mixed Red Forrest Fruit Jam. Not really bad but not my idea of a premium Highland Single Malt. Because it's quite expensive! I'm sorry Richard but this was One Touch Too Much in my opinion.

Jan van den Ende                                                                   October 5, 2017

Visit May 2017

Bowmore Black Rock Review


“Thin Line Between Love and Hate”

Whisky Review # 647

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bowmore Black Rock
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS (My guess: 8-10 Years) 
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Sherry and Bourbon Casks    
Chill Filtration: Yes    
Price Range: US$ 55-70 (September 2017) 
Buying Advice: 😒 Negative. Not worth the Money. Go for the Darkest

Colour: Dark Amber with a hint of Orange (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Young and Light. The Smoke and Earthy Peat are there but remain in the background. The Sherry cask influence is noticeable but these weren't extremely active casks. The Black Rock is by no means the Sherry monster of Loch Indaal. I don't get any Sulphur and that's positive. I get some Fruit like Blackberries and Cherries but it's not Fresh Fruit. More like artificially flavoured Candies. I also find Toasted Cereals, Toffee, Salted Caramel, Heather-Honey, Grass, Straw, Brine, Smoked Fish or Shellfish, Mandarin Juice, Dried Fruit like Sultanas and Figs, Dried Banana chips covered with Cocoa Powder, Dusty Road, Unlit Cigars, Leather, Citrus Peel and light Spices like Cinnamon, Ginger and Pepper. Please note that most of these Aromas are mere suggestions. Artificial Fruit, Salted Caramel and Dried Fruit are the main drivers accompanied by some Coastal and Peaty notes. After a while I also get a few hints of Burning Paper and new PVC bottles. They are not strong enough though to be considered as off-notes. The Alcohol is noticeable but not in a Harsh way. On the Nose, the Black Rock is not really bad but it's a bit bland. Taking Islay Light Malt to the next level.

Visit May 2017

Palate: Young, Thin, slightly Hot and Bitter Sweet with Toasted Cereals, Toffee, Salted Caramel, Molasses, Straw, Heather-Honey, Blackberry (The Fruit), Dusty Road, Citrus Peel, light Peat/Smoke, light Iodine, Ashes, Tobacco, Pepper, light Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Cocoa Powder, Menthol and hints of Burnt Paper and Bitter Chocolate.     

Finish: Light, Short, Watery and Bitter Sweet. Dry towards the Bitter end. I get notes of Metal, Plastic and Rubber that should not be there. I also find some light Factory Smoke, Dirty Earth, Ashes, Alcohol, Salted Caramel, Dried Herbs, Refill Wood, Tobacco, light Iodine, Burnt Paper, Orange Peel, Stale Sugared Espresso, Cocoa Powder, something like Rotten Fish and light Spices like Pepper, Ginger and Cinnamon. A faint hint of Menthol cigarettes.

Visit May 2017
Drinking Advice:

Added Water completely kills this Bowmore.

Rating: 78

Nose: 21 - Taste: 19.5 - Finish: 18.5 - Overall: 19


General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

Bowmore is the oldest Distillery on Islay and was founded in 1779 by David Simpson. It changed hands a couple of times along the years but since 1994 the Japanese Suntory group controls Bowmore. Bowmore still malts around 30% of the Barley on their premises. They currently produce around 1,3 million liters of Alcohol. The core range includes the NAS Small Batch Reserve, the 12, the 15 Darkest, the 18 and 25 Years. Some of the Bowmore Spirit is used in Blends like Rob Roy and Black Bottle. We visited the distillery in 2014 and 2017. I really like the Malting Floor. Nice Shop and Visitor-Centre. Certainly well-worth the visit.

The Black Rock was released for the Travel Retail Market in 2014 as part of a trilogy that also includes the Gold Reef and the White Sands. In the meantime the Black Rock is available elsewhere as well. It is named after the Black Rock in Loch Indaal and is visible when you visit the distillery.

Visit May 2014

🍷  The Spirit:

Bowmore has 2 pairs of Stills. The Lyne arms point slightly upwards and produce a Medium-Bodied, lightly Medicinal Spirit. The Water is sourced from the River Laggan. Lack of rain can upset Bowmore's production as we have seen in the past.
Visit May 2014
🌲  The Wood:

The Black Rock matured in a mix of (mainly) Spanish Sherry casks and Bourbon barrels. Judging by Aroma and Flavour I would assume they were probably 2nd and 3rd Refill casks.

Drinking Experience: Below Average.

Conclusion:

Oh dear, first the Bunnahabhain Stiuireadair and now this Black Rock. If I could I would move to Islay tomorrow because I simply love the place. And I love a lot of their Single Malts. But not these two I'm afraid. I reviewed the Stiuireadair here so Back to Black Rock! The Nose is not too bad actually but on the Palate and in the Finish this Bowmore totally disappoints. Young, Thin, Bitter, Rubber and Metallic are not the terms I would like to apply to any Bowmore Single Malt. Better casks and a higher ABV could have upped the Black Rock but that's daydreaming. As it stands this is not a Single Malt I can recommend. If you like Sherried Bowmore go for The Darkest 15 Years instead. It's hard to believe that the Black Rock hails from a distillery that produced such stunners as the 17 Years

Jan van den Ende                                                             September 28, 2017

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