About this blog:

This blog will feature tasting notes, reviews, distillery visits and whisky news with focus mainly on Scottish single malts, though I may wander elsewhere from time to time. The views expressed here are entirely my own!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

ROSEBANK 1991 25.67 'DAME NELLIE MELBA SINGING SUMMER SONGS' - THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY

Yesterday, drinks giant Diageo annouced which whiskies will be a part of their annual special releases and with that followed the (also) annual outcry by the whisky public regarding the prices of this years releases, this years Port Ellen release reaching a staggering £2200/€2800/$3500 :-O

There's also a Brora and Rosebank, who, like Port Ellen, are a part of Diageo's closed distilleries portfolio with the Rosebank being the 'cheapest' one at 'only £300/€380/$475 and somewhat surprising to me - guess even a closed lowland distillery aren't praised that much by Diageo.
This year, Diageo has also managed to squeeze in a NAS Clynelish at an eye-watering £500/€635/$800 !! Oh, what happy whisky madness we're seeing again this year!! (irony intended).

At the other end of range we're seeing a Caol Ila 15yo unpeated and a Lagavulin 12yo at £75/€95/$120 and £80/€100/$125 which is probably what whisky like this costs these days, so not much argument.

The sad thing is that even the high end bottles will most likely sell out in a flash and I'm betting retailers are already getting their inboxes swamped with people wanting to reserve bottles. These bottles, except for a couple of them, are now aimed completely at the collectors market, which is a shame as, as much as I hate to admit it, most Diageo distilleries make some very good whisky...

Have I bought expensive whiskies before? yes, I have... but can I be tempted to empty my bank account and buy the whisky equivalent of an Etruscan vase? No! Would I maybe buy the Caol Ila or Lagavulin? yes, for a tasting maybe... but that's it!

Bottom line is that this is just getting ridiculous and the prices are certainly amounting to much more than production costs, maturation/storage, bottling and a healthy profit on top of that.



After the rant above let's try some whisky from one of the distilleries that's a part of the annual special release range. Even though this wasn't cheap, it's still only about 2/3rds of the cost of the annual release...

Rosebank 1991 25.67 (01.07.1991) 22yo 'Dame Nellie Melba singing summer songs' 53,4%, Refill ex-bourbon barrel, 190 bottles, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Colour is pale straw

Nose:
Vanilla, floral (lilies and carnations, maybe?) wet grains/malt, grassy oranges and grapefruit and hints of yeast and some herbal notes I'm not able to identify

Taste:
Grassy arrival turning on to honey, barley sugar, raspberry, apple, a good hit of ginger and some pear and apple, the finish gives a good leafy and vanilla notes but turns into a bit bitter and spicy oak - especially with water...

A nice Rosebank, but must admit I've had better... think this has been in a relatively inactive cask which managed to produce a fairly straight forward dram after 22 years... still feeling the spirit's maybe a little hot too? Anyway, it's far from a bad dram and it still deserves a very respectable

85/100!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

THE DARK EXPEDITION & DANISH LAUNCH OF 'DARK ORIGINS' - HIGHLAND PARK

To mark the launch of the latest addition to the Highland Park range, the 'Dark Origins'-bottling, the sailing yacht 'Celeste', a Farr 65' class boat, set out on August 18th this year from Gothenburg, Sweden heading towards the Orkney Islands, retracing the steps of the Scandinavians settlers on Orkney in the most traditional of ways, by navigating across the high seas towards new shores, just as these fearless seafarers did many years ago...


Heading west... picture courtesy of Edrington & Highland Park

The journey brought peat and barley from Scandinavian to Orkney to mark the beginning of a distilling on Orkney and the links to the illicit distiller 'Magnus Eunson' to whom the 'Dark Origins'-bottling is a tribute.

So, what's the story with this Magnus-guy, you ask? Well, Magnus was a butcher and church clerk by day and an illicit distillery by night. It all went very well for a while but eventually Magnus was caught by the excise man.

Magnus' distilling took place close to his farm called 'High Park' and its easy to see that becoming 'Highland Park' over the years and also why the silhouette depicted on the 'Dark Origins' tube is supposed to be Magnus. The silhouette quickly made people make references like Robin Hood, David Beckham and Obi-Wan Kenobi... but no, it's just supposed to be Magnus Eunson - an illicit distiller on Orkney in the late 18th century... and let's thank either the Norse gods (which Highland Park is know to make a reference or two to...) or just the whisky gods for that - else we wouldn't be drinking the stuff today ;-)

But back to these brave men and women who ventured out on what for some would be an adventure of a lifetime... because they had to endure hardship on their way to the Orkneys... The 'Celeste', a modern yacht with all its amenities vs. an old open viking longship sets things in perspective when you, like the 14 people on the 'Dark Expedition', encounters 25' waves and high winds on the North Sea... Imagine a crossing in an open low railing longship instead with no shelter or just tarp for cover - oh, those Norsemen... what a hardened people we were/are :-)

Stormy seas... picture courtesy of Edrington & Highland Park

Today, we Scandinavians are still bound very much to the sea as it surrounds most of us on one side or another and the crew partaking in the Dark Expedition are not dressed in chain armor and helmets or carrying swords and axes like they were 1000 years ago... these are the faces of some of the 'Dark Expedition'-members 2014...

'Dark Expedition'-members 2014 - pictures courtesy of Edrington & Highland Park

Following the Warrior series previously released by Highland Park, this new addition is a welcome one...
It uses twice as many 1st fill sherry casks as the standard Highland Park 12yo expression and the abv% is now 46,8%... a natural strength of the casks used in this vatting, according to Brand Ambassdor Martin Markvardsen. Also the peat level in this one is higher than usual in your standard Highland Park, certainly giving the 'Dark Origins' a more rustic and rough edge than what we're used to seeing from Highland Park Distillery - I'm even betting some drinkers not into peat will find this one off putting... :-O

... and we have to adress it... it's a NAS bottling... but it's doing all right, this one.
According to Brand Ambassdor Martin Markvardsen the 'Dark Origins' contains no whisky under the age of 10 and even some as old as 30 (very small portion, I'm guessing) - and (me guessing again) it's probably under strength 30yo that has gone into this one... not that it matters, just look at a certain bottling series from a Speyside distillery starting with B... it has a number of under strength casks in their vattings and it's cracking whisky!

Crossing the North Sea... picture courtesy of Edrington & Highland Park

Reaching the Orkney Islands after 4 days of hard seas, felt very much as a victory for the Expeditioners and after talking to some of the participant journeying back with the 'Celeste' from the Orkneys via Norway to Skagen, Denmark, the expression in their eyes and faces changed to that of people just having endured a great journey... maybe the modern Norsemen have softened after millennium? After all, today's journeymen were your kid's schoolteachers and restaurateur from the place you go for your meals and not people already hardened by everyday life a 1000 years ago...

The 'Celeste' reaching the Orkneys - pictures courtesy of Edrington & Highland Park


Having reached their destination, the next much smaller journey was to the distillery and the birthplace of the 'Dark Origins'-bottling - enjoy the pictures from there...

Highland Park Distillery - pictures courtesy of Edrington & Highland Park
Lots of beautiful pictures here, I know... and believe me, I'm not trying to distract your from the whisky, which, I know, is what you really came here for....

Shortly after the arrival on Orkney the boat took on a partial new crew and headed back towards Scandinavia and after a stop-over in Norway they headed to Skagen, the northern most town in Denmark for what will be the Danish launch of the 'Dark Origins'-bottling.

Those of you that follow my blog on Facebook and Twitter will have noticed that on August 26th I was in Skagen for the launch of the 'Dark Origins' and added a few pictures from there... but I'll post a couple of them here again before re-posting my tasting notes for the 'Dark Origins'

Brand Ambassador Martin Markvardsen hosting the tasting on board the 'Celeste' in Skagen, August 26th 2014
© The Malt Desk
On board the 'Celeste' we had a couple of other Highland Park for comparison, which was the 12 and the 18, and both coming across better than I remembered, that evening...

As I've mentioned above, this is a re-posting of my tasting notes, as I'd already tasted the 'Dark Origins' before attending this event...

Nose:
It's alive! and certainly a Highland Park, as the honey and floral/fruity intensity is very up front here as is a rougher smoky side. It's not Islay smoke - it's more delicate and rushes in after the fruity notes has hit your nose, staying very evident all the time after that. When you nose this, it's either fruity smoke or smoky fruit (Does that really make sense? No? oh, well... )

There's strong tea, hint of nutmeg, ginger powder, baked banana and orange peel and heavy, slightly burnt, toffee notes and sometimes a hint of farmyard. The increased use of 1st fill sherry casks are indeed noticeable here. Then there's the smoke which, by design according to Highland Park, is much stronger than in the standard offerings from then. It works very well with the sherry influence. At times I get like standing in a garden surrounded by flower beds with the BBQ on as the floral notes pops back up again... I'd like to say heather as its usually one of Highland Park's prominent features, but I'm not sure that's it here.

Very good nose!

The Dark Origins Bottling - picture courtesy of Edrington & Highland Park

Taste:
Sweet, yet drying sherry at first arrival, then the smoke rushes in along with dried fruit all sorts, smoked pineapple
from that BBQ on the nose above. Also whisky soaked apple wood chips, cinnamon, orange chocolate notes, old cigar boxes and warming spices I'd normally associate with dark rums. The whole thing finishes off drying with a slightly dirty edge to the sherry, but is very soon replaced by notes of bran flakes and an earthiness until finally the smoke takes over completely, leaving a beach bonfire in your mouth for a good length of time. If you feel this is a little rough, it takes a teaspoon of water just fine. It's all very nice, indeed, though I do get a feeling that the palate sometimes is a bit restrained...

The guys at Highland Park has done something right here and as I mentioned above it starts with upping the abv to 46,8%... it makes a big difference in the arrival and general delivery of flavour in this whisky! Also, there's no doubt that the increase in use of 1st fill sherry casks as well upping the smokiness has done wonders.

But what about it being a NAS bottling, I hear you ask? Does it contain a lot of young whisky? Does it show? and, most importantly, is it worth the price tag they've slapped on it? Well, I'm sure it does contain some young whisky, but honestly if it does, it works fine here as its covered in sherry and smoke and doesn't come across as young. The only slight young'ish feeling I get is at the very edges of the mouth and a hint on the very finish where the smoke gives up and you get a cereal note instead - that's it for me, at least - do make up your own mind about this!

And the price, you ask? I payed £60/€76/$100 for a bottle of this. They do have to pay for the marketing flannel and the fancy black bottle for this and, even though I like the design, I can do without it... but it wouldn't be a 'Dark' Origin if it came in a clear bottle, would it? :-O though if it did, we could admire the lovely colour of the whisky :-) Anyway, I'd be more a satisfied punter with a £47 price tag on this.

Bottom line... it's good whisky! and it will no doubt, become a hit with the regular punter!

85/100!

Read my original post here

Finally, thanks to Edrington DK & Holm & Bertung for the invitation to the event


Thursday, 4 September 2014

GLEN GARIOCH 1995 BATCH 10 - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

It's been 9 years (can you believe it??) since I've been by Glen Garioch Distillery!

Back then, whisky wasn't as fashionable as is it today and when a couple of us dropped by Glen Garioch on a gloomy September day back then, we didn't really know what to expect, but we ended up having a nice tour of the place and 3 drams there.

The distillery is located not far north of Aberdeen and is easily reached by car from both north (if you're in Speyside anyway ;-) ) or from the south from well, Aberdeen...

Now, I've just revisited the place with a dram and this is really good stuff... and the notes and style of this one reminds me of one of my first whisky love affair :-)

Which one? read more below...

Glen Garioch (pronounced Geery) - picture from Wikimedia

Glen Garioch 1995/2012 55,3%, 1st fill ex-bourbon casks, Batch 10, 6000 bottles, Distillery bottling

Colour is straw

Nose:
Vanilla, citrus (oranges, mainly), lovely malty edge. A very US-'bourbony' nose at times. Cookie dough, honey, spices and more garden variety fruits (apple and pear) and a little mint appears with time.

Taste:
Hello?!?! Is this a Glenmorangie in disguise and at full strength?? More vanilla and a hint of smoke? it carries a light and recognisable light highland style, presenting itself with baked apple, cinnamon, spices (ginger and pepper) but also bitter almond after water is added.
The mid palate and finish produces some white chocolate and barley sugar to round the whole thing off...

Good stuff! and one can only wonder if the similarity to Glenmorangie is a coincidence as the Glen Garioch (Morrison Bowmore) Master Blender is now Rachel Barrie who used to work for, well... Glenmorangie PLC (now LVMH)...

Thanks to Kalle for the sample!

86/100!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

COOLEY'S (PEATED) CONNEMARA 1991 118.3 'SELF-ASSURED, BUXOM AND REWARDING' - THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY

Hmm where to start? Don't really know... This is only the 2nd Irish Whiskey I'm reviewing here on The Malt Desk... Why? don't really know, other than I usually only drink Irish whiskey at the pub as I find most whiskeys from The Emerald Isle best for that purpose as they're easy drinkers and that's what you'd (or at least I want) usually when out...

Then sometimes like this next whisky comes along and knocks about all your usual perceptions about a certain style of whisky - and in this case, its really a lot of fun :-)

Distillery 118 from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is Cooley's from Northern Ireland, located on the peninsula of the same name. They produce several of the Irish brands on the market, names like 'Kilbeggan', 'Tyrconnel' and a grain 'Greenore' and have also contributed with a couple of malts to the acclaimed 'Knappogue Castle' series. They also produce Connemara, a peated malt expression, something rarely seen in Irish whiskey.

The 118.3 is one such... This one is also only double distilled, unlike many other Irish whiskies, which goes through x3 distillation...

Cooley pot stills - picture from Wikimedia

Cooley's (peated) Connemara 118.3 (14.10.1991) 22yo 'Self-assured, buxom and rewarding' 57,9%, 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrel, 206 bottles, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Colour is full gold

No bottle picture available, but it comes in the standard SMWS bottle

Nose:
Sweet, instantly typical Irish whiskey notes hit your nose, with at times, almost a grain whisky style to it. There's wild flowers and Geranium and lavender, honey, slight hint of high quality tequila, vanilla, red berries (raspberry?). Have you tried the Knappogue Castle 1993? take that and add 15 years of maturation and add a good measure of smoke to it as well. Hugely expressive!

Taste:
Full force floral and perfumy front, then malt, more honey, fresh pear and smoke. Also vanilla, cough mints, licorice, and musty white wine. After a while the whole experience gets alot more fruity, with added banana and melon notes. Water brings out a bit more smoke and a few darker notes, more oak and spices.

I've tried this a few times now and it has grown a bit on me... sadly, a price tag of £270 here in Denmark will keep me from getting one.

A fun and interesting dram, though...

87/100!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

GLEN GRANT 1985 - A.D. RATTRAY

I came across this Glen Grant bottling just recently at a very fair price for a 24yo Cask Strength whisky these days (£70) so I decided to put this one in the basket while I was shopping for something else - and I'm glad I did :-) and its not often you see bottlings like this from 2010 still around...

I'll get right on with the review...

Glen Grant washbacks April 29 2011 © The Malt Desk

Glen Grant 1985 24yo (20.09.1985/20.02.2010) ex-bourbon cask#12364, 210 bottles, A.D. Rattray


Colour is bright gold

Nose:
Ripe fruit, pear and peach, ginger, oak spices, vanilla and hint of varnish/glue and sometimes a hint of metal on the nose. Wood sap, grass and lots of creamy malt comes out with the addition of water

Taste:
Ahh nice, lovely arrival on vanilla cream and fruit... top that with a dash of something peppery. Water brings out distinct orange notes, malt and honey. This is maybe at times a tad sharp'ish but adding a bit of water levels this one out beautifully

A very nice Glen Grant for sure!

86/100!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

GLENDRONACH 2002 BATCH 10 - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Not long after the release of Glendronach's Batch 10 of Single Casks was announced, the hype surrounding these bottlings showed itself - especially in a couple of dedicated groups on Facebook... and as soon as they hit the shops, they sold out too, especially the 1993 vintage, which apparently has a reputation for being one of better 'recent' vintages - but of course, not at all comparable to the fabled 1972s.

This time, there were only 2 oloroso casks in the batch, a 1992 and a 1993  - the rest were from PX casks... and no really old vintages this time, with a 1990 24yo being the oldest release in this batch.

I'll be skipping 30 years ahead from the fabled 1972s to 2002 and, as you might have guessed by now, a bottling from the recent batch 10 release.

The Glendronach Spirit Safe, April 30th 2011 © The Malt Desk
Glendronach 2002 12yo (11.06.2002/xx.06.2014) 56,7%, PX cask#1500, 565 bottles, Distillery bottling

Colour is dark mahogany

Nose:
Starts off promptly with a thick sweetness of fresh raisin, Madeira?, burnt sugar, dried tomato. Lots of must and dark earthy notes in here as well. Cheap cola notes, dark toffee and some herbal notes lurke in the background as well. The addition of about a teaspoon of water bring out danish marzipan and milk chocolate notes... I even find hints of smoke on the nose :-O

Taste:
Rush of sweetness, extremely mouth coating, molasses and old rums, some but in no way invading wood spices, honey'ed mead, sweet orange notes, medium roast coffee beans, chocolates again filled with Grand Marnier liquor, some BBQ tomato/pepper/mustard marinade as well...

What a great single cask bottling this is...

89/100!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

GLENGOYNE 12YO CASK STRENGTH - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Not long ago I reviewed the new Glengoyne Cask Strength Batch 2 - a bottling that replaced the old 12yo Cask Strength version... and by chance I just recently stumbled across a version of the old 12yo version, so in the name of whisky science, I had to get one of the those to compare with...

In my previous post you'll find, that I don't mind a NAS whisky, as long as it carries the qualities that the batch 2 version does (and I'm told the batch 1 is even better)... but it'll now come down to if 12 years of maturation does wonders or if its just a number within the Glengoyne hierarchy - 'cause the batch 2 is really good!

My recent purchase for comparison purposes ;-) © The Malt Desk

Glengoyne 12yo Cask Strength 57,2%, Distillery bottling

Colour is light amber

Nose:
Hello there, much more sherry evident that in the CS batch 2... but I guess that's a dead give away anyway looking at the colour, which is the natural colour, so no E150 caramel colouring added - this has not been chill filtered either, BTW.

As with sherry influences at this level, there's the usual dried fruit notes in here, slightly dirty notes that goes away after a short while, lots of malt and oak spices, in fact pretty noticeable oak spices - but they're never over the top. The whole thing calms down after a while revealing an underlying vanilla and honey chocolate bar sweetness and incredible clean crisp malt, just like in the batch 2

Taste:
Very mouth filling... again with the spices and sherry on full frontal attack here. Very nice, indeed! Raisins, honey, oranges, walnut bitterness, back to honey and malt, strong tea and a rush of oak spices, mainly peppery ones and spirit soaked plums.

Phew, this is hard call to make... I like both the style of the NAS Cask Strength version and this one... but I also like my sherried whisky and, unlike in the NAS Cask Strength version, I do not get slight feinty notes and this 12yo seem like a more balanced whisky compared to the NAS version.

Like in my previous review, I don't give ½ points, which would have made this one climb to 87½... but it still isn't good enough to make it to 88...

87/100! ...because the styles are so close, yet so far a part...

Remember to compare the above with my review of the Cask Strength Batch 2 from July 23rd this year... you'll find that here

Saturday, 2 August 2014

HIGHLAND PARK 'DARK ORIGINS' - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Highland Park's latest release, the 'Dark Origins' is a tribute to the founder of the illicit distilling going on at High Park Farm... before there was a real distillery on the outskirts of Kirkwall on mainland Orkney. The man doing this illicit distilling was a man named Magnus Eunson and, according to the records, a churchman and butcher by day and illicit distiller by night, which has resulted in a box portraying a picture of someone looking a bit like a mix of Robin Hood, David Beckham and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Anyway, I'm not going to get into all the marketing surrounding Highland Park these days, it's been well covered elsewhere... but that said I actually like the presentation (bottle) of the 'Dark Origins'... (Have I fallen a victim to the evil hordes of the marketing people??? I hope not... )

This is about the whisky... and I've really have had my hopes up for this one, since I first heard about it earlier this year - why, you ask? because of the 46,8% abv this bottling carries - all a sign, I would like to think, that the good gents at Highland Park has realised and picked up on the voices concerning the abv% on e.g. their 'Warrior'-series not really delivering the punch it should and could have, being at only 40%... I, for one, commented on that in the review of the 'Einar' which can be found here.

So, has Highland Park gotten wiser? have they rid this new release of the quirks of their previous releases? (at least from an anoraks view...?)

Let's give it a try.. and from a full bottle payed for by myself.

Entrance to the Highland Park Distillery, August 6th 2009 © The Malt Desk

Highland Park 'Dark Origins' 46,8%, NAS, Distillery bottling

Colour is deep amber

Nose:
It's alive! and certainly a Highland Park, as the honey and floral/fruity intensity is very up front here as is a rougher smoky side. It's not Islay smoke - it's more delicate and rushes in after the fruity notes has hit your nose, staying very evident all the time after that. When you nose this, it's either fruity smoke or smoky fruit (Does that really make sense? No? oh, well... )

There's strong tea, hint of nutmeg, ginger powder, baked banana and orange peel and heavy, slightly burnt, toffee notes and sometimes a hint of farmyard. The increased use of 1st fill sherry casks are indeed noticeable here. Then there's the smoke which, by design according to Highland Park, is much stronger than in the standard offerings from then. It works very well with the sherry influence. At times I get like standing in a garden surrounded by flower beds with the BBQ on as the floral notes pops back up again... I'd like to say heather as its usually one of Highland Park's prominent features, but I'm not sure that's it here.

Very good nose!

Taste:
Sweet, yet drying sherry at first arrival, then the smoke rushes in along with dried fruit all sorts, smoked pineapple from that BBQ on the nose above. Also whisky soaked apple wood chips, cinnamon, orange chocolate notes, old cigar boxes and warming spices I'd normally associate with dark rums. The whole thing finishes off drying with a slightly dirty edge to the sherry, but is very soon replaced by notes of bran flakes and an earthiness until finally the smoke takes over completely, leaving a beach bonfire in your mouth for a good length of time. If you feel this is a little rough, it takes a teaspoon of water just fine. It's all very nice, indeed, though I do get a feeling that the palate sometimes is a bit restrained...

The guys at Highland Park has done something right here and as I mentioned above it starts with upping the abv to 46,8%... it makes a big difference in the arrival and general delivery of flavour in this whisky! Also, there's no doubt that the increase in use of 1st fill sherry casks as well upping the smokiness has done wonders.

But what about it being a NAS bottling, I hear you ask? Does it contain a lot of young whisky? Does it show? and, most importantly, is it worth the price tag they've slapped on it? Well, I'm sure it does contain some young whisky, but honestly if it does, it works fine here as its covered in sherry and smoke and doesn't come across as young. The only slight young'ish feeling I get is at the very edges of the mouth and a hint on the very finish where the smoke gives up and you get a cereal note instead - that's it for me, at least - do make up your own mind about this!

And the price, you ask? I payed £60/€76/$100 for a bottle of this. They do have to pay for the marketing flannel and the fancy black bottle for this and, even though I like the design, I can do without it... but it wouldn't be a 'Dark' Origin if it came in a clear bottle, would it? :-O though if it did, we could admire the lovely colour of the whisky :-) Anyway, I'd be more a satisfied punter with a £47 price tag on this.

Bottom line... it's good whisky! and it will no doubt, become a hit with the regular punter!

85/100!

Post amended 8th August 2014:

Now that this bottle has been open for a week, the younger whiskies in this vatting is starting to show itself more dominantly. The fruit, especially the delicious pineapple has subsided and now leaves me with alot more younger (slightly feinty?) notes. Also the sherry has moved a bit to the background and, honestly (and honesty is what we're all looking for, right?) this is not as good now as it was, just out of the bottle... :-( The smoke edge is very much still there, trying its best to cover up its (I hate to use the word) shortcomings...

I would have reduced this to (still) a decent 83½/100, but since I don't do ½ points it's now down to 84/100... *feeling somewhat disappointed now* as the general experience of this whisky now shows its younger components and not quite the balance it started out with...

84/100!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

THE ARRAN MALT 10YO - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

I visited Arran in August 2012 and have really been wanting to go back since for a bit of further exploration...and that opportunity will come next year. When visiting Islay and Kintyre next year, there's the chance that the Isle of Arran will be squeezed in as well, since it 'almost on the way', going back to Edinburgh. Catching the small ferry from Claonaig on the east side of Kintyre is of course the easiest way to cross and the views from the ferry towards Arran are spectacular... and it'll take you directly to Lochranza and the Arran Distillery on the north end of the island, so no added drive once you disembark.

Of course, the main reason for the visit is to go back to the distillery which, IMO, is able to produce very good and even great whisky... and, still, in these whisky booming days, does it at a fair price vs. quality ratio - good work, Arran! With that in mind, I'll now review the standard 10yo release from them - a bottle I picked up in Amsterdam/Schiphol Airport when returning home from Scotland in May this year - price, a very reasonable €30...

Arran Distillery, August 19th 2012 © The Malt Desk

The Arran Malt 10yo, 46%, Distillery Bottling


Colour is straw

Nose:
Fruity, and mainly citrus notes and then some vanilla. Also some younger yeasty notes in there but it seems to balance very well with the malt and, eventually the apple I've often found in Arran malts

Taste:
Ahh, good malty arrival and yet it still reveals its youth. I'm also thinking a mix of ex-bourbon and sherry casks here. Its floral, fruity - now full with apple, pear and cantaloupe, cereal, vanilla and then finishes of on creamy malt.

Some would maybe argue that this malt is a bit simple.. but it's in perfect balance. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have often used it to kick start my palate. Besides that, its certainly been a nice summer malt - one you can easily enjoy in the summer heat. Its also a malt I'd recommend for the beginner... and the best part is that it non-coloured and non-chill filltered and bottled at 46% :-)

83/100!

Friday, 25 July 2014

BUNNAHABHAIN 1987 - ADELPHI

Islay underdog Bunnahabhain has started to pick up more attention from both drinkers and bloggers alike... and well deserved it is too. Since 2010, Bunnahabhain, along with its sister products from Tobermory and Deanston, have been bottled at 46,3% abv, and with no chill filtration or colouring. Bunnahabhain has also been a favourite of mine for quite some time now and I always seem to have a bottle of it open at home... and its also often one of the open bottles that gets emptied first.

I haven't been to Islay since  May 2011 but I'll make up for that next year, when most of a week will be spent on this beautiful island. Until then I'll just have to settle for whisky from there...

Bunnahabhain Washbacks - May 6th 2011  © The Malt Desk

Bunnahabhain 1987 25yo 44%, 1st fill sherry hogshead#2786, 146 bottles, Adelphi

Colour is Mahogany

Nose;
Heavy sherry with hints of balsamico and some well measured spicy oak to go along. Cold coffee grounds, chocolate turning very vinous very quickly. Also some musty notes in there, bung cloth, burnt sugar and polished hardwood floor

Taste:
Sugared strong coffee to begin with... then the sherry wine kick in. Also in there are old Cognacs, Madeira and Tawny Ports - very nice! It then fades to bitter drying orange notes and brown overripe banana before a rush of malt and dark fruits (prune juice?) shows itself...

Not overly complex in any way, but if you enjoy this style its good and tasty fun... one for the sherryheads, for sure!

87/100!
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