About this blog:

This blog will feature tasting notes, reviews, distillery visits and whisky news with focus mainly on Scottish single malts. This will sometimes be accompanied by politically incorrect (whisky) opinions. You have now been warned! :-)
The views expressed here are entirely my own, unless otherwise stated.

Friday, 31 August 2012

JAPANESE WHISKY SPECIAL - HANYU 20YO

Hanyu distillery closed in the year 2000 and in 2004 the equipment at Hanyu distillery was dismantled because of change of ownership. The stock and the facilities were sold to the former owners grandson Ichiro Akuto who started distilling at the place again in 2004 under the Chichibu name...

This bottle is from the old Hanyu stock which also is becoming more and more rare...

Hanyu 20yo 'Ichiro's Malt' 57,5% (closed)

Colour: Dark gold


Nose:

Apple and strong alcohol, hint of varnish and nutmeg. Some farmyard notes and soaked through oak and very faint cumin and faint peat?

Taste:
Hint of Rum, roasted barley and some fruit. Barley sweetness again and some natural caramel. Bitter oak and what comes across as sherry sweetness. Then melasses/old pot still rum style once again...

Incredible complex stuff, this one!!

91/100!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

DENMARK NEWS: GLENGLASSAUGH TO SIGN WITH FC WHISKY

Some interesting news for my Danish readers:

Glenglassaugh Distillery in Portsoy, Aberdeenshire has signed with Danish importer 'FC Whisky'.
Glenglassaugh wanted to explore new territories and started negotiations with FC Whisky in Spring 2012 for them to take over the brand in Denmark.

FC Whisky is very happy about this since Glenglassaugh have older casks available, though at a significant price. Glenglassaugh has also just released the 'Revival' and though a young whisky its very good for its age and finally Glenglassaugh already has a good name with many Danish whisky drinkers, with many of them already owning a cask at the distillery.

'This relationship is one that FC Whisky would like to nurture and its always exiting to be a part of projects like relaunching a distillery' says Claus from FC Whisky who also thinks that being a part of something like this is one of FC Whisky's strong sides.

Right now FC Whisky imports the following Glenglassaugh to Denmark:
  • Glenglassaugh 'Revival' 46% - finished in 1st fill sherry butts
  • Glenglassaugh 26yo 46%
  • Glenglassaugh over 30yo 43%
  • Glenglassaugh Chosen Few 35yo 49,6% single cask chosen by Ronnie Routledge.
Later this year a young peated Glenglassaugh at 46% will find its way to the Danish Market.

Source: FC Whisky
http://www.glenglassaugh.com

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

DIAGEO SPECIAL RELEASES 2012

Again this year, Diageo will offer us bottlings in their Annual (special) Release series.
Prices have, as expected, gotten another notch upwards as well...







JAPANESE WHISKY SPECIAL - YOICHI 20YO - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Another Nikka brand - the Yoichi - is located on the north island of Hokkaido, not far from the former Olympic city of Sapporo. Where most other distilleries in Japan is located down south in a very much close to sub-tropical climate, Yoichi gets all 4 seasons up north on Hokkaido.

This is the 20yo expression from this highly esteemed distillery...

Yoichi 20yo 52%, batch 08J54B, Nikka

Colour: Deep Amber

Nose:
Earthy and sherried notes with a hint of peat, hardwood planks and tobacco.
Marinated dark fruits, fresh leather/hint of wet horse and black tea.

Taste:
Sherry and peat, burnt sugar, spicy fruits, wet oak staves, earthen floors and sweet tobacco giving off delicate peat in the aftertaste...

Though its still good whisky, I'd thought this would give off more than it did...

87/100!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

JAPANESE WHISKY SPECIAL - YAMAZAKI NAS SHERRY CASK - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Lets try another Yamazaki - this time a heavily sherried expression, but also one without an age statement.

Yamazaki NAS, 48%, Suntory

Colour: Deep Oloroso

Nose:
Hints of a pair of new trainers (rubbery). Flowery notes, then whiff of walking into a Starbucks -  a coffee and berry muffins feel to it. Also a bit of ranchio meatiness - then prunes and dark chocolate and high end tawny port. Just delicious!

Taste:
Mortlach style for sure, heavy hint of natural spirit sulphur style.
Sweet raisins, dried meats and heavy chocolate/coffee in cappucino style sprinkled with chocolates again... Coffee grinds for sure in the aftertaste!

I like this! Though £125 for a NAS bottling is over the top.

89/100!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

JAPANESE WHISKY SPECIAL - MIYAGIKYOU 15YO - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

The Sendai region in Japan was one of the hardest hit in the earthquake/tsunami disaster in April 2011. Luckily the Miyagikyou distillery is place 15km inland up in the mountains.
The rest of the region was not so lucky and was one of the regions hardest hit by the tsunami.

Miyagikyuo is owned by the other large whisky producer in Japan - Nikka - and is said to produce a lighter style of whisky, much akin to Scottish lowland whisky, but this 15yo expression is not one of those...

Lets try this:

Miyagikyou 15yo 45%, batch 18C32C, Nikka

Colour: Amber

Nose:
Heavy, a little hint of 'dirty' sherry cask. Wet forest and decomposing dark fruits, mint, praline and crushed black pepper. With time the dirty feel from the cask goes away to expose a nice light layer of sherry. Also vanilla and a slightly perfumy notes appears with time...

Taste:
Sweet'n'sour sherry, rubbery dark fruits and a drying element.
Seems a bit thin, though water brings out a bit more sherry and 'cleans its up' a bit...Getting peated with time and gets a Xmas cake thing going...

A decent dram... but had expected a little more...

84/100!

Monday, 20 August 2012

JAPANESE WHISKY SPECIAL - YAMAZAKI vs. HAKUSHU - DISTILLERY BOTTLINGS

Its time for another wander off the beaten Scotch whisky path... this time to Japan for a try of some of their malts.

Both of the malts below comes from distilleries owned by giant 'Suntory' and both whiskies carries no age statement and are matured in 1st fill bourbon casks.

Kampai!

Yamazaki NAS, 48,2%, 1st fill bourbon casks, Suntory

Colour: Straw

Nose:
Loads of vanilla (pods), spices and high quality American bourbon notes.
Cinnamon and crisp warm home baking with red fruit jam. Tropical fruits in there too... a light and easy approachable 'highland' style.

Taste:
Extremely spicy, vanilla, (very) peppery and drying oak.
Fruits galore and warm apple pie again - cloves too. Again extremely spicy/peppery and a little to much for me, but its still very good whisky!

86/100!


Hakushu NAS, 48,2%, 1st fill bourbon casks, Suntory

Colour: Straw


Nose:

Oak spices, white garden fruits, hay, hint of wet paper and a heavier style bourbon sweetness - very 'speyside' in style. Hint of earth/mold and a noticeable flowery note.

Taste:
More white fruits, and much heavier in style than the Yamazaki and way more balanced too. Flowery notes again with a malty finish and a hint of grist?, Lovely!

89/100!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

BALMENACH 1977 DENMARK EXCLUSIVE - GORDON & MACPHAIL

Balmenach is one of those Speyside whiskies that rarely makes a fuss about themselves.

Owned by Inver House Distillers along with Pulteney, Speyburn, Knockdhu and Balblair, the Balmenach distillery is exiting place to visit... especially their wormtubs on the distillery roof is an impressive sight. The Balmenach spirit is a medium heavy one with -some say- a distinct natural sulphury style, much like e.g. Mortlach... a trait that is said to come from the use of wormtubs for cooling the spirit.

Much of the Balmenach malt goes away for blending but some is also bottled as 'The Deerstalker'-malt, but in general the Balmenach is rarely seen as a single malt... and when it is, its usually bottled by an independent bottler.

At the distillery, they also produce the 'Caorunn'-gin made from 11 different botanicals.
Its dry in style and makes for a very refreshing drink, either on its own over a ice or with tonic...

A final note before I review the Balmenach if you want to visit the Balmenach Distillery.
Its not normally open to the public, but if you come at times like around the Spirit of Speyside Spring Festival in the beginning of May each year, you might be able to get in... but do call ahead !

Let's try the whisky:

Balmenach 1977 29.07.1977/03.12.2009 'Flying Pigs' 1st fill Oloroso sherry butt#4493, 270 bottles for Juuls Vin & Spiritus Copenhagen by Gordon & MacPhail, 'Spirit of Scotland'-label

Colour: Dark oloroso

Nose:
Dry dark oloroso as only dark old sherry casks from that era can provide.
Coffee cream liqueur, Dark Cocoa, Amaretto and cake creme sticks, burnt figs with vanilla creme

Taste:
Burnt chocolate cake, hard roasted coffee beans, chocolate orange sticks, huge on marinated dark fruits. Dates and figs flambé ...more orange notes with time, getting more like old rum too.

Fans of dark sherry whisky will go into orbit with this one...

A great old malt from a not so well known Speyside distillery - love this style...

91/100!

Monday, 13 August 2012

NEW DISTILLERY - WOLFBURN 'ON TOP' OF SCOTLAND

Picture by Wolfburn

Rumors have been going for a while about this new venture just west of Thurso on the northern coast of Scotland... and now they've come as far as getting their planning permissions in order and a website is up telling they will start producing in early 2013....

Lets hope they succeed! Best of luck from this blogger!

Read a little more at the Wolfburn's website


BALBLAIR 1995 DENMARK EXCLUSIVE - GORDON & MACPHAIL

About an hours drive north of the Highland capital of Inverness, you find Balblair distillery.
On your way there you'll pass whisky familiar names like, Dalmore, Teaninich, Invergordon and Glenmorangie.

Balblair Distillery is located just outside the village of Edderton, close to the Dornoch Firth and is known for producing medium style Highland whisky. 95% of their whisky goes into American ex-bourbon casks and the last 5% in Spanish ex-sherry casks.

This bottling here is a 15yo from indie bottlers Gordon & MacPhail in Elgin and matured in a refill sherry hogshead.

Balblair 1995/2010 19.06.1995/10.08.2010, refill sherry hogshead#1684, 46%, Denmark Exclusive by Gordon & MacPhail

Colour: Dark Gold

Nose:
Clean cut sherry, not a blemish. Honey sweetness and earthen notes. A strange, but beautiful mix of cinnamon and orangy/citrus notes.

Taste:
Garden Fruits, apples and banana? oranges too...pleasent oak, peppery, nutty and bitter sweet oloroso. A bit of chocolate and coffee too. Hint of peat in the aftertaste - Delicious sipping whisky!

89/100!

Friday, 10 August 2012

BRORA 1977 24YO - RARE MALT SERIES

The Brora distillery, in the village of the same name on the North East coast of Scotland has the same status among Highland whiskies as Ardbeg does among its Islay bretheren.

The Brora distillery was originally called Clynelish, but when the owners built a new distillery just across the road in 1968 and named that one Clynelish, they, due to SWA regulations eventually had to change the name of the old one... hence the change to Brora.

During the 1970's, several production runs were moderately to heavily peated and the one below is from one such moderately run. It was released along with a few other Brora in the Rare Malt series - and is now highly collectable

Brora 1977 24yo bottled xx.10.2001 56,1%, 6000 bottles, Rare Malt Series, Distillery Bottling

Colour: Gold

Nose:
Heavy style fruits, overripe apples and pears, very veggie in style (wet peat), vanilla pods, liquorice, getting even more fruity over time, now  with a mix of red berries and oranges. Sugared almonds and maybe hints of mint. Leather, livestock and primroses... Serious complex stuff!

Taste:
Oh, wow... vanilla'ed fruits, peach/nectarine style with late arriving peat. Very oily mouth feel, very coating and full flavoured. Peppery spices and ginger... Chocolate covered lemon slices and peat hangs on in the aftertaste...

This is one cracking dram!

92/100!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

SPRINGBANK 1999 - DK PRIVATE CASK

Back in the late 1990's, Springbank sold cask for private ownership to raise capital for their business. This resulted in quite a few casks in the hands of more ordinary people, rather than owned by the distillery and/or by some indie bottler. Due to Springbanks small stock some of these private casks have been bought back from private owner ship to fill the gap in the distillery's own stock.

Anywa, one of these private casks is reviewed below.
Its a cask bottled with the custom label for Springbanks private casks series and in a standard bottle. The cask is a split cask between 5 whisky loving guys in the mid-south of Denmark.

Springbank 1999 08.10.1999/xx.xx.2010 54,5% refill sherry hogshead#282, 297 bottles, Private cask for The Five Whisky Connoisseurs

Colour: Very pale straw

Nose:
Sweet, then ashy peat...an extremely 'naked' Springbank - I'm thinking very much new make on some notes here... but it has still matured to a degree where the cask is speaking beautifully to you with garden bonfires, salty wood chips, delicate smoky pears, melon and olive oil

Taste:
Immediate attack of sweetness, then sour and then hugely spicy. The smoky pears reappear followed by pleasant earthy peat notes to a level where you could mistake this whisky a Longrow. Its extremely coastal with brine, salt and minerals. Mid palate it produces some lovely grapefruit and tonic water notes following through to the finish.

Lovely 'naked style' Springbank!

87/100!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

SPRINGBANK 21 - DISTILLERY BOTTLING (2005)

One of the great cult whiskies from Campbeltown darling Springbank is the 21yo.
It has been bottled in several batches - the first one all the way back in 1985 in a clear dumpy bottle all the way up until today where, in late 2011 it was bottled in the Springbank bottles we know today. It hit the market with a staggering price tag in earlier 2012, but still the 1560 bottles released never sat long on the retails shelves...

The small amount released through time has always been because of the relatively small output and old maturing stock at Springbank, so when you get a chance to try this one, go ahead... its a rarity

Here's my take on one of the latest (2005) release:

Springbank 21yo 46%, Distillery bottling (2005)

Deep gold in colour

Nose:
Very mellow vanilla'ed sherry, molecules of peat, musty oranges and the inside of a traditional dunnage warehouse comes to mind. A few Rum notes also springs into mind along with honey and chocolate muesli bars. Notes from of a Danish bakery shop...

Taste:
Surprisingly fresh and with a good steady mouth arrival.
Then a thin layer of clean sherry finishing off with a bitter hint of nuts and the dried fruitmix you find in the stores. Some pleasant oak and honey in the aftertaste and a salty feeling along the edges of your mouth. Very well balanced malt! Textbook!

There's no ½ points in my book, so I have to take it up to 92/100!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

GLENROTHES 1994 - GORDON & MACPHAIL ELGIN SHOP EXCLUSIVE

Think I might as well do another Glenrothes while at it...

I picked up this bottle in May 2012 when over for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

After a visit to the Gordon & MacPhail warehouse in Elgin (...and wow!!! lots of goodies in there!) our small party headed for the shop in South Street, where I picked up this G&M Shop Exclusive bottling. There were other bottlings available but I went for this one since I don't have that much Glenrothes in the cupboard.

So, how is this one?

Glenrothes 1994 17yo 06.10.1994/xx.11.2011 17yo refill sherry hogshead#8940 50%, 204 bottles, G&M Elgin Retail shop Exclusive

Deep gold/amber

Nose:
Slight alcohol burn hits the nose. Then sherry soaked oak with dried fruits. Remarkably fresh in style given it has some earthen notes too. Hints of Tiramisu maybe along with some roasted coffee beans. Water brings out some garden fruits.

Taste:
Strikes me as  being a somewhat 'hot' spirit, this one... and spicy like a habanero straight out of the Yucatàn peninsula (no, not really...but a little chili though). Honeyed sherry - if there is such - a light oloroso blanket with more drying spices and a slightly tannic finish.

A good dram, although its a little 'hot'

86/100!