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

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.

Image result for ardnamurchan distillery

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

Image result for ardnamurchan distillery

GlenDronach 10 Years Forgue Review



“The Road To Hell”

Whisky Review # 831

Country: Scotland
Region: Eastern Highlands
Brand: GlenDronach Forgue
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Bottled: 2018
Age: 10 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Ex-Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 50-70 (September 2019)
Buying Advice👎 The 12 Years is better and cheaper!

Colour:

Pale Copper with shades of Orange and Brown (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Young, slightly Thin & Fruity. Sweet and Sour tones. The Sherry cask influence is not overwhelming. Probably 2nd and 3rd Refill casks. Perhaps a little Sulphur but nothing serious. On the Nose this Forgue presents a combination of Fresh and Dried Fruits, Nuts, Barley and Spices.

Main Aromas:

Malted Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Grass and Straw, Fruit Cake with Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Apricots and roasted Almonds, Mulled Wine spiced with Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg and Cloves, Dark Red Fruit, Orange and Toasted Oak.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Syrup, Brown Sugar, Milk Chocolate, Red Apple, Peach,  Caffe Latte and Dusty Road.



Palate:

Sweet, Fruity, Spicy, Young and ever so slightly on the Thin side.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Toffee, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Apricots, Orange, Dark Red Fruit like Berries and Cherries, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Cardamom, Caffe Latte and Milk Chocolate.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Syrup, Butter, Nutella, Straw, Yeast, Red Wine, Peach, Dusty Track, Tobacco and Bounty Bars.


Finish:

Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. A little Alcohol kick right at the end. Wood and Wood Spices take control over the Fruit. I find Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Caramel, Toffee, Milk Chocolate, Caffe Latte, Orange, Grapefruit, Gooseberry, Raspberry, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves, Cardamom, Toasted Oak and hints of Tobacco and Tea.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Fruity tones develop. Peach and Apricot become quite clear. The Oak and Spices take maximum control on the Palate and most of all in the Finish. You can carefully add four drops of Water but no more than that.

Rating: 82.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

GlenDronach was founded in 1826 by James Allardice in Forgue, Aberdeenshire. It changed hands various times before being acquired in 2016 by Brown Forman. The core range consists of the Hielan 8 Years, the 12 Years, the 18 Y Allardice, the 21 Years Parliament and the 25 Years Grandeur. In 2018 two Travel retail expressions were launched being the 10 Years Forgue I'm reviewing today as well as the 16 Years old Boynsmill. We visited the distillery in May this year and we had an unforgettable time there. I will treasure this memory for always. A very nice Tour and a tasting that included the whole range of the distillery plus some extras. Great! I can only fully recommend a visit!

The 10 Years old Forgue is an attempt to put GlenDronach on he Travel-Retail market. It's Non Chill-Filtered, does not contain artificial colouring and is bottled at a reasonable 43% although 46% would have been better of course. It's not a bad Single Malt but it's not as good as all the other GlenDronach Malts I have tasted with the exception of the 8 Year old Hielan. But I quite clearly prefer the 12 Years and, believe it or not, the last one is cheaper than the Forgue. That does not make sense and I hope that GlenDronach (one of my favourite Malts) will review this policy in the future. GlenDronach always put Quality first and Marketing second and I do hope it stays that way. Too many popular distilleries have gone the other way around unfortunately!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                            September 12, 2019


All Pictures were taken during our visit to GlenDronach in May 2019

Arran 2006 (Greek Whisky Association) Review


“Griechischer Malt”

Whisky Review # 830

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Arran
Brand: Arran
Exclusive Bottling for: Greek Whisky Association - Private Cask Series
Distilled: 26/07/2006 - Bottled: 11-04-2019
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask 2006/800483 - 277 Bottles
Age: 12 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 54.3% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Sherry Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price: Around US$ 75 (September 2019) - Sold out in the meantime!
Sample provided by Georgios from Greece. Many thanks!
Price Quality Ratio: Okay
Buying Advice: Good Sweet Sherried Highlander. 😭Unfortunately it's sold-out!

Colour:

Chestnut (Natural Colour)

Nose:

It would be almost impossible to recognise this as Arran Malt in a Blind Tasting. The active Sherry cask is responsible for that. I think I might recognise it as a Sherried Highlander though. The Sweet Nose certainly reminds me of Christmas Time with lots of Dried Fruit, Soft Spices and Nuts. Please give this Arran enough air time before Nosing. The Alcohol is noticeable but does not spoil the fun.

Main Aromas:

Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Pancakes with Golden Syrup, Yeast, X-mas Cake with Port Wine-Soaked Raisins, Dried Apricots, Mixed Nuts, Caffe Latte, Oak, Ginger and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Brown Sugar, Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Peach, Plum Jam, Pralines, Candied Pineapple, Lemon, Perfumed Candle Wax, Herbal Tea, Tobacco, Pepper, Cloves and Nutmeg.



Palate:

Sweet and Mature. The Alcohol is more noticeable now. It's quite consistent with the Nose in presenting lots of Dark Dried Fruit, Spices and Nuts. Quite Dry.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Malt, Christmas Cake with Port Wine-soaked Raisins, Salted Carmel, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Caffe Latte, Dark Orange-Flavoured Chocolate, slightly Musty Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger and Cloves.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Stewed Apple, Mixed Nuts (Almonds and Walnuts), Shortbread with Plum Marmalade, Peach, Candied Pineapple, Espresso, Tobacco and Wet Paper.


Finish:

Middle-Long & Bitter Sweet. Quite Dry in the end. I find Caramel, Toasted Barley, Brown Sugar, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Pastilles, Seville Orange, Mixed Nuts like Almonds and Walnuts, Extra Dark Chocolate, Tobacco, Furniture Wax for Leather Upholstery, Iron, Espresso, Port Wine, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:

Because of the small size of the sample. I only tasted this Arran neat.

Rating: 85.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

Arran Distillery was founded by Harold Currie in 1993 and started production in 1995. Business is going so well that the owners (Isle of Arran Distillers) are in the process of finalising another distillery (Lagg) on the Southern part of Arran that will take care of the peated expressions. Production of this new distillery could start in early 2019. The Arran core range now consists of the 10, 14 18 and 21 Years as well as the NAS Whiskies Robert Burns, Lochranza Reserve and Machrie Moore. We visited this distillery in May 2017 and absolutely loved it. Great tour, very friendly people, a nice shop and a good lunch restaurant. I can fully recommend a visit more so as the isle of Arran is a very nice and relatively quiet place.

The 2006 Arran GWA is a well-matured Sherried Highlander. You could argue that 12 years in a Sherry Cask slightly overpowers the light and fresh Arran Spirit. I've tasted Bourbon cask-matured Arran Malts that received a Sherry Finish and I found them a little bit more balanced. But if you like a Sherried after-dinner (Christmas) Whisky you can't go wrong with this bottle.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                            September 5 , 2019


All Pictures were taken during our visit to Arran in May 2017

Lagavulin Game of Thrones Review



“Wildling”
Whisky Review # 828

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Lagavulin Game of Thrones (House Lannister)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 9 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: First Fill Ex-Bourbon Casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 60-80 (August 2019)
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many thanks!
Buying Advice: 😀Pleasant & Young but too expensive Islay Malt. P/Q ratio: 👎

Colour:

Light Gold (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Soft Young Islay. The Smoke and Peat are there but they are not overwhelming by any means. It's a Sweet mixture of Maritime, Fruity, Mineral & Green Notes. It's nothing really special but certainly pleasant. In short, it's all what House Lannister isn't.

Main Aromas:

Malted & Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Toast, Vanilla, Grass, Straw, Farmyard, Fallen Leaves, Coal Smoke, Soot, Ashes, Tar, Orange, Apple, Banana, Melon, Pepper, Licorice, Cinnamon and TCP Pipes.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Salted Caramel, Honey, (Brown) Sugar, Wax, Fish and Meat on the BBQ, Oak Char, Wet Sand, Iodine, Ginger, Mint, Caffe Latte, Rubber and Tobacco Leaves.


Palate:

Its Youth is clear now. Mostly Sweet with a few Bitter and Sour notes. Medium-Dry. The Smoke and "Green" Peat are much more present now. A bit of Alcohol but it stays within limits.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Smoked Ham & Fish, Wet Earth, Wax, Straw, Farmyard, Tar, Soot, Ashes, Wet Sand, Charred Oak, Orange, Apple, Tobacco, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves and Rubber.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Nuts and Nutshells, Herbal Tea, Caffe Latte, Ginger, Gooseberry, Funky Mushrooms, Wet Paper, TCP Pipes and Licorice.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Sweet and Oily. A few Bitter and Sour notes as well. Its Youth is  even more noticeable here. The Rubber and Tar notes linger in your mouth for a while. Medium-Dry in the end. I find Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Wet Earth, Straw, Farmyard, Vanilla, Tar, Soot, Ashes, Smoked Ham, Charred Oak, Honey, Herbal Tea, Banana, Lemon, Pepper, Ginger, Licorice, Grapefruit, Milk Chocolate and Tobacco.

Drinking Advice:

Added water does not improve this Lagavulin. It simply becomes too Thin.

Rating: 84.5

Nose: 22 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

The Lagavulin distillery was founded in 1816 by John Johnston and is located on the South-Eastern coast of Islay, close to Port Ellen. It changed hands various times during its history but today it is firmly controlled by Diageo. Lagavulin currently produces around 2.5 million litres. Lagavulin is one of the key Malts in the White Horse Blend. The distillery range consists of the 12 Y CS, 16 Y and the Distillers Edition. In 2017 an 8 Year old bottled at 48% was added.

A Lannister always pays his debts. Well, you have to pay around 70 US Dollars to get this young Lagavulin. So it's definitively overpriced. But thanks God it isn't really bad like the White Walker. It's actually a rather pleasant young Islay. Especially on the Nose. Palate and Finish are a bit Artificial but not in a bad way this time. I think I would consider buying a bottle if it was around 45 US Dollars.  I must admit it doesn't really do justice to the House of Lannister. They are very shrewd, complex, immoral and vicious plotters. It would make a great Greyjoy but that House was taken by Talisker. This Lagavulin 9 Years is Young, Wild, Unpredictable and Daring.  Ygritte comes to mind!  Therefore, I unofficially proclaim this Lagavulin to be a Wildling!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 August 28 , 2019

Strathmill 1993 (Old Particular) Review


“Bitter-Sweet Symphony”

Whisky Review # 827

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Strathmill 1993 - Distilled: January 1993
Bottled By: Douglas Laing (Old Particular Series) in December 2014
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # DL 10585 - 320 Bottles
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 51.5% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Refill Sherry Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 110-120 (August 2019)
Buying Advice: 😏 You must like Liquid Wood! The price is okay given its age.

Colour:

Golden Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose:

The Sherry Cask influence is not overly strong although I do get some Sulphur. It's not too bad though. Give this Strathmill enough time in the glass as it opens rather slowly. The Nose is Fruity and Grassy with some Bitter, Sweet & Mineral notes. It's not too Woody given its age. The Alcohol is noticeable. Still, it's the best part of this Strathmill.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Grass and Straw, Candied Fruit like Pineapple and Pear, Orange Peel, Refill Oak, Dried Herbs and some Sour Citrus (Grapefruit & Lemon).

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Caramel, Nuts, Resin, Ripe Banana, Peach, Stewed Fruit like Apples and Plums, Green Leaves and Wet Stone. A light off-note that reminds me of Cooked Vegetables or perhaps slightly Sweaty Feet.


Palate:

Bitter-Sweet. Sulphur and Cooked Vegetables remain present. A bit of heavy Motor Oil as well. I do miss a bit of balance here. The Palate is saved by Fruity notes. The Alcohol is not fully integrated.

Main Flavours:

Barley, Yeast, Tinned Pineapple, Ripe Banana, Artificially Flavoured Candies, Cooked Fruits (Apples and Pears), Dark Berries, Refill Oak, Grapefruit, Orange, Pepper, Ginger and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Vanilla, Caramel, Resin, Dairy, Nutmeg, Dried Herbs and Dirty Earth.

Finish:

Middle-Long. Sweet at first but with increasing Bitterness towards the Dry end. The Bitter Oak notes don't invite you to have another sip. It's been a while since I find such deep Bitterness in a Single Malt. I also find Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Dark Fruits like Berries and Prunes, Nuts, Refill Oak, Stewed Fruit like Pears and Apples, Vanilla, Orange, Grapefruit, Dried Herbs, Cooked Vegetables Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Menthol and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

Added water does not improve this Strathmill but makes it a bit easier to drink. The Alcohol subsides but the strong Bitterness remains.

Rating: 82.5
                         
Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but for this extreme Bitterness.

Conclusion:

Strathmill was founded in 1891 in Keith and is a part of the Diageo group since 1997. Almost all of the production of around 2 million litres is used for the J&B and Spey Royal Blends. The only official bottling is a 12 Year old Flora & Fauna. In 2014 a 25 Year old Special limited release was launched.

This Strathmill is certainly not a mainstream Malt. It's Unbalanced and slightly Dirty. So it does show character which is always a plus in my book. So I would have given this Single Malt a higher rating but for this absurd Bitterness. Is it the Cask? Did the Spirit mature too long? Or both? In fact I can't remember the last time I had such a Bitter Single Malt. You won't notice this on the Nose but Palate and Finish suffer greatly. Well, it is as it is. I feel that Douglas Laing could have watched this cask a bit more carefully!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                  August 19, 2019

BenRiach 1990 (Sansibar) Review


“Wooden Heart”

Whisky Review # 825

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: BenRiach 1990 (Samurai Label)
Bottled By: Sansibar/Spirit Shop's Selection in 2015 - 239 Bottles
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky
Age: 25 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50.8%
Maturation: Sherry cask
Chill Filtration: No
Average Price: US$ 640 (August 2019) - Lowest Price: US$ 245 (August 2019)
Buying Advice: 😔 The Malt is okay but Wood-driven. P/Q ratio: 👎

Colour:

Golden Straw (Natural Colour)

Nose:

It's hard to believe that this BenRiach matured for 25 Years. It's Fruity but does not show a whole lot of complexity. Quite clean actually. It can't have been a very active cask as well as the Sherry influence is rather limited. It's not bad of course but I would have expected so much more considering age and price level. The ABV is quite stiff but the Alcohol is reasonably well-integrated.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Grass and Straw, Mandarin, Banana Ice Cream, Apricot, Apple, Dried Herbs, Cinnamon, Pepper and a touch of Aniseed.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Butter Kekse (German Butter Biscuits), Pineapple, Pear, White Wine & Red Wine (Never got that before!), Nuts and Nutshells, Trees and Leaves, Raisins, Musty Refill Oak, Cloves and a hint of Milk Chocolate.



Palate:

Bitter-Sweet, Creamy and Spicy. The Age makes itself known at this point. It's not as Fruity as the Nose would suggest.

Main Flavours:

Malted Barley, Straw, Vanilla, Mandarin, Grapefruit, Slivovitz, Mandarin, Nuts & Nutshells, Banana, Musty Refill Oak, Herbal Tea, Pepper, Cinnamon, Aniseed, Menthol and Licorice.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Salted Caramel, Honey, Apple, Pear, Dark Red Fruit (Cherries?), Lemon, Wet Stones, Cocoa Powder, Leather, Tobacco and a hint of Bacon.

Finish:

Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. Some Sour notes as well.The Bitterness increases towards the Medium-Dry end. Quite a bit of Wood and Wood spice. It really shows its age by now. There's also a very creamy mouth feel to it. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Honey, Yeast, Straw, Farmyard, Apple, Lemon, Grapefruit, Herbal Tea, Refill Oak, Nuts and Nutshells, Orange Liqueur, Red Grapes, Cocoa Powder, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Aniseed and Licorice. After five minutes or so the Dry Menthol like Bitterness kinda returns to your throat. It does not really invite you to taker another sip.

Drinking Advice:

Despite the respectable ABV, this BenRiach does not improve with added Water. You're left with Spicy Oak. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 84

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but disappointing given Age and Price.

Conclusion:

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 1,8 million litres in 2018. The core range includes a/o the NAS Heart of Speyside, the 10, 12, 21, 25 and 35 years. The peated varieties include a/o the Birnie Moss, the Curiositas 10 and the peated Quarter Cask. I have not yet been able to visit this Distillery as yet. 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.

I was really looking forward to taste this 25 Years old BenRiach but it did not live up to expectations. I mainly blame the cask for this. It's hard to detect any decent Sherry influence and it mostly gave Wood and Wood Spice to the Spirit. That Spirit is quite Fruity actually as you will perceive on the Nose. But on the Palate and in the Finish that Fruit is being overpowered by Wood and Spices. High prices are asked on the Internet as not many bottles are left. The Whisky itself though does not justify these high prices. Better save your money for an other occasion. It's a pity though as it promised so much on the outset!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    August 9, 2019

Highland Park Voyage of the Raven Review


“One Raven Doesn’t Make a Summer”

Whisky Review # 823

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park Voyage of the Raven
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 41.3%
Maturation: Mix of Ex-Bourbon and a high percentage of First Fill Sherry Wood
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 55-75 (August 2019)
Buying Advice: 😐 Nothing special. Better stay with the core range. P/Q: 😒

Colour:

Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose:

The Sherry Cask influence is clear and a little Sulphur is noticeable. Nothing too serious though. The Nose is Young, Fruity, Waxy and Sweet. Some Green notes as well. The Smoke weaves its spell in the background. It's all a bit Light but not unpleasant.

Main Aromas:

Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Grass and Straw, Honey, Apricot filled Puff Pastry, Nutella, Smoke, Dry Earth, Dark Berries, Prunes, Orange, Dark Chocolate filled with Raisins, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Ginger.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Caramel, Musty Oak, Rubber, Wet Paper, Polished Leather and Tobacco.


Palate:

Young and on the Thin side. A not very convincing mix of Sweet, Bitter and Sour notes. I was expecting more after the Nose.

Main Flavours:

Malted Barley, slightly Burnt Toast, Vanilla, Dark Berries, Prunes,  Nuts, Smoke, Dry Earth, Grass and Straw, Nectarine, Grapefruit, Dark Chocolate, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Salted Caramel, Raisins, Polished Leather, Tobacco, Rubber, Marzipan, Stewed Fruit, Dried Herbs and Musty Oak.

Finish:

Short/Middle-Long. Sweet at first but with some Bitter and Sour notes towards the Medium-Dry end. I find Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Caramel, Hazelnuts, Dough, Grass and Straw, Musty Oak, Smoke, Dry Earth, Grapefruit, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cloves, Dried Herbs, Menthol and Dark Chocolate.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and that intensifies Malt and Smoke on the Nose. Palate and Smoke become quite Thin with an increasing Wet Newspaper note. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 83.5

Nose: 21.5  - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience Neat: 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: For the Vikings who once ruled the Orkney Isles, the Raven was a powerful symbol of victory in battle, success on a voyage and loyalty to the god Odin. Ravens were the trusted guides of the early voyagers that left the Northern shores in search of new horizons. Ravens became symbols of good fortune on many Viking long ships.

The Voyage of the Raven was released in 2017, initially for Travel Retail only. It is not really a bad Single Malt but I strongly feel that Highland Park is overdoing the Viking heritage stuff a bit. Story, Image and Price seem more important than the effective quality of the Whisky. But Highland Park fans from all over the world seem to love it all. So who am I to complain? What I do know though is that it's way better to let the Raven guide you to the above mentioned core range. You are much better served that way. So help me Odin!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    August 1, 2019