Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Great smoke, ugly look

BenRiach's 21 year old 'Authenticus' is a smokey room where you cannot not see. The scotch is lovely. Really gorgeous. Smoky aroma that leads into a nicely matched taste. Not Islay. Just peat. But that label... wow. what were they smoking?

Official tasting notes:
NOSE: An explosion of smoke and peat, in combination with teasing hints of honey, apples and spices.
COLOUR: Rich golden.
TASTE: Rich peat, in perfect harmony with honey, chocolate, raisins and oak wood, followed by a cascade of spices rolling over the palate.

But this tasting note from Whisky Party does it right:

Color: A gorgeous deep golden.
Legs: Kind of big; slow and viscous, but more like cankles.
Nose: It’s a fruity peat smoke that hits you right away, gently though, and with it comes a truly remarkable fresh scent of rosewater, cucumbers (much like the Curiositas), fresh lemons, and a touch of peach.
Palate: Warm, soft, and estery at first, the burning-ember peat smoke (with some alcoholic punch) jumps right out at you within moments, with some earthiness, but transitions smoothly into cinnamon-baked apples with some oranges.
Body: Full and textured, a bit firm.
Finish: Medium-to-long, with a grass-fire fade.
Overall: One of the best damn drams I’ve tasted in a while, and that’s saying a lot.  From the moment I cracked the bottle, the aromas captivated me.  I couldn’t imagine how good the taste could be after that amazing mixture of peat and fruit and smoke, but the palate delivered a truly unique, textured, and delicious flavour.  It seems, for me, to continue along the lines of the Curiositas, though having undergone an excellent development of those flavours over the course of 11 extra years in the cask.  Winner!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

BenRiach Blast

The 25yr old distillery bottling of BenRiach is really fun. This was released a few years ago - dont know how i missed it (says released in 2006). It was aged in a mix of three casks: Bourbon barrels, Spanish Oloroso sherry casks, and fresh, 'virgin' oak. This malt comes bottled at high proof for additional complexity and fun. Add water and you get two whiskies for the price of well, two. At just over $200 a bottle, it is not cheap, but i really find it worth it. Especially as its complexity comes from subtle peat and wild wood notes. The sherry bit of this whiskies is just a note.

Nose: Mature and balanced on the nose. This is refined stuff with notes of salty butter, crème caramel, custard and black pepper.
Palate: Fruity and lush with peaches and apricots. Marzipan, white chocolate and exotic spices develop in the glass.
Finish: A drying, refined finish, tapering out on sweet spices and fruit.
Overall: Wonderfully complex and fun.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Another sad day

I just finished this 35 year old Banff (11/1975 @ 45.4%) from Duncan Taylor and sadly understand that there is little more to be found.  Banff distillery was established in 1824 and rebuilt on a different site after fire damage in 1863. The distillery was rebuilt following another fire in 1877 and came under the ownership of Scotch Malt Distillery in 1933. The distillery was one of many casualties in 1983 and has since been demolished. Indeed this is all that is left -

Banff whiskies have always impressed me. Most have been in bourbon casks and all have an wonderful blend of sweetness from the bourbon and smoke from the char. This one is really good but does no blow me away. Still worth searching it out (as are other rare Banff releases)
A tasting note that resonates:

Nose: Green apples, grassy, clean, intense oak (no doubt from the oak cask involvement of 35 years!)
Taste: Let it sit for a good while before tasting. Otherwise you will get nothing from this gem. The taste is exactly like the nose, which is impressive- and it's more. Initially, rich green apples, floral, soft- typical Speyside. However, within ten seconds of sipping, a very sharp, cask involved taste hits you intensely- lots of oak and stinging from the alcohol, white pepper. This one is very intriguing, and is undoubtedly cask strength. After awhile, rich, vegetal notes linger and keep the finish clean.
Finish: Clean. Need I say more? Very complex- lots of intrinsic quality and complexity to this relatively simple, yet old, Speysider.
Balance: Impressive- after 35 years this whisky has proven to be one of the best, and affordable, older whiskies on the market. The elegance of Speyside whisky and Banff, is present in this bottle. 23/25

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cab finish!

Wow. I really love this Longrow. This is the new Red - the whisky has been aged for 7 years in refill bourbon barrels and then finished for 4 years in Cabernet Sauvignon hogsheads. I am a fan of peat, but not crazy about it. I love it when the peat comes with sweetness and other mellowing notes. And nothing beats a bourbon cask to start with for me...

Color: Red
Nose: A real treat. Sweet in the beginning; raspberry ham and hints of rose petal. As the nose develops it reveals a light peatiness, with cherries, red grapefruit and blood oranges.
Palate: Oh there's the peat! Initially oaky and leathery with a little bit of tobacco and salt, the Cabernet Sauvignon influence appears later with some blackberries and cinnamon. A very chewy dram.
Finish: Long and peaty. Definitely coastal in style, there is a touch of mellow fruitiness here too.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Just in from Macallan

This Duncan Taylor Dimensions bottling of a 16yr old Macallan is unique. Take a look at the color - this is NOT the typical sherry cask from Mac. I admit that I tend to prefer the bourbon casks. Better is when they are blended with sherry the way that Springbank does it. That is why i tend to prefer the FIne Oak line from Macallan over the the regular line. This is a great example of my preference. I have a few of these in stock if anyone wants.

Nose: Stewing sultanas and apples with cinnamon and nutmeg providing a spicy afterthought.
Palate: The palate displays honeyed sweetness and a silky texture with notes of dried fruits and chocolate in the background.
Finish: The finish is long and wholesome with notes of cocoa powder and vanilla extract leading to candied orange peel
Overall: This is a full-bodied Macallan righteously cask-strength and proud.

Longing for Longrow

Longrow 18 is a so wonderful. It has smoke (as it is Springbank's peaty style) but  smoothness that is really rare.

Colour: Golden Hay. Nose: This whisky has an incredibly sweet nose with some savory notes peeking through. Marshmallows in abundance - the vanilla variety, with icing sugar and foam bananas adding to the sweetness. Upon further nosing the fruit makes an appearance, brambles, mandarines and over ripe damson fruits. Some savory notes pushing through such as linseed oil - do we smell cricket bats? Palate: This dram coats your palate in a waxy fashion with its continuing sweet flavours as described on the nose. But there is also the familiar, well balanced trace of smoke which makes this a brilliantly complex wee dram that will make you feel right at home no matter where you are.
Finish: The creaminess of this whisky means it doesn't go away - you feel the warmth of this Longrow all the way down to your boots, creamy, sweet with a gentle smoke finish.