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 whiskeynotes.be: 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)