Whisky Review – Glenmorangie Bacalta @TheGlenmorangie @QuercusComs

Glenmorangie Bacalta

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

£77.95 from Master of Malt

The eighth in Glenmorangie’s private edition range. A limited edition release, bottled at 46% with no chill filtration. The whiskies in this range have pretty much all had no age statement, and been finished in a range of different casks. This time the whisky has been finished in ‘sun baked Malmsey Madeira’ casks. More reading into this and the casks are quite bespoke. Heavily toasted American oak which were then seasoned with the Malmsey wine, baked to maturity in the scorching Madeira sun. Emptied, shipped to Glenmorangie and filled with ex-bourbon matured spirit. No specified timelines, but as always it’s a pleasure to try. 

Nose. 

A very sweet first sniff from the pour. Lots of apples, grapes, definitely has that air of desert wine. I’ve personally not tried a lot of Madeira, but it does remind me of Sauternes. Baked sugar, Creme brûlée. A gentle peppery Spice. Vanilla sponge complete with lots of sugar dusting. After a little time in the glass it becomes fruitier. Apricots and peaches with creamy custard. Not too heavy on the vanilla. Warming the dram up unleashes a little more Spice and fruit intensity. (It’s a bit cold here tonight!). It needed that warmth, the nose is delicious now, deep, creamy, buttercream, moist sponge cake, dried apricot chunks, honeydew melon. There’s a gentle maltiness in the background. Light runny honey. It’s lovely and very sniffable. Gentile. Deliciously desert like. 

Palate. 

Well, I wasn’t expecting that. It’s big flavour from the offset, lots of sweetness, sugar, baked fruits, apple, stewed apricots, poached pears in sweet wine. Another sip and there’s lots of sweet shop reminders, boiled sweets, refresher chews, chocolate mice. Mouthfeel has some additional oiliness to it, but it’s not massively oily, more of a complementary mouthfeel, definitely not watery. More spices on this sip, pepper, a touch of ginger, some sweet cinnamon, sweetened vanilla custard. Another sip and more toffee this time around, some honeycomb, more chocolate. This whisky metamorphoses with every sip, there’s a lot there, and every suggestion on the sip in my mind leads the experience down a different path. There’s a lovely balance and this is a very easy going sipper. 

Finish. 

Spicy sweet cinnamon buns, with vanilla frosting, and a gentle fruit juice fades out for a medium length. A little drier with some oak tannins at the very end. 

Adding water. 

Small drop added. The nose seems a little subdued, more cereal notes, with the fruit and sweetness a little dumbed down. Saying that a lot more vanilla is coming through now. The palate still has a nice depth of flavour, but not as rich, a little more artificial in the sugar notes, and the fruit has been quite diminished. The finish is shorter and drier. Nope. Don’t like water with this one I’m afraid. Needs to be neat. 

Conclusion. 

Very well constructed whisky. It’s very beautiful and very sweet. That might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the balance and quality is there. This is a pretty perfect desert whisky, I would be sipping into the early hours with a very happy smile on my face. I’m getting me some of this!

Many thanks to Glenmorangie for the review sample

Whisky Review – Timorous Beastie 21 year old @DLaingWhisky @remarkablemalts

Timorous Beastie 21 year old

46.8% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£89.95 from Master of Malt – sold out but Drinks by the Dram available






Nose. 

Sherry, spice and dusty chocolate on first pour from this colourful little number. Lots of sherry maturation is obvious. Raisin, plum, clove, cinnamon, all the usual expected Sherry monster aromas, intensely presented for a lower (not cask strength) ABV. With time there becomes a dusty vanilla oak note running throughout the background. Some citrus notes come through, as the spices settle down. There is quite a perfume nature to this nose as well, highly sniffable. 

Palate. 

Cadbury Fruit n Nut. It’s got all of it, loads of chocolate, some nuttiness, primarily hazelnuts, but some almond in there as well, loads of raisin (soaked in rum). Lovely, solid stuff. Christmas spices throughout. An oily mouthfeel coats the spices around every corner of the mouth. Highly quaffable. 

Finish. 

The fruit n nut bar fades slowly, with some stewed tea and a drying mouthfeel. 

Adding water. 

V small drop added. The nose is sweeter now, more chocolatey, less spice. The palate has died somewhat. Chocolate is forefront, and now some barley and porridge, actually reminds me of the coco pops porridge I had last week, much less Spice, oiliness and complexity. Finish is Spice and light chocolate. This one is not to be watered, it’s older and it doesn’t cope so well with dilution. 

Conclusion. 

A lovely Christmassy, Sherry rich blend. The age is there to be experienced, but doesn’t take kindly to water. It’s a lovely winter warmer, I understand entirely why it sold out so damn quickly. 

Many thanks to Douglas Laing for the review sample

Whisky Review – Glendronach Grandeur 25 Year Old batch 008. @Glendronach

Glendronach Grandeur 25 Year Old batch 008

50.3% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£375.00 from Whisky Galore at The Green Welly Stop

Nose. 

Intense, old polished oak, plum jam, alcohol drenched Christmas cake. Dark chocolate nibs. A touch of dunnage warehouse. That’s from the first pour. Letting this sit with a cover for a bit. After a little time we have an immense amount of stewed dark fruits, blackberry, plum, dates. All thick and delicious. Spiced up with warming cinnamon and crystallised ginger. Coffee grounds and chocolate are present, with a little floral as backup. It’s immensely complex, warming and promising lots of what’s to come. It’s reminiscent of some very old whisky I tried recently. Tasted blind I would even place this older than 25 years on the nose. 

Palate. 

Gently massive! Arrival is quiet, sweet, old oak, chocolate, coffee and gentle spices initially, then builds up to a crescendo of dark fruit and spices. A chutney of berries and Christmas Spice. All the while being delicate to the palate. The thick oiliness covers everywhere and gives a deep warmth to the experience. Development goes into many territories, the fruit is thick, some dark bitter chocolate, almost an overlooked fruit cake crust, but with plump and luscious red berries bursting in the mouth at the same time. The alcohol strength doesn’t make itself noticed at all. And with prolonged time in the glass and slow sipping the flavours only become richer and deeper with every drop. 

Finish. 

Dusting chocolate, cocoa, mocha in fact, with some Black Forest gateau filling, dark cherries, juicy and ancient at the same time. The finish goes on for ages. Always giving the older dusty warehouse age and the juicy freshness of fruits stewed and bubbling in a pot. The greatest of warming chest hugs from this whisky. It’s absolutely delicious. 

Adding water. 

No. Not doing it. Sorry. It’s perfect as it is. 

Conclusion. 

I may be biased. Glendronach is one of my favourite distilleries, and top of my quality sherried maturation whisky distilleries list. This whisky does them proud. This is one of those whiskies which I wish was available 10 years ago and me being into whisky 10 years ago (which I wasn’t). Why? Because I may have been able to afford it then. If I could afford this I would have it in a heartbeat. It’s the quintessential old age sherried beauty and I adore it completely. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to try this. If you love Glendronach, have some money to one side, treat yourself. If you get offered a dram of this, snap the persons arm off. Otherwise seek this at a whisky show, it’s worth your dram token(s). 

Many thanks to Glendronach for the review sample

Whisky Review – The Macallan Edition No 2 @The_Macallan 

The Macallan Edition No 2 

48.2% ABV

£76.83 from Master of Malt

Back to a bit of non-aged statement action from The Macallan, but as daunting as it sounds, this has a nicely pepped up alcohol level to 48.2%. This release is a collaboration between master whisky maker Bob Dalgarno and the three brothers behind El Celler de Can Roca (named best restaurant in the world twice by Restuarant magazine). Drawn from a combination of European and American oak. I’m very much looking forward to this. 

Nose. 

Big on the Macallan signature fruitcake richness. First sniff has me taken aback, the strength took me unawares, but then so did the intensity of the aromas. Among the massive juicy sultana rich fruitcake mix is some ginger, orange juice and peel, cinnamon and a hint of white pepper. It’s a rich, dried fruit and Spice intensity, already warming and inviting. 

Palate. 

The palate is just as big. Intense, superb balance of fruit and spice. The arrival is very juicy and rich, with the oranges upfront quickly evolving into raisins, sultanas and plums. Spice add a nice bite in the development, with the cinnamon, crystallised ginger and now a touch of clove coming into the mix, with the fruits becoming more refined with orange oils, honey and maybe a hint of spearmint. The mouthfeel is pleasantly oily and fulfilling. Chocolate comes into the mix late in the development, milk chocolate mixing deliciously with the oranges. 

Finish. 

Chocolate orange hangs around for a medium to long length finish, with a touch of honey sweetness and bite of ginger at the very finale. 

Adding water. 

I really don’t want to add water, but a small drop has been added anyway. The nose seems a little less intense and more spice driven. The palate has also had the intensity toned down, but it’s less spicy, seems more oily on the palate and the chocolate notes come in much sooner and mix in damn beautifully with the amazing fruits. The finish reflects the diluted palate and gentle fades the fruit chocolate mix away. I really like the undiluted experience as a whole, but the diluted palate and finish is something extra!

Conclusion. 

Delicious. This has a lot to offer over the 12 year old double cask, extra levels of complexity and intensity of flavour. I really love this one, it’s absolutely beautiful! Price wise I was dubious, but when you compare it to the Sienna (my favourite of the colours) and think of the extra ABV, this one wins for me. Bottle bought!

Many thanks to the Macallan for the review sample. 

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