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

Michel Firino Martell Bas Armagnac 1982 Review - Michel Firino Martell Single Malt 1994 Speyside Review - Michel Firino Martell Single Malt 1995 Speyside Review


“Michel Firino Martell Special”

Whisky Review # 838

Country: France
Region: Armagnac
Brand: Michel Firino Martell Bas Armagnac Ugni Blanc 1982 
Type: Single Cask Bas-Armagnac - Limited Edition- 998 Bottles (2 Single Casks)
Age: 33 Years (Bottled: July 2015)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 45.6%
Maturation: Oak Barrels
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: - (October 2019). Please contact seller.
All of today's reviewed samples provided by Michel from France. Many Thanks!
Buying Advice: 😃 Excellent, well-matured after-dinner Spirit.

Colour:

Mahogany (Natural Colour)

Nose:

It's been more than 15 years since I had my last Armagnac and it's my first take on this Spirit since I started Best Shot Whisky Reviews back in 2011. So I am  very curious. Okay, let's go! On the Nose this Armagnac presents very mature Aromas of Fruit, Nuts, Caramel, Wood and Spices. A mature American Rye Whiskey comes to my mind. It's still remarkably Fresh for a 33 Year old Spirit. The Oak is there of course but it doesn't completely dominate the other aromas. Good Wood Management. Sweet but not in a cloying way. Some Bitter notes for balance. Quite Dry. The Alcohol is nicely integrated. You can nose this Armagnac for more than half an hour and that's what I did in fact.

Main Aromas:

Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Apricots, Roasted Almonds and Hazelnuts, Nougat, Seville Oranges, Papaya Cream with Creme de Cassis, slightly Musty Oak, Pine Resin, Tobacco and Pepper.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Brown Sugar, Caramel, Butterscotch, Honey, Polished Leather Upholstery, Floral Soap, Peach, Lemon, Dried Herbs, Dark Chocolate, Nutmeg and Aniseed.

Palate:

Bitter-Sweet, Fruity, Spicy and a bit Woody. The Age becomes more clear now. This Bas-Armagnac matured quite nicely though!

MFMBasArmagnac1982-elite-selection.jpg

Main Flavours:

Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Plums, Roasted Hazelnuts, Seville Orange, Peach, Dark Chocolate, Leather, Tobacco, Pepper and Menthol.
  
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Brown Sugar, Caramel, Vanilla, Butterscotch, Roasted Marshmallows, Mulled Wine, Rye, Honey, slightly Musty Oak, Pine Resin, Marzipan, Lemon, Licorice, Ginger and Cinnamon.

Finish:

Quite Long, Bitter-Sweet, Fruity, Spicy and Woody. The Spirit clearly shows its old age here but not in a tired sort of way. I find Brown Sugar, Caramel, Vanilla, Pine Resin, Musty Wood, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Plums, Seville Orange, Red Wine, Roasted Chestnuts, Dark Chocolate, Leather, Tobacco, Lemon-Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Licorice and Peach-filled Puff Pastry.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and although there's some Fruit development on the Nose, the Palate becomes less interesting and the Finish quite a bit shorter. The ABV is spot-on here and there's no need to add water.

Rating: 88

Nose: 22.5 - Taste: 22 - Finish: 21.5  - Overall: 22

Drinking Experience Neat: Very Nice.

Conclusion:

In 1994, Michel Firino Martell started selling and representing Martell Cognac in America, South-America and Asia. When the Martell label was acquired in 2001 by Pernod-Ricard, Michel decided to join other Family estates dedicated to the "Terroir" of their wines and spirits. Finally, in 2006 he launched Elite Selection, a wine merchant company dedicated to fine wine and spirits located in the city of Bordeaux. This vehicle gives Michel the opportunity to create limited editions of spirits & champagnes next to the commercialisation of rare and old wines from the best chateaux. The limited spirit editions include Armagnac and Single Malt Whisky from Scotland and France. These Spirits are finished in Michel's bonded warehouse in Glasgow and bottled by Michel as well. You can find all relevant information and prices on Michel's new Website Elite Selection.

The two casks used for this selection aged in the cellars of the Gelas house. It was distilled from the Ugni Blanc grape variety in Bas-Armagnac situated in the "departements" Landes and Gers. This grape is also used for the production of Cognac.

I didn't really know what to expect but I'm quite pleased with the quality of this Bas-Armagnac. It's well-matured and the Oak is not as overpowering as could be expected after 33 years. I loved the Nose. Good Cask Management as well. This is not for every day of course but this Armagnac seems perfect to end a fine special dinner. I will certainly try to review some other Armagnacs in the future.

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Whisky Review # 839

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Distilled at: Braeval
Brand: Michel Firino Martell Single Malt 1994 Speyside
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Limited Edition- 304 Bottles
Age: 23 Years - Distilled 20-12-1994 - Bottled in August 2017
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 55.4% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Cask (Heaven Hill)
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ - Please contact seller (October 2019)
Buying Advice: 😀 Good "old style" Bourbon Malt with character. A bit Oaky. 

Colour:

Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose:

This is only my third Braeval review so I don't have a lot of experience with this distillery. Please give this 1994 enough time in the glass as it opens up slowly. On the Nose this Braeval can't hide his age as the slightly Dusty Bourbon Wood makes itself known. It's Fruity but not overly Sweet. Some Grassy, Waxy and Dairy notes as well. The Alcohol is reasonably well-integrated. This Braeval is quite introspective on the Nose. It doesn't immediately show you what it's got so you have to look for it. To find the Fruity notes it's best to Nose around the brim of the glass.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Wax, Grass, Pear, Apple, Orange, Peach Marmalade, Charred Oak, Resin, Milk Chocolate, Pepper, Cinnamon & Ginger.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Caramel, Banana Ice-Cream, Floral Soap, Caffe Latte, Mango Cream, Tinned Pineapple, Sugared Almonds, Dried Apricot and Sultanas. 

Palate:

Bitter-Sweet. Quite strong delivery thanks to the high ABV. On the Palate this Braeval clearly shows its age. The Fruit is still there but it fights for survival against the Dusty Wood and Wood Spice notes.

MFMwhisky1994_Montagne-2-elite-selection

Main Flavours:

Sweet Toasted Barley, Butter-Kekse (German Butter Biscuits), Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Resin, Grass and Straw, slightly Musty Wood, Peach-filled Puff-Pastry, Apple, Seville Orange, Milk Chocolate, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves and Ginger.
  
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Caramel, Toffee, Butterscotch, Heather-Honey, Floral Soap, Sugared Almonds, Caffe Latte, Tinned Pear and Pineapple, Cinnamon and a touch of Lemon.

Finish:

Middle-Long. Sweet, Fruity and Buttery at first but with increasing Bitterness towards the Medium-Dry end when Wood and Wood Spices take over. You can certainly tell its age by now. I find Sweet Barley, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Resin, Vanilla, Butterscotch, Wax, Hay, Dried Fruit like Sultanas and Apples, Seville Orange, Herbal Tea, Milk-Chocolate, Peach-Flavoured Yogurt, slightly Dusty Wood, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Licorice, Ginger and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Alcohol subdues of course thereby giving more room to the Fruit on the Nose. Wood and Wood Spices are more balanced with the other Flavours on the Palate. The Finish becomes less intense. You can certainly add a few drops to this Braeval.

Rating: 85.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

The Braeval distillery was founded in 1973 by Chivas Brothers to secure Single Malt for their blends. In 2001, Chivas was bought by Pernod-Ricard. The current annual production capacity amounts to 4,2 million litres. In 2017 the distillery released its first official bottling, a 16 Year old Single Cask.

This Braeval does not give itself away very easily and you have to dig to find all nuances. That only makes it more interesting though. This is a well-made Malt and a far cry from today's Mainstream Malt Madness. It is a bit on the Woody side though and I think it would have been even better if bottled a few years earlier. This bottling clearly shows that Braeval has Single Malt potential and it's a pity that most Spirit "disappears" in the Chivas Blends.


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Whisky Review # 840

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Distilled at: Tormore
Brand: Michel Firino Martell Single Malt 1995 Speyside
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Limited Edition- 297 Bottles
Age: 22 Years - Distilled June 15, 1995 - Bottled January 2018
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 55.2% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ - Please contact seller (October 2019)
Buying Advice: 😃Solid Well-Balanced Bourbon-Matured Speysider.

Colour:

Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Be sure to give this Tormore enough time in the glass as it opens up slowly. The Alcohol is quite strong so you need to find your way around it. Don't stick your nose in the middle of the glass but carefully follow the brim. On the Nose this Tormore is Medium-Sweet while a few Sour notes provide some balance. The Oak is quite present of course. This is a more "classic" Bourbon-matured Single Malt. You get the basic Aromas and Flavours you would expect.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Butter Kekse (German Butter Biscuits), Vanilla, Grass and Straw, Cake with Whipped Cream, Dusty Charred Oak, Pineapple-Flavoured Yogurt, Milk Chocolate, Orchard Fruit and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Butterscotch, Toffee, Caramel, Dusty Country Track, Orange, Mango Cream, Coconut, Banana ice-Cream, Sour Berries, Lemon Pepper, Fresh Herbs and Menthol.

Palate:

Good delivery. It's more pronounced than the slightly timid Nose would lead you to believe. It's Sweet and Sour and quite Creamy and really invites you to take another sip.

MFM-Single-Malt-Scotch-Whisky-1995_sea.j

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Fruit Cake with Whipped Cream, Apple, Banana, Milk Chocolate, Charred Oak, Cinnamon, Ginger, Mint and Aniseed.
  
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Brown Sugar, Straw, Bounty Bars, Orange, Berries, Marzipan, Lemon-Pepper and Cardamom.

Finish:

Middle-Long but quite powerful thanks to the high ABV. Its age is clear and Oak and Wood Spice lead the way. A mix of Sweet, Bitter and Sour notes provides a balanced Medium-Dry finish nevertheless. Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Butterscotch, Marzipan, Hay, Sugared Almonds, Marzipan, Milk Chocolate, Bounty Bars, Pear, Orange, Banana Ice Cream, Cinnamon, Pepper, Aniseed, Mint, Licorice and Tobacco.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and Malty, Floral (Heather) and Fruity (Nectarine perhaps) notes develop. The Alcohol retreats a little on the palate and my advise is to carefully add a few drops until you find your preferred balance. The Finish is more Spicy this way.

Rating: 85.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

The Tormore distillery was founded in 1958 by Schenley Int, the owners of Long John Blended Whisky. In 2005 it was bought by Chivas Brothers (Pernod-Ricard) that needed additional Single Malt whisky for their Blends. The only two current Single Malts (14 and 16 Years) were released by the distillery in 2014.

I just noticed I gave the two Single Malts the same rating. That's correct from a quality point of view as they are both well made Speyside Malts. But they are quite different types of Whisky. The Tormore is a little closed on the Nose but immediately shows its hand on the palate and in the Finish. It's a Whisky that comes to you. In the case of the Braeval you will have to dig deeper to get to the soul. You have to explore the Malt until you find what hides behind the Oak. But both are well-made Single Malts and show much more character than the mainstream Speyside Malts that overflow the market in recent years. These well-matured Single malts can't be cheap of course so they can't be considered as daily drams. But they make for perfect birthday presents to enjoy sip by sip.


Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 October 14, 2019

Bruichladdich Octomore 06.1 Review


“Smoke on the Water”

Whisky Review # 837

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bruichladdich Octomore 06.1 (167 PPM) - Scottish Barley Series
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Limited Edition- 18000 Bottles
Age: 5 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 57%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 140-190 (October 2019)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎Way too expensive for a 5-year old Single Malt. 
Buying Advice: 😀If you love peated young Islay, go for it!

Colour:

Golden Straw (Natural Colour)

Nose:

At 167 PPM and 57% ABV I was kind of expecting a Peat Explosion that would blow my mind away. The Peat is there of course and so is the Alcohol. It smells like a Young Islay but in a pleasant mellow way. Be sure to give this Octomore enough time in the glass as it opens up slowly.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Straw mixed with Cow Manure, Sea Water, Dirty Peat, Cold Smoke, Iodine, Band-Aid, TCP Pipes, Tar, Ashes, Bacon on the BBQ, Green Apple, Lemon, Burnt Herbs, Pepper and Leather.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Grass, Salted Nuts, Cooked Vegetables, Yeast, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup,  Oak Char and Mint.



Palate:

Octomore 6.1 shows its Youth here. The Alcohol is strong & not yet integrated. This Octomore would certainly benefit from a longer maturation. It still holds its peaty ground though! A bit Sweeter as expected though.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Burnt Toast, Salted Caramel, Dirty Peat, Cold Smoke, Ashes, TCP Pipes, Tar, Soot, Iodine, Band-Aid, Straw mixed with Cow Manure, Green Apple, Lemon, Pepper, Menthol and Ginger.
  
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Roasted Nuts, Roasted Coffee, Oak, Char, Bitter Orange-Juice, Grass, Bacon on the BBQ, Burnt Herbs, Licorice and Nutmeg.


Finish:

Bitter-Sweet and very Long. Medium Dry towards the end. It's like sucking on a peated TCP Pipe! It just goes on and on. It's a very young Whisky of course and the Alcohol is quite noticeable. But somehow it works. I find Toasted Barley, Burnt Toast, Straw mixed with Cow Manure, Dirty Peat, Cold Smoke, Tar, Soot, Ashes, Iodine, Band-Aid, TCP Pipes, Burnt Herbs, Green Apple, Lemon, Salted Nuts, Salted Caramel, Bacon on the BBQ, Oak Char, Licorice, Pepper, Ginger, Menthol and Coffee-Flavoured Dark Chocolate.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Octomore starts to smell like peated Grist that most of you have probably smelled more than once when fortunate enough to visit a distillery. The Malt shines as well. Cold Smoke and Plastic reign on the Palate and in the shorter Finish. You can carefully experiment with a few drops at a time.

Rating: 85

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - 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 the very heavily peated Octomore. The basic core range for Bruichladdich includes The Classic Laddie, Islay Barley 2010 & Black Art 5. The annual production amounts to around one million litres.

The Octomore 06.1 was released in 2013. This is my first Octomore distillery bottling and I was expecting sort of a Peat Bomb. There's a lot of Peat of course and you gotta like that to fully appreciate an Octomore. But to me it's actually quite Mellow, especially on the Nose. It's young peated Islay Malt on steroids. Not for everybody and not for everyday but certainly warming after a long walk along the Islay coast on a cold and misty morning.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 October 10, 2019

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Glenlivet Master Distillers Reserve Review



“Ballad of a Thin Man”

Whisky Review # 836

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenlivet "The Master Distiller's Reserve"
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Mix of Sherry Butts, American Oak and Traditional Oak casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 35-50 (October 2019)
Price/Quality Ratio: Okay. At least it's not too expensive.
Buying Advice: 😒 Bland and Thin. Not at all my thing! 

Colour:

Golden with shades of Orange (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Light, Young, Sweet, Fruity and Grassy. I notice the presence of Re-Fill casks. I get a few slightly Sour notes as well. The Sherry Wood is hardly noticeable. All in all a bit boring!

Main Aromas:

Barley Sugar, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Grass and Straw, Raisins, Artificially Flavored Candies (Pineapple, Pear, Green Apple),  Sugared Almonds, Cinnamon, and Ginger.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Buttered Toast, Brown Sugar, Mandarin, Lemon, Wet Stones, Caffe Latte, Milk Chocolate, Floral Soap, Wood Shavings and Mint.



Palate:

Young, Thin, Light, Bitter-Sweet and Medium Dry. A few Sour notes as well. The Alcohol is very present. Quite disappointing really.

Main Flavours:

Barley Sugar, Caramel, Vanilla, Orange Peel, Green Apple, Raisins, Grass & Straw, Nuts and Nutshells, Wood-Shavings, Cinnamon, Ginger, Mint & Nutmeg.
  
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Heather-Honey, Mandarin, Grapefruit, Pear, Dusty Track, Acetone, Tin cans, Pepper and Caffe Latte.


Finish:

Short, Light, Young and Nervous. A mix of Sugary-Sweet, Bitter and Sour notes. The Alcohol bites a little. I find Barley Sugar, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Raisins, Orange, Mandarin, Lemon, Nuts & Nutshells, Apple, Cinnamon, Ginger, Pepper, Menthol and Caffe Latte.  

Drinking Advice:

Added Water totally kills this Thin Single Malt.

Rating: 77

Nose: 20 - Taste: 19.5 - Finish: 18.5 - Overall: 19 

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Conclusion:

The Glenlivet Distillery is located in Ballindalloch (Banfshire) and was founded in 1824 by George Smith. Since 2001 it is owned by Chivas Brothers Pernod Ricard and in 2018 a new extension of the distillery was approved that will increase the production to around 21 million litres making it the largest Single Malt distillery in Scotland. The Core range includes The Founder's Reserve (NAS), the 12, 15, 18 and 21 Years as well as the XXV and the Captain's Reserve. The Master Distiller's Reserve I'm reviewing today was launched in 2011 and is part of the Travel Retail range.

If I would be the Master-Distiller at The Glenlivet I would not want to give my signature to this Bleak, Bland, Thin and Boring Single Malt. I bought this at the Sao Paulo Airport as a package together with the Master Distiller's Small Batch Reserve. I hope that one will be better. Today's Master Distiller's Reserve did not bring me any joy at all!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                  October 3, 2019

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

Glen Scotia 18 Years Review


“Dust in the Wind”

Whisky Review # 835

Country: Scotland
Region: Campbeltown
Brand: Glen Scotia
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 18 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Casks with Oloroso Sherry Finish
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 70-85 (September 2019)
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many thanks!
Price/Quality Ratio: Good
Buying Advice: 😀It's good but I like the 15 Years and its P/Q ratio even more!

Colour:

Copper with shades of Orange (Natural Colour)

Nose:

A Mix of Sweet and Sour notes. A little Dirty and Musty though far less than its neighbour Springbank.  Still, it does not smell quite as "Mainstream" as lots of modern Malts do. I get a bit of Salt and Dust as well. The Alcohol is noticeable.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley,  Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Sultanas and Apricot, Citrus Peel, Apple, Grass and Straw, Yeast, Dirty Earth, Cherry/Menthol Cough Pastilles, Soot, Grapefruit, Sour Grapes and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Buttered Toast, Toffee, Treacle, Heather-Honey, Charred Oak, Rum-Soaked Raisins, Herbal Tea, Mixed Nuts, Perfumed Soap, Tobacco and Cured Ham.



Palate:

A mix of Bitter, Sweet & Sour notes. A Bit Dusty and Waxy as well. The delivery is a bit on the Thin side which is remarkable given the good ABV. Quite Dry. The Alcohol is not completely integrated.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Cereals,  Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Grass & Straw, Dough, Charred Oak, Dirty Earth, Dried Fruit and Nuts like Apricots, Dates and Hazelnuts, Seville Orange, Grapefruit, Dark Chocolate, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Treacle, Toffee, Soot, Apple, Herbal Tea, Cured Ham, Licorice, Iron, Tobacco, Espresso, Leather, Cinnamon and Cloves.


Finish:

Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet with lots of Dry Oak towards the end. It's a bit Thinner as expected given the adequate ABV. I find Toasted Barley, Grass and Straw, Salted Caramel, Treacle, Seville Orange, Dried Fruit and Nuts like Raisins and Hazelnuts, Charred Oak, Dirty Earth, Soot, Herbal Tea, Grapefruit, Cocoa Powder, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Menthol, Iron and Espresso.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Alcohol retreats. I get more Fruit on the Nose, especially Peach and Apricot. This Fruit returns on the Palate but Wood & Spices control the Finish. This Glen Scotia improves with a few drops of Water.

Rating: 84

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

The Glen Scotia Distillery was founded in 1832 and is located in Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsular. It's one of the only three surviving distilleries in Campbeltown along with Springbank and Glengyle. The current owner is a Glasgow based Blending House called Loch Lomond Distillery. A new range was launched in 2015. It consists of the 15 Years and two NAS Expressions, the Double Cask and the Victoriana. The 18 Years I review today was launched in 2017. We visited the distillery in May 2017. We were lucky and got a private Tour and Tasting.

The Glen Scotia 18 Years is a Medium-Dirty Campbeltown Single Malt with an acceptable Price/Quality ratio. It's not quite as Dirty and Musty as its neighbour Springbank but it has more than sufficient character to distinguish itself from today's mainstream boring Malt Whiskies. It's a bit Thin though like Dust in the Wind and less Fruity than its younger brother the 15 Years. So my advise would be to go for the latter that also presents an even better P/Q ratio!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                            September 30, 2019

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2017

Highland Park Spirit of the Bear Review


“Teddy Bear”

Whisky Review # 834

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park Spirit of the Bear
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Mix of Bourbon Casks and Sherry Seasoned American Oak Casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 45-60 (September 2019)
Price/Quality Ratio: Okay if you can find it at around US$ 45
Buying Advice: 😔It's not bad but better stick with the HP 10 or 12 Years

Colour:

Golden Straw (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Young, Light, Thin, slightly Musty, Mineral and Sweet but not in an unpleasant way. Smoke and Peat (Dry Earth) are quite present and so is the Alcohol. There is some Sherry Wood influence but the 40% waters that down considerably.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Apple-Filled Puff Pastry, Smoke, Earthy Peat, Mixed Dried Fruit like Raisins and Prunes, Orange Peel, Cinnamon and Ginger.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Salted Caramel, Nuts and Nutshells, Wax, Lemon, Pear, Coconut, Gooseberry, Wet Stones, Iron, Caffe Latte, Wood Pellets, Nutmeg, Pepper, Banana-Flavoured Yogurt, Menthol and Leather.



Palate:

Young, Thin, Watery, Bitter-Sweet and Medium Dry. It doesn't taste bad but it's so Watered Down it looses all energy. The Alcohol is not really integrated.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Toast, Vanilla, Smoke, Earthy Peat, Ashes, Grass and Straw, Nuts & Nutshells, Orange Peel, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Pepper, Ginger and Herbal Tea.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Salted Caramel, Heather-Honey, Iron, Wet Stones, Lemon, Tart Apple Juice,  Bacon, Caffe Latte, Cocoa Powder and Tobacco.


Finish:

Short/Middle Long and Bitter-Sweet. This is the most forgettable part without any doubt. Really Thin. I find Toasted Malt, slightly Burnt Toast, Smoke, Earthy Peat, Ashes, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Grass and Straw, Seville Orange, Nuts and Nutshells, Lemon, Herbal Tea, Licorice, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Tobacco, Cocoa Powder and Toasted Oak.

Drinking Advice:

This Bear does not need added Water. It's Thin enough as it is.

Rating: 80.5

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 19 - Overall: 20

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

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 2.3 million litres of Alcohol and is owned since 1997 by the Edrington Group. The core range consists of the 10 years (Viking Scars), the 12 years (Viking Honour), the 18 years (Viking Pride), the 25, 30 and 40 years.

The Story behind this Single Malt is the following: Many Viking warriors believed they could channel the Spirit of the Great Forrest Bear by assuming its form wrapping themselves in Bear skins. Bears were admired for being resilient and self sufficient with a highly developed instinct for survival.

The Spirit of the Bear was released in 2018 as a part of the revived Travel Retail range. I'm not gonna start raving again about Highland Park's Viking obsession as my opinion on the subject is well-known. But I can't help noticing that this Spirit of the Bear is another one of this endless stream of Highland Park malts that are not better and usually more expensive than the core range. It's not a bad Single malt but it smells and tastes so utterly watered down that you will loose interest quite quickly. I don't see much similarities with Great Forrest Bears either. This is a Teddy Bear at best!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                            September 26, 2019

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

Ardnamurchan 2018 AD 03 Review

Image result for ardnamurchan spirit 2018 03

“Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Whisky Review # 833

Country: Scotland
Region: Western Highlands
Brand: Ardnamurchan 2018 AD - Limited Release # 03 - 4916 Bottles
Type: Spirit - Bottled: 2018
Age: NAS (Around 1 Year)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 55.3%
Maturation: Vatting of 29 1st Fill Ex-Sherry Oloroso and PX Casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 65-85 (September 2019)
Price/Quality Ratio: Negative. Way too expensive for such a young Spirit.
Buying Advice: 😐Interesting but very young Spirit. Buy a sample first! 

Colour:

Dark Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Young, Edgy, Fruity and slightly Thin Spirit. The Alcohol is certainly noticeable. I must admit though that it's hard to believe we are nosing a 1 Year old Spirit. The First-Fill casks did a really good job here. On the Nose this Ardnamurchan presents mainly Sweet- but also a few Sour notes. On the whole a very positive surprise considering its short maturation.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Toffee, Mixed Fruits and Nuts including Raisins, Dates, Hazelnuts and Peanuts, Seville Oranges, Yeast, Factory Smoke, Dirty Earth, Leather, Wet Rocks & Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Cake, Caramel, Sour Berries, Tinned Pineapple, Apple-Vinegar, Mango-Flavoured Yogurt, Varnish, Iron, Pepper and Nutmeg.

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Palate:

Young, Sharp, Dry & Smoky. It not unlike a Young Islay actually. On the Palate you will find an array of Sweet, Sour and Bitter notes. The Alcohol is very much present.

Main Flavours:

Toffee, Salted Caramel, Factory Smoke, Dirty Earth, Ashes, Soot, Wet Rocks, Red Apple, Seville Oranges, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Gooseberries, Wax and Pepper.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Sweet Barley, Dried Fruit like Sultanas and Plums, Apple-Vinegar, Cheap Red Wine, Wood Pellets, Tinned Pineapple, Pork on the BBQ, Licorice and Menthol.

Finish:

Short to Middle Long with Sweet, Sour and Bitter notes. Its Youth is clear now and the Alcohol is quite Strong. Quite Dry in the end as well. Peat and Factory Smoke are more pronounced than on the Nose. I also find Sweet Barley, Toffee, Salted Caramel, Wood Pellets, Apple-Vinegar, Gooseberries, Cherry-Flavoured Cough-Syrup, Bitter Orange Juice, Varnish, Iron, Ashes, Soot, Menthol, Pepper and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and that tames the Alcohol of course which by itself is a good thing. You're left with a sort of Fruity Peat-Water mixed with Porridge. Palate and Finish relax a bit with the added Water although the overall Aroma and Flavour profile does not change dramatically. There's room to experiment with a few drops.

Rating: 81.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay. Good when you consider the terribly short maturation.

Conclusion:

Ardnamurchan was founded recently in 2014 in Glenbeg, Ardnamurchan, Argyll, just north of Mull. It is owned by the independent bottler Adelphi Distillery Ltd. Production started in July 2014. Annual production will amount to around 420.000 litres. Half of the year the distillery produces unpeated Spirit while during the other half peated Spirit is produced (30-35 PPM). Adelphi plans to release a mature Spirit each year until 2021 when the first Single Malt will be bottled. Today we are tasting the 2018 Edition # 3 that included both unpeated and peated Barley in the mash-bill.

I was really surprised with the Aroma/Flavour level of this Spirit given its ultra-short maturation. These Sherry-Flavoured casks have really done a good job. I am impressed. Nevertheless it's still a young Spirit and you can't and shouldn't compare it to a fully matured Single Malt. But it's sufficiently interesting to look forward to the first fully matured Ardnamurchan Single Malt. I have a feeling it will be quite good if and when the distillery continues to work with good quality casks. In any case I wish the team of Ardnamurchan the best of luck!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                            September 23, 2019

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