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

Glen Grant 15 Years Batch Strength 1st Edition Review


“Sweet and Innocent”

Whisky Review # 870

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glen Grant Batch Strength - 1st Edition (10680 Bottles)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 15 Years (2002-2017)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50%
Maturation: First-Fill Ex-Bourbon Casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 65-75 (April 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: Okay 
Buying Advice: 😐Okay for beginners. Too boring for experienced Malt fans.

Colour:

Golden (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Please give this Glen Grant some time in the glass before Nosing as the Alcohol is quite noticeable. No wonder at 50%! In contrast to the Tormore I reviewed last week, this Glen Grant presents itself as a modern mainstream Malt on the Nose. Lots of Malt, Toffee and Citrus. Nothing to disturb anyone but without any Wow moments as well. Clear Bourbon cask notes.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Creamy Barley, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Bread Dough, Grass and Hay, Orange Marmalade, Lemon, Nectarine, Papaya Cream, Milk Chocolate, Fresh Oak,  Cinnamon and Pepper.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Honey, Demerara Sugar, Caramel, Beeswax, Pear, Pineapple, Mandarin, Floral Soap, Mixed Nuts and Dried Fruits (Studentenhaver), Ginger and Mint.


Palate:

Mainly Sweet with a few Herbal, Spicy and Bitter notes for balance. Beginning Whisky drinkers will love the easy Sweetness of this Single Malt but I can't get excited about it. Way too dull.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Creamy Malt, Toffee, Orange Marmalade, Lemon, Nectarine, Oak Char, Green Apple, Pear, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Herbal Tea, Cinnamon and Pepper.    
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Honey, Buttered Toast/Biscuits, Grass and Hay, Golden Syrup, Peach, Mixed Nuts and Dried Fruit, Floral Soap, Pineapple, Mandarin, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cloves and Banana Ice-Cream.


Finish:

Medium-Long. Mainly Sweet with a few Herbal, Spicy & Bitter notes for balance. I find Creamy Malt, Toffee, Syrup, Vanilla, Honey, Wax, Orange Marmalade, Peach, Lemon, Herbal Tea, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Green Apple, Nectarine, Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Aniseed, Licorice, Nutmeg, Dusty Track and Caffe Latte.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and that helps to calm down the Alcohol. A few drops are okay but too much Water transforms this Glen Grant into Sweet Barley Water. I prefer it neat.

Rating: 84

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good/Uninspiring

Conclusion:

Glen Grant was founded in 1840 by James & John Grant. It is located in Rothes in Banffshire. Over the years many mergers and take-overs took place but in the end, Campari (Italy) bought Glen Grant in 2006. The core range includes the NAS Major's Reserve, a 5 Year old (Italy only), a 10, 12 and 18 Years.

The 15 Years I'm reviewing today was launched in 2017/2018 for the American and Travel Retail markets. There's nothing really wrong with it and beginning Malt fans will be pleased with this reasonably priced 15 Years edition. But I found it so dull and boring that I almost fell asleep during the Tasting session. I'm just kidding of course but you get the picture. The perfect nightcap! 😴

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     April 27, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014