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.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

BENRIACH 1975 PEATED TAWNY PORT - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

This is the final BenRiach review for now... This bottling is one of the batch released of single casks the distillery does from time to time - and as they also do with Glendronach.

This is a 1975 and about as old as casks get these days in the BenRiach warehouses... and many of these 70's bottlings are stuff of legends - absolutely crackers!

Let's try this one and see if it can live up to the expectations... and how it handles the port finish!

BenRiach 1975 (xx.07.2009) 33yo, 52,2%, peated, Tawny Port finish, cask#4450, Batch 6, 648 bottles, Distillery bottling

Colour is light amber with an orange hue

Nose:
Orangeries, spicy oak, red grapes, freshly squeezed garden fruits, almost no peat - only vague hints left.

Taste:
Extremely fruity, vinous too, again just very small amounts of peat, honey, soft tropical fruits, loads of pineapple, dominant peach and some apricot and with a hint of blackcurrant and anise on the finish.

This is one of those finishes that has worked beyond belief - what a cracker!
I just wanted to keep sipping this one... :-)

91/100!

Friday, 29 March 2013

BENRIACH PEATED RUM CASK 1995 DK EXCLUSIVE - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

IMO, ex-rum casks is somewhat of a hit and miss... or at least 'try before you buy'

I've had quite a few now - everything from high profile distilleries like Brora and Ardbeg and others like Caol Ila, Bruichladdich, Dallas Dhu, BenRiach and Springbank... I've had more but when I mention Springbank last here it's because I think the Springbank spirit goes very well with rum cask maturation.

Now, also Hazelburn from Springbank Distillery goes very well with rum casks.
Is it because Springbank has a different policy about 'finishing'? I mean, they do not really do a finish - they do more of a double maturation with an equal number of years in the cask as it has previously spent in (usually) bourbon wood. Either that or they do a full maturation in a e.g. rum cask. Bottom line is that I think it works unlike some of the above mentioned where it has not fully integrated with the original cask contents...

IMHO, Port (a hint for next review) and sometimes other red wine casks makes for decent finishing, but I do prefer just ex-bourbon or ex-sherry cask maturation - call me a Puritan - I don't care :-)

What's your favourite cask type for finishing/secondary maturation? and why?

Here's the last of the DK exclusive casks... a peated rum cask...

BenRiach 1995/2012 17yo (peated), 52,6%, Single rum barrel#3928, 199 bottles for DK importer MACY

Colour is straw

Nose:
Is this BenRiach? Old fishbox, coal smoke, a little toffee, sloe gin? Like walking into the Giraffe house at the Zoo - Ammonia style? really unpleasant I think

Taste:
I'm thinking more Islay than Speyside here with fishery/smokehouse notes, but then I get that ammonia again - nothing really works here for me - I just don't like it... the whole thing seems... off!

I sit here wondering of this has been an attempt to salvage some poor spirit or the whole cask just has been off to begin with and ruined some good BenRiach spirit.

65/100! ...and that's only for the Islay-notes in it....

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

INTERNATIONAL WHISKY DAY 27TH MARCH

The 27th of March has since 2007 seen the celebration of the great drink of whisky... and of course one of its foremost advocates, writer Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson was born on 27th March 1942 and has been one of the most influential whisky writers out there, but sadly in 2007 he died from Parkinson's disease.

Today, on INTERNATIONAL WHISKY DAY you are encouraged to raise a glass of whisky in honour of the man who wrote one of the most well know whisky books ever - 'The Malt Whisky Companion'. It's also a plea to support the research into Parkinson's disease which can be done here.

Please also visit the International Whisky Day website and most importantly, enjoy a glass of whisky on this day!


BENRIACH FRESH PX 1996 DK EXCLUSIVE - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

While at it, I'll have a go at 2 more Denmark Exclusives... These 2 (this and the next review) were both bottled in 2012 as opposed to the previous 2 from 2011.

Here's one for the sherry-heads out there... :-)

BenRiach 1996/2012 16yo, 53,1%, Single fresh PX cask#5610, 283 bottles for DK Importer MACY

Colour is mahogany

Nose:
Heavy, dark fruits, some honey, tiny amounts of sulphur that disappears after a short while, hot mulled wine, spirit filled chocolates and malt

Taste:
Dark fruits, creamy mouthfeel,  nutty, oily, licorice, mouth filling coffee notes, a good malt backbone still, lots of bitter dark chocolates, a bit drying on the finish.

A great classic style sherried dram!

89/100!

Monday, 25 March 2013

BENRIACH PEATED 1995 DK EXCLUSIVE - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

In my previous review I promised I'd review the peated cask selected for Danish Importer Macy's 15th anniversary.

Now, the last peated Benriach I reviewed on Thursday 21st March was decent, but I wasn't overly impressed with it. Let's see if a single cask allows the spirit to shine more through in this expression - especially since it's a 2nd fill cask

BenRiach 1995/xx.10.2011 16yo 53,5%, 2nd fill ex-Bourbon cask#2481, 224 bottles for DK Importer Macy's 15th anniversary

Colour is straw

Nose:
Sweet, almost floral peat, citrus, green grapes, a little spice and a farmyard note.

Taste:
Salty, fruits, peat, sweet malt, vanilla and citrus, a bit earthy, creamy and very little oak influence.

This one is clearly better than the 17yo Septendecim, IMO... much more vibrant! A combination of less oak influence and higher abv% lets the BenRiach spirit shine.

86/100!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

WHISKY MAGAZINE WORLD WHISKY AWARDS 2013

Here's a quick heads up for those interested in awards...

Whisky Magazine has released their awards for 2013. You can see the very long list here

Saturday, 23 March 2013

BENRIACH 1996 DK EXCLUSIVE - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Danish BenRiach importer MACY picked this cask (and another peated cask, which I'll be reviewing later) back in 2011 on their tour of Scotland to celebrate their 15th anniversary in the business.

This one is a 'virgin oak' cask... and having looked that up on the great WWW, there seems to be many definitions to what 'virgin oak' cask is - at least when it comes to whisky maturation.

Here's a few suggestions:

  • Completely fresh oak off the sawmill coopered into a cask and filled with Scottish spirit
  • Fresh oak as above, charred, scraped and then filled with Scottish spirit
  • A fresh oak cask, charred, filled with American spirit, emptied and the filled with Scottish spirit
  • A fresh oak cask, charred, filled with American spirit, emptied, charred again, then filled with Scottish spirit
I, of course have my own opinion of what this is, of course and I swear to one of the above statements but if you read i.e. an online retailers definition (MoM), it leans in another direction...

But what is your definition of 'virgin oak'? Let's try and get a discussion going although its an older topic in the whisky community... Anyway, while you think about it, you can read my review:

BenRiach 1996/xx.10.2011 15yo 51,5%, single virgin cask#3273, 315 bottles for DK Importer MACY 15th Anniversary

Colour is amber

Nose:
Marzipan, vanilla, varnish, flowery, polished hardwood, clear wood overtones, very spicy too

Taste:
Cough syrup, avalanche of oak spices, sugared almonds (that marzipan again), Wood sap, crisp malt, peppery... even some salt!

A good malt, though not one to venture into without some whisky drinking experience, though

86/100!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

BENRIACH 17YO SEPTENDECIM - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

In 1972, back when BenRiach was still owned by Chivas, a small amount of peated whisky was need for the Chivas blends. With the lack of an Islay distillery in their portfolio, Chivas decided to have BenRiach produce some peated whisky for this purpose. Although not their main output, they still produced a quantity for them to put matured for longer periods.

Now, personally I've never been a huge fan of peated Speysiders as I find most of the expressions I've tried simply doesn't work for me. I most often find that the peat doesn't seem to be integrated with the rest of the spirit and with that throwing the whole thing off balance, IMO... That said, there always exceptions to the rule - as there almost always is :-)

As you might have imagined by now, this next review features a peated BenRiach expression and an expression from their standard range.

BenRiach 17 Septendicem Peated 46%, ex-Bourbon casks, Distillery Bottling

Colour is white wine

Nose:
Very peaty on the nose, more than expected, fruits, floral, burnt lovage and a bit grainy/mashy

Taste:
Oily, smoky, vanilla, more grainy than malt notes, I think, sweet peat and a little citrus.

Not really getting a lot off of this - everything seems to be drowned in peat, though a little even water and time seems to help.

Decent whisky if you're a peathead, but if I wanted something this peaty, I'd have and Islay malt - this just doesn't cut it for me. Missing the usual Speyside complexity entirely, IMO - though still worth exploring.

82/100!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

BENRIACH 12YO SHERRYWOOD - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

BenRiach has much stood out for me as the 'Progressive Distillers' in Speyside. I know its a term Bruichladdich on Islay has used, but I see a few similarities between them. They're both - at least uptil last year (B'laddich sold to Remy Martin) - both independently owned and was not afraid to use a load of different casks for maturation - red wine, rum, port, Madeira, Moscatel along with the more traditional ones as Oloroso and PX...

Another similarity is the peated whisky from both distilleries. Although the character of the peat, IMO stops right here its still fun to try what styles on peatiness that comes out of Speyside in contrast to Islay. IMO, its a much more floral style of peat that comes out of Speyside and if I do have to compare the style with anything on Islay it would have to be Bowmore.

I'll be doing reviews of 7 BenRiach expressions over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for a spread of what this distillery puts out.

BenRiach 12yo Sherry Wood, 46%, Distillery Bottling

Colour is amber

Nose:
Caramel, malt, heavy honey and sherry, dried dark grapes - raisins

Taste:
Apples, sweet sherry, creamy and oily, almost floral with some licorice. Finish is drying and nutty.

Matured in both oloroso and PX casks this of course is bound to have many of the above characteristics and it's a very nice introduction to sherried Speyside whisky.

84/100!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

BUSHMILLS BLACK BUSH - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

First of all a Happy St. Patrick's Day to the Irish.... and second of all welcome to a Flash Mob Blog entry for whisky bloggers all over the world, though mainly the US/Canada and Europe.
I know there are others out there and I'm sorry to have left you out, but mentioning all in but a few words will make this a very long list.

The idea of this Flash Mob Blog for St. Patrick's Day came from Johanne McInnis who's been the organising force behind this - good work, Johanne! :-)

Now, I think most know the Bushmills Distillery as being the one outside the Irish republic, sitting in Northern Ireland (UK) instead and boasting their first legal distillation date as far back as 1608 on their bottle labels.

When trying to remember the first Irish whiskey I had, Tullamore Dew springs to mind - after that Jameson's... lots of Jameson's! and Guinness on a very nice trip to the Irish capitol back in Y2K - my only regret is that I haven't been back since as I'd love to go around the the Emerald Isle.

Now we're here for a review of the Black Bushmills. As with most Irish whiskey (not all, in fact) Bushmills is triple distilled as opposed to Scottish which is on double distilled (with exceptions, again of course) so Irish whiskey will give that bit of extra smoothness and but maybe also that little bit less complexity as the 3 distillation run can take away some of the flavours... but that's an entire full chemistry lesson in itself and not one for a St. Patrick's Day celebration

Bushmills Black Bush 40%, Distillery Bottling

Bottle is about 3 years old but opened recently. The makeup of the Black Bush is 80% malt whiskey and 20% grain. My sample was generously provided by a friend - thank you!

Colour is light amber

Nose:
Initially some dark fruits, very resinous, some spices. Also getting a floral hint somewhere and maybe some ginger ale? Some banana even?

Taste:
Very well integrated malt and grain here. The ratio of 80% malt and 20% grain shows. I feel the grain gives it just that little bit more sweetness where as the malt provides for some heavier creamy notes. A very nice, though slightly bitter and nutty sherry pops up mid palate, but only the be relieved by some lingering sweet wood spices, caramel and a faint hint of licorice.

This is a good all evening sipping whiskey and should certainly be a part of a St. Patrick's Day celebration! ... along with some pints of Guinness, of course! ;-)

81/100!


Here's a list of the other Flash Mob Bloggers and their reviews of the Black Bush:


Joe Ellis (Whisky Wednesday) – UK
Mark Dermul – Belgium

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3VDH9kAKKo
http://www.connosr.com/reviews/bushmills/bushmills-black-bush/irish-top-blend/

Jan van den Ende - Brazil
The Miss Whisky , Alwynne Gwilt – UK

http://misswhisky.com/2013/03/17/black-bush-whiskey-flash-blog/

Gal Granov – Israel
Joshua Feldman – USA

http://theperfectwhiskymatch.blogspot.ca/2013/03/guest-blogger-for-st-patricks-day.html

Frank Plafondon – Canada
Angelo Veneziano – USA

http://boozedancing.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/st-patricks-day-flashmobblog-whiskey-review-bushmills-black-bush/

Sjoerd de Hann – Netherlands
Miguel Angel Blanch – Spain

http://awardrobeofwhisky.com/bottle/bushmills-black-bush

Tom Tompson – UK
Susannah Barton-Skiver – USA

http://whattastesgood.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/tasting-notes-bushmills-black-bush-head-to-head/

William Gemmell – USA
Dave Worthington – UK

http://whisky-discovery.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/whisky-discovery-3493.html

Gert Jan de-Reuter – Netherlands
Rob Gard – USA

http://whiskyguyrob.com/whiskyguyblog/robby-oill-and-the-little-people/

Dave Smith – Canada
Femke  - Netherlands

http://whiskygirl.nl/into-the-black-bush/

Jordan Devereaux – USA

http://cocktailchem.blogspot.ca/2012/03/whiskey-for-st-patricks-day-bushmills.html

JF Pilon – Canada
Johanna & Graham MacKenney  - Canada

http://theperfectwhiskymatch.blogspot.ca/2013/03/st-patricks-day-bushmills-black-bushhe.html

Josh Zollweg – USA
Peter Lemon – USA

http://thecasks.com/2013/03/17/bushmills-black-bush-review-2013-redux/

Malt Impostor – USA

http://www.maltimpostor.com/2013/03/the-bushmills-black-bush-750-ml-flash.html

Thursday, 14 March 2013

OLD PULTENEY 1997 - GORDON & MACPHAIL FOR THE WHISKY CASTLE IN TOMINTOUL

Making your way all the way up to the town of Wick to visiting Old Pulteney is a long drive in itself and finally reaching the distillery makes you wonder if you're really in the right place...

Located in residential neighbourhood and not that far from Wick harbour, the whole thing still looks a bit bleak - even on a sunny day, but the spirit from there is not - it's great!

Old Pulteney offices and visitors centre - August 2009 © The Malt Desk
The review this time is a single cask sherried Pulteney - something you don't see alot of out there. It's bottled by Elgin based Gordon & MacPhail who's cask management is something of a work of art in itself. They have - or at least have had - contracts to have their own carefully selected casks filled at the distilleries and with that ensuring a minimum of dodgy casks in their stock - although you can never be sure how a casks matures your whisky - but you can minimize the risk by good wood management.

In early 2011 I picked a cask from several samples to be bottled for our local whisky club - also a 1997 and also from Gordon & MacPhail - although a lovely single bourbon cask. Lovely stuff! My review can be found here. If you would like other people's opinion on it, have a look at whiskybase.com - the direct link is here.

Now, back to the sherried Old Pulteney - this version is selected and bottled for Mike Drury who owns the incredible well stocked shop 'The Whisky Castle' in the village of Tomintoul high up in the Speyside hills. It's a shop I can recommend you visit as Mike and his wife Cathy are the friendliest of hosts and there's always a dram ready almost the minute you come in the door... and then there's the well stocked shelves there... bring a well stocked wallet or be sure you're credit card can be charged a bit - it's another place I always visit when in Speyside!

Old Pulteney 1997 13yo (25.09.1997/xx.04.2011) 58,9%, refill sherry hogshead#1180, 273 bottles, Gordon & MacPhail Exclusive for The Whisky Castle in Tomintoul

Colour is amber

Nose:
Dark fruits, and brown overripe banana, salted pork, burnt creme brulee crust, polished hardwood and remarkably fresh

Taste:
Spicy oak, lovely oloroso sherry coating, caramelised apples, a nice malt base mid palate, some Pulteney saltiness, nuts and chocolate.

This improves very much with oxidation. I wasn't terribly impressed with it when I first opened the bottle, but that changed after about 1 week - and now the bottle is empty!

89/100!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

CLYNELISH 1997 15YO - ADELPHI

Alex Bruce from Adelphi has just been touring Denmark to promote their products... IMO they sell themselves - I've yet to have a bottling I would consider 'bad' - but it good to see Alex out and about and hope to catch up with him myself before long. I'm sure he has exiting things to tell about the progression of the Ardnamurchan Distillery.

I visited the plot of land where it was to be built in August 2012 - and it wasn't literally nothing more than an overgrown plot with vegetation little more than knee high in most places.

When I first heard of the location of Adelphi's Distillery I thought they'd lost their marbles but having been there I see the beauty of Ardnamurchan with the peninsula running all the way out to make the westerly mainland point in Scotland... but most important what it can provide with both peat styles, water and also being close to the Glenborrodale Castle where Alex & Co. sometimes use as a business location. I just wonder if the road there is up for the traffic - first the builders and then all the whisky tourists going there once the distillery is completed... I mean, most of the road going there is single track :-O

The plot of land where the Ardnamurchan Distillery is to be built - August 22nd 2012 © The Malt Desk
We're now 2½ months into 2013 and plans are for the Ardnamurchan Distillery to be distilling in the autumn of the this year - I hope they succeed and also hope to visit the place again before long...

Now onto the review:

Clynelish 1997 15yo 54,5% refill bourbon cask#6510, 283 bottles, Adelphi

Colour is white wine

Nose:
Creamy apple at first nosing, roasted bread crumbs, vanilla custard and after a short while some citrus notes along with honey, oak, wet malt, whole-grain cereal and natural caramel.

Taste:
Lovely crisp oak and slightly floral and waxy arrival turning to vanilla'ed malt and honey, vanilla butter biscuits (DK style), barley sugars and a hint of spicy oak on the finish.

An incredible easy drinker this Clynelish, pleasant with a distinct waxy and natural caramel edge to it - good fun!

86/100!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

GLENDULLAN 1998 - GORDON & MACPHAIL FOR MCBAINS OF DUFFTOWN

Glendullan Distillery (under renovation) May 1st 2010 © The Malt Desk

Glendullan was also on the tour during the '7 stills of Dufftown' event at the Spirit of Speyside Festival... actually it's on every year, but 2010 was the last year Diageo let anyone take pictures inside - I also had a short rant about this in the 1 month old Mortlach review.

Glendullan is another of those workhorse distilleries that's a part of the Diageo portfolio and is rarely bottled as a single malt except by the independent bottlers - and not often from them either, I might add...

Now, I've only reviewed 1 Glendullan before here on The Malt Desk and that was a very nice official bottling in the Rare Malt series... but other than that Glendullan is generally only blend fodder - and much like Glen Ord it was for a short while associated with 'The Singleton'...

Still some of it gets bottled as a single malt, like the one I'm about to review... Its a bottling done for the McBains off-license shop in Dufftown who in 2010 had a very nice bourbon cask Mortlach bottled for them...

Glendullan 1998/2011 54,7% cask#18567, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for McBains of Dufftown

Colour is straw

Nose:
Metal shavings, a bit of farmyard, grapefruits, hint of plastic boxes, very acidic and with hints of fabric softener

Taste:
Custard and licorice, a bit hot but water takes some of that away, but it still relies on that citrussy note to carry it through. The finish has a bit of a hoppy style note to it - some bitterness, but what surprises me most is that it has a bit of peat on the finish!! Go figure!...

Drinkable - especially with water but it won't win any awards, IMHO.

Thanks again to my very good friend for the sample....   79/100!

Friday, 8 March 2013

GLENFARCLAS 1974 - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Speyside favorite and independent distillery, Glenfarclas, has through the years put out some cracking bottlings - both in their standard range where I'd like to highlight their 15yo bottled at 46%...

As an independent and family owned distillery, they've always been very protective of the Glenfarclas name when it comes to its use on independent bottlings. Best example was a few years back when indie bottler Cadenhead release a couple too many bottlings with the distillery name on year and Glenfarclas through litigation had that brought down to max 2 per annum.

The only other bottler that has come close putting out a reasonable amount of Glenfarclas is The Scotch Malt Whisky Society and - as you would know if you've been following my reviews in 2013 - they don't put the Glenfarclas name on the bottle - just a 1.xxx as Glenfarclas was the first cask the SMWS ever had bottled.

Glenfarclas puts great pride in being a part of the Spirit of Speyside Festival each year too.
They open their door with extra tours and special events like the picking of the next family cask bottling and tastings of the same range. You can read a report from picking of the 1997 Family Cask during the 2012 Spring Festival here.

Located at the foot of Benrinnes hill, the distillery fairly open grounds offers a great views of the place and being in Speyside it's one of the distilleries you just have to tour. I go there every time I'm in Speyside... :-)

Glenfarclas Stillhouse - March 2009 © The Malt Desk

As I mentioned in the previous post, the stuff of the 70's are legendary from most distilleries and Glenfarclas which also have stuff dating back from the 50's (Check their Family Cask range) is no exception - lovely, just absolutely lovely old sherry casks from that era... and still today Glenfarclas manages to source some pretty good casks, IMO - let's all hope they can keep that up!

A good friend of mine generously provided a nice size sample for me to review - Thank you!

Glenfarclas 1974 30yo (11.07.1974/26.10.2004) 53,3%, sherry cask#6042, 288 bottles for Austria, Distillery bottling

Colour is mahogany

Nose:
Oozes of old style sherry, very winey, lovely hardwood notes and after a short while gives off almost the scent of a high quality tawny port with underlying barley sugars and danish xmas spice cake. Also a clear apple note in there as well, shoe polish, rum filled chocolates and even a hint of smoke.

Taste:
Pretty lively for a 30yo whisky with an arrival that would have fit a dram half its age. Lovely cinnamon buns, chocolate covered orange slices, hints of mint, nutmeg and mulled wine. Sticks to the back roof of your mouth and cheeks forever with nutty oloroso and malt notes.

I'm guessing this is what chewing Caledonia pipe tobacco mix (DK special blend) will taste like.

An absolutely cracking expression - Thanks again for the sample!

91/100!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

OLD PULTENEY WK 499 - II - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Old Pulteney - Warehouse No. 5 - August 2009 © The Malt Desk
A short while ago, this lovely distillery had to remove the marketing phrase of being the  'Northernmost Scotch Mainland Whisky Distillery' as just a bit further north - in Thurso - distilling started at Wolfburn Distillery... but Wolfburn is not the focus here today - Old Pulteney in Wick is...

Ever since Jim Murray named the OP 21yo whisky of the year in 2012, bottle of the 21yo has been flying off the shelves everywhere... even bottles from older batches, that with great certainty weren't the stuff Jim Murray tasted - go figure that move? :-O
But I guess people we're just desperate to try the 'World's Best Whisky 2012' - so desperate the 21yo sold out almost everywhere and the boys at Inverhouse (the owners) had to work overtime to put more out there...

Today, I'll be reviewing a bottling for Travel Retail - actually its the 2nd bottling in a series of 3 so far...

The bottlings are (all for travel retail):
  • Old Pulteney NAS WK499 'Isabella Fortuna' 52%
  • Old Pulteney NAS WK499 II 46%
  • Old Pulteney NAS WK217 'Spectrum'
I'll be reviewing the middle one... the names of course are names of names of fishing boats to show Pulteney's strong connection with the sea...

Old Pulteney NAS WK499 II 46%

Colour is light amber

Nose:
Fresh apples, and wet oak/wood shavings, briny and fresh, gets even more fruity (citrus) with time in the glass

Taste:
Sweet malt, peppery, more apples followed by some pear, aniseed, hints of cumin maybe?

Very easy drinking malt and not overly expressive - I like the 1st edition better
Again, thanks to my friend, for the sample!

84/100!

Monday, 4 March 2013

LEDAIG 1972 - ALAMBIC CLASSIQUE RARE & OLD COLLECTION

August 2012 saw my first long overdue visit to the Isle of Mull and Tobermory Distillery... or so I had hoped... unfortunately they were shut down for unscheduled maintenance on exactly the days we were there... but I guess that's as good a reason as any to go back as Mull is a stunningly beautiful island. Some of the small bays -especially Calgary Bay- on the B8073 road looks Mediterranean in the sunshine...

But this post is about whisky, not sandy beaches and piña coladas...

Tobermory Distillery, August 20th 2012 - © The Malt Desk 
Tobermory Distillery in Tobermory is a part of the Burn Stewart Distillers that also own Bunnahabhain on Islay and Deanston in the Highlands and the blends 'Scottish leader' and the ever so popular 'Black Bottle'.

A few years back Burn Stewart decided to drop the evil E150 caramel colouring, chill filtration and up their abv% on their malt bottlings to 46,3% which has done wonders for their products... and what a great step in the right direction for the whisky industry - How I'd wish others would follow...

Tobermory distillery does a peated version of their malt named Ledaig... a good 10 years back some of the Ledaig that were released then was some vile stuff, classified by some as paint stripper or toilet cleanser (harsh statement - I know) in short they were very feinty... but that's over now. Tobermory has gotten its act together and is now releasing a very good standard Tobermory and Ledaig 10yo.

But back to today's review. As with any older bottling expectations start to go up a bit, and the one I'll be reviewing today is no exception. We're back in the the early 1970's - the period before automation and when every knob and valve was still operated by hand.
Other distilleries have become legendary due to their fabulous stuff from the 70's... How about Ardbeg or Brora just to mention a couple of the major cult ones?

Let's try a Ledaig from 1972:

Ledaig 1972 37yo (21.12.1972/04.04.2010) 48,1%, Oloroso sherry butt#10722, 152 bottles, Alambic Classique Rare & Old Collection

Colour is dark amber

Nose:
Some peat - in no way overwhelming, oranges, dried grapes/raisins, wet newspaper, a bit musty, mellow dark fruits and a slight waste oil dirtiness.

Taste:
Light peat, sherry and nutty, dark tobaccos and chocolates, a few drops of water brings out a little rubbery note and peppery/spicy note and hints of wet hay and brackish water.

Maybe I had my hopes a bit high up for this one as I've previously had a couple (a 72' and a 73') that has been nothing short of excellent. This is still good whisky, but I will not be sharing the much praise this expression has gotten on e.g. Whiskybase.com.

84/100!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

ISLE OF ARRAN 1996 UK EXCLUSIVE - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Next up is a bottling from the lovely island of Arran again.

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, the quality of some of these malts from there are very high in quality. I know many single casks come from there and its 'easy' to pick out and bottle a good cask and make people think its the standard for the distillery - but remember, dear readers, it isn't...

That said, the regular bottlings from the distillery, especially the 12yo Cask Strength and 14yo bottled at 46% are good bottlings indeed! Also their entry level 10yo is a nice dram!

Having praised Arran's more easily obtainable bottlings, I'll (sigh! sorry folks) be reviewing another single cask bottling - this time a UK exclusive...

Arran Distillery wash still - August 19th 2012 © The Malt Desk
Isle of Arran 1996 15yo (11.12.1996/01.10.2012) 53,9%, ex-sherry cask#1968, 263 bottles, Distillery bottling for the UK market

Colour is dark amber

Nose:
Raisins, oily, hint of anise and mint, spices, milk chocolates and praline, heavy malt, apples, hint of varnish

Taste:
Creamy, beautifully measured oloroso influence, coffee shop, dark chocolate, dried fruits, orange liqueur, hint of old cognac, fresh crispy and spicy oak finish.

This is probably the best Arran malt I've tried so far... What a cracker!

90/100!