Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mortlach festival

Served up 3 Mortlach's this last week.  Mortlach is one of my favorites. Background: "Considered the oldest distillery around Dufftown, Mortlach, dating back to 1823, is said by blenders, to produce one of the finest single malts from the region.   During its silent years, from 1837 to 1851, the distillery served as a worshipping church for the Free Church. Mortlach operates six stills, which strangely all have different shapes.   The distillery operates a partial triple distillation process. Mortlach was demolished and rebuilt in the 1960's.   Most of its production is used for blending and is rarely available as a single malt."

This Chieftain's bottle is from a sherry butt and a bit spicier that the traditional Mortlach. I measure all Mortlach's against the Flora and Fauna bottling which really turned me on to the distillery.

Tasting notes:
Nose: Juicy Oak, Stewed Prunes, Old Leather
Body: Medium moving to oily and waxy
Palate: Sugar Plums, Sweet Malty Spices, Sugared Almonds
Finish: Sweet Malt that is soft and long

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fiddich Select

This has been a hit at the Fiddich for the last 2 weeks. Glenronach's 21 year old "Parliament". Matured in a combination of Oloroso and Pedro Ximinez sherry casks. Named “Parliament” after the colony, or “parliament” of rooks that have been nesting in the trees overlooking the distillery for almost 200 years.

It starts with a delicate mix of ripe Autumnal fruits - blackberries and red plums. Rich Oloroso sherry and candied orange segements. Spiced oatmeal biscuits and toasted oak fragrances. The palate fins the resolute flavours of fine Oloroso sherry and bitter chocolate sauce, which has been spread liberally over homemade plum pudding. This is infused with fabulous spicy notes - cinnamoon, allspice and nutmeg. Full bodied with smooth tannins and a long and lasting finish.

Monday, October 29, 2012

God of Thunder

I served Highland Park's Thor to pals at Lela's BM... it went really well with the heavy beats. Also a great wooden box!

A review i agree with: :   Taking inspiration in the distinctly Nordic heritage and unforgiving climate of the Orkney Islands where the celebrated Highland Park distillery stands, the recently launched Thor single malt scotch whisky is as powerful as the Norse god for which it's named. As the first release from the much anticipated Valhalla Collection, the 16 year single malt is characterized by a "forceful" nose dominated by "an explosion of aromatic smoke". Once past these initial notes of gingerbread, cinnamon and vanilla, the dry flavors give way to a sweet body that settles nicely on the palette. It is bottled at 52.1% abv—nearly 9% stronger than the highly sought-after Highland Park 18—the concentrated Thor is unabashedly flavorful when enjoyed neat and responds well to a splash of water, mellowing the peaty bite to a more mortal level. While some purists may scoff at the idea, Thor has the integrity to withstand a bit of dilution while remaining strong enough to put a bit of hair on your chest.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Truly Imperial Dram

Standing tall among a table of notable and potable whiskies at last week's Fiddich, the 19 year-old Duncan Taylor Imperial beckoned. Bottled at cask strength, the 101.8 proof malt cried out for a touch of spring water to soften things up a bit. Distilled in Jan. 1990 and bottled in Mar. 2009, the Imperial offered a rich flowery bouquet with hints of honey, vanilla and orange.

Beautiful color of heathery gold, rich nose. Fruity, slightly peppery and downright delightful on the tongue. Clean, medium-long finish. A dram to be savored.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hit at weekly Fiddich


Teaninich 12 Year Old Duncan Taylor NC2 Bottling D&M Exclusive. Cask#5580. Distilled:1996, Botlled:2009. Madiera Finish. 54.7%. The whisky is greenish walnut in color with slow, thick legs. The nose is pungent, with plum pudding notes and malt practically leaping out of the glass, along with a hint of almonds. On the palate, it's big, almost juicy in its richness, with red fruit and nut flavors leading, going into a light brush of smoke. The Madeira nuttiness and candied flavors come up on the finish. Still, for all the prettiness of the flavors, it remains a very robust dram. from D&M Tasting Notes.

Teaninich (pronounced Te-an-in-ick) distillery is north of the Inverness in the small village of Alness known for Dalmore and Glenmorangie. Unlike Dalmore which is visible from the road, this distillery is in a hidden part of an industrial estate on the edge of the town. Because it's unknown there are no visitor facilities and the whisky has never been promoted as a Single Malt until 1992. This should not derogate from Teaninich's persistent history. Established in 1817, Teaninich was one of the only four legal distillers to survive and has been in production almost continously, only ceasing during World War II and a short period during the "whisky loch" years of the 1980's. The whisky was in such demand that the distillery has seen numerous upgrades. Prior to 1970 there were two distilleries on the site when a new still house was built. This was known as "A Side" with the original distillery becoming "B Side". Both remained in production until the distillery was mothballed in the mid 1980s. When production recommenced in 1991 only the "A Side" was utilized, the original "B Side" buildings were demolished in 1999. Teaninich's is known for being the first distillery to have electric lighting and the first to have an internal phone system. Its output remains a blender's favorite and currently three million liters of alcohol are produced annually. Most notably, it remains a key component of Drambuie and Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Down the block from Springbank

Springbank has dusted off the old Glengyle Distillery and started it up again in 2004. A bit lighter going than Springbank, but they share the malting floor, the water, and the air and what is being produced is delicious. The "work in progress" series is worth a full on tasting. They are up to release number 4 and it is really great. I am a fan of the lean towards the bourbon cask over the sherry in this Springbank variety.
Official Tasting Notes Nose: Spicy buns, caadmon, cinnamon, heather honey and butter toffee with a slightly savoury note of toffeed popcorn. Palate: Like a silky smooth melted honeycomb chocolate bar. Fruitiness presents as cirsp and very sweet red apples. Incredibly rich and butttery like gingerbread cookie dough, yet fresh with hints of clover and freshly mown grass. Finish: Alluring and warm. A great summers evening dram that leaves you licking your lips for more.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Small Barrel Scotch get really good

Rundlets & Kilderkins is an 'experiment' in small casks from Springbank. A 10yr old, bottled at 49.4% it is a rich, sherried and delicious scotch. The small cask matures the whisky faster as contact with the wood is enhanced. There is a growing trend of experimentation with this maturation process that is welcomed.  As Sringbank explains it - During the 17th and the 18th centuries Campbeltown was a smuggling centre, given the area's topography. One famous story tells of an old woman who was up before the Sheriff for smuggling. She had been found guilty but before passing sentence the Sheriff remarked that he supposed she had not often been found guilty of this crime to which she replied that she hadn't made a drop since the last Rundlet she had made for him!! Translation: A rundlet was used to describe a small cask that held 15-18 gallons before the English adopted the imperial system of measurement in 1824.

Colour: Russet
Nose: Honey, vanilla, chocolate, nougat and toffee in abundance followed by hints of wholesome freshly ground nutmeg.
Palate: Creamy and rich as expected from the nose, with notes of chocolate covered honey comb mixed with pistachio and crushed almonds. Rich and oily from its maturation in small casks, it gives an impression of being older than it's ten years.
Finish: The ground nutmeg is still evident on the finish but the creaminess outstays the spices to a long smooth and sweet finish. With water this dram develops an even sweeter finish, fruity and sugar candy, it becomes even smoother

Sunday, August 12, 2012

42 years good

Really nice new arrival that is hard to place - where is Glendarroch anyway. There is a great history to read, but this bottle cannot be from a distillery that last produced in 1937. History here: http://whiskystory.blogspot.com/search/label/Glendarroch . Other web sources suggest this is really a Glenfarclas as they do not like independant bottlers to use their name.
This whiskey is a bourbon barrel lovers dream. It has that rich golden brown color. It starts off with some smoke, but not peat - most likely charring of the barrel. AA nice maltiness to it and even a hint of sherry is found. Really long and takes water well too.  

Rare Japanese

This rare Japanese Scotch is outrageous. Very sherried - needs a good amount of water. Tasting is really interesting as it is a bit staccato. What i mean is that each part of experience comes very seperated. The Nose is Sherry - lots of it. Very powerful. Fruits and maybe dates or figs too. Then the palate starts with an overpowering medicinal belt to the mouth. But that clearly ends and the palate is filled with a complex richness of flavors and feelings. After a few staccato notes are played the finish begins with very long spice. Smoke pops up as well, but again in a strangely enjoyable staccato.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Great little HP

A wonderful bottle of Highland Park just opened. It was bottled for Cadenhead's new range of non-chillfiltered whiskies - just pure unadulterated whisky. This 17yr old is aged in oak cask is fatter and thicker than most older Highland Parks and really stands out from the distillery versions as heavier on the bourbon and lighter on the sherry. Right off the bat you get sweet cereal notes on the entry followed by a waxy and oily component. Classic HP faint hint of smoke comes through on the mid palate, and then the flavors really mold together to finish on a high note. Opens up nice with water too. Really great value - can be had for 80 bucks.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

1972 was a good year

I wish it worked like wine...  
anyway this 38year old Caperdonich is spectacular. I love the light smoke and incredible smoothness. Add a bit of water and delicious. A nice tasting note: Furniture polish and oak (which fades out over time) with tangerine, yellow plums, oranges and a little mango. Very juicy, a tad more citrusy than the TWA version. Maybe a bit more spices: cinnamon and mint, a little pepper. Vanilla. Slightly less beehive notes, although there’s certainly some wax and honey involved. Again very attractive with great depth. Mouth: assertive and punchy. Initially there’s a certain sharpness from the oak but over time it gets smoother. Very fruity: apricots, fig marmalade, honey. Plenty of spices (pepper, mint, cloves) and a faint bitter note from the oak. Finish: ginger and liquorice, mixed with honey.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Balmenach 27 Year Old Chieftians Bottling. A surprisingly nice dram that is a rich peachy gold in appearance. The nose brings brine, roasted nuts, powdered sugar, caramel and a touch of dried fruits. The medium body palate shows notes of tropical fruits and sandalwood, entwined with brown spice, sugar and melon. The finish just doesn’t stop, it’s so long….and brings back some brine along with spiced pears.

The Balmenach distillery is tucked into the bottom of the Haughs of Cromdale in the Spey valley. It was among these hills on the last day of April 1690 that an army of Jacobite soldiers was ambushed by dragoon guards. The attack came during the night as the Jacobite forces were sleeping. Many were slain and the remaining fled nearly naked. This defeat effectively ended the Jacobite uprising in the Highlands. In the early 1800s three brothers crossed these hills from Tomintoul and set up a farm. One of these brothers was James McGregor who soon set up an illicit still on the site. Shortly after the licensing act was introduced, James McGregor obtained a license for his distillery, formally establishing it in 1824. The McGregor family controlled the distillery until 1922, then it changed hands between several owners and even found its doors closed for a time.

GlenDronach 16 is sherry heaven




Just finished off this lovely sherry cask wonder. Thanks to K&L exclusive for this 16yr old Glenronach bottled in 1994. Glendronach has an unctuous, chewy mouthfeel that isn't overly cloying or too saturated with sweet sherry. 
Earthy notes from the warehouse aging permiate the rich, oily flavors of vanilla, raisined fruit, and cakebread. The cask strength proof really keeps the sweetness at bay and the result is a fabulously balanced malt that should appeal to just about everyone. This is the barrel everyone will overlook, but I'd bet my salary it's the one that will get the best reviews. -David Driscoll, K&L Spirits Buyer

Friday, April 27, 2012

Springbank 21 has arrived

I finally got a bottle of the new SB21... here is what i wrote when i tasted it last year:

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.