Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Benromach 30 & 35 Reviews

Hi everyone,

Benromach being closed from 1983 to 1998 presents a bit of problem for Gordon & MacPhail, as they don’t really have any older whisky and what they do have is much, much older. The style would also be different as G&M put in some new smaller stills, giving a different character.
But they have released some of the stuff from the early 80’s including these little gems. The price isn’t toooo ridiculous really, considering that Bladnoch released a 29 year old for £5000 recently…


Benromach 35 43%
Colour: Amber
Body: Medium
Nose: Deep Sherry, earthy leather, chocolate, praline, sweet stewed fruit, very balanced, polished wood, antique shop, chocolate shop.
Taste: Soft and structured, acidic red apple, oak, recedes and comes back, ash, praline, fudge, very acidic orange juice.
Finish: Medium length. Many chocolates and fudges, creamy.
I have actually tried this before, but only very briefly from a shot glass. The red apple is bit too acidic on the taste. This is great stuff but I feel like its just a tad over the hill. Let’s try and fix that by turning back time 5 years…
83/100
 
Benromach 30 (Old Bottling) 43%
Colour: Amber
Body: Medium
Nose: Lighter and fresher than the new 35 but the same mould. Fresh acidic red apple, very good Sherry casks, dark chocolate, great balance.
Taste: Sweet, soft, honey, lacking power for one brief moment then chocolate, velvety oak, Sherry, raisin, leather, salty, wonderful dried cherry. Oak into the finish.
Finish: Medium/Long length. Tingling on the tongue, lots of acidic red apple, then praline.
Fantastic stuff, better than the new 35 although it's probably the same batch of casks. The equal of the 1980 G&M I had a while back. It was probably a lot cheaper too…
87/100

Distillery: Benromach
Average Score: 77.9
Distillery Ranking: 19th/ 65 places
Up/Down: 29>19 (Up 10)

Thanks for reading!

Scotch Reviews #643-#644
Whisky Network Reviews #766-#767

Network Average: 74.9
Best Score: 94
Worst Score: 12
0-49 Terrible
50-59 Bad
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
70-74 Good
75-79 Very Good
80-84 Excellent
85-89 Superb
90+ Magnificent

Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I currently work as a Brand Ambassador for Penderyn Distillery. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Penderyn Distillery or The Welsh Whisky Company. I try to maintain as much objectivity as I can but feel free to take my reviews with as big a pinch of salt as you like. Furthermore, my rating scale is NOT based on a Parker type wine scoring scale or a school/college/university % or A-F grade score. You can find more on my scoring here. I apologise for any seemly low or 'bad' scores given with my system and I am sorry I can't say only nice things. Please keep in mind that I am ethically compromised and I am unable to produce 100% unbiased reviews.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Kavalan Concertmaster, Solist Bourbon & Vinho Barrique Reviews

Hi everyone,

Sorry for not being active recently, been on holiday and life’s been busy buying a house and all.
In the meantime I have more Kavalan to get me to 10 and get that sweet, sweet flag I’ve been chasing!

Kavalan Concertmaster 40%
Colour: Dark Gold
Body: Medium/Full
Nose: Quite dense, rich dried fruit- Raisin, plum, fig, grape and cream.
Taste: Sharp at first then creamy and fruity, quite dense again with fig and plum then oak developing and going into the finish.
Finish: Medium length. Oaky.
Finished in port barrels. Amazingly rich for 40%.
72/100

Kavalan Solist Bourbon 57.8%
Colour: Gold
Body: Medium
Nose: Fresh and fruity. Alcohol burn, lemon, vanilla, mango, a little spice.
Water: More classic Scotch style. Caramel, toffee, oaky spice,
Taste: Cooling creamy arrival, building spice, fresh fruit, juicy mango, melon, vanilla, cooling menthol and mint, then more lemon, lemon sherbet, quite zesty into the finish.
Water: Almost quite dull arrival, builds more slowly with plain oak planks and oaky spice, ginger.
Finish: Short/Medium length. Lemon zest and some plain oak, oak planks.
B090901025A. There's nothing special about this one really. Interesting to see as we all know Kavalan does well in intense casks.
67/100

Kavalan Vinho Barrique 57.8%
Colour: Amber
Body: Full
Nose: Odd in a good way, burnt BBQ sauce, hot coals, big juicy fig note, plum and blueberry, honey glaze.
Taste: Dry, hot coals, strangely mineral then big balanced fruit followed by plenty of spice, fig, plum, cumin and coriander, nutmeg, vintage Port, big oak.
Finish: Long length. More vintage Port, some spice, big Bourbon-like caramel.
2012-2016. Big stuff, if a little odd.
79/100

Distillery: Kavalan
Average Score: 72.2
Distillery Ranking: 44th/ 66 places
Up/Down: 45>44 (Up 1)

Thanks for reading!

Taiwanese Reviews #8-#10
Whisky Network Review #763-#765

Network Average: 74.9
Best Score: 94
Worst Score: 12
0-49 Terrible
50-59 Bad
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
70-74 Good
75-79 Very Good
80-84 Excellent
85-89 Superb
90+ Magnificent

Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I currently work as a Brand Ambassador for Penderyn Distillery. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Penderyn Distillery or The Welsh Whisky Company. I try to maintain as much objectivity as I can but feel free to take my reviews with as big a pinch of salt as you like. Furthermore, my rating scale is NOT based on a Parker type wine scoring scale or a school/college/university % or A-F grade score. You can find more on my scoring here. I apologise for any seemly low or 'bad' scores given with my system and I am sorry I can't say only nice things. Please keep in mind that I am ethically compromised and I am unable to produce 100% unbiased reviews.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Carn Mor x4: Glen Keith 1988, Mannochmore 1990, Invergordon 1987 & Glen Garioch 1990 Reviews

Hi everyone,

Four whiskies today, all from the recently repackaged range Carn Mor from Morrison & Mackay. I quite liked the old packaging too, with the sideways labels that you couldn’t really read but oh well. I’ve tried a few of these now and they are always very good-great with the standout being the Chariman’s Legacy Bowmore.
These samples were very generously poured for me by all round legend Graeme Mackay at Limburg whisky fair.

Glen Keith 1988 Carn Mor 40.1%
Colour: Gold
Body: Light/Medium
Nose: Fruity and musky, aromatic, very fresh fruit, melon and pineapple, fruit salad, lots of 'super' pear, green apple, old wood.
Taste: Very soft and a little weak at first then builds with tonnes of oak, dry, dry chalk, dried apple, dried pear, then old wood.
Finish: Medium/Long length. Dried pear, some green apple, then soft milk chocolate.
Very good whisky but a little over the hill IMO. Don’t know if the original spirit character just wasn’t strong enough to stand up to that long a maturation. And then the strength was a little low, giving it less body.
76/100
 
Mannochmore 1990 Carn Mor 42.5%
Colour: Light Gold
Body: Medium
Nose: Really very freshly fruity and tropical, melon, watermelon, green apple, pear, white pepper, lightly floral.
Taste: Very fresh and very tropical then spicy ginger, dry oak, spice box, slightly grassy, melon, some hot cinnamon.
Finish: Short length. A little tropical but dies off, a bit mouthwatering with green apple.
Bottled 2018 at 27yo. Much the same story again, very fresh old whisky but just lost a little too much.
75/100
 
Invergordon 1987 Carn Mor 43.4%
Colour: Light Gold
Body: Light/Medium
Nose: Lovely old grain! Banana! Creamy, vanilla, double cream, yellow apple. No trace of ethanol, or clean alcohol.
Taste: Very soft then banana, very creamy mouthfeel, some oak but not too much at all, some white chocolate, white grape and white florals like Lily.
Finish: Medium/Long length. More double cream, banana, some very soft oak.
Bottled 2017 at 30yo. Definitely one of the best grains I've tried. It is starting to become my official standpoint that Grain whisky is best at around 30 years… More research needed…
79/100
 
Glen Garioch 1990 Carn Mor 50.6%
Colour: Gold
Body: Medium/Full
Nose: Nice balance of buttery tropical fruit, creamy, dried mango, dried banana, whipped cream, very lightly smoky, green grape, banana split.
Taste: Soft, natural, green grape, banana split, lemon peel, soft smoke, quite dry, some leather then creamy with banana, some soot.
Finish: Long length. A burst of banana then dry oak, green grape.
Bottled 2017 at 27yo. Very nice style to this you wouldn't find with many other whiskies, and with a bit more heft than the other three here. Best GG I've tried so far.
83/100

Thanks for reading!

Scotch Reviews #639-#642
Whisky Network Reviews #759-#762

Network Average: 74.9
Best Score: 94
Worst Score: 12
0-49 Terrible
50-59 Bad
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
70-74 Good
75-79 Very Good
80-84 Excellent
85-89 Superb
90+ Magnificent

Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I currently work as a Brand Ambassador for Penderyn Distillery. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Penderyn Distillery or The Welsh Whisky Company. I try to maintain as much objectivity as I can but feel free to take my reviews with as big a pinch of salt as you like. Furthermore, my rating scale is NOT based on a Parker type wine scoring scale or a school/college/university % or A-F grade score. You can find more on my scoring here. I apologise for any seemly low or 'bad' scores given with my system and I am sorry I can't say only nice things. Please keep in mind that I am ethically compromised and I am unable to produce 100% unbiased reviews.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Strathmill 1991 C&S Dram & 1990 Dimensions Reviews

Hi everyone,

I had met Andrea Caminneci when I was in Frankfurt late last year for another festival. Little did I know, he had his own independent bottler: C&S Drams. You aren’t likely to see them outside of Germany but I was recommended to try this one and I’m always interested by Strathmill. Definitely not a distillery you see often and quite and interesting and undervalued one too.
 
Strathmill 1991 C&S Dram 46.4%
Colour: Gold
Body: Medium
Nose: A very nice musky barrel, soft vanilla, dry oak, a little clean ethanol (the purifiers talking I think), crystallised honey, light florals and wax. A little Clynelish-like.
Taste: Soft, vanilla, juicy golden raisin and green apple, then nice earthy heathery malt and chocolate, dry oak and a little spice into the finish.
Finish: Long length. Very nice soft finish, heather, malt, milk chocolate.
26yo from a Bourbon barrel. Very fresh for 26 years but with complexity.
80/100

Hold on a minute… I’ve found an old review of a Strathmill that I’d totally forgotten! This was the one that tipped me off to Strathmill being a distillery making some great whisky.

Strathmill 1990 Dimensions Duncan Taylor 55%
Colour: Amber
Body: Full
Nose: Sweet complex honey- Honeycomb and honeysuckle, caramelised brown sugar, huge sherry sweetness. Strongly brewed tea, clove, menthol, melted butter, oily, spice and fruit- Red apple, raisin, date, fig, molasses, spiced rum, beeswax.
Taste: Well behaved for 55%. Sweet and smooth. Lots of honey, brown sugar, waxy, very waxy actually, lots of spice- Cinnamon, ginger and pepper, clove, butter, olive oil, orange and dark chocolate.
Finish: Medium/Long length. Waxy with spice and an ash hit.
Distilled 1990, bottled 2011. 21yo from a Sherry butt. Heavy and rich. Lovely with a drop of water too, more creamy and chocolatey. Great stuff, wish I’d bought a bottle at the time but I was fairly new to whisky then.
83/100

Distillery: Strathmill
Average Score: 78.8
Distillery Ranking: 14th/ 63 places
Up/Down: N/a

Thanks for reading!

Scotch Review #637-#638
Whisky Network Review #757-#758

Network Average: 74.9
Best Score: 94
Worst Score: 12
0-49 Terrible
50-59 Bad
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
70-74 Good
75-79 Very Good
80-84 Excellent
85-89 Superb
90+ Magnificent

Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I currently work as a Brand Ambassador for Penderyn Distillery. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Penderyn Distillery or The Welsh Whisky Company. I try to maintain as much objectivity as I can but feel free to take my reviews with as big a pinch of salt as you like. Furthermore, my rating scale is NOT based on a Parker type wine scoring scale or a school/college/university % or A-F grade score. You can find more on my scoring here. I apologise for any seemly low or 'bad' scores given with my system and I am sorry I can't say only nice things. Please keep in mind that I am ethically compromised and I am unable to produce 100% unbiased reviews.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Torabhaig New Make & Mossburn Island Blended Malt Reviews

Hi everyone,

Early last year a new distillery started up on the Isle of Skye, Torabhaig. But when you’ve just started a distillery, you don’t have anything to sell yet, so you come up with an alternative to make the money you desperately need to keep the banks at bay. Some sell gin, some sell casks, some sell others whisky and pass it off under their own brand.
These guys have done something a bit different. Become an independent bottler, and prove you know how to select and put whisky together.
I was lucky enough to meet and be working with Bruce in the sweatbox of Limburg Whisky Fair, who had some of their stuff. Funny story: on the Mossburn box, it states that the master distiller is ‘Robert Haig,’ but there is no Robert Haig. When the guy was painting Torabhaig on the distillery front, he split it into To-Rab-Haig, and thus a hilarious in-joke was born! Pretty ballsy to put that on your packaging though, fairplay to ‘em!

Torabhaig New Make 62.5%
Colour: Clear
Body: Medium/Full
Nose: Malty, salt and black pepper, echoes of Talisker, earthy heather.
Taste: Soft and pretty complex for NMS, great oily mouthfeel, salt and black pepper.
Finish: Long length. Earthy, heathery chocolate.
Bloody good. Super impressed with this. I will be eagerly awaiting their matured whisky!
 
Mossburn Island Blended Malt 46%
Colour: Light Gold
Body: Medium/Full
Nose: Lots of Ledaig methinks! Young esters, green apple, Ledaiggian smoke, oily malt, vanilla, buttery. Fresh young smoky whisky with a nice balance.
Taste: Soft and light then builds with spice and smoke, black pepper, oily, malt, green apple, buttery. More like a Ledaig + Talisker here.
Finish: Medium/Long length. More green apple and fresh smoke. Some dry oak too.
For 30ish pounds this is a no brainer. Fantastic stuff from the guys behind Torabhaig. Tastes like there’s a bunch of young Ledaig in there. This was finished in Compass Box-esque recharred barrel ends.
78/100
Yes, I know I should have tried a bunch of their other stuff but its clear these guys know what they are doing!

Thanks for reading!

Scotch Review #636
Whisky Network Review #756

Network Average: 74.9
Best Score: 94
Worst Score: 12
0-49 Terrible
50-59 Bad
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
70-74 Good
75-79 Very Good
80-84 Excellent
85-89 Superb
90+ Magnificent

Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I currently work as a Brand Ambassador for Penderyn Distillery. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Penderyn Distillery or The Welsh Whisky Company. I try to maintain as much objectivity as I can but feel free to take my reviews with as big a pinch of salt as you like. Furthermore, my rating scale is NOT based on a Parker type wine scoring scale or a school/college/university % or A-F grade score. You can find more on my scoring here. I apologise for any seemly low or 'bad' scores given with my system and I am sorry I can't say only nice things. Please keep in mind that I am ethically compromised and I am unable to produce 100% unbiased reviews.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

A few blends: BNJ, Ballentine's 17, Christmas Reserve & VAT69 1965 Reviews

Hi everyone,

A few Scotch blends today as that’s a lot of what is sold throughout the world.
As per usual I’ve selected some random, discontinued, limited editions that you won’t be able to find, as that’s pretty much all I review these days! Just kidding, there is one 17yo you’ll be able to get if you can fight the Jim Murray fans away from it.

Bailie Nicole Jarvie 40%
Colour: Gold, not much E150a
Body: Light
Nose: Lots of light fruitiness, lots of Glenmorangie-esque apple and pear, a bit of mango, a little waxiness, a leafy note. Quite juicy actually.
Taste: A little hot, then creamy with fruit- Apple pie, more pear though, a leafy note, Bourbon waxiness, a little oily.
Finish: Medium length. A little heat, but fades gradually.
Discontinued now. Quite a high malt content of mainly Glenmo I think. Not worth hunting down for myself personally, although I know that many people had this as their go to.
63/100
 
Ballentine's 17 43%
Colour: E150a
Body: Medium
Nose: Quite herbal at first- Cloves, oriental tea, green tea, lots of creaminess with mint ice cream, brown sugar, a wisp of peat smoke, polished wood. Citrus notes- Lime, lemon and vanilla.
Taste: Citrus fruit, sweet tea, green tea, lime, more peat than the nose would suggest. Long development, lots of spice then peat smoke building more.
Finish: Medium length. Honey, lemon and lime, oak and salt, a little drying.
Took a while to truly appreciate this, not a beginner’s whisky IMO. It’s subtle and well blended though.
74/100

Ballentine's Christmas Reserve 40%
Colour: E150a, lots of it.
Body: Medium
Nose: Fruity, plums, blackberries, spice, cinnamon, Christmas cake, nuts, grain and Brandy.
Taste: A bit oily, fruit and a bit of nut then more spice builds.
Finish: Short length. Spiced oak.
Very meh, although the nose is alright.
55/100
 
VAT69 43% 1965 Bottling
Colour: E150a
Body: Light/Medium
Nose: Creamy vanilla, nice grain ethanol, natural grassy wheat, pear, sugar pastille, herbal pine and mint.
Taste: Soft and light, very creamy, nice mouthfeel, grain forward then vanilla, lots of pine and mint with this herbal background. Very interesting. Menthol. Pear and green apple.
Finish: Long. A nice finish with more pear and green apple, creamy oak.
Always super interesting to taste some of these older drams. It’s almost like opening a time capsule of how whisky was made and put together back then. A very nice version, unrecognisable from the (cough) modern shite.
71/100

Thanks for reading!

Scotch Reviews #632-#635
Whisky Network Reviews #752-#755

Network Average: 74.9
Best Score: 94
Worst Score: 12
0-49 Terrible
50-59 Bad
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
70-74 Good
75-79 Very Good
80-84 Excellent
85-89 Superb
90+ Magnificent

Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I currently work as a Brand Ambassador for Penderyn Distillery. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Penderyn Distillery or The Welsh Whisky Company. I try to maintain as much objectivity as I can but feel free to take my reviews with as big a pinch of salt as you like. Furthermore, my rating scale is NOT based on a Parker type wine scoring scale or a school/college/university % or A-F grade score. You can find more on my scoring here. I apologise for any seemly low or 'bad' scores given with my system and I am sorry I can't say only nice things. Please keep in mind that I am ethically compromised and I am unable to produce 100% unbiased reviews.

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