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.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

WILLIAM LARUE WELLER STRAIGHT BOURBON 2005 - BUFFALO TRACE DISTILLERY

Now on to the next bottling from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, I'll be reviewing... the William Larue Weller or W.L.Weller for short.

This is a wheated bourbon, getting good reviews in many places and being wheated it should have that extra sweetness, something I'm not that good at handling.

Again as I mentioned in the previous review this costs about the same as a nose tip on a jet fighter here in Denmark. We're talking so much money I never would put that up for bourbon myself. A Scottish malt on the other hand, I have no trouble with spending that kind of money on. We're talking about 1600-1800 Dkr. or £220/€240/$300 here. That's simply too much for a column and sometimes pot distilled grain spirit, IMO... and I'm counting Scottish grains here as well - just to let you know I'm not deliberately bashing US Whiskeys now!!

This statement will probably get some of you out of your chairs, but its my honest opinion even though I do think this W.L.Weller is good... just not 1600-1800 Dkr. or £220/€240/$300-good!

What would I pay for this? 600 Dkr maybe... (£66/€80/$100)

Review time...

Buffalo Trace Distillery Grounds - picture from Buffalo Trace media kit
William Larue Weller, Kentucky Straight Bourbon (wheated) 2005, 60,95%, Buffalo Trace Distillery & Antique Collection

Colour is dark mahogany

Nose:
Huge on vanilla and dark chocolate, salami, some alcohol, fruit sugars, Xmas cake, nutty and hint of perfume (after shave style).

Taste:
Creme brulee with the burnt sugar crust, dark chocolate again, cinnamon sprinkled apples, pistachio nuts, dark but light style rum, BBQ'ed corn, coffee, oranges and raspberry

For a bourbon, this is good stuff for sure and I really like it! ;-) But I'd not take more than one dram from this in a session. Again, its just too sweet for that!

83/100!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

THOMAS H. HANDY SAZERAC RYE 2012 - BUFFALO TRACE DISTILLERY

Back to Frankfort, Kentucky for the next 3 reviews. I mentioned in this review that I'll be getting to some bottles from Buffalo Trace's Antique Collection... and that time has now come.

The, among US Whiskey lovers, acclaimed, Buffalo Trace Antique Collection consists of the following 5 bottles:
  • Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye (reviewed below)
  • Sazerac 18yo Rye
  • William Larue Weller (reviewed later)
  • Eagle Rare 17yo
  • George T. Stagg (reviewed later)
Now, these bottles cost the same as a very good old Scottish malt, so even before reviewing them (and I have tried them before starting this blog also) I'll just come straight out at say it... They're not worth the price! At least not what we have to pay for them in Denmark...

Prices are x5 for the George T. Stagg here in Denmark compared to the US and the Larue Weller and Thomas Handy are about x3-4 as much... Of course some of it are taxes, but other than that I simple have to write it off to a greedy importer who happily pushed up the prices before the recession hit... and refuse to acknowledge the possible need to lower it again! But hey, as long as they get it sold, the prices is maybe not too high... Just goes to prove that the World's last idiots are not born yet...

With the risk of being called a copycat etc. from other website/fora, I'd like to use the quote "A fool and his money are soon parted..."

The whiskey may justify the prices its initial retail price in the US, but IMO its not worth more than that... it's simple not good enough! ...and that's my honest opinion. Before you fly to your keyboards to try and prove me wrong, you can't - why? again read the 3rd paragraph in my Bernheim review.

That said, others with ahem... less discerning palates (irony may have been used here) and too much money should, of course, feel free to still spend their hard earned money on this.

Rant over... Review time...

Buffalo Trace spirit tap - picture from Buffalo Trace Media Kit
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac (2012) 66,2% Rye, Buffalo Trace Distillery & Antique Collection

Colour is dark mahogany


Nose:
Undiluted, mainly on alcohol and heavy toasted oak notes. Mint toothpaste, cooked apple, pastry shop, tobacco and some mustiness

Taste:
Drying, mainly because of the alcohol, grilled banana. cloves, sour dough bread, hints of lemon, old tobacco box, black pepper, apricot and caramel

A good Rye, no doubt about that! but again far from worth the price in Denmark.

82/100!





Tuesday, 27 August 2013

NOAH'S MILL BATCH 12.68 - KENTUCKY BOURBON DISTILLERS, WILLETT'S

Moving some 55 miles to the south west to Bardstown, Kentucky for this next review.

The distillery here is Willett. As with many US whiskies, the Noah's Mill brand is a part Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, which again is a part of Willett. Confusing?? have a look here for more on their umbrella of products. Also Wikipedia carries a page about KBD, it can be found here.

This company makeup is also the same with almost all of the other producers as well.

I remember trying this a few years ago (a different batch, of course) and thinking it was very good so I looked forward to revisiting the brand again.

Willett Distillery, Bardstown, Kentucky - picture from Willett website.

Here's my take on it:

Noah's Mill 57,15%. batch 12.68, Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (Willett)

Colour is mahogany

Nose:
Chocolate cake creme, dark fruits, prunes, wet oak, veggie oils, wet newspaper, burnt sugars

Taste:
Surprising light and creamy arrival in spite of the 57,15% abv...
Oranges, brown sugar, hint of English breakfast tea, spicy and peppery, mint, raspberry, nutmeg and clove, burnt sugar and very drying on the finish

Very good, I think... but not as good as the one I remember having a while back.
This is also a 15yo Bourbon which is not so often seen, as you should think 15 years in a new oak barrel would make the cask the over completely.

81/100!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

OLD WELLER ANTIQUE 107 - BUFFALO TRACE DISTILLERY

We're still in Frankfort, Kentucky for this next review. This time (as well in later reviews) I'm gonna be reviewing whiskey from Buffalo Trace Distillery.

Buffalo Trace Distillery is probably most well known for their Antique Collection which has brand names as prominent as William Larue Weller, Eagle Rare and George T. Stagg, the latter being named the Worlds best Bourbon on several occasions. I won't be reviewing the Antique Collection (yet!! - but stay tuned) - instead, I'll start off with a another Weller bourbon from their extensive portfolio. Although this also carries the 'Antique'-name it has nothing to do with the above mentioned prominent Antique collection.

Casks from Buffalo Trace Distillery - Picture from Buffalo Trace Media Kit
This is a wheated bourbon, which means that the 2nd grain in this mix is a high percentage wheat content.

Old Weller Antique 107 proof (53,5%), wheated bourbon, Buffalo Trace Distillery

Colour is mahogany

Nose:
Spicy, toasted oak, oranges, burnt caramel, coffee allsorts, new sawn wood

Taste:
Medium light arrival, bitter sweet oak, brown sugar, fresh ginger, some herbal notes and Haribo wine gums

Very gentle for a 107 proof... and starting to show a style I can relate more to then the previous ones... and also providing back for your buck, this one as its fairly priced in Denmark.

80/100!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

WOODFORD RESERVE RYE - NEW AND AGED CASK - WOODFORD DISTILLERY

Moving back to Kentucky, just south of Frankfort for a visit to the Woodford Distillery.
Using only copper pot stills made in Scotland, Woodford produces both Bourbon & Ryes on those stills... and they something fun for maturation, something anoraks will appreciate, I'm sure!

They matured some of their Rye in both new and aged oak barrels, the latter previous holding bourbon! Its a bottling set done in their 'Woodford Reserve Master Collection'

Here's what I think of it...

Again, Before reading reading the review, please read the 3rd paragraph in my first US whiskey review.

Bottles come in a set of 2x35cls containing an aged and new oak matured Rye.




Woodford Reserve New Cask Rye, 46,2%, 35cl, Distillery bottling (left)

Colour is mahogany

Nose:
Creme brulee, spice, pepper, orange, floral

Taste:
Spicy yet sweet rye, oily and gentle wood influence, crisp corn and cloves.

79/100!


Woodford Reserve Aged Cask Rye, 46,2%, 35cl, Distillery bottling (right)

Colour is straw

Nose:
Hint of juniper, grass, peach/apricot and hint of Irish pot still character

Taste:
Herbal note, grass , very fresh, grape chardonnay style, mint, anise, fruit and perfume

Reminds me of a very sweet Irish whiskey

78/100!

A nice experiment they've done here and fun to try the same spirit in both new and aged casks. I would love to try this with alot of Scottish malts as well...

Monday, 19 August 2013

DOUBLE RYE - HIGH WEST DISTILLERY

Moving west to the state of Utah, High West Distillery in Park City, 7000' (2130m) above sea level has this Double Rye among their releases. As with many of their other releases its a whiskey that's blended to produce a specific style and whiskey is brought in from distilleries in the east and Midwest of the US. They produce Rye and Bourbon themselves too and mix it with the bought-in whiskey from other distilleries. Oh, and they produce vodka too :-)

You can read more about High West Distillery on their website.

High West Distillery, Park City, Utah - photo from official press kit
Before reading reading the review, please read the 3rd paragraph in my first US whiskey review.

High West Double Rye, 46%, batch 12B29, High West Distillery

Colour is light amber

Made from 95% 2yo Rye and 16yo bought-in Rye with a mash bill of 53% Rye, 37% Corn and 10% Other

Nose:
Wow, Gin??? but this is a Rye, right? Caramel, licorice, cloves, mint, cinnamon buns, nutmeg. Noses young like expected, but still very expressive

Taste:
Pretty much and echo of the nose, but you get the older spicy rye from the mix here now as well + some vanilla and still loads of cinnamon. Not a favourite, yet its strangely appealling and very fresh - a good mixer?

Hint - don't add water to this one, it goes flat immediately.

77/100!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

BERNHEIM ORIGINAL - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

This has been long overdue... a set of American whiskeys - Bourbons & Ryes...

Its been a while since I've ventured into Bourbon & Ryes, but needed to give it another shot. I've had some before, but need to see if my palate has adjusted over time, so...

I'm gonna start with the fact -and I've mentioned this before when reviewing Scottish grain whisky- that overly sweet whisk(e)y isn't much to my liking... therefore please take note that these reviews might reflect that. That said, I do find some good stuff among the bottles I will be reviewing and I will, of course, try and be as objective as possible. On the other hand, taste is quite subjective anyway, but I just thought you should know ;-)

For the first review we're off to Bernheim (Heaven Hill) plant in Louisville, Kentucky for a review of the Bernheim Original, a mainly (51%) wheat whiskey...

Bernheim warehouse, photo from Bernheim official media kit

Bernheim Small Batch, Wheat whiskey, 45%, Bernheim (Heaven Hill) Distillery bottling

Colour is amber

Nose:
Very light, floral, mint, banana, anise, cough syrup and cinnamon

Taste:
Fruity, light grains, peach, unripe oranges, cloves and grilled banana on a short finish.

Hmm... OK light style, but sweeeet and completely uninspiring. Should be iced, IMO   Guess, being a malt-head shows straight away...

74/100!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

LINKWOOD 15YO - GORDON & MACPHAIL

Not had much Linkwood over the years, actually, and the ones I've had has been forgettable, IMO... except an Adelphi 1984 expression reviewed here and a 18yo dark sherry expression from A.D. Rattray not reviewed on this blog.

Having spent so much time in Speyside its really not OK not to have swung by Linkwood on the outskirts of Elgin... Must remember to do that the next time I'm in the area, though I think 'my places'-check list is starting to grow and I will probably need more than 1 trip - Well, I know I do... ;-)

I'm not gonna bore you with trivia about the distillery itself - you can read about that here.


Linkwood Distillery Pagoda - picture from Wikipedia Public lib
Time for the review...

Linkwood 15yo, 43%, Gordon & MacPhail, print on bottle 31/01/12 AB/JJDI

Colour is amber

Nose:
Dried fruit and cinnamon spice, orange chocolate, hint of something floral, polished hardwood and dark raspberries

Taste:
Gentle creamy arrival on very balanced oak, sherry and malt. After that some honey, fruit and caramel. Moves on to deliver a peppery/spicy burst, old cigar box and Xmas spices - cloves maybe? Finish is little dull and very slightly drying, but not enough to ruin the image of a very nice malt! Rum drinkers can start here...

86/100! ...and thanks to SSS for the sample

Thursday, 8 August 2013

PORT ELLEN 1982 25YO - BLADNOCH FORUM

Sitting here on a late Wednesday night, well its actually turned Thursday by now and have just opened a bottle of Brora from a single sherry butt... very befitting as I'll be doing a review from a distillery that closed the same year (1983) as Port Ellen.

Both were owned by the United Distillers aka Diageo these days... and many words from anoraks has been uttered in agony over the closure of these 2 distilleries. That said, I'm not gonna utter more - I'll just be happy with opportunities I've had to try Port Ellens (and Broras) and being able to go and open a bottle from these distilleries if I feel like it.

This Port Ellen was bottled around 6 years ago when Raymond Armstrong of Bladnoch Distillery was doing bottlings for the members of his online forum... this was before whisky prices went ape shit and this bottle of Port Ellen was aquired for about (without being sure) around £70-80 - great, eh? However, this is now all gone, but instead Raymond's son Martin (whiskybroker.co.uk) is bottling casks also at very decent prices...

Now on to the review...

Port Ellen Bay, Sea front warehouses and pagodas, 5th May 2011 © The Malt Desk
Port Ellen 1982 25yo (xx.11.2007) refill sherry butt#2036, 58,1%, 638 bottles, Bladnoch Forum

Colour is pale gold

Nose:
Old citrus smell, almost OBE, fish box, dull peat, seaweed, salty, oily (petrol). Also some rum soaked fruit in there. After a while some pineapple notes appear among the peaty ones, also some kippery notes in there. Good balance between an almost slight medicinal side and fruity notes...

Taste:
Arrives on citrus notes, peat, tar, shellfish, fishing docks, seaside moss, very mineraly.
Also some dried fruit (supermarket snacks). Old wet oak, spices and getting slightly herbal too. Some barley sugar and peat rounds the whole thing off. The finish is loooong on drying oak and peat.

A lovely expression, but not worth the money PE bottlings are collecting these days...

88/100!

Monday, 5 August 2013

MORTLACH 1998 12YO - GORDON & MACPHAIL FOR WHISKYSHOP DUFFTOWN

Phew, its been a few days since my last post and the reason for that is that its been incredibly humid here and I... well, have had other plans :-)

Now that its cooled down a bit here, I thought I'd do a review of quite a sherried bottling from that cult Dufftown distillery of Mortlach... and an indie bottling as well. I almost said 'of course' here, as the only official bottling from Mortlach is the 16yo bottling in the Flora & Fauna range from proprietors Diageo... prior to this you could get the odd Rare Malt range bottling some years back, but my recommendation is that you go for an indie bottling if you're not a complete whisky novice - if you are, you should be well challenged with the 16yo F&F bottling.

Mortlach Distillery is not normally open to the public, but you have a chance to visit the distillery during the Speyside Whisky Festival each year in late April/early May... it certainly worth a visit! Especially their stills are very impressive - have a look at one of my previous Mortlach reviews here for a glimpse.

But back to the indies and Mortlach. As distillery bottlings are as rare as hen's teeth, you should obviously explore the indie bottlings. Now, Mortlach has always been a heavy spirit with a natural sulphur/meaty character, so again  if you are a novice or not an experienced malt drinker, approach this one with care... That said, the Mortlach can be hugely rewarding, if you give it time and also very fun - especially to try if you find an ex-bourbon cask version.

Now onto my review... this bottling is done by indie bottler Gordon & MacPhail of Elgin for the Dufftown Whisky shop located about 300 meters up the road from Mortlach Distillery itself.

Mortlach Distillery pagoda and warehouse, 26th September 2010 © The Malt Desk
Mortlach 1998/2010 12yo, 59,1%, Refill sherry hogshead#14438, Gordon & MacPhail for Whiskyshop Dufftown

Colour is dark amber

Nose:
Lovely sweet but also very drying and spicy sherry. Some eucalyptus, chocolate, raisin, old leather and sweet pipe tobacco. Very peppery, almost chili like!

Taste:
Dry oloroso arrival, very drying in fact, partly due to the high alcohol %.
10 drops of water makes this go slightly cloudy which is a clear sign its not chill filtered (which we like!!) and some oak comes out along with ginger and malt/beer notes though water doesn't seem to be taming the spiciness at all.

Also stale fruit, mash and the Mortlach heavy spirit character (meatiness/natural sulphur - not from the cask) can be found on the finish.

This is a lovely Mortlach - no doubt!

86/100!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

ARDBEG 1976 24YO - DOUGLAS LAING - OLD MALT CASK

Now that the latest gimmick on LVMH Ardbeg promotion tour has seen the light of day in the form of a hot rod tractor, I just had to get back to the good old Ardbeg days from before marketing departments were more important than the product.



I also acknowledge that a distillery is a business and not philanthropy, so I'm not gonna start a rant on how much the industry is now paying these marketing privateers or how much it actually adds to the final price of a whisky, but my guess is its a nice percentage... Does anyone know?

But IF you like a good rant (and I know you do) Here's a recent one from Belgian blogger Ruben who runs whiskynotes.be - I think he's very much laying it out straight how many of us whisky geeks feel... Do give it a read incl. the comments other have made...

Casks at Ardbeg being hosed to prevent them from cracking, 4th May 2011 © The Malt Desk 
But back to the Ardbeg from yesteryear...

Ardbeg 1976 24yo (xx.03.1976/xx.08.2000) 50%, Refill sherry cask, 648 bottles, Douglas Laing - Old Malt Cask for World of Whiskies

Similar bottle shown

Colour is bright gold

Nose:
Very subdued peat and then lemon and pineapple concentrate, a myriad of seashore smells, seaweed, salt, wet rocks, tar and cured meats and salami and even fresh linen.

Taste:
More Ardbeggian now... starting on spicy old oak, but is still huge on lovely mellow citrus notes until the damp peat arrives in full force with dried sugared fruits. Also cardboard, old cigar box and tobacco notes, leather polish, old fino sherry and linseed oil.

Don't add water to this one - it completely kills off the overly delicious nose!

Great dram from before... well, you know :-/

91/100! ...and thanks to MBO for the sample