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

Glencadam 15 Years Review


“Room For Improvement” 

Whisky Review # 687

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands
Brand: Glencadam 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years 
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Bourbon casks  
Chill Filtration: No      
Price Range: Around US$ 60 (February 2018). 
Buying Advice: 😐 Price Quality ratio is okay. Misses the Wow factor.   

Colour: Light Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose: Quite clean and unpretentious. Not a whole lot going on. I'm pretty sure that Refill Bourbon casks were used for maturation. I don't detect off-notes but the Alcohol is noticeable. I find Malted Cereals, Toast and Margarine, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Salted Caramel, Toasted Nuts, Fresh Dough, Wood Pellets, Hay, Grass, Green Apple, Strawberry Jam, slightly Sour Citrus (Grapefruit, Orange, Lemon), Oak Char, Dusty Sand Road, Mint/Menthol, Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove and light Pepper.     

Palate: The delivery is a little Thin despite the adequate ABV. The Alcohol is too present here as well. Other than that it's all pretty clean and straight-forward without any surprises. I find Sweet Malted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Oak Char, Bounty Candy Bars, Green Apples, slightly Sour Citrus (Grapefruit, Lemon and Orange), Grass, Hay, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove, Herbal Tea, Menthol and again this hint of Strawberry - or Raspberry Jam.

Finish: Middle-Long and Bitter Sweet. The Bitterness increases towards the Dry end. The Alcohol burns a bit but the sensation is not too bad. A Metallic off-note is noticeable as well. I find Sweet Malted Cereals, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Oak Char, Grapefruit Juice, Bitter Oranges, Lemon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Menthol, Cinnamon, Resin and hints of Caffe Latte, Strawberry Jam and Cassis Liqueur.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Nose becomes very Grassy. On the Palate and in the Finish the Alcohol retreats somewhat but Menthol and Wood Spice become pretty dominant. You can add a few drops if you like but personally I prefer to sip it neat.  

Rating: 82.5    

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

Image result for Glencadam 15 years

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The Glencadam Distillery is located in Brechin (Angus) close to the (small) river Esk. The Distillery was built in 1825. Since 1954 it was subsequently owned by Hiram Walker and Allied Lyons and was mainly used in Blends like Ballantine's, Teacher's and Cream of the Barley. It was mothballed in 2000 and things looked bad until Angus Dundee Distillers bought it in 2003 and brought it back to Single Malt status although it's still used in many Blends as well (Parker's, Dundee, Angus). Glencadam calls its whisky "The Rather Delicate Highland Malt". They currently produce 1,3 million litres per year. The current core range includes the Origin 1825, the 10, 13, 15, 21 and 25 Years. The distillery has sufficient old stocks to be able to offer a wide range of vintage Single Malts. 

The Glencadam 15 was first released in 2005 but a redesigned 46% expression was launched in 2008 and that's the one I'm tasting today.

Image result for glencadam stills

🍷  The Spirit 

Glencadam operates one pair of stills with Lyne arms that run upwards at an angle of 15 degrees producing a medium-bodied, medium Sweet, Fruity, Creamy and Nutty Spirit. The Water is sourced from Springs in the Unthank Hills.


🌲  The Wood:

The Glencadam 15 Years matured in (mostly refill) Ex-Bourbon casks. 

Drinking Experience: Good but not very interesting.

Conclusion: The Glencadam 15 is a pretty straightforward, no non-sense Single Malt with a good Price/Quality ratio. It does have a few flaws though and in my opinion they are caused by indifferent cask management. I miss the rich Aromas and Flavours that good Bourbon casks can bring. The basics are there but in a  sort of muted way. Another issue is the Alcohol that is too present everywhere but especially in the Finish. I also don't care for the slight Metallic off-note in that department. Glencadam is certainly going in the right direction. They do not add Caramel and all Single Malts are non Chill-Filtered. The ABV is adequate as well. Glencadam has a long history of producing Spirit for Blended Whisky. We all know that cask management is not a big issue there. But if you really want to conquer a lasting place in the Single Malt market the cask choice does become very important. As it stands today, the Glencadam 15 Years is an alright Single Malt but nothing special. There's certainly room for improvement. The Fruity Glencadam Spirit deserves it!

Jan van den Ende                                                                February 15, 2018

Image result for glencadam distillery

Talisker Distillers Edition 2000 Review


“When Speyside Meets Skye”

Whisky Review # 686

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Skye
Brand: Talisker Distillers Edition 2000 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 11 Years (Bottled in 2011)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 45.8%
Maturation: Bourbons casks with Oloroso Finish. 
Chill Filtration: Yes      
Price Range: US$ 180-250 (February 2018). 
Buying Advice: 😐 Neutral. Good Malt but quite expensive right now.  

Colour: Chestnut/Dark Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: I was expecting a Talisker 10 with a bit of Sherry influence but that's not the case. My first impression is a bag of mixed Sweet Dried Fruit. They are all there, the Raisins, Sultanas, Apricots, Apples, Figs and Prunes. The Sherry casks must have been quite active. I also find Salted Caramel, Barley Sugar, Toffee, Brown Sugar, Sugared Almonds, Orange Marmalade and Vanilla. It is a Talisker of course so I also find Bonfire Smoke, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks, Ashes, Dusty Old Books, Iodine, Diesel and Soot. But all these notes are muted unlike in the 10 years. On the Nose, this DE is quite Sweet but there are a few slightly Sour Red Wine notes as well. If you take your time you might also find traces of Leather, Licorice, Aniseed, Cinnamon, (Lemon) Pepper, Mint, Coffee Beans (Not Roasted), Olive Oil, Floral Soap and Tobacco. The Alcohol is not fully integrated. There's a lot to discover on the Nose of this Talisker if you take your time. But somehow I feel that the Amoroso casks might have absorbed a bit too much of the original Talisker distillery character. It would be interesting to see how this Single Malt would smell and taste after a reduced Sherry Finish of say six months.

Visit May 2017

Palate: The delivery is good thanks to the adequate ABV. On the Palate and in the Finish I find more balance between the Distillery character and the Sherry. On the Palate this Talisker is mainly Bitter-Sweet with a few slightly Sour Red Wine notes as well. I find Sweet Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Toffee, Orange Marmalade, Dried Fruits and Nuts like Raisins, Sultanas, Plums, Apples and Almonds, Lemon, light Campfire Smoke, Earthy Peat, Ashes, Iodine, Soot, Charred Oak, Leather, Herbal Tea, Clove, Pepper, Cinnamon, Licorice and hints of Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Espresso and Mustard Seeds.   

Finish: Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet with a nice Jalapeno blast towards the Dry end. I also find Sweet Malted Barley, Toffee, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Apple-Raisin Pie, light Campfire Smoke, Sweet Earthy Peat, Ashes, Soot, Salted Fish, Diesel, Dark Chocolate and Bacon. Some Citrus, Charred Oak, Leather, Menthol, Cinnamon, Aniseed, Dried Herbs and Licorice. Hints of Espresso and Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup.     

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and on the Nose you get something like Burnt Oranges. Both Palate and Finish accept a few drops if you like. Don't overdo it as you will get a little Plastic on the Finish. As usual, I prefer to sip it neat. 

Rating: 85.5    

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

Image result for talisker distillers edition 2000

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The distillery is located in Carbost on the Isle of Skye and was founded in 1830. The current owners are Diageo. Despite the remote location, Talisker receives lots of visitors and the Shop and VC were recently refurnished. We visited the distillery in May this year and it was crowded! We didn't like the Tour a lot. You are not allowed to take pictures and mill and casks can only be seen behind glass. You can't get very close to the stills as well. It was nice to have a close look at the wooden worm tubs outside. The subsequent Tasting was really nice though and we spend almost an hour in a separate room tasting six different Taliskers. If you're on Skye you should certainly pay Talisker a visit.

This Distillers Edition was produced in 2000 and bottled in 2011.

Tasting during Visit May 2017

🍷  The Spirit 

Talisker operates two wash stills and three spirit stills. The Lyne arms of the wash stills make a peculiar U bend that increases the contact of the spirit with the copper. The fermentation time is long. The stills produce a lightly peated full-bodied Spicy and Peppery Whisky. The Water is sourced from the Springs on Cnoc Nan Speirag just above the distillery.

Visit May 2017

🌲  The Wood:

The Spirit for this 2000 DE matured for 10 years in Bourbon casks before being finished for one year in Amoroso casks. Amoroso is a sweetened Oloroso Sherry. 

Drinking Experience: Good

Conclusion: The Talisker DE 2000 is a good Single Malt. To me, the Sherry is a little too present on the Nose but many people might actually like that. On the Palate and in the Finish there's more balance between Sherry cask and Talisker character. I would never say no if someone would offer me a glass of the 2000 Talisker Distiller's Edition. On the other hand there's nothing that beats the 10 Years if you want Wild & Exciting and the 18 Years if you're into Silky pleasure. I would be totally happy if Talisker would only produce these two classics. 

Jan van den Ende                                                                February 12, 2018

Image result for talisker distillery
Visit May 2017

Royal Brackla 16 Years Review


“King of the (Middle of the) Road”

Whisky Review # 685

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands
Brand: Royal Brackla
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 16 Years 
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Bourbon casks with Oloroso Finish      
Chill Filtration: Yes        
Price Range: Around US$ 110 (February 2018). Cheaper in Travel Retail.
Buying Advice: 😑 Good Entry Malt. Too expensive though!    

Colour: Golden Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Friendly but clean and rather underwhelming. He's Young for His Age as Albert Hammond sings in his Hit-Song "Air Disaster". The Sherry cask Finish is certainly noticeable. The Nose of this Royal Brackla won't scare off anybody and beginners will surely find it pleasant. I find Sweet Barley, Muesli with Apricot and Banana, Toast with a mixed spread of Butter and Margarine, Candle Wax, Resin, Sweet Apple, Honey-Melon, Toffee, Vanilla, Hay, Grass, Caffe Latte, Citrus Peel, Cinnamon, Ginger and hints of Floral Perfume and Varnish. 

Palate: Slightly Thin as could be expected at 40%. A 16 year old Single Malt deserves an ABV of 46%. The price of this Royal Brackla should allow this to happen! It all remains friendly and mostly Sweet with a few Herbal and Spicy notes for much needed balance. I find Creamy Malt, Toffee, Vanilla, Almonds or Marzipan, Honey-Melon, Sweet Apple, Figs, Butter, Sugared Orange Peel, Hay, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Pepper, Clove, Milk Chocolate, Dried Herbs and a hint of Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup.  

Finish: Middle-Long and Sugary Sweet with a few slightly Bitter notes towards the Dry end. I find Creamy Malt, Butter, Vanilla, Toffee, Sweet Apple, Nuts, Milk Chocolate, Honey-Melon, Pear drops, Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove, Pepper, Nutmeg, Charred Oak, Grass, Straw, and Sevilla Oranges. The Buttery notes coat your mouth for quite some time.         

Drinking Advice: Royal Brackla 16 Years does not improve with added Water. Enjoy it neat or over a little Ice on hot summer nights. 

Rating: 84.5        

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

Image result for royal brackla 16 years

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The distillery was founded in 1812 by Captain William Fraser and is located in Cawdor. In 1833 it was awarded the Royal warrant by King William IV. The spirit produced by Royal Brackla has always been a favourite of the Blending Industry. One of the first Single Malts was the 10 Years Flora & Fauna, released in 1993. In 1998 the distillery was bought by John Dewar & Sons (Bacardi) and most of the Spirit was reserved for the Dewar's and William Lawson Blends. In 2014, Bacardi decided to vastly increase the participation of their distilleries in the Single Malt market. They called the project The Last Great Malts of Scotland and it includes Single Malts from Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, The Deveron and Royal Brackla.   

The 16 Years was launched in 2015 together with the 10 - and 21 Years. These three represent Royal Brackla's contributions to the above mentioned Last Great Malt project. It almost automatically became their core range as well.

Related image
Picture Credit: Whisky.com

🍷  The Spirit 

The distillery operates with two pairs of Stills with Lyne arms at various angles. They produce a Medium-Bodied, Sweet, Fruity and Floral Spirit. The Water is sourced from the Cursack Springs.


🌲  The Wood:

The Spirit for this Royal Brackla matured in Refill Ex-Bourbon casks before being finished in First-Fill Oloroso Sherry casks.

Drinking Experience NeatGood but uneventful.

Conclusion: The Royal Brackla 16 Years is a typical modern, easy-going, middle of the road Single Malt that will, without any doubt, please many people with its uncomplicated structure, Flavours and Aromas. So far, so good you would think! But the price tag of this Single Malt is quite high and I would have expected a higher ABV of say 46%, no Chill-Filtration and no Colouring. That would seem a logical strategy for a distillery that is relatively unknown and wishes to increase its market share in the Single Malt segment. As it is, the Royal Brackla 16 years would be a fine entry-level Single Malt at around 50 US Dollars. At the current price level however it is simply way too expensive for what it offers. Let's hope Bacardi will revise its price structure as they have a potential Middle of the Road Champion with this Royal Brackla 16 Years.

Jan van den Ende                                                                 February 1, 2018


Highland Park Fire Review


“Expensive Twilight of the Gods” 

Whisky Review # 684

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park Fire Edition
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years 
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 45.2%
Maturation: Bourbon casks seasoned with Port Wine.     
Chill Filtration: No       
Price Range: US$ 250-300 (January 2018). 
Buying Advice: 😡 Negative. Not bad but way too expensive!   

Colour: Golden Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose: The Port Wine presence is not so obvious when you look at the Colour of this Highland Park but you can't miss it on the Nose where you are welcomed by an abundance of Sweet Dark Red Fruit like Berries, Grapes and Plums. There is an initial Aroma of Musty Cooked Vegetables but it fades away over time. Be sure to give this Malt enough time in the glass. As you know I'm not a huge fan of the Port/Whisky combination in general but on the Nose this HP is okay. The Port does dominate the other Aromas though so I miss a bit of balance. I also find Malted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Herbs, Straw, Orange-Flavoured Dark Chocolate, Charred Oak, Apple-Vinegar, Cinnamon, light Licorice, light Menthol and hints of Varnish, Old Leather and Banana. In the background there's a veil of Smoke and Earthy Peat.


Palate: The delivery is a bit on the Thin side despite the adequate ABV. On the Palate the Fire appears a bit Rough and Edgy. The Earthy Peat and Smoke are more noticeable now but the Port still reigns supreme. I find Dark Red Fruit like Berries, Grapes and Plums, Malted Cereals, Vanilla, Bitter Orange, Grapefruit, Charred Oak, Espresso, Heather-Honey, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Menthol, Licorice, Ashes and PVC Pipes.  

Finish: Bitter-Sweet and on the short side. Quite Dry towards the end. I detect Malted Cereals, Raspberries, Red Grapes, Red Wine, Earthy Peat, light Smoke, Charred Oak, Vanilla, Toffee, Almonds, Bitter Oranges, Grapefruit, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ashes, Bitter Chocolate, Espresso, Menthol, light Licorice, PVC Pipes and Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup.      

Drinking Advice:

The Highland Park Fire does not improve with added Water.    

Rating: 84        

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

Image result for highland park Fire 15 years

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

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 million litres of Alcohol and is owned since 1997 by the Edrington Group. The core range consists of the 10 (Viking Scars), the 12 (Viking Honour), the 18 (Viking Pride), the 25, 30 and 40 years. So far I haven't been able to visit this distillery but it's high on my wish-list!

The Highland Park Fire was launched in November 2016 and is the second in a limited Edition series preceded by Ice that was launched earlier that year. They are inspired by the final battle between Norse Gods like Odin, Freyr, Thor and Loki and the Fire and Ice Giants. In this Twilight of the Gods (Ragnarok), the old world dies in a blazing ball of fire and the new world is raised from the ashes. Only 28.000 bottles of Fire were released world-wide. The red bottle certainly stands out and is packed in a wooden cradle that is designed to match with the cradle of the Ice edition.  


🍷  The Spirit 

The distillery operates two pairs of Stills with Lyne arms that are either straight or showing a slightly upwards angle. They produce a medium-bodied, Peaty and Toffee-Sweet Spirit, some of it being used in Blends like The Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark. The water is sourced from the Crantit Spring.


🌲  The Wood:

The Spirit for Fire matured in Port Wine seasoned Refill Ex-Bourbons casks. 

Drinking Experience: Good

Conclusion: I wasn't expecting too much of this Highland Park Fire as I'm not a huge fan of the Port/Red Wine - Whisky combination. But I must admit it's not a bad effort by Highland Park. My main problems with the Fire are the complete domination by the Port Wine, the lack of balance, the lack luster Finish and the high price. There's no way this Single Malt deserves a price of 250-300 US Dollars. If you like a peated Malt with a Red Wine Finish go for the Longrow 11 Red Cabernet Sauvignon instead. Much better Price/Quality ratio. I think that Highland Park made a good effort by creating this first Red Wine matured Single Malt. I also think though that they are abusing Marketing to justify exorbitant prices for this Fire Edition and that's a pity.

Jan van den Ende                                                                 January 29, 2018

Laphroaig 1998 (Van Wees) Review - Classic of Islay Bottled 2014 (Jack Wiebers) Review - Bunnahabain 1997 (Gordon & MacPhail) Review - Caol Ila 2000 (Wilson & Morgan) Review - Caol Ila 1980 (Mo Or) Review


“A Quintet of Indie Islay Single Malts”

Introduction:

Most of you know that I mainly use samples and miniatures when preparing my Reviews. I usually buy these in Holland and sometimes in Germany or the UK. Sometimes I receive samples from friends or readers or independent bottlers. In only two cases I received a few samples directly from distilleries. When planning my reviews for the coming months I always try to give attention to all Scottish Whisky regions as well as other Whisky/Whiskey/Bourbon producing regions all over the world with special attention to the USA, Ireland and Japan. And last but not least the blends. At the request of many 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 format of Specials. These specials will deal with a specific region like today or with specific bottlers, countries or distilleries. The reviews in these Specials will concentrate on the Whisky and won't go into 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. Today's special will look at 5 Single Malts from Islay bottled by various Independent Bottlers. Enjoy!
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Whisky Review # 679

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Laphroaig 1998 (The Ultimate Series)
Bottled by: Van Wees
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky
Age: 15 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Refill Sherry Butt # 700355 (728 Bottles) 
Chill Filtration: No    
Buying Advice: 😃 Positive. Nice Single Malt at +/- US$ 130. Would have been great at Cask Strength! Still available in places.

Colour: Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose: Very nice balance between the traditional Laphroaig Spirit and the Sherry cask. They compliment each other very well. I find Toasted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Earthy Peat, Wet Clay, Bonfire Smoke, Iodine, light Tar and Soot, Hospital, Leather, Dried Fruit (Raisins), Nuts, Herbal Tea, Lemon, Dark Chocolate, Black Olives, Apple, Smoked Fish and Shell Fish, Straw mixed with Cow Manure, Pepper, Menthol and light Licorice. On the Nose, this Laphroaig is mostly Sweet and Herbal. I think it's the first time I am nosing a Single Cask Laphroaig that matured in a Sherry cask. Good Stuff!


Palate: Slightly Thin Delivery. This would have been so much better at Cask Strength. Bitter-Sweet and Medium Dry with Toasted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Earthy Peat, Bonfire Smoke, Wet Rock, Burnt Heather, Ashes, Soot, Tar, Iodine, Brine, Citrus, Apple, Nectarine, Smoked Fish and Ham, Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Nuts, Dried Herbs, Pepper, Nutmeg, Licorice and Mint.     

Finish: Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet, Medium Dry and quite Salty. I find Toasted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Earthy Peat, Bonfire Smoke, Iodine, Ashes, Tar, Soot, Wet Rock, Apple, Lemon, Nectarine, Nuts, Smoked Fish/Shell Fish, Dark Chocolate, Pepper, Nutmeg, Licorice, Espresso and Mint.   

Rating: 85.5     

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

Conclusion:

This Laphroaig was distilled on the 22nd of September 1998 and bottled on the 14th of March 2014. Interesting combination between Laphroaig and a Sherry cask. Not the most active of casks mind you but this actually creates a lot of balance. What a shame this hasn't been bottled at Cask Strength. It's still a good Single Malt but it could have been great. I especially like the balance on the Nose. On the Palate and in the Finish there's quite a bit of Licorice but other than that I quite enjoyed this Laphroaig. What a pity I only had a small sample!

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Classic of Islay Vintage 2014 JW


Whisky Review # 680

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Classic of Islay
Bottled by: Jack Wiebers Whisky World
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 56%
Maturation: Sherry Cask # 530  
Chill Filtration: No    
Buying Advice: 😒 Negative. Better Islay alternatives at this price level.

Colour: Amber with shades of Orange (Natural Colour)

Nose: Be sure to give this Classic of Islay enough time in the glass. My first impressions are Cooked Vegetables and damp Mushroom Caves. Over time these Aromas tend to decrease in intensity but I can't say I really like my Single Malt to smell like this. It's obviously a Young Whisky but given the colour the cask must have been heavily charred and/or impregnated with some Sherry-concentrate. Based on colour alone I would suspect the Whisky to be in the 7-10 Years range. The Wet Peat and Dirty Smoke are not as strong as you would assume when sipping a Young Islay Malt. The cask must have absorbed quite a bit of those. I also find Toasted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Lemon, Grapefruit, Gooseberries, Apple, Soot, Diesel, PVC Pipes, Straw mixed with Cow Manure, Dried Herbs, Tobacco, Leather, Mint, Aniseed, Menthol, Pepper, Dark Chocolate and hints of Cured Meat and Salted Peanuts. On the Nose, this Malt is both Sweet and Sour. The Alcohol is quite noticeable.


Palate: Young, Edgy, Bitter-Sweet and rather Hot. I find Toasted Cereals, Toast, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Dirty Factory Smoke, Sweet Earthy Peat, Smoked Pork and Fish, Charred Oak, Nuts, Ashes, Soot, Leather, Tobacco, Herbal Tea, Lemon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Licorice, Aniseed, Menthol, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Strong Espresso and hints of Varnish and Peanuts.   

Finish: Bitter-Sweet and Middle-Long. A quite strong Alcohol bite. I find Sweet Barley, Toast, Salted Caramel, Wet Dirty Road, Sweet Peat, Factory Smoke, Tar, Ashes, Charred Oak, Smoked Pork, Leather, Tobacco, Pepper, Clove, Aniseed, Menthol, Lemon, Cocoa Powder, Espresso, Dried Herbs and hints of Varnish and Peanuts. 

Rating: 80     

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

Conclusion:

This Classic of Islay was bottled at Cask Strength in 2014. Jack Wieber does not give a lot of information on the Classic of Islay with respect to age, cask used and distillery. It is generally accepted that this Malt was distilled at Lagavulin but it completely pales when compared to the youngest Lagavulin, the 8 Years. The Classic of Islay is a Young and Edgy Single Malt, controlled by a very active cask and a very high ABV. It lacks balance and in fact makes an unfinished expression. It's not really expensive but at around 65 US Dollars you can find more than enough better expressions like the Ardbeg 10, the Laphroaig 10 or indeed the Lagavulin 8 years. This Classic of Islay does not really work for me.


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Bunnahabhain 1997 GM


Whisky Review # 681

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bunnahabhain 1997
Bottled by: Gordon & MacPhail, Elgin (The MacPhail's Collection)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: Around 12 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Probably Bourbon Casks 
Chill Filtration: No    
Buying Advice: 😀 Positive. Good P/Q ratio at 50 US$. It's got character!

Colour: Light Gold (Natural Colour)

Nose: I have no exact information about the type of Casks used. Judging by the Colour I would assume they are Refill Bourbon casks but there are a few "Dirty" Aromas that suggest some Sherry casks as well. Could be the Bunnahabhain distillery character also. If any of you have more specific information on this item, please leave a Comment! My first impressions are Cooked Vegetables like Cabbage, Plum Jam and a touch of Sulphur. Weird combination. I'm certainly not immediately enchanted by the Nose of this Bunnahabhain. Please be sure to give it sufficient air contact before Nosing as these strange Aromas tend to diminish over time. It's very lightly peated at perhaps 3 to 5 ppm. I also find Toasted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Apple, Lemon, Orange, Berries, Nuts, Cocoa-Powder, Farm Yard, Cured Meat, Wet Rocks, Pepper, Cinnamon, Clove, Mint and a hint of Tobacco.  

Palate: Slightly Thin arrival. Still, more interesting than the Nose suggested. I find Toasted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Plums, Lemon, Mandarin, Charred Oak, Nuts, Cured Meat, Tobacco, Dried Herbs, Cocoa Powder, Wet Rocks, Mint, Licorice, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Dusty Road and Mineral notes.


Finish: On the Short side, Bitter-Sweet, Herbal, Spicy and a little Hot. I find Toasted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Plums, Nuts, Cocoa Powder, Espresso, Dusty Road, Charred Oak, Citrus, Chocolate, Pepper, Cinnamon, Dried Herbs, Licorice, Menthol and Tobacco. 

Rating: 84

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

Conclusion:

This Bunnahabhain was distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2010. I must admit I'm a bit puzzled about the maturation. Mostly Refill Bourbon casks and a few Sherry  butts is my best guess. My first impressions were not very pleasant but this Malt gets better with more air contact. Normally the Nose is the best part of any Whisky but not so in this case. I kinda liked the palate better but for the fact that the ABV is slightly too low which causes a rather weak arrival. But it's got that certain Dusty, Dirty and Meaty character that I like in my whiskies and that you don't find in most of today's mainstream, middle of the road Malts. At an average price of 50 US Dollars this is a good buy!


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Caol Ila 2000 WM

Whisky Review # 682

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Caol Ila 2000
Bottled by: Wilson & Morgan, Edinburgh (Barrel Selection 20th Anniv. Edition)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 12 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 48.5%
Maturation: Refill Bourbon casks with a short Refill Sherry Cask Finish. 
Chill Filtration: No   
Buying Advice: 😋 Very nice Islay Malt and a must buy at 45 US$.  

Colour: Golden Hay (Natural Colour)

Nose: Light and relatively Young but already well-balanced. The Alcohol is there so you need to find your way around it. I must admit that Caol Ila is becoming one of my favourite distilleries. The 18 Years is among the best Single Malts I have nosed and tasted so far. But this 12 Years is not bad as well although it's got some Rough edges to it that show it would benefit from some more years in the cask. I find Toasted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Sweet Earthy Peat, Heather-Honey, Campfire Smoke, Brine, Iodine, Ashes, Tar, Band-Aid, Smoked Fish and Shell Fish, Bacon on the BBQ, Wet Rocks, Straw, Grass, Pineapple, Lemon, Orange, Apple, Pear, Fresh Herbs, Floral Soap, Pepper, Cinnamon, Menthol and hints of Leather and Tobacco. Nothing spectacular here. Just very nice! The Sherry cask Finish is hardly noticeable but it added just a little more complexity.


Palate: Good Delivery. Bitter Sweet and Dry towards the end. A little kick from the Alcohol. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Charred Oak, Smoked Fish and Pork, Heather-Honey, Sweet Earthy Peat, Campfire Smoke, Tar, Ashes, Iodine, Dried Herbs, Lemon, Apple, light Mandarin, Nuts, Wet Rocks, Floral Soap, Pepper, Cinnamon, light Licorice and Aniseed, Menthol, Tobacco and Espresso. 

Finish: Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet and a little Hot. Slightly Dry and Sour towards the end. I find Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Sweet Earthy Peat, Campfire Smoke, Ashes, Iodine, Tar, Brine, Fish, Shell Fish and Pork on the BBQ, Apple, Lemon, Floral Soap, Pepper, Licorice, Aniseed, Menthol, light Iodine and Espresso.  

Rating: 86    

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

Conclusion:

This Caol Ila was distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2012.  It's still a few years too young to be perfect but if this was available in Brazil it would certainly be my "day-to-day to-go-to" Islay Malt. It's got character and balance and it's yummy despite its obvious youth and Alcohol. It's dangerously drinkable as well despite the relatively high ABV. Good cask choice Wilson & Morgan. Good stuff! A must buy if you can find it. The Price/Quality ratio is excellent with prices between 40 and 50 US Dollars. There are not a lot of bottles around anymore but you can still find it in places. Good hunting! 


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Whisky Review # 683

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Caol Ila 1980
Bottled by: The Whisky Talker Mo Or Collection (Release # 15)
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky
Age: 30 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Bourbon Hogshead # 2570 (300 Bottles) 
Chill Filtration: No    
Buying Advice: 😋 If you can find it somewhere: Just Buy It!!   

Colour: Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose: Delicious. The Alcohol has completely integrated. After 30 years, the Peat and Smoke are just a mere hint in the background. It still smells Vital and Fresh after all that time in the Bourbon cask that provided the Spirit with a very nice Golden Colour. I find Sweet & Creamy Barley, Toast and Top Quality Butter from Normandy, Vanilla, Toffee, Salted Caramel, Farmyard, Charred Oak, Grass, Lemon, Apple, Pineapple, Heather-Honey, Cinnamon, Mint, Fruity Virgin Olive Oil and the faintest hints of Tar, Iodine, Leather, Smoked Fish or Shell Fish, Ginger and Almond Paste. Subtle, Elegant and perfectly Balanced. I am totally sure now that well-matured Islay Malt is one of my favourite whiskies worldwide! Great cask TWT! Well done!


Palate: Delicious but slightly Thin Delivery. This would have been heaven when bottled at cask strength. Like on the Nose, Elegance and Balance are the key words. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Honey, Fresh Pastry, Nuts, Lemon, Campfire Smoke, Sweet Peat, Grass, Smoked Fish, Shellfish, Cinnamon, Pepper, Ginger, Menthol, Licorice and hints of Leather, Tar and Iodine.

Finish: Middle-Long and Mostly Sweet. A little Bitterness appears towards the Dry End. I find Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Campfire Smoke, Sweet Peat, Dirt Track, Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Menthol, light Aniseed, Licorice , Heather-Honey and far hints of Tar, Smoked Fish and Iodine.   

Rating: 89    

Nose: 23.5 - Taste: 22 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 22   

Conclusion:

This Caol Ila was distilled on the 19th of March 1980 and bottled on the 4th of February 2011. This is the oldest Caol Ila I have tasted so far and I found it to be remarkably Fresh for its age. Elegance and Balance are the Key words for this Single Malt. Great cask as well. It's not overly complex mind you but it's simply Delicious, especially on the Nose. The ABV is a tad too low for this Caol Ila and I can only imagine how great this would have been at around 50%. As it is it still jumps easily into my Top 15 so far. Such a pity I only had a very small sample!


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Drinking Advice:
Due to the fact that I merely had small samples at my disposal, I only Nosed and Tasted these five Single Malts neat. All pictures were taken by my brother-in-law Jan Bronkhorst during our visits to the distilleries in 2014 and 2017.

Jan van den Ende                                                                January 22, 2018