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.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

GLEN GARIOCH 1991 BATCH 38 - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

It's been a good 6 months since I put my first Glen Garioch on The Malt Desk.
Why? Dunno, really... well, maybe because most what's available with the Glen Garioch label is official bottlings - and, with the risk of sounding like a whisky elitist, I often find many (not all!) distillery bottlings a bit on the dull side and go for indie bottlings instead... I like the indies for bottling at higher strength, often (but not always) at a minimum of 46% abv, they also keep most of their bottlings free of e150a caramel coloring and does not chill filter - there, that's the whisky anorak shortlist :-)

But back to the Glen Garioch...

This carries a 1991 vintage and being bottled in 2010, and with that it manages to carry and age of either 18 or 19 years of age, depending on what time of year its distilled/bottled. It does state on the back of the bottle that the color of the whisky has been adjusted by caramel, though I don't think its that much

*edit 1. April 09:12am* I should have added the following earlier and an online fellow blogger pointed out that I forgot about the following - thanks B

'There is, however, no peat to be found in the Glen Gariochs bottling distilled post mid-1990s....'



Glen Garioch Distillery exterior, picture from VisitAberdeen.com

Glen Garioch 1991/2010, Batch#38, 54,7%, ex-bourbon casks, Distillery bottling

Colour is straw

Nose:
Very fresh with lots of grassy notes and both apple and citrus along with it, vanilla, honey and a barley/bran theme. Underneath that, some peat lurks and makes the whole thing a quite delicious mix. Some mineral/flinty notes in there 
along with a few flowery notes as well.. The alcohol nips a bit at the nose, but also helps the whole experience along.

Taste:
At first I had this coming across as quite spirity, but quickly goes on to become quite delicious with lemon peel, lots of apple and pears, herbs, vanilla and ginger theme and some celery??. Mid-palate the malt shines through and mellows the experience a bit. Sometimes notes of sweet white wine also appears along with vanilla and some delicious peat notes.

A little water brings out more fruit on both the nose and the palate...

Great stuff!

88/100!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

NAS BASHERS AND WHISKY COMPANIES - AN OPINION PIECE

All right, its back in the trenches of the No-Age-Statement (NAS) mud slinging contest... or rather war this past day, when Diageo's Nick Morgan in this piece on March 25th 2015, speaks out on Diageo's approach to NAS whisky with statements about NAS-bashers being 'intemperate' and suffering from 'hot-headed ignorance'...

Really? Come on!!??!!
Needless to say this has sparked quite a few comments on social media like Facebook and Twitter already...


Before I go on, I'll like to clarify a few things...
  • Not all NAS whisky is bad whisky - there's some good ones out there too!
  • I do occasionally drink NAS whisky myself
  • If the price/quality ratio is right, I'll have a nip or two... hell, maybe even get an entire bottle!

But back to the statements from Nick Morgan...
I actually think the article is an attempt to put a sock in the whole NAS debate from Diageo's point of view. However, what its achieved is something entirely different and it has so far sparked comments on Facebook like:
"I don't see how anyone with half a brain can take the industry spin seriously no matter how much one admires the integrity and personal decency of the spokesperson. They are peddling a corporate line."
"It's all about profit. Use the barley strain that produces the most litres of alcohol per tonne instead of the strain that will produce the best quality spirit and then bottle it before the angels can garner their full share."
"What pisses me off is that I have no problem with NAS whisky as such, what annoys me is the spin put on it and the price. Two reasons whisky costs as much as is it does is evaporation and storage costs, yet younger whisky is still being sold at aged prices and it's not right."
"To be fair the Whisky Exchange are a great shop but they're hardly going to knock a major supplier are they? I won't be buying any NAS Single Malts, my choice."

I've called this post an 'opinion piece', so I'd better get started with some of my own and some from a few (many, even?) of the whisky drinkers I know:
  • Most of us are aware that whisky is a business! Not philanthropy!
  • Most of us are not hotheads - we're just passionate about your product!
    There
    is a difference! If that isn't brand loyalty, I don't know what is!
  • No, you will not be taking the piss, with younger whisky being sold to us at higher prices while at the same time claiming quality remains the same as its older aged versions...
and yes, I'm aware that I'm with my last bullet here, I'm also here stating that older is better... hell, even in the industry, Diageo's biggest competitor, Pernod Ricard, had a campaign back in 2010 that was called 'Age Matters'... 

Here's some interesting figures from that campaign:

• 94% of consumers believe that age is an important indicator of quality
• 93% believe that older whiskies are better quality
• 92% prefer to buy whisky with a clear age statement
• 97% agreed that whiskies which claim to be aged should clearly state the age on the bottle
• 89% look for an age statement when buying whisky
• 86% expect to pay a price premium for whiskies with an age statement

I doubt the numbers have changed much in 5 years and assuming the numbers are the same for Diageo customers, now suddenly the opinion of almost 90% of customers doesn't count when it suits your business plan? and you say you haven't got enough supply to meet demand?

The reason for your current jam you can find in your companys predictions for the future. It sure sounds like the people in strategic planning department have failed... I know I'm pointing fingers back at you here, but since I can't offer you a solution to force mature your existing stock, its what I do...

I also know that passing the bills for their incompetence on to the consumer is the way all companies, hell - even governments deal with bad decisions, but it doesn't mean we have to like it...

I, for one, like to get kissed before I get screwed!

Looking in from the outside, it looks and sounds like a maximisation of profit is taking place at the moment. Whisky companies have probably recognised that brand loyalty among new spirit drinkers is a fleeting thing and that you need to cash in on these newcomers when you can...

Picture from wondergression.com

You are, however, doing so without regard to loyalty from existing and long term customers who have supported you through hard times earlier on when whisky wasn't as big as it is at the moment.

You can only hope these customers will stick by you when hard times return - because hard times will return at some point, but right now you are alienating them with underaged and overpriced whisky... and with name-calling!

Me? as often as possible, I'll stay clear of NAS whisky except for research purposes... which, in reality means I'll not be spending my money it except for when there's price/quality ratio match. 

It's often been mentioned elsewhere that there's only one way to get rid of NAS and that's not to buy it. Well, I agree... Money talks in the world of whisky and shareholders want their dividends  - and if they don't get it, strategies change...

So are we down to a campaign now like the one that swept through the beer world? CAMRA (http://www.camra.org.uk/)

Only it'll be CANAS then... Campaign against No Age Statement

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

BLADNOCH 1990 - ADELPHI

For a while now, the Bladnoch Distillery just outside Wigtown in the very South-West corner of Scotland, has been silent... It's been up for sale now for couple of years, but every time you hear of an imminent sale, buyers tend to either retract their offer or get it rejected by the a part of the ownership - or at least so the rumors say... but it's not for me to get into that - I'm in this for the whisky and I can only express my sadness that this place isn't up and running, providing us with golden drops a few years down the line...

Meanwhile, let's enjoy some of the whisky from there - distilled a quarter of a century ago...


Bladnoch Distillery, May 6th 2010 © The Malt Desk

Bladnoch 1990 24yo (bottled xx.08.2014) 54,1%, refill ex-bourbon cask#30549, 169 bottles, Adelphi

Colour is golden straw

Nose:
First lots of vanilla , then oak spices pop up, a peppery nip, ginger and some hint of coconut? a couple of drops of water bring out an incredibly grassy and citrussy side and also a garden variety floral side... Lovely!


Taste:
The palate mirrors the nose a lot - the mouthfeel is pretty full, yet its still fresh.
Lots of grass and citrus as mentioned above, lemons/peel, coming across as a bit sharp at times, but some warming oak levels it out beautifully.

This Bladnoch comes across quite full at first but mid palate it looses some of its flavour profile, leaving a kind of a 'hole' in mid palate somewhere between mid palate and finish - quite a strange experience, in fact!

It's still very good whisky, though and just manages to creep past the mid-80s

86/100!

Monday, 23 March 2015

KILCHOMAN PORT CASK - DISTILLERY BOTTTLING

This year, Kilchoman Distillery on Islay, celebrates its 10th birthday.

This, of course, is celebrated with a big birthday bash on the distillery's Open-Day during this years Feis Ile - the annual festival of music and malt, held each year at the end of May... with that said, I already hear you asking when and where you can buy a 10 year old release from them... Well, bottom line is 'you can't' and you probably won't be able to this year either... and the reason is pure and simple - available stock!

Starting out small like most do and to generate a cash flow, Kilchoman did what many other distillers do during their start-up phase - they sell casks to people (or rather 'sold', as they don't do private cask sales any more)... and as soon as they have enough old stock to call whisky they have also put some of that to market. They even put some of their spirit up for sale too around 2008 both as minis and full bottles to generate some return on their investment. All this, of course, has resulted in limited stock from the early years being available today - and this is probably the main reason why you won't see a 10 year old bottling from Kilchoman this year...

We've seen quite a lot of bottlings from Kilchoman already and some have better than others to say the least...
It's young whisky and sometimes it can carry some very undesirable notes. E.g. some of the 5 year old they're released have been really good, while still showing its youthful vigor and the Loch Gorm sherry editions have been very good too.

Last year, Kilchoman released a 3 year old bottling matured in ex-port casks for which was received very well most places.
I've looked very much forward to trying this for a while now, since I think Port maturation, besides from the obvious sherry maturation, is one of the best wine types to go with whisky maturation... so is it any good?

The Kilchoman Visitor's Book ready for signing, May 7th 2011 © The Malt Desk

Kilchoman Port Cask 2011/2014, 55%, ex-ruby port casks, 6000 bottles, Distillery bottling

Colour is dark red/mahogany

Nose:
Young spirit and peat, almost sickly in style - not appealing at all to me. Some rhubarb and synthetic strawberry struggles to make its way through the peat.

Taste:
Sour buttermilk, sick, rotten veggies, a seaweed and peat mix that just off-putting to me - 2 sips and that was it for me! yuck! 

Kilchoman snake oil, anyone? :-O

That said, I've had both the Kilchoman New Spirit and 3 year old bottlings that was very drinkable, but IMO this just doesn't work at all and is some of the worst stuff I've had in quite a while! A big Kilchoman dud, this one !

I'll leave this to those that love this style - IMO, this just doesn't work and, putting it mildly, it wasn't a hit with the 60 people I presented it for this past weekend either. 

54/100!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

A STREAK OF IRISH WHISKEY - VARIOUS BOTTLERS

Tuesday this week the Irish (and lots of others, for that matter...) celebrate St. Patrick's Day. By now the hangovers should have lifted from those who participated - a hangover mainly caused by many pints of Guinness and also, in some, Irish Whiskey.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of hosting an Irish Whiskey tasting in the local club and thankfully, they've started bottling more of their whiskey at cask strength which makes the whole thing a lot more fun.

Here's some quick notes on all the whiskeys from that tasting in one post (left to right)

7 drams from The Emerald Isle, January 22nd 2015 © The Malt Desk

Tullamore Dew 12yo Special Reserve, 40%, Distillery bottling

Colour is light amber

Nose:
Fruity at first, then spicy grains and some honey

Taste:
Very easy arrival, banana, vanillas, gentle and sweet, more honey, crisp grains evident, pleasant drinker, slight bitterness on the finish

Actually much better than expected!

77/100!


Jameson Select Reserve, 40%, Distillery bottling


Colour is amber

Nose:
Burnt caramel, spicy, not much grain evident at first, , toast, honey and hints of coffee

Taste:
Creamy, a burnt bitterness, medium mouthfeel, notes of rum and candied apple

78/100!


Distilled in Ireland 26yo, 51,6%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams

Colour is golden straw

Nose:
A little vinegar and varnish at first, then vanilla, sweet malt, resin, wet oak

Taste:
Almost waxy, melon, fruits, oak spices, lots of ginger, gets very tropical fruity in style with time along with mustard seeds and cumin - lovely!

85/100!


Limerick Malt 2001 11yo, 57%, cask#9929, 235 bottles, Adelphi

Colour is straw

Nose:
Discreet at first, then apples and pears, grist, hint of strawberry, vanilla and fresh dough

Taste:
Think of a sweet Speyside whisky - the style is very fruity/floral with apple crumble and white chocolate and a peppery finish - Very good and incredibly drinkable even at full strength

86/100!


Writer's Tears Cask Strength 53%, Walsh's Whiskey

Colour is pale straw

Nose:
Slightly soapy note at first and quite some alcohol as well. Vanilla, some fruit, feinty notes (dairy) quite a young-ish profile

Taste:
More feinty notes - I'm guessing this is quite young, slightly herbal, sweet and carries a very distinct style. The pot still-style whiskey comes through to save this one...

81/100!


Redbreast 12 Cask Strength, 58,6%, batch B1/12, Distillery bottling

Colour is dark amber

Nose:
Lots of sherry and a fat pot still nose, very spicy, fruit cake, dates, candies fruit peel

Taste:
A little cardboard at first, sadly, but quickly gives away to candied apple, wood spices, cinnamon and cloves. Thick barley/grains gives this quite an oily mouthfeel - it's really excellent in spite of the cardboardy start!

87/100!


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

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!

Reviewed earlier -  full post here

Thursday, 12 March 2015

IMAGES OF DUFFTOWN (CLOCKTOWER) - MALTS OF SCOTLAND

German bottler 'Malts of Scotland' has made quite a name for themselves in the past few years. They've managed to bottle quite a few delicious casks, both young and old... They've also released some undisclosed malts, some of them bearing names and images from Speyside and the one I'm about to review is one such...

There are 3 bottling in the 'Images of Dufftown' series and rumours say they're all produced by William Grant Ltd. There's the Dufftown Whiskyshop-release, a Balvenie Castle-release and finally a Dufftown Clocktower-release.

Rumours say that the Clocktower-release, which I'm about to review is a Glenfiddich, but we'll never know for sure - but for let's say it is as there's not many indie Glenfiddichs around. Speculations around the other expression goes towards, The Balvenie and finally Kininvie if what they say is true that the casks are all from William Grant Ltd.

Anyway, on to the review...

Entrance to Glenfiddich Distillery, Dufftown, October 18th 2014 © The Malt Desk

Images of Dufftown (Clocktower) 1988/2013 24yo 53,2%, 254 bottles, Malt of Scotland

Colour is straw

Nose:
Faint, toasted oak, vanilla, freshly baked shortbread, sweet fresh pineapple, ginger and brans

Taste:
More fruit, apple and pear mostly, lots of malt, honey, icing sugar and vanilla and ginger again. The finish turns more towards a citrus theme making the finish a long and drying one.

This may not be the most complex Speysider you'll come across, but what its does it does extremely well - I'll take a bottle of this any day! especially to show this off as an example to people who tends to write off Glenfiddich as that mass produced stuff with no soul... and its also at cask strength and almost 25 years of age...

Finally, thanks to MBO for the sample!

87/100!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

GLENROTHES 1995/2013 - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Tucked away on a side street in the village of Rothes, giant Glenrothes who produces 5.600.000 liters of spirit each year, but lets only about 3-4% of its production escape the huge blending vats of The Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse brands.

Inside the Glenrothes distillery you'll find 10 stills running 7 days a week, all very lovely lined up - and almost resembling and often referred to as a cathedral style still house. The Glenrothes is not normally open to the public, but if you get a chance e.g. during the Spirit of Speyside festival, do make sure you pop in - it's an impressive place...

Glenrothes Distillery, May 5th 2012 © The Malt Desk

Glenrothes 1995 (26.10.1995/xx.xx.2013) 43%, Distillery bottling

Colour is light amber

Nose:
Starts with lots of oranges, a trademark Glenrothes features
Then honey, malt, a pleasant nuttiness, grass, vanilla and a hint wood polish

Taste:
More oranges and honey, vanilla and caramel, some peppery spices along with ginger and nutmeg. Gets very malty towards the end, but the spiciness keeps it all in place

To me this is a very straight forward Speyside malt and its a real easy drinker and probably one you could serve to the new/non-whisky drinker and win him/her over with... especially by adding 5 drops of water to mellow it a bit with. Good stuff!

Finally, thanks to JS for the sample!

84/100!