Whisky Review – SMWS 127.33 Mouth-numbing mountaineering dram (Port Charlotte)


SMWS 127.33 Mouth-numbing mountaineering dram
Port Charlotte
11 years old
Non-Chill Filtered
No Added Colouring
63.5% ABV
Info at SMWS
182 bottles produced.

Nose.

Earthy smoke. Hay. Slightly mentholated. Damp socks – (In a good way!). Lots of mineral notes going on, with metal ore. Then, the massive maritime blast. Brine, seaweed, seawater ocean splashes. Some shellfish elements. Wet ocean rocks.

Palate.

Sugar sweet…then…BANG! But not as harsh as I was expecting, the ABV nip slips by quickly then all that scrummy seaside flavour floods in. Waves of saltwater intermingled with vanilla and chilli. A slight chocolate note slips through mid palate with more seaweed and hay/grass/earthiness following. Some general purpose oil. And of course loads of smoke all the way through, peat reek and sweetness all intertwined. Of course the mouthfeel is lovely and oily as well really coating the palate.

Finish.

Medium-long. Peat sweet and seaside savoury. Some sweet honey notes on the back end.

Adding water.

Adding a dollop. The nose now presents more sweetness with a citrus edge, still plenty of smoke and seaside aromas. A little more balance though with definite vanilla and honey on the nose. The diluted palate has more sweetness, still quite a burn, so this will take a bit more water I think, but is more chewable and luscious for that additional sweetness. Some lemon drops with a bit of menthol are creeping in now. With the finish retaining a lot of that additional sweetness and some light oak tannins at the finale.
Added another dollop. The nose is still big with tonnes of everything! The grassier notes are returning to the front now. The palate is sweet, oily as, and almighty. More sweetness now, still with peat by the shovel full and a bucket of seaweed/seawater. The finish goes on and on, with a little more menthol smoked earth and mackerel.

Conclusion.

Like your big peat blasters? This is for you. A cracking dram, full of smoke and maritime flavours, with a very pleasant sweet edge when diluted. Perfect for cold winter evenings.

My thanks go out to John McCheyne for providing me with a share of his bottle. Thanks John, see you soon. 🙂

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Whisky Review – Compass Box – The General


Compass Box – The General
Many years old blend
Non-Chill Filtered
No Added Colouring
53.4% ABV
£179.95 from MasterOfMalt
1,693 bottles produced.

The General is a very old blended Whisky from Compass Box. Made up from 2 parcels of Whisky, one aged 33, and another one of mystery, but many presumptions are that it is in excess of 40.

Official Info:
It’s been a good year for sourcing ridiculously rare parcels of extraordinary whisky. The provenance of these two parcels, blended together at a young age and then put back into cask for many years, was not important. They had matured into something extraordinary in flavour and were beautifully complementary. The result, bottled at cask strength, boasts an ‘antique’ character that lovers of old whiskies seek out. The associations of The General, however, are more akin to that of Buster Keaton’s classic 1926 film of the same name where the General is an old steam locomotive which Keaton takes on a long and wild ride to try to save the love of his life. Only 1,698 bottles of this whisky have been produced.

Nose.

Layered laminated complexity. It’s got some of everything which each sniff differing from the next. One sniff it’s thick rich sherried dark fruits and lush Christmas cake, the next it’s armchairs, dusty libraries, heavily polished and waxed oak. Of the fruit variety we have stewed bananas, plump alcohol infused raisins. Heavy Vanilla pod influences are then in the front, with some cinnamon and light pepper. Back to the fruitcake, cake mix with generous rich alcohol added. The oak is back, with a little more sawdust this time, but still glistening with the wax polish, and the tiniest wood char. More leather and now cigar tobacco. Back to Rum and plum and so on and so on. This is one which I could spend all night with my nose in! Bit more time, now vanilla domination, with toasted almonds. I probably need to stop with the nosing now or I’ll never taste anything tonight.

Palate.

Sweet and sour and sweet again. The rum and raisins come with warm cake mix. Then the age shows through, with the polished clean oak tones fulfilling the palate. Vanilla and light pepper spices are throughout. There is a little warmth to the ABV, but held on the tongue past that and the treats keep on coming, waves of oak and fruit and spices which seem to change as your rolling it around the mouth. The richness of this dram is hard to explain, so I will just say it’s very rich! Fattening even.

Finish.

Long, sweet, sherried then dry, oak, sawdust, polish, oak, some sweet and dry sherry returns, then fruit and vanilla returns at the very end.

Adding water.

The tiniest drop added, mainly due to having most of the sample undiluted, so not much room to experiment. It’s one that is awesome out the bottle. Diluted the nose has more outgoing power. The main flavour profiles of the undisputed nose are still there with the addition of quite a floral element, some lighter sugars, and sweetie shop notes. The palate has a little more wood sour notes, with the fruitiness taking quite the back seat, time in the tongue passes over these new additions and the oak and fruit shine through once again. The finish has now more oak tannins, some stewed tea, concentrating less again on the fruit that once was there. Personally a dram to revel in, in it’s undiluted form

Conclusion.

An intense, concentrating experience. I can spend a lot of time with this dram, it’s complexities are many, very deep and enticing to fathom. I will be spending more time with this dram sometime very soon. One for kicking back and exploring casually when you have a bunch of me time.

Massive thanks go out to Compass Box for providing the sample. Awesome.

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Whisky Review – Octomore 6.2 (Bruichladdich)

Octomore 6.2 (Bruichladdich)
5 years old
Non-Chill Filtered
No Added Colouring
58.2% ABV
Approx £120 from Duty Free Somewhere

The Octomore is a super heavily peated Whisky from Bruichladdich. Chemically tested as the peatiest Whisky in the world at 167 ppm, it is truly a beast. At 5 years old, and bottled at cask strength with no jiggery pokery (eg. Non chill filtered, no added colour), it is an experience to say the least. It’s not a cheap Whisky, but every Octomore experience I have had has been well worth the extra quids.

As with all x.2 releases the Octomore has been finished for a number of months in an alternative cask. In this case in limousin oak from Acquitiaine. The oak having once contained one of the worlds greatest eaux de vie.

Note. As with any pour, often a little dribble ends up going down the neck of the bottle, as it did in the case of this dram, I wiped the liquid with my finger. It is so very very oily. It feels great, never mind smell, taste, it feels bloody amazing!

Nose.

Big, intensive, peat bomb. Barbecue peat, not tcp. Briny, seashore barbecues, with fatty bacon burning a crispy way. Very meaty, be warned, don’t stick your nose too far in the glass because it is unforgiving. There’s a little vanilla, mountains of chilli and pepper, then the uniqueness comes in of the x.2 finish, there is a light fruity citrus in the background. A very definite orange twang, amongst some creamy honey soaked berries. With time in the glass more of that fruity variation from the regular Octomore asserts itself.

Palate.

Oh….my…..
I don’t know an oilier mouthfeel. So chewy and delightful to keep in the mouth. There is quite a nip from the high alcohol, but it passes quickly and then the joy is to be had. Thick sweet honey vanilla, peat sweet, some slightly bitter marmalade, thick fruity berried jammy flavours. All with a rich sticky sweet intensity that feels special.

Finish.

The jam and orange sticks, with some big peat retention, more sweetness, a little wood bitters, embracing heat, a fine feel good factor.

Adding water.

I have a feeling that this is just fine without water, but in the interest of the review some has been added. The nose continues its onslaught with more emphasis on the fruity elements. The peat is still there but intensity pushed down a couple of notches. The palate while loosing a little of its viscosity still is massive in flavour, and as with the diluted nose is now far more concentrated on the juicy fruits. The finish again reflects the nose and palate, more fruit remains. Adding another few drops. The peat is back on the nose. Big and brash with the fruit in a more balanced fashion. Palate, weakened again in the oil factor, but still oily, fruity to the maximum, peat more in check. Quite contradictory to the nose. All amazing nonetheless. The finish, still big and fruit intense with a peat twang. I’m sure this can take more water, but I’m running out and loving every drop as it is.

Conclusion.

I have followed several standard (x.1) releases, and the excellent 2.2 and fantastic 4.2. In the theme of the x.2s this is something fundamentally special. The flavour intensity and unique experience is amazing. It’s not for everyone, as it is challenging, needs time, patience and the right taste buds. Me being a fan, and determined to always have an Octomore open for those special times when I need a peat hug, well, this serves as another superb addition to the range. I’m going to have to start travelling I guess. :-/

Being a massive a Octomore fan, and not a big traveller, I have to Thank Bruichladdich very much for kindly providing the review sample. So, I’m not a big traveller. Thinking about a road trip somewhere Islay shaped soon though! 🙂

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Whisky Review – Bruichladdich Scottish Barley

Bruichladdich Scottish Barley
NAS
Non-Chill Filtered
No Added Colouring
50% ABV
£38.60 from TheGreenWellyStop

This is the new flagship bottling in Bruichladdich’s range. Provenance is key to Bruichladdich’s operating model, this no age statement dram is unpeated, has been trickle distilled, and matured on the shores of Lochindaal in premium American oak.

Nose.

Crisp, youthful. Packed with fruity zing. Fresh apple in abundance. Some stewed berries linger in the background. The tiniest melon is there. A little earthy peat and some hay. Light vanilla, some honey sweetness. Some pepper rounds off the nicely balanced nose. With time in the glass the zing calms, the dram settles with more balanced and a little spicier nose. Some malty cereal biscuity notes also present.

Palate.

Silky oils slither all around the mouth. Vanilla, malty biscuit, apples, a little melon, hay. All as represented on the nose are present in the delivery. Saltiness is present on the sides of the tongue, giving that Coastal feel to the flavour, but so much more flavour comes through with the fruit intermingling with some peat tang. It is a very tasty dram.

Finish.

Fruit remains for a good while, along with the oiliness mouth coating. Vanillas, honey, some peat sweetness all hang around, til the finale, which is drying with some oaky dryness, possibly a little tea.

Adding water.

While drinkable undiluted in going to add some water. On the nose we get more earthy mineral notes, extra hay and spiciness at the expense of the fruit, which is way back in the background now. Vanilla honey still stays reliably in the center. The palate, still oily, looses some of the alcohol hit, and still retains the fruit, malt, hay, vanilla, honey, everything. In fact I would say somewhat richer. There is some oak tannin presence in the mid development as well, which goes into the finish, a little more oaky, some wood bitters are now present.

Conclusion.

It’s core Bruichladdich. Which means quality, variation, complex uniqueness. In honesty it doesn’t quite reach the richness and depths of the laddie ten (which I adore), but this is one hell of a dram that showcases quality.

Thank you to Bruichladdich for kindly providing a review sample.

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Whisky Review – Caperdonich 19 year old single cask – Lady of the Glen

Caperdonich 19 year old single cask – Lady of the Glen
54% ABV
£93.86 from MasterOfMalt

With only 120 bottles produced, I’m ashamed to say I’ve dropped a ball here.
Lady of the Glen were so awesome in sending me a sample of this just before Christmas, but it lost its label, and the season of good will got in the way of my reviewing habits. This is a first time Caperdonich, which is a mothballed (closed, not demolished) distillery. So, without further ado…

Nose.

Powerful citrus and malt. Quite a high ABV burn on the nose. Nice intense peppery spice. Lemon juice & rind. Sherbert lemons, complete with icing sugar. Some orange oil. There’s a malted biscuit quality to the nose also. Hints of flower beds also in the background.

Palate.

Very oily on the glass. In the mouth. Tart. Oily lemon juice. Lots of citrus sour, then alcohol nip, followed by a smooth malty experience, more sedate citrus, creamy orange and lemon barley. A pepper blast, some chilli. End development there is some sweetness coming through, proper sugary sweetness offsetting the heavy sour opening. This is a new experience for me, not had a Whisky this intense in the sour department to date. It’s quite eye opening, and rather an exciting change.

Finish.

Medium, drying. Pepper spice, a little oak, the citrus flavours returns, goes and returns again, with pepper interchanging. Interesting, different malt to any I’ve tried before.

Adding water.

I’m going to add in phases to find its ideal.
Phase 1. Few drops. More pepper and floral on the nose with the citrus still present, but slightly sweetened. The palate reflects the sweeter, with the sour attack lessened pleasantly, the citrus is now a little more fruity and less intense, with the malty backbone coming through. The finish, lighter, sweeter, a little longer, with some effervescence.
Phase 2. Few more drops. More sweet shops, lemon sherbert and citrus pips. Intensely sweet shop. Lovely nose. Palate continues to become more sweetness in the citrus, and some more fizzy sherbert coming in on the palate, some additional sweetness in the finish.
Phase 3. Few more. The scotch mist is finally coming through. More floral on the nose now, it still has the lemon barley, but more serene, with some subtle sugars integrated. Sweet shops are still there, but more at a distance, with some more pungent spices, cardamom, lighter pepper, anise, and a touch of liquorice. And the palate is reflected as such, sweeter, spicier, less citrus, but still very prominent. Some creamier elements to the fruit, with the sour notes popping in mid palate for a wee reminder of the intensity of flavour this dram is capable of. The chewy, creamy malt biscuit effect is still there end development and through to the finish, which remains drying and longer to the undiluted finish. Complex oak spices and some lingering lemon freshness remains to the end.

Conclusion.

This is an interesting one. Some intensely sour flavours in this malt I had yet to experience before. This is a challenging Whisky, not for the beginner, it has a lot of rewards locked within itself, and takes some serious exploration to get the rewards out, and some experimentation with water to get the best out.
This has now sold out on ladyoftheglen.com, and I’m looking forward to hearing of their next release. In the meantime a few bottles are available on MasterOfMalt.

Thank you to Gregor Hannah at Lady of the Glen for kindly providing a review sample. Eye opening and unique experience mate, thank you.

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Whisky Review – Ballantine’s Christmas Blend – release 4


Ballantine’s Christmas Blend – release 4
40% ABV
£25.00 at Sainsbury’s
*** At time of writing reduced to £18.75

Nose.

A variable menagerie of light charcoal smoke, rich dark fruit and treacle toffee. Some country fudge. Stewed spiced apples in the background. Truly does have a Christmassy nose, all things thick, sugared and sticky.

Palate.

Quite dry, but it’s all about the toffee sweetness. Burnt caramelised toffee, vanilla, light rum and raisin. Chewy. There are some good oils albeit it still feeling quite light.

Finish.

Short-medium smooth finish. Fruit and toffee stays on the palate for a wisp. With some spicy fruit pie filling.

Adding water.

A few drops brings more of a mustiness to the nose and weakens some of the toffee on the palate. It’s worth trying with a tiniest little bit of water but I feel it’s already at its most flavoursome straight from the bottle.

Conclusion.

A good solid Christmassy dram. Easy drinking, thoroughly enjoyable. Not immensely complicated or challenging but excellent for relaxing after a big meal and whiling the evening away with this tasty little number.

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Whisky Review – Glenlivet Master Distiller’s Reserve

Glenlivet Master Distiller’s Reserve
40% ABV
£49.95 at TheWhiskyExchange for 1L

Nose.

Instantly intensive tropical fruit. Loads of ripe Pineapple. Apples, pears, a smidge of citrus. A slight oak mustiness. Light pepper. A little floral and dusting sugar with time in the glass.

Palate.

Sweet, fruity, apples, pears, pineapple, a little alcohol heat, followed by some chocolate, light toffee and vanilla fudge. Quite a light mouthfeel to this dram.

Finish.

Very smooth. Tasty chocolate fruits remain for a medium finish, with a toffee fudgey finale.

Adding water.

Just a few drops of water. Surprisingly there is an enhanced richness to the fruit basket in the nose. The palate is lighter, but still has a lot of fruit, possibly a little less of the toffee/fudge elements in the development. The finish is a little less intensive in the chocolate toffee department, and has a little extra oak. Personally preferred without water, due to the mouth and chocolatey finish.

Conclusion.

This is a very capable dram. It’s easy and accessible, very representative of Glenlivet at an entry age. I would say it must contain some older Whisky as it is very smooth. As with all of the main Glenlivet range I would dearly love to try them at a higher strength and non-chill filtered. Looking forward to trying a single cask 20 year old first filled sherry matured Glenlivet very soon. Watch this space! 🙂

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