Friday, 24 October 2014

Glentauchers 12 (Provenance) - 46%

Distilled Autumn 1999
Bottled Winter 2012
From one refill hogshead: DMG ref: 8014

On my shopping trip to pick up a bottle of the thoroughly delicious Glenglassaugh Evolution, I also bought this Provenance bottling of Glentauchers. I had never tried a dram from the distillery, but seeing as the bottle was a good price, the whisky was non-chill filtered with no added colouring, and the fact I've had several other whiskies from the Douglas Laing/McGibbon's Provenance range, I thought, 'Why not?'
    On the nose there's loads of tropical fruit notes, primarily pineapple, mango and peach. There's also a dark malty note and it's incredibly aromatic and floral aromas rose from the glass. There was a dab of liquorice, red jelly babies, sherbet, slight banana and clean barley. I also got something which reminded me of watermelon Life Saver sweets. I also found a sour wood note running through, which got worse with the addition of water.
    Take a sip and it coats the mouth well with a lovely syrupy taste. There's also a huge smack of floral notes, honey, spicy cinnamon heat, white pepper, a touch of toffee and some wood underpinning the malt.
    The finish had vanilla, pepper, liquorice chews, malty cereals, caramel and little salt. The sour note which came through on the nose was also present here after the addition of water. Not unpleasant, but certainly noticeable. Much better neat in my opinion.
    I did enjoy the bottle, but it lacked sparkle and was missing that special something. It has me intrigued, though, and I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for more Glentauchers in the future. Glad I bought it as it's furthered my ongoing whisky education.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Johnnie Walker Black - 40%

I picked up a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black a few weeks ago. It was on offer and as my experience with the blend was limited, I decided to take the plunge. The Black is the most popular blend in the world, made up of 40 different whiskies, so if it's good enough for thousands of others, it's good enough for me.
    On the nose there's pear, toffee, cinnamon, green apples, orange marzipan, tart plums, a touch of golden syrup and slight smoke.
    The taste is full of dark toffee notes, along with vanilla, malty cereals, a touch of runny treacle and dried fruits. However, I found it a wee bit sour, with a flavour of orange pith coming out after intense swirling.
    The finish was heavy on the liquorice, orange peel, more toffee, black peppercorns, earthy with a hint of peat, spicy cinnamon and that pithy, sour note came through again right at the end.
    This is not too bad at all and thanks to its easy going nature, I can see why it's so popular. Very easy to drink and available for a decent price.

Monday, 20 October 2014

A gaggle of Glenfiddich

A few months ago I was in the local supermarket when I saw a mini-pack containing three miniatures of Glenfiddich for less than a tenner. I snapped them up as my only previous experience of Glenfiddich has been the 12, which I've had in bars several times, and the 15-year-old distillery edition which I scooped in last year's whisky advent calendar.
    When I took them to the checkout, the young woman at the counter asked me for ID. I stared blankly at her for a few seconds, before she broke the silence by laughing and said: "I'm only kidding. There's no way you're that young!" I laughed along with her - then cursed her all the way home. The cheek of it!
    Anyway, 15cl of Glenfiddichs have made their way down my throat and here's what I thought:

Glenfiddich 12 - 40%
On the nose, the 12 is light, floral and delicate. There's also hard boiled pear drops, hints of toffee and caramel, juicy red apples and a slight woody note. It also carries a hard, mineral, flinty smell. Not unpleasant, though.
    There really isn't much going on in the mouth. Those apple notes come rolling back - as do the light floral character. I also got a little cinnamon and a papery taste.
    The finish isn't complex, but I did get some gooseberries, sharp apples, caramel, some dry wood, toasted cereals and white pepper.

Glenfiddich 14 Rich Oak - 40%
Immediately, there's much more going on here. Underneath the buttery wood, there's a sweet jam taste, baked lemon, dried fruit, gentle cinnamon, citrus vanilla, a wee bit of smoke and blackcurrant Chewits. It's still quite delicate, though.
    Taking a sip, it was initially sweet and jammy - but wood - sawdust - cuts right through the pallet. There's also a little baked apple, burned brown sugar and nuts. I also found it a little too spirity for my liking.
    The finish was really, really dry, while those apples dropped in again, along with plums, toffee, liquorice and cinnamon. I also found a wee sour note at the back.

Glenfiddich 15 The Solera Vat
Right off the bat there's fizzy orange and blackcurrant sherbet. Wood then start to assert itself, with a hint of butter icing, sweet lemon and apricot jam. There's also a hint of light marmalade spread on granary toast.
    In the mouth, it was sweet with orange notes. Quite a nice syrupy mouth feel, along with spicy cinnamon-dusted baked plums.
    The finish was perhaps the best part of this dram, with lots of red fruit jam, creamy vanilla, white pepper, nutmeg and red liquorice laces. But the best part was right at the end, with a strong malty chocolate note which reminded me of a Tunnock's caramel wafer.

These three drams might not be the most complex malts on the planet, but they were all enjoyable and very easy going. The Solera Vat stood out from the other two for me and I could easily work my way through a bottle. Good value, too, if you're after a session dram.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Ardmore Traditional - 46%

When I'm whizzing the shopping trolley around the supermarket, I always reward myself with a visit to the whisky aisle. Great bargains can be had, with Old Pulteney 12 and Highland Park 12 regular purchases when they're going for around £23. However a few weeks ago, I visited Morrison's on the way home from work. Lurking around the usual suspects, I spotted the Ardmore Traditional perched on a self, clearly looking for a good home. It had a few quid lopped off the asking price, so for £22, I thought I would take a punt on it. No age statement, but it's bottled at a hearty 46% and is non-chill filtered. I threw the chicken, pizza, crisps and veg out of the trolley and grabbed the bottle. I wasn't expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised by this easy going, session dram with a hint of peat.
    On the nose there was loads of toffee and caramel. There's also a lovely sweetness which brought to mind slabs of buttery tablet. Dark brown sugar is everywhere in the glass, along with a generous pour of condensed milk. The peat plays around the edges of the dram, but it never masks the lovely sweet confectionery aromas. I added a little water, left it for 10 and came back. This brought a hint of lime juice and milk bottle sweets to the party.
    Taste wise, those buttery, dark sugar notes are still there, while I also got Lee's macaroon bars, complete with toasted coconut topping. This is a good whisky to pair with dark chocolate - not too bitter, though. It's a real treat.
    The finish was toffee heavy with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon, while a slight green note cuts through right at the end.
    If I had to compare the Ardmore Traditional to another dram, it would be the Benromach 10. That's much sweeter and carries loads of fruit notes but to me, there's something similar in the taste and smell. The Ardmore Traditional has none of those fruity notes - its sweetness is more of a brown sugar, fudge type of deal.
    For the price, this is a great whisky but unfortunately, changes are already taking place. The Traditional is to be replaced - indeed, it already has in Morrison's. Ardmore have launched the Legacy which has muscled in already and knocked the Traditional out of the way.
    It's chill-filtered and bottled at a disappointing 40%. It's also on sale at the moment for around the same price, so I might pick up a bottle just to try it. Initial reports suggest the Legacy is a decent enough dram, but doesn't quite match the Traditional. We shall see. But if you see a bottle of the old stuff in your local supermarket, I suggest you pick it up before it's gone forever.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Glenglassaugh Evolution - 50%

After doing a wee bit of reading about Glenglassaugh's fairly recent revival, I decided to explore something from their range. After all, they've gone for the full craft presentation, adding no colouring and not chill-filtering their whisky. I'm always eager to support distilleries who treat their product with a bit of respect, so I took a wander into town on an overcast Saturday morning a few months ago and left the liquor store with a bottle of the Evolution.
    The other two on the shelves are the Revival, which is aged in a mixture of first-fill and refill bourbon casks for a handful of years and then finished for six months in first-fill Oloroso sherry butts, and the Torfa, a peated malt aged in ex-bourbon barrels.
The Evolution is young like the other two expressions, but it's been aged George Dickel Tennessee bourbon barrels. I thought this would add something a little extra to the flavours - along with the fact it's been bottled at a thoroughly respectable 50%.
    In we go!
    On the nose, there's a confectionery mountain of banana-flavoured toffee. If any of you remember Toffos, this has that smell in abundance. Once it settles down, I get apricot jam sweetness, barley sugars, Mackintosh apples and a hint of fresh mint. A wee dribble of water brought out chocolate-covered raisins, lychee, glace cherries, white grape skins, caramel, red liquorice laces, pear juice, green wood sap, crumbly custard cream biscuits and an amazing aroma which reminded me of red and black jelly babies. For a very young whisky, this is a complex and delightful beast.
    Taking a sip, it has a wonderful mouth feel, covering the tongue with a rich, syrupy flavour sensation. There's loads of fruit jam, rich vanilla custard, a good dollop of honey, liquorice, sweet lemon and the merest hint of tangerine juice.
    The finish carries on the jammy note and there's a little creaminess which creeps in and a rounded bitter lemon. However, it's here where the whisky's youth comes through, with a slight metallic taste lingering a little too long.
    That said, I really enjoyed the Glenglassaugh Evolution. For a young malt - and I'm guessing 4-5 years - this has stacks of character and it is bursting with flavour. I'll definitely be exploring the rest of their range. If they're half as good as this, I'm in for a treat.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Balvenie Signature 12, batch 4 - 40%

My previous experiences with Balvenie have been extremely positive. My first blog post in July last year featured their Doublewood 12 and I really enjoyed the 14-year-old Caribbean Cask. But recently, I bought another bottle of the Caribbean Cask and it just didn't click with me at all. It's been over a year since I tried it and a lot more whisky has passed my lips since then. Maybe my tastes are changing, but the CC had a bitterness all the way through, which I found really unappealing. I don't think it was there before otherwise I would have jotted it down. Perhaps it was a bad cask - who knows.
    However, despite my disappointment, I saw a bottle of the Signature 12 on special offer and I thought, 'why not?' Unfortunately, I again found a spirity, bitter note in the glass - exactly the same as my recent CC purchase. It wasn't all bad, though, so here's what I thought.
    On the nose I got a lot of mashed banana, peach, kiwi fruit and baked apple. Adding to the fruity aromas was toffee caramel, vanilla, a creamy sherry trifle, melted candle wax and a hint of mustard seeds. There was also that sharp, bitter green note lurking at the back, which wasn't exactly pleasant.
    Taking a sip, I immediately noticed a tight, astringency. After a few minutes it receded and apples, caramel, spicy cinnamon, hard boiled pineapple cubes and foam banana confectionery came through. I also got a hint of flat sugary Pepsi. The finish was bitter with green peppercorns, sour wood, custard cream biscuits and that touch of kiwi fruit returned.
    The Signature's been aged in a mixture of Oloroso sherry butts, first-fill bourbon barrels and refill bourbon casks - and in my opinion, at least one of these was sub-standard. I went back to the bottle time and time again over the course of several months, but that sharp, bitter note just wouldn't go away. A higher alcohol percentage might have helped, but I was left a bit disappointed and it's left me unsure about whether I'll return to Balvenie's range any time soon.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Tomatin Cu Bocan - 46%

In my last review, I mentioned that my good mate Yan dropped off a wee selection of samples to whet my appetite. I thought the Talisker Dark Storm was a tasty and easily enjoyable dram. But the next sample he threw my way, I'd heard mixed things about.
    Tomatin's Cu Bocan is a lightly peated single malt. It carries no age statement, is non-chill filtered, and has spent its short life in ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and virgin oak casks. Some reviews I've read say it's not quite there and Tomatin should stick to their rather fabulous standard range. Well, I'm all for malts mixing it up and I'm always eager to try different flavours. So I poured a healthy amount of the golden liquid into a polished Glencairn, eager to see what those crazy cats at Tomatin have been up to.
    Now I love my peated malts - I have three heavy peat monsters currently open - but I'm also partial to a drop or two of peated Highland malts. They obviously have a completely different character to the Islay bruisers and I like the interplay between light fruit and dark peat. The best one to get, if you're asking, is the amazing AnCnoc Rutter. It's an incredible dram and well worth the asking price. But I digress, this is about Tomatin's Cu Bocan, so here we go.
    There's a load of complex citrus notes when this dram has been left to settle for 10 minutes. I get a lot of grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange. The peat is definitely there, but rather than dominate, it adds a dark character to the Cu Bochan. There's definitely a hint of sherry, along with white pepper, caramel, coffee, mint and pickled ginger. I also get smoked paprika, a slight nuttiness and dark barley. A dribble of water brings out vanilla Edinburgh rock, a little Sugar Puff sweetness, paper and something akin to a bag of liquorice all-sorts.
    The taste is fresh - young - with more citrus. This time it's the rind rather than the juice and it's followed by cinnamon, hard boiled barley sugars, spicy peppercorns - but the peat seems to have completely disappeared. With a wee dollop of water, the whole dram becomes sweeter.
    The finish is perhaps the most disappointing thing about the Cu Bocan. I find it is here where the whisky's youthfulness makes itself apparent. That said, I also get fresh fruit, liquorice, espresso and chocolate caramel. To get there, though, I really had to dig down and spend a lot of time with it. The water is the key here, as with it, the finish produces a lovely malted chocolate milkshake note, although the young spirit note never quite goes away.
    Would definitely like to investigate the Cu Bocan further, but I think a little longer in the cask would have worked wonders.