Whisky Review – Benriach 17 year old PX Sherry Finish. @TheBenriach

Benriach 17 year old PX Sherry Finish

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£63.98 from Whisky Galore at The Green Welly Stop

Nose. 

First sniff from the pour and we have a dark fruit rich, dusty chocolate with some dunnage warehouse essence in the mix. Will let it sit for a while covered. Raisin rich, some Christmas pudding, a hint of marzipan, dark chocolate. Cinnamon and light clove spice. There’s a touch of gingerbread also. A complex nose requiring some exploration time. 

Palate. 

Beautifully fruity and thickly viscous arrival. Starts off with lots of thick dark fruits, plum, raisin, sweet and sticky, with the oiliness of the mouthfeel complimenting this perfectly. In the development we get some Christmas cake, Christmas spices, clove, a little fresh nuttiness, hints of cherry and almond. This is the Christmas dram you should have drank at Christmas. This is gloriously sherried stuff, not quite a Sherry monster but very close, it’s more subtle than that. 

Finish. 

The Christmas clove rich spices and fruit cake continue for a medium to long length finish. A drying nuttiness finishes things off, but also a lovely warming chest hug, which gives this dram an extra feel good factor. 

Adding water. 

A little more rummage warehouse on the nose now, musty wood, rustic. The fruit is toned down in favour of nuts and chocolate. The palate is a little more tart with some citrus orange juice coming in place of the richer fruitcake elements, it’s actually very tasty, but very different. The finish is still chest warming and delightful. Well worth an experimentation with water, but changes things completely! Exciting stuff. 

Conclusion. 

This is Christmas Day whisky without a doubt, but something you can have every day, and it is one of those bottles that I fear would not last. It’s a cuddly Sherry monster, not too boisterous, just right for luxury sipping. With water it changes so much it could be a different dram. Really beautiful and engaging whisky. 

Many thanks to Benriach for the review sample

Whisky Review – Yula II 21 year old (2016) @DLaingWhisky 

Yula II 21 year old (2016) 

52.3% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£101.80 from Master of Malt

Nose. 

On first sniff there is a floral smokiness. Heather and salted caramel. Light peat smoke, medicinal in nature, a touch of tcp and germoline. Maritime notes come through later on with salty sea air and some seawater soaked rope. After a few minutes breathing things take a sweeter turn, still very maritime, but now the caramel, honey salted sweetness is coming through nicely integrated with the heather sea air freshness. It’s a lovely clean smelling dram.

Palate. 

First sip is big, brash, a level of astringency, very memorable, but we don’t judge on first sips, although I felt it worth mentioning as it’s big and flavoursome. Arrival is sweet, quite smokier than the nose suggests, some moss and earthiness also very prominent. Salted caramel comes into the development, softly, fulfilling in the mouth as is the oiliness. There are also touches of fresh lemon juice. At the end of the development salt becomes more sea salt, with some iodine and peat notes coming back. This is a palate that has a story, a beginning, a middle and an end, a proper 3 act affair, nice. 

Finish. 

The warming peat and fresh salted caramel continues into the medium to long length finish. With some waxy lemon juice zing and heather honey drizzled toffee. 

Adding water.

I added more than I intended thanks to an overzealous hand. Fingers crossed I haven’t killed it. A lot of lemon on the nose now, lemon bonbon confectionary. The palate is also a lot lighter (too much water – damn), there is still some smokiness, earthy peat and everything is very accessible, but also very toned down. The finish is light, fresh, lemon enriched peat smoke. It’s still very beautiful indeed, but I wouldn’t have watered it down quite so much as this. But it’s still very tasty, and makes me wonder about further water exploration in the future with other drams. 

Conclusion. 

This is a lovely, soft, smokey, confectionary rich adventure of a dram. There’s an awful lot going on. Very well blended from some quality malts immensely enjoyable stuff. It’s not a cheap bottle of whisky, but it is a very enjoyable one. 

Many thanks to Douglas Laing for the review sample

Whisky Review – Benriach 21 year old Tawny Port Finish. @TheBenriach

Benriach 21 year old Tawny Port Finish

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£108.17 from Master of Malt 

Nose.

A fruity nose from the off, with dark berry jam, some green brambles, a dunnage effect, but more in line with the port cellars of Porto. The port finish has been quite active. There is a backing of vanilla ice cream (with the berry compote) and a touch of pencil shaving oakiness. A little time in the glass and warming up and we get a deeper richness of vanilla, absolutely bucket loads of berries, cranberry, strawberry, blackberry, all mushed up for pie filling. It’s immensely fruity, the oak notes have faded now. Luscious. 

Palate.

Sweet fruity delivery, a little ginger and pepper spice and alcohol prickliness quickly fades, waves of fruit now. A lovely thick buttery texture. Vanilla cream. Bitter-ish oranges, cranberry, raspberry. All juicy and fresh. Quite tangy as well, lip smacking. Too easily sip-able in some ways, but then that’s what I want right now and it’s hitting the spot beautifully.

Finish. 

The tangy fruits and vanilla butteriness goes into a medium to long length finish, drying out and becoming a little oaky with some lime peel zest. 

Adding water. 

Enjoyed a fair bit of my dram neat, but will try a small drop in the remainder. The fruitiness on the nose is toned down slightly, with a re-entry of a little vanilla led oak Spice. The palate reflects this loss of fruitiness becoming more vanilla driven, much more of a bourbon oak matured whisky now, it’s almost like the port finishing didn’t happen. The finish is vanilla and oak. Nope. No to water. It’s brilliant without it. 

Conclusion. 

A lovely tasty Benriach, which has benefitted from its Tawny Port finishing period. A lovely bursting fruit whisky which could be easily sipped over an seasonal evening’s event. It doesn’t handle water so well, so I would avoid any with this dram. It really doesn’t need it. 

Many thanks to Benriach for the review sample

Whisky Review – Wemyss “Spiced Rum Baba” – Glenrothes 1988 @wemyssmalts

Wemyss “Spiced Rum Baba” – Glenrothes 1988

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

388 bottles

£132.85 available from Master of Malt

Nose. 

Intensely stewed fruit, strawberry, cherry, apple, plum, all reduced down, soaked in rum and immensely satisfying. There’s a dusty nature to the nose, it clings to the inside of the nose. There are some pepper, clove and cinnamon spices, all light and complimentary. This nose is beautiful and difficult to break down. Very complex, warming to the senses, and compulsive to sniff. With time chocolate becomes present, Cocoa dust.  

Palate. 

Dry treacle sponge on the arrival becoming very thick very fast, with lots of intense dark fruits, cinnamon and clove, chocolate, fruitcake with a lot of cherries, orange juice, some light oaky notes, but it’s all about the cake fruit and intensity. Bloody delicious. The mouthfeel also enhances this overall experience as it sticks to the senses well. 

Finish. 

Milk chocolate, cherry juice, orange flesh and cinnamon stick around for a medium length finish.

Adding water. 

As it’s an older whisky, I’m only adding a very small few drops of water. The nose is deeper now, easier to get the nose right in there, more integration and more chocolate with the rich fruity goodness from the undiluted. The palate is awesome! It’s just everything of the undiluted with added depth and better integration. The finish is less on the cinnamon and more on the chocolate covered fruit cake. Goes from strength to strength with just a small drop of water added. 

Conclusion. 

This is a beautiful flavoursome whisky, sherry monster does best describe it. Loads of lovely fruits, and a perfect whisky for the autumn months or a special treat for friends and family on Xmas day. Delicious. 

Many thanks to Wemyss for the review sample

Whisky Review – Big Peat Christmas 2016 @DLaingWhisky 

Big Peat Christmas 2016

54.6% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£46.95 from Master of Malt

Nose. 

First sniff is quite closed, but I have a sense that the smoke is building. Lots of clean fresh seaside air, ozone, fresh rain fall on lush grass, a touch of caramel. Smoke! But distant peat smoke. Letting this one sit with a cover for a little bit. Much more smoke after 15 minutes standing. Herbal notes as well, liquorice, throat sweets and burnt heather. Incredibly Islay as you would expect. Intense. A touch of sweet citrus in the background, almost clementine. 

Palate. 

Sweet sweet peat, grass, vanilla. Almost a herbal concentrated sweet liquor of an arrival. One of the oiliest mouthfeels you will ever have. Runny honey and some caramel. The development becomes more herbal, like chewing on liquorice root with a mouthful of peaty syrup. The ABV isn’t really felt like it should be. It goes hand in hand with the smoky inferno. It’s awesome. 

Finish. 

The finish is very herbal and drying, still a level of sweetness but the herbal fresh liquorice root is key here. Loads of smoke still!

Adding water. 

A few drops added. Smoke is a little bit extinguished. In honesty I think too much water went in. The palate is lovely and creamy, smokey and light, clean fresh and delicious all round. The finish is less herbal now, creamier and delicious. I need to do further experimentation with my own bottle. But I think a couple of drops helps this one along. I just gave it a little bit too much on this occasion. 

Conclusion. 

Awesome Islay represented in a blended malt of smokey significance. Love it. If you like smokey whisky this should be at the top of your Christmas list if you don’t already have a bottle or two. 

Many thanks to Douglas Laing for the review sample

Whisky Review – Benriach 22 year old Moscatel finish. @TheBenriach

Benriach 22 year old Moscatel

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£147.95 from Master of Malt 

Nose. 

First sniff. Wow. That’s different. Initial thoughts are wine like. Grapes, dark with some intriguing spiciness. Sweet spices and a touch of herbal. More hints at traditional sherry notes but drier and spicier. Cherries. Cocktail cherries in syrup. Reminding me more and more of an old fashioned cocktail. Bourbon sweetness. Vanilla rich with clove. Brown sugar toasted top on a creme brûlée. Jammy red fruits. Jelly babies. Some dusting sugar. Underdone donuts from a market stall. Setting it down and going back gives more of those jelly sweets. More like the Christmas style of soft jelly sweets with sugar on. A hint of Turkish delight. A delicious confectionary nose, mouth watering and evolving. 

Palate. 

Mmmmmm. It’s taken 3 sips to write that. Very fruity. Vibrant. Lots of jammy sweet raspberry. Fruit Liquor. Loads of maraschino cherries. Some gentle cinnamon. Those jelly sweets from the nose are well and truly rich in the palate. It’s a massive fruit bomb. Orange marmalade makes an appearance, heavy on the juices. Beautifully thick mouthfeel makes the experience even more luxurious. 

Finish. 

A medium to long length finish. Loads of fruit continues through. Some sweet cinnamon spice, fruitcake comes back and a lip smacking cherry dryness. 

Adding water. 

Small drop added. This is too nice neat. The nose is slightly weakened in its fruitiness with more vanilla evident. An extra Victoria sponge like aroma to it. The palate is lighter on the mouthfeel. Still intensely fruity, jammy and chewier. The finish is still fruity but a little shorter. Tough one as to wether this should be watered or not. I prefer undiluted although the palate is slightly easier with a drop of water. 

Conclusion. 

Bloody lovely. A massive fruit bomb. Incredibly tasty and totally delicious. I absolutely love this style of whisky and it reminds me of the Single Cask Benriach (also a Moscatel finish) I had at Dramboree in 2015. Amazing stuff. I wish I had a bigger whisky budget because I would be getting one of these instantly. 

Many thanks to Benriach for the review sample

Whisky Review – The Macallan 12 year old Double Cask @The_Macallan @TheGreenWelly

The Macallan 12 year old Double Cask 

40% ABV

£46.50 (on offer) from Whisky Galore at the Green Welly Stop

A return to age statements! Yay! I hope. 

Nose. 

Full bodied and rich nose, lots of fruitcake and rum soaked raisins. Characterful and very Macallan. Reminds me of the old 10/12 year old style. Lots of plums and a few stewed apples slipping in there as well. It’s fruity, but I do sense a little bit of youth in the background. Cinnamon icing, toasted hazelnut and toffee back things up. Hints of chocolate shavings also. It’s certainly a massive improvement over the gold and amber releases. 

Palate. 

A rich, slightly restrained arrival of fruitcake, orange zest, quickly becoming spicy and flavourful in the development. Lots of raisin, plum, fruitcake, orange juice, roast nuts, thick treacle toffee. A nice bite of Spice, ginger and cinnamon. Nicely balanced and really chewy with a massive yummy factor in the mouth. There’s a gentle oiliness on the mouthfeel and I would love to try this NCF at 46% or cask strength as it would be an absolute monster. 

Finish. 

A little on the short side, fruitcake, nuts and orange zest stick behind for a short while, but encourages the go back for another sip desire. 

Adding water. 

I really don’t want to add water to this, so I drank the majority of my dram before adding the tiniest drop. The nose has become nuttier and lost some of the fruity richness of the undiluted. The palate hasn’t really changed for the greater or lesser, the finish seems a little fruitier and longer though. Hmmm, curious changes, worth further experimentation I would say. Unfortunately ran out of liquid to do it on this occasion though. 

Conclusion. 

The Macallan is a guilty pleasure of mine. The 10 year old Sherry cask was one of my first whisky discoveries (before the days of note taking) and it was one of my favourites. The old 12 year old is also awesome and I have a bottle or 2 stowed away for rainy winters. When the Macallan went to colour statements rather than aged ones it was a great disappointment to me. Gold and Amber are lacklustre to me (sorry) with the more impressive Sienna and gorgeous Ruby being a challenge on the purse strings. This new 12 year old release I’m happy to say is great though. It’s getting back to the belt and braces Macallan style and I love it, it’s easy going session whisky of some quality. This is Christmas Day whisky, unashamed, opened as soon as the turkey is ready to hit the oven and savoured over the day. (Drink responsibly folks!). Already on my Christmas list. 

Many thanks to the Macallan for the review sample. 

The Single Cask Whisky Advent Calendar. 

This is the first window in my super cool single cask whisky advent calendar, featuring 24 different single cask whiskies from around the world. A These are a spectacular gift for the one you love. I swear you will get all the favours you want through December and an awesome Christmas present(s) if you give one of those to your loved one. And not just whisky of course, there is quite literally everything from Whisky (in regional variations and also including an extremely premium Rare and Old whisky Calendar), gin, rum, cognac, tequila, bourbon, absinth (!) and even chilli vodka (you may not get so many favours with that one, it’s an acquired taste).  

I can’t recommend these calendars enough for the whisky/spirits fans out there who like a wee dram to keep the cold out. These give a great opportunity to try something different, random, and have a bloody great December throughout the stressful time of present buying and festivity preparations. Get your partner one of these and I guarantee they will be doing much of the hard work through December! 🙂

Check them out here. 

And now….Behind the number 1 window. Dec 1st (opened a little bit early!)
Dun Bheagan (Ian Macleod)

Dalmore 20 year old 

1995 (Cask 91121) – 669 bottles. 

46% ABV

Nose. 

Nutty, with milk chocolate and some dunnage warehouse essence. A nice spicy set of backnotes, with ginger, cinnamon and Christmas cake spices. A little time in the glass and more dry Olorosso Sherry notes come forward, with a little Christmas cake, orange oils and peel notes shining through. 

Palate. 

Rich orange oils and honey on the arrival followed quickly by sherried raisins and fruit cake. Some warm cinnamon and clove spices backing things up. Immensely chewy and mouth coating. A dusty, nutty flavour follows through the development and chocolate from the nose accompanies it. It’s drying through the development and all the more lip smacking and compelling for it. 

Finish. 

The medium length finish continues on the late development theme of dry nuts, honey and chocolate, with a touch of orangey essence creeping back in. 

Adding Water?

Small drop added as it’s an older dram. The nose is fresher and livelier now, more fruit up front including some added orchard fruits (fresh crispy apple), the nuttiness is toned back and the chocolate notes a little richer and more creamy. The palate also reflects these changes, there is some lovely creamy fudge notes coming through the experience now, hand in hand with slightly levelled out Sherry notes. Definitely more reminiscent of fruit and nut chocolate bar now. The finish has more juicy and rich fruit, with some cherries juicing up the finish quite beautifully. 

Conclusion. 

Wow, that’s a tasty dram. Of course not available now to buy, which will be the theme of a lot of these single cask whisky advent calendar drams, but that makes it even more special in my book. These are whiskies that will be hard if not impossible to try again, and therefore in a lot of cases a proper once in a lifetime experience. 

Thanks to Drinks by the Dram for the awesome advent calendar. I am going to be in heaven enjoying the next 23 new Advent-Adventures.