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.

Monday, 29 February 2016

MACALLAN 1989 25YO - CADENHEAD AUTHENTIC COLLECTION

Much have been said about The Macallan amongst whisky anoraks over the past years...

First there was the launch of the Fine Oak series, which give us a look at what Macallan tastes like when you mix ex-bourbon and sherry casks. Back then there was an outcry and comments like 'its not The Macallan style' and 'You've ruined Macallan' were uttered. Still, you could get your usual sherry matured age statement Macallans along with your Fine Oaks, only that was about to change as well with the arrival of the Macallan 1824-series in 2013. Gone were the low end age statements and instead we saw the introduction of the 'Gold', 'Amber', 'Sienna' and 'Ruby' and again the uproar was there...

Now, as a whisky anorak I understand this... even if the 'Sienna' and 'Ruby' are good whiskies and the ones worth pursuing in the 1824-series, they are somewhat overpriced... but hey, what whisky isn't overpriced these days or on its way to be? More importantly - we need disclosure - whats in the bottle? if its only 7 years old, tell us so we can make an informed decision on whether we want to spend out hard earned money on what's being offered or if we want to go elsewhere.Now, I know got a bit off topic here, but those following my blog will know that this is an issue I care about *end of rant*

But what about Macallan from bourbon cask, like the ones that went into their Fine Oak series? Well, they're (so far) only available from the independent bottlers... but its my experience that it can work just fine. Macallan actually have a very good base spirit, that, that works just fine if the cask makeup is all right and a little age is added to it. You are, of course, not getting your usual expected sherried style of Macallans, but who says that bad if the cask is good?

This one from Cadenheads is a great example of just that...

Macallan old section - stillhouse no. 1 just visible to the left, June 12th 2013, © The Malt Desk

Macallan 1989 (xx.xx.1989/xx.10.2014) 25yo 51,4%, ex-bourbon barrel, Cadenhead Authentic Collection

Colour is golden

Nose:
Thick malt, a handful vanilla, some laid back citrus and a slight flora note. I also find a little warm apple pie in here. After a while, what I can only describe as gingery notes peeps through. There's white chocolate and a honeyed creaminess to go with that as well. The alcohol never gets invasive but instead delivers the above notes beautifully.

Taste:
Incredibly mouth filling with big waves of malt, oranges, vanilla custard and a little toffee. There's a red berry notes in here as well, more apple, hints of pineapple, fresh toast and birthday cake base. Mid to end palate really shows how good a malt spirit this is, as it gets incredibly smooth and the malts just keeps rushing in all the way to the end.

This is great stuff!

89/100!

Monday, 22 February 2016

IMPERIAL 1995 19YO - SIGNATORY VINTAGE SERIES

The New Year 2012/2013 saw the end of the old Imperial Distillery... the plans for its demolition was put into action, leaving only the old warehouses on site. Originally founded in 1897, it was given the name 'Imperial' in honor of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria I, though there wasn't much imperial greatness over its production span. It was closed several times over the years, so much that its actually spent 60% of being closed, rather than producing and it was mothballed for the last time in 1998.

By summer 2015 site owners, Pernod Ricard/Chivas Bros had finish building their new super distillery on site - Dalmunach, capable of producing some 10 mill. liters of spirit annually, placing it the same league as Glenfiddich, Ailsa Bay, Macallan and Glenlivet (might have forgotten about 1 or 2 more...).

Upon hearing about the plans to build a new distillery on site, I remember thinking and hoping for a new place that would not spoil the sights and tranquillity of the place. The old distillery wasn't a beauty - far from, but looking at Dalmunach, I think they've done a more than decent design job - to me it looks like a combination of both something new and old... so good job!

Time for the review...

Imperial Distillery, August 26th 2012 © The Malt Desk
Dalmunach Distillery, May 1st 2015 © The Malt Desk

Imperial 1995 19yo (21.08.1995/02.12.2014) 52,2%, Hogsheads#50165+50166, 546 bottles, Signatory Vintage

Colour is light amber

Nose:
Very rich and full - this has the making of an after-dinner dram to me...
I guessing the 2 refill sherry hoggies maybe? Lots of nuts, orange and overripe apple, lashings of thick juicy malt, a little vanilla caramel, honey. With time the nose starts heading in a clear citrussy direction. Leaving it for longer even notes of hops can be found...

Stunning nose!

Taste:
Very graceful bitter-sweet arrival, oranges and butter caramels. More fruits, apple and pears mostly along with cinnamon buns. Mid to end palate lots of malt and citrus comes through along with vanilla sticks and some peppery notes. The whole experience is very well balanced and creamy making this one of the best Imperials I've tried...

Glad I have a full bottle of this a rainy day! Excellent stuff!

89/100!

Monday, 15 February 2016

SMITH'S GLENLIVET 1974/2011 - GORDON & MACPHAIL

In continuation of Gordon & Macphail's 'The wood makes the whisky'-campaign, we once again find ourselves heading back to yesteryear, this time to 1974.

Also I always take extra care when tasting old whiskies like this as:
  1. Old whiskies like this can be quite fragile and can easily fall apart, especially if (too much) water is added...
  2. Time and oxidation in the glass and/or the bottle if not sealed properly
  3. I cherish every chance I get to try old whiskies like this...
    With the way prices are going, it looks like that old whisky like this will be only for a select few in the future (read: people with money to spend on old whiskies

That, of course, warrants a whole other discussion, one covered elsewhere, both on here and in multiple online Fora and Facebook groups, so not getting into that any further during this post 

I often get a bit nostalgic when trying old whiskies like this,as they were made before computers took over most of the production and when making whisky were still very much 'hands on' ... add to that a great visit to Glenlivet Distillery during Spirit of Speyside 2013, a good tasting and ending the whole tour with quite a bit of 1977 sherry cask matured Glenlivet straight from the cask... Now what's not to love about that :-)

Let's get down to business before the nostalgia takes over and see what the wood have made of this whisky...

Old casks mixed with new ones at Glenlivet, May 4th 2013 © The Malt Desk

Smith's Glenlivet 1974/2011 43%, refill American oak & refill sherry casks

Colour is amber

Nose:
Picture by G&M
Oh, you got to love this nose - lots of things going on...
Polished cedar wood, fresh mint, floral notes and overripe fruit. With time, what I can only describe as dried herbs peeks through. There's also a darker note in there - maybe dark roast coffee beans or dark chocolate...

I could nose this all evening :-)

Taste:
Start off slightly spicy with peppery oak, then a rush of fruit - oranges/apricot style, but getting a bit thin mid-palate which surprises me a the delivery promised so much more... It does come back on the finish with some hints of vanilla, a little anise and some 'Grand Marnier' liquor.

This nose on this one is stunning, but the palate doesn't quite follow through, I'm afraid... still, its very, very good but I did expect just a little bit more from this one...

88/100!

Official sample provided by Gordon & Macphail

Friday, 5 February 2016

BENROMACH 35YO - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Early in the 1980s, the production team at Benromach laid down some of sherry casks that has gone onto to becoming the new 35yo Benromach. Very few casks from that era remains as Benromach Distillery in was mothballed in 1983 and for that reason we're now looking at a production gap from 1983 until 1998 when Gordon & Macphail started production there again.

On its way to the retailers now are the Benromach 35yo which will land at a price of around £425 depending on where in the world you are. Its beautifully packaged and if you ask me, it could have been a lot more expensive than it is, when you compare it to similar bottlings from other distilleries... that said, the price tag still places it in the premium range of whiskies out there.

So, what's all the fuzz about, you ask?

Picture by G&M

Benromach 35yo 43% - Distillery bottling

Colour is Amber

Nose:
The first thing that comes to mind is just lovely old mellow whisky. There's a bit of lacquer, lots of overripe fruit - some very tropical in style, orange peel, honeycomb, barley wine, a noticeable smoky/burnt note in there as well along with a very present cinnamon note.... there's something about this whisky that reminds me of Xmas :-)
Picture by G&M

Taste:
Again very mellow, brown banana, fresh raisins, honey cake, marinated pear, some resin, slightly musty, more oranges and chocolate. On the finish, some toasted oak and traditional tobacco shop along with a refreshing hint of mint

This is great whisky from when I was still in school - time flies!

90/100!

Official sample provided by Gordon & Macphail

Monday, 1 February 2016

RARE BENROMACH 35 YEARS OLD SINGLE MALT WHISKY UNVEILED

The Benromach Distillery Company Ltd. today reveals one of their rarest expressions to date, Benromach 35 Years Old, an exclusive whisky crafted at the distillery before the Urquhart family, owners of leading whisky specialist Gordon & MacPhail, revived it in 1998.

Handcrafted using the finest natural ingredients at the Forres distillery, Benromach 35 Years Old is an exceptional whisky with real heritage and an original tale or two, having been laid down to mature in the 1980’s.  
Golden amber in colour, Benromach 35 Years Old (ABV 43%) is a most satisfying Speysider with cinnamon hints and beeswax polish, stewed pear and a delicate charred Oak edge.

The bespoke decanter style bottle protecting the precious whisky is encased within a wooden presentation box, reflecting the various elements which have gone into making the whisky; the copper stills, the dark, grained wood of the original washbacks, and the white of the limewashed distillery walls.

This rare whisky, dating back to a time before Benromach was restored in the ‘90s, exudes the heritage of the Speyside distillery. Created under the watchful eye of Donald MacDonald, former Distillery Manager, the casks this whisky was matured in have long been a part of the Benromach history. Willie McArthur, former malt man and warehouseman, was one of the workers responsible for protecting the precious casks remaining in the bonded warehouses.  

Benromach Distillery Manager Keith Cruickshank said: “Benromach 35 Years Old is a very special whisky for everyone at the distillery, as very few casks of Benromach remain from this time period. “Benromach today is created respecting the traditional working practices of yesteryear and is lovingly handcrafted by sight, by sound, and by touch, using the finest natural ingredients. The 35 Years Old is the perfect dram to toast the past, present and future of Benromach.”



Official Tasting notes:

Benromach 35 Years Old, 43% ABV

Colour: Golden amber

Aroma without water: Rich sherry influences with orange marmalade, kiwi and grapefruit aromas, complemented by gorgeous cinnamon spice

Taste without water: Initially, it is sweet on the palate with honey, fruitcake, ripe banana and melon flavours. Watch out for the smooth white chocolate edge as it develops, combined with a soft menthol note, giving a full body and long and smooth fruity finish

Aroma with water: Sherry influences with honey, blackcurrant and beeswax polish aromas, complemented by a subtle hint of cloves

Taste with water: A fabulous combination of white pepper followed by dried tobacco, dewy stewed pear, raisin and zesty orange peel flavours, heightened by a delicate edge of charred oak… the result of lingering for over three decades in oak casks.

Benromach 35 Years Old is available to purchase at specialist whisky retailers with an RRP in the United Kingdom of £425. Prices may vary in international markets due to duty and import taxes. For more information on Benromach, and to explore the wide range of expressions available, please visit www.benromach.com

About Benromach

Originally built in 1898, Benromach Distillery was brought back to life when leading whisky specialists Gordon & MacPhail purchased it in 1993. The distillery was extensively re-equipped over a five-year period before it was officially opened by HRH Prince Charles in 1998.

In reopening Benromach Distillery, Gordon & MacPhail decided to create a classic Speyside single malt – a style that draws its influence from Speyside whiskies pre-1960s.

Benromach Distillery is located on the outskirts of the ancient market town of Forres. A four-star visitor centre is open to the public throughout the year for tours and tastings. Benromach Distillery is a member of the world famous malt whisky trail.