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

Mortlach 1995 (A.D. Rattray) Review

“Like a Rolling Stone”

Whisky Review # 619

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Mortlach 1995 (A.D. Rattray Cask Collection)
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky
Age: 17 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 58.4%
Maturation: Bourbon Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 80-100 (June 2017) 
Buying Advice: 😀  Positive. Interesting Malt with reasonable P/Q ratio.

Colour: Golden (Natural Colour)

Crisp and Fruity with Mineral, Grassy, Waxy and Spicy notes as well. The Alcohol is quite noticeable but that's no big surprise given the ABV of close to 60%. I find Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Vanilla, Grass, Straw, Earth, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Apricots, Orange Marmalade, Tinned Pineapple, Saw Dust, Wet Stone, Heather-Honey, Bee-Wax, Sugared Almonds, Stewed Apple, Dusty Road, Leather, Milk Chocolate, Sweet Licorice, Ginger, Pepper and a sprinkle of Fresh Mint. Perhaps the faintest hint of a piece of Bacon on a distant BBQ. Be sure to give this Mortlach enough time in the glass in order to reveal its Aromas.

Very strong delivery thanks to the high ABV. Mainly Sweet but with a few Bitter, Sour, Oaky, Earthy and Spicy notes for balance. I find Sweet Barley, Butterscotch, Caramel, Marzipan, Dried Fruit, Milk- and White Chocolate, Vanilla, Stewed Apples, Almonds, Dirty Road, Salt, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, light Licorice, Orange Marmalade, Grapefruit, Sour Grapes or Grappa and hints of Leather and Raspberry.

Middle-Long, warming and Spicy. Sweet at first but quite Dry in the end with a slight Woody Bitterness. I find Toasted Barley, Sticky Toffee, Caramel, Stewed Apples, Marzipan/Almonds, Honey, Milk Chocolate, Toasted Oak, Grapefruit, Salted Almonds, Orange Marmalade, Lemon Zest, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon and hints of Leather and Raspberry Jam. The Alcohol remains strong until the end.  

Drinking Advice

I added 3 drops of Water and that helps to calm down the Alcohol on the Nose. The Aromas remain the same but they become more accessible. The same goes for the Palate. Perhaps some additional Floral notes here. The Finish becomes shorter, more Mineral and with a Metallic note I could live without. Still, this Mortlach deserves a few drops of Water!

Rating: 85

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

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery, The Bottler and Today's Whisky:

The distillery was founded in 1823 by James Findlater. It changed hands various times before being bought by John Walker & Sons in 1923. The latter was purchased by Distillers Company Ltd that later became part of Diageo. Mortlach is located close to the centre of Dufftown. Most of the Spirit is used for the Johnnie Walker Blends but since 2014 the Malt core range was introduced that consists of the NAS Rare Old, the Duty Free version called Special Strength, the 18 Years and the 25 Years.

A.D. Rattray was founded in 1868 by Andrew Dewar Rattray. It suffered during the crisis of the early 1900's. It changed hands various times before returning to the family. Current owner is Tim Morrison, a fourth generation descendant of the founder who used to work for Morrison Bowmore Distillers. He launched the Cask Selection series in 2004.

The Spirit for today's Single Cask Whisky was distilled on the 19th of June 1995 and was bottled at Cask Strength on January 21, 2013.

🍷  The Spirit:

Mortlach is equipped with six stills of various sizes. Unlike in most distilleries, these stills operate separately, rather than in pairs. Cooling of the vapours takes place with worm tubs. The Lyne arms are pointed downwards to create a full and meaty Spirit, quite different from your usual Speyside profile. The water for the Whisky is sourced in the Conval Hills.

🌲  The Wood:

This Mortlach matured for 17 Years in a Bourbon Hogshead with Cask # 3426. Only 264 bottles were drawn from the cask.

Drinking Experience NeatGood


Quite different when compared to your average Speyside Single Malt. If Speyside is Flower Power, this Mortlach is Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone. It's Edgy, almost Dirty sometimes and the high ABV seems to be spot on for this Malt. I would not recommend this Mortlach to beginning Whisky drinkers but for advanced Whisky fans this is a nice Malt to discuss on a Tasting session with some friends! It's not perfect and it's a bit untidy in places but it's certainly interesting and that's exactly what seems to be missing with lots of today's mainstream modern-cut Single Malts. I like it!

Jan van den Ende                                                                      June 21, 2017

Ardbeg Auriverdes Review

“The Sweetest Taboo”

Whisky Review # 618

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Ardbeg Auriverdes
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS (Apparently distilled in 2002)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 49.9%
Maturation: American Oak Ex-Bourbon Barrels
Chill Filtration: No 
Price Range: US$ 140-200 (June 2017) US$ 80 at date of release.
Buying Advice: 😡  Way too expensive.  Better stick to the core range!

Colour: Light Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose: Surprisingly Light and Sweet when compared to the 10 Years. There is some Wet Earth and Campfire Smoke present of course but I certainly wouldn't consider them too dominant. I also find other Islay notes like Burnt Toast, Iodine, Brine, Tar, Soot, Diesel Oil, Ashes, Rubber Tyres, PVC Pipes and Leather. If you don't fancy those Aromas in a Whisky, rest assured. They are balanced by more pleasant sounding notes of Bacon, Fish and Shell Fish on the BBQ, Charred Oak, Vanilla, Caramel, Sweet Barley, Straw, Grapefruit Juice, Dried Herbs, Licorice, Flaked Chili Pepper, After Eight Mint Chocolate and Lemon Zest. The Auriverdes is a relatively Young Whisky and the Alcohol is not yet totally integrated. On the Nose, the Auriverdes comes across as an Islay "Light" Malt. The Peat lovers amongst us might find that slightly disappointing but to the general public it's certainly a more accessible Ardbeg nose. In my opinion it's not bad but as you know I'm not too fond of this sort of compromises that seek to please as many consumers as possible.   

Ardbeg - Visit May 2017
Palate: Quite Spicy and Medicinal at first but Sugary Sweet soon thereafter. This is not at all my cup of Whisky! I find Buttered Toast, Caramel, Toffee, Charred Oak, Wet Earth, Ashes, Soot, Tar, Leather, Bacon, Sugared Herbal Tea, Lemon, Grapefruit, Pepper, Salt, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Licorice, Cocoa, Menthol and a hint of Coffee Flavoured Dark Chocolate. 

Finish: Middle-Long. Mostly Sugary Sweet but with some Bitter, Sour and Salty elements as well. More Dry in the end. The Alcohol and Charred Oak can't hide the presence of some young Spirit. I find Wet Earth, Charred Oak, Ashes, Soot, Tar, Iodine, Burnt Plastic, Bacon, Grapefruit, Lemon,  Toffee, Caramel, Sugared Tea, Sweet Licorice, Dark Chocolate, Ginger, Nutmeg and Menthol. Floral Soap after a few minutes.

Ardbeg - Visit May 2017

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Sweet Peat on the Nose develops. Palate and Finish become unpleasantly Sweet though. Better sip the Auriverdes neat.

Rating: 83     

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

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The current Distillery was founded in 1815 by John MacDougall close to the little town of Port Ellen on the island of Islay. In 1997 the distillery was bought by The Glenmorangie Company (part of French based Moet Hennessy) from the previous owners Allied Distillers. This company closed Ardbeg between 1981 and 1989 and only produced yearly during 2 months between 1989 and 1997. As a result, Ardbeg is lacking older stocks and is almost forced to launch Limited Editions while maintaining a very limited core range that consists of the 10 Years, the Corryvreckan and the Uigeadail. Like Glenmorangie, Ardbeg likes to experiment with Wood, Toasting and NAS expressions.

The Auriverdes was launched on May 31, 2014 to celebrate both Ardbeg Day 2014 and the World Cup Football 2014 in Brazil. Auri (Gold) and Verdes (Green) refer to the Brazilian National Colours as well as to the Golden Ardbeg Whisky that is sold in the well-known Green bottles.

🍷  The Spirit: 

Ardbeg possesses only one pair of Stills with tall necks and rising Lyne arms that create lots of Reflux. A Purifier is connected to the Spirit Still that takes out the heavy Vapours and guarantees a Lighter and Fruity Spirit. The Water for the Spirit is sourced from Loch Uigeadail.

🌲  The Wood:

The Spirit for the Auriverdes matured in Charred American Oak Bourbon Barrels with new specially toasted American Oak lids. This Spirit was later blended with a percentage of Ardbeg Spirit that matured in standard 1st and 2nd Fill Ex-Bourbon Barrels.
Drinking Experience Neat:

The Nose is certainly Okay but Palate and Finish are way too Sweet for my taste.


The Ardbeg Auriverdes is not a bad Single Malt but it's not as good as the core range. Therefore it's way too expensive for what it offers. As a concept and taste wise it does not work for me personally as well. The Nose is quite okay and sufficiently balanced although much Lighter than you would expect of an Ardbeg. Many people would probably call it more accessible though so it's not necessarily a bad thing except for Hard Core Peat adepts. On the Palate and in the Finish however the Charred Oak and the High ABV can't hide the fact that there's some very Young and slightly Sharp Malt Whisky in the mix. And it's Sugary Sweet, way too Sweet for my taste. I don't think I have ever tasted such a Sweet Ardbeg before. If you like Sweet then it's fine of course but I will pass next time somebody offers me an Auriverdes.

Jan van den Ende                                                                      June 19, 2017

Ardbeg - Visit May 2017

Dalmore Cromartie Review

“Highland Blues”

Whisky Review # 617

Country: Scotland
Region: Northern Highlands
Brand: Dalmore Cromartie (1996) - Bottling Series: Lands of Clan MacKenzie
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 45%
Maturation: Bourbon and Sherry Casks 
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 150-200 (June 2017)
Buying Advice: 😡 Negative. Way too expensive. Stick with the 15! 

Colour: Amber/Copper (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Sweet and a bit Heavy. It reminds me of a Floral Perfume. The Sherry cask influence is quite clear. I find Dried Fruits like Raisins, Apricots, Sultanas and Figs. Unfortunately I detect a fair amount of Sulphur as well together with a few slightly Sour Red Wine notes. They tend to diminish over time in the glass. The Alcohol is quite present as well I'm afraid. Other familiar Aromas include Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Brown Sugar, Treacle, Toffee, Caramel, Polished Leather, Grass, Orange, Grapefruit, Canned Pineapple and hints of Tobacco, Chocolate, Wet Stones, Oak, Espresso, Ginger and Menthol. It's not bad but I was expecting much more at this price level.

Visit Dalmore May 2017

Palate: Sweet and Heavy, almost a bit tired. I find the Dried Fruit from the Nose together with some Malt, Toffee, Caramel, Treacle, Black Currant Jam, Vanilla, Red Wine, Orange, Grapefruit, Chocolate, Oak, Tea, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cloves, Aniseed, Menthol, Dark Honey, Polished Leather, Espresso, Licorice and the faintest hint of Smoke. The Alcohol is still there!      

Finish: Middle-Long. Sweet at first but quite Dry, Woody and Mineral towards the end. A few slightly Sour and Bitter notes pop up as well. I find Malted Barley, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Treacle, Dark Chocolate, Orange, Grapefruit, Red Wine, light Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Licorice, Aniseed, Menthol, Dried Herbs, Tobacco and a sprinkle of Salt. The Alcohol remains present until the end.

Visit Dalmore May 2017

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and on the Nose the Floral - and Orange notes become even clearer. Almost like Orange-Oil. The Alcohol withdraws. Palate and Finish do not significantly change although the Orange becomes almost a bit too dominant. Still, the Cromartie gladly accepts a little Water.  

Rating: 84    

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

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky

The Dalmore Distillery was founded in 1839 by Alexander Matheson. It is located in Alness on the banks of the Cromarty Firth. It is operated by Whyte & Mackay Ltd, owned by Emperador Inc. since 2014. The Dalmore Cromartie was launched in 2012 and is the third in a series of 3 Limited Editions crafted by Master Distiller Richard Paterson to honour the Clan MacKenzie, the owners of the Dalmore Distillery for over a century. The Dalmore McKenzie was the first, released in 2010, followed by Castle Leod in 2011. Together they seek to celebrate the ancient lands of Cromartie, the heartland of the McKenzie clan and home to Castle Leod, the clan's historic seat where they still reside today. A substantial contribution from the sales of these three Expressions will be used to maintain the clan's estates in Cromartie. Only 7500 bottles of the Cromartie went to the market.

🍷  The Spirit

Dalmore is equipped with four pairs of Stills of various size and form with high Reflux characteristics. Together these stills produce a slightly heavy and more complex Whisky. The Water is sourced from the river Alness.

🌲 The Wood

The Cromartie initially rested in American White Oak Bourbon casks before being further matured for a couple of years in Oloroso casks from Sherry Producer Gonzales Byass in Jerez de la Frontera. Richard Paterson decides when the casks are ready for bottling. The Sulphur and Sour Red Wine notes suggest that at least a number of indifferent Sherry casks went in the mix.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: You would expect that extra good casks would be used for these expensive Limited Editions but somehow I get the feeling that's not the case here. The Alcohol, the Sulphur and the Sour notes would suggest that some less excellent casks were used as well. The standard 15 Years is in fact better in my opinion and it's a lot cheaper. It's perhaps a tad less complex but it doesn't show these off-notes and it's simply a more pleasant dram. Do we need to be careful with all Single Malts that bear fancy names these days? It almost looks like it. The Dalmore Cromartie is not a bad Single Malt but it's way too expensive for what it offers. No way I would spend more than 50 US Dollars for this!

Jan van den Ende                                                                      June 12, 2017

Nikka Taketsuru 17 Years Review

“Water of Life”

Country: Japan
Brand: Nikka Taketsuru
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Age: 17 Years
ABV: 43% 
Chill Filtration: Likely
Whisky Review # 616
Buying Advice: 😋  Great Nose. Good Blend. 😟  Expensive.

Colour: Light Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Interesting! My first association was a Bourbon finished in Sherry casks! It's quite different when compared to mainstream Scottish Whisky. The Sherry casks influence is more than evident. I find lots of Dried Fruits like Plums, Figs, Raisins, Sultanas, Dates and Apples. Dark Honey, Blueberry Preserves, Coffee and some Bitter Chocolate. But there's enough Vanilla as well representing the Bourbon casks. I can't find any Smoke or Peat in the Islay sense of the words. I do get Charred Oak and Dusty Roads. Recently polished Leather. Perhaps some Virgin Oak was used to mature this Taketsuru. This is a very complex Nose and Aromas and impressions pop up all the time. Fresh Cigar Smoke, Marzipan. Also more regular notes such as Buttered Toast, Toffee, Herbal Tea, Lemon, a teaspoon of Pepper and, surprisingly, a little Salt. And finally a slice of Sweet Pineapple sprinkled with Mint. There's so much going on here that it's almost a bit too busy. I just looked at my watch and I realised that I'm nosing this Blend for more than an hour now. Amazing. The one thing that puzzles me a bit is the Alcohol. It's more present than I would have expected of 17 year old Malt. But other than that Nikka has succeeded in creating a Nose that is made to be enjoyed and discussed with friends after a nice dinner.

Palate: Quite disappointing after the intriguing Nose. The Alcohol is confusing. On the one hand you feel that an ABV of 46% would have greatly helped the delivery and mouth feel that presently is a bit on the Thin side. On the other hand the Alcohol is quite present! We have a bit of a dilemma here. Would love to hear your opinions on this one. On the Palate, the Taketsuru presents a mix of Sweet, Spicy and Sour elements. The Oak is much more noticeable by now. I find Sweet Barley, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Dried Fruit (Raisins, Sultanas), Red Wine, Dried Herbs, Dark Honey, Bitter Orange, Bourbon, Chocolate, Blackberry Preserves, Dusty Road, Pepper, Salt, Cinnamon, Mint, Licorice, Aniseed and hints of Leather, Tobacco and Espresso. There is a sort of Dirty and Meaty feel to this Blend that ever so slightly reminded me of a mature Mortlach.

Finish: Middle-Long. Mainly Bitter-Sweet but also with Sour Grapes or Red Wine notes towards the end. Licorice, Aniseed, Herbs, Charred Oak and Chocolate are key notes. I also find Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Demerara Sugar, Strong Herbal Tea, Tobacco, Dark Honey, Soy Sauce, Lemon, Pepper, Cinnamon and hints of Pineapple and Espresso. A little Alcohol kick right at the end.

I added a little Water but came to regret that. The Nose completely lost its complexity and reminded me of a Fruit Cocktail. Palate and Finish do not get any better as well. Definitively a Whisky to sip Neat.   

Rating: 87.5       

Nose: 23 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 22

General Remarks:

The Taketsuru range was launched in 2001 in honour of Masataka Taketsuru who founded Nikka whisky in 1934 after having studied chemistry in Glasgow and learnt the art of distilling at Longmorn and Hazelburn. Yoichi was the first distillery, located in Yoichi, Hokkaido. This area roughly resembles the Scottish Speyside region. Originally, the Taketsuru range consisted of the 12, 17 and 21 years. A couple of years ago, Nikka decided to stop producing Vintage Malts. The 12 Years has been replaced in the meantime by the NAS Pure Malt. The 17 and 21 Years are becoming hard to find. The price of the award winning 17 Years lies usually in the US$ 180/240 range (June 2017).

🍷 The Spirit: The Taketsuru 17 years is a blend of especially selected Single Malt Whiskies from Nikka's two Malt distilleries, Yoichi and Miyagikyo. The first one produces Rich and Peaty whiskies. This distillery still uses the traditional Direct Heating Distillation where the Pot Stills with downward Lyne arms are heated with Coal Powder giving the Whiskies a distinct Aroma and a full Body. Yoichi mostly uses peated Barley with 4-50 PPM. Miyagikyo on the other hand is known for its Fruity and Elegant malts. It is located in Miyagi (Honshu). The large stills have boil bulbs and upward Lyne arms. Unpeated or very lightly peated Barley is used. (June 2017).

🌲 The Wood: Nikka does not specify what casks are used for the Taketsuru 17 Years. However strong Sherry Cask Aromas and Flavours like Dried Fruits, Nuts, Chocolate, Coffee and Berries are evident as are the Vanilla and Charred Oak from the Bourbon casks. I would not be surprised if a small number of Mizunara (Japanese Oak) casks and/or Virgin Oak casks were used as well.

Drinking Experience Neat: Quite Good. Very nice Nose!

Conclusion: This is one of these What If conclusions. Because if the Palate and Finish would have been able to accompany the wonderful Nose, this Taketsuru would have rocketed into my Top 5. And I would have gladly paid 200 Dollars for this Blend although this is something I normally wouldn't do. But Palate and Finish are noticeably weaker than the Nose and I'm afraid I can't quite explain why. Did the Spirit remain a couple of years too long in the casks? Should it have been bottled at 46% or even Cask Strength? You would think so but the Alcohol is already strong enough. Is the Sherry cask percentage perhaps a tad too high? Do the Sour elements point at some weaker casks in the mix? That's exactly why I like Whisky so much. It's as complicated as life itself. It's not for nothing that Whisky derives from the Gaelic word Uisge Baugh or "Water of Life"

Jan van den Ende                                                                       June 5, 2017

Miyagikyo and Yoichi Distilleries