Thursday, 30 January 2014

Mogwai RockAct81W

Nose: Sherry-soaked raisins, prunes, creamy butterscotch, thick honey, baked apples, cinnamon and lots of fruit jam. A few teaspoons of water brings out a huge dollop of vanilla custard, along with spicy baked red fruit and orange oil.

Palate: Thick, sweet and mouth-coating and that fruity jam note is pushed right to the fore. There's also honey, vanilla, golden fruit and a sliver of raspberry.

Finish: Vanilla. sweet apple, dry wood, custard, tobacco leaf and a slight sponge/biscuit note.

Notes: As a huge Mogwai fan, I had to get my hands on a bottle of this nine year old whisky, which was unveiled to mark the release of the band's new album, Rave Tapes. And, as it was being sold exclusively at The Good Spirits Co. in Glasgow - right beside my office and ahead of their gig at the Royal Concert Hall - I was lucky enough to be able to get down there on Tuesday morning before they sold out - which they did in just three hours. The 324 bottles are all from a single cask from the Glenallachie distillery and bottled at a hefty 57.1% - my bottle in number 149. This was my first taste of Glenallachie as it's really not a malt you see very often - most of the whisky they make is used in blends. On this showing, they should be doing a lot more with their product. While many will have bought the Rockact81W to keep safely unopened for the future, I'm not a collector so I was more than happy to crack it open. After all, isn't that what whisky is all about?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Glenlivet 21 Archive - 43% Batch 0612K

Nose: Floral with heather honey, baked apples, cinnamon, pine needles, nail varnish, pomegranate juice, pears, dried banana slices, caramel, barley sugars, a splash of red wine and a whiff of rose potpourri.

Palate: Sweet honey, pears, slight smoke, marzipan, liquorice, orange zest and toffee.

Finish: Oak, vanilla, raspberry, and burnt brown sugar. There's also an unmistakable bitter note at the end which spoils what could have been a really lovely dram.

Notes: Give the Glenlivet 21 Archive 20 minutes to warm and settle in the glass and this whisky smells out of this world. Take a sip and initially it's wonderful. Unfortunately, the finish lets the whole party down with that sour, bitter note and for me the balance just wasn't right. A good but not great whisky and if I'm going to spend £100+ on a bottle, I'm afraid good just doesn't cut it. I also assume E150 colouring is present and that the whisky has been chill-filtered as there is no mention to the contrary on the bottle.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Big Peat - Christmas Edition 2013 & Small Batch

Big Peat Christmas 2013 - 54.9%

Nose: Huge wafts of tequila and it smells much creamier than the standard Big Peat bottling. That said, there is still soap, twigs, smokey bacon crisps and peat (of course!) here, but it's not as pronounced as the original. It certainly has a much more mellow nose and I also get hints of banana and lime as it sits in the glass.

Palate: Sweet chilli sauce, fiery chopped red chillies, peppercorns, charcoal and honey.

Finish: Creamy with white pepper, lemon rind, burnt wood and a hint of milk chocolate.

Big Peat Small Batch - 50%

Nose: Toffee apples, bitter lemon rind, fresh ginger, salt and a bit spicier than the Christmas edition - which I really like. Aside from that, all the wonderful Big Peat aromas are present and correct. Wonderful.

Palate: Lovely and smooth - just sit back and let those waves of sweet peat wash over you. Bliss. I also get lots of honey and white pepper here, along with salt and dry, burnt wood.

Finish: Warm and spicy, but it's also smooth and honeyed. Those smokey wood notes cling to the inside of the mouth for an eternity and it's all wrapped up with a liquorice twist.

Notes: Another huge thank you to Mr Ben Cops over at  Ben's Whisky Blog for sending me these two samples. I'm a huge fan of Douglas Laing's Big Peat standard edition and these two are simply sublime. Both have those unmistakable Big Peat characteristics, but build on them in different ways. While I was tasting both of these drams, I had a glass of the standard edition close by as my reference point and there was definitely different things going on in all three glasses. Lovely, lovely stuff.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Signatory Laphroaig 1998 - 15 years old

Nose: Damp leaves, peat, tar, baked apple, butterscotch, raisins, TCP, passion fruit, zesty lime juice, banana, apricot jam, red liquorice laces, dried fruit and Victoria sponge.

Palate: Sweet and peppery, with thick fruit jam, dark chocolate, ash, burnt wood and dark toffee.

Finish: Dry and exceptionally long, with spicy oak, burnt sugar, molasses and stewed tea.

Notes: A huge thanks to Ben Cops over at Ben's Whisky Blog for sending me a sample of this humdinger of a dram. It is rich, complex and packed with wonderful armoas and tastes. Even though a 70cl bottle is a shade under £100, I am seriously tempted. And, as it's my birthday later this month, I think I just might treat myself. Yet another cracking dram to get 2014 off to a flyer.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Caol Ila Natural Cask Strength - 59.3%

Nose: Earthy, damp leaves, wet embers, green twigs, TCP, salty seaweed, lime, smoked salmon, butter icing and a big box of crayons.

Palate: Oily and sweet with a billow of smoke. Hot and spicy chipotle sauce, charcoal bricks, a delightful coastal tang and a dollop of honey.

Finish: Long, smooth and spicy with a bracing salty blast, ashes, peat and more smoke.

Notes: What a way to start the new year and a perfect dram to see off the wild winds and freezing temperatures. This was my first bottle of Caol Ila and it took until now to realise it's this whisky which really gives the excellent Big Peat its character. Even at a whopping 59.3%, this is remarkably easy to drink. Water certainly mellows things, but why would you want to? A belter to kick-start 2014.