Showing posts with label Tasting Notes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tasting Notes. Show all posts

Laphroaig Four Oak Review



“Laphroaig Water”

Whisky Review # 801

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Laphroaig Four Oak
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Bourbon, Quarter, Virgin American Oak, European Oak Hogsheads
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 55-75 (February 2019)
Buying Advice: 😡Come On Laphroaig, you can do much better! P/Q ratio: 👎

Colour:

Golden Straw (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Young, Light, Sour and Dusty. Some of the famous Laphroaig Aromas are there but in a Watered-Down form. Re-Fill Wood and New Oak are noticeable and so is the Alcohol. The Nose is not really bad but it kinda smells like work in progress.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Cereals, Slightly Burnt Toast, Dirty Peat, Cold Smoke, Caramel, Lemon Ice Tea, Grass, Green Apple, Unripe Banana, Wood Pellets, Smoked Fish, Floral Soap, Salt and Espresso.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Iodine, Soot, Ashes, Tar, Plastic, Rubber, Gas Station, Cheese, Mineral notes, Bounty Candy Bars and a hint of Sweaty Feet.


Palate:

Young and Thin. A mix of Sugary Sweet and Sour notes. Lots of Alcohol. Again this feeling of Unfinished Business.

Main Flavours:

Peated Grist, Dirty Peat, Cold Smoke, Salted Caramel, Floral Perfume, Smoked Fish and Shellfish, Green Apple, Pear, Green Banana, Lemon, Licorice, Pepper & Nutmeg.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toasted Nuts, Vanilla, Soot, Ashes, Tar, Plastic, Rubber, Iron and Espresso.


Finish:

Middle-Long and very Thin. A mixture of Sugary Sweet and Sour with a bit of Bitterness that develops with time. Medium Dry. I find Peated Grist, Salted Caramel, Dirty Peat, Cold Smoke, Soot, Ashes, Brine, Iodine, Floral Soap, Lemon, Grapefruit, Smoked Fish & Shellfish, Vanilla, Espresso, Licorice, Pepper, Nutmeg and Casted Iron. Clearly a very young Islay Malt. The Alcohol is still noticeable.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water completely kills this Four Oak. It's already Thin enough as it is.

Rating: 78

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

Drinking Experience Neat:

Okay

Drinking Experience on the Rocks:

Okay

Conclusion:

Laphroaig is located a few miles outside Port Ellen on the island of Islay and was founded in 1815 by Alexander and Donald Johnston. It was bought by Beam Suntory in 2014. Since, the distillery has launched a number of NAS Whiskies that received mixed critics. I find this a pity as I used to consider Laphroaig one of my favourite distilleries. The 10, the discontinued 18 and the old 15 Years are some of my all time favourites. I also love to visit the place and the people. I really hope Laphroaig is not steering too much towards mainstream Whisky but at the moment it kinda looks that way.

The Four Oak was launched in 2017, initially for Travel Retail only. It is a vatting of young Laphroaig Spirit that matured in Ex-Bourbon barrels, Quarter Casks, Virgin American Oak barrels and European Oak hogsheads.

Whisky derives from the old Scottish Gaelic word Uisge-Beatha, Water of Life. It seems to me that Laphroaig takes this a bit too literally with this Four Oak. You use Water for making Whisky but it should not taste as such! Laphroaig used to be a Single Malt that you either liked or hated. With Single Malts like the Four Oak that's not the case anymore. This is overpriced young Islay malt that should probably convince newbies that Peated Whisky is not something you should be afraid of. I know there's a shortage of aged Spirit and I know there's a shortage of good and affordable casks. But I also know that you can't (yet) replace sufficient maturation by New Wood and Smaller Casks.  The Four Oak is a good example of that. It smells and tastes like a rush job. I don't think that Laphroaig is doing itself and the market a favour by releasing Single Malts like this. This is not the way to go. Laphroaig should not be a whisky that's kinda Peaty, kinda Light, kinda Watery and kinda okay.
  
Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 February 8, 2019

Glenfiddich Fire & Cane Review


Whisky Review # 800

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenfiddich Fire & Cane
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Bourbon Casks with Rum Cask Finish 
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 45-55 (February 2019)
Sample provided by: Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Buying Advice: 😐Nice Experiment. Suffers from low ABV. P/Q ratio: Okay

Colour:

Light Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

I never had a peated Glenfiddich before so I was curious! The Earthy Peat and Smoke from a Distant Fire are present but in a mellow kind of way. The rest is basically Malt and Fruit with a little Oak in the background. I don't think Fire and Cane was finished for a long time in Rum casks as its influence is limited. The Nose is not unpleasant but makes a Thin & slightly Watered-Down impression. 

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Peat and Smoke, Toffee, Salted Caramel, Green Apple, Pear, Grapes, Orange, Lemon, Oak-Char, Cinnamon and Mint.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Pineapple-Flavoured Candies, Grapefruit, Banana, Floral Soap, Powdered Sugar, Pepper and Cloves.


Palate:

The idea of this Single malt is not bad. It's a quite pleasant combination of Peat, Smoke and Sweet Orchard Fruit. However, the Palate also suffers on account of the insufficient ABV. It's simply too Thin to really convince. There's potential here but it needs a face-lift.

Main Flavours:

Barley Sugar, Smoke/Peat, Salted Caramel, Grass, Powder Sugar, Green Apples, Pear, White Grapes, Orange, Oak Char, Cinnamon, Pepper and Mint.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Butterscotch, Toffee, Heather-Honey, Lemon, Floral Soap, Menthol Cigarettes, Ginger, Nutmeg and Cloves.


Finish:

On the Short side. The ABV does not sufficiently carry the Spirit. The Finish is Sweet with a light Bitterness towards the end. I find Barley Sugar, Sweet Peat, Smoke from a Distant Fire, light Soot and Ashes, Oak Char, Salted Caramel, Green Apple, Pear, White Grapes, Citrus, Grass, Floral Soap, Cinnamon, Cloves, Pepper, Menthol and Cocoa Powder.

Drinking Advice:

Fire & Cane does not improve with added Water although the Nose gets extra Fruit. Palate and Finish become too Thin though.

Rating: 85

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

Drinking Experience:

Good but too Thin.

Conclusion:

Glenfiddich was founded in Dufftown in 1886 by William Grant. It's one of the few distilleries that is still in the hands of the founder's family. In the year 1963 it became the first whisky that was marketed worldwide as a Single Malt. It was the first Single Malt to appear in the Travel Retail/Duty Free shops as well and the chance is very big that Glenfiddich was your first Single Malt. It was mine anyhow. It is also the first distillery that opened a visitor centre, back in 1969. The current core range consists of the 12, 15, 18, 21, 26, 30  and 40 years old.

In 2016 the distillery launched The Experimental Series with the Project XX and The IPA Experiment. Winter Storm was the third released in 2017 followed last year by Fire & Cane. The Fire & Cane is a marriage between Peated (8ppm) and Unpeated Glenfiddich Spirit that was firstly matured in Ex-Bourbon casks before receiving a Finish in Latin-America Rum Casks. The name refers to the Peat (Fire) and the Rum (Cane).

First of all I would like to congratulate Glenfiddich on the Experiment Series. It is always commendable to try out new combinations. In the case of the Fire and Cane I find that the Fruity Glenfiddich Spirit is enhanced by the light Peat. I just think it needs more Fire (Higher ABV) and more Cane (A longer Rum-Finish). As it is, it's a bit too Thin and Weak to fully convince!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 February 5, 2018

Glenburgie 1997 (Douglas Laing) Review - Tormore 2004 (Gordon & MacPhail) Review - Tamdhu 1987 (Mo Or) Review


“Speyside Special # 5” 

Most of you know that I mainly use samples and miniatures when preparing my Reviews. At the request of many of my readers I give preference to more recent expressions. As a result, my backlog of older samples has increased quite a bit. To do justice to those samples I will review them in the form of Specials. These specials will deal with a specific region like today or with specific distilleries, bottlers or countries. These reviews will concentrate on the Whisky and won't touch too much details about distilleries, maturation etc. I do hope you will like these Specials just as much as my regular reviews and I look forward to your reactions and suggestions. In this special I will review three random Speyside Single Malts. Enjoy!
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Image result for hunter laing glenburgie 15 Years old malt cask 50%

Whisky Review # 797

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenburgie - Speyside Edition Nr. 4 - Especially bottled for Germany
Bottled by: Douglas Laing - The Old Malt Cask Series in April 2013 - 708 bottles
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years - Distilled June 1997
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50%
Maturation: Refill Sherry Butt
Chill Filtration: No
Average Price: US$ 65 (January 2019)
Buying Advice:😀Pleasant Easy-Going Speyside Malt with a good P/Q ratio 👍.

Colour:

Old Gold (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Sweet and a little Meaty and Dusty. A few Sour notes as well. The Sherry Cask influence is clear. Please give this Glenburgie enough time in the glass before Nosing as the Alcohol is quite present. I find a little bit of Sulphur as well but it stays within acceptable limits. The Nose is okay but nothing out of the ordinary.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Cereals, lightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Nuts, Dried Fruit like Sultanas & Plums, Caramel, Straw and Grass, Apple, Pear, Orange, Pineapple, Dried Herbs, Dusty Earth, Oak, Pepper, Mint and Cloves.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Toffee, Heather Honey, Wax, Red Grapes, Red Berries, Grapefruit, Wet Rocks/Sand, Cinnamon and a twist of Lemon.

Image result for speyside region

Palate:

Bitter Sweet, Malty and Fruity. A few Sour notes. Watch out because it goes down dangerously easy!

Main Flavours:

Toasted and Malted Barley, Butterscotch, Caramel, Straw and Grass, Apple, Pear, Orange, Pineapple, Dried Herbs, Pepper, Ginger and Cardamom.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Buttered Toast, Honey, Strawberries, Grapes, Lemon, Passion Fruit, Nectarine, Lemon, Nuts, Oak, Fruit-Flavoured Tea, Cloves, Cinnamon, Licorice & Nutmeg.

Finish:

Middle-Long. Bitter-Sweet with a few Sour notes. Quite Fruity. The Oak and Oak Spices are more noticeable towards the Dry end. A little bit of Alcohol remains present. I find Toasted and Malted Cereals, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Straw/Grass,  Apple, Pear, Fresh Strawberries, Orange, Grapefruit, Pineapple, Wax, Dusty Track, Oak, Coconut, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Menthol and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Alcohol retreats on the Nose. But you will loose a bit of density at the same time. Palate and Finish do not change a lot. As usual adding Water is a personal decision. I prefer it neat but this Glenburgie easily accepts a few drops.

Rating: 85

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

Drinking Experience:

Good

Conclusion:

The Glenburgie distillery was founded in 1810 by William Paul, initially under the name Kilnflat, It closed in 1870 & reopened as Glenburgie in 1878. Since 2005 the distillery is owned by Chivas Regal (Pernod Ricard). Glenburgie is one of the three main Malt components of the Ballantine's Blend. The other two being Miltonduff and Glentauchers. The only current official Single Malt is the 15 year old. Production amounts to around 4.2 litres per year.

You can't go wrong with this Glenburgie. It's a Fruity and pleasant Speyside Malt that would be a perfect day-to-day dram if you like this type of Whisky. There's nothing really special about it but there's nothing wrong as well. Just easy-going and relaxing. The P/Q ratio is correct and I certainly recommend this Malt.

File:Glenburgie.jpg

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Image result for tormore 2004 gordon & macphail 61.2%

Whisky Review # 798

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Tormore 2004 - Distilled on 14-06-2004
Bottled By: Gordon & MacPhail, Elgin on 04/05/2016
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 11/12 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 61.2% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: First Fill Ex-Bourbon Barrels - Casks 895-898
Chill-Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 55-75 (January 2019)
Buying Advice: 😕Unbalanced. Too high ABV. P/Q Ratio: 👎

Colour:

Light Golden/Pale Straw (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Sweet, Clean and Malty. Not bad bud a bit plain and unexciting. The Alcohol is quite noticeable as could be expected given the very high ABV.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Caramel, Straw/Grass, Nectarine, Banana, Pear, Bounty Candy Bars, Dried Herbs, Cinnamon and Mint.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Butterscotch, Toffee, Rose Water, Milk Chocolate, Charred Oak, Apple, Lemon, Gooseberry and Dusty Track.

Image result for spey river

Palate:

The Alcohol is very strong and it's quite difficult to find your way around it. This Malt definitively needs added Water. The Palate is Sweet, Tannic and Fruity and you will find lots of Oak and Wood Spice.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Straw, Green Apple, Pear, Banana, Gooseberry, Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Menthol, Mint and Cardamom.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather Honey, Brown Sugar, Lemon, Grapefruit, Raspberry, Marzipan & Milk Chocolate.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Tannic and Bitter-Sweet. A few Sour notes as well. Increasingly Bitter towards the Medium-Dry end. Aggressive Alcohol. I find Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Herbal Cough Syrup, Straw, Banana, Pear, Oak, Lemon Grass, Pepper, Cinnamon, Menthol, Mint and Milk Chocolate.

Drinking Advice:

Adding a few drops of Water is a must in this case and you won't hear me say that a lot! The ABV of 61.2% is simply too high for this relatively Young Spirit. The added Water does not significantly change the overall profile but it's just a little easier to drink it this way.

Rating: 80

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

Drinking Experience:

Okay

Conclusion:

The Tormore distillery was founded in 1958 in Grantown on Spey by Schendley Int. who needed a Single Malt for their Long John Blend. Since 2005 it is owned by Chivas Regal (Pernod Ricard). Most of its production is destined for Blends like Long John, Ballantine's and Cream of the Barley. The two official Single Malts are the 14 & 16 Years. Production amounts to around 4.8 million litres per year.

I'm usually a big fan of Gordon & MacPhail but in my opinion they have got this one wrong. I love Cask Strength Whiskies but this Tormore Spirit is simply too Young and, well delicate, to accept such a high ABV. As a result I can't find any balance here. I can pick up individual Aromas and Flavours but the sum of them is not coherent. It just does not seem to go anywhere. It's not a cheap Single Malt as well and given the above I would not recommend it.

 File:GB 1990089.jpg

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Image result for tamdhu 1987 46% Mo Or

Whisky Review # 799

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Tamdhu 1987 (Release # 17) - Distilled 02/07/87
Bottled By: Mo Or (The Whisky Talker) on 02/12/2010
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky - Cask # 3649 - 656 Bottles
Age: 23 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Oloroso Sherry Butt
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: Around US$ 140 for a 50 cl Bottle (January 2019)- Hard to Find!
Buying Advice: 😀Nice Sherried Speysider. Should have been bottled at CS.

Colour:

Dark Amber with Shades of Orange (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Sweet, Mature and Complex. Clear Sherry Cask influence. Lots of Dried Fruit, Nuts and Dark Chocolate. The Alcohol is nicely integrated. The Oak is there as well of course and it's a bit Dusty but it's just part of the Aroma profile and does not dominate. Nice!

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Dried Fruit (Apricot, Raisins, Dates), Mixed Nuts, Orange Marmalade, Dark Chocolate, Dried Herbs, Nutmeg, Ginger and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Butterscotch, Straw, Red Apples, Dusty Oak, Dry Earth, Mint, Leather, Tobacco, Licorice and Espresso.


Palate:

A little on the Thin side which comes unexpectedly after the fine Nose. On the Palate this Tamdhu is Medium Sweet, quite heavy on the Sherry but with a few Herbal, Bitter and Sour notes for balance. Dry towards the end.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Toast, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Apricots and Dates, Orange Marmalade, Dark Chocolate, Mixed Nuts, Espresso, Pepper, Ginger and Mint.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Caramel, Toffee, Treacle, Straw, Dusty Oak, Dry Earth,  Red Apples, Fruitcake and Lemon.
  
Finish:

Middle-Long, Dry and a little Thin. Mostly Sweet but with a few Bitter, Herbal and Oaky notes as well for balance. I didn't notice it on the Nose but Palate and Finish clearly show that this Tamdhu should have been bottled at Cask Strength. I find Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Toast, Dried Fruit like Apricots and Raisins, Orange Marmalade, Honey, Dark Chocolate, Mixed Nuts, Espresso, Dusty Oak, Dry Earth, Tobacco, Pepper, Menthol and Aniseed.

Drinking Advice:

On account of the small sample, I only tasted this Tamdhu Neat. It didn't feel like it on the Nose but Palate and Finish clearly show that this Tamdhu should have been bottled at Cask Strength.

Rating: 86.5

Nose: 22.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience:

Good.

Conclusion:

The Tamdhu distillery was founded in 1896 by a group of Blend producers lead by William Grant. Ian MacLeod Distillers bought Tamdhu in 2011 from Edrington and it currently produces around 4 million litres per year. Tamdhu is used in Blends like Cutty Sark, J&B and the Famous Grouse but more and more it also produces Single Malt whiskies. The core range includes the 10,12 and 15 Years.

This Tamdhu is a nice Sherried Speysider but I do think that Mo Or should have bottled it at Cask Strength. As it is, Palate and Finish are a bit on the Thin side and slightly disappoint after the very nice and full Nose. A 23 Year old Whisky can't be cheap of course but at Cask Strength the P/Q ratio would have been in order even considering it would have been a bit more expensive. Since it was bottled at 46%, I find the price tag a bit hefty though.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 January 29, 2019

Image result for tamdhu distillery

Johnnie Walker White Walker Review

Image result for johnnie walker white walker

“Back To Black”

Whisky Review # 796

Country:Scotland
Region: Includes Single Malt from Speyside and the Highlands
Brand: Johnnie Walker White Walker - Limited Edition - Games of Thrones
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 41.7 %
Maturation: I would think mainly 2nd/3rd Refill Bourbon casks
Chill Filtration: Yes (1.5 C)
Price Range: US$ 35-45 (January 2019)
Buying Advice: 👍for the idea! 👎for the P/Q ratio. 

Colour:

Light Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Young and Light, almost Thin. The Grain Alcohol is more than present. It likely presents around 70% of this Blend. I get a bit of the Barley Juice known from Cardhu. But there's not much going on. It's quite Sweet with lots of Caramel, Toffee and the likes. The Nose is saved by a bit of Fruit. It does not smell so harsh as the Red Label though!

Main Aromas:

Caramel, Toffee, Toast and Margarine, Grain Alcohol, Boiled Sweets, Banana, Green Apple, Lemon and Gingerbread.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Bounty Bars, Orange, Apricot Flavoured Yogurt, White Wine, Refill Oak, Gooseberries, Varnish and Mint.

Cardhu
Palate:

Young, Sweet, Thin and a bit Harsh. The Grain Alcohol rules big time. There are no real Off-Notes but this does not qualify as a sipping Whisky. It simply lacks Flavour!

Main Flavours:

Caramel, Toffee, Grain Alcohol, Green Apples, Pears, Lemon, Grass, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Pepper.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Golden Syrup, Sweet Barley, Refill Oak, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Candied Almonds, Dried Herbs and Mint.

Image result for johnnie walker white walker

Finish:

Short and Sugary Sweet with a few Bitter and Sour notes as well. The Alcohol slightly kicks at you towards the Medium-Dry end. I find Cereals, Grain Alcohol, Gooseberries, Grass, Green Apples, Lemon, Boiled Sweets, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Refill Wood, Pepper, Cinnamon and Ginger.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water but the White Walker starts to resemble a cheap Flavoured Vodka. I also tried it directly from the Freezer. It becomes Thicker that way but Flavours and Aromas, if any, become even harder to detect. The best way is to drink it is over Ice with a little added JW Black for Flavour.

Rating: 79

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 19.5 - Finish: 19 - Overall: 20

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Okay

Drinking Experience direct from the Freezer: Below Average

Conclusion:

It seems utterly obvious but you still have to give some credit to the marketing people employed by Diageo. Game of Thrones is one of the most popular TV series of all times and making the link to Johnnie Walker was an excellent idea. As usual, Packaging and Presentation are first class and the fact that this Blend contains some Clynelish, Diageo's most Northern Scottish mainland distillery is a nice touch. The packaging even states that this Blend is produced North of the Wall. As so often with JW though, the quality of the Whisky does not stand up to the Marketing and the Price. The White Walker is dominated by harsh Grain Whisky. It is saved on the Nose by a little Fruit but Palate and Finish are only slightly better than JW Red. Therefore the P/Q ratio sucks. I have reviewed lots of JW Blends in the meantime but in the end I always follow up the advice of the late great Amy Winehouse and go "Back to Black".

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 January 22, 2019
Image result for clynelish distillery

Bladnoch Samsara Review - Bladnoch Adela 15 Years Review - Bladnoch 1990/2016 (Sansibar) Review



“Bladnoch Special” 

Most of you know that I mainly use samples and miniatures when preparing my Reviews. At the request of many of my readers I give preference to more recent expressions. As a result, my backlog of older samples has increased quite a bit. To do justice to those samples I will review them in the form of Specials. These specials will deal with a specific distillery like today or with specific bottlers, countries or regions. These reviews will concentrate on the Whisky and won't touch too much details about distilleries, maturation etc. I do hope you will like these Specials just as much as my regular reviews and I look forward to your reactions and suggestions. In this special I will review three random Bladnoch Single Malts. Enjoy!
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Image result for bladnoch samsara

Whisky Review # 793

Country: Scotland
Region: Lowlands
Brand: Bladnoch Samsara
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS ( Said to be Minimum 8 years - Some Older Malts are in the mix)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46.7%
Maturation: A Blend of Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Californian Red Wine Casks
Chill Filtration: No
Average Price: US$ 90 (January 2019)
Buying Advice: 😒 Unpleasant off-Notes caused by Wine casks. P/Q ratio: 👎

Colour:

Yellow Gold (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Please be sure to give this Bladnoch enough time in the glass before Nosing as the initial Aromas are not very pleasing. It's almost like Sweaty old Socks that are covered by a fresh layer of Vomit. With time these Aromas subside but they remain present. And so is the Alcohol by the way. Once you are over the first shock you will notice that the Samsara is actually quite Fruity and combines Sweet and Sour Aromas. The Off-Notes are really a pity and greatly affect the score.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Grapes, Red Apple, Orange, Grapefruit, Grass & Straw, Slivovitz and Boiled Sweets.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Apple Vinegar, Raisins, Cinnamon and Dairy.

Related image
(Picture Credit: Whisky.com)

Palate:

Young and a little Thin despite the ever present Alcohol. A mix of Bitter-Sweet, Sour and Musty notes. Quite Dry actually.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Boiled Sweets, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Orange, Musty Oak, Red Grapes and Wine, Strawberry Jam, Cheap Sugary Chocolate, Cinnamon and Pepper.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Salted Caramel, Floral Soap, Slivovitz, Straw/Grass, Cassis, Raisins, Red Apple, Pear and Cloves.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet, Sour and quite Harsh and Edgy. Quite dry towards the end. The Finish does not invite you to take another sip I'm afraid. I find  Salted Caramel, Red Grapes and Wine, Pear, Musty Oak, Strong Medicinal Tea, Cough Syrup, Licorice, Herbal Liqueur, Alcohol, Cocoa Powder, Cinnamon, Pepper and Cloves.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and on the Nose the Off-Notes get weaker. I also get more Malt, Slivovitz (Plum Liqueur) and an artificial Peach Aroma. Palate and Finish do not benefit from added Water.

Rating: 72

Nose: 19 - Taste: 18 - Finish: 17 - Overall: 18

Drinking Experience:

Below average on account of the off-notes.

Conclusion:

Bladnoch was founded in 1817 by Thomas and John McClelland. Over the years the ownership of the distillery changed many times and on many occasions the distillery was closed temporarily until it was finally liquidated in 2015. David Prior bought it in 2015 and brought life back to Bladnoch. Production restarted  in 2017 and the estimated production this year will be around 400.000 lt.

The Samara is the first of three new Bladnoch expressions that were released in 2016 to celebrate the reopening of this distillery under new owner David Prior. The other two are Adela and Talia. Samsara means Rebirth and that's quite appropriate. The Samara is made by blending Bladnoch Spirit matured in First-Fill Bourbon Casks and First Fill Californian Red Wine casks. Bladnoch is made with locally produced Barley. The Water is sourced from the river Bladnoch.

This is only my fourth Bladnoch and the first released by its new owner. I'm sorry to say though I'm not at all impressed by the Samara despite the very nice presentation and bottle. I'm not a big fan of Red Wine cask maturation and it certainly does not work this time round. The off-notes are most certainly caused by those casks. A pity as the Bladnoch Spirit appears to be quite Fruity by itself. It just needs time and a good cask! One of the frequent problems with Bladnoch is the presence of Alcohol. That's more difficult to explain as I find it in both young and old whiskies produced at this distillery. A bit of a mystery! The Samara is quite expensive and the P/Q ratio is negative. I can't recommend this Bladnoch.
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Image result for bladnoch adela 15 years

Whisky Review # 794

Country: Scotland
Region: Lowlands
Brand: Bladnoch Adela
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46.7%
Maturation: Oloroso Sherry Casks (Both American and European Oak)
Chill-Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 105-130 (January 2019)
Buying Advice: 😴A plain Sherried Malt. P/Q ratio: 👎Totally overpriced

Colour:

Golden Copper (Natural Colour)

Nose:

This smells somewhat similar to the Samsara but I'm happy to report that the Off-Notes are much less aggressive. The Sweaty Socks are still there though. I also pick up a little Sulphur. As usual with Bladnoch, the Alcohol is very present. On the Nose, the Adela is mainly Sweet and Medium-Dry with lots of Dried Fruit, Nuts & Oranges.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Raisins and Apricots, Mixed Nuts, Boiled Sweets, Orange, Milk Chocolate, Apple Vinegar, Strawberry Yogurt and Coffee Beans.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Floral Perfume, Honey, Cherry-Flavoured Candies, Dried Herbs, Lemon, Pear, Nectarine and Cinnamon.


Palate
:


Bitter-Sweet, Herbal, Medium-Dry and a little Edgy. That damned Alcohol again! The Sherry influence is clear and the proper Cask is more noticeable by now. The main drivers like Dried Fruit, Nuts and Dark Chocolate basically follow the Nose.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Apricots, Mixed Nuts with Walnuts in the lead, Strawberry Jam, Dark Chocolate, Strong Espresso, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, Menthol and Licorice.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Floral Perfume, Green Apples, Blackcurrants, Dried Herbs, Musty Oak, Dirty Track, Grapefruit Juice and Tobacco.

Finish:

Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. Dry towards the end. I find Sweet Barley, most of the Sherry Cask notes I also found on the Nose like the Dried Fruits and the Nuts, Dark Espresso, Cocoa Powder, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Pastilles, Musty Oak, Blackcurrants, Green Apple, Pepper, Nutmeg, Licorice, Menthol, Freshly Printed Newspapers and a light Metallic note.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water. The Nose becomes very Perfumy and strangely enough the Alcohol appears to be even more present. Palate and Finish become rather dull and boring. Better sip the Adela neat.

Rating: 81.5

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

Drinking Experience:

Okay/Good.

Conclusion:

The Adela is the second of three new Bladnoch expressions that were released in 2016 to celebrate the reopening of this distillery under new owner David Prior. The other two are Samsara & Talia. The Adela matures in Oloroso casks, some of them being First-Fill.

The Adela is certainly a step up when compared to the Samsara. But its P/Q ratio is totally out of line. Over a 100 bucks for a plain, slightly dull Sherried Lowland Single Malt with a few Off-Notes. I understand that the new owners are in need of cash but I don't think this is the best way forward for Bladnoch as potential new clients will be turned off by the high prices and lack luster profile of these new expressions. Despite the attractive packaging and presentation! I hope the last Indie Bladnoch can save the day! 
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Whisky Review # 795

Country: Scotland
Region: Lowlands
Brand: Bladnoch 1990
Bottled By: Sansibar - Spirit Shops Selection - Chinese Theater Mask Label
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky - Cask #: Unknown - Bottles: 177
Age: 26 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 47.2% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Sherry Cask
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: Around US$ 250 (January 2019)
Buying Advice: 😋Lovely Bladnoch. Expensive but worth the price!

Colour:

Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Very Fruity and Fresh for a 26 Year old Single Malt. No Off-Notes here! A little Sulphur perhaps but nothing serious. Good Cask. Not too active. The Oak is not too dominant on the Nose and lets the Fruit shine. It wouldn't be a Bladnoch though if you couldn't notice the Alcohol! Be sure to give it enough time in the glass before Nosing.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Lots of Citrus Fruit like Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit and Orange, Pear, Grass, Bounty Candy Bars and Ginger Bread.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Floral Perfume, Nectarines, Pineapple, Apple-Vinegar,  Tutti Frutti Candies, Raisins, Nuts, Slivovitz, Dairy, Lemon Ice-Tea, Forrest Floor, light Oak and Pepper.

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Palate:

Again very Fruity. It's more like a Fruit Cocktail and it's not that easy to pick up all the Individual Fruit. On the Palate, this Bladnoch is pleasantly Sweet. The Alcohol is better integrated at this point but still noticeable. The Oak is there of course but never in an overwhelming way. Quite nice!

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Citrus Fruit like Orange, Lemon, Lime and Grapefruit, Red Apple, Grass, Bounty Candy Bars, Fresh Herbs, Pepper and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

White Wine, Melon, Papaya Cream, Nuts, Vanilla, Lemon Ice Tea, Mango Juice, Tobacco, Wet Rocks, Mild Oak and Ginger.
  
Finish:

Long, Warming and still very Fruity. Pleasantly Sweet with just a little Bitterness towards the Dry end. Good interaction between Spirit & Oak. I find Citrus Peel, Orange Liqueur, Red Apples, Melon, Nuts, Grass, Limoncello, Fresh Herbs, Barley, Bounty Candy Bars, Pepper, Ginger, light Licorice and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and that helps to calm down the Alcohol. It gets Mellow this way but the Fruit explosion is less strong. I also get Nutmeg and Cinnamon in the Finish. My advise is to sip it neat to fully enjoy the abundance of Fruit. But you can easily add a few drops of Water if you like.

Rating: 89

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

Drinking Experience:

Very Nice.

Conclusion:

This Sansibar expression shows that there's really nothing wrong with the old Bladnoch Spirit. It's quite Fruity and this specific not too active Sherry Cask did contribute a lot to maintain an almost perfect marriage between Spirit & Wood despite the long maturation. Whisky of this age can get very Woody but that's not the case here. Once again I find that a good cask makes the real difference between a good, an indifferent and a bad Whisky. My experience has shown that this is the case with all distilleries. There is no bad Spirit unless you cut the Spirit too early and/or too late. But the Heart of the Spirit, a good cask and sufficient maturation guarantee a good Whisky. This Bladnoch is a good example and it flies directly into my All-Time Top 20. Good stuff!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                 January 18, 2019

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(Picture Credit: Whisky Advocate)