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, 28 March 2014

GIVING THE DANISH WHISKY FAIR 2014 A MISS (WHISKYMESSEN.DK)

Tomorrow, saturday 29th March is the day of the Danish Whisky Fair this year... and I was really set on going this year as I wasn't there last year.

BUT... and there's always a but...

The Danish whisky forum (whiskynyt.dk) recently sprouted a thread about what the exhibitors are bringing to the fair - and of course also the pricing. This, of course, also made me take a look at what will be served at the stands... and frankly, for an anorak with 5½ hours of train travel to/from the fair and quite a few malts under the belt, its just not good enough!

I spoke to a credible person in the retail chain today and he told me that the reason one of the larger importers here in Denmark doesn't attend any more, is the fair is now about lots more than just whisky. It's trinkets, guys with chain saws carving wood sculptures etc. - the whisky just don't have 100% attention any more... and this is a major importer we're talking about here !!

We're now seeing more and more rum too - (Att: Importers - it's not the Danish Rum Fair, guys !!!)
It's either that, or I've already tried many of the dram being served there. In fact, I found just 3-4 stands out of app. 40 that will be serving whiskies of interest to me... and the exclusive bar is just overpriced for a whole day out and since bourbon is not really my thing either, I'm not exactly spoiled for choice.

So, sorry guys - I'm giving this year a miss too... and unless the programme picks up next year (unlikely, IMO, with whisky skyrocketing these day) I won't be going then either.

A couple of tickets for this years fair that won't get used, March 28th 2014 © The Malt Desk

Among the exhibitors, though, I would like to point out a few that DO have what seems to be a good stand with fair prices and most importantly a fairly good or even great selection. One of them is the Scotch Malt Whisky Society Denmark stand and the other importer FC Whisky that, among others, bring Adelphi, Signatory and Kilchoman to Denmark. Keep up the good work, guys!! (and NO, I do not get better priced whiskies for mentioning these guys).

Again, we're seeing the new trend in whisky, kicking in here. It's whisky for the masses, not the anoraks - at least not one that has 5½ hours of train travel to attend - and with the risk of sounding like a know-it-all, I just can't be bothered with the less than interesting bottling lineup.

You need to rethink the concept, IMO...

Sunday, 23 March 2014

HIGHLAND PARK 'THORFINN' - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Its time meet Thorfinn, the last of the Highland Park Warriors. We're looking at a dark sherried warrior here, the one with the highest content of first fill sherry casks of the range (see below)... Again no age is stated on the bottle.

As with the other bottlings in the series, there's a story connected to the name and supposedly Thorfinn was the greatest of them, which is why this bottling came last. Marketing/storytelling at its best ;-)

Priced at €1000, I really glad to have the opportunity to taste this is its way above my whisky budget threshold - in fact its more than double the amount I've ever paid for a whisky.

The Mighty Ring of Brodgar on Orkney Mainland - August 5th 2009 © The Malt Desk
Highland Park 'Thorfinn' NAS 45,1%, Distillery bottling (travel retail 70cl)

Colour is nutty brown

Nose:
Initially on sherry/dark fruits, lovely spicy European oak influence here. Also other fruits in play here - brown banana, overripe oranges, then hardwood and eucalyptus notes accompanied by some herbal notes along with a puff of smoke. The wine/dark fruit notes are the dominant notes, though.

Taste:
Gentle arrival turning spicy almost immediately. Again herbal and winey and a little phenolic even. A very heavy sherry profile with just a hint of something dirty (yes, the s-word - but then I'm very sensitive to this). Mid-palate it produces some similar tropical fruit notes also found in the 'Ragnvald'-bottling only to return to an almost px sherry/madeira style sweetness, chocolate and cigar box notes. On the finish a little tropical fruit comes out again, but dries off quickly.

This is very spicy and has some burst of oak that I sometimes feel goes a little over the top. It's multi layered for sure, and I feel the work of some younger very active sherry casks in this one, that sometimes take over the show a bit - mind you its purely a guess and strictly my own opinion, but there's not doubt its still very good whisky.

I was splitting hairs with this one and the 'Ragnvald' as the best of the 3, but after tasting the 'Thorfinn' again, I'm gonna declare it a tie...

As mentioned above, its priced at around €1000 in travel retail

89/100!

Official sample provided by Highland Park

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

HIGHLAND PARK 'RAGNVALD' - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Now its on to the 'Ragnvald' bottling and we're stepping up the antics here a bit... or at least the price... now these bottlings have been called ridiculously priced, especially since they're No Age Statement bottling, but I won't go into that in this post - I've done so plenty on other occasions, instead I'll skip right to the review you're really waiting for...

Stills at Highland Park, August 6th 2009 © The Malt Desk
Highland Park 'Ragnvald' NAS 44,6%, Distillery bottling (travel retail 70cl)

Colour is deep gold

Nose:
This is very dark rum like for a moment, hint of cinnamon, vanilla, apple, overripe almost soft oranges, soft smoke and a hint of menthol

Taste:
Oh, this is nice... Tropical fruits, mango and melon with some spices thrown in, clove, dried apricot snacks, teak wood and just a hint of something earthy and tarry, oranges, honey, black pepper and chocolate. The finish is medium long with a tail of smoke and mouthwatering fruity/floral exit.

Now we're talking - this is a very good dram from Highland Park and there's clearly some older cask influence here. I feel that a slightly higher abv% would have taken this whisky 1 or 2 points higher... The price, though makes this a little less fun.

Priced at around €400 in travel retail

89/100!

Official sample provided by Highland Park

Sunday, 16 March 2014

HIGHLAND PARK 'SIGURD' - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

As mentioned in this post from June 27th 2013 and again in this one from September 8th 2013 Highland Park out out the warrior-series from travel retail. Over then next few posts, I'm gonna review the Sigurd, Ragnvald and Thorfinn and finish with the latest addition to the Highland Park Valhalla Collection, the 'Freya'.

The first thing that caught my eye was the 43%, which is 3% higher the previous warrior releases which were only 40% - and really suffered from it. This has made me get my hopes up as these bottlings range from 43% to 45,1% in abv...

On to the review...

Malt floor tools at Highland Park August 6th 2009 © The Malt Desk
Highland Park 'Sigurd' NAS 43%, Distillery bottling (travel retail 70cl)

Colour is amber

Nose:
Very shy, citric, ginger and orange peel and a vague mashy note to it along with hints of boiled vegetables.

Taste:
Some tropical fruit, avocado, pineapple and honey, grapefruits, malt and a dark oaky appearance in the back of the mouth.

Bit of a let down as it comes across more simple than expected and guess the 43% didn't do this one much good. Still ok whisky, but not what its worked up to be, I'm afraid... it has its moments, though - the tropical fruits notes are nice...

Priced at around €150 in travel retail

84/100!

Official sample supplied by Highland Park

Sunday, 9 March 2014

ISLE OF ARRAN 1996 121.62 'STEAK AND ALE PIE' - THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY

Lots of things have been said about British cuisine over the years and a good while back people outside the UK thought that Fish and Chips was about the only thing served there... well, that's not true - they also serve Steak and Ale Pie - and being a menu regular many places, I can see why the SMWS also used this as a descriptor for this whisky. It's about as traditional as a sherry whisky from the isles can get without being peated.

Oh, and just round off the food analogy here... You can still get some killer fish'n'chips in the UK (I hear, I don't eat white fish myself) and Steak and Ale Pie are on the menues in most pubs these days... That said, you eat well in the UK these days - both in the country and cities.

I could start listing places here, but this is a whisky blog, not a food blog... so I'll skip to the whisky... though if you as nice by mail, I might recommend a few places to you ;-)

Washbacks at the Arran Distillery, August 19th 2012 © The Malt Desk
Isle of Arran 1996 121.62 (17.09.1996) 16yo, 'Steak and Ale Pie' 54,2%, sherry puncheon, 574 bottles, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Colour is mahogany

Nose:
Slight sulphury hint that wears off after a while, dried fruits, oily with a mashy an earthy mushroom note, grandmother's cigars and a hint of orange

Taste:
Again a very thick texture and that hint of sulphur adding to the heavier style of this Arran, cinnamon, drying oak spices, roast beef meatiness, pear in madeira and caramel

An Arran expression on the heavy side, this one... missing a bit of balance between the things it has to offer - still good, though

85/100!

Friday, 7 March 2014

GLEN MORAY 1974 35.102 'SOPHISTICATED AND SELF-ASSURED' - THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY

Here's another whisky with the SMWS-descriptor 'Sophisticated' attached to it.

Some of the names the SMWS tasting panel comes up with often makes me smile as the names can be (as you probably know if you follow the SMWS) be quite... imaginative :-)

But are they good descriptors?? Well, first of all, far from all the names of the bottlings have notes that directly describes the tastes and smells of the whisky, though one might argue that they do so... though it does take a bit more imagination for some people to figure out how i.e. 'Sophisticated and self-assured' applies to whisky.

Some get it, some don't - I will not judge, especially if the whisky as good as this... ;-)

Glen Moray Distillery, Elgin - picture from Wikipedia
Glen Moray 1974 35.102 39yo (19.02.1974) 'Sophisticated and self-assured' 52,1%, 180 bottles, refill ex-bourbon hogshead, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Colour is full gold

Nose:
Very delicate nose on this one - it needs time to wake up. Old wet oak planks, freshly ground pepper, vanilla, carrot, fresh ginger, overripe banana, coconut and multi fruit juice.

Taste:
A very dark tasting whisky, this one... Chocolate, coffee, burnt sugar as in danish 'smor-kage' (pastry). Some cardamom and ginger shows itself along with a dash of syrup. This also has some noticeable (but not bitter) oak notes and a shorter than expected finish that just takes the top off of things, I think... as in not making it to the 90p-mark.

Nevertheless, its hugely enjoyable - goes down like a treat... and that's really what its all about, isn't it? :-)

89/100!