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

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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Mortlach 1994 (Gordon & MacPhail)


”Close To Perfection”

Whisky Review # 897

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Mortlach 1994 - Distilled: 31-08-1994
Bottled By: Gordon & MacPhail, Elgin on 18-04-2017
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky - Cask # 8192
Age: 22 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 54.2% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: 1st Fill Sherry Butt
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 250-450 (December 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👍 It's expensive but it's worth the money!
Buying Advice: 😋 The best sherried Speysider I've tasted so far!

Colour:

Mahogany (Natural Color)

Nose:

Nice and dense Sherry with a very mild Sulphur note that actually enhances the Aroma profile. The Alcohol is perfectly integrated. The Nose is basically Sweet with a few Sour notes for balance. No Bitterness whatsoever. Good Cask Management. The Nose is driven by Caramel, Dark Red Fruit and Spices. This is a well-made Sherried Speysider with a near perfect balance on the Nose. I can smell this for hours. Great Stuff!

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, German Butter Biscuits, Toffee, Salted Caramel, Dark Red Fruit like Plums, Blueberries and Prunes, Candied Citrus Peel (Orange and Lemon), Roasted Coffee, Dusty Warehouse, Dried Herbs, Oak, Tobacco, Nutmeg and Cloves.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Brown Sugar, Honey, Sweet Apple, Rum-Soaked Raisins, Straw, Dark Chocolate, Buttered Pastry, Walnuts, Cinnamon, Pepper and Polished Leather Upholstery. Only a hint of the characteristic Mortlach "Meat".
Related image

Palate:

This is delicious. The Oak and Alcohol are a bit more noticeable at this point but they just add to the amazing Flavor profile. Mostly Sweet and Sour notes but with a delicate Bitterness that makes my day. Love it! As on the Nose, Toffee/Caramel, Dark Red Fruit, Herbs and Spices lead the way!

Main Flavours:

Malted Barley, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Dark Red Fruit like Blueberries, Cherries & Plums, Dark Chocolate, Roasted Coffee, Dried Herbs, Oak, Dusty Warehouse and Spices like Pepper, Cinnamon, Cardamom and Nutmeg.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Brown Sugar, Sulphur, Mixed Nuts (Walnuts, Hazelnuts), Marzipan, Sweet Apple, Rum-Soaked Raisins, Dusty Road, Polished Leather Upholstery, Orange Peel, Tobacco and Menthol.

Finish:

Middle-Long/Long. Mostly Sweet. A few Sour Notes & a delicate Bitterness towards the end create a nice balance. Good cask and near perfect maturation. The Alcohol is slightly noticeable at this point but I don't feel like adding Water. I find Toasted Barley, Buttered Pastry, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Dark Red Fruit like Blueberries, Raspberries and Plums, Rum-Soaked Raisins, Honey, Dried Herbs, Dark Chocolate, Roasted Coffee, Hazelnuts, Orange Peel, Oak, Menthol, Polished Leather Upholstery, Tobacco and Spices like Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves and Cardamom. There's an Earthy feel to this Finish.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and that helps to develop the Distillery character while at the same time maintaining the Sherry cask influence. You will also get more Belgian Chocolate this way. You can certainly experiment with a little Water here. It's very good either way although I prefer it without Water!

Rating: 91

Nose: 23.5 - Taste: 23 - Finish: 22 - Overall: 22.5

Drinking Experience: Excellent

Conclusion:

Mortlach was founded in 1823 by James Findlater and is located in Dufftown, Keith, Banffshire. It is owned by Diageo. The distillery has a cult status mainly because of the 16 Years Flora & Fauna. This expression was discontinued in 2014 however and replaced by a new range that consisted of the Rare Old, Special Strength, 18 Years & 25 years. All four were mainly matured in Ex-Bourbon Barrels and were launched in 50 cl bottles at rather high prices. This move was not appreciated by the fans and in 2018 Diageo launched a new core range that consists of the 12 Year old Wee Witchie, the 16 Year old Distiller's Dram  and the 20 Year old Cowie's Blue Seal.

It's been a while since I had such a good Single Malt! I always look for balance in a good Whisky and you will find it here in abundance. Sherried Speysiders can easily become Sherry-bombs and I'm not too fond of those. But the delicate interaction between Sherry cask and spirit here takes my breath away. This is excellent cask management and I can safely say that Gordon & MacPhail is one of my favorite Independent Bottlers. A 22-Year old Mortlach can't be cheap these days but in this case it's worth the money. I would love to have a few bottles of this in my cabinet. Unfortunately I only had a sample but it's so good that it goes right to the second place in my All Time Top Whisky list. If you find it and can afford it go for it! 

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                  December 16, 2020

 

Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer


”Red Red Wine”


Whisky Review # 896

Country: USA
Region: Kentucky
Brand: Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer (Master's Collection)
Distilled at: Woodford Reserve/Brown-Forman Distillery, Versailles, Kentucky
Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 45.2%
Maturation: New Charred American Oak casks + Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Finish
Chill Filtration: N/A
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Average Price: Around US$ 120 (December 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎 Way too expensive for what it offers.
Buying Advice: 👎The overlong Red Wine finish leaves this Woodford unbalanced. 

Colour: Brown with hues of Orange and Red (Natural Color)

Nose:

Sweet but pleasant Nose with lots of Caramel, Spices and Dark Berries. The Alcohol is slightly noticeable as well as a distant Iron-like off-note. Nothing serious though. The Red Wine slightly overpowers the Bourbon but on the Nose this is not a big problem.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Corn, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Vanilla, Dark Red Fruit such as Blackberries, Cherries and Blackcurrants, Red Wine, Sweet Apple, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove and Charred Oak.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Brown Sugar, Toffee, Treacle, Seville-Orange, Nectarine, Coconut Milk, Dark and Bitter Chocolate, Pepper, Leather, Tobacco and Licorice. A distant hint of Cheese with Mustard as my mother used to make on birthday parties when I was young.


Palate:

The balance between Bourbon and Pinot Noir was quite good on the Nose but on the Palate it's a different story. Here the slightly Sour Red Wine takes the lead and that leaves a bit of a mess. No coherence at all in this department. This is always a risk with Red-Wine finished spirit. You can easily overdo it and that's clearly the case here.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Corn, Vanilla, Dark Red Fruit like Blackcurrants, Cherries and Blackberries,  Seville-Orange, Dark Bitter Chocolate, Charred Oak, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Licorice and Pepper.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Brown Sugar, Buttered Pastry, Toffee, Treacle, Fruit Cake, slightly Bitter Almonds, Coconut, Dry Earth, Tobacco and Leather.


Finish:

Middle-Long and rather Un-balanced. The slightly Sour Red Wine notes completely dominate the Bourbon at this point. We can safely state that 10 months Wine cask was too much for the Woodford Spirit. I find a mix of Sweet, Sour, Earthy and Green notes such as Sweet Corn, Dark Red Fruit (Berries), Red Wine, Dried Herbs, Seville-Orange, Forest Floor, slightly Bitter Almonds, Charred Oak, Resin, Licorice, Menthol, Charred Oak, Dark Chocolate and Christmas Spices.

Drinking Advice:

Due to the small size of the sample, I only tasted this Woodford neat. I do believe it probably won't take a lot of Water.

Rating: 83.5

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Conclusion:

This is the 9th release in the Master's Collection. It has been finished in casks that previously held Pinot Noir Red Wine from the well-known Sonoma-Cutrer Winery in California's Russian River. The Mash Bill is said to contain Corn (72%), Rye (18%) and Malted Barley (10%). The standard Woodford Reserve matured for roughly 7 years in new charred American Oak casks before being finished for 10 months in the wine barrels.

Red Wine Cask Finishing is a tricky thing when you talk about Whisky or Whiskey for that matter. It's a total art to find the fine balance between the Spirit and the Red Wine casks. Woodford did not succeed in finding this balance with the Sonoma-Cutrer Finish. The Whiskey overstayed its time in the Wine barrels leaving the end-product too Winy. At least for my taste. So it's back to the drawing board for Brown Forman I'm afraid!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                   December 9, 2020


Highland Park Valknut


”Love Triangle” 

Whisky Review # 895

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park Valknut
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46.8%
Maturation: Sherry-Seasoned American and European Oak + Ex-Bourbon casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 60-80  (November 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👌Okay. It's a little expensive for such a Young Whisky.
Buying Advice: 👍 One of the better HP's I've tasted in recent years. 

Colour:

Light Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Pleasant but slightly on the Thin side. The Sherry influences are rather limited. Peat and Smoke weave their spell but they do so in a quiet way. Sweet & Sour notes are in the mix. The high ABV can't hide the fact that this is a rather young Whisky. A hint of Sulphur but nothing too serious. Malt, (Dried) Fruit, Coastal notes and Spice are the main drivers.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Earthy Peat, Smoke from a Distant Fire, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Apricots, Sweet Apple, Fresh Herbs, Dusty Oak, Dough, Pepper and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Buttered Toast, Heather-Honey, Nectarine, Grapefruit, Lemon, Floral Perfume, Wet Rocks, Nuts, Wax, Straw and Grass, Varnish, Leather, Cloves and Aniseed. A hint of Fish on the BBQ.


Palate:

Not unpleasant but Young and on the Thin side. This Valknut almost screams for an appropriate maturation time to provide it with strength and character. It's a pity really because this Valknut is a potentially excellent whisky! The Palate is Medium-Dry and mainly Sweet but you will find a few Sour and lightly Bitter notes as well for balance.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Earthy Peat, Distant Smoke, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Sultanas, Sweet Apple, Orange, Nectarine, Pepper, Cinnamon, Aniseed, Cloves, Nutmeg and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Grapefruit, Lemon, Toasted Pineapple, Blackberry, Fresh Herbs, Leather, Cocoa Powder, Meat and Fish on the BBQ and Peanut Butter.


Finish:

Middle-Long, Medium-Dry and quite Sweet. A few Bitter and Sour notes towards the end. Peat and Smoke remain discretely in the background although there's perhaps a bit more of it around than in your average Highland Park. I find Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Salted Caramel, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Plums, Nuts, Dusty Charred Oak, Peat/Smoke, Ashes, Citrus Peel (Orange/Lemon), Wet Rocks, Meat and Fish on the BBQ, Grapefruit Juice, Dark Chocolate, Fresh Herbs, Pepper, Cloves, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Leather, Mint, Aniseed and Licorice.


Drinking Advice:

A few drops of Water really help to open up the flavors. But don't overdo it as it drowns quickly.

Rating: 86

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

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 & 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 (Viking Scars), the 12 (Viking Honour), the 18 (Viking Pride), the 21, 25, 30 and 40 years.

The Viking Legend Series consists of the Valkyrie, the Valknut & the Valhalla, made in partnership with Danish designer Jim Lyngvild who was responsible for the bottle and box design. His 36th grandfather was Ragnvald Eysteinsson, the first Earl of the Orkney Islands. The word Valknut means literally "Knot of Those Slain in Battle". Its symbol of inter-linked triangles on the packaging represents the transition from earthly life to heavenly life. Valknut was released in 2018 and uses a small portion of Orkney-Grown Tartan Barley.

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 regularly distorts this picture with mediocre, expensive "Cult" Single Malts based on that theme. But, to be fair, the Valknut is one of the exceptions to the rule. It has its flaws, mainly because it's under-matured. But it also shows a masterful discrete touch of Peat and Smoke that is rare these days. It wouldn't be my favorite whisky to take to heaven once slain on the battlefield but I do consider it to be one of the better Highland Park Whiskies that has been released in recent years. So help me Odin! 

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    November 28,2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019