Monday, 1 February 2016

A Taste of Teeling - Part 2

Back in September 2014, I wrote about Teeling’s rum cask finish and their single grain Irish whiskies. I really enjoyed both bottles, so when the 2015 whisky advent calendar revealed two more from Teeling, I was delighted.

First up is their single malt. It’s made from 100% malt whiskies and five wine-cask-finishes were used to blend this bad boy together - specifically sherry, port, madeira, white Burgundy and cabernet sauvignon. No age statement is given, but according to the Teeling website, the bottle contains “aged malt whiskey up to 23 years old.”

Next is a special release which, unlike the single malt, is now pretty hard to get hold of - the Teeling Silver Reserve 21 year old single malt. It was matured in ex bourbon barrels and then finished in Sauterne wine casks. That addition has given this dram a huge, fruity character - and it’s lovely whiskey. A total of 5000 bottles were produced.

It should also be noted that Teeling bottle all their juice at 46% and don’t chill filter them. Great stuff. Not sure about added colouring though.

Teeling Single Malt - 46%

Nose: Golden syrup and honey straight off the bat. There’s also fresh vanilla , cinnamon, Murray Mints and creamy barley sugars. There’s a green herbal note floating around along with a whiff of grappa and chalky Edinburgh rock. With a dollop of water, white grapes, oaky sawdust, cardamon, sweet toffee and sharp kiwi fruit join the party.

Palate: A savoury sweet arrival which gives way to thick honey. The taste is actually quite like the nose, with buttery mint and a little floral kick. Water ramps up the oak and vanilla and adds runny caramel. This has a lovely viscous mouth feel.

Finish: Sweet and spicy with cinnamon sticks dipped in honey. Water turns up the volume on the vanilla and adds white pepper and bitter dark chocolate. Lovely.

Teeling Silver Reserve 21 Year Old Single Malt - 46%

Nose: Right, who dropped the fruit bomb? Wow! Honeydew melon, lemon sherbet, tangerine, pineapple and mango. There’s also dusty vanilla oak. Water sends the fruit through the roof and brings a touch of passion fruit to the show. I also get gummy lemon Haribo and white sugar.

Palate: Big, bold and mouthwateringly fruity! Ooof! Orange segments and tangerine skin - and that orange continues in waves. There’s also white grapes and slight foam banana. After a few minutes, the oak starts to asset itself, but never becomes over the top. It seems impossible, but the addition of water adds even more fruit and ramps up the wood, while adding a dab of liquorice. This has to be classed as one of your five a day!

Finish: Vanilla oak, more tangerine and lemon. There’s some pleasant spice with water adding dusty oak, citrus and some vanilla.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Johnnie Walker Double Black - 40%

We're back on the blends - and this time it's the Johnnie Walker Double Black. I picked up a bottle of the regular Black label back in October 2014 and thought it was a decent drop. So when I saw the Double Black on special offer at Oddbins last year, I snapped up what turned out to be the last bottle on the shelf.

It's not overly complex, but then I didn't really expect it to be. It's very easy to drink but lacks sparkle at just 40%. That said, I'd be tempted to pick up another bottle if I saw it for a good price.

Nose: Grain and lots of honied cereal aromas backed by sweet, restrained peat. There's some liquorice, Wrigley's Spearmint chewing gum, lemons and hard-boiled barley sugars.

Palate: A sweet arrival with more honey, buttery vanilla and malty Cheerios breakfast cereal. That peat is ever-present but it's gentle.

Finish: It's here where the peat really comes through. Lots of spicy grains with treacle, pepper and liquorice. It fades sharpish but waves goodbye with a very pleasant mild smoke.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Paul John Edited - 46%

Another dram from last year's whisky advent calendar - and another whisky from India. I previously had a look at the Amrut Fusion, buying a full bottle after first sampling it at the Newcastle Whisky Festival back in March 2014.

The Paul John Edited is just one of the malts available from the mind of master distiller Michael John - but it's the first one I've tried. It has a percentage of peated Scottish barley in the mashbill, with the final vatting containing around 15% of peated spirit. It's then matured in ex bourbon casks.

Nose: Huge, weighty and fruity - packs a real punch of aromas. There's also some floral characteristics coming through, along with blackcurrant Chewits and a lovely tobacco leaf note. Plums, figs, apples and honey. The peat lurks in the background and it's definitely not in you face. I also get butter icing, Juicy Fruit chewing gum and wood shavings.

Palate: A slow entry gives way to blackcurrant, baked lemon, icing sugar, apples, vanilla. There's also a slight wet paper note.

Finish: Very similar to the taste, with blackcurrants, lemon and apples. There's also some menthol and, right at the end, a cracking dusty wood note. It's also here where the shy peat comes through, but it's still a fruity dram.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Lost Distilleries Blend - Batch 7 - 49.5%

Another one of the samples from last year’s whisky advent calendar is The Lost Distilleries Blend - Batch 7 from the Blended Whisky Company.
     It’s a combination of malt whiskies from Port Ellen, Caperdonich, Mosstowie, Glenisla, Glenlochy and Imperial, with an added splash of grain from Port Dundas. A 70cl bottle of the stuff sells for around £350 - and only 526 were produced.
     I thought it was stunning - and my wee sample wasn’t nearly enough. I’d buy it in a heartbeat if I had the cash, but I don’t. Will need to keep my fingers crossed for a lottery win instead.

Nose: A combination of raspberry and strawberry jam, mint Aero chocolate bar and red jelly babies. There’s a slight coal smokiness with added eucalyptus and hard-boiled watermelon sweets. There’s also some buttery Danish pastry going on - or perhaps iced buns. Sweet with baked apple, brown sugar and lemon sponge cake.

Palate: An incredibly syrupy sweet arrival - I’m thinking of tinned peaches and stewed red fruits. There’s a hint of cinnamon spice, loads of jam, apricots, delicate orange, sugar, pineapple cubes, honey roasted cashews and red liquorice laces.

Finish: It’s actually quit delicate. Herbal notes, sweet liquorice, fresh strawberries and black pepper. There’s a kick of smoke and I also get coffee - specifically Vietnamese coffee which uses sweetened condensed milk rather than the standard stuff. Utterly delicious.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Glenfarclas 105 - 60%

We're well into January but last month I decided to buy a couple of sherried whiskies for the festive season and to see in the new year.
     I much prefer bourbon cask whisky but with the Christmas tree lights sparkling, I took a fancy for a couple of "Christmas cake" drams. So I jumped in the sleigh, gave Rudolph an extra mince pie, and set off to Valhalla... well, Valhalla's Goat in the west end of Glasgow to be precise. This is a splendid shop crammed with fine spirits and outrageously good beer and wine - and plenty of it!
     I picked up this stonking Glenfarclas along with a hearty bottle of GlenDronach Cask-Strength. More of the latter in a future post.
    As far as I'm aware, the 105 used to be marked as a 10 year old, although this version carries no age statement. But don't let that put you off. At 60% and available for a good price, this is a Christmas present that just keeps on giving.

Nose: Toffee, walnuts, red apples, sticky dates, raisins, figs, caramel and golden syrup. Phew! There's also some lemon rind in here - but it's a dram which really does need a good splash of water to bring out its best. Water and 10 minutes in the glass, and this really comes into its own. Chocolate-covered raspberries, green apple slices drizzled with lemon juice and white grapes. Slight menthol, wood chips and herbs.

Palate: A syrupy sweet arrival with beautiful fruity toffee. Cinnamon and nutmeg and a huge mouthful of dates. Water makes this even more mouthwatering and brings dark fruits to the front along with milk chocolate.

Finish: The sweetness remains and there's loads of spicy dark fruits and pepper. Dark caramel, grapefruit and nuts - I'm thinking walnuts and Brazil. With water this is superb and I get smooth chocolate icing and lemon rind.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Octomore 07.1 - 59.5%

I first tried Bruichladdich's Octomore a couple of years ago in a whisky bar. I have no idea what batch it was, but I can clearly recall my drinking companions taking a collective step away from me as soon as I started waving the glass around. It is, after all, the most heavily peated whisky in the world. 
     But as I've come to get to know this particular bottle of the 5-year-old single malt from Islay, I realise it's not actually that peaty after all.
     While this elegant bottle contains single malt with a 208 PPM, it has, to my palate, more chocolate characteristics than pure peat.
     It took many months to properly open up, with the taste initially dominated by a sharp grappa note. Now at the halfway mark, the grappa smell has mellowed considerably, and it tastes really good. Try it with chocolate pudding. Seriously, it's fantastic!

Nose: Sweet with lots of butterscotch. Apricots, foam banana sweets, chocolate-covered pretzels and Toffee Crisp bars. Salt and vanilla. The peat is definitely there but it's lurking in the background - more campfire smoke than peat blast. Ash, twigs, slight citrus and mellow oak-aged grappa. Water brings out more fruit, cranks up the smoke and adds some caramel.

Palate: Thick and syrupy with huge slabs of chocolate. Cinnamon, citrus, peppercorns and granary bread. Water tames the dram but still keeps the intensity intact. Adds fruit and sherbet lemons.

Finish: Malted hot chocolate, ash, peat, smoke and earth. Really spicy. Water adds liquorice, toasted bread and a healthy spoonful of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Jura 21 year old - 44%

Right then! Jura. My experiences with malts from the distillery have been few and far between. The last drop I had was the Superstition, which I thought was a fairly decent and easy-going peated dram.
     But when I got the chance to try something a little older, I jumped straight in. Happy to say that the 21 year old was a good 'un. Expensive stuff, though.

Nose: Caramel, rum and raisin toffee, port, treacle, molasses, espresso, dates, prunes and dark fruit cake. Blackcurrant cough sweets, flat traditional lemonade, honey-roasted cashews and macadamia nuts.

Palate: Christmas cake and royal white icing, marzipan and rum. Dried orange slices, baked lemon, sherry, blackcurrants, white pepper and cloves.

Finish: Vanilla and more Christmas cake. Sweet orange, lemon rind, coffee beans, cinnamon, treacle toffee.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Bunnahabhain 24 year old - Old Particular (Douglas Laing) - 40.6%

Another dram from last year’s whisky advent calendar - this time a splendid drop of Bunnahabhain from Douglas Laing’s Old Particular range. 
     It was distilled in November 1990, left in a single refill hogshead for 24 years, and eventually bottled in July 2015. It’s deep, complex and packed with delicious, sweet flavours. 
    Even at close to £130, I’ve given serious thought to buying a bottle. At the time of writing, Master Of Malt are still selling 3cl samples for £10.67.

Nose: Marzipan, icing sugar, sherbet lemons - and the paper bag they came in! Barley sugars, fizzy Haribo, earthy putty, pineapple cubes, pear drops and zinging flying saucers. Sweet, sweet, sweet!

Palate: Lots more marzipan on the tongue, strawberry laces, deep lemon. Herbal honey with a silky mouthfeel. Full of flavour. Delicious.

Finish: Wood shavings, aniseed balls, honey, white pepper, pomegranate, nutmeg, lemon rind and chalky Edinburgh rock.

A belter!

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Mortlach Rare Old - 43.4%

My first review of 2016 is the Mortlach Rare Old - a whisky which caused a bit of a stir when it launched in 2014. 
     Why? Well, it carries no age statement and was splashed into stingy - but visually impressive - 50cl bottles. I also doubt whether it's rare or old.
     It was, I assume, rebranded to appeal to the luxury end of the whisky market. Now I'm not one to turn my nose up at any whisky, but at around £45, it wasn't a dram that particularly appealed to me. 
     However, in my 2015 whisky advent calendar, a 3cl sample popped out and I was quite impressed with what I experienced - but not blown away enough to splash the cash - although, if I see it on offer...

Nose: Nuts dipped in honey and golden syrup. Victoria sponge, complete with strawberry jam filling, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dusting of fine icing sugar. Sawdust notes begin to come through after several minutes, along with sultanas and red apples. Baked lemons and fudge. Kinda reminds me of some of the Longmorns I've tried - which is a very good thing.

Palate: Sweet arrival with a dab of light liquorice and cinnamon. More golden syrup and honey. Hint of citrus.

Finish: Loads and loads of vanilla, sugar-coated shortbread, white pepper and it's very creamy. Little bit of cinnamon.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Ledaig - A blast of Mull peat

Ledaig's a whisky I neglected for a long time. I'd heard mixed reports about the peated Isle of Mull spirit in the past and always passed it up while out shopping for a single malt. 
     But at this year's Edinburgh Stramash, I decided to try a dram of the standard 10 year old - and loved it. And, noticing it was bottled at 46.3% and non-chill filtered, I've snaffled two bottles since that capital encounter. 
     It's also lovely and pale, suggesting a lack of added colouring - although that's not mentioned on the label.
     I also went for a sherried version of the 10 year old – this one from independent bottlers Signatory. 
     It's bottled at a much higher strength - one of the highest ABV whiskies I've ever tried. 
     It's good, too, but doesn't quite match the bourbon cask beauty of the distillery 10. Here we go!

Ledaig 10 - 46.3%

Nose: Lovely dry, woody peat. Campfire smoke, green twigs and grapefruit rind. Olive oil and Brazil nuts.

Palate: Bonfire ash, liquorice. The sweetness is kept in check by the mineral peat. Peppercorns and some dried fruit.

Finish: Lots of peat smoke but there's also a fair whack of spice. A good length which carries some brown sugar sweetness and black coffee.

This has become my go-to peated dram this winter. I've managed to find it on offer for around £32 which is a bargain. It's not hugely complex but it hits the spot.

Signatory Ledaig 10 years old - 60.4%
Matured in a first-fill sherry butt.
Distilled: November 24, 2004. Bottled June 9, 2015.
Cask no. 900175, bottle 359/439

Nose: A whiff of sulphur straight off the bat - although it's not completely overpowering. All the sherry notes you'd expect, along with peaty toffee. Dark chocolate and raspberry yoghurt - seriously! Water reduces the sulphur and ramps up the fruit.

Palate: A powerful peaty sherry arrival, then lots of dark fruit notes and chocolate. Mouthwatering. Water rounds off the flavours and brings chocolate-covered cherries to the party.

Finish: Tobacco, mineral peat, liquorice and lots of black pepper. Water adds woody ash and pot pourri - yup, that's not a mistake!

Monday, 21 December 2015

A pair of Islay bruisers

It's been a while since I reviewed a bottle from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, so let's do two! And since it's getting cold, what better way to keep the chills at bay than by slurping two crackers from Islay? 
     I've never been a big fan of Bowmore, but the single cask stuff from the SMWS has been consistently good in my opinion, and as for Caol Ila - it's one of my favourite distilleries.

SMWS 3.244 - 58.8%
Film Noir - 19-year-old Bowmore. Ex bourbon refill hogshead.
Distilled May 7, 1996 - 211 bottles - from the August 2015 outturn.

Nose: Sweet black liquorice, strawberry laces, baked plums, sloe gin, sherbet dib-dabs - and the hard-boiled strawberry lolly. Wet autumn leaves, earth, flat Irn-bru and Pepsi. Wait, there's more: Coffee beans and raspberry yoghurt. With water, more fruit, confectionary, vanilla sponge and cheap lemonade.

Palate: Lots of dried fruit, plums, blackberries and baked apples dusted with sugar. Strawberry laces, dry oak and blackcurrant Chewits. With water, added citrus and vanilla.

Finish: Sweet peat and more strawberries, burning twigs, peat smoke and smoky bacon crisps. Sugar-coated chipotle chillis and charcoal bricks. Water adds more smoke and white pepper.

SMWS 53.227 - 56.8%
Sweet, Salty & Smoky - 18-year-old Caol Ila. Ex bourbon refill hogshead.
Distilled March 3, 1997 - 248 bottles - from the September 2015 outturn.

Nose: Cardamom, slight curry powder, lemons, liquorice wheels, vanilla and salted white fish. Chilli flakes, American Cream Soda, white pepper and celery salt. Some dried fruit, too. Water brings out stronger vanilla and adds grapefruit rind.

Palate: A sweet and salty arrival (natch!). Lemons, vanilla, cinnamon. Spicy but mouthwatering. Lovely peat. Water tames the flavours and adds sour citrus. Even at cask strength, I prefer this one neat. Small sips, mind!

Finish: Oaky vanilla, cinnamon and paper (!). Chilli heat with green twigs, campfire smoke, Edinburgh rock and mint. Water increases the peat and adds more sour citrus.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Spirit of Hven Tycho’s Star - 41.8%

When it comes to whisky from Sweden, the only ones I’d tried to this point had been from the Mackmyra distillery: the Brukswhisky and their First Edition - both top drams.
     So when this curiously named sample was hiding in this year’s Master of Malt advent calendar, I was excited to try it. And after spending some time with it, I’ll be ordering a full bottle in the new year.

Nose: Lots of rich honey and I get a definite whiff of peat. There’s also a real apple character, with apple skins and toffee apple aromas kicking about. The fruit character continues with pineapple juice and dried mango slices. After Eights, Crunchie bars and crystallised ginger.

Palate: A sweet and fruity arrival which is full-flavoured and rich. Red berry fruits, cranberries, sharp raspberries, baked lemon, brown sugar and milky coffee.

Finish: Cinnamon and honey, caramel, dry wood, vanilla, black pepper, malty cereals and that ginger note is back. Slowly fades with a spicy nutmeg. Mint leaves with crushed brown sugar, and a splash of Dr Pepper.