Whisky Review – Aberlour A’bunadh batch 49

Aberlour A’bunadh batch 49
60.1% ABV
Non chill filtered
No added colouring
Cask strength
£39.06 from MasterOfMalt

Cracking open a new A’bunadh is like the changing of the whisky guard. I always have one open, I don’t generally get to open every batch, but as one batches shift comes to the end, the latest batch available will take its place. And it’s that time again. Batch 46, which I reviewed here and was quite disappointed with (hence a long time til it got finished – and in fairness it did improve with air), is to be replaced with the latest released batch 49. What are we going to get this time around. Fingers are well and truly crossed.

Nose.

Straight from the freshly opened bottle there is already a good feeling about this batch. Lots of dry oloroso notes. Nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and Brazil. Lots of toffee. Dark, treacle toffee dense sweetness. Demerara sugar. Overly toasted Creme brûlée. A tiny touch of struck match, but nothing too detracting. This is a dark side dram. Lots of deep dark sugars.

Palate.

Sweet. Lots of caramel. Toffee. Fudge. Tablet (sugary fudge type confectionary). Dry treacle. It’s intensely sweet. Possibly even too sweet. I think water is needed.

Finish.

Medium length. Treacle toffee. Fudge. A touch of dry nuttiness amongst the sweetness.

Adding water.

Added a reasonable slosh, A’bunadh can take it. Ok, the nose is more like it. Any slight struck match is gone. Toffee and fudge in abundance still, but the fruit is starting to come through. We’re getting some rum and raisin. Fruitcake. Prunes. The nuttiness is intensified now. On the palate we have more fruits with the sugar. The sugar is still a dominating factor, but we are at least getting some soft dark fruits in amongst it. Raisin and sultana and a touch of cherry. There is also a slight touch of liquorice.

Conclusion.

This is much more like it. Very nice indeed. Still not as good as some previous batches. 45 was my most recent favourite, but I haven’t tried 47 or 48 properly. I don’t normally give scores, but as a comparison to other batches I would say this is a 8/10 in the A’bunadh field, assuming batch 45 was a 9/10 and batch 46 was a 6.5/10.

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Whisky Review – Kilchoman Port Cask

Kilchoman Port Cask
55% ABV
Non Chill Filtered
No Added Colouring
£69.95 from MasterOfMalt.

I’ve been looking forward to this one since hearing about it on the twittersphere sometime back. Port matured Whiskies are currently a favourite of mine,and last years Laphroaig Port Cask Cairdeas (review here) was mostly to blame for this flavour fashion on my palate.

Colour.

Pink. Pink. Pink.

Nose.

Initially sweet smoky toffee. Air the oxygen enhances the nose the smoky embers are released. Pungent bonfire smoke. Ozone. Salty sea air. A little coal and ash. The ABV is high and is evident with a little nose sting if you get too close. With some time in the glass, fruit comes in waves with the smoke. Red berries, blackberries, brambles. A real countryside nature to the wild fruits. That familiar Kilchoman signature country farmyard aroma is present as well in the background. Being a bit of a country boy from Somerset, a good portion of this nose reminds me of my childhood rambling around the Uncle’s farmyard orchard. There is engine oil notes backing things up, in a good rounded rich way. Considering this whisky is only just over 3 years old it smells a lot older. Little more time in the glass and it’s more fruit up front. Rich, sticky and sweet jams. Incredibly moreish on the nose. Sniffing this for a pastime.

Palate.

Immediately red fruits, blackberry, raspberry, a hint of strawberry, some cherry, then peat hits, mossy earthy, hay like. The ABV kicks in just a little, not much at all considering its 55%. Once that passes things become creamy, peat dominated, but with a coating of fruit jams and cream. Some marmalade, more peat, more fruit, nicely levelled and varying every sip. Lush stuff. With time in the glass the palate is more fruit bound with the peat curtain. There is quite a variation based on time and oxidisation in this dram, one to pour a big one of and take your time with studying the changes as the minutes pass. Glorious.

Finish.

Medium finish. Fruity jammy creamy sweets, like foam haribo or wine gums and custard. Earthy peat, some sweet dewy grass. Very smooth with no harsh burning, again, amazing for its age.

Adding water.

Little splash added. The smoke has returned with ashy intensity on the nose, with the fruit backgrounded. On the reduced palate the creamy fruit jams are in full effect, with the lesser ABV things are creamier and sweeter and more pleasurable, with more jelly sweet confectionary being present throughout the development and into the finish which holds that fruitiness all the way through.

Conclusion.

Can’t decide if this is breakfast dram to go with toast or a supper time dram, or an anytime autumnal dram, or all of the above. Any which way, it’s fantastically fruity, jammy, scrumptious stuff. Bloody love it. Unfortunately it’s a bit sold out now, if you see one and you like fruit and peat it’s awesome. Highly recommended.

Much thanks to Kilchoman for the review sample.

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Whisky Review – SMWS 123.8 In The Spanish Mountains (Glengoyne – Port Cask)

SMWS 123.8 In The Spanish Mountains
Distillery – Glengoyne
Maturation – refill Port Cask
Distill date – 30th April 2001
Age – 12 years old
743 bottles
59.2% ABV
Non Chill Filtered
No Added Colouring
~£50 from SMWS – now sold out.

Nose.

Spicy wines. Lots of red fruits – red berries, strawberry, blackberry. Aniseed. Pepper. Ginger. A touch of chilli. Some charred oak. Vanilla. In the background a touch of tropical fruits, maybe a spot of bitter orange juice as well. A tiny pinch of coconut. Very aromatically complex.

Palate.

Immediately fruitful, followed by the hit of alcohol. After that subsides we have wave after wave of fruit jams and spices. It’s a big flavoursome taste sensation, water will separate out things no doubt, but may detract from the sheer indulgence of experience.

Finish.

Chest hugging warmth. Medium- long finish. A touch of toffee in the drying oak, fruit remains for a good duration, and has a very definite feel good factor.

Adding water.

Adding a good slosh of water brings forward more of the toffee malt character of the spirit. There is still ample red fruits and port influence to please. The palate is now easier thanks to the diluted alcohol, and with that more of the juiciness can be explored. There is an added sweetness, in the form of sweet chewy toffee. The finish is sweet, sugary, with the fruit more backgrounded, but with more definition. A delectable dram, brilliant with and without water.

Conclusion.

Lush stuff…as with all SMWS…wish I could pop back to the site and buy another, but there are so many other single barrel pleasures to try, Whisky life will never get boring with the SMWS releasing such quality stuff.

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Whisky Review – Tomatin Cù Bòcan Sherry Cask

Tomatin Cù Bòcan Sherry Cask
46% ABV
Non Chill Filtered
No Added Colouring
£59.00 – available at Whisky Galore at The Green Welly Stop

Nose.

Dunnage warehouse!!! I actually have this point of reference down since my Islay experience and visiting many warehouses. And this nose is full of it on first sniff. That alcohol maturing, oak, pleasant damp air of glorious Whisky angels feasting! Sorry! It’s awesome. :-). Second sniff. Light smoky wafts. Twig bonfire and earthy peat smoke. Deeper sniffs and where onto the spicy fruitcake influence of the sherry butts. Lots of rum and raisin. Fruitcake mix. Dry fruit. Cherries. Nuts. Lots of nuts amongst the alcohol soaked fruit. This is closest to Christmas cake I’ve had on the nose in a long time. Cinnamon, pepper, a touch of aniseed. Lots of complexity.

Palate.

Spicy arrival, little bit of heat from the 46%. As it calms we have an abundance of dried fruit, raisin, plum, cherries. Then the spiciness kicks it up a gear with the pepper, cinnamon and a touch of cardamom, the nuttiness then comes through with those spices and provides some nut skin and nut oil texture to the experience. Lots of sherry influence.

Finish.

Medium finish. Lots of nuts, some caramel, a touch of saltiness. Dried fruit, then drying out with a touch of cocoa. A slight touch of dry/charred grass.

Adding water.

4/5 drops added. The smoke is more concentrated on the medicinal, lighter style now, with the fruit and nut also diluted with the water in favour of some vanilla and floral characteristics coming through. The palate reflects this lighter nose, and adds the floral in, some rose water, lighter confectionary sugar notes, making the dram more accessible and less punchy. The finish is sweet, sugary, light and warming. Very nice, but preferred undiluted for me.

Conclusion.

A grand entry into the Tomatin stable. This is a great Christmas Whisky with all the lovely sherried notes which remind me of a good old winter’s dram.

Much thanks to Tomatin for the review sample.

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Whisky Review – Big Peat Christmas 2014

Big Peat Christmas 2014
55.7% ABV
Non chill filtered
No added colouring
£44.99 Available from Whisky Galore at the Green Welly Stop

Tesco have got the Christmas choccies on the shelves already, so why the hell shouldn’t I be able to have a Christmas edition Big Peat?! 🙂

Nose.

Big, powerful Islay signature. TCP. Medicinal peat smoke. Seaside air. Lots of saltiness, sea wash, road tar, coal, ash, seaweed. Chilli pepper spices. Then, in the background…soft, sweet vanilla, a touch of sweet citrus, lemon and orange peel. A real citrus smoke soot bomb.

Palate.

Earthy peat. Sweet citrus, bitter lemon. Surprisingly easy to take at full strength. Gorgeous mouthfeel. Lots of thick oils. Salty, mackerel, quite fishy in a very good way. Some grass/hay notes. Like chewing on cud sometimes. Complex citrus later in the development, intermingled with smokey fish stacks and lots of seashore influences. Waves and waves of flavour crashing over the tongue. Lovely stuff.

Finish.

Warm, long, very long. Smokey ash, vanilla sweetness. Some wet grass and damp hay. Touch of fish lingers. Still touches of lemon citrus amongst the smoke. Really warming and smile inducing.

Adding water.

I’m quickly running out of dram here, it’s very lovely to just sip away and loose yourself amongst the waves. A few drops added. Even more smoke intensity now. The citrus is not so muddled (sweet and sour) now and is more mellowed and lemony. The palate has some vanilla creaminess, and is even more oily and mouthcoating. The flavours now balanced out, with some added salty undertones enhancing the overall development, giving depth and distinction. Lots of maritime in the late development and finish, with that warming smile generating flavours doing an excellent job.

Conclusion.

Lush stuff. Purely Islay. The strange thing is I wouldn’t have liked this 2 years ago, and now I bloody adore it. This is your Christmas present waiting. It probably won’t be around by Christmas time though, so maybe worth getting in now. This is a dram to have in front of the fire on a chilly evening.

Many thanks to Douglas Laing for the review sample.

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Whisky Review – Timorous Beastie Highland Vatted Malt

Timorous Beastie Highland Vatted Malt
46.8% ABV
Non chill filtered
No added colouring
£36.00 Available from Whisky Galore at the Green Welly Stop

Following on from last years highly successful ‘Scallywag’ Blended malt, we have the brand new Timorous Beastie from Douglas Laing. A small batch Highland Vatted malt is bottled at 46.8% and without colouring or chill-filtration!

Nose.

Sweet and very floral up front. Fields of wild flowers and heather. Lots of honey and light peppery spices. Very intensely highland style, with quite a breathtaking punch on the nose, the extra alcohol content has been put to good use to carry some deep aromas through. Complicated sweet fudge, toffee and spiced honey. With time in the glass we get a touch of beeswax polish.

Palate.

Very sweet, fudge first, complex honey, creamy toffee. Some vanilla. Light spices. Beeswax, fresh runny honey, almost feels like a bee less hive circling around the tongue. A touch of pepper. Lots of flowery pollen like complexities.

Finish.

A medium length, Light, aromatic spicy honeyfudgetoffee lingers and fades into warming your chest. Pleasing a gentle aftertaste hangs around like you’ve been sucking on a number of toffee sweets for half the day.

Adding water.

A couple of drops added. An added depth of honeysuckle and various floral elements whilst retaining the heavy honey notes. The palate, while slightly reduced in intensity, has more balance and variety of accessible floral flavours. There is a wee touch of bitter treacle toffee in the palate also. The finish remains warming, satisfying and sticky toffee pudding like. Excellent to add a small amount of water to.

Conclusion.

As much as I don’t like to encourage early drinking. This is a superb breakfast Whisky. Something to quaff alongside your porridge or cereal of choice on a lazy day. Very moreish. Elegantly sweet and flavoursome. A Whisky very representative of the highland style, gloriously laid back. Very high quality stuff.

Many thanks to Douglas Laing for the review sample.

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Islay day Zero.

Three Whisky blogging travellers taking route to explore the mystical island of Islay in the search for distillery glory and scrumptious drams. These are the records of that adventure.

Day 0 (Not really Islay yet!)

On our quest from the West Country to a rest off at Glasgow it seemed silly not to drop into one of the newest distilleries in England.

The Lakes Distillery.

Currently under extensive construction on the site of a Victorian farm in the Lake District near Cockermouth, the Lakes Distillery is shaping up to be a focal point of tourism and spirits creation. It’s in a beautiful part of the English countryside along side lake Bassenthwaite. Taking its water supply from River Derwent.

Currently nearing completion of the still house, the distillery will shortly start the production of their gin. The Lakes Gin will be flowing from the stills mid September. With the tuning and initial creation of their single malt spirit following closely behind. Initially some 130,000 litres will be running from the stills per year, with a total capacity of quarter of a million litres when in full production.

It really is a very impressive set up. Boasting a prestige bistro dining environment, Whisky making tour experiences and business facilities.

Paul Currie (Founder and Managing Director) was kind enough to show me and Steve around the development, the still house and on site demo warehousing. The still is newly installed and has an interesting feature if being able to utilise a choice of condensers. A traditional copper condenser and an experimental condenser constructed from stainless steel. The belief is prolonged contact of the spirit during distilling with copper can have a detrimental effect on the final flavour of the spirit. So, by experimenting with the alternative condenser, a significantly different flavour profile could be produced giving a variation on the distilleries final product.

For maturation some further very interesting experiments will be taken with non conventional wood types. As the Lakes Distillery is an English Whisky producing distillery, they are not bound to the requirements of the SWA, and so new and different woods (chestnut etc) can be utilised to experiment with the final flavour of the matured Whisky.

The Lakes Distillery intend to release these experiments as single cask releases when they are ready, detailing the type of spirit produced and the new and varied maturation methods utilised.

The Lakes Distillery also has a very cute pot still which is going to be used for their gin.

Some very exciting times lay ahead for this truly artisan Whisky producer and I can’t wait to experience the products throughout development and into the final released product.

Their current available Whisky, the One Blend, is one I have just sampled and you can read my review here.

An exciting start to our tour! Seeing the new, the future and upcoming birth of new born Whisky!

As day 1 of our trip came to an end we met up with mate and fellow blogger Tom Thomson and have a brief catch up with a pint of the apple stuff, then settling for a short sleep before our next day began. As rest beckons. The snoring started….STEVE!!! 🙂

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The main still.

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River Derwent

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The Pot Still.

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Whisky Review – Bunnahabhain Dràm An Stiùreadair – Feis Ile 2014

Bunnahabhain Dràm An Stiùreadair – Feis Ile 2014
56.7% ABV
Non-chill filtered
No colouring
£160.00 available from Whisky Galore at the Green Welly Stop.

Nose.

Big and brash. Toffee. Honeycomb. Chocolate. Intense Oak smoked BBQ with lots of wood char. Chrunchie bars burnt in a wood fire. Some salty sea air in the far background.

Palate.

Thick and rich sweet honey. Lots of Chocolate. A little charred oak. Luxurious mouthfeel. Some alcohol nip, and a little chilli heat with the chocolate. The further development comes in a salty ocean wave.

Finish.

Smokey chocolate honeycomb sticks around, with a touch of saltiness to the caramel and chocolate.

Adding Water.

Takes a good slug of water. Everything is thicker on the nose, with more chocolate. The palate is really thick stuff. Tasty. Chewy. Oily and awesome. The finish now has more peat. Lots of lovely lush oils, making the whole experience very smooth and long lasting. Adding more water gives more smoke and introduces some dry fruits into the palate.

Conclusion.

I really enjoyed this dram. Didn’t get a chance to get a full bottle, feel it is slightly overpriced for the age which is what put me off, but if your a Bunna fan, and fancy something very deep and fulfilling then this is great stuff.

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Glenfarclas releases 60 year old stunner!

Glenfarclas 60 Year Old

Matured for these 60 Years in a First Fill Sherry Butt, officially launched at the Nth Whisky Show in Las Vegas – 3rd April 2014 – it has finally been released in Europe.

George Grant (Glenfarclas’ Sales Director and 6th generation of the Grant Family), says:
‘At a time when more and more distilleries are going down the no age statement route for their super premium products, we are delighted to be able to release this magnificent 60 year old Glenfarclas. My grandfather started laying down stocks for the future way back in the 50s, so it is thanks to his incredible foresight that we are able to bottle this today. I’m sure he would have been as impressed by it as I am.

Matured in a first fill sherry butt, it has an incredibly dark, rich mahogany colour. It is surprisingly vibrant with lots of dried fruits, demerara sugar and spice coming through on the nose as well as the rich, oaky tannins that one would expect from a whisky of this venerable age. The sherry influence really comes through on the palate, with rich treacle, bitter coffee and espresso notes all making an appearance. The finish is the longest I have ever experienced – 20 minutes later you will still be able to taste the subtle nuances of this incredible dram.’

The packaging is reflective of the spirit inside – a bespoke cut crystal decanter mirrors the shape of the classic Glenfarclas bottle while each side of the hexagonal presentation box represents one of the 6 generations of the Grant family to own and manage the distillery since 1865.

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This is exactly the kind of dram I am desperately hoping to try at the upcoming Whisky Show at London’s Vinopolis in October. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, if you have the odd 15k hanging around, Glenfarclas 60 Year old is available at Whisky Galore at The Green Welly Stop

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Whisky Review – The One Blend (Lakes Distillery)

The One Blend (Lakes Distillery)
40% ABV
£29.95 at MasterOfMalt

The One blend is the first release from The Lakes Distillery in Cumbria. It is a blend of whiskies from all of the British isles.

Nose.

Immediately a smokey influenced blend. The smoke being quite a balanced mix of medicinal peat and bonfire smoke. Floral and honey in abundance join in with the smoking nose. With vanilla, pepper and some dry dark fruits in the mix. There are some complex spices in the background, cinnamon and star anise. Liquorice root. All the way through is a dry treacle sweetness.

Palate.

Sweet, spicy arrival. Honey, peat, pepper and a pinch of chilli heat comes forward. Development moves into thicker honey and toffee notes, continuing a lighter spiciness. Some chewiness accompanies the continuing honey fudge factory, a touch of floral, and tiny touch of wood sour. With time, this dram becomes very creamy on the palate, very quaffable.

Finish.

Sweet, treacle, honey, toffee fudge. A slight oaky drying bitterness towards the end of the medium finish. Dry, smoke and treacle toffee is left behind at the very end.

Adding water.

Only the tiniest drop added. The nose is now more floral with the smoke reduced. The palate whilst very similar undiluted now doesn’t have so much of the wood sour and bitterness in the finish. It is drier though, so it’s a trade off of one for another. Personally I prefer this Whisky without water as it has more of a substantial flavour throughout without dilution.

Conclusion.

A very competent and easy sipping pleasant blend. I can quite happily chill out to this as a session dram, tasty and mouth pleasing.

Much thanks to The Lakes Distillery for the sample, great stuff. Keep up the good work, good luck with the development, and hope to revisit very soon. 🙂

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