Whisky Review – Glen Marnoch 1988 (@aldiuk)

Glen Marnoch 1988

40% ABV

£49.99 from Aldi (Christmas special release)

Nose.

Quite a rich baked apple nose on first pour. Some cinnamon and sugar crusting. Some ginger and spice. A little dusty in the aromas, along with some floral perfume notes. A bit of time and the fruit gets a little more complex, with some added citrus and ripe orange. After 30 minutes in the glass the nose becomes a little spicier and more honey and vanilla led with the fruit taking a back step. This gives more of a balance between fruit and oak, and there’s some added oak spice, with a hint of pencil shavings. More time and more rich vanilla comes to the front, its a developmental nose, evolving with continued exposure to air.

Palate.

Very fruity, lots of fresh apples and a touch of orange. Spicy as well, but not abrasive, some gentle ginger and cinnamon sugared custard. Sweet all the way through arrival and development, possibly too sweet for some, but suits my palate well. Makes things very moreish and quaffable. The only criticism would be the light mouthfeel which is evident from the minimal 40% ABV and obvious chill filtration. Saying that its still a suitably chewable dram with a nice fruit and spice balance. With lots of time the fruit becomes a little more tropical, some mango coming into play. Very tasty.

Finish.

Medium length. Spicy oak initially fades back to some fresh fruit and dry ginger. Hints of vanilla custard at the very end.

Adding water.

I really don’t want to add water, but…a drop in the last 5ml of my dram. The nose is a lot lighter, more floral and oak, lost a fair amount of fruit and spice. The palate, whilst still quite fruity has lost some oomph, and gained more vanilla custard, still good but not as good. Water/ice at this drams peril. Keep it neat. (My opinion).

Conclusion.

It’s not half bad. Fruity bourbon based maturation, probably all refill. There’s nothing wrong with this whisky, and despite the price increase of Aldi’s Christmas special (year on year price increase – ok this is technically, maybe a year older) its still exhibiting great value for money. I don’t think this whisky shows the 29/30 years as other more expensive (you cant get a 1988 single malt for less than £132 on master of malt, that one being a Tormore. Who knows, maybe this is a Tormore??) whisky would. It’s worth the punt if you want a fruity, easy, solid drinker of a whisky.

Whisky Review – White Walker by Johnnie Walker / @Johnniewalker_

White Walker by Johnnie Walker
41.7% ABV
£33.95 from The Whisky Exchange

Nose.

Grainy, young and a touch acrid. There’s hints of vanilla, a little bitter oak, not a lot going on initially. It’s very closed. Might warm it up a bit (for reference I didn’t have this in the freezer like the serving suggestion). A lot of warmth and a little white fruits come out, touch of peach, apricot maybe. It’s very grainy though, lots of corn, popcorn, hints of creamy vanilla.

Palate.

Ok, so warmed up it actually works better on the palate, quite sweet, more white fruits, peach, honeydew melon, hint of orange juice, lots of creamed corn, vanilla ice cream, some rough spices, ginger, cardamon. Definitely has more going for the palate than the nose.

Finish.

Short, sweetness turns bitter, like chewing an old pencil with some popcorn.

Adding water.

Just a drop added. Nose is now muted. Bit vodka like with some oak. Palate is weakened and more sugar and vanilla now, the bitterness of the finish coming in sooner. Don’t dilute. Or if you do do it with something flavoured. Works nicely with orange juice actually. 😜

Frozen.

Ok, so as they suggested it I did it, and as I expected it’s not worth talking about. Everything is closed up. Couldn’t smell much at all, bit of vanilla and alcohol that’s it. The palate was thick in the mouthfeel (it would be), but numb in the taste. Nah, hit it with OJ and quaffed happily.

Conclusion.

Ok, let’s be honest, this isn’t a half-experienced whisky drinkers whisky. There are much better blends and single malts at the same price or less that are much superior to this. But as a marketing exercise it’s clever. I got it as I’m a curious whisky drinking Game of Thrones fan, remove the whisky experience and I would be happy. But with whisky drinking experience it takes more to please, and this one isn’t for my palate. Now in a cocktail it works fine, and that’s what this whisky is hitting towards. Freeze me, mix me. For that approach is does the job. If you’re expecting a great blend then just reach for Black or Green Label instead. Same price or much less and much more rewarding.

My own bottle.

Whisky Review – Aerstone 10 year old Land Casko

Aerstone 10 year old Land Cask
40% ABV
£30.00 from Tesco (currently on offer at £20)

Nose.

Quite pungent and smoky. Bonfire smoke, rich honey, touch of vanilla and cask char. There’s some maritime notes, tar and wet rope, cigarette smoke, an earthy moss and some damp grass. Very autumnal. With a little time the smoke turns more medicinal, some hospital cleanliness and plasters, with a touch of germolene. Some old leaves and an autumn forest comes to mind.

Palate.

Chewy honey, some spiced toffee, vanilla. Burnt toast and marmalade, some sweet ginger. Not so much active smoke on the palate. The mouthfeel suffers from the 40% and chill filtration, but there is good flavour here and it’s perfectly sippable.

Finish.

A touch of smoke, a lot of runny honey and some ginger remains. Short to medium in duration.

Adding water.

Small drop added. Very little difference on the nose. The smoke is more enhanced on the palate, and things become more integrated, I’m pleasantly surprised to say a small drop of water improves this whisky.

Conclusion.

Again, my critical comments regarding the ABV are just personal. I would love to try this dram at 46% and non chill filtered. I think it will be a belter, just like Aisla Bay is in its official bottling form. However, as this whisky stands and at a reduced price of £20 currently at Tesco, this is a bargain. It’s a tasty, affordable midweek dram, which I will be seeking out a bottle ASAP. This is my favourite of the pair of Aerstone single malts, but they are both pretty damn good at this price point.

See my review for the Sea Cask here.

Thanks to Aerstone for the official review sample.

Whisky Review – Aerstone 10 year old Sea Cask

Aerstone 10 year old Sea Cask
40% ABV
£30.00 from Tesco (currently on offer at £20)

Nose.

Certainly salty sea air right up front. Very coastal. A touch of lemon citrus, lemon peel, and zest. A full house of lemons! There’s also a hint of oranges. It’s a vibrant fruity dram with an overcoat of seaside influences. There’s a hint of smoke, but not a lot. A little time and we have some additional tropical fruit notes, some mango and a hint if grilled pineapple.

Palate.

Honey, clove studded and baked oranges, some liquorice. The mouthfeel is unfortunately quite weak. There are hints at some nice oiliness but is lost in the ABV. The balance of the flavours as is is good though, rich fruit and honey offset with some nice spices and a salty edge. It’s a chewable and moreish Whisky.

Finish.

Spiced orange and liquorice root sticks around for a short while, replaced with some light vanilla ice cream.

Adding water.

Not reviewing with added water. It killed it for me.

Conclusion.

Actually surprised me. As critical as I am of the ABV and the effect it’s had on the overall feel of the palate, I really like this whisky, it’s a good tasty midweek drinker which doesn’t break the bank. As it’s currently on offer for 20 notes it’s well worth hunting one down. I will be.

See my review for the Land Cask here.

Thanks to Aerstone for the official review sample.

Drinks by the Dram Advent Calendar’s 2018 / @DrinksByTheDram #toosoon?

Advent 2018

Advent2018

Here we go again!  Just another year, they go so quickly the older you get, and I’m no exception!  In fact, in truth this is a lot earlier to shout about these, but Ive gotta get the hints in, just like yourselves!  So here we go!

Master of Malt are at it again!

There are 30 different Advent calendars to choose from. Priced from £99.95 to £9999.95.

This year the full Drinks by the Dram Advent Calendar range includes Whisky, Premium Whisky, Old & Rare Whisky, Very Old & Rare Whisky, Scotch Whisky, Bourbon, American Whiskey, Japanese Whisky, Irish Whiskey, Single Cask Whisky, Gin, Vodka, Rum, Cognac, Tequila, Armagnac, Mezcal and Absinthe.

There are also some brand specific calendars to choose from –  That Boutique-y Whiskey Company, Glenfarclas Scotch whisky and Douglas Laing whisky.

There is something for everyone here, and if you’ve been a good boy or girl this year I suggest you remind your loved one and take a look right here.

Personally Im loving the new labels on the Boutique-y Whisky Company calendar!!  Beautiful stuff!  They looked great in person when I saw them at the Whisky Show a few weeks ago.

If you do get yourself one of these calendars Id love to hear from you on twitter @dvdbloke when you  open them up each day on the run up to Christmas.  Send me your thoughts in a tweet and a mini review!  If you’re lucky I may even choose your tweet for a free festive dram!

Whisky Review – Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 7 @Glendronach

Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 7

57.9% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£56.95 from Master of Malt

I’m a big fan of Glendronach and especially their cask strength release. I’ve always had a lot of fun with it in the past. This release looks a little lighter to previous releases, but is still promised to be filled with Oloroso and Pedro Ximinez flavours aplenty.

Nose.

On first pour there is a rich nutty dryness, quite treacle bound. After 15 mins in the glass there is quite a youthful nature coming through, it’s sweet, very nutty, has a fair dollop of honey richness. The dried fruit is quite light, it’s not a sherry bomb at all like previous releases, a lot more subtle. There’s a charred oak, and slight earthiness in there as well. Edging more towards an ex-Oloroso profile rather than PX.

Palate.

Oh, that’s easy going for 57%+. Lots of sweetness, a great creamy thick mouthfeel, lots more sherried on the palate, but again not massive, an assertive flavour, but not too much. So, sweet honey and dry nutty arrival, turning thick and gloopy in the mouthfeel with honey richness into the development. Layers of toffee and fudge throughout and touches of dried fruits, raisin, cherry and some red berries. Subsequent sips over time are easier and easier with a more juicy cherry fruit richness and touches of cola.

Finish.

Quite short to medium in duration, there’s the dried fruits sticking around, mainly cherry rich and a touch of raisin, some dry treacle remaining with the pecan/walnuts sticking through to the very end.

Adding water.

Adding a splash of water. The nose is a touch lighter and has a fruitier aspect now, the fruit leads over the drier nuttiness now. The palate is also a lot fruitier, more juicy by far. The fruits are fresher, juicier, lots of cherry, cola, a touch of orange peel, more light sherry, very flavourful. Most definitely one to experiment with the addition of water.

Conclusion.

Significantly different to previous batches but still fundamentally Glendronach cask strength. This is a well constructed, extremely drinkable whisky. It’s got a lot going for it and a definite bang for your buck in this day and age of ever increasing prices of cask strength sherried drams. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Glendronach for the official review sample.

Whisky Review – Islay #3 – 7 year old That Boutique-y Whisky Company. @BoutiqueyWhisky

Islay #3 7 year old That Boutique-y Whisky Company

49.2% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£46.95 from Master of Malt

It’s been a while since I bought a bottle of anything and just immediately opened it the same day. This Islay #3 from the Boutique-y Whisky Company was just too damn compelling to wait though. It’s young for sure, but it’s colour says some active cask interaction has occurred. It’s label suggests to me it’s a Laphroaig (it’s a guess, never a certainty), and I’ve had some great young Laphroaig’s in the past year or so, so it was strictly a no brainer.

Nose.

From first pour there is a lovely dry ashy bonfire in the glass. Caramel sweet, smoky butterscotch, but with a herbal heather smoulder and a honey dew melon squeezed over the top. There are touches of sweetened lemon in the background, overall a great depth to the nose, with its earthy herbal sweet complexities.

Palate.

Damn drinkable! Starts of sweet and smoky, with some charred bbq ribs and sweet honey rich bbq glaze. Lots of sugars follows, burnt caramel, toasted sugars, a little roast ham (complete with clove studs), some anise, some blackcurrant fruit gums, a few more assorted dark fruit based chewy gummy sweets. Sweet maple based charcoal smoke. Bloody hell damn drinkable.

Finish.

The aftermath of a menthol cigarette and some good well done barbecued meats. And a fair dollop of honey rich dipping sauce. Need more sips please.

Adding water.

Added a few drops, but I think it’s at its optimal drinking strength. The nose is smokier and more bruising to the senses now, drier and ashier, bellowing smoke. The palate, lighter, sweeter, a little more peat and simpler sugars, the finish ashier and drier. I prefer this at bottle strength, but it’s worth trying with a little water if you like the cleaner sweetness, I prefer things a little more dirty complex.

Conclusion.

Absolutely bloody lovely. Great Islay expression, it ticks all the boxes, plus it’s extremely drinkable in a dangerously more-ish way. Love it. Glad I jumped in, this bottle won’t last long at all. Consider buying 2! I did. 😉

My own bottle.

Dornoch Distillery CrowdFunding Opportunity

There’s a tiny distillery full of wondrous whisky dreams in the making. The next crowdfunding phase of development will be underway on Monday the 6th of August. These guys know what they are doing when it comes to constructing some seriously craft single malt (and other spirits) and are well worth keeping an eye on and investing in. Details below.

A pair of brothers who had previously helped to establish one of the world’s leading whisky bars and who recently launched their own gin and whisky distillery are already eyeing expansion due to the popularity of their new spirits.

Phil and Simon Thompson, who run the hugely successful whisky bar in the Dornoch Castle Hotel, constructed a distillery on site in 2016 following a successful initial crowdfunding round which saw 250 whisky lovers from all over the world invest in a bid to secure hotly anticipated casks of new make spirit from the new distillery.

After a busy, but remarkably successful 2017, which has seen the laying down of future whisky stocks and the global launch of the Thompson Brother’s Organic Highland Gin, the brothers have this week announced a second crowdfunding bid in order to secure the distillery’s long-term future at a new local site.

The pair plan to move to an old slaters yard just up the road in Dornoch in order to expand their whisky production capacity and meet the growing demand for their gin, which is now sold in eleven export markets around the globe including Japan, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Italy and Germany.

Co-founder and director Phil Thompson explained that the level of demand for their products was “humbling” and that the plans to expand would better help them to keep their growing customer base satisfied, he said: “We never anticipated just how much demand there would be, not only for casks of our whisky, but for our Organic Highland Gin as well. The expansion means we can meet that demand while still maintaining our ruthless dedication to old-style production methods and quality levels.”

This new round of crowdfunding is set for launch at the end of July with work on the new site scheduled to begin in October 2018, and once completed will enable Dornoch Distillery to meet the demand and consolidate its presence in its existing export markets and allow it to expand further afield into new markets in 2019.

The move will entail an expansion of production capacity, a new retail space and tasting room and new jobs for the local Dornoch community. Not to mention up to 250 new private casks of Dornoch new make spirit for those fortunate enough to get in on this second round of crowdfunding.

The crowdfunding will be launched on our website (www.dornochdistillery.com) Monday 6th August at 10:00am GMT.

The Thompsons stated that their vocal support of, and dedication to, traditional whisky production techniques, which has gained growing popularity amongst whisky enthusiasts, will remain at the heart of everything they do.

The fledgeling distillery utilises heritage varieties of barley, employs it’s its own in-house cultivated brewing yeast strains, ferments for over a week and distils using direct gas firing.

Co-founder and director Simon Thompson explained: “Scotch Whisky tasted notably different in the 1960s and earlier, before mass modernisation of the equipment and ingredients. The demand for this older style – more focused on distillate character, mouthfeel and tropical fruits – is massive these days.

“No one else is making this style of whisky anymore so we wanted to really push the envelope and see if we could create a whisky which harks back to these extinct Scotch Whisky characteristics.”

This dedication to creating quality spirits also extends to their Organic Highland Gin, as, unlike the majority of gins made today, a significant proportion of the Thompson’s signature gin is made using spirit distilled in-house.

The resulting malt-heavy style gives a richer, more characterful gin which is gaining popularity around the world and the brothers believe is putting Dornoch “on the map as a Highland distilling town”.