Whisky Review – Balblair ’04 travel exclusive (bourbon cask)

Balblair ’04 travel exclusive (bourbon cask)
No colouring. No chill filtration.
46% ABV
~ £50 (1 litre) from airports everywhere.

Another bloody travel exclusive. I don’t blame the industry for travel exclusives, but I do find them a little bit annoying as I don’t travel an awful lot to get the opportunity to buy such exclusives. Fortunately though I flew to Glasgow for the excellent adventure which was Dramboree. And on the way, I grabbed this little beauty.

Of course I recently learnt there is also a Sherry cask variant for Asian markets, which I have to say reintroduced the annoyance factor. Anyone going that way wanna pick me up a bottle or so a bottle share? Drop me a message. 🙂

Nose.

Quite prickly with alcohol, so don’t go nose first. Behind the alcohol is a lush deep vanilla, exceptionally creamy and sweet. There is a mineral nature also, hidden quite beyond, some chalk and some herbal garden notes. Sage. New potatoes! Yeah. Buttery new potatoes. Nice. Some maltiness. Fruit wise we have some light lemon citrus, a touch of sherbert. Possibly a touch of coconut milk lingering in the background.

Palate.

Juicy. Clean and fresh. Lemons come through immediately, with the vanilla. A little more complexity in the fruits, with a touch of light orange and some peppered pears. Then some oak and spices comes into play with the more intensive spicy vanilla taking over in the development. Very thick in the mouthfeel and chewy with it, it’s lovely to roll this one around the extremities on the mouth.

Finish.

Drying, fruit and custard hangs around, a dash of herbs, everything dries out nicely with a touch of oak splinters lingering.

Adding water.

A fair few drops added. The nose is now full of floral and vanilla, with a few added sugar notes giving a little more confectionary to the overall aroma. The palate has some more herbal notes throughout the arrival, still intensive, but a little less on the fruity side, with the dryness of the oak and a touch of more sour tannins coming through the later development. The finish, drier, slightly longer, the sour/wood bitters carry through. Honestly, one I prefer without the water addition, although some May like the variation, something to explore, experiment and finding your own personal way with dependant upon your personal palate. With a little more time in the glass some of the previous vanilla intensity returns with some added creaminess. This is quite the every changing dram. One to savour over longer periods of time.

Conclusion.

A lovely dram. One to spend some time with, relax around and savour slowly. Complex and interesting to experiment with water. It’s not a rushed game this one. Take your time, kick back and enjoy.

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Whisky Review – Glen Moray 10 year old Chardonnay cask

Glen Moray 10 year old Chardonnay cask
40% ABV
£23.71 at MasterOfMalt

Matured for its entirety of 10 years in ex Chardonnay wine casks.

Nose.

The Chardonnay influence is most evident. Lots of fruit and spice. Grapes. Orange. Pears. Pineapple. Ripe peach. Tonnes of fruit, all ripe. Some berries also, strawberries and blackberries I think. Some light oak spices a touch of cinnamon. Very very pleasant. Summery Whisky.

Palate.

For a 40% chill filtered Whisky, this has quite a thick, coating mouthfeel. The fruit basket transfers to the palate, and is quite frankly beautiful. There is a little added sugar also, natural sugars, some boiled travel sweet powdered sugar. And with that there is also tonnes of old fashioned sweets, and lots of sweet fruit juices. A touch of citrus acidity which adds some balance and variation to stop it being so sweet. A touch of light spices assist with this balance also and makes for a very tasty and moreish dram.

Finish.

Medium length. Very Juicy, warming, light spices. Drying out with a little tannin influence. But always juicy and easy drinking.

Adding water.

Just a few drops as it’s already at the minimum ABV. The nose has more of the sweetie shop notes in the foreground now, less fruit and more juice with sweeties. Haribo pineapple cubes, lemon sherberts. Nice. The palate reflects this with more sugary and confectionary going on than with the undiluted palate. The finish retains this sweetness and the juiciness returns. Truly tasty.

Conclusion.

This is really excellent value for money malt. Quite different to your regular Glen Moray, and different to other single malts due to its wine maturation. A very summer infused Whisky and therefore perfect for summer sipping. Excellent bang for buck as it’s in the mid twenty pound mark, £21 when last on offer. Do yourself a favour and buy 2 though, as 1 is likely to evaporate down ones throat pretty quickly.

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Whisky Review – Queen Margo 8 year old blend. LIDL

Queen Margo 8 year old blend. LIDL
40% ABV
£13.29 (on special at £11.99 right now) – only at LIDL

1. Recent surprise Gold award winner in the IWSC (International Wines and Spirits Competition).
2. Bargain price.
3. Must try!

Nose.

There is a young, spirit driven nature to the nose, but there is an awful lot of good stuff going on as well. Vanilla. Creamy grain. Warm honey. Custardy. Quite prominent desiccated coconut. Sponge cake. Various light honey and fudginess.

Palate.

Everything on the nose translates to the palate, a very light, honeyed, custardy, vanilla, pleasant Whisky. Some dry oak helps balance out the grain, a little bitterness from the oak, but for the age very smooth and with no throat burn as you may expect. It’s warming on the chest.

Finish.

The lingering custardy grain is warming and hangs around for a medium finish with some drying oak and is quite all around relaxing.

Adding water.

A couple tiny drops and a little time. The spirit is lowered with all the other aromas enriched, lots of coconut sponge cake with creamy vanilla custard. The palate is very creamy, reminds me quite a bit of something triple distilled, but it’s probably just the grain content. The slight bitter edge is a little earlier coming in the development now, so I would probably leave it without water.

Conclusion.

This is excellent value for money. It doesn’t break any records, or blows the doors open for complexity or curiosity. But as a standard drinking Whisky, as a sipper, not a mixer drencher, it is really very good. I mean, what other Whisky can you get for £11-14 that isn’t meant to be sloshed over ice or with something fizzy and syrupy?
Incidentally, I opened a bottle of a very popular mainstream label blend to do a side by side comparison. I won’t tell you about that one (after all my mum always said if you haven’t got anything nice to say about something, don’t say anything at all), and Queen Margo does the business all over it! That blend is currently £17 in Sainsbury’s!

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Whisky Review – Darkness! Benrinnes 15 year old Pedro Ximenez cask finish

Darkness!
Benrinnes 15 year old
Pedro Ximenez cask finish
No colouring. No chill filtration.
53.3% ABV
£59.95 from MasterOfMalt.

Darkness is a selection of in your face single malts and single grains for those who love sherry monsters. They have been extra matured in small specially crafted sherry casks.

Nose.

Sweet and heavy sherry. Not quite as in your face as the oloroso finished Benrinnes. This is a little more subtle and has a deeper texture going on. You can get your nose into this one and behind the scenes you have some maltiness coming through. A little vanilla and some oak. There’s still the sherry of course, and with this going a Pedro Ximenez, you have a more sticky fruit jam going on. Less of the spice and nuts. A little more on the rum soaked raisins, sugary sweet, with a boiled down, thick fruit jam.

Palate.

Sweet, and thick and all that jammy texture comes through. A little bit of flare from the high ABV. Then the flavours come through. Juicy juicy raisins, fruitcake, some light hazelnuts, chocolate icing, plums, some pepper spice. Rich fruit wines, some sugared rhubarb even. Very tasty.

Finish.

A little short on the jam, although a light layer of fruit sticks around, but dryness is more the theme of this finish, with some oak and a touch of raisin sticking to the tongue for a fair while.

Adding water.

A good few drops added. The nose now has a dustier sugared side to it. More nuts. A little floral oak. Still quite sherry intensive, but a little more variation. Perhaps showing some of the previous maturation before the sherry cask finish. The palate seems sweeter with those new sugars enlivened by the water. Almost thicker on the palate than before. Very juicy and flavoursome, more oranges and orange peel in the mix now. The finish is slightly drier and nuttier. Very engaging stuff.

Conclusion.

Beautiful Whisky. Very tasty, one of the best sherry finishes I’ve ever had. Difficult to not believe it was longer in a sherry cask. It would have been very interesting to try the before the sherry cask finish version, maybe this is something MoM/Maverick would consider as part of their Reference series? Maybe a Darkness and Light series? 🙂

Thank you to Master of Malt and Maverick Drinks for providing the review sample.

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Whisky Review – Darkness! Benrinnes 15 year old Oloroso cask finish

Darkness!
Benrinnes 15 year old
Oloroso Sherry cask finished
No colouring. No chill filtration.
52.9% ABV
£59.95 from MasterOfMalt.

Darkness is a selection of in your face single malts and single grains for those who love sherry monsters. They have been extra matured in small specially crafted sherry casks.

Nose.

Thick, heavy, nuttiness is the first thing to meet you. Then rich dry fruit. Sultanas, raisin, orange peel. The pungent spices are there, peppers, cloves, all spice. Fruitcake in abundance. Some chocolate and coffee round things off. The sherry influence is massive. As you would expect. Absolutely Pinocchio of a nose! As in its huge, not lying.

Palate.

More banging sherry! Which I like! This is most definitely oloroso. Lots of chocolate, nuts, dried raisins, as close as fruit and nut choccie bar in Whisky form as you can get. Deep with pepper spice, all spice, those cloves all as per the nose, a little ginger heat. Lots of dried fruits. Nuts. Honey and brown sugar. The development continues to concentrate on the nuttiness and gives some oak maturity coming through.

Finish.

The dried fruits and nuts stick around for a medium finish. A little drying oak towards the very end, with the dried fruits staying around, in a sweet and sour and borderline savoury way, almost a little meaty.

Adding water.

A few drops added. The nose is a little more subdued now, but in a good way as you can really get your nostrils in there. Spicy dryness and nuts are in the forefront, with a background if sheer dried fruit filth (I mean that very positively!). The palate is thicker, sweeter, and had buckets of the dried fruit going forward. Most definitely chewier and almighty tasty, with the nuts coming through in the development. Tasty chocolate and a little coffee is now prominent during the development. The finish is drier, more of a concentration on the oak, and the fruit slightly silenced, a touch of oak tannins coming in also.

Conclusion.

I’m quite surprised. I was expecting to like this version more than the PX. Especially by the massive nose on it. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic Whisky, a really dig it. But having this alongside the PX in the same tasting session means it has weakened the experience a little. Like I said, awesome Whisky, but between the pair, my vote is on the PX version. Having said all that. If I were to compare this with a good batch a’bunadh. I would be drinking this one all the way!

Thank you to Master of Malt and Maverick Drinks for providing the review sample.

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Whisky Review – Kilchoman 2014 Festival Bottling

Kilchoman 2014 Festival Bottling
Limited to 525 bottles
Matured for over 5 years in two fresh bourbon casks and finished in a fino sherry butt for 3 months.
58.7% ABV
£79.50 from Kilchoman

The 2014 Feis Ile bottling has been matured for over 5 years in two fresh bourbon barrels and finished in a fino sherry butt for 3 months. There will be 525 bottles at cask strength and will retail for £79.50 per bottle on Thursday 29th May.

Nose.

Heather smoke. Medicinal TCP. A touch of vegetal amongst the floral notes. Complex grass, compost, earthy moss, even a touch of cabbage. Very savoury with not an awful lot of fruit. Some vanilla. Some salty maritime notes. A touch of tar. This Whisky is all about the filth. And a filthy little bugger it is. With a little time in the glass the heather smoke calms to give a little heather honey.

Palate.

Raw. Hot. Ashy Filth transfers to the palate. Quite salty later in the arrival. A little sweeter vanilla and honey during the development. With some more familiar sherry notes coming through, a little dried raisin, and some mixed spice.

Finish.

The finish is shorter than I would have hoped. Sweet and sour. Some salted caramel amongst the dirty mole hills of earth and sods of rain soaked grass.

Adding water.

A fair drop added. The nose now does have a little fruit. Dry raisin, cooked apple and some white sour grape amongst the smoke pile. A few brambles with some young blackberries are evident. The palate is reduced slightly in saltiness, with that added fruit layer from the nose making an appearance on the tongue. Very slight, but some sour berries and enhanced vanilla sweetness and powdered sugar is coming through the development. There is also a touch of fizziness going into the finish, which is still on the short side, slightly drier, with a little less filth.

Conclusion.

Interesting stuff. If you like your dram on the filthy side then don’t add water to this one, if you want a little more balance and layering of variation in flavours then add a good drop, but you will extinguish the smoke a tad, and wash away some of the dirt.

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By scotchandscifi Posted in Whisky

Whisky Review – Benriach 12 year old

Benriach 12 year old
40% ABV
£26.43 from MasterOfMalt

I won this bottle a while back in a competition that www.scotchwhiskyexpress.com ran, lucky bugger that I am sometimes. :-). Finally got to open it and well, very surprised.

Nose.

Very fruity indeed. Tropical fruits. Pineapple dominant, fresh sweet apple, oranges, kiwi. Light dusting sugar. Some malty sugars. An influence of oak, but minimal, with the slightest hint of char from the oak.

Palate.

All that fruity goodness comes through on the palate from arrival through development. It is a very juicy, fruity dram. Through the development we also have some of that oak tannins, charred wood effect, with the fruit going back slightly. Confectionary sugar is evident all the way through the experience.

Finish.

Sweet. Fruit and sugar fades slowly, with a little dryness towards the very end with a touch of oak tannin bitterness, but nothing off putting.

Adding water.

Small drop as it’s already 40%. The nose is now more malty floral with the fruit quite dulled down. The palate still retains it’s fruitiness, but mid development more bitter notes come through from the oak. The finish retains this tannin rich flavour, with the familiar sugars coming through at the end. One not to water in my opinion.

Conclusion.

I wish, I wish this was 46% with NCF. I’m not sure there is much if any colouring anyway, but it would be nice to have this confirmed. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic, easy going, tasty, moreish and stable session dram. It’s really great stuff. Loving it! I would love to experience it a little more purer though, and hopefully one day that will be possible.

Special thanks to www.scotchwhiskyexpress.com, who I won this bottle from a few months ago.

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