Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Ardbeg 10 - 46%

Looking through almost three years of blog posts, I was astounded to discover that the only Ardbeg I've ever taken tasting notes for was the Uigeadail back in September 2013!

Not even a whiff of the 10 - one of the all-time classic drams! So, I have to apologise - especially as I've had several bottles of this rather special, non-chill filtered Islay malt over the last few years.

Nose: Unmistakably Ardbeg. Huge mineral peat slaps you about the chops but it's also balanced with a citrus burst of lemon and tangerines. There's loads of salted white fish and salty sea breeze. There's some vanilla here, too and those pink and blue squishy discs you find in bags of liquorice allsorts - and dusty old Oddfellows. Water brings out a white sugar sweetness, some tobacco leaf and some sawdust.

Palate: Sweet arrival that quickly gives way to a citrus peat blast. That then fades, and adds lots of lemons, limes, green twigs and campfire smoke. Chalky vanilla and liquorice. Water ramps up the sweetness and subdues the citrus notes.

Finish: Lots of spicy mineral peat and bitter wood shavings. Light liquorice and salty vanilla. Water adds sawdust, intensifies the peat and leaves tobacco leaf.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Amrut Peated - 46% Batch 47 - bottled August 2015

It's been a couple of years since I bought a bottle of Amrut Indian whisky - I picked up a carton of the Amrut Fusion at the Newcastle Whisky Festival in 2014. So I thought it was high time I took another journey back to the Bangalore distillery.

There are a few expressions kicking about but with my love of peated malt, I plumped for the Amrut Peated. It carries no age statement, but with the higher temperatures in India, whisky matures at a much faster rate than here in Scotland.

It's bottled at 46%, is non-chill filtered and has had no colouring added.

Nose: Certainly peaty (natch!) but it's a soft, gentle peat which helps focus the abundance of sweet fruity aromas wafting from the glass. Straight off the bat I get thick apricot jam and gooseberry fool. It's incredibly sweet - perhaps a touch too sweet for me, but I'll press on in the name of science. Love Hearts sweets and half a packet of fizzy Refreshers. There's also a hint of tobacco leaf and Kendal mint cake - it really does have that hard, sugary character. Crystalised brown sugar sticks for swirling in coffee, and thick-cut orange marmalade. To my nose, the peat has all but disappeared by this point - just a dark, earthy note tucked away in the background.

Palate: A mouth-puckeringly sweet arrival. Wooof! But there's also something herbal going on. It packs a huge punch - even bottled at 46%. Soft white fruit, cinnamon - actually quite spicy, and a deep earthy note is also present. Orange oil and rind.

Finish: Orange marmalade, lemons, white pepper and lots more cinnamon. That earthy note is still there - and it's not hugely appealing but not entirely off-putting. The sweetness from the smell and taste doesn't really carry through here.

I found this quite interesting but the sweetness and the earthy finish were a bit too much for me. Glad I bought it but don't think I would again.

Monday, 7 March 2016

GlenDronach Cask Strength - Batch 4 - 54.7%

Back in December, I bought a couple of sherried whiskies to toast the festive season. Along with the robust and tasty Glenfarclas 105, I also picked up this GlenDronach Cask Strength.

I originally tried this expression at the Edinburgh Whisky Stramash back in 2014 - I started the session with the Batch 3 - and it left a very positive impression. But it took quite a while to get my paws on a bottle as my cash usually goes on bourbon cask whisky rather than the sherried variety.

But there's something about Christmas that makes me yearn for those big, fruit cake flavours - so I spoiled myself. A quarter of the bottle remains, so time for some notes.

Nose: Those massive Christmas cake aromas are here in abundance. Loads of raisins, sultanas, dates, figs and prunes. There's also lots of cinnamon and nutmeg with a touch of marzipan. White pepper, mint and a hint of lemon rind. Walnuts, brazil nuts and golden syrup. With water: The spicy cinnamon is ramped up - as is the vanilla. The sherry notes are lighter. The PX cask is much more evident now, with those Oloroso notes taking a back seat. Green apple is also here.

Palate: Big and bold with lemon-tinged treacle. Dark honey, dry roasted peanuts. With water: Much lighter in character but still carries a bold character. Honey and orange oil and fruity malt loaf.

Finish: Spicy with vanilla and huge cinnamon notes. Lemon rind and orange oil. With water: more orange and vanilla, sticky toffee pudding and ginger snap biscuits.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Blair Athol 11 years old - 46% McGibbon's Provenance

While out Christmas shopping in December last year, I got sidetracked and rather than splashing my cash on my nearest and dearest, I ended up buying several bottle of whisky for myself. Surprised? Me neither.

I spotted a 200ml sample of this 11 year old Blair Athol distilled in 2002 and whisked it into the shopping basket immediately. After all, it's part of the McGibbon's Provenance range, is from a single cask, is bottled at 46%, is non-chill filtered and bottled without additional colouring. top notch.

The screw cap is a bit wonky so I decided I'd have to drink it quickly in case the angels decided they'd take their share early.

Nose: Sweet, fruity toffee, vanilla and barley sugars. Chocolate covered foam banana sweets, some gentle spices, traditional cloudy lemonade and fresh spinach. There's a gentle smoky note in the background along with a splash of rose water. With water: Lighter with marzipan and the cask starts to come through. More lemon.

Palate: A slightly sour arrival which gives way to sherbet lemons, light, milky toffee - perhaps a Caramac bar? Toffee bonbons and tangerine rind. With water: Much fruiter, with added vanilla and less of the sourness.

Finish: That fruity toffee note returns and the smoke is definitely here. Again, slightly sour but not unpleasant. Quite malty with some tingly cinnamon spice. Dry. With water: Spicier with a touch of red liquorice laces.