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

Bowmore Vault Edition Second Release Review


“Smoke on the Water”


Whisky Review # 883
Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bowmore Vault Edition Second Release "Peat Smoke"
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50,1%
Maturation: Probably Ex-Bourbon Casks with a short Sherried Wood Finish
Chill Filtration: Information not available
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Price Range: US$ 80-90 (July 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 Okay. Much better priced than the 1st Release.
Buying Advice: 😀It's different and worth a try. Under-matured though!

Colour: Golden with hints of Orange and Brown (Artificially Colored)

Nose:

Well, Peat Smoke it is. Much more so than your average Bowmore Single Malt. The Nose has a very distinctive "Burnt" character. It's also rather Young, mostly Sweet and quite Herbal. Some Funky and Dusty notes complete the picture. It's not bad but rather straight-forward. The Sherry influence is limited.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Toasted Barley, lightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Toffee, Sweet Peat, Smoldering Driftwood, Ashes, Brine, Smoked Bacon, Dunnage Warehouse, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Polished Leather Upholstery, Dried and almost Burnt Herbs, Mint, Wet Sand and Espresso.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Salted Caramel, Dusty Track, Tar, Iodine, Fish and Shell Fish on the BBQ, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Figs, slightly Sour Berries, Mustard Seed and Pepper.


Palate:

Again I have the feeling that this could have been a very good Single Malt if and when matured sufficiently. It shows glimpses of quality but its inherent Youth spoils a bit of the fun. The Palate is Bitter-Sweet and Medium-Dry with a few Sour and Dusty/Musty notes. Quite Peaty indeed for a Bowmore. I kinda like that. The Alcohol is noticeable. Only a mild Sherry influence.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Malted and Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Sweet Peat, Smoldering Wood, Tar, Ashes, Iodine, Band-Aid, Cherry-Flavored Cough Syrup, Bacon, Fish and Shell Fish on the BBQ, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Figs, Polished Leather, Mint and Pepper.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Vanilla, Cranberries, Grapefruit, Lemon, Nutella, Cocoa Powder, Aniseed, Ginger and Freshly Roasted Coffee.


Finish:

Middle-Long and mainly Sweet with a few Bitter, Sour and Salty notes. Again, quite Peaty and Herbal. The Alcohol is noticeable at this point. I find Sweet Toasted Malt, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Figs, Nutella, Sweet Peat, Cold Smoke, Iodine, Soot, Tar, Ashes, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Lime, Polished Leather Upholstery, Fish, Bacon and Shell Fish on the BBQ, Charred Oak, Cocoa Powder, Strong Espresso, Wet Rocks and Sand, Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom, Mint, Grapefruit, Cranberries and Herbal Tea. Medium Dry towards the end.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and the Nose becomes more Malty and Coastal. Palate and Finish move to the more regular Bowmore profile of Sugary-Sweet Herbal Tea. I clearly prefer it Neat but you can carefully add a few drops if you like.

Rating: 85.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

Bowmore is the oldest Islay Distillery and was founded in 1779 by David Simpson. It changed hands a couple of times along the years but since 1994 the Japanese Suntory group controls Bowmore. Bowmore still malts around 30% of the Barley on their premises. They currently produce around 1,8 million liters of Alcohol. The core range includes the NAS # 1, the 12, the 15 Darkest, the 18 and 25 Years. Some of the Bowmore Spirit is used in Blends like Rob Roy and Black Bottle. We visited the distillery in 2014 & 2017. I absolutely love the Malting Floor. Nice Shop and Visitor-Centre. Certainly well-worth the visit.

The Vault Series started a couple of years ago with the Atlantic Sea Salt. The series will consist of four Single Malts that will each present one of the four main Flavour profiles of the Bowmore Malts. Atlantic Sea Salt of course represented Salty and the Peat Smoke I'm reviewing today will naturally address Peat Smoke. # 3 and # 4 will respectively show the Fruity and Sweet side of Bowmore. The one thing they have in common is that all 4 will mature in Bowmore's No. 1 Vaults warehouse that was constructed in 1779 below sea-level.

I was surprised by this Bowmore. It's indeed more Peaty and Smoky than most of the regular Bowmore Malts and that's not a bad thing. I kinda liked that. It only does not score higher because of its inherent Youth. It sort of makes a half-finished impression and that's a pity. I really would like to see Bowmore venture a bit more into this direction and come up with a fully matured Smoky expression. I think that would be a stunner!  

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                           July 13, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Girvan 1989 ( Celebration of the Cask) Review


“I Love a Grainy Night”


Whisky Review # 882

Country: Scotland
Region: Lowlands
Brand: Girvan 1989 - Distilled on April 17, 1989
Bottled by: Morrison & MacKay (MMcK) on February 20, 2017 - 120 Bottles
Series: Carn Mor (Celebration of the Cask Series)
Type: Single Grain Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # 37527
Age: 27 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 47.5% - Cask Strength
Maturation: Bourbon Barrel
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 130-170 (July 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐Okay. You can't expect 27-Year old Whisky to be cheap. 
Buying Advice: 👍if you're a fan of Grain Whisky.

Colour:

Light Gold  (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Be sure to give this Girvan sufficient time in the glass before Nosing. The first waft of Varnish will diminish with time. Initially the Nose reminded me strongly of a plate of Honeyed Breakfast Cereals with Dried Fruits. With some patience you will be able to narrow that down a bit and also find Nutty and Dairy notes. The Alcohol is there but it doesn't spoil the Nosing fun. The Nose is still quite Fresh given its 27 years.

Main Aromas:

Sugared Cereals, Vanilla, Syrup, Honey, Grass, Fresh & Dried Fruit such as Apples, Pears, Bananas and Raisins, Coconut Milk, Candied Almonds, Charred Oak, Cloves and Polished Wood.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Buttered Toast, Toffee, Cake topped with Cream, Nutella, Peach-Flavored Yogurt, Nectarine, Lemon, Grapefruit, Dried and Fresh Herbs, Ginger and Varnish.


Palate:

A mix of Bitter-Sweet and Sour notes. Good contact between Cask # 37527 and the Spirit. Grain Whisky is not my favourite type of Whisky but this Girvan tastes okay. Medium-Creamy. The Alcohol remains noticeable though.

Main Flavours:

Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Toffee, Vanilla, Apple, Pear, Lemon, Grapefruit, Nutella, Marzipan, Nougat, Charred Oak, Varnish, Pepper and Dried Herbs.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Sultanas, Raisins, Banana, Bounty Bars, Licorice, Aniseed, Nutmeg, Ginger, Menthol and Cloves.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Medium-Dry & Bitter-Sweet. A few Sour notes pop up as well. Medium Creamy. The Alcohol remains noticeable throughout the tasting session. The Oak comes to the front now along with its Spices. I find Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Vanilla, Toffee, Apple, Pear, Lemon, Grapefruit, Seville-Orange, Floral Notes, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Dried Apricot, Coconut, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Curry, Mint, Varnish, Dried Herbs, Bounty Bars, Charred Oak and Caffe Latte.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little water and the Alcohol naturally steps down. I get extra Cream and Peach Jam on the Nose. It helps to calm down the Palate and Finish as well but you will lose some Flavors there. I would suggest to add just 4 drops to a small dram.

Rating: 83.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

Girvan Distillery was founded in Girvan (South Ayrshire) in 1963. It is owned by William Grant & Sons. Most of the production is used in the William Grant Blends like Grant's and Clan MacGregor. The Grain Whisky is produced with 91.5% Wheat and 8.5% Malted Barley. The distillery has six Column stills with a total annual capacity of 115 million litres. The distillery also produces Hendrick's Gin.

It's generally accepted that 65 to 70% of the Flavors of any Whisky are formed by the contact of the Spirit with the Cask during maturation. I would guess that this percentage is even higher for Grain Whisky. That's why many Single Grain Whiskies go the market with over 20 Years of Cask time. The Girvan I'm tasting today did certainly mature in a good cask. There are sufficient Creamy Flavors around to justify its existence as a sipping Whisky. Adding Water is as always a personal thing. You can add a few drops but I prefer it neat. If you're into Grain Whisky you will certainly like this Girvan. I must admit that Grain Whisky so far does not really ring all my bells but this Girvan is certainly one of the better ones I've tasted so far.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                              July 6, 2020

Aberlour A' Bunadh Alba Review



“On the Road To Find Out”


Whisky Review # 881
Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Aberlour A'Bunadh Alba
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Batch 01
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 57,1% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: First-Fill Ex-Bourbon Casks
Chill Filtration: No
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Price Range: US$ 70-90 (June 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐Borderline okay at US$ 70. It's a Young Whisky after all!
Buying Advice: 😐Interesting experience. I will wait for a mature Alba though!

Colour: Chardonnay (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Young and Sweet. Loads of Vanilla from the First-Fill casks. Lots of Fruit reminding of New Make Spirit. Some Floral and Dairy aspects as well. The Alcohol is quite present but that's no surprise given the high ABV. A little bit of Varnish and Acetone in the background.

Main Aromas:

Barley Sugar, Vanilla, Buttered Bread, Citrus Peel (Orange, Mandarin, Lemon), Yogurt with Tropical Fruit Flavors, Apple, Pear, Grass, Floral Soap, Fresh Wood and Wood-Shavings, Raisins, Caffe Latte, Cinnamon, Pepper and Nutmeg.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Caramel, Toffee, Heather-Honey, Yeast, Dusty Earth, Forrest Floor, Bounty Candy Bar, Nougat, Ginger, Mint, Varnish and Acetone.


Palate:

Young, Nervous, mainly Sweet and slightly Hot. You would never recognize this as an Aberlour in a Blind Tasting. One of the Young NAS Glenlivet Malts came to mind. The Alcohol is really strong, almost in an uncomfortable way. This needs a bit of Water.

Main Flavours:

Barley Sugar, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Apple-Strudel, Yogurt with Tropical Fruit Flavors (Mango, Pineapple, Papaya), Citrus Peel (Orange, Mandarin, Lemon), Red Berries, Coconut, Grass, Oak, Pepper, Ginger, Caffe Latte and Tobacco.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Buttered Bread, Toffee, Caramel, Butter Biscuits, Nougat, Dusty Earth, Cinnamon, Mint, Nutmeg, Acetone and Tin cans.


Finish:

Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. Medium-Dry. The Alcohol is ever present and a bit on the Hot side. It's all a bit off-balance and under-matured. I find Sweet Barley, Nuts and Nutshells, Brown Sugar, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Buttered Bread, Grass, Dusty Earth, Floral Soap, Stewed Apples and Pears, Citrus Peel, Caffe Latte, Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Menthol, Milk Chocolate and Tobacco.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and that helps calm down the Alcohol. I get Breakfast Cereals with Assorted (Tropical) Fruits and Nuts on the Nose. Quite a lot of Barley and Vanilla as well. Palate and Finish benefit as well but to a lesser extend. The Alcohol remains very strong. You can add more Water of course but that kills this Aberlour. But a few carefully added drops really help in this case.

Rating: 83.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but the ABV is simply too high.

Conclusion:

The Aberlour distillery was founded in1879 by James Fleming and is located in the little village of the same name in Banffshire, Speyside. Since 2001 it is owned by Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard). The capacity of Aberlour is around 3,8 million litres per year. The core range includes the 12,16 and 18 Years as well as the A'Bunadh and the Casg Annamh.

The Alba is both named after Scotland & the type of White Oak used for maturation. (Quercus Alba). A'Bunadh means The Original by the way. This is of course not the first time that Aberlour experiences with Ex-Bourbon casks but this seems to be the first serious attempt to try and avoid the ever more serious lack of authentic and very expensive Ex-Sherry casks. You can season any Wood with Sherry or Sherry By-Product of course but that's certainly not the same thing. It's only natural that Aberlour is looking more serious to Ex-Bourbon casks. And I would urge them to continue to do so as it seems an interesting path to follow. My only argument would be to extend the maturation time as this Alba smells and tastes way too Young. A high ABV can't hide this I'm afraid. If Aberlour succeeds in producing well-matured Ex-Bourbon cask Single Malt Whisky I predict that would be a huge success. I would not be surprised if Macallan would be one of the few, if not the only one, who would use Ex-Sherry casks on a large scale in 10 years or so. Unless Sherry becomes very popular again of course. Let's wait and see!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                          June 29, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Highland Park Valkyrie Review


“Okay is Not Good Enough for Odin’s Hall of Fame”


Whisky Review # 880

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park Valkyrie
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 45.9%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Casks and American/European Sherry-Seasoned Oak
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 60-80 (June 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎 Young and Thin. Don't let the seductive hype fool you!
Buying Advice: 😐 It's okay but you're better of with the core range!

Colour:

Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Quite Young and on the Thin side. The Alcohol is noticeable. The Orkney Peat is there but stays nicely in the background. There's a bit of Sherry influence in the form of Dried Fruit. Together with Dark Berries, light Spices and Straw they are the main components of the Nose. Not unpleasant but nothing special as well.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Heather-Honey, Straw/Grass, Cold Smoke, Dusty Earth, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Apricots, Red Berries, Citrus Peel, Milk Chocolate, Dried Herbs, Mint, Nutmeg and Tobacco.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Slightly Burnt Toast, Butterscotch, Toffee, Vanilla, Salted Butter, Cooked Apple, Mandarin, Toasted Pineapple, Candied Almonds, Cinnamon, Ginger, Pepper, Clove and Leather. There are some distant hints of Floral Soap and a Butcher Shop.


Palate:

Thin mouthfeel. The overall Thin feeling of the Valkyrie is without any doubt the main flaw of this Highland Park despite the higher ABV & the increased percentage of peated Malt. The Palate and also the Finish basically follow the Nose so it's quite consistent in this respect. Mainly Sweet with a few light Bitter and Sour notes.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Grass & Straw, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Apricot, Red Berries, Cooked Apple, Citrus Peel, Dusty Earth, Cold Smoke, Leather, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Licorice and Mint.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Slightly Burnt Toast, Ashes, Smoked Ham, Iodine, Wood Shavings, Tobacco, Iron, Fresh Coriander, Salted Almonds, Cloves, Curry and Cardamom.


Finish:

Middle-Long and mainly Sweet. The high ABV and the increased amount of peated Malt can't hide the fact that we are talking about a Young Single Malt. A light Bitterness towards the Dry end. It remains a bit on the Thin side. The Alcohol is quite noticeable and even a little Hot at times. I find Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Heather-Honey, Grass and Straw, Cold Smoke and Dusty Earth, Ashes, Red Berries, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Apricot, Citrus Peel, Cooked Apple, Cocoa Powder, Licorice, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cloves, Mint, Leather, Tobacco and Wood Shavings.


Drinking Advice:

No need to add Water to this Valkyrie. It's Thin enough as it is.

Rating: 84

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Thin but Okay

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

The Viking Legend Series consists of the Valkyrie, the Valknut and the Valhalla, made in partnership with Danish designer Jim Lyngvild who was responsible for the bottle and box design. The Valkyrie is made with 50% peated Malt. According to legend, Valkyries would plunge down from the skies on horse back to look for the bravest dead warriors in order to take them to Valhalla, the great hall of the Norse God Odin. Valkyrie was launched in 2017.

We visited Highland Park in May last year and I really enjoyed the visit despite the terrible weather. Orkney is a special place and I understand the tradition and the bond with the Viking ancestors. It's such a pity that the distillery distorts this picture with the series of mediocre and expensive "Cult" Single Malts they have released over the last 10 years or so. If they would just make one great standard line-up of good whiskies of different age and maturation and link each of them to the Viking Legend that would really represent the character of the Whisky I would be their greatest fan. For instance Odin for their masterpiece and Thor for their strongest/peatiest Malt. Instead we have to live with expressions like the Valkyrie which is not really bad but expensive and way too Young and Thin to be allowed to enter Odin's Hall of Fame. It's a pity!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                           June 22,2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

Johnnie Walker 18 Years Review


“Who’s Johnnie”

Whisky Review # 879

Country: Scotland
Brand: Johnnie Walker
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: 18 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Probably a Mix of Ex-Bourbon Casks and some Sherried Wood
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Ratio : US$ 55-75 (June 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😀Okay if you can get it at around US$ 50
Buying Advice: 😑It's okay but Black and Green have a better P/Q ratio.

Colour:

Rich Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

It's a pity that even the higher-end JW Blends are bottled at 40%. The 18 Years at least requires 43% and probably a bit more. As it is the initial feeling on the Nose is a bit Weak and Thin. It's not bad but just too Light. The Grain Alcohol is notable of course but in a Softer way. The Nose is basically Sweet with Fruits, Cereals and Caramel in the lead.

Main Aromas:

Soft Cereals, lightly Salted Caramel, Butterscotch, Apple-Strudel, Apricot-filled Puff Pastry, Citrus Peel (Orange, Lemon, Mandarin), Oak, Ginger, Cinnamon and Floral notes.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Sweet Barley, Toast, Heather-Honey, Toffee, Vanilla, Toasted Pineapple, Herbal Tea, Mint, Maraschino Cherries, Banana Yogurt. In the distant background a little Smoke, Earth, Ashes and Varnish.

Glen Elgin

Palate:

A bit on the Thin side again due to the low ABV. The Palate is quite Clean without any off-notes. The Grain Alcohol is more noticeable here than on the Nose. The Palate is Sweet with a very light Bitter touch for balance. Soft Spices enter as well.

Main Flavours:

Soft Cereals, Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Wax, Apple-Strudel, Apricot/Peach filled Puff Pastry, Citrus Peel (Orange, Mandarin), Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Vanilla, Salted Butter, Plum Jam, Salted Almonds/Peanuts, Herbal Tea, Mint, Dusty Earth, Smoke and Orange-Flavoured Dark Chocolate.

Finish:

Middle-Long and (almost Sugary) Sweet. There's more Spice in the Finish and the Grain Alcohol is more noticeable here. I find Toasted Cereals, Sweet Barley, Salty Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Butterscotch, Heather-Honey, Floral notes, Citrus Peel, Nuts, Fruit Cake, Charred Oak, Pepper, Orange-Flavoured Chocolate, Cinnamon, Ginger, Mint and hints of Smoke, Dusty Earth and Varnish. Medium-Dry.

Auchroisk
Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and on the Nose the Malt advances with a clear nod to the Cardhu Distillery. The Grain Alcohol & Pepper become more evident in the Finish. I prefer it Neat but you can certainly play with a few drops here.

Rating: 84

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Drinking Experienceon the Rocks: Good

Conclusion:

The Pursuit of the Ultimate 18 Year Old Blend is the full name of this 18 year old Blend of up to 18 different Grain/Malt Whiskies prepared by Jim Beveridge, Master Blender at Diageo. The basis is Speyside with Malts like Cardhu, Glen Elgin and Auchroisk. It is enhanced by Highland Malts like Blair Athol & a bit of Smoky Island Malt, probably Talisker. This 18 year old is in the fact the revived Platinum that received new packaging, name and bottle. It's possible of course that minor changes have been made in the blend depending on the availability of certain Single Malts.

The 18 Years is indeed quite similar to the Platinum. This Blend is okay but suffers from the low ABV and the, IMO, slightly too high Speyside (Cardhu) component. It would be much better at 43-45% with a higher percentage of Highland & Island (Talisker). As it is, it's okay if you can get it at around US$ 50. Above that, the Green and even the Black and Double-Black are the better JW options.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                         June 15, 2020

Cardhu

Ichiro's Malt Wine Wood Reserve Review


“Blackberry Way”


Whisky Review # 875

Country: Japan
Region: North of Tokyo
Brand: Ichiro's Malt Wine Wood Reserve - Leaf Series
Blended at: Chichibu Distillery
Type: Japanese Blended Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Possibly a mix of Bourbon, Sherry & Mizunara Wood. Red Wine Finish
Chill Filtration: No
Average Price : US$ 260 (June 2020) - Lowest Price: US$ 128 (June 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎 Too expensive for such a Young Whisky
Buying Advice: 😀 It's expensive but if you love Red Wine Finish, go for it!

Colour:

Dark Amber with shades of Brown and Orange (Natural Colour)

Nose:

It's a young Whisky but the Red Wine casks mask this fact convincingly without over-powering the other Aromas. Nicely done. It's Medium-Sweet and quite Fruity with lots of Dark Red Fruits like Berries. Soft and Pleasant.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Butter Biscuits, Toffee, Vanilla, Dark Red Fruit (Berries), Cassis, Fresh Apricot, Dried/Fresh Herbs, Milk-Chocolate, Oak, Cinnamon, Cloves, Mint, Cardamom and Licorice.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Roasted Nuts, Coffee Beans, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Banana, Grass & Straw, Floral Soap, Apple Strudel, Bounty Candy Bars, Nougat, Orange, Polished Leather and Pepper. A hint of overcooked Vegetables.


Palate:

The Red Wine casks are more present now without being dominant. Again they succeed in partly obscuring the Youth of this Whisky. The Palate presents a mix of Sweet, Bitter and Sour notes. As you know I'm not a huge fan of Red Wine cask finishing but here it works.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Malted Barley, Caramel, Roasted Nuts, Red Berries, Plum Jam, Seville-Orange, Apple Strudel, Milk Chocolate, Oak, Cinnamon, Aniseed and Mint. 

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Toffee, Toast, Vanilla, Dried Fruit (Raisins, Dates and Figs), Grapefruit, Lemon-Pepper, Herbal Tea, Polished Leather, Dusty Track, Bounty Candy Bars, Cloves and Soy Sauce.

Finish:

Medium-Long. Medium-Dry. Mainly Sweet with a few Bitter and Spicy notes as well for balance. The Red Wine casks are more noticeable now without overdoing it. I find Sweet Barley, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Honey, Grass, Straw, Seville Orange, Blackberries, Raspberries, Dried and Fresh Herbs, Oak, (Lemon) Pepper, Ginger, Aniseed, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Chocolate, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Metal and Mushrooms.

Drinking Advice:

No need to add Water to this Wine Wood Reserve as the ABV of 46% is spot-on.

Rating: 86.5

Nose: 22 - Taste: 22 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

This Japanese Whisky is named after Ichiro Akuto, the owner/founder of the Chichibu distillery founded in 2008. He is a grandson of the founder of Hanyu, a distillery that was closed in 2004. Ichiro managed to buy around 400 casks of Hanyu Malt. Ichiro's Malt Wine Wood Reserve is a blend of Malt Whisky from these two distilleries. Over the years the Hanyu part in the blend decreases of course. Wine Wood Reserve is finished in egg-shaped French Oak Red Wine Casks called Ovums. They are produced in the Charentes region by Taransaud and are used in the Bordeaux region.

Ichiro's Malt Wine Wood Reserve is a well-made Red Wine cask finished blended Malt. This finish manages to largely obscure the Youth of the Spirit. Ichiro for some reason has become a bit of a cult Whisky and prices have gone through the roof. Objectively speaking I can't understand this hype. Ichiro has produced some nice Malts but it is very Young Whisky and we should not forget that! Still, if you are a big fan of Red Wine Cask Finishing and you have the cash, you won't be disappointed with this Wine Wood Reserve.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                          June 1, 2020

Chichibu Distillery

Caol Ila 1988 (Carn Mor) Review


“Isn’t It a Pity”

Whisky Review # 874

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Caol Ila 1988 (Distilled on December 1, 1988)
Bottled By: Morrison & MacKay
Bottled for: Carn Mor (Celebration of the Cask Series) on August 18, 2015
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # 4213
Age: 26 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 57% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Hogshead - 135 Bottles
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 350-390 (May 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎Too expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: 😐 It's good but it lacks Balance and Complexity.

Colour: Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Be sure to give this Caol Ila enough time in the glass before Nosing. The first impressions are Smoke, Earthy Peat, Wood and a few Burnt notes. The Alcohol is present so you will need to find your way around it. I do not find an awful lot of complexity here. I must admit I'm slightly disappointed as I expected more after 26 years.

Main Aromas:

Malted and Toasted Barley, Burnt Toast, Salted Butter, Burnt Heather, Charred Oak, Dirty Smoke, Wet Clay mixed with Cow Manure and Straw, Cigar Ashes, Soot, Toasted Pineapple, Roasted Coffee, Lemon, Olive Oil, Leather, Aniseed, Herbal Tea, Licorice, Pepper and Ginger.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Vanilla, Brine, Iodine, Tar, Burnt Rubber, Varnish, Toasted Nuts, Bacon and Shellfish on the BBQ, Wet Rocks, Grapefruit, Apple-Vinegar, Yeast, Mango, Tobacco, Cinnamon and Cloves.


Palate:

My favourite part of this Caol Ila. I find the Nose rather on the plain side and the Finish slightly Messy and quite Woody and Spicy. On the Palate, Coastal notes, Smoke/Peat, Wood, Spices and Fruit are a bit more in line.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Burnt Heather, Dirty Smoke and Earthy Peat, Soot, Cigar Ashes, Mix of Straw and Cow Manure, Charred Oak, Lemon, Grapefruit, Toasted Pineapple, Leather, Pepper, Aniseed, Menthol, Licorice and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Honey, Brine, Iodine, Smoked Bacon, Fish & Shellfish, Apple-Vinegar, Wax, Cherry-Flavoured Mints, Tobacco, Herbal Tea, Cinnamon and Nutmeg.

     

Finish:

Middle-Long/Long. Sweet with additional Bitter, Salty & Sour notes for balance. The Alcohol remains quite present. Lots of Wood and Wood Spices as well. I find Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel/Butter, Vanilla, Dirty Smoke, Earthy Peat, Soot, Tar, Brine, Iodine, Ashes, Wet Rocks, Roasted Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Charred Oak, Grapefruit, Lemon, Smoked Salmon, Roasted Nuts, Herbal Tea, Tobacco, Leather, Toasted Pineapple, Apple-Vinegar, Pepper, Menthol, Cinnamon, Aniseed and Ginger.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and the Alcohol retreats on the Nose and gives way to a few Fruity notes like Apricot or Peach. Banana perhaps. The Malt also becomes easier on the Palate and in the Finish although Menthol and Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup start to dominate the latter. Considering it all my advise would  be to add a few drops of Water in this case.

Rating: 87

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. I expected more though.

Conclusion:

The Caol Ila Distillery was founded in 1846 and is located close to Port Askaig on Islay. It was bought by DCL in 1927 and through some mergers is now part of Diageo. The distillery was rebuilt in 1974 and only one old Warehouse reminds us of former days. Traditionally, Caol Ila is an important component of Blends like Johnnie Walker, Bell's and White Horse. But during the last 15 years Diageo has made great efforts to position the Distillery as a Single Malt as well. Caol Ila is beautifully located alongside the strait between Islay and Jura. The Core range includes the 12, 18 and 25 Years, the Distiller's Edition as well as the NAS Moch. We enjoyed both our visits to the distillery in 2014 and 2017 respectively despite the fact that you're not allowed to take pictures.

In general I love well-matured Islay Whisky and Caol Ila is one of my favourite distilleries. But despite the fact that this Carn Mor expression is a good Single Malt, it failed to meet my high expectations and it won't rank amongst the best aged Caol Ila Malts I've tasted so far. There's too much Alcohol, Wood, Spice and Smoke to really consider it as being well-balanced. It probably overstayed its time in the cask a little bit. It's still a good Whisky of course but at today's prices I can't really recommend it. What a pity! I was really looking forward to taste this one!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     May 25, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014