Monday, 29 September 2014

Talisker Dark Storm - 45.8%

Early last month, my old mate and whisky buddy Yan came to visit. He's the one that led me astray by dragging me to the Newcastle Whisky Festival back in March and made me drink a ridiculous amount of single malts. When I think back to the train journey home the next day, I still feel ill.
    However, being a generous sort of chap, he dropped off a few samples from his collection while he was here. I'm only now getting round to sampling them, so on with the show.
    I like Talisker's standard 10-year-old offering but it's the only expression I've tried from the Skye distillery. So I was looking forward to trying this travel retail exclusive. And while I think it would make for an easy going session dram and also appeal to those who don't like their peat too overpowering, I couldn't really find any Talisker characteristics in the glass.
    When I first poured a dram, I could have sworn it was a Bowmore 12. It seems to share that flat Irn-Bru smell which seems to infiltrate most Bowmores I've tried in the past.
    Along with that soft-drink note, there's also Terry's Chocolate Orange on the nose, along with raisins, golden sultanas, undiluted Ribena, pine, salted cashews, creamy vanilla and a Starbucks caramel macchiato. There's also a smokiness present - not billowing peat, but more of a campfire note. I would say like a burning campfire in a pine forest, but that would be a wee bit too much, eh?
    A drop of water increased the sweetness and brought in candied peel, baked apples, sweet mint and chilli and lime chocolate - one of my favourites.
    On the palate, there's quite a lot of salted caramel, red chilli flakes, black coffee, dark chocolate and a dab of orange marmalade. The smoky character seems to round off the edges of this non-age statement dram and gives it a bit of depth.
    The finish is spicy, with black peppercorns, orange rind, more coffee and chocolate, while that mellow smoke round things off.
    I really quite enjoyed this one and like I said, it would make for a decent wee session dram with friends on a windy autumn night. I think it retails for around 48 notes, but add in the cost of a flight, and it will set you back quite a bit more.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Glen Garioch - 1994 Vintage - 53.9%

Distilled 1994, bottled 2011 - batch 32

When I left my last job back in July, my co-workers kindly gave me gift vouchers for Glasgow's Buchanan Galleries. I could have bought a few shirts from Gap, a jacket from John Lewis, or a year's worth of vitamin tablets from Boots. But, with The Whisky Shop in the mall, there was really only ever going to be one winner. So, with vouchers folded safely in my wallet, off I went and brought home two bottles. This Glen Garioch is the first.
    I've always really enjoyed Glen Garioch's products - the 12-year-old, Founder's Reserve and the Virgin Oak have all been excellent. So when I saw this bottle from the 94 range, I dived in immediately. 17 years old, bottled at cask strength, non-chill filtered and - although it doesn't state in on the label - there is no added colouring. Its golden straw-like colour is a world away from the Founder's Reserve, which looks more like Irn-Bru - although it tastes much better than Barr's soft drink.
    First impressions were that it was quite tight and astringent - but it really starts to reveal its character once a few drams have been poured and oxygen begins to circulate in the bottle.
With 3/4 of the bottle gone, time to get the notes up to date.
    It's an incredibly perfumed single malt, with flowers and pears coming to the fore straight away. Dig down and leave it to settle for 15 minutes, and a lovely warm citrus note comes through, along with honey, hard-boiled sherbet lemons, caramelised apples, spearmint, sharp gooseberries and a hint of cranberry.
    Take a sip, and there's a jam note which hits immediately. It gives way to liquorice, lemons, white pepper and vanilla. However, it doesn't take long for the oak to really kick in and I found it a little too dominating. The finish is packed with more citrus notes, warming vanilla, a little sour wood and a slight, sappy green note.
    While I'm glad I bought this, I still prefer the 12-year-old. Once I noticed the dry oakiness, I couldn't get past it and it took the shine off the experience.
    For the price, you could but a bottle of the 12 AND  bottle of the Founder's Reserve. Job done.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Kilchoman 100% Islay - 4th Edition - 50%

Back in May, I jotted down a handful of tasting notes for Kilchoman's Loch Gorm 2014 edition. I stated back then that, to my shame, I had yet to buy a full bottle of Kilchoman and vowed to put that right. Happily, I did just that, buying a bottle of Loch Gorm together with this bottle of their 100% Islay, 4th edition.
    The Loch Gorm is long gone, with only a 5cl miniature in my whisky drawer proof that it ever existed. And, as I type this, I have just poured the last dram from the 100% Islay. So, before I carefully lower the bottle into the recycling bin, it's time for another live tasting session.
    It's a sad day, but I will definitely be buying more Kilchomans in the near future because I don't want to be without one of their products ever again. Everything I've tried has been quite brilliant and I'll continue to support Islay's newest distillery by throwing money at them every few months. So let's get this show started.
    There's a lot going on with the 100% Islay. It's non-chill filtered, has no added colouring, and is bottled at a robust 50% and as soon as you smell it, wonderful, complex aromas leap from the glass.
    On the nose I initially get a distinctive grappa note, which gives way to vanilla thins, lightly smoked ham, dry sugar puffs, sugar-encrusted barley, hints of a well used wooden pencil case, dusty grapefruit, banana leaf, pulped paper, salt and vinegar Pringles, an empty cigarette packet, pickled ginger and a sliver of lemon rind.
    Taking a sip, there's a lovely salty note, combined with thick apricot jam, old-fashioned liquorice wheels, white pepper, tobacco, burnt planks and there's a green vegetal note knocking about too - perhaps a butter-smothered Brussel sprout? Go with me here.
    The finish is long with sweet peat, campfire smoke, pipe tobacco, spicy pepper and a little vanilla, and it's all wrapped up in golden syrup.
    This is an absolute belter of a whisky and I'm truly sad to see the empty bottle staring back at me. I took my time with this one and think it's one of the best whiskies I've ever had. Stunning.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A Taste of Teeling

Many months ago, I picked up a bottle of Teeling's rum cask finish Irish whiskey. The bottle didn't last long as I was eager to share it with friends. It disappeared quickly, but not before I bottled a 5cl dram, which I tucked away for a rainy day. Well, it's dry in Scotland today, but it's time I got a few notes down, after all, other bottles need to be opened, tasted and blogged about, right.
    I'm also taking the opportnity to review Teeling's Single Grain Irish whiskey alongside the rum cask finish. I bought a bottle for a great price in my local Oddbins and it's running low so in front of me, I have two drams, so I'm about to do a 'live' tasting.
    Usually, I get into a bottle, taking notes as I go and then transfer them to the blog when I get a chance. Not tonight. I'll sniff and taste the whiskies and type up my findings as I get 'em, which is actually a good and immediate way to get things done.
    Both whiskies are 46% and non-chill filtered and neither have an age statement. As Teeling are going for the full craft presentations - which I heartily approve of - I'll say right now that they're worth looking out for on your travels.

So, on with the show 

Teeling Small Batch Irish Whisky - Rum Cask Finish
The rum influence jumps straight out for me as soon as I put my nose to the glass - not a heavily sweet dark rum, more of a lighter, fresher spirit. There's also juicy blackcurrants, blackberries, a musty vanilla, dark chocolate ganache, toffee, orange oil, sharp apples and a smudge of butter icing.
    Take a swig and the light characteristics of the nose are instantly kicked into touch by a full bodied, rich sweet sensation. Again, blackcurrants are there, as are strawberries, lemon, cinnamon and vanilla. It's sweet, but not cloying and would make a very decent after dinner dessert whiskey.
    The finish is dry and spicy, with loads of vanilla, oak, baked apples and burnt sugar. There's also a little caramel tucked away for good measure.

Time for a glass of water to cleanse the old palate.


Teeling Single Grain
Everything I've been led to believe in the past is that single grain whiskies take longer to age than single malts. This has no age statement - and I think it's quite young - but it packs a huge amounts of flavour. It should also be noted thatTeeling Single Grain is finished in wine casks, which I think has taken some of the rough edges away. Anyway...
    On the nose it's floral, with Juicy Fruit chewing gum, vanilla, soft golden fruit, red jelly babies, white icing, tarte tatin - there's a definite buttery pastry note kicking about - light liquorice, a slight smokiness and red grapes.
    A sip and a swirl reveals a slight rubbery note - not as pronounced as when I first opened the bottle - apples, golden syrup, treacle tart, sweet red fruits galore, nutmeg, cinnamon and white pepper.
    The finish is thick and rounded, with more treacle, wood, sweet spices, custard creams and a slight sour note right at the back.

So, two excellent light, easy going whiskies with a good deal of complexity. Definitely worth adding to your shopping list.