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

Bowmore Vault Edition Second Release Review


“Smoke on the Water”


Whisky Review # 883
Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bowmore Vault Edition Second Release "Peat Smoke"
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50,1%
Maturation: Probably Ex-Bourbon Casks with a short Sherried Wood Finish
Chill Filtration: Information not available
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Price Range: US$ 80-90 (July 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 Okay. Much better priced than the 1st Release.
Buying Advice: 😀It's different and worth a try. Under-matured though!

Colour: Golden with hints of Orange and Brown (Artificially Colored)

Nose:

Well, Peat Smoke it is. Much more so than your average Bowmore Single Malt. The Nose has a very distinctive "Burnt" character. It's also rather Young, mostly Sweet and quite Herbal. Some Funky and Dusty notes complete the picture. It's not bad but rather straight-forward. The Sherry influence is limited.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Toasted Barley, lightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Toffee, Sweet Peat, Smoldering Driftwood, Ashes, Brine, Smoked Bacon, Dunnage Warehouse, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Polished Leather Upholstery, Dried and almost Burnt Herbs, Mint, Wet Sand and Espresso.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Salted Caramel, Dusty Track, Tar, Iodine, Fish and Shell Fish on the BBQ, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Figs, slightly Sour Berries, Mustard Seed and Pepper.


Palate:

Again I have the feeling that this could have been a very good Single Malt if and when matured sufficiently. It shows glimpses of quality but its inherent Youth spoils a bit of the fun. The Palate is Bitter-Sweet and Medium-Dry with a few Sour and Dusty/Musty notes. Quite Peaty indeed for a Bowmore. I kinda like that. The Alcohol is noticeable. Only a mild Sherry influence.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Malted and Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Sweet Peat, Smoldering Wood, Tar, Ashes, Iodine, Band-Aid, Cherry-Flavored Cough Syrup, Bacon, Fish and Shell Fish on the BBQ, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Figs, Polished Leather, Mint and Pepper.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Vanilla, Cranberries, Grapefruit, Lemon, Nutella, Cocoa Powder, Aniseed, Ginger and Freshly Roasted Coffee.


Finish:

Middle-Long and mainly Sweet with a few Bitter, Sour and Salty notes. Again, quite Peaty and Herbal. The Alcohol is noticeable at this point. I find Sweet Toasted Malt, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Figs, Nutella, Sweet Peat, Cold Smoke, Iodine, Soot, Tar, Ashes, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Lime, Polished Leather Upholstery, Fish, Bacon and Shell Fish on the BBQ, Charred Oak, Cocoa Powder, Strong Espresso, Wet Rocks and Sand, Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom, Mint, Grapefruit, Cranberries and Herbal Tea. Medium Dry towards the end.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and the Nose becomes more Malty and Coastal. Palate and Finish move to the more regular Bowmore profile of Sugary-Sweet Herbal Tea. I clearly prefer it Neat but you can carefully add a few drops if you like.

Rating: 85.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

Bowmore is the oldest Islay Distillery 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 1,8 million liters of Alcohol. The core range includes the NAS # 1, 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 & 2017. I absolutely love the Malting Floor. Nice Shop and Visitor-Centre. Certainly well-worth the visit.

The Vault Series started a couple of years ago with the Atlantic Sea Salt. The series will consist of four Single Malts that will each present one of the four main Flavour profiles of the Bowmore Malts. Atlantic Sea Salt of course represented Salty and the Peat Smoke I'm reviewing today will naturally address Peat Smoke. # 3 and # 4 will respectively show the Fruity and Sweet side of Bowmore. The one thing they have in common is that all 4 will mature in Bowmore's No. 1 Vaults warehouse that was constructed in 1779 below sea-level.

I was surprised by this Bowmore. It's indeed more Peaty and Smoky than most of the regular Bowmore Malts and that's not a bad thing. I kinda liked that. It only does not score higher because of its inherent Youth. It sort of makes a half-finished impression and that's a pity. I really would like to see Bowmore venture a bit more into this direction and come up with a fully matured Smoky expression. I think that would be a stunner!  

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                           July 13, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Aberlour A' Bunadh Alba Review



“On the Road To Find Out”


Whisky Review # 881
Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Aberlour A'Bunadh Alba
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Batch 01
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 57,1% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: First-Fill Ex-Bourbon Casks
Chill Filtration: No
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Price Range: US$ 70-90 (June 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐Borderline okay at US$ 70. It's a Young Whisky after all!
Buying Advice: 😐Interesting experience. I will wait for a mature Alba though!

Colour: Chardonnay (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Young and Sweet. Loads of Vanilla from the First-Fill casks. Lots of Fruit reminding of New Make Spirit. Some Floral and Dairy aspects as well. The Alcohol is quite present but that's no surprise given the high ABV. A little bit of Varnish and Acetone in the background.

Main Aromas:

Barley Sugar, Vanilla, Buttered Bread, Citrus Peel (Orange, Mandarin, Lemon), Yogurt with Tropical Fruit Flavors, Apple, Pear, Grass, Floral Soap, Fresh Wood and Wood-Shavings, Raisins, Caffe Latte, Cinnamon, Pepper and Nutmeg.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Caramel, Toffee, Heather-Honey, Yeast, Dusty Earth, Forrest Floor, Bounty Candy Bar, Nougat, Ginger, Mint, Varnish and Acetone.


Palate:

Young, Nervous, mainly Sweet and slightly Hot. You would never recognize this as an Aberlour in a Blind Tasting. One of the Young NAS Glenlivet Malts came to mind. The Alcohol is really strong, almost in an uncomfortable way. This needs a bit of Water.

Main Flavours:

Barley Sugar, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Apple-Strudel, Yogurt with Tropical Fruit Flavors (Mango, Pineapple, Papaya), Citrus Peel (Orange, Mandarin, Lemon), Red Berries, Coconut, Grass, Oak, Pepper, Ginger, Caffe Latte and Tobacco.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Buttered Bread, Toffee, Caramel, Butter Biscuits, Nougat, Dusty Earth, Cinnamon, Mint, Nutmeg, Acetone and Tin cans.


Finish:

Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. Medium-Dry. The Alcohol is ever present and a bit on the Hot side. It's all a bit off-balance and under-matured. I find Sweet Barley, Nuts and Nutshells, Brown Sugar, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Buttered Bread, Grass, Dusty Earth, Floral Soap, Stewed Apples and Pears, Citrus Peel, Caffe Latte, Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Menthol, Milk Chocolate and Tobacco.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and that helps calm down the Alcohol. I get Breakfast Cereals with Assorted (Tropical) Fruits and Nuts on the Nose. Quite a lot of Barley and Vanilla as well. Palate and Finish benefit as well but to a lesser extend. The Alcohol remains very strong. You can add more Water of course but that kills this Aberlour. But a few carefully added drops really help in this case.

Rating: 83.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but the ABV is simply too high.

Conclusion:

The Aberlour distillery was founded in1879 by James Fleming and is located in the little village of the same name in Banffshire, Speyside. Since 2001 it is owned by Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard). The capacity of Aberlour is around 3,8 million litres per year. The core range includes the 12,16 and 18 Years as well as the A'Bunadh and the Casg Annamh.

The Alba is both named after Scotland & the type of White Oak used for maturation. (Quercus Alba). A'Bunadh means The Original by the way. This is of course not the first time that Aberlour experiences with Ex-Bourbon casks but this seems to be the first serious attempt to try and avoid the ever more serious lack of authentic and very expensive Ex-Sherry casks. You can season any Wood with Sherry or Sherry By-Product of course but that's certainly not the same thing. It's only natural that Aberlour is looking more serious to Ex-Bourbon casks. And I would urge them to continue to do so as it seems an interesting path to follow. My only argument would be to extend the maturation time as this Alba smells and tastes way too Young. A high ABV can't hide this I'm afraid. If Aberlour succeeds in producing well-matured Ex-Bourbon cask Single Malt Whisky I predict that would be a huge success. I would not be surprised if Macallan would be one of the few, if not the only one, who would use Ex-Sherry casks on a large scale in 10 years or so. Unless Sherry becomes very popular again of course. Let's wait and see!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                          June 29, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Highland Park Valkyrie Review


“Okay is Not Good Enough for Odin’s Hall of Fame”


Whisky Review # 880

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park Valkyrie
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 45.9%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Casks and American/European Sherry-Seasoned Oak
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 60-80 (June 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎 Young and Thin. Don't let the seductive hype fool you!
Buying Advice: 😐 It's okay but you're better of with the core range!

Colour:

Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Quite Young and on the Thin side. The Alcohol is noticeable. The Orkney Peat is there but stays nicely in the background. There's a bit of Sherry influence in the form of Dried Fruit. Together with Dark Berries, light Spices and Straw they are the main components of the Nose. Not unpleasant but nothing special as well.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Heather-Honey, Straw/Grass, Cold Smoke, Dusty Earth, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Apricots, Red Berries, Citrus Peel, Milk Chocolate, Dried Herbs, Mint, Nutmeg and Tobacco.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Slightly Burnt Toast, Butterscotch, Toffee, Vanilla, Salted Butter, Cooked Apple, Mandarin, Toasted Pineapple, Candied Almonds, Cinnamon, Ginger, Pepper, Clove and Leather. There are some distant hints of Floral Soap and a Butcher Shop.


Palate:

Thin mouthfeel. The overall Thin feeling of the Valkyrie is without any doubt the main flaw of this Highland Park despite the higher ABV & the increased percentage of peated Malt. The Palate and also the Finish basically follow the Nose so it's quite consistent in this respect. Mainly Sweet with a few light Bitter and Sour notes.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Grass & Straw, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Apricot, Red Berries, Cooked Apple, Citrus Peel, Dusty Earth, Cold Smoke, Leather, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Licorice and Mint.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Slightly Burnt Toast, Ashes, Smoked Ham, Iodine, Wood Shavings, Tobacco, Iron, Fresh Coriander, Salted Almonds, Cloves, Curry and Cardamom.


Finish:

Middle-Long and mainly Sweet. The high ABV and the increased amount of peated Malt can't hide the fact that we are talking about a Young Single Malt. A light Bitterness towards the Dry end. It remains a bit on the Thin side. The Alcohol is quite noticeable and even a little Hot at times. I find Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Heather-Honey, Grass and Straw, Cold Smoke and Dusty Earth, Ashes, Red Berries, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Apricot, Citrus Peel, Cooked Apple, Cocoa Powder, Licorice, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cloves, Mint, Leather, Tobacco and Wood Shavings.


Drinking Advice:

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

Rating: 84

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Thin but Okay

Conclusion:

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

The Viking Legend Series consists of the Valkyrie, the Valknut and the Valhalla, made in partnership with Danish designer Jim Lyngvild who was responsible for the bottle and box design. The Valkyrie is made with 50% peated Malt. According to legend, Valkyries would plunge down from the skies on horse back to look for the bravest dead warriors in order to take them to Valhalla, the great hall of the Norse God Odin. Valkyrie was launched in 2017.

We visited Highland Park in May last year and I really enjoyed the visit despite the terrible weather. Orkney is a special place and I understand the tradition and the bond with the Viking ancestors. It's such a pity that the distillery distorts this picture with the series of mediocre and expensive "Cult" Single Malts they have released over the last 10 years or so. If they would just make one great standard line-up of good whiskies of different age and maturation and link each of them to the Viking Legend that would really represent the character of the Whisky I would be their greatest fan. For instance Odin for their masterpiece and Thor for their strongest/peatiest Malt. Instead we have to live with expressions like the Valkyrie which is not really bad but expensive and way too Young and Thin to be allowed to enter Odin's Hall of Fame. It's a pity!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                           June 22,2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

Caol Ila 1988 (Carn Mor) Review


“Isn’t It a Pity”

Whisky Review # 874

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Caol Ila 1988 (Distilled on December 1, 1988)
Bottled By: Morrison & MacKay
Bottled for: Carn Mor (Celebration of the Cask Series) on August 18, 2015
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # 4213
Age: 26 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 57% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Hogshead - 135 Bottles
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 350-390 (May 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎Too expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: 😐 It's good but it lacks Balance and Complexity.

Colour: Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Be sure to give this Caol Ila enough time in the glass before Nosing. The first impressions are Smoke, Earthy Peat, Wood and a few Burnt notes. The Alcohol is present so you will need to find your way around it. I do not find an awful lot of complexity here. I must admit I'm slightly disappointed as I expected more after 26 years.

Main Aromas:

Malted and Toasted Barley, Burnt Toast, Salted Butter, Burnt Heather, Charred Oak, Dirty Smoke, Wet Clay mixed with Cow Manure and Straw, Cigar Ashes, Soot, Toasted Pineapple, Roasted Coffee, Lemon, Olive Oil, Leather, Aniseed, Herbal Tea, Licorice, Pepper and Ginger.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Vanilla, Brine, Iodine, Tar, Burnt Rubber, Varnish, Toasted Nuts, Bacon and Shellfish on the BBQ, Wet Rocks, Grapefruit, Apple-Vinegar, Yeast, Mango, Tobacco, Cinnamon and Cloves.


Palate:

My favourite part of this Caol Ila. I find the Nose rather on the plain side and the Finish slightly Messy and quite Woody and Spicy. On the Palate, Coastal notes, Smoke/Peat, Wood, Spices and Fruit are a bit more in line.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Burnt Heather, Dirty Smoke and Earthy Peat, Soot, Cigar Ashes, Mix of Straw and Cow Manure, Charred Oak, Lemon, Grapefruit, Toasted Pineapple, Leather, Pepper, Aniseed, Menthol, Licorice and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Honey, Brine, Iodine, Smoked Bacon, Fish & Shellfish, Apple-Vinegar, Wax, Cherry-Flavoured Mints, Tobacco, Herbal Tea, Cinnamon and Nutmeg.

     

Finish:

Middle-Long/Long. Sweet with additional Bitter, Salty & Sour notes for balance. The Alcohol remains quite present. Lots of Wood and Wood Spices as well. I find Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel/Butter, Vanilla, Dirty Smoke, Earthy Peat, Soot, Tar, Brine, Iodine, Ashes, Wet Rocks, Roasted Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Charred Oak, Grapefruit, Lemon, Smoked Salmon, Roasted Nuts, Herbal Tea, Tobacco, Leather, Toasted Pineapple, Apple-Vinegar, Pepper, Menthol, Cinnamon, Aniseed and Ginger.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and the Alcohol retreats on the Nose and gives way to a few Fruity notes like Apricot or Peach. Banana perhaps. The Malt also becomes easier on the Palate and in the Finish although Menthol and Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup start to dominate the latter. Considering it all my advise would  be to add a few drops of Water in this case.

Rating: 87

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. I expected more though.

Conclusion:

The Caol Ila Distillery was founded in 1846 and is located close to Port Askaig on Islay. It was bought by DCL in 1927 and through some mergers is now part of Diageo. The distillery was rebuilt in 1974 and only one old Warehouse reminds us of former days. Traditionally, Caol Ila is an important component of Blends like Johnnie Walker, Bell's and White Horse. But during the last 15 years Diageo has made great efforts to position the Distillery as a Single Malt as well. Caol Ila is beautifully located alongside the strait between Islay and Jura. The Core range includes the 12, 18 and 25 Years, the Distiller's Edition as well as the NAS Moch. We enjoyed both our visits to the distillery in 2014 and 2017 respectively despite the fact that you're not allowed to take pictures.

In general I love well-matured Islay Whisky and Caol Ila is one of my favourite distilleries. But despite the fact that this Carn Mor expression is a good Single Malt, it failed to meet my high expectations and it won't rank amongst the best aged Caol Ila Malts I've tasted so far. There's too much Alcohol, Wood, Spice and Smoke to really consider it as being well-balanced. It probably overstayed its time in the cask a little bit. It's still a good Whisky of course but at today's prices I can't really recommend it. What a pity! I was really looking forward to taste this one!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     May 25, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Bruichladdich Octomore 07.2 Review


“Blame It On My Youth”

Whisky Review # 873

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bruichladdich Octomore 07.2 (208 PPM) - Scottish Barley Series
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Limited Edition
Age: 5 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 58.5% (Around Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon American Oak casks + Rhone Syrah Red Wine casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 150-220 (May 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎 Too expensive for such a Young Single Malt
Buying Advice: 😀 A Young but well-made Peat/Red Wine combination

Colour:

Golden Straw (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Please give this Octomore sufficient time in the glass before nosing as the ABV is quite high. It's reasonably well-integrated though. The first impressions are soothing Earthy Peat & Dark Red Fruits. Nice combination. The Syrah casks are noticeable but do not overpower the other Aromas. Quite pleasant all in all with a mix of Fruity, Sweet, Sour and Salty notes. It's a Young Whisky of course but it doesn't bother me at all while nosing.

Main Aromas:

Toasted/Malted Barley, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Straw mixed with Cow Manure, Cold Smoke, Earthy Peat, Burnt Grass, Brine, Ashes, Tar, Soot, Smoked Bacon & Ham with Mustard, Red Berries, Grapefruit, Lemon, Roasted Nuts, Dusty Charred Oak, Black Olives, Pepper and Cinnamon.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Yeast, Iodine, Green Apple, (Green) Apricot, Orange, Dried and Fresh Herbs, Herbal Tea, Peanut Butter, PVC Pipes, Gasoline Station, Tobacco, Leather, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Cocoa Powder, Ginger and Menthol.


Palate:

A nice combination of Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter and Fruity notes. Medium-Dry. Youth and Alcohol are more noticeable now. I can only imagine how awesome a fully-matured Octomore would be. Bruichladdich should really try it out at least once! Once again, the Syrah casks are there but not at all in a suffocating way.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Toasted Barley, Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Earthy Peat, Cold Smoke, Ashes, Tar, Soot, Dark Red Berries, Lemon, Grapefruit, Mix of Straw & Cow Manure, Green Apple, Smoked Bacon & Ham with Mustard, Dusty Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove, Licorice and Mint.
  
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Iodine, Burnt Grass, Seville Orange, Tobacco, Leather, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Rubber, Metal, Strong Espresso & Herbal Tea.


Finish:

Middle-Long/Long. Medium-Dry. The Alcohol is certainly strong at this point. Its Youth is also more noticeable. There are a few Rubber and Metallic Off-Notes that I could do without. The Finish is a mix of Sweet, Sour, Salty, Medicinal and Bitter notes. I find Sweet Toasted Barley, Burnt Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Yeast, Burnt Grass, Earthy Peat, Cold Smoke, Ashes, Soot, Tar, Iodine, Lemon, Grapefruit, Dark Red Berries, Herbal Tea, Roasted Nuts, Dusty Charred-Oak, Leather, Tobacco, Strong Espresso, Wax, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Smoked Ham, Cocoa Powder, Pepper, Ginger, Licorice and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and that certainly helps to calm down the Alcohol. The Nose becomes a bit too Peaty though. Palate and, to a lesser extent, the Finish, benefit from the added Water though. I would advise to add a few drops (5).

Rating: 86.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

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

The Octomore 07.2 was launched in 2015, originally for Travel Retail only. I have mixed feelings about this Octomore. On the one hand, the combination of Bourbon and Syrah casks works very well. The Red Wine influence is there but always in a modest laid-back way. Well done! On the other hand, Palate and Finish ruthlessly show the Youth of this Octomore, something the Nose manages to hide in a clever way. The Price/Quality ratio can't be good therefore and I long to nose and taste a fully-matured Octomore! Peat Lovers all over the World should send petitions to Bruichladdich in this respect. Who knows some day!!!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                       May 18, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Glen Grant 15 Years Batch Strength 1st Edition Review


“Sweet and Innocent”

Whisky Review # 870

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glen Grant Batch Strength - 1st Edition (10680 Bottles)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 15 Years (2002-2017)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50%
Maturation: First-Fill Ex-Bourbon Casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 65-75 (April 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: Okay 
Buying Advice: 😐Okay for beginners. Too boring for experienced Malt fans.

Colour:

Golden (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Please give this Glen Grant some time in the glass before Nosing as the Alcohol is quite noticeable. No wonder at 50%! In contrast to the Tormore I reviewed last week, this Glen Grant presents itself as a modern mainstream Malt on the Nose. Lots of Malt, Toffee and Citrus. Nothing to disturb anyone but without any Wow moments as well. Clear Bourbon cask notes.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Creamy Barley, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Bread Dough, Grass and Hay, Orange Marmalade, Lemon, Nectarine, Papaya Cream, Milk Chocolate, Fresh Oak,  Cinnamon and Pepper.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Honey, Demerara Sugar, Caramel, Beeswax, Pear, Pineapple, Mandarin, Floral Soap, Mixed Nuts and Dried Fruits (Studentenhaver), Ginger and Mint.


Palate:

Mainly Sweet with a few Herbal, Spicy and Bitter notes for balance. Beginning Whisky drinkers will love the easy Sweetness of this Single Malt but I can't get excited about it. Way too dull.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Creamy Malt, Toffee, Orange Marmalade, Lemon, Nectarine, Oak Char, Green Apple, Pear, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Herbal Tea, Cinnamon and Pepper.    
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Honey, Buttered Toast/Biscuits, Grass and Hay, Golden Syrup, Peach, Mixed Nuts and Dried Fruit, Floral Soap, Pineapple, Mandarin, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cloves and Banana Ice-Cream.


Finish:

Medium-Long. Mainly Sweet with a few Herbal, Spicy & Bitter notes for balance. I find Creamy Malt, Toffee, Syrup, Vanilla, Honey, Wax, Orange Marmalade, Peach, Lemon, Herbal Tea, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Green Apple, Nectarine, Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Aniseed, Licorice, Nutmeg, Dusty Track and Caffe Latte.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and that helps to calm down the Alcohol. A few drops are okay but too much Water transforms this Glen Grant into Sweet Barley Water. I prefer it neat.

Rating: 84

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good/Uninspiring

Conclusion:

Glen Grant was founded in 1840 by James & John Grant. It is located in Rothes in Banffshire. Over the years many mergers and take-overs took place but in the end, Campari (Italy) bought Glen Grant in 2006. The core range includes the NAS Major's Reserve, a 5 Year old (Italy only), a 10, 12 and 18 Years.

The 15 Years I'm reviewing today was launched in 2017/2018 for the American and Travel Retail markets. There's nothing really wrong with it and beginning Malt fans will be pleased with this reasonably priced 15 Years edition. But I found it so dull and boring that I almost fell asleep during the Tasting session. I'm just kidding of course but you get the picture. The perfect nightcap! 😴

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     April 27, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Tormore 1988 (Antique Lion's of Spirits) Review



“Perfect Imperfection (All of Me)”

Whisky Review # 869

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Tormore 1988 - Birds Label - Distilled in 1988 - 254 Bottles
Bottled By: Antique Lion's of Spirits (Italy) in 2016
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky
Age: 28 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50.4% - Cask Strength
Maturation: Bourbon Cask - Cask # Unknown
Chill Filtration: No
Average Price: US$ 315 (April 2020
Price/Quality Ratio: Okay considering its age and quality
Buying Advice: 👍Interesting "Old Style" Speyside Malt with character

Colour:

Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose:

It's always nice to smell and taste an older Whisky. Despite its age, the Nose of this Tormore is Fresh, Clean, Fruity (Tropical Fruits and Citrus) and Grassy. It's mainly Sweet with a few Sour notes for balance. The Alcohol is nicely integrated and there's not a whole lot of Wood influence suggesting a less active cask. I wouldn't call it special and complex but it's quite pleasant.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Salted Butter, Ripe Orchard Fruit (Apple, Pear, Nectarine), Lemon and Orange, Pineapple, Grass and Hay, Floral Soap/Perfume, Herbal Tea, Nuts, Cinnamon and Milk Chocolate.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Caramel, Vanilla, Honey, Grapefruit, Mango, Charred Oak, Leather, Fruit Candy, Dried Fruit, Pepper and Mint.


Palate:

The Oak makes itself noticeable and shows the age of the Malt. It brings a little Bitterness and Wood Spices that help offset the otherwise mainly Sweet Palate. A few Sour notes can be found as well. It's not a perfect Single Malt but it offers much more character than most of today's Modern Mainstream Barley Juice.

Main Flavours:

Thick Sweet Barley, Ripe Apple and Pear, Seville Orange, Lemon, Grass & Hay, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Herbal-Tea, Charred Oak, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Caramel, Honey, Vanilla, Nectarine, Grapefruit, Buttered Cake, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Apricot, Floral Soap, Pepper, Aniseed and Ginger.   

Finish:

Middle-Long and quite Sweet. A few Sour notes towards the Medium-Dry end. The Oak is much more noticeable at this point and brings quite some Bitterness and Menthol to the party. I find Malted/Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Honey, Caramel, Milk Chocolate, Sugared Almonds, Pineapple, Mango, Sour Apple, Lemon, Seville Orange, Grapefruit, Marzipan, Charred Oak, Herbal Tea, Leather, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Licorice and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not significantly change the Aroma and Flavour profile but you can certainly play with a little Water in this case.

Rating: 86

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

Tormore is a relatively new distillery and was founded in 1958 by Schenley Int. Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard) acquired the distillery in 2005 when it took over Allied Domecq. It is located in Grantown-on-Spey (Morayshire). The distillery has a production capacity of 4.8 million litres. Most of it is used in Blends like Ballentine's, Long John, Cream of the Barley and others. The core range merely consists of the 14 and 16 Years.

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

This 28-old Tormore is not a perfect Whisky and I personally think it overstayed its time in the cask somewhat. The Nose fools you in this respect but on the Palate and in the Finish the Wood & Wood Spice speak loudly. It's also a pretty forward Bourbon cask matured Speyside Malt. But it's got character and that counts a lot in my opinion. That alone sets it aside from todays Mainstream Malt. I can't say that older Whiskies are better than recent ones as I have tasted relatively few of the old guys. But they all have more character and are presented as they were made without adding Artificial Colouring, without being Chill-Filtered and without using fancy casks to hide imperfections. This is Whisky as it's supposed to be. Imperfect but flavourful and with its own character. I'll toast to that!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     April 20, 2020