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

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

Bruichladdich Octomore 07.2 Review


“Blame It On My Youth”

Whisky Review # 873

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bruichladdich Octomore 07.2 (208 PPM) - Scottish Barley Series
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Limited Edition
Age: 5 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 58.5% (Around Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon American Oak casks + Rhone Syrah Red Wine casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 150-220 (May 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎 Too expensive for such a Young Single Malt
Buying Advice: 😀 A Young but well-made Peat/Red Wine combination

Colour:

Golden Straw (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Please give this Octomore sufficient time in the glass before nosing as the ABV is quite high. It's reasonably well-integrated though. The first impressions are soothing Earthy Peat & Dark Red Fruits. Nice combination. The Syrah casks are noticeable but do not overpower the other Aromas. Quite pleasant all in all with a mix of Fruity, Sweet, Sour and Salty notes. It's a Young Whisky of course but it doesn't bother me at all while nosing.

Main Aromas:

Toasted/Malted Barley, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Straw mixed with Cow Manure, Cold Smoke, Earthy Peat, Burnt Grass, Brine, Ashes, Tar, Soot, Smoked Bacon & Ham with Mustard, Red Berries, Grapefruit, Lemon, Roasted Nuts, Dusty Charred Oak, Black Olives, Pepper and Cinnamon.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Yeast, Iodine, Green Apple, (Green) Apricot, Orange, Dried and Fresh Herbs, Herbal Tea, Peanut Butter, PVC Pipes, Gasoline Station, Tobacco, Leather, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Cocoa Powder, Ginger and Menthol.


Palate:

A nice combination of Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter and Fruity notes. Medium-Dry. Youth and Alcohol are more noticeable now. I can only imagine how awesome a fully-matured Octomore would be. Bruichladdich should really try it out at least once! Once again, the Syrah casks are there but not at all in a suffocating way.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Toasted Barley, Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Earthy Peat, Cold Smoke, Ashes, Tar, Soot, Dark Red Berries, Lemon, Grapefruit, Mix of Straw & Cow Manure, Green Apple, Smoked Bacon & Ham with Mustard, Dusty Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove, Licorice and Mint.
  
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Iodine, Burnt Grass, Seville Orange, Tobacco, Leather, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Rubber, Metal, Strong Espresso & Herbal Tea.


Finish:

Middle-Long/Long. Medium-Dry. The Alcohol is certainly strong at this point. Its Youth is also more noticeable. There are a few Rubber and Metallic Off-Notes that I could do without. The Finish is a mix of Sweet, Sour, Salty, Medicinal and Bitter notes. I find Sweet Toasted Barley, Burnt Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Yeast, Burnt Grass, Earthy Peat, Cold Smoke, Ashes, Soot, Tar, Iodine, Lemon, Grapefruit, Dark Red Berries, Herbal Tea, Roasted Nuts, Dusty Charred-Oak, Leather, Tobacco, Strong Espresso, Wax, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Smoked Ham, Cocoa Powder, Pepper, Ginger, Licorice and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and that certainly helps to calm down the Alcohol. The Nose becomes a bit too Peaty though. Palate and, to a lesser extent, the Finish, benefit from the added Water though. I would advise to add a few drops (5).

Rating: 86.5

Nose: 22 - Taste: 22 - Finish: 21 - 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 and Octomore. The basic core range includes Classic Laddie, Islay Barley 2010 and Black Art 5. The annual production amounts to around one million litres.

The Octomore 07.2 was launched in 2015, originally for Travel Retail only. I have mixed feelings about this Octomore. On the one hand, the combination of Bourbon and Syrah casks works very well. The Red Wine influence is there but always in a modest laid-back way. Well done! On the other hand, Palate and Finish ruthlessly show the Youth of this Octomore, something the Nose manages to hide in a clever way. The Price/Quality ratio can't be good therefore and I long to nose and taste a fully-matured Octomore! Peat Lovers all over the World should send petitions to Bruichladdich in this respect. Who knows some day!!!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                       May 18, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Amrut Portonova Batch 17 Review

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“Indian Summer”

Whisky Review # 872

Country: India
Region: Bangalore
Brand: Amrut Portonova - Batch # 17
Type: Indian Single Malt Whisky
Age: Around 5 Years - Bottled in June 2015
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 62.1%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon and Virgin American Oak with Port Pipe Finish
Chill Filtration: No
Average Price: Around US$ 100 (May 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐On the limit given its relative youth
Buying Advice: 😁Well made Port Finished Single Malt. Young but Good!

Colour: Copper/Dark Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose:

The Alcohol is very strong so you need to wind your Nose around it. Take your time as there is enough to discover. The first impressions include lots of Dried Fruit and Nuts, Buttery Biscuits, Dark Red Fruit and Spices. Sweet and Sour go hand in hand here. The Port Pipes must have been still very active despite the fact that they are 3rd fill. This is a young Whisky of course but the hot climate during maturation and the intelligent use of casks go a long way in covering it up.

Main Aromas:

Malted Barley, German Butter Biscuits, Toffee, Honey, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Plums and Figs, Rump-Soaked Raisins, Peanut Butter, Red Berries, Orange and Lemon, Charred Oak, Dusty Casks, Pepper, Cloves, Nutmeg and Aniseed.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Roasted Nuts, Straw, Fresh and Dried Herbs, Fortified Wine, Banana Bread, Mandarin, Leather, Tobacco, Ashes, Milk Chocolate, Puff-Pastry filled with Stewed Apple and Wet Leaves.


Palate:

(Fortified) Red Wine Finishing rarely works for me but this Amrut is not bad in this respect. The Port pipes clearly left their marks but they don't suffocate the other Flavours. The Alcohol is a bit of a problem though. An ABV of around 50% would have been quite sufficient. Adding Water is almost a must here although I'm usually not a big fan as I really prefer to judge the Whisky as presented by the makers. The palate is Medium-Sweet and Dry and presents a mix of Sweet, Bitter and Sour notes in a reasonably balanced way.

Main Flavours:

Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Honey, Fortified Wine, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Raisins, Figs and Plums, Orange, Red Berries, Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cloves, Nutmeg, Aniseed, Soy Sauce and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Toffee, Pancakes with Golden Syrup, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Banana Bread, Nuts, Grapefruit, Dark Chocolate, Tobacco, Leather & Menthol.

Finish:

This is strong stuff of course. It reminds me a bit of Old Bourbon. The Finish is Middle/Long to Long as the Alcohol, Wood and Spices stay with you for a while. There's a slight artificial off-note that I can't quite pin down. Is it Soy Sauce Light perhaps? I don't like that at all! Other than that a mix of Bitter, Sweet and Sour notes with lots of Wood and Spices. Quite Dry towards the end. I find Malted Barley, Caramel, Toffee, Honey, Red Berries, Fortified Wine, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Raisins, Figs and Plums, Orange, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Charred Oak, Dark Chocolate, Tobacco, Leather, Pepper, Aniseed, Cardamom, Cloves, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Menthol and Ginger.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and that helps to calm down the Alcohol. It also enhances the Fruit on the Nose and makes Palate and Finish more enjoyable. In this case I really must advise you to add quite a bit of Water.

Rating: 87.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good (Especially with added Water)

Conclusion:

The Amrut distillery is located in Kumbalgodu, just outside Bangalore. It started producing Whisky in the Mid-80's but the first Amrut Single Malt was released in 2004.

Batch # 17 matured in a mix of 1st and 2nd Fill Ex-Bourbon casks before being finished in 3rd Fill Port Pipes that are said to have contained 80 Year old Port.

I must congratulate Amrut on this Portonova. It's a young Single Malt but the climate and the makers have done miracles to present it as being well-matured. The Port Finish definitively works here and that strongly indicates correct cask management. It's not perfect though. I simply believe the ABV is way out of line and unnecessarily high. Something in the range of 50% would have been quite alright. And there's a slight off-note that I could live without. It reminds me of artificially sweetened Soy-Sauce. Other than that the Portonova is absolutely okay though. 

शाबाश

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                       May 11, 2020

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Brenne Cuvee Speciale Review



Yesterday When I Was Young”

Whisky Review # 871

Country: France
Region: Cognac
Brand: Brenne Cuvee Speciale
Type: Single Malt French Whisky
Age: NAS (Around 7 Years)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Fresh French Limousine Oak Barrels + Cognac Cask Finish
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 55-65 (May 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎The price does not justify this Young, Thin, Bland Malt
Buying Advice: 😒This does not work for me at all I'm afraid.

Colour:

Chardonnay (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

You immediately smell the Fresh Oak, so common in West-European Whisky. It is also quite usual to find a Varnish note when nosing this type of Whisky and it's present here as well. Other than that the Nose is Young, Light, Thin and a bit Artificial. Not really unpleasant but nothing remarkable as well. It's different when you compare it to Scotch Whisky but that's perfectly okay of course. The Alcohol is quite present.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Toast and Margarine, Vanilla, Grass, Apples and Pears, Fresh Oak, Floral Soap, White Wine, slightly Sour Berries, Tutti-Frutti, Varnish and Banana Ice-Cream.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Caramel, Toffee, Coconut, Fresh & Dried Herbs, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Lemon-Infused Cleaning Agent and PVC Pipes. I also get an Aroma  that I can't pin down exactly but it's a mixture of Bakeries and Butcher shops. Extraordinary!


Palate:

Young, Thin, Sugary Sweet and slightly Edgy. The Alcohol really spoils a bit of the fun. A few Sour notes as well.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Toast & Margarine, Vanilla, Grass, Hay, Tutti Frutti, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Apples and Pears, Sour Berries, Floral Soap, Fresh Oak, Banana Ice- Cream, Licorice and Pepper.
   
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Coconut, Nougat, Lemon, White Wine, Cinnamon, Melon & Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup.

Finish:

Short/Middle-Long and Sugary Sweet. The Alcohol remains very present. It's all quite Light, Young, Thin and a little Rough. Some Bitter Oak notes as well. It doesn't feel sufficiently matured. I find Sweet Barley, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Nougat, Tutti Frutti, Toast and Margarine, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Coconut, Herbs, Apples and Pears, Banana-Flavopured Ice Cream, Pepper, Licorice and Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup.

Drinking Advice:

You can carefully add a few drops of Water to get rid of the slightly aggressive Alcohol. But be careful as this Malt is already quite Thin as presented.

Rating: 71

Nose: 20 - Taste: 17 - Finish: 16.5 - Overall: 17.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Below Average

Conclusion:

Brenne was launched in 2012 by a former professional ballerina named Allison Parc. She formed a partnership with an unknown farm distillery in the Cognac region that has been producing eau de vie since the 1920's. Allison's dream is to introduce terroir to the making of Whisky. The Brenne projects uses two types of heirloom Barley, grown organically in the fields around the distillery. The yeast is a strain owned by the distillery and already in use for generations. The Spirit is then distilled twice in Alembic Charente Stills, normally used for the Cognac production. The Cuvee Speciale then matures for around 5 years in new French Limousine casks before being finished for around two years in Cognac Barrels. After maturing each bottle is drawn from a single cask.

I'm not impressed by this Cuvee Speciale. There's nothing special about it. It's Young, Thin and a bit lifeless. There is some promise in the Spirit though and I'm curious to try a well-matured Brenne. There's already a 10 Years on the market and that should be better than this not fully-matured Cuvee Speciale. So while I enthusiastically support any new projects and understand the need for cash I refuse to pay US$ 60 or so for a not fully matured thin Single Malt. Je suis desole! 

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                        May 4, 2020

Allison Parc, Founder of Brenne