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

Ballantine's Bourbon Finish


”I’m Glad I Reached the Finish”


Whisky Review # 905

Country: Scotland
Brand: Ballantine's Bourbon Finish
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS (Probably 3-5 Years)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Refill Ex-Bourbon casks. Finish: Married in Ex-Bourbon casks.
Chill Filtration: Yes
Average Price: US$ 20-25 (March 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👍Okay
Buying Advice: 😑 Mixing/On the Rocks okay. Not good enough for sipping.

Colour:

Golden Honey (Artificially Colored)

Nose:

Thin, Young, Soft and Sweet. The Grain Alcohol is quite present. The Bourbon casks make themselves known with lots of Caramel, Toffee and Vanilla. A bit of Fruit and Nuts and that's about it. Not too much going on here. No Off-Notes.

Main Aromas:

Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Grain Alcohol, Vanilla, Caramel, Gras/Straw, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Sultanas, Nuts, Orange, Sweet Apple, Cinnamon and Pepper.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Butterscotch, Bounty Bars, German Butter Biscuits, Lemon, Nectarine, Wood Chips and Smoke from an extremely distant fire.


Palate:

Young, Soft, Watery Thin and Sugary Sweet. The Grain Alcohol rules despite all the innovative Finish efforts. Flavorwise, it basically follows the Nose.

Main Flavours:

Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Vanilla, Toffee, Caramel, Straw, Dried Fruit and Nuts, Sweet Apple, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:
   
Heather-Honey, Butterscotch, Bitter Orange, Caffe Latte, Dried Herbs, Wood Chips, Lemon, Licorice, Mint and the afore mentioned Smoke.

Finish:

Short and Thin. Sugary Sweet at first but with a light Bitterness popping up towards the end. I find Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Vanilla, Toffee, Caramel, Butterscotch, Grain Alcohol, Dried Fruit, Nuts, Straw, Candied Orange Peel, Caffe Latte, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Wood Chips, Licorice, Dried Herbs and this far away Smoke.

Drinking Advice:

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

Rating: 77 

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 19 - Finish: 18.5 - Overall: 19 

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Okay/Good

Conclusion:

Ballantine's Blended Whisky was created in 1910 by the family of the same name. The main Single malt components are Miltonduff and Glenburgie but it is said that the Blend contains upto 50 different whiskies including four Grain Whiskies. Bourbon Finish was introduced over here in December 2020. In other parts of the world a 7 Year-old Whisky was released under the same name. The whiskies for this Blend mature separately before being married and finished for an unknown period of time in Ex-Bourbon casks. This procedure is quite new in the Blended Whisky segment. 

I like innovative initiatives and I must congratulate Ballantine's on this novelty that's quite common in Single Malt maturation but not so for Blends. Having said that I must also notice that the effect of the, probably short, finish is limited. It takes away a bit of the harshness that I find in Ballantine's Finest. The makers like to think of this expression as a bridge between Whisky and Bourbon fans. That goes a little too far in my opinion. This Ballantine's remains a Refill cask matured Blend that is okay for mixing and over Ice but not interesting enough as a sipping Whisky. It's a Party drink in that sense. And Ballantine's will be fine with that as they are obviously reaching out to a young public with this Bourbon Finish.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                          March 1, 2021

Bruichladdich Octomore 08.1 Masterclass


”Smoke Screen”


Whisky Review # 904

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bruichladdich Octomore 08.1 (167 PPM) - Masterclass
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Limited Edition - 42.000 Bottles
Age: 8 Years (2008-2017)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 59.3% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: First Fill Ex-Bourbon Casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 150-180 (February 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎 Too expensive for such a young Single Malt.
Buying Advice: 😐 It's okay but try to find the 07.3 instead!

Colour:

Golden Sunlight (Natural Color)

Nose:

Soft despite the high ABV. And the 08.1 is not a Peat Bomb either. Of course Peat and Smoke are there but they're merely weaving a nice background for the other Aromas. The Nose is certainly not spectacular. Even a little plain. It's quite Sweet with a few Sour notes for contrast. A little bit Young, Dirty and Edgy. Make sure to give it a little time in the glass before Nosing and avoid Nosing in the middle of the glass as the Alcohol is more noticeable that way.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Distant Campfire Smoke, Coastal "Wet" Peat/Clay, Lots of Citrus Fruit like Orange and Mandarin, Cafe Latte, Green Bell Pepper, Smoked Bacon, Pepper, Cinnamon, Sour Berries, Espresso and Mint.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Tar, Brine, Ashes, Iodine, Farmyard, Green Apple, Roasted Pineapple, Wet Stones and Sand, Lemon-Infused Tea, Milk Chocolate, Nutmeg, Rubber, Plastic and Leather.


Palate:

Peat and Smoke come into play as does the Alcohol. This Octomore is best enjoyed in little sips. It's mainly Sweet with a few Sour notes for balance. It actually tastes quite Young and that's a bit surprising. Young Kilchoman came to my mind. There's a little bit of Plastic around as well. It's not really an off-note but it might not be to everyone's liking.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Malt, Barley Sugar, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Buttered Toast, Cold Campfire Smoke, Coastal Peat/Wet Clay, Tar, Soot, Orange, Mandarin, Green Apple, Green Bell Pepper, Schwarzwalder Schinken, Charred Oak, Dried Herbs, Pepper, Nutmeg and Menthol.
  
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Ashes, Iodine, Brine, Wet Grass, Wet Sand & Stones, Gooseberry, Lemon, Farmyard, Caffe Latte, Cinnamon, Ginger, Plastic, Leather & Roasted Nuts (Almonds and Walnuts).
 

Finish:

Long and quite Sweet with Dryness developing towards the end. The Alcohol is more noticeable by now. The Spirit coats your mouth in a pleasant way and invites you to have another sip. I mainly find Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Apricot-filled Buttered Puff Pastry, Cold Campfire Smoke, Coastal Peat, Tar, Ashes, Iodine, Soot, Honey, Green Bell Pepper, Dried Herbs, Burnt Grass, Honey, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Bitter-Lemon, Orange, Menthol, Plastic, Charred Oak & Leather.   

Drinking Advice:

I added Water but this Octomore almost becomes liquid Peppery Smoke. Better sip it neat despite the high ABV.

Rating: 86

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

Bruichladdich was founded in 1881 by Barnett Harvey. During its history it was mothballed various times, the last time in 1998. In 2012 the Islay distillery was bought by Remy Cointreau (France). Since, Bruichladdich is showing a healthy growth again. The distillery produces 3 types of Single Malt, i.e. the unpeated Bruichladdich & the heavily peated Port Charlotte & Octomore. The basic core range includes Classic Laddie and a 10-year old Port Charlotte. The annual production amounts to around one million litres. About 10% of that is Octomore. Octomore by the way means " The Big Eighth". This is a medieval division of common ground.

The Octomore 08.1 was distilled in 2008 using 100% Scottish Barley from the 2007 Harvest. It matured in First Fill American Oak and the casks were provided by a.o. Buffalo Trace, Clermont Springs, Four Roses, Heaven Hill and Jack Daniels.

After the delicious 07.3 this 08.1 was a bit of a disappointment. It's not bad mind you but a bit plain, youngish and unexciting. No way I would pay over US$ 150 for this Bruichladdich. It's just not worth that kind of money. Don't let the Smoke Screen fool you. It's accepted that most Single Malts tend to get better with time. That's not the case with the Octomore though. It shines brighter in its early years. All in all I would rate this Octomore as merely regular. 

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     February 24, 2021

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Longrow 14 Years


”Digging in the Dirt”


Whisky Review # 903

Country: Scotland
Region: Campbeltown
Brand: Longrow
Distilled at: Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown in September 2003
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Bottled in July 2018 - 9000 Bottles
Age: 14 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 57.8% (Around Cask Strength)
Maturation: Refill Oloroso Sherry Casks
Chill Filtration: No
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many thanks!
Price Range: US$ 180-220 (February 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 It's quite expensive but it's a limited Edition
Buying Advice: 😋 Delicious Dirty Pleasure!

Colour: Chestnut (Natural Color)

Nose:

Please give this Longrow sufficient time in the glass before Nosing. There's some initial wafts of Alcohol and Sulphur you might wish to avoid. This is, thanks God, a long way from Mainstream Malt. This smells authentic and a little Dirty. My first thought was like looking for an old book in a leather cover on a dusty shelf in a Dunnage Warehouse in Campbeltown. Hope you get the picture. You might perhaps expect a Peat monster but that's not the case. Peat and Smoke are there of course but they remain quietly in the background. I'm not a huge fan of Sulphur but here it seems to work somehow. In short, I like it! It's quite Sweet by the way with a few Sour notes for balance.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Soft Cold Smoke, Earthy Peat, Pine, Leather, Dusty Book Shelves, Dunnage Warehouse, Mixture of Straw and Manure, English Marmalade, Dark Chocolate, Munster Cheese, Pepper and Mint.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Molasses, Salted Caramel, Hospital, Diesel, Brine, Old Driftwood, Oak Char, Ashes, Sour Wine, Lemon, Grapefruit, Green Apples, Bacon on the BBQ, Wet Stone, Slightly Burnt Herbs, Tobacco, Dark Berries, Slivovitz, Ginger and a hint of Rubber.

Palate:

Quite strong and Intense. A delightful mix of Sweet, Sour and slightly Bitter Notes. The Alcohol is there but in a good way and so is the Sulphur that might feel a bit overdone to some but somehow it works here for me. Smoke is more prominent at this point.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Cold Smoke, Dirty Earthy Peat, Iodine, Hospital, Bacon, Fish and Burnt Pineapple on the BBQ, Leather, Old Books, Dunnage, Apple, Grapefruit, Dark Berries, Orange, Lemon, Pepper, Cloves and Cinnamon.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Molasses, Burnt Heather, Pine & Herbs, Soot, Tar, Cigar Ashes, Wet Stones, X-mas Cake with lots of Sultanas, Dried Plums and Raisins, Charred Oak, Munster Cheese, Ginger, Nutmeg, Mint and an Espresso served with Bitter Mint-Chocolate.
  
     

Finish:

Middle-Long/Long and on the Dry side. A mix of Sweet, Bitter and Sour notes. The Alcohol is quite noticeable but not in a bad way. Much more Cold Smoke here than I would have expected after Nosing. There's certainly Sulphur around but it sort of combines with the slightly Dirty character of this Longrow. This is not for everyone, nor for everyday but it makes me smile and that's what interesting Whisky is all about. I find Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Molasses, Cold Smoke, Earthy Peat, Brine, Hospital, Iodine, Soot, Tar, Ashes, Pine, Dark Berries, Plums, Sultanas, Grapefruit, Orange, Leather, Tobacco, Bacon on the BBQ, Charred Oak, Dark Chocolate, Bitter Espresso, Pepper, Mint and Plastic.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and that increases the Sherry Cask influence. Lots of Dried Fruits and a general Christmas atmosphere on the Nose. The Palate and Finish get more Spicy this way. I like it both ways!

Rating: 88

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. Quite consistent from Nose to Finish

Conclusion:

The Longrow peated Single Malt is produced at the Springbank Distillery. In 1973, Springbank started a project that would try to produce a peated Islay type of whisky on the Scottish mainland. The name of the project was Longrow, named after the old Longrow distillery that was located close to Springbank. In 1990 the first peated Longrow appeared on the market. The Longrow Malts are dried for 48 hours over peat smoke. Longrow represents only about 10% of the total Springbank production. In 2020 Springbank only produced 120.000 litres in total due to Covid.

There's mainstream Malt and there's Longrow. Or Ledaig just to name another Dirty Diana. I can imagine that many beginning Whisky fans will have difficulties in liking this type of old school dirty malt full of Dunnage, Leather and Sulphur. It's for sure an acquainted taste. But once you like it, you might get hooked. Not your everyday Whisky to be sure but certainly a dirty joy once in a while.   

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     February 11, 2021

Compass Box Transistor




”Who Let the BrewDogs Out”


Whisky Review # 902

Country: Scotland
Brand: Compass Box Transistor - BrewDog's Boilermaker Series
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Mix of 1st Fill American Oak Barrels and French (Vosges) Oak Casks
Chill Filtration: No - Only a light 5 Micron Filtration
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many thanks!
Average Price: US$ 60 (February 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😑 Slightly expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: 😴Boring. It's said to pair well with the BrewDog Punk IPA though!

Colour:

Chardonnay (Natural Color)

Nose:

Please give Transistor a little time in the glass before Nosing in order to get rid of some serious initial waves of Grain Alcohol. There's not too much going on in this department I'm afraid. The Aromas are comparable to your slightly above average Blended Scotch. It's a bit less harsh suggesting a higher percentage of Malt Whisky. The Nose is Sweet and Creamy with Fruity, Cereal and Floral notes. No off-notes but nothing of particular interest as well. Reasonable Cask Management.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Grain, Buttered Toast, German Butter Biscuits, Orange, Lemon, Fresh Herbs, Bounty Bars, Oak, Dried Figs, Cinnamon and Cloves.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Vanilla, Caramel, Butterscotch, Yeast, Apricot-filled Pastry, Apple, Green Grapes, Raisins, Grapefruit, Wet Stones, Pepper and Nutmeg. A distant hint of some Campfire Smoke.


Palate:

Young, Thin, Dry, Bitter-Sweet, Fruity & Creamy. The Grain Alcohol remains ever present and overpowers the Malt Whisky. It's not bad but you don't have to wake me up for it.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Grains, Buttered Toast, Bounty Bars, Seville Orange, Grapefruit, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger, Oak, Fresh (Mint) and Dried (Coriander) Herbs.

Supportive Flavour Accents:
   
Honey, Caramel, Butterscotch, Candied Apple, Dried Fruit like Raisin & Figs, Lemon, Wet Stones, Marzipan, Smoke, Iron and Roasted Nuts.

Finish:

Middle-Long & Bitter-Sweet. A few Sour notes as well. Quite Dry towards the end. The Grain Alcohol remains noticeable. A bit Thin despite the acceptable ABV. I find Toasted Grain, Caramel, Vanilla, Honey, Seville Orange, Grapefruit, Lemon, Bounty Bars, Marzipan, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cloves, Cinnamon, Menthol, Dried Herbs, Oak, Candied Apples and light Smoke.

Drinking Advice:

Due to the small size of the sample I only tasted the Transistor neat.

Rating: 82

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good. On the Thin side.

Conclusion:

John Glaser is one of the Whisky Makers at Compass Box, a Blending company in the UK. John's grandfather Jack from Chicago had the habit of drinking a cold Beer together with a Whisk(e)y of choice. This combo became known as a Boilermaker. Based on this, John, together with his colleague James Saxon and Steven Kersley, the Head of Distillation at Beer-Brewery BrewDog created a Blended Whisky that goes perfectly with the BrewDog Punk IPA. They called it the Transistor as the whisky amplifies the beer. I couldn't find the beer unfortunately but I can imagine that the Sweetness of the Whisky combines well with the bitter hops of the IPA. I hear that the combination works well so by all means give it a chance if you have the opportunity. Today I will concentrate on the Whisky as such, a blend of Grain Whisky from Cameronbridge and Single Malts from Linkwood, Teaninich, Dailuaine and Clynelish. Transistor is only for sale in the UK.

This Whisky was specifically made to pair the BrewDog Punk IPA and unfortunately I was not able to taste them together. On a stand-alone basis however, the Transistor is a reasonable Blended Scotch Whisky without off-notes but also unexciting. Boring to be honest. And it's a little too expensive for a boring Whisky. If you are in a pairing mood 😬by all means go for it. But Transistor is not interesting enough as a sipping Whisky on its own.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     February 8, 2021

Girvan 1994 (The Exclusive Grains - TCWC)


”Glue Wine”


Whisky Review # 901

Country: Scotland
Region: Lowlands
Brand: Girvan 1994 - Distilled on March 24, 1994
Bottled by: The Creative Whisky Company in 2017 -  Bottles: 189
Series: The Exclusive Grains
Type: Single Grain Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # 605727
Age: 23 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 53.8% - Cask Strength
Maturation: Sherry Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: Around US$ 100 (January 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👍You won't find Single Malt Sherry Bombs at this price level
Buying Advice: 😐It's well-made but somehow it doesn't work for me

Colour:

Golden Amber (Natural Color)

Nose:

Please give this Girvan enough time in the glass before Nosing. The initial waves of Varnish, Acetone, Glue and Alcohol need to calm down. This is the first time I'm nosing a Single Grain Whisky that matured in a Sherry Cask. As you will probably know, most Single Grains are matured in Ex-Bourbon casks. I have mixed feelings about this Sherry cask to be honest. On the one hand it adds lots of Sweet Red Fruit and Rum Flavors but it also tends to overpower the Girvan Spirit. Looking forward to hear your thoughts on this subject!

Main Aromas:

Toasted Cereals, Caramel, Vanilla, Demerara Sugar, Rum-soaked Raisins, Roasted Nuts, Plum Jam, Acetone, Varnish, Glue, Dark Chocolate, Caffe-Latte, Buttered Toast, Bounty Candy Bars, Cloves & Oak. The Alcohol is not completely integrated. The Sweet nose will remind you of Rum and, to a lesser extent, Brandy.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Honey, Golden Syrup, Butterscotch, Blackberries, Sweet Apple, Bananas, Cinnamon and Leather.


Palate:

Medium Body. The Sherry Cask totally controls the Girvan Spirit. It's quite Sweet with lots of Dried Fruit, Caramel and X-Mas ingredients. It's difficult to get rid of the Glue, Varnish, Acetone and Alcohol waves.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Christmas Cake soaked with Rum and Raisins, Plum Jam, Dark Chocolate, Alcohol, Glue, Acetone, Varnish, Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon and Nutmeg.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Syrup, Butterscotch, Figs, Blackberries, Black Cherries, Bounty Candy Bars, Roasted Almonds, Seville-Orange, Cloves, Licorice, Mint, Leather and Tobacco.

Finish:

Middle-Long and Sweet at first with a few Bitter notes towards the Dry end. The Alcohol remains ever present and Oak & Wood Spices come to the front. The Sherry Cask influence is overwhelming. I find Toasted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Honey, X-Mas Cake soaked with Rum and Raisins, Plums, Seville-Orange, Figs, Mint-Chocolate, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger, Licorice, Oak, Glue, Varnish, Acetone, Alcohol and Leather.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little water and that helps to partly calm down Palate and Finish. On the Nose the Alcohol seems to intensify somewhat and that's remarkable. I do get a light Metallic note on the Finish. But on the whole I would advise you to add a bit of Water to this Girvan.

Rating: 85.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Well-Made but not really my thing!

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 more than 20 Years of Cask time. The Girvan I'm tasting today matured in an Ex-Sherry Cask and that's unusual. But 23 Years is a long time and the cask really took control over the Spirit. That probably will excite Sherry Bomb fans looking for a relative bargain. They should not forget one thing though. This is not a Single Malt Whisky and the Grain Alcohol, Glue, Varnish and Acetone spoil a bit of the Sherry party. If you're okay with that, go for it as the Price is this Girvan's greatest asset. My personal opinion: This Glue Wine is well-made but doesn't ring any Whisky bells!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                      January 31, 2021

Caol Ila 1990 (Sansibar)


”Perfect Imperfection”


Whisky Review # 900

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Caol Ila 1990 - Chinese Theater Mask Label
Bottled for: Sansibar Germany and Spirits Shop's Selection Taiwan in 2016
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # N/A
Age: 26 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 49.2% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Bourbon Cask -  Bottles: 210
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 300-400 (January 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐It simply can't be cheap but it's a lot of money!
Buying Advice: 😋Delicious well-matured Islay. 

Colour: Golden Straw (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Please give this Single Malt a bit of time in the glass before Nosing. On the Nose this Caol Ila is a pretty straightforward but very delicious well-matured Islay. Peat and Smoke are still there of course but they have calmed down with time. It's pretty rural actually and Cattle and Leather are never far away. It's also Sweet & Buttery with some Pineapples and Shellfish being readied on the BBQ. Too make it short, I love it!

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, A mix of Wet Clay, Straw, Grass and Cow Manure, Campfire Smoke, Coastal Peat, Shell Fish and Pineapple on the BBQ, Leather, Green Apple, Herbs, Quality Oak, Pepper and Aniseed.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Brine, Iodine, Tar, Soot, Cigar Ashes, Wet Rocks, Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Wax, Marzipan, Tobacco, Coffee Beans, Cinnamon, Ginger and Licorice.


Palate:

Strong arrival. Mainly Sweet with a few light Bitter and Sour notes for balance. Lots of Character & Flavor. The Alcohol is there of course but it's pretty nicely integrated. It's not extremely complicated or refined. It is what it is supposed to be. A well-matured straight forward Caol Ila. Well done.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Campfire Smoke, Coastal Peat, Mix of Wet Clay, Grass, Straw and Cow Manure, Fish/Shell Fish, Bacon and Pineapple on the BBQ, Seville Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Green Apples, Leather, Herbs, Pepper, Ginger, Aniseed and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Burnt Grass, Soot, Tar Cigar Ashes, Brine, Iodine, Wax, Tobacco, Quality Oak, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Licorice.

     

Finish:

Long and, again, straightforward but oh so delicious. It's mainly Sweet with a few light Bitter and Sour notes. Medium-Dry. A mix of Coastal and Rural Flavors. I find Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, the mix of Wet Clay, Grass, Straw and Cow Manure, Campfire Smoke, Coastal Peat, Brine, Iodine, Tar, Soot, Cigar Ashes, Wet Rocks and Sand, Fish/Shell Fish and Pineapple on the BBQ, Heather-Honey, Leather and Tobacco, Herbs, Marzipan, Seville-Orange, Grapefruit, Dark Chocolate, Pepper, Ginger, Menthol, Aniseed and Fresh Green Apples. A little Burnt Rubber after a while.

Drinking Advice:

You can certainly add a bit of Water to this Caol Ila although it seems to stimulate Wood and Wood Spices, especially in the Finish. I like it both ways though.

Rating: 89

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Very Good

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 really 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.

I love well-matured Islay Malts and this is certainly one of them. If only all Whiskies that I review would be like this. Wishful Thinking! It's very expensive of course but how can it not be after 26 years in the cask. If you got the cash and you can find a bottle somewhere, go for it. It's worth it. This combination of Coastal and Rural Aromas and Flavors intermingled with this mature Smoke and Peat profile provide a breath-taking mind trip to Islay. Enjoy it if you can!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                       January 25, 2021


All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Jim Beam Black Extra-Aged


”Black Is Black( I Want My 8 Years Back)”


Whisky Review # 899

Country: USA
Brand: Jim Beam Black Extra-Aged
Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: NAS (Around 6 Years)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: New Charred American White Oak Barrels
Charcoal Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 18-25 (January 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👍 Good at around US$ 20
Buying Advice: 😐 It's good enough if you're after a cheap basic Bourbon.

Colour
:


Deep Golden with shades of Orange

Nose:

Sweet. The Alcohol is noticeable. Sweet Grain, Caramel/Vanilla & Ripe Fruit lead the way. Simple Basic Bourbon Aromas. Nothing special really. No Off-Notes.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Grain, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Vanilla, Very Ripe Banana, Dried Fruit like Apricot and Raisins, Sweet Apple, Charred Oak, Cinnamon and Nutmeg.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Butterscotch, Sugar, Citrus Peel, Bounty Candy Bars, Nuts, Dried Herbs, Pepper, Cloves, Mint and Glue.


Palate:

After the decent Nose, the Palate slightly disappoints as it's rather on the Thin side despite the decent ABV. The Flavor profile follows the Nose confirming this is a Kentucky Straight-Forward Bourbon. Not quite good enough as a sipping Bourbon but thoroughly enjoyable over Ice.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Grain, Caramel, Vanilla, Cherry-Flavored Cough Syrup, Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon. The impression of saddling a horse!

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Demerara Sugar, Banana Ice-Cream, Mint, Coriander, Nutmeg, Cloves, Mixed Nuts, Orange Peel, Glue and Leather.

Finish:

Middle-Long and a little on the Thin side. Mainly Sweet but with a little Bitterness from the Oak towards the Medium-Dry end. I find Sweet Grain, Caramel, Vanilla, Nuts, Orange Peel, Charred Oak, Cherry-Flavored Cough Syrup, Nuts, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, Glue and Leather. The Alcohol is noticeable.

Drinking Advice:

I added some Water and that helps calm down the Alcohol of course. You'll get more Spice in the Finish this way. You can enjoy it both ways but I actually prefer Jim Beam Black over ice!

Rating: 83

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21  - Finish: 20  - Overall: 20.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good. On the Thin side.

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Good

Conclusion:

Jim Beam is produced in Clermont in the state of Kentucky. In the early part of the last decade Jim Beam Black was called Double Aged and matured 8 Years according to the label. In 2015, the Age statement was dropped and the name changed to XA or Extra Aged. Halfway 2016 Jim Beam rebranded the portfolio and changed labels and bottle design. During this process the XA in the name disappeared and Black was subsequently called "Extra-Aged". It is generally accepted that the new Black matured for around 6 Years as was the case with the bottle I purchased in Brazil in 2011 and reviewed here. The Mash bill for the Extra-Aged consists of Corn (77%), Rye (13%) and Malted Barley (10%).

Jim Beam Black Extra-Aged is a basic inexpensive Bourbon and as such it's okay. Don't expect miracles though. I really enjoy it over Ice but I wouldn't recommend it as a sipping Whiskey. I rated the similar Black a little higher back in 2011 but I was just starting to review at that time. As far as Jim Beam is concerned I have a slight preference for the Bulleit although it's a bit more expensive of course. My preferred day-to-day Bourbon remains the Maker's Mark 46. Cheers, Jan.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                      January 6, 2021

Glenfiddich Vintage Cask Collection Peated


”Wasted Time”


Whisky Review # 898

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenfiddich Vintage Cask Collection - Peated Single Malt
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: European Sherry Wood & Bourbon casks married in Solera Vat # 3
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 100-130 (December 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎Too expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: 😐 The Peat is nice but it's way too Thin on the Palate.

Colour:

Amber with shades of Orange (Artificially Colored)

Nose:

Nice balance between Peat, Sherry Wood and Bourbon casks. It's a bit on the Thin side caused of course by the low ABV. The good thing is that the Alcohol is hardly noticeable on the Nose. Main Drivers are Smoke, (Dried) Fruit and Earthy notes. All in all quite pleasant.

Main Aromas:

Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Smoke, Earthy Peat, Pear, Apple, Straw and Grass, Orange Marmalade, Dairy and Cinnamon.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Honey, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Forest Floor, Dried Herbs, Fruit Cake, Yeast, Leather, Pork on the BBQ, Milk Chocolate, Dried Apricot and Pepper.



Palate
:


A big disappointment after the agreeable Nose. It's way too Thin on the Palate and all the good work of the distillery in creating this Single Malt goes to waste. The subtle Smoke and Peat work well with the Fruity Glenfiddich Spirit but with this ABV it tastes more like a peated Fruit Juice than a Single Malt Whisky. I really hope that Glenfiddich will continue to experiment with peated Whisky but I urge them to give these special Single Malts a more adequate ABV of around 46% and a bit more of well-aged Whisky. Then we're really talking! I almost forgot to mention that it's mainly Sweet on the Palate. Flavor-wise it basically follows the Nose.

Main Flavours:

Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Smoke, Earthy Peat, Apple, Pear, Orange Marmalade, Cinnamon, Ginger, Charred Oak and Floral notes.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Toffee, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Apricots, Milk Chocolate, Lemon, Yeast, Pork on the BBQ, Pepper, Leather, Tobacco and Dried Herbs.
 

Finish
:


Middle-Long & mainly Sweet with a light Bitterness towards the end. It's quite Thin and the raw Alcohol is noticeable at this point. It's Medium-Dry in the aftertaste and I find a light Metallic off-note. I find Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Toffee, Apple, Pear, Banana, Smoke, Earthy Peat, Floral notes, Yeast, Leather, Tobacco, Roasted Marshmallows, Honey, Cocoa, Pepper, Cinnamon, Licorice, Ginger and Charred Oak.

Drinking Advice:

No Need to add Water to this Glenfiddich. It's Thin enough as it is.

Rating: 84.5

Nose: 22.5 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience Neat: Good Nose but too Thin on the Palate

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Smooth and Very Nice.

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 and Duty Free shops as well and the chance is huge that Glenfiddich was your first Single Malt. It was mine! 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. We visited the distillery in May 2014 and May 2019. Despite the large number of visitors they still do a good job on the Tours.

Following the success of the innovative Solera Vatting for the 15 Yr Solera Reserve, Glenfiddich has created three new Solera Vats. The Vintage Cask is the 3rd release in this series and all three are sold exclusively in Global Travel Retail. This vatting contains whiskies aged in either European Spanish sherry - or 1st fill Bourbon casks  using heavily peated whisky (25 ppm). That comprises around 50% of the vatting and as it is blended with other whiskies it's brought down to about 10-15 ppm in the glass. Glenfiddich Vintage Cask harks to the past, when the distillery's output was partly peated.

Sometimes it's not easy to be a Whisky fan these days. Take this Glenfiddich for example. You know this could be a great Single Malt if longer-matured Whisky and a more appropriate ABV would be applied. The price would suggest something like that to be possible. Instead we get a relatively Young, not fully-matured Whisky that is bottled at the absolute legal minimum of 40%. Does that make sense? No! You're just paying way too much for a Young, Thin Whisky that comes in a nice bottle and fancy box. It's such a pity, the more so as the Glenfiddich Spirit and Peat combine well as can be ascertained on the Nose. So I would really like to ask the distillery to consider making a fully-matured peated Single Malt bottled at 46%. I am sure it would please many Whisky fans all around the world! As it is today I can't recommend this Single Malt at this price level.

Cheers!


Jan van den Ende                                                                 December 30, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

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I would like to Wish all my readers and whisky fans all over the world a better, healthier and more recognizable 2021. Because 2020 really sucked! Big Time! Stay Healthy and enjoy your Whisky in a safe way! Cheers, Jan.

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