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

Glencadam 15 Years Review


“Room For Improvement” 

Whisky Review # 687

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands
Brand: Glencadam 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years 
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Bourbon casks  
Chill Filtration: No      
Price Range: Around US$ 60 (February 2018). 
Buying Advice: 😐 Price Quality ratio is okay. Misses the Wow factor.   

Colour: Light Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose: Quite clean and unpretentious. Not a whole lot going on. I'm pretty sure that Refill Bourbon casks were used for maturation. I don't detect off-notes but the Alcohol is noticeable. I find Malted Cereals, Toast and Margarine, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Salted Caramel, Toasted Nuts, Fresh Dough, Wood Pellets, Hay, Grass, Green Apple, Strawberry Jam, slightly Sour Citrus (Grapefruit, Orange, Lemon), Oak Char, Dusty Sand Road, Mint/Menthol, Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove and light Pepper.     

Palate: The delivery is a little Thin despite the adequate ABV. The Alcohol is too present here as well. Other than that it's all pretty clean and straight-forward without any surprises. I find Sweet Malted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Oak Char, Bounty Candy Bars, Green Apples, slightly Sour Citrus (Grapefruit, Lemon and Orange), Grass, Hay, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove, Herbal Tea, Menthol and again this hint of Strawberry - or Raspberry Jam.

Finish: Middle-Long and Bitter Sweet. The Bitterness increases towards the Dry end. The Alcohol burns a bit but the sensation is not too bad. A Metallic off-note is noticeable as well. I find Sweet Malted Cereals, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Oak Char, Grapefruit Juice, Bitter Oranges, Lemon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Menthol, Cinnamon, Resin and hints of Caffe Latte, Strawberry Jam and Cassis Liqueur.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Nose becomes very Grassy. On the Palate and in the Finish the Alcohol retreats somewhat but Menthol and Wood Spice become pretty dominant. You can add a few drops if you like but personally I prefer to sip it neat.  

Rating: 82.5    

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5

Image result for Glencadam 15 years

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The Glencadam Distillery is located in Brechin (Angus) close to the (small) river Esk. The Distillery was built in 1825. Since 1954 it was subsequently owned by Hiram Walker and Allied Lyons and was mainly used in Blends like Ballantine's, Teacher's and Cream of the Barley. It was mothballed in 2000 and things looked bad until Angus Dundee Distillers bought it in 2003 and brought it back to Single Malt status although it's still used in many Blends as well (Parker's, Dundee, Angus). Glencadam calls its whisky "The Rather Delicate Highland Malt". They currently produce 1,3 million litres per year. The current core range includes the Origin 1825, the 10, 13, 15, 21 and 25 Years. The distillery has sufficient old stocks to be able to offer a wide range of vintage Single Malts. 

The Glencadam 15 was first released in 2005 but a redesigned 46% expression was launched in 2008 and that's the one I'm tasting today.

Image result for glencadam stills

🍷  The Spirit 

Glencadam operates one pair of stills with Lyne arms that run upwards at an angle of 15 degrees producing a medium-bodied, medium Sweet, Fruity, Creamy and Nutty Spirit. The Water is sourced from Springs in the Unthank Hills.


🌲  The Wood:

The Glencadam 15 Years matured in (mostly refill) Ex-Bourbon casks. 

Drinking Experience: Good but not very interesting.

Conclusion: The Glencadam 15 is a pretty straightforward, no non-sense Single Malt with a good Price/Quality ratio. It does have a few flaws though and in my opinion they are caused by indifferent cask management. I miss the rich Aromas and Flavours that good Bourbon casks can bring. The basics are there but in a  sort of muted way. Another issue is the Alcohol that is too present everywhere but especially in the Finish. I also don't care for the slight Metallic off-note in that department. Glencadam is certainly going in the right direction. They do not add Caramel and all Single Malts are non Chill-Filtered. The ABV is adequate as well. Glencadam has a long history of producing Spirit for Blended Whisky. We all know that cask management is not a big issue there. But if you really want to conquer a lasting place in the Single Malt market the cask choice does become very important. As it stands today, the Glencadam 15 Years is an alright Single Malt but nothing special. There's certainly room for improvement. The Fruity Glencadam Spirit deserves it!

Jan van den Ende                                                                February 15, 2018

Image result for glencadam distillery

Talisker Distillers Edition 2000 Review


“When Speyside Meets Skye”

Whisky Review # 686

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Skye
Brand: Talisker Distillers Edition 2000 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 11 Years (Bottled in 2011)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 45.8%
Maturation: Bourbons casks with Oloroso Finish. 
Chill Filtration: Yes      
Price Range: US$ 180-250 (February 2018). 
Buying Advice: 😐 Neutral. Good Malt but quite expensive right now.  

Colour: Chestnut/Dark Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: I was expecting a Talisker 10 with a bit of Sherry influence but that's not the case. My first impression is a bag of mixed Sweet Dried Fruit. They are all there, the Raisins, Sultanas, Apricots, Apples, Figs and Prunes. The Sherry casks must have been quite active. I also find Salted Caramel, Barley Sugar, Toffee, Brown Sugar, Sugared Almonds, Orange Marmalade and Vanilla. It is a Talisker of course so I also find Bonfire Smoke, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks, Ashes, Dusty Old Books, Iodine, Diesel and Soot. But all these notes are muted unlike in the 10 years. On the Nose, this DE is quite Sweet but there are a few slightly Sour Red Wine notes as well. If you take your time you might also find traces of Leather, Licorice, Aniseed, Cinnamon, (Lemon) Pepper, Mint, Coffee Beans (Not Roasted), Olive Oil, Floral Soap and Tobacco. The Alcohol is not fully integrated. There's a lot to discover on the Nose of this Talisker if you take your time. But somehow I feel that the Amoroso casks might have absorbed a bit too much of the original Talisker distillery character. It would be interesting to see how this Single Malt would smell and taste after a reduced Sherry Finish of say six months.

Visit May 2017

Palate: The delivery is good thanks to the adequate ABV. On the Palate and in the Finish I find more balance between the Distillery character and the Sherry. On the Palate this Talisker is mainly Bitter-Sweet with a few slightly Sour Red Wine notes as well. I find Sweet Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Toffee, Orange Marmalade, Dried Fruits and Nuts like Raisins, Sultanas, Plums, Apples and Almonds, Lemon, light Campfire Smoke, Earthy Peat, Ashes, Iodine, Soot, Charred Oak, Leather, Herbal Tea, Clove, Pepper, Cinnamon, Licorice and hints of Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Espresso and Mustard Seeds.   

Finish: Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet with a nice Jalapeno blast towards the Dry end. I also find Sweet Malted Barley, Toffee, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Apple-Raisin Pie, light Campfire Smoke, Sweet Earthy Peat, Ashes, Soot, Salted Fish, Diesel, Dark Chocolate and Bacon. Some Citrus, Charred Oak, Leather, Menthol, Cinnamon, Aniseed, Dried Herbs and Licorice. Hints of Espresso and Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup.     

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and on the Nose you get something like Burnt Oranges. Both Palate and Finish accept a few drops if you like. Don't overdo it as you will get a little Plastic on the Finish. As usual, I prefer to sip it neat. 

Rating: 85.5    

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

Image result for talisker distillers edition 2000

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The distillery is located in Carbost on the Isle of Skye and was founded in 1830. The current owners are Diageo. Despite the remote location, Talisker receives lots of visitors and the Shop and VC were recently refurnished. We visited the distillery in May this year and it was crowded! We didn't like the Tour a lot. You are not allowed to take pictures and mill and casks can only be seen behind glass. You can't get very close to the stills as well. It was nice to have a close look at the wooden worm tubs outside. The subsequent Tasting was really nice though and we spend almost an hour in a separate room tasting six different Taliskers. If you're on Skye you should certainly pay Talisker a visit.

This Distillers Edition was produced in 2000 and bottled in 2011.

Tasting during Visit May 2017

🍷  The Spirit 

Talisker operates two wash stills and three spirit stills. The Lyne arms of the wash stills make a peculiar U bend that increases the contact of the spirit with the copper. The fermentation time is long. The stills produce a lightly peated full-bodied Spicy and Peppery Whisky. The Water is sourced from the Springs on Cnoc Nan Speirag just above the distillery.

Visit May 2017

🌲  The Wood:

The Spirit for this 2000 DE matured for 10 years in Bourbon casks before being finished for one year in Amoroso casks. Amoroso is a sweetened Oloroso Sherry. 

Drinking Experience: Good

Conclusion: The Talisker DE 2000 is a good Single Malt. To me, the Sherry is a little too present on the Nose but many people might actually like that. On the Palate and in the Finish there's more balance between Sherry cask and Talisker character. I would never say no if someone would offer me a glass of the 2000 Talisker Distiller's Edition. On the other hand there's nothing that beats the 10 Years if you want Wild & Exciting and the 18 Years if you're into Silky pleasure. I would be totally happy if Talisker would only produce these two classics. 

Jan van den Ende                                                                February 12, 2018

Image result for talisker distillery
Visit May 2017

Royal Brackla 16 Years Review


“King of the (Middle of the) Road”

Whisky Review # 685

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands
Brand: Royal Brackla
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 16 Years 
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Bourbon casks with Oloroso Finish      
Chill Filtration: Yes        
Price Range: Around US$ 110 (February 2018). Cheaper in Travel Retail.
Buying Advice: 😑 Good Entry Malt. Too expensive though!    

Colour: Golden Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Friendly but clean and rather underwhelming. He's Young for His Age as Albert Hammond sings in his Hit-Song "Air Disaster". The Sherry cask Finish is certainly noticeable. The Nose of this Royal Brackla won't scare off anybody and beginners will surely find it pleasant. I find Sweet Barley, Muesli with Apricot and Banana, Toast with a mixed spread of Butter and Margarine, Candle Wax, Resin, Sweet Apple, Honey-Melon, Toffee, Vanilla, Hay, Grass, Caffe Latte, Citrus Peel, Cinnamon, Ginger and hints of Floral Perfume and Varnish. 

Palate: Slightly Thin as could be expected at 40%. A 16 year old Single Malt deserves an ABV of 46%. The price of this Royal Brackla should allow this to happen! It all remains friendly and mostly Sweet with a few Herbal and Spicy notes for much needed balance. I find Creamy Malt, Toffee, Vanilla, Almonds or Marzipan, Honey-Melon, Sweet Apple, Figs, Butter, Sugared Orange Peel, Hay, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Pepper, Clove, Milk Chocolate, Dried Herbs and a hint of Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup.  

Finish: Middle-Long and Sugary Sweet with a few slightly Bitter notes towards the Dry end. I find Creamy Malt, Butter, Vanilla, Toffee, Sweet Apple, Nuts, Milk Chocolate, Honey-Melon, Pear drops, Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove, Pepper, Nutmeg, Charred Oak, Grass, Straw, and Sevilla Oranges. The Buttery notes coat your mouth for quite some time.         

Drinking Advice: Royal Brackla 16 Years does not improve with added Water. Enjoy it neat or over a little Ice on hot summer nights. 

Rating: 84.5        

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

Image result for royal brackla 16 years

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The distillery was founded in 1812 by Captain William Fraser and is located in Cawdor. In 1833 it was awarded the Royal warrant by King William IV. The spirit produced by Royal Brackla has always been a favourite of the Blending Industry. One of the first Single Malts was the 10 Years Flora & Fauna, released in 1993. In 1998 the distillery was bought by John Dewar & Sons (Bacardi) and most of the Spirit was reserved for the Dewar's and William Lawson Blends. In 2014, Bacardi decided to vastly increase the participation of their distilleries in the Single Malt market. They called the project The Last Great Malts of Scotland and it includes Single Malts from Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, The Deveron and Royal Brackla.   

The 16 Years was launched in 2015 together with the 10 - and 21 Years. These three represent Royal Brackla's contributions to the above mentioned Last Great Malt project. It almost automatically became their core range as well.

Related image
Picture Credit: Whisky.com

🍷  The Spirit 

The distillery operates with two pairs of Stills with Lyne arms at various angles. They produce a Medium-Bodied, Sweet, Fruity and Floral Spirit. The Water is sourced from the Cursack Springs.


🌲  The Wood:

The Spirit for this Royal Brackla matured in Refill Ex-Bourbon casks before being finished in First-Fill Oloroso Sherry casks.

Drinking Experience NeatGood but uneventful.

Conclusion: The Royal Brackla 16 Years is a typical modern, easy-going, middle of the road Single Malt that will, without any doubt, please many people with its uncomplicated structure, Flavours and Aromas. So far, so good you would think! But the price tag of this Single Malt is quite high and I would have expected a higher ABV of say 46%, no Chill-Filtration and no Colouring. That would seem a logical strategy for a distillery that is relatively unknown and wishes to increase its market share in the Single Malt segment. As it is, the Royal Brackla 16 years would be a fine entry-level Single Malt at around 50 US Dollars. At the current price level however it is simply way too expensive for what it offers. Let's hope Bacardi will revise its price structure as they have a potential Middle of the Road Champion with this Royal Brackla 16 Years.

Jan van den Ende                                                                 February 1, 2018


Highland Park Fire Review


“Expensive Twilight of the Gods” 

Whisky Review # 684

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park Fire Edition
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years 
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 45.2%
Maturation: Bourbon casks seasoned with Port Wine.     
Chill Filtration: No       
Price Range: US$ 250-300 (January 2018). 
Buying Advice: 😡 Negative. Not bad but way too expensive!   

Colour: Golden Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose: The Port Wine presence is not so obvious when you look at the Colour of this Highland Park but you can't miss it on the Nose where you are welcomed by an abundance of Sweet Dark Red Fruit like Berries, Grapes and Plums. There is an initial Aroma of Musty Cooked Vegetables but it fades away over time. Be sure to give this Malt enough time in the glass. As you know I'm not a huge fan of the Port/Whisky combination in general but on the Nose this HP is okay. The Port does dominate the other Aromas though so I miss a bit of balance. I also find Malted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Herbs, Straw, Orange-Flavoured Dark Chocolate, Charred Oak, Apple-Vinegar, Cinnamon, light Licorice, light Menthol and hints of Varnish, Old Leather and Banana. In the background there's a veil of Smoke and Earthy Peat.


Palate: The delivery is a bit on the Thin side despite the adequate ABV. On the Palate the Fire appears a bit Rough and Edgy. The Earthy Peat and Smoke are more noticeable now but the Port still reigns supreme. I find Dark Red Fruit like Berries, Grapes and Plums, Malted Cereals, Vanilla, Bitter Orange, Grapefruit, Charred Oak, Espresso, Heather-Honey, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Menthol, Licorice, Ashes and PVC Pipes.  

Finish: Bitter-Sweet and on the short side. Quite Dry towards the end. I detect Malted Cereals, Raspberries, Red Grapes, Red Wine, Earthy Peat, light Smoke, Charred Oak, Vanilla, Toffee, Almonds, Bitter Oranges, Grapefruit, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ashes, Bitter Chocolate, Espresso, Menthol, light Licorice, PVC Pipes and Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup.      

Drinking Advice:

The Highland Park Fire does not improve with added Water.    

Rating: 84        

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

Image result for highland park Fire 15 years

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

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 million litres of Alcohol and is owned since 1997 by the Edrington Group. The core range consists of the 10 (Viking Scars), the 12 (Viking Honour), the 18 (Viking Pride), the 25, 30 and 40 years. So far I haven't been able to visit this distillery but it's high on my wish-list!

The Highland Park Fire was launched in November 2016 and is the second in a limited Edition series preceded by Ice that was launched earlier that year. They are inspired by the final battle between Norse Gods like Odin, Freyr, Thor and Loki and the Fire and Ice Giants. In this Twilight of the Gods (Ragnarok), the old world dies in a blazing ball of fire and the new world is raised from the ashes. Only 28.000 bottles of Fire were released world-wide. The red bottle certainly stands out and is packed in a wooden cradle that is designed to match with the cradle of the Ice edition.  


🍷  The Spirit 

The distillery operates two pairs of Stills with Lyne arms that are either straight or showing a slightly upwards angle. They produce a medium-bodied, Peaty and Toffee-Sweet Spirit, some of it being used in Blends like The Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark. The water is sourced from the Crantit Spring.


🌲  The Wood:

The Spirit for Fire matured in Port Wine seasoned Refill Ex-Bourbons casks. 

Drinking Experience: Good

Conclusion: I wasn't expecting too much of this Highland Park Fire as I'm not a huge fan of the Port/Red Wine - Whisky combination. But I must admit it's not a bad effort by Highland Park. My main problems with the Fire are the complete domination by the Port Wine, the lack of balance, the lack luster Finish and the high price. There's no way this Single Malt deserves a price of 250-300 US Dollars. If you like a peated Malt with a Red Wine Finish go for the Longrow 11 Red Cabernet Sauvignon instead. Much better Price/Quality ratio. I think that Highland Park made a good effort by creating this first Red Wine matured Single Malt. I also think though that they are abusing Marketing to justify exorbitant prices for this Fire Edition and that's a pity.

Jan van den Ende                                                                 January 29, 2018

BenRiach 20 Years Review


“The Bomb That Didn’t Explode” 

Whisky Review # 677

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: BenRiach
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 20 Years (Blue Label - Bottled in 2011)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Probably Bourbons casks with a few Sherry casks in the mix.    
Chill Filtration: No      
Price Range: On average US$ 100 (January 2018). 
Buying Advice: 😐 Neutral. Good Price/Quality ratio. Very easy-going!  

Colour: Golden Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose: Quite Light actually with a thin veil of Peat/Smoke in the background. If I am not mistaken there is some Sherry influence here as well. I even get a tiny bit of Sulphur but nothing to worry about. The Nose is mainly Sweet, Malty and Fruity. I find Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Plums, Nuts, Grass, Straw, Bounty Bars, White Wine, Citrus, Charred Oak, Pineapple, Nectarine, Peach Jam, Dusty Road, Wet Sand, Chocolate, Cinnamon, light Pepper and hints of Leather and Tobacco. The Alcohol is reasonably well-integrated. The Nose is pleasant and balanced but misses a bit of a kick.

Palate: The Delivery is quite Thin. An ABV of 46% would have been adequate. On the Palate, this 20 Years is mainly Bitter-Sweet but a few Sour notes are to be noted as well. I find Creamy Malt, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Dried Fruit, Nuts, Pineapple, Orange, Apple, Honey, White Chocolate, Grass, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Menthol, Dried Herbs and hints of Tobacco, Leather and Peat/Smoke.

  Image result for ben riach 20 years
The "Old" Bourbon 20 Years 

Finish: Middle-Long, Bitter Sweet and slightly Herbal. Clear notes of Vanilla, Toffee and Milk Chocolate. I also find Sweet Barley, Caramel, Bounty Bars, Nuts, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Sultanas, Orange, Grapefruit, Apple, Honey-Melon, Lemon, Spices like Pepper, Ginger and Nutmeg, Charred Oak, Menthol and very faint Peat and Ashes. A bit of Cured Ham after a while.    

Drinking Advice:

The 20 Years does not benefit from added Water. It becomes more like a Barley Juice. Better sip it neat.    

Rating: 85       

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

The "New" Sherried 20 Years

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The BenRiach distillery was founded in 1897 by John Duff & Co and is located in Longmorn, Elgin (Morayshire). It changed hands a couple of times in its history but in April 2016 it was bought by Brown Forman. BenRiach produced more or less 2,3 million litres in 2017. The core range includes a/o the NAS Heart of Speyside, the 10, 16, 20, 25 and 35 years. The peated varieties include the Birnie Moss, the Curiositas 10, the Septendecim 17 and the Authenticus 25. I have not yet been able to visit this Distillery. We passed by in 2014 but it was closed for maintenance at the time. BenRiach Spirit is also used in Blends like Chivas Regal, 100 Pipers and Queen Anne.

Quite some different batches of the 20 Years have been released since its launch in 2004. The miniature I'm tasting today was bottled in 2011 and has a Blue and White Label (See picture on top). This specific batch is said to contain around 10% peated Whisky as well as a considerable amount of Spirit that matured longer than 20 Years. Other batches have different levels of peat and maturation time. Most of the early batches mainly matured in Bourbon casks but in 2016 a Sherried 20 Years was released. See picture above (Dark Label). As far as I know the latter has been discontinued in the meantime. BenRiach is one of those many distilleries that do not shy away from introducing loads of different expressions and special casks.

Related image

🍷  The Spirit 

The distillery operates two pairs of Stills with reasonably straightforward Lyne arms that produce a Medium-Bodied, Sweet, Malty, Spicy and Fruity Spirit. The Water is sourced from the Burnside Spring.


🌲  The Wood:

The spirit for this 20 Years most probably matured in First Fill Ex-Bourbon casks.   I detect some Sherry influence as well. A few casks? A Finish? I don't have this information available.

Drinking Experience: Good. Not very exciting though!

Conclusion: The BenRiach 20 Years is a very accessible Single Malt, both in terms of Price as well as Aromas and Flavours. Easy-going and mainstream. It should have been bottled at at least 46% of course but that would make it more expensive. A well-made Single Malt at a reasonable price. What more could you possibly want. Well, I for one was waiting during the whole Tasting and Nosing session for something to happen. Something that would make me smile, cringe, cry, anything...But no, nothing happened. I think you get the picture. Nice Malt but without excitement and Wow factor. The Spice Girls without the Spice!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 January 15, 2018

Laphroaig An Cuan Mor Review


“Surprisingly Different”

Whisky Review # 676

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Laphroaig An Cuan Mor
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS (Said To Be Around 10 Years)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 48%
Maturation: Bourbon Casks with Sherry Cask Finish     
Chill Filtration: No       
Price Range: On average around US$ 110 (January 2018). 
Buying Advice: Difficult. It's too expensive given its obvious youth. And it's not my favourite Laphroaig flavour-wise! But it's a well-made Single Malt and a different type of Laphroaig so if you like the Aroma/Flavour profile give it a try!

Colour: Amber with shades of Orange (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Pleasant although the Alcohol indicates a relatively young Spirit. The New Wood is quite noticeable and it has been polished with Furniture Wax or so it seems at least. The Earthy Peat and BBQ Smoke are there but they certainly do not overpower the other Aromas. This is not at all your typical Islay Peat-Smoke bomb. Around 25 ppm I would guess. On the Nose, the An Cuan Mor is Sweet, Sour, Salty, Floral and Mineral. I find Toasted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Heather-Honey, Wet Grass, Wet Rocks, Brine, Iodine, Soot, Dried Fruit like Apricot and Figs, Nuts, Leather, Lemon, Orange Peel, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Charred Oak and hints of Plastic, Cured Meat, Cedar Wood and Mint. It's not at all what I expected to be honest. It's amazing how much Peat/Smoke was absorbed by the Fresh Wood. As a result, the Nose is quite balanced. I wonder how good this Single Malt would be with some 5-7 years extra in the Ex-Bourbon casks. But that's day-dreaming. Still, I like the Nose!


Palate: A Bit Young and Edgy. I don't find the same balance as on the Nose. It's Bitter-Sweet, slightly Sour, Dry and quite Spicy. I find Toasted Cereals, Brown Sugar, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Dried Fruit, Seville Oranges, Earthy Peat, BBQ Smoke, Iodine, Band-Aids, Soot, Ashes, Burnt Heather, Charred Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg, Clove, Ginger, Licorice, Cured Meat, Herbal Tea, Strong Black Espresso, Dark Chocolate and used Leather Horse Saddles. The Alcohol is quite noticeable.         

Finish: Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. Quite Dry and Tannic towards the end. A very strong Licorice note. I also find Toasted Cereals, slightly Burnt Toast, Dried Fruit, Nuts, Salted Caramel, Farmyard, Earthy Peat, BBQ Smoke, Soot, Ashes, Tar, Iodine, Seville Orange, Grapefruit, Herbal Tea, Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Bacon on the BBQ, Alcohol, Charred Oak, Pepper, Clove, Nutmeg, Ginger and used Leather Horse Saddles.             

Drinking Advice:

The An Cuan Mor does not improve with added Water.    

Rating: 85.5       

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

Image result for laphroaig an cuan mor

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

Laphroaig was founded in 1815 and is located close to Port Ellen on the isle of Islay. It's one of the few distilleries that still operates an own Malting Floor that covers around 20% of their needs. It currently produces around 3.3 million litres   of Spirit on an annual basis of which 70% is destined for Single Malts. The rest is used a.o. in the well-known Teachers Blend. Actually, the core range includes the NAS Select, the 10 Years, the Quarter Cask, the Lore, the Triple Wood and the 25 Years. Laphroaig is one of my favourite distilleries to visit. Great Tours, great people and the smell of that peated smoke is unforgettable. All the pictures in this post were taken by my brother in law Jan Bronkhorst during our visits to Laphroaig in 2014 and 2017.

The An Cuan Mor (Gaelic for "Big Ocean") is a reference to Laphroaig's location. It was launched in 2013, in principal as a Travel Retail Bottling only. But you can find it on the Internet as well in the meantime at selected shops.

🍷  The Spirit:

The distillery operates three Wash Stills and four Spirit Stills all with ascending Lyne arms. They produce a full-bodied Smoky, Briny and Medicinal spirit. The Water is sourced from the Kilbride dam.


🌲  The Wood:

The Spirit for this Single Malt matured for around 8 years in Fresh American White Oak Bourbon barrels (Maker's Mark) before being finished for around 2 more years in Fresh European Oak, that probably was seasoned with Sherry.

Drinking Experience: Very Interesting. Different! Good Nose. 

Conclusion: A very interesting Nosing and Tasting session. Quite unusual Islay Malt. You know it's a young Whisky but it's extremely interesting to note to what extend the Fresh Wood is able to absorb lots of the Peat and Smoke so typical for a young Islay. A pity it does not absorb the Alcohol as well! As a result, the An Cuan Mor is very balanced on the Nose for a young Islay Single Malt. I can't say the same about Palate and Finish I'm afraid. There the Youth becomes more clear and gives a Nervous, Edgy feeling to the Spirit. So while I think it's a well-made Single Malt and an interesting Maturation experiment, I don't count the An Cuan Mor among my favourite Laphroaigs. Did I forget to say it's too expensive given its Youth? Well, it is!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 January 11, 2018