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Monday, 28 November 2016

TWE Show Report + Exciting Intro Stuff: TBWC Secret Distillery #2 21yo Review

HELLO!

I am excited! The Whisky Exchange show in London was amazing and I’m here to tell you all about my experience there, tasting 80 whiskies in one weekend.
There’s some incredible stuff in here, lots of high scores (…for me), and a load of pre-release/new stuff so I’m keen to get these reviews out before some of them go to market.

Stuff to look out for:
Port Charlotte 10yo (2016)- Literally go and buy a case of this the minute it comes out.
Octomore 10 (2016)
Black Art 5.1 Yes, you heard. 5.1 FIVE Point One
Lagavulin 25 (if you can afford it, sadface)
Laphroaig 2001 HL First Editions (But it’s £160 sadface)- Just came out
Ledaig 2004 G&M for TWE & Ledaig 11 Time Series IV TWE
OMFG THERE’s SO MUCH GREAT STUFF!!!!!!!
Also tasted: Brora 38, Port Ellen Rare Malts 1978, Karuizawa 1983, Laphroaig 1996 Masterpieces, Springbank 21 Show release, Springbank 25 pre-release, Compass Box 3yo Deluxe . There’s a load of great Japanese and Bourbon stuff too so keep an eye on r/WorldWhisky and r/Bourbon.

So, prepare yourself for 80 reviews of epic malt crazy awesomeness!!!
Image courtesy of Master of Malt
First up is a secret distillery bottling from That Boutique-y Whisky Co at 21 years old. From the label you can work out which distillery they are implying, 16 men, 24 foot tall swans... Probably from a Bourbon barrel.

TBWC Secret Distillery #2 21 year old 49.7%
Colour: Gold
Body: Light
Nose: Custard, malt, light, grain whisky-esque, ginger, spicy oak, biscuit.
Taste: Soft, light, malt, delicious custard and biscuit.
Finish: Long length. Ginger snaps.
77/100

Nice, very nice actually. A very biscuity malt but I probably wouldn’t be buying a 50cl bottle for £150 (Story of whisky 2016 eh?), but then they are implying it's a whisky that we don't really see in indie bottlings.
I know, a bit anti-climactic maybe but there’s loads of awesome stuff to come. This was the warm up dram.

Review #184

Network Average: 74.4
Best Score: 91
Worst Score: 44
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

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Wolfburn Review

Hey everyone,

Another one today and this really ends a long journey for me.

This year I had a goal to try a whisky from every distillery in Scotland currently available. I was pretty close but then Ailsa Bay and Wolfburn came out. I bought a bottle of Ailsa but the Wolfburn eluded me for a while. Finally, when ordering my Kilkerran 12 from Master of Malt I spied a sample!

So this is it, I've now tried at least one whisky from every distillery currently releasing their whisky.

Wolfburn is a new distillery, the northernmost in mainland Scotland. It has just started releasing their whisky, so this is one of the first releases really. This was partially matured in ex-Peated Quarter casks, probably from Laphroaig.

Wolfburn 46%
Colour: Straw
Body: Medium
Nose: Young, light fruit, light smoke, seaweed, driftwood.
Water: NMS, clean and bubblegum like.
Taste: Soft arrival, young fruit, pear, some smoke, seaweed, ginger, ginseng tea.
Water: Softly smoky, NMS notes, bubblegum, some spice and oak.
Finish: Medium length. More smoke and ash kicks up.
62/100

Alright for 3 years old but glad I didn't pay the money for a full bottle.

Review #183

Score Average: 74.4
Best Score: 91
Worst Score: 44
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

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Kilkerran 12 Review

Hi everyone,

I know some people are probably itching to get their hands on this before it sells out (pretty much already gone in the UK for the moment). After a few drams I thought I'd post up what I think.
So, this is from Glengyle distillery, peated to around 10-15ppm, 30% Sherry casks, 70% Bourbon barrels.
They can't call it Glengyle because the name is copyrighted, but it is Springbank's other Campbeltown distillery they restarted around 2004. Of course, because Springbank are involved everything is old school and traditional.
If you want to learn more about how they make it you can watch their video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KB1JJUqrU-8

Kilkerran 12 46%
Colour: Gold
Body: Medium
Nose: Old school, light fruit, red apple, orange oil, old paper, slightly waxy, some heathery outdoorsy smoke, spicy too with cumin and cracked black pepper.
Water: Sea salt, black pepper, soot, red apple. Then zingy lemon.
Taste: Softly fruity, becoming more intense with spice and ash, black pepper, coriander, some orange, honey, very oily and old school, again something waxy.
Water: Sweeter, pink lady apples, something herbal and floral, old books, burnt paper.
Finish: Long. Slightly mouth watering, soot, spice, fruit and some oak.
Notes: Some great aspects of Springbank, Talisker, Clynelish and Highland Park in here.
76/100

Actually if someone gave this to me blind I would have to guess Talisker, there's a great spicy thing that I normally only find in Talisker.
If someone told me it was Springbank before giving me some I wouldn't bat an eyelid.
Now I love Talisker and this reaches the same heights as the best batches of the 10yo but there's something missing here keeping it from true greatness.
It is also very different from the previous Work in Progress bottlings.
Having said that, this was at a fantastic price and a definite buy. I'll be greatly anticipating future releases.

Review #182

Network Average: 74.4
Best Score: 91
Worst Score: 44
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

Springbank 15 & 1996 Director's Cut Reviews

Hello again guys and gals,
Today we have a Springbank comparison of two 15 year olds. The first is an OB miniature that I think had been sat on a shelf for a while and the other was a sample from Master of Malt from a IB.
For those that don’t know, Springbank is an epic distillery that does every part of the process head to toe. Very ‘old school’ whisky. You can find my distillery visit here.

Springbank 15 46%
Colour: Light Amber
Body: Medium
Nose: In short, lovely. Nutty Sherry, stewed fruit, raisin, sweet cherry, lit cigar, tobacco, great fresh malty note, oily malt, engine oil. A little floral too, heathery.
Water: Graphite, chocolate, mineral, spice, oily nuts.
Taste: Nutty Sherry on arrival, developing stewed fruit, raisin and light cherry, lovely oily malt, barley oils, slightly floral, slightly smoky, singed heather, light spice, start anise, liquorice.
Water: Spicy, ginger, much more oak, some gun smoke, chocolate into the finish.
Finish: Medium length. Some burnt heather, match smoke and quite plain oak.
Notes: Not quite as good as the 10 I don't think, but of course still very good stuff. 
77/100

Springbank 1996 Douglas Laing Director's Cut 56.3%
Colour: Amber
Body: Full
Nose: Sherry, cigar and Springbank funk. Oily and minerally- Lots of Engine oil and pencil lead (graphite), also gun smoke and lit match. A little sherried fruitiness but it's very atypical- Orange marmalade, some cherry and raisin. A little smouldering heather. Mint and earthy liquorice root after a bit.
Water: More sherry, but liquorice, mint and graphite rather than fruit. Burnt vanilla pod. The graphite really takes over after a bit. More orange and leather. After time it goes more floral with cherry blossom.
Taste: Huge, sweet and oily. A little smoky, gun smoke and smouldering heather (mouth drying), hugely oily with engine oil and graphite again, but big sherried sweetness- Cherry and raisin (mouth watering). Building oily spice- Cinnamon.
Water: Creamier arrival, more oak with a spicier development- Ginger, lots of white pepper and cinnamon. Very dry now. More fruit with lots of orange marmalade, raisin, dried cherry and fig. A sour note after a bit- Sour oak and apple. After more time there's a floral honeyed note.
Finish: Medium length. Drying sweetness recedes leaving oily earthy fruitcake and graphite. Ash with water.
Distilled October 1996, bottled July 2012. 15yo from a Sherry cask. Douglas Laing for their most premium range. Cask 8700.
Think there's some Sulphur in here but it works really well.
At a reasonable price, I probably would have bought a bottle. Think it was about £100 but its all sold out now anyway.
84/100

Reviews #180-181

Network Average: 74.4
Best Score: 91
Worst Score: 44
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

Arran Reviews: 12 Cask Strength, Portwood & 1997 BBR

Hello everyone,
Just a few Arran’s today for your enjoyment: 12 cask strength, the Portwood finish and an IB from a Marsala cask.
Arran, of course, is the only distillery on the Isle of Arran and they are doing rather well since they started in 1993.

Arran 12 Cask Strength 4th Ed. 53.2%
Colour: Gold
Body: Medium/Full
Nose: Big, sweet and quite old school. Sweet green apple, lots of pear, cherry, fresh esters, toffee, the oak is definitely there- Dry oak, tannins. Some sherry in the background. Coffee and a little chocolate developing.
Water: More sherry, more coffee, more chocolate, a LOT more cherry, more oak, more tannins. Cherry sweets. Pepper and ginger after a bit.
Taste: Creamy arrival, building intense sweetness with huge apple and pear sweetness, vanilla, honey, dry oak, cherry, tannins into the finish.
Water: More sweetness, cherry, fizzy cherry sweets, oak coming through strong with tannins and drying with chocolate and splintered wood. After a bit the spice really develops with pepper and hot ginger (a bit of heat).
Finish: Medium length. Toffee and then dark chocolate hit.
Water: Longer finish with more oak.
74/100

Arran Port Cask Finish 50%


Colour:Rose
Body: Medium/Full
Nose: Malty and spicy. Pastry, strudel and cinnamon, some vanilla. Dark fruit behind- Blueberry.
Water: Opens up with more earthy pastry and more aromatic spice- Coriander.
Taste: Soft arrival, then kicks up with building spices and fruity port with blueberry. Some alcohol.
Water: More spicy with coriander.
Finish: Medium length. Fruit and spice.
72/100

Arran 1997 Berry Brothers & Rudd Single Cask 46%

From a Marsala wine cask (I assume finished), bottled 2013. 16 years old.
Colour: Gold
Body: Medium
Nose: Malty and sweet, fruit- apple and pear, then curry! Yes, curry spice- coriander and Masala curry paste. Are we sure it wasn’t a Masala cask? Eh? Oh, forget it.
Taste: Malty, lots of sweet apple, developing grape, spice and coriander.
Finish: Medium length. Spices finish.
73/100

Reviews #177-179

Network Average: 74.4
Best Score: 91
Worst Score: 44
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

Balvenie Reviews: 12 Doublewood, 21 Portwood & 14 Golden Cask

Balvenie. If there was ever a malt that would really be helped by being unchillfiltered, 46% minimum and natural colour, I think it would be this. At it's best, it's a fantastic whisky. In fact one of my few 90 point whiskies was a Balvenie. (Sigh) Alas! Most of it is meant for the malty mass market.

Balvenie 12 year old Doublewood 40%

Colour: E150a 
Body: Light/Medium
Nose: Light, fruity and malty. Some nut, light oakiness, some light sherry sweetness. Lots of honey and vanilla.
Taste: Very silky and (shudders) smooth mouthfeel. Fruity and sweet, vanilla and honey, a bourbon waxineess, some herbal spice. Actually very bourbon-y for a sherry finish.
Finish: Short length. A bit of bitter coffee.
Notes: Perfectly acceptable and perfectly boring. Refill barrels for 10 years, Sherry for 2. Don't imagine they're 1st fill though.
66/100

Balvenie 21 year old Portwood
Colour: Gold
Body: Medium
Nose: A sweet floral nose. Quite oak driven with loads of vanilla and honey, peach, brownie and sweet nut, fragrant oak, dark fruit- blackberry, clotted cream, a hint of port, milky coffee. Some developing lemon and fruity oak.
Taste: Creamy arrival, coffee, oaky tannins, floral with fragrant oak and building fruit- raisin, fig, apple, pear, peach, some rum type notes- molasses, some spice- cinnamon, more tannins and milky coffee.
Finish: Long length. Oaky toffee coffee and cocoa lasting nicely then the port hits with bitter dark chocolate.
Notes: Not as good as I was hoping. I tasted this next to the Macallan 18 Sherry and it paled in comparison.
77/100

Balvenie 14 year old Golden Cask Rum Finish 47.5%
Whoh whoh whoh. What the hell is the 'Golden' cask? Did they insert gold bars into the barrel? Did they coat the inside of the barrel with gold?!
Calm down. It's the 'Caribbean Cask' nonchillfiltered for Duty Free a while back.
Colour: Light Gold
Body: Medium/Full
Nose: Complex, intense and incredibly sweet. Banana, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, caramelised honey, some spice, citrus notes- intense orange but some lime too. Floral note- Roses and a little spearmint.
Water: More fruity- pineapple, peach, plum, apple, cola. Malty toffee after some time.
Taste: Spice- ginger and cinnamon with chocolate on arrival. A fresh sweetness, deliciously rich, sweet fruit and citrus- orange and lime again with lemon. Classic Balvenie honey as well.
Water: Softer, with cream and less spice. Pineapple and a malty note.
Finish: Medium/Long length. Citrus notes fade, delicious oaky taste dries slowly with a final cocoa powder kick. Lovely.
Notes: Balvenie as it should be, amazingly fresh and deliciously sweet.
82/100

Reviews #175-#177

Network Average: 74.4
Best Score: 91
Worst Score: 44
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

Kavalan Solist Sherry Review

Hi everyone,

Just a quick one today for another community review on r/WorldWhisky.

Kavalan is the cult Taiwanese distillery, but I've never been really impressed by their stuff. I tried the Fino Sherry recently and didn't like it at all and that's meant to be the top of the solist range, actually I liked the Concertmaster better.
Anyway, the solist's are from single casks/barrels and at cask strength. 
The 2 numbers after the S are the year distilled, so gives you an idea of the age.
These are my notes from 2 different batches I've tasted.

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask Batch S081219016 57.8%
Colour: Dark brown
Body: Full
Nose: Rich, very intense Sherry. An intense marzipan note with cake, some rich exotic spice- Cinnamon, nutmeg, a touch of coriander, intense clove, oak integrated with the spice. Stewed tea, big Oloroso Sherry everywhere. Very sweet but the fruit is in the background- Raisin, date, fig, more plum, stewed rhubarb with brown sugar (think crumble). Mulled wine and intense red grape.
Water: A little less intense but it loses something, more leathery, tobacco, a bit rubbery, more feinty, settles down a bit but not a lot.
Taste: Huge, intense, very sweet, lots of Sherry then the alcohol coming in with a cooling note, the sweetness then returns gradually with brown sugar, plum, date, clove, lots of spice and oak, then a little creaminess and finally going dry with a LOT of tannins into the finish.
Water: A lot more creamy arrival, to the point of watery, then quite a lot of Balsamic vinegar and rubbery oak which goes into the finish too. Tobacco and leather too.
Finish: Long length. Sweet and drying, oaky spices with a lot of dry tannins.
Without water this had a great nose but it fell apart a bit when diluted.
74/100

Kavalan Solist Sherry Batch S060703030 57.8%
Nose: Intense Sherry and raisin, coffee beans, stewed fruit, aromatic wood spice.
Taste: Intense, very sweet, stewed fruit, coffee, biscuit, syrup, honey, warm aromatic spices building.
Finish: Medium length. Fruit fades leaving spice and some oak.
Think this one is meant to be one of the better batches but still didn't blow me away.
74/100

Review #174

Network Average: 74.4
Best Score: 91
Worst Score: 44
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

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Review

Hi guys,

Just a quick one for a community review on r/Scotch.
Every month people post up their reviews about one voted whisky and notes/scores are compared. A really worthwhile and useful exercise actually.
I tasted this at a Bruichladdich tasting in Cardiff for South Wales Whisky Interest group (SWWIG).

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley 50%
Colour: Light Gold
Body: Light/Medium
Nose: Light and peaty. Vanilla fudge, sweet honey, fruity oak, some sea salt, fruity oaky smoke, some mint and moss coming through.
Water: More iodine.
Taste: Vanilla fudge, creamy and light, peat building with fruity sweetness, raisin and cream, sherry and iodine.
Water: Even more creamy and light.
Finish: Medium length. Creamy peat and dry oak, some toffee.
74/100

Review #173

Network Average: 74.4
Best Score: 91
Worst Score: 44
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