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

Mortlach 1995 (A.D. Rattray) Review

“Like a Rolling Stone”

Whisky Review # 619

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Mortlach 1995 (A.D. Rattray Cask Collection)
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky
Age: 17 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 58.4%
Maturation: Bourbon Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 80-100 (June 2017) 
Buying Advice: 😀  Positive. Interesting Malt with reasonable P/Q ratio.

Colour: Golden (Natural Colour)

Crisp and Fruity with Mineral, Grassy, Waxy and Spicy notes as well. The Alcohol is quite noticeable but that's no big surprise given the ABV of close to 60%. I find Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Vanilla, Grass, Straw, Earth, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Apricots, Orange Marmalade, Tinned Pineapple, Saw Dust, Wet Stone, Heather-Honey, Bee-Wax, Sugared Almonds, Stewed Apple, Dusty Road, Leather, Milk Chocolate, Sweet Licorice, Ginger, Pepper and a sprinkle of Fresh Mint. Perhaps the faintest hint of a piece of Bacon on a distant BBQ. Be sure to give this Mortlach enough time in the glass in order to reveal its Aromas.

Very strong delivery thanks to the high ABV. Mainly Sweet but with a few Bitter, Sour, Oaky, Earthy and Spicy notes for balance. I find Sweet Barley, Butterscotch, Caramel, Marzipan, Dried Fruit, Milk- and White Chocolate, Vanilla, Stewed Apples, Almonds, Dirty Road, Salt, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, light Licorice, Orange Marmalade, Grapefruit, Sour Grapes or Grappa and hints of Leather and Raspberry.

Middle-Long, warming and Spicy. Sweet at first but quite Dry in the end with a slight Woody Bitterness. I find Toasted Barley, Sticky Toffee, Caramel, Stewed Apples, Marzipan/Almonds, Honey, Milk Chocolate, Toasted Oak, Grapefruit, Salted Almonds, Orange Marmalade, Lemon Zest, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon and hints of Leather and Raspberry Jam. The Alcohol remains strong until the end.  

Drinking Advice

I added 3 drops of Water and that helps to calm down the Alcohol on the Nose. The Aromas remain the same but they become more accessible. The same goes for the Palate. Perhaps some additional Floral notes here. The Finish becomes shorter, more Mineral and with a Metallic note I could live without. Still, this Mortlach deserves a few drops of Water!

Rating: 85

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

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery, The Bottler and Today's Whisky:

The distillery was founded in 1823 by James Findlater. It changed hands various times before being bought by John Walker & Sons in 1923. The latter was purchased by Distillers Company Ltd that later became part of Diageo. Mortlach is located close to the centre of Dufftown. Most of the Spirit is used for the Johnnie Walker Blends but since 2014 the Malt core range was introduced that consists of the NAS Rare Old, the Duty Free version called Special Strength, the 18 Years and the 25 Years.

A.D. Rattray was founded in 1868 by Andrew Dewar Rattray. It suffered during the crisis of the early 1900's. It changed hands various times before returning to the family. Current owner is Tim Morrison, a fourth generation descendant of the founder who used to work for Morrison Bowmore Distillers. He launched the Cask Selection series in 2004.

The Spirit for today's Single Cask Whisky was distilled on the 19th of June 1995 and was bottled at Cask Strength on January 21, 2013.

🍷  The Spirit:

Mortlach is equipped with six stills of various sizes. Unlike in most distilleries, these stills operate separately, rather than in pairs. Cooling of the vapours takes place with worm tubs. The Lyne arms are pointed downwards to create a full and meaty Spirit, quite different from your usual Speyside profile. The water for the Whisky is sourced in the Conval Hills.

🌲  The Wood:

This Mortlach matured for 17 Years in a Bourbon Hogshead with Cask # 3426. Only 264 bottles were drawn from the cask.

Drinking Experience NeatGood


Quite different when compared to your average Speyside Single Malt. If Speyside is Flower Power, this Mortlach is Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone. It's Edgy, almost Dirty sometimes and the high ABV seems to be spot on for this Malt. I would not recommend this Mortlach to beginning Whisky drinkers but for advanced Whisky fans this is a nice Malt to discuss on a Tasting session with some friends! It's not perfect and it's a bit untidy in places but it's certainly interesting and that's exactly what seems to be missing with lots of today's mainstream modern-cut Single Malts. I like it!

Jan van den Ende                                                                      June 21, 2017

Ardbeg Auriverdes Review

“The Sweetest Taboo”

Whisky Review # 618

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Ardbeg Auriverdes
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS (Apparently distilled in 2002)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 49.9%
Maturation: American Oak Ex-Bourbon Barrels
Chill Filtration: No 
Price Range: US$ 140-200 (June 2017) US$ 80 at date of release.
Buying Advice: 😡  Way too expensive.  Better stick to the core range!

Colour: Light Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose: Surprisingly Light and Sweet when compared to the 10 Years. There is some Wet Earth and Campfire Smoke present of course but I certainly wouldn't consider them too dominant. I also find other Islay notes like Burnt Toast, Iodine, Brine, Tar, Soot, Diesel Oil, Ashes, Rubber Tyres, PVC Pipes and Leather. If you don't fancy those Aromas in a Whisky, rest assured. They are balanced by more pleasant sounding notes of Bacon, Fish and Shell Fish on the BBQ, Charred Oak, Vanilla, Caramel, Sweet Barley, Straw, Grapefruit Juice, Dried Herbs, Licorice, Flaked Chili Pepper, After Eight Mint Chocolate and Lemon Zest. The Auriverdes is a relatively Young Whisky and the Alcohol is not yet totally integrated. On the Nose, the Auriverdes comes across as an Islay "Light" Malt. The Peat lovers amongst us might find that slightly disappointing but to the general public it's certainly a more accessible Ardbeg nose. In my opinion it's not bad but as you know I'm not too fond of this sort of compromises that seek to please as many consumers as possible.   

Ardbeg - Visit May 2017
Palate: Quite Spicy and Medicinal at first but Sugary Sweet soon thereafter. This is not at all my cup of Whisky! I find Buttered Toast, Caramel, Toffee, Charred Oak, Wet Earth, Ashes, Soot, Tar, Leather, Bacon, Sugared Herbal Tea, Lemon, Grapefruit, Pepper, Salt, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Licorice, Cocoa, Menthol and a hint of Coffee Flavoured Dark Chocolate. 

Finish: Middle-Long. Mostly Sugary Sweet but with some Bitter, Sour and Salty elements as well. More Dry in the end. The Alcohol and Charred Oak can't hide the presence of some young Spirit. I find Wet Earth, Charred Oak, Ashes, Soot, Tar, Iodine, Burnt Plastic, Bacon, Grapefruit, Lemon,  Toffee, Caramel, Sugared Tea, Sweet Licorice, Dark Chocolate, Ginger, Nutmeg and Menthol. Floral Soap after a few minutes.

Ardbeg - Visit May 2017

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Sweet Peat on the Nose develops. Palate and Finish become unpleasantly Sweet though. Better sip the Auriverdes neat.

Rating: 83     

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

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

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, the Corryvreckan and the Uigeadail. Like Glenmorangie, Ardbeg likes to experiment with Wood, Toasting and NAS expressions.

The Auriverdes was launched on May 31, 2014 to celebrate both Ardbeg Day 2014 and the World Cup Football 2014 in Brazil. Auri (Gold) and Verdes (Green) refer to the Brazilian National Colours as well as to the Golden Ardbeg Whisky that is sold in the well-known Green bottles.

🍷  The Spirit: 

Ardbeg possesses only one pair of Stills with tall necks and rising Lyne arms that create lots of Reflux. A Purifier is connected to the Spirit Still that takes out the heavy Vapours and guarantees a Lighter and Fruity Spirit. The Water for the Spirit is sourced from Loch Uigeadail.

🌲  The Wood:

The Spirit for the Auriverdes matured in Charred American Oak Bourbon Barrels with new specially toasted American Oak lids. This Spirit was later blended with a percentage of Ardbeg Spirit that matured in standard 1st and 2nd Fill Ex-Bourbon Barrels.
Drinking Experience Neat:

The Nose is certainly Okay but Palate and Finish are way too Sweet for my taste.


The Ardbeg Auriverdes is not a bad Single Malt but it's not as good as the core range. Therefore it's way too expensive for what it offers. As a concept and taste wise it does not work for me personally as well. The Nose is quite okay and sufficiently balanced although much Lighter than you would expect of an Ardbeg. Many people would probably call it more accessible though so it's not necessarily a bad thing except for Hard Core Peat adepts. On the Palate and in the Finish however the Charred Oak and the High ABV can't hide the fact that there's some very Young and slightly Sharp Malt Whisky in the mix. And it's Sugary Sweet, way too Sweet for my taste. I don't think I have ever tasted such a Sweet Ardbeg before. If you like Sweet then it's fine of course but I will pass next time somebody offers me an Auriverdes.

Jan van den Ende                                                                      June 19, 2017

Ardbeg - Visit May 2017

Balvenie 21 PortWood Review

“Speyside’s Port Authority”

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: The Balvenie PortWood
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 21 Years
ABV: 43% 
Chill Filtration: Yes 
Whisky Review # 614
Buying Advice: 😐 Neutral. Nice Malt for Port lovers. Negative Price Vs. Quality Ratio. 

Colour: Old Gold/Brandy with a touch of Orange (Probably Coloured)

Nose: An interesting combination of Sweet, Sour, Dusty, Fruity, Floral and Oak tones. The Port Pipe Aromas are unmistakably present. At first I get a bit of the Cooked Vegetables Aromas I often find in the Jura Single Malts. They tend to disappear over time so it's very important to give this Portwood sufficient time in the glass before Nosing. After around 15 minutes I find Toasted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Toffee, Caramel, Wax, Honey, Brown Sugar, Bourbon, Stewed Orchard Fruit, Blackcurrants, Red Wine, Polished Leather Upholstery, Dirty Road, Nectarine, Tinned Pineapple- and Peach slices in Syrup, light Citrus, Cinnamon, Clove, light Menthol and Aniseed. Although noticeable, the Alcohol is still reasonably well-integrated. I also find a hint of Smoke from a very distant fire. There are more than sufficient traces of Aromas to be found if you take the time with this Single Malt. The main drivers however are Sweet Fruit, Buttery Cereals and Polished Leather, accompanied by Wood, Spice and slightly Sour Red Wine. It's not bad but it isn't entirely my style. 

Palate: The delivery is a little Thin. On the Palate and in the Finish the age of the Malt becomes clear as Oak and Wood Spice appear at the front. On the Palate, the Portwood is mainly Bitter Sweet but also with a few Sour Notes. I find Toasted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Caramel, Honey, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Dried Fruit like Apple, Apricot and Plums, Nectarine, Citrus, Dusty Road, Red Wine, Hazelnut, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Aniseed, Cocoa Powder and Tobacco.     

Finish: Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet with a few Sour notes as well. Dry in the end with Tannins and Oak. Unsweetened Cappuccino topped with Cinnamon and Cocoa Powder is my first image. After a little while I also find Toasted Cereals, light Honey, Orange-flavoured Dark Chocolate, Brown Sugar, Red Apples, Nuts, Red Wine, Sour Cherries, Nectarine, Pepper, Aniseed, Nutmeg and Tobacco.   

The Balvenie PortWood does not improve with added Water. Better sip it neat. 

Rating: 84.5        

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

General Remarks: 

The Balvenie distillery was founded in 1892 by William Grant in Dufftown, Keith, Banffshire. Production started in 1893. It's still in the hands of William Grant & Sons. Today it's one the 10 most sold Single Malts worldwide.

A vintage Portwood was released for the first time in 1996. Today the 21 Years Portwood is part of the core range of the distillery. There are two expressions around at the moment. The standard one I'm tasting today and a Travel Retail expression that is bottled at 47.6% and without Chill-Filtration. The Portwood matures for over 20 Years in Ex-Bourbon casks before being finished for a number of months in 30 Year Old Port Pipes. The Price varies a lot from place to place but is usually in the 150/200 US Dollar range (April 2017). That's quite expensive but a 21 Year old Whisky can't be cheap of course. 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good 

Conclusion: The Balvenie is one of those distilleries that produces whole ranges of pleasant, enjoyable Single Malts that are quite mainstream. It's difficult not to like them. On the other hand they all miss the "WOW" factor in my opinion. And that means that the Price/Quality ratio becomes rather important when you are going to buy a Balvenie Single Malt. I kinda liked this Portwood for example but no way I would spend over 150 US Dollars for this Single Malt. It's not special enough for that kind of money. And the same goes for most of Balvenie's special expressions. That's why I always come back to the 12 Years Double Wood as one of my to-go-to drams. Pleasant Single Malt with an excellent Price/Quality Ratio. If you adore Port Finished Single Malts however and you have the cash, this Portwood is certainly not a bad choice. 

Jan van den Ende                                                                      April 27, 2017

Laphroaig Lore Review

“Where Do We Go From Here”

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand:Laphroaig Lore
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
ABV: 48% 
Barrier Filtration: Yes 
Whisky Review # 613
Buying Advice:😡  Way too expensive. Go for the 10 or the Quarter Cask!

Colour: Golden Corn (Most likely Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Young and slightly Dirty with Cold Smoke, Dirty Earth, Soot, PVC Pipes, Tar, Ashes, Diesel Oil, Leather, Iodine, Brine, Wet Stones, Burnt Toast, Charred Oak, Damp Cellar and Shell Fish. I don't get a significant Sherry influence. A little bit of Salted Nuts, Dried Fruit and Straw. After a while in the glass I get some Vanilla, Toffee, Caramel, Cocoa Powder, Lemon, Milk Chocolate, Ripe Bananas and Apple Sauce. The Spices include Ginger, Cinnamon and Cardamon. And finally quite a bit of Menthol. It's not as outspoken as the 10 Years and not near as mature as the (former) 18 years. It's another attempt to create a young mainstream Laphroaig. Gone are the days that you either loved this distillery or hated it. Good for sales without any doubt. A pity for those Whisky fans who loved the distinguished characteristics of each distillery. If the trend continues this way the whole concept of Single Malt will be hollowed out and Whiskies will merely be distinguished by type. Something like Sweet, Medium Sweet, Dry, Lightly Peated and Heavily Peated. And those varieties could be made in a few huge producing facilities. Am I too pessimistic here? Or are we slowly but surely being pushed in that direction! Only time will tell! Let's stop the ranting and return to the Nose of the Lore. It's okay but nothing special. And that just adds to my case! Because a Single Malt should not be just okay. That's something for boring Blends.     

Palate: There's a Young feel to it on the one hand but it's a bit Oily at the same time. I find Cold Smoke, Dirty Earth, Brine, Ashes, Soot, Tar, Iodine, Leather, Plastic, Caramel, Toffee, Sour Cherries, Green Apple, Pear, Pepper, Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, Lemon, Grapefruit, Gooseberries, Licorice, Dried Fruit, Smoked Fish or Shell Fish, Aniseed and hints of Tobacco and Chocolate.   

Finish: Middle-Long and quite Dry. The Ashes and Dirty Earth stay a little longer on your Palate. The Finish is mainly Bitter-Sweet with some Mineral and Sour notes as well. I find Toasted Barley, Charred Oak, Ashes, Cold Smoke, Soot, Iodine, Wet Grass, Vanilla, Green Apple, Pear, Salt, Gooseberries, Raspberries, Licorice, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Aniseed, Fish and/or Shell Fish on the BBQ and hints of Tobacco, Leather and Cocoa Powder. After a few sips the Bitterness seems to increase and that's not a good thing.

I added a little Water and on the Nose some extra Fruit appears. Mainly Pears and Apricots. A little Orange perhaps. Palate and Finish become too Thin for my taste. Better sip it neat. 

Rating: 83.5       

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

General Remarks: 

Laphroaig was founded in 1815 by Alexander and Donald Johnston. It is located close to Port Ellen on the island of Islay. It is currently owned by Beam Suntory. The core range consists of the Select NAS, the 10, the 10 CS, the Quarter Cask, the Triple Wood and the Lore that was added in 2016. The lack of older stocks forces the distillery to launch more NAS Expressions. Unfortunately, the very nice 18 Years old was discontinued in 2015. In fact the Lore seeks to replace the 18 Years. 

The Lore was released in 2016. Lore means the verbal passing of tradition and skill and current Distillery manager John Campbell created the Lore to celebrate the fact that Laphroaig has been made this way during the last 200 years. The Lore is said to contain Spirit that is at least 7 years old but some 1993 vintage is in the mix as well. The Whisky matured in various types of casks that include First & Refill Ex-Bourbon casks ,First Fill Ex-Oloroso Casks and some Whisky that matured in Quarter casks and was finished in Virgin European Oak casks. It is not at all cheap with prices mostly in the 85-125 US Dollar range (April 2017).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: I can understand the current dilemmas of the Whisky Market that has grown much faster as expected. This is mainly a result of the concentration of the production. Big companies have ample means to market their whiskies on a world wide scale, something that would be impossible if all distilleries would still be independent and/or family run. As a result of the fast growing consumption stocks have been dwindling at an alarming rate and many older whiskies needed to be discontinued and replaced by younger NAS Whiskies. Normally, younger whiskies should be cheaper than older ones and the industry needed to be resourceful to maintain - or even increase margins. As a result we are being bombarded by nice stories, beautiful names, exotic finishing, high ABV and...high prices. The Lore is a good example of this. It's basically a young whisky with added Wood contact and a small percentage of older Vintage Malt. That does not make it a bad Whisky of course and I would happily pay 50 US Dollars for a bottle. But at a 125 US Dollars the Price/Quality ratio sucks big time. The Lore simply is not worth that kind of money. Better stay with the 10 Years or the Quarter Cask.    

Jan van den Ende                                                                      April 24, 2017

Glenmorangie Milsean Review

“Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)”

Country: Scotland
Region: Northern Highlands
Brand: Glenmorangie Milsean (Private Edition)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
ABV: 46% 
Light Chill-Filtration: Yes 
Whisky Review # 612
Buying Advice: 😑  This is not my idea of a good Whisky. And it's way too expensive for Artificially Flavoured Candies. But that's just me!  

Colour: Full Gold with Red and Orange notes

Nose: Lighter than I had come to expect. Be sure to give the Milsean sufficient time in the glass. Initially I got some wafts of Varnish but they almost disappear with time. The Wine Finish is noticeable but the Ex-Bourbon casks have not been totally dominated. On the Nose the Milsean is indeed quite Sweet but the Sweetness comes across as slightly artificial. It does remind me a bit of the canned Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup that was served on birthday parties when I was a kid. The one that usually contained Pineapple, Pear, Melon, Grapes and Cherries. Additionally I get some Apple as well.

I also find Buttered Toast, Icing Sugar, Vanilla, Toffee/Butterscotch, Coconut, Rum soaked Raisins, Orange, Plum Jam, Red Wine, Cinnamon, Ginger, Sweet Barley, Blueberry Muffins, Mint and a few Floral and Green notes that I can't pin down exactly. 

Palate: Not quite as Sweet as I expected after the Nose. Oak, Spices and a few Sour notes come into play as well. It's actually a little Thin despite the good ABV. I find Tutti Frutti Bubblegum, Icing Sugar, Vanilla, Toffee, Rum soaked Raisins & Sultanas, Coconut, Pineapple, Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Nectarine, Bourbon, Buttered Toast, Ginger, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Aniseed, Menthol, Red Wine, Herbal Tea and a few Floral notes.  

Finish: Medium-Long. Very Sweet at first but quite Dry later on with a Metallic Off-Note and a rather unpleasant Woody Bitterness. This is easily the weakest part of this Malt. I find Honey, Icing Sugar, Strawberry Jam, Bourbon, Red Wine, Orange, light Pepper, Ginger, Clove, Menthol, Green Apple and hints of Tobacco and Herbal Tea.

I added a little Water and on the Nose I find Strawberry Candies, Fudge and Plum Jam. Palate and Finish become too Watery for my taste. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 81    

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 19.5 - Overall: 20.5

General Remarks:

Glenmorangie was founded in 1843 and the production started in 1849. It was rebuilt in 1887 and was mothballed from 1931 to 1936. It is located in Tain in the Northern Highlands. Since 2004 it's in the hands of Moet Hennessy. The distillery was one of the first to experiment with different Cask Finishing. Today it's the 4th best selling Single Malt in the world.

The Milsean (Gaelic for Sweet Things) was launched late 2016 as the 7th release in the Private Edition series. The Spirit matured firstly in Ex-Bourbon casks before being finished for two-and-a-half years in 269 heavily toasted casks that previously matured Portuguese Red Douro Wine. The Private Edition series were created by Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie's director of distilling and whisky creation. With the Milsean he and his probable successor Brendan McCarron try to recreate the Aromas and Flavours that most of us will remember from the old-style Candy Shops. Label and Packaging are styled in the same fashion. It's not cheap for a NAS Single Malt with prices usually in the 100-120 US Dollar range (April 2017).
Drinking Experience Neat: Okay 

Conclusion: I like my Single Malt to be Well-Matured, Complex, Balanced with as much as possible Natural Aromas and Flavours and without any off notes. Unfortunately, the Milsean does not tick any of these boxes. There is a young feel to this Malt and the Red Wine Finish can't hide this fact. It's not at all a complex and balanced Whisky as its main drivers are Canned Fruit, Wood and Wood spice. It's all a bit Rough and Unfinished. The Aromas and Flavours seem artificial and there are a few unpleasant off-notes in the Finish. Does the Milsean remind me of a Candy Shop filled with Artificially flavoured Candies? Yes, it does. Is that my idea of a good Whisky? No it isn't.   

Jan van den Ende                                                                      April 20, 2017