Saturday, 14 December 2019

Karuizawa 1990 for Whisky Live Japan 2009 [Road to #1000, Review #992]

Hi everyone,

Welcome.
Take a deep breath in. Let it go, out…
There is a scent of pine needles underfoot, the wind is rustling cherry blossoms nearby. Above you a vast volcano looms with some form of inner darkness that you cannot comprehend fully.
Karuizawa
The name is but a breath upon the gentlest wind.
Karuizawa
More forceful now. Impatient. Impossible to ignore.
Karuizawa
Volcanic. Muscular. Now supple and teasing, now devastating.
Karuizawaaaa…

Karuizawa 1990 for Whisky Live Japan 2009 60%
Colour: Light Amber
Body: Full
Nose: Beautiful nose, fresh wild strawberries, orange and raisin, ethereal juiciness and cherry, malt, leather and cologne. Its all pretty muscular and salivating. Mead and old wood and browning red apple and golden raisin and brandy and perfumed wood. Yeah, complex.
Water: Darker, more cherry, black coffee, and very dark chocolate.
Taste: Sweet start, raisin, great oils and dryness, some brandy and leather, plenty of oak, some chilli chocolate, black pepper, orange peel, cherry into the finish.
Water: Still some spices but finds a nice sweet balance, less oak.
Finish: Medium length. More oils, more cherry, some oak, leather and chocolate.
Bottled 2009 at 19yo from a Sherry cask. Incredible nose, taste is a little dry. My second experience with Karuizawa and I was not disappointed in any way. This stuff is amazing. Not quite as amazing as the 1983 I tired but if the taste was on par with the nose, it would be well on its way.
85/100

Thanks for reading!

Japanese Review #24
Whisky Network Review #992

Network Average: 75.2
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 the Global 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.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Port Ellen 1982 Wilson & Morgan [Road to #1000, Review #991]

Hi everyone,

If you’ve had a look at my Distillery Rankings page, you might have noticed something that wouldn’t surprise you; that Port Ellen and Brora hold the top spots… BY 5 WHOLE POINTS.
This probably wouldn’t surprise you because we all know that the whisky is old, expensive, hyped, etc.
But I’ve been thinking about this lately: why do I rate these whiskies so highly? Is it just because of my expectations? Would I rate the whisky the same if I tasted it blind?
I guess partially it also comes down to taste. Generally, I seem to prefer older whiskies with a huge amount of complexity that aren’t over-oaked. There really aren’t that many expressions of younger Brora or Port Ellen that we can get hold of, so it makes it hard to try (though Diageo are building the distilleries anew, so we may well do in a few years time). And these days, it is almost exclusively bottled at cask strength, which I also prefer. I like peaty whisky, again, old peated whisky being one of my favourites because as the smoke mellows you get more complexity coming out while still keeping spirit character and power.
Equally, I’m sure that there are very mediocre versions of both Port Ellen and Brora out there, I just haven’t tried many yet. I’m told that there are some disastrous PE’s from Sherry casks.
Anyway, enough rambling. Here’s another PE:

Port Ellen 1982 Wilson & Morgan 60%
Colour: Light Amber
Body: Full
Nose: Sweet, fruity, smoky, salty and oily. Salted fish, golden raisin, leather and cigar, sea air and salt, great clean lemon, sugared almonds, marzipan, dark chocolate and espresso, liquorice. Lovely nose.
Water: Quite different now, less smoke and cleaner. With more water you get more fruit- lemon, red apple and black pepper.
Taste: Incredible, flawless arrival, oils coating, spot on mouthfeel, then full power peat and minerals (almost Kilchoman-like!) then recedes into sweeter fruitiness, lemon. Really is amazing how powerful and peaty this is after 28 years.
Water: Very clean arrival, amazing development on a great balance of red apple fruit and oily smoke.
Finish: Long length. Awesome and oily, saltiness staying, lovely lemon citrus. Quite simple but, equally, it’s also quite stunning.
Bottled 2011 at 28yo from a Sherry cask. A pretty perfect beast of a whisky. Not massively complex but doesn't need to be. Another one for the 90 Club! And another incredible example of Port Ellen too. I could imagine Kilchoman tasting like this in 20 something years time actually.
90/100

Thanks for reading!

Scotch Review #829
Whisky Network Review #991

Network Average: 75.2
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 the Global 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, 12 December 2019

Linkwood 37 Special Releases 2016 [Road to #1000, Review #990]

Hi everyone,

We’re onto the big guns now!
If you have been following me for a while (hopefully just my writings, otherwise it’s kinda creepy), you might remember this old post about Linkwood.
Essentially, it boils down to the fact that in 1971 Diageo built a second distillery at Linkwood just like they did at Clynelish and (weirdly) Glendullan. In Linkwood’s case, they closed the old Worm Tub using distillery in 1985.
Which puts this 1978 vintage whisky smack bang in the middle of all that confusing craziness! Were the casks from Linkwood A or B? We do not know. Perhaps it’s a combination of both… I think it is likely that Diageo knew that there was a difference and marked the casks but we have no way of knowing.
This is another sample courtesy of the legend that is Colin Dunn. Thank you sir!

Linkwood 37 50.3%
Colour: Gold
Body: Medium/Full
Nose: The most amazing balance of fruit and honey, both delicious and evocative, melon and green apple, amazingly fresh for this age, delicate malt and dry old oak, leather and a little tobacco, some cocoa powder. The blend of freshness and dark old notes is really cool. Ooooo, and now there's a little strawberry note creeping out.
Taste: Old and dry, the oak is quite intense first off but then goes into fresh fruit with the melon and green apple, a little grassy, leather and tobacco, a little golden raisin, some malt in there, heather. Again great balance and power here. Builds and builds with the oak coming back with a bit of dried strawberry and strawberry fruit pastille.
Finish: Long length. Really great transition into cocoa powder and dark chocolate with much more leather. Complex and really well balanced finish. Really stays with you.
Special Releases 2016, distilled 1978. I had a feeling this would be a good one. I might have preferred it a little younger but I was amazed by the freshness this still had after 37 years. Personally I think Linkwood is pretty underrated and this is still available for about £600. It doesn’t quite go into emotional territory though.
89/100

Thanks for reading!

Scotch Review #828
Whisky Network Review #990

Network Average: 75.1
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 the Global 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.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Port Askaig 33 Single Cask [Road to #1000, Review #989]

Hi everyone,

I’ve been lucky enough to taste a bunch of the Port Askaig range; 15, 16, 19, 28, 30 & 45. Most of which have been Caol Ila or Bunnahabhain.
The Importer of Port Askaig to the USA is ImpEx Beverages and this sample is another one I have to thank them for, specifically Jared Card. Thanks buddy!
There was also a 25yo from a batch of casks, which I was lucky enough to taste but didn’t make notes. I thought that one was a Laphroaig.
This on the other hand is a single cask, presented in one of those big sturdy wooden boxes that we love to pay for…

Port Askaig 33 Single Cask 50.3%
Colour: Gold
Body: Medium
Nose: Interesting, complex nose with a lot of different facets. Soft salty smoke, soft fruit and oils, white pepper, white florals, faint smoked meat, interesting moss and a minty note-spearmint. More leathery as it opens up.
Taste: Soft and complex, great arrival, great mouthfeel on silky oils, smoke then salty with lemon juice, white pepper, white florals, white peach then darker into the finish.
Finish: Long length. Delicious. More overtly peaty with malt and some leather, a bit minty at the end. A little dry here.
American exclusive single cask. This is an expensive whisky (doesn’t come into my scoring but it’s worth mentioning) and although it is interesting and complex, there has also been something lost. Don’t get me wrong, this is great whisky but I think I was expecting more from it.
84/100

Thanks for reading!

Scotch Review #827
Whisky Network Review #989

Network Average: 75.1
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 the Global 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.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Chichibu 2010 Single Cask [Road to #1000, Review #988]

Hi everyone,

Chichibu is a fascinating distillery for me, because the whisky is delicious and crazy good at such a young age.
I really don’t know how they do it. Perhaps it’s the attention to detail and the intense focus on quality? Or the Mizunara oak washbacks? Super good casks? All of the above maybe.
Problem is, it’s also crazy hard to get hold of and if you do find it, it’ll cost you a bomb for a full bottle.
So when I saw that this one was over eight years old and a reasonable price at a bar in California, I knew I had to taste it. It didn’t disappoint…

Chichibu 2010 Single Cask 60.6%
Colour: Gold
Body: Medium/Full
Nose: Complex, you’ve just walked into a high end carpenters, with polished and sawn oak, some malt, light orange peel. Seemed standard to start with, more complex as it opens up.
Taste: Oily and malty, golden raisin, hefty and supple, amazing here. All about form, structure and mouthfeel. Old whisky white pepper spice.
Finish: Long length. More complexly woody, more carpenters workshop here, dry and again way way older than it’s years.
Bottled 2018 at 8yo for US market. Like a 70’s Bourbon matured Macallan. Which is insane… I really don’t understand how they pack this much maturity into a whisky this young.
85/100

Thanks for reading!

Japanese Review #23
Whisky Network Review #988

Network Average: 75.1
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 the Global 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, 5 December 2019

Pappy van Winkle 15, Family Reserve Rye 13 & Sazerac 18 Bot.2000 [Road to #1000, Reviews #985-#987]

Hi everyone,

Today I have more generosity from the guys at JVS and ImpEx, this time some American whiskies.
Near the start of my whisky journey, I was given 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die and I’ve been desperately trying to complete it. One of the more difficult ones to get a hold of was the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye and when I mentioned it to Chris Uhde, he said that he had a bottle open.
Anyway, many thanks go to him for the last two as he also let me taste some of his Sazerac 18 collection (he seemed to have them all!) but I only made notes on the oldest, bottled back in the year 2000.
Just to complete my line up of notes on the Pappy range (still haven’t had the 12), I also tasted the 15 at the Whisky Exchange Show this year.

Pappy van Winkle 15 53.5%
Colour: Bronze
Body: Medium
Nose: Great nose. Fruity, red apple and orange, a slightly woody smoke, quite fresh though actually, brandy soaked raisins, buttery with popcorn coming out. Chocolate orange and cherry.
Taste: Dry and fruity, raisin and red apple, orange, a flat-ish spice note of ginger and pepper, quite flat in the mid-palate.
Finish: Long length. Dry wood, light tingling spice.
Love the nose, taste lets it down more and more. I’d heard that this was some people’s favourite from the Winkle line up but I prefer the 20.
75/100
 
Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 47.8%
Colour: Bronze
Body: Medium
Nose: Nicely leathery, coffee and chocolate in addition to the usual caramel, toffee and vanilla that I find in American whiskies.
Taste: Quite dry, nice leather and chocolate but flatter in other parts. Not much spice for a rye either.
Finish: Medium length. Not too spicy but not too impressive here IMO.
Lovely nose on this but again it gets quite flat and there’s plenty of average notes in here too. Still, it’s nice but you wouldn’t catch me paying $2000 for a bottle.
78/100

Sazerac 18 1981, Bottled 2000 45%
Colour: Bronze
Body: Medium/Full
Nose: Complex and great richness, real sense of the grains, the rye is very clear but there’s a more earthy malt note here too which is as fascinating as it is delicious. Great nose.
Taste: So soft and supple. There’s something really restrained about this that I love, it isn’t super in your face but enough power and interesting spices to carry it through.
Finish: Medium length. Again soft but rich oak, complex with a darker chocolateyness. Not over oaked at all.
One of my favourite American whiskies I’ve had the pleasure to try and definitely the best rye I’ve tried.
82/100

Thanks for reading!

American Reviews #64-#66
Whisky Network Reviews #985-#987

Network Average: 75.1
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 the Global 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.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Talisker 1979 Cadenhead's Sherrywood [Road to #1000, Review #984]

Hi everyone,

Earlier in the year, in California, I had the pleasure of meeting some great whisky people that work for JVS distribution and share some whiskies.
Actually, a few of these Road to #1000 whiskies are from them, starting with this Talisker that Elijah very kindly brought to a tasting for me to try.
Now I’ve always wanted to try an old indie Talisker, especially from a Sherry cask but I was warned that this whisky was vile and undrinkable by someone else, while Elijah himself was a little more optimistic.

Talisker 1979 Cadenhead’s 60.8%
Colour: Amber
Body: Full
Nose: Dirty, sulphurous and vegetal, damp wood, wet and damp walls, damp mouldy concrete, burnt heather and match sticks. Big sour balsamic vinegar, raspberry vinaigrette and spiced orange. Love the nose, despite the obvious sulphur.
Taste: Dry, weirdly wine-y, raspberry syrup, oak and smoke and then more sweet with orange. The weird notes are hard to ignore here, the sulphur having a pronounced effect.
Finish: Medium length. Sweet and kinda flat, dry, orange and a little black pepper.
Bottled at 18yo. Not exactly a balanced style of whisky and people will absolutely hate it, particularly if they are sensitive to sulphur. Cool nose that the taste doesn't really go with.
73/100

Thanks for reading!

Scotch Review #826
Whisky Network Review #984

Network Average: 75.1
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 the Global 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.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Imperial 1989 Carn Mor [Road to #1000, Review #983]

Hi everyone,

Last year I was working a lot in Germany, which meant tasting a lot of cool German exclusives that are only released there. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to spend a lot of time there this year as I really like it there.
Despite being a closed distillery, Imperial was more affordable and pretty readily available when I first started in whisky. There were Signatory Cask Strength 1995’s for about £85 then.
Now it’s a different story but I know there are plenty of casks out there because I visited some warehouses of a certain independent bottler and they have racks of the stuff.

Imperial 1989 Carn Mor 44.7%
Colour: Light Gold
Body: Medium
Nose: Tropical fruit along with the classically Imperial dusty dunnage and leather, some pear, lemon peel, cigar box, green and red apple, particularly dusty this one. Oh, also beeswax.
Taste: Soft, dusty and old, leather, dunnage, then more fruity with red and green apple, some lemon, sour oak. Not as much complexity as I would have expected for almost 30yo.
Finish: Medium length. Very soft. Green apple, some lemon and dusty something?! Dust?
Bourbon barrel, bottled 2018 at 28yo as an exclusive for Schlumberger in Germany. Good but it is quite dusty. Perhaps too much. This dusty note is normally encounter with Glen Scotia so it’s interesting to see it here with Imperial. Not sure if it’s something coming from the spirit or cask but I might guess the cask in this case as it isn’t something I’ve had with an Imperial before or since.
75/100

Thanks for reading!

Scotch Review #825
Whisky Network Review #983

Network Average: 75.1
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 the Global 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.

VLOG