Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You get what you pay for

Glenmorangie Finealta just came in and I am not impressed. It could be that I still had Springbank on my tongue. It is not bad, but simply does not have the complexity I was looking for. One reviewer writes: "Based on an old Glenmorangie recipe dating back to the turn of the 20th century, the Finealta is a ressurrection of a lightly-peated malt that was originally sold to the Savoy Hotel in London back in 1903. While the smoke lingers gently in the background, there's no doubt that this is classic Glenmorangie - light textures, soft fruits, elegant flavors held completely in check, always with the peat acting as its spine. This is a limited edition release and will not be around permanently." For only $75 bucks, I guess you get what you pay for. That said, the Springbank below is $20 more and a much better whisky.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Springbank brings back the legendary BourbonWood

Springbank K&L Exclusive 13 Year Single Bourbon Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt. Really reminds me of the legendary Bourbon Wood. K&L say they wanted "something that exemplified the true character of Springbank - that unmistakable dense mouthfeel, brimming with chewy, gum-smacking texture and viscosity. Springbank whisky from a straight bourbon cask is one of the true pleasures in life. While the heavily sherried versions of the malt are wonderful in their own way, the sweetness from the sherry tends to mask some of qualities we love so much. We tasted this 13 year straight out of the barrel and loved the rich tannins provided from the wood, the intense vanilla aromas, and the nutty flavors that intermingled with salty accents.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

4 new Springbanks

Wow - opened up 2 of the new Springbanks that arrived. The Old Fino cask is amazing. Great review below:
Here’s a round of single cask Springers matured completely (not finished) in various wine casks for the U.S. market. All four are solid efforts—it’s really a matter of personal preference. (Try to taste them before you buy.) A general comment: most of the single cask releases are matured in some sort of wine or rum cask. While this is nice, I would love to see several single cask, cask strength, and fully-matured ex-bourbon barrel bottlings offered for a change. — by John Hansell

Springbank, 14 year old, Fino Cask (#265), 55.3%,
The freshest of the bunch, chock full of Springbank character. Light and lively. Floral, with plenty of fruit (green grapes, kiwi, apple tart) on a bed of honeyed malt. Nuttiness and brine emerge towards the finish and linger.
Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 88

Springbank, 14 year old, Amontillado Cask (#305), 55.4%
Citrus, exotic wood and botanicals on the nose and palate. Indeed, there’s a bit of intrigue here. Nice balance, with roasted nuts, pecan pie, and more exotic wood on the finish.
Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 87

Springbank, 14 year old, Manzanilla Cask (#259), 54.8%
Complex citrus (orange, tangerine, lime, and a hint of lemon), honeyed malt kissed by maple syrup, caramelized pineapple, cinnamon, and a dusting of nutmeg. Nutty toffee on the finish.
Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 86

Springbank, 14 year old, Oloroso Cask (#268), 56.2%
What you might expect a traditional 100% Oloroso sherry cask-aged Springbank to taste like, with probably the most familiar flavor profile of the four: rich, with nuts and dried fruit, chocolate-coated brittle toffee, plenty of spice (cinnamon, ginger), polished oak, hint of tobacco and smoke.
Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 86

Monday, October 31, 2011

'69 Miltonduff

Miltonduff does not show up on its own often. This 1969 is a very special dram that was one of the top scorers in Scottish Fields Magazine Competition last year. Very similar to the most excellent Strathisla 30. Choclate, wine, sherry... spectacular. 

Nose -Sherry and dried fruit notes - Christmas cake. A delicate bees wax edge lingers and a defined sweetness. First taste - Heavy sherry notes, with a touch of wood influences. Warming and mouth watering. Add a bit of water and reminiscent of a Sherried Christmas cake. A strong vanilla edge, with a treacle and stewed fruits. The taste is mouth warming with sherry sweetness. An influence of charred wood and ash is also present.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Imperial really is

So sad that this great distillery is mothballed. Just opened a D&M club bottle of the Duncan Taylor's Octave Cask from a 1997 Imperial. Wow. Just perfectly Imperial.Starts off with Pears, Vanilla and cereal. Develops into cloves, maybe pine, malt and even some chocolate on the finish.

Hard to beat Glengoyne

After a mastercourse at Glengoyne, i should be drinking more of this. Yet, it is hard to find. Indeed, the 21 is so sought after. And for good reason. Loads of oak in this and plenty of sherry but not overwhelming so that it goes to chocolate. The 17 is also very nice and much more readily available. A it sweeter, less sherry and lighter all around.

Linkwood is a hit

The Fiddich club polished this 15yr old Linkwood from G&M in a hurry. Very light color and almost sweet taste had the crowd loving it.
The nose is quite full with balanced oaked tannins and smoked ham. A touch of Fraise des Bois liqueur and notes of musty port. The palate is full and firm with notes of arak, dark toffee, vanilla spice and buttery oak. The finish is quite long and oaked with a touch of spice.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mortlach needed

As many of you know, a favorite  dram of mine is Mortlach. This bottle was my first introduction to Mortlach years and years ago. I picked this last one up again in Scotland and will find more if anyone is interested. Indeed, I know we can get more from Single Malts Direct (link to the right) - a great shop in Huntly that has no trouble shipping to the US. This is part of Diagio's Flora and Fauna Series and should be part of everyone's collection. I know MS just brought some back - so they are still putting this out. Let me know if you want one and I will get a bunch.

Scotch Hunting Season

As Scotch Hunting Season opens, I have got my hands on an import list of new Whiskies coming in this fall. I can pre-order at great prices from this remarkable collection. Please email me if you want the order form.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

More Springbank Love

A new favorite daily dram comes from another distillery in the Springbank family - Kilkerran. This bottle is a work in progress release - a 6 year old. It has more complexity and style than many 12 year olds i have tasted. I look forward to when this "new" distillery releases this as a 12 year old. I did a mastercourse there 4 weeks ago and samples 3 or 4 really fine future releases. Watch this one!!!
Nose: flinty and green. Dried grass, wet limestone, green lemon and apples. Clean hints of grains. Modern austerity which is perhaps more inspired by the Highlands style than by Campbeltown. Gets more aromatic after a while. Mouth: quite thick and creamy. Waxy notes, almonds. Lots of grains. Again quite some ‘green’ notes (grass, unripe fruit) and bitter notes (tonic, ginger). I miss a soft, sweeter side to counterbalance, to me it seems quite harsh and zesty. Finish: grassy with more smoke. The gingery bitterness is still there.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Springbank has another suprise

A day at Springbank and I learned too much. I want to move there.
Longrow has released a new 18yr old and it is fabulous. Will be getting some soon.
Longrow has a very interesting smoke. It is distinctly different than Islay smoke as it comes in the taste more than the nose. Try a test - plug your nose and taste a Laphroig. Then plug your nose and taste this one. Really nice how the mellow peat comes thru in the taste and finish.
Review: Straw-honey color. Light to medium weight, with a slightly oily texture. Shy on the nose, but makes up for it on the finish. Fresh brine, toasted coconut, bright citrus fruit and subtle mint on a bed of vanilla cream and honeyed malt. The peat smoke is restrained on the nose but is more assertive on the palate, and it really kicks in on the finish, which is briny, smoky, appetizing and long. The best Longrow since the 1974 vintage. If it would only open up a little more on the nose it would challenge the best from ’73 and ‘74. Still, it’s very impressive. (Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 93)

Great News - Springbank 21 coming back!!!

I am fresh back from open day at Springbank and tasted the new 21 to be released in 2-3months.
While the legendary 21 of pre-2004 still lingers as sublime in my memory, I was very satisfied with the new release.
This 21 seemed more complex than the 18year old(s) of the last 2 years, so hard to believe it is simply an older version of the same run. That said, I was quite a few drams into a mastercourse so the tastebuds were a bit tipsy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Batch 38- more please!!!!

Glen Garioch put this down in 1991 and it is spectacular. Cask Strength and needs water and air. This is marked as Batch 38 and available in the USA. I have just run out - and looking for more if anyone can help.

Maltmadness writes: Glen Garioch 1991/2010 (54.7%, OB, Batch #38) 
Nose: Fairly restrained start, followed by a bitter sweetness like old tawny port. Some dust and clay. Spices.
Unusual, but very interesting. A little cheesy? It grows surprisingly complex over time. And a hint of sulphur?
Taste: Smooth start, followed by the same odd fruits I found in the nose - and then some meaty notes.
Score: 86 points - a very nice whisky that responds well to time and air.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Another Port Ellen in collection

I have added another Port Ellen to my collection. This Port Ellen is from 1983 and is a 27 Year Old  - bottling  by independent bottler Duncan Taylor. The Port Ellen distillery closed a number of years ago now and as time passes its whiskey has become harder and harder to hind. I have never had a bad experience buying any of DTs 'rarest of the rare' range. Have 2 on hand as one is for the collection and one is to enjoy.

Here are the distillery tasting notes:
Colour: Bright Gold
Nose: Sweet, gooseberries, oily, shortbread, custard, grassy, soft smoke
Taste: Light wet ash, olive oil, smoked cheese, waxy, slightly farmyard like
Finish: Quite creamy, touch medicinal with burnt wood and orange sherbet

New Favorite on the Mini-Fiddich

Last week we finished this Mortlach off all too fast. More is on the way. It is a 12 year old from 1997. Murray McDavid put this in  Ch√Ęteau d'Yquem premier cru Sauternes casks before sending out to us.  Really terrific.

Nose: Watermelon, honeydew melon, grapes, Cool Whip. Custard, dates.

Palate: Dark caramel, toffee, fudge, tropical fruits, peaches, plums, Macadamia nuts.

Finish: Custard, pineapple, sweet citrus.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Glendullan - who knows it?

Served a 17yr old Rum finished Murray McDavid bottle of Glendullan at the Misterhood Fiddich on Saturday. No 'ooohs and aaahs' but it sure washed down the nova lox well.

Interesting factoid: Glendullan is relatively unknown as a single malt whisky; measured in production capacity (almost 4 million litres of alcohol per year in 2008) it's actually Diageo's second-largest distillery, right after Dufftown and before Caol Ila that has the number 3 spot. Glendullan distillery is located in what's probably the busiest 'whiskytown' in the Speyside area: Dufftown. It was built there (relatively late) in 1897-1898 by William Williams & Sons Ltd., blenders from Aberdeen. In 1919  William Williams & Sons Ltd. changed their name to Macdonald, Greenlees & Williams (Distillers) Ltd. In 1926 they were taken over by the DCL, which later evolved into whisky industry giant Diageo. In 1939 .Glendullan was transferred to SMD, another predecessor of Diageo.
The old Glendullan distillery was completely refurbished in 1962, at which point two brand new stills were constructed. However, in 1972 a new distillery was built next to the old one. The new Glendullan distillery had six stills (three times as many as the old one) and both operated side by side until 1985, when the old distillery was finally closed. The whiskies produced at these two distilleries were different from each other, but nevertheless they were simply vatted together before bottling or blending.

During the late 1980's and early half of the 90's blends still accounted for circa 97% of whisky sales. 
It was only in the second half of the 1990's that the single malts category really took off. Distilleries like Glendullan and Dufftown remained mostly focused on blends for a few more years, but around the year 2007 Diageo finally reintroduced them to the market as single malts - together with Glen Ord. They all had been marketed as single malts at some point, but in recent years only Glen Ord was widely available. Oddly enough, the malt whisky from these three distilleries is now marketed under one single brand; the Singleton.  
So, there's an international component to this Singleton story... Consumers in the USA get a Glendullan 12yo when they order a Singleton, whisky drinkers in Europe receive a Dufftown 12yo, and in Asia they get Glen Ord 12yo.
Thx to Malt Madness for that -

Glen Garioch, Glen Ross

Bad joke, but great dram (and great play/movie). This relatively new bottling of a 1991 Glen Garioch is very special. Bourbon casks always make me happy, but this one has extra depth and remarkable nose. The picture is accurate in showing off that light color that i love.

One of Scotland’s oldest distilleries Glen Garioch (pronounced Geery) has been re-born with a new pair of regular whiskies and the first of a selection of small-batch bottlings, the 1991. 
Founded in 1797, the distillery is located in the picturesque town of Oldmeldrum, north-west of Aberdeen. Shut in the late 1960s, new owners, Morrison Bowmore hired a water diviner to find its own water source, and so the story began again.
Falling into the fuller flavoured category of single malts, the 1991 was matured in North American bourbon casks.
With toffee, honeycomb and butterscotch on the nose alongside a touch of heathery smokiness and orange peel, the palate has wonderful balance, with smokiness, creamy vanilla and a citric hit.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mortlach Mania

Yes, i am a real fan of Mortlach. The BM last weekend offered up a Mackillops Mortlach that was terrific and i was only able to land one bottle so far (review to come). That inspired the opening of  Flora and Fauna series Mortlach that BS and I brought back from Scotland. Has all the character that made me fall in love with Mortlach, but not so special that i am saving it...

The nose is quite fresh and floral, with developing smoke. Notes of rubber spearmint leaves and gentle smoke with a hint of warm kippers. The palate is very well-balanced and the flavours firm and full. Notes of heather root and gentle wafting smoke with toffee sweetness. Juicy and thoroughly chewy sultanas and mixed peels with a hint of amontillado. The finish is long and well-smoked with oaken warmth.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Up two notches

I have always liked Scapa - and not just because it shares a spot on Orkney near Highland Park. There is something sweet and smooth about Scapa that has me entranced. Indeed, Scapa's 14 year old Scotch has become a favorite over the years because of its affordability and sweet, smooth character. Now, to replace that expression, the distillery has released a slightly older, considerably tastier 16 year old Scotch. This new Scapa shows its extra two years with a velvety palate. While I brought this bottle back from Scotland on my last trip, you can find the 16yr old in the US for about 70bucks - and this is a smooth price for such a smooth dram. 
Malt Advocate says: A soft, easy-going whisky with a foundation of honeyed vanilla, caramel custard and mouth-coating maltiness. Floral and brine notes are sprinkled throughout, as is cocoa, white pepper and subtle edible seaweed. Soft malt and brine finish. A whisky with a gentler personality when compared to most other island malts, making it a nice introduction to the style. I would, however, like to see this whisky bottled at a higher strength and not chill-filtered. I’d be more than willing to sacrifice some drinkability for greater intensity and more subtle nuances. Still, it is an enjoyable whisky and enthusiasts of its predecessor—Scapa 14—should also like it, albeit at a higher retail price.
Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 85

Happy and Sad

It takes a rare scotch to bring me to tears at one moment and joyous giggles on the other. The Springbank 21 year old can do it over and over again. Tears came as i finished off a bottle that i brought back from a visit to Cambeltown and a Springbank tour a few years ago. The thought of trying to find more of this beauty scared me. Luckily, I recently aquired a new bottle from that same trip - hence the giggles. The bliss and joy of this whisky is really amazing.

A very accurate review from Nose: wow, one of the most impressive noses I’ve come across. Dry fruits (plums, apricot). A strong whiff of heather. Wonderful notes of old wood, dusty cellars. Just the right amount of sherry influence. Something of biscuits and sweet honey. Coconut? Cherries? Blueberries? Waxy notes as well and even a slight coastal edge. Hints of leather. Oh man, I could go on and on… Complex but so smoothly balanced. Mouth: liquid velvet. Fruity start, candied even. Developing on raisins and cassis. Heathered honey again. Growing spicier (cinnamon, vanilla) and oakier. Very nice touching of coal smoke, but really subtle. Salty liquorice towards the end. Finish: very long, regaining raisin sweetness.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's with Balblair

Happy New Year! A 19yr old A.D. Rattray bottling of Balblair ushered in this new year. This is only the 3rd bottling I have had from this private label. The Balblair comes at cask strength (61.8%) but did not change materially with water. Color was light gold, but clearly a sherry cask. Nose of ripe fruit (cherry) spicy oak and nutty malt notes. Palate was very rich - big floral, honey, zesty, oily and not too strong despite the cask strength burn. The finish was more wood than sherry i thought.
(Pictured bottle looks the same, but not the 19yr old)