Whisky Review – Clynelish 14 year old

Clynelish 14 year old
46% ABV
£37.45 from MasterOfMalt

Another standard bottling to fill in a gap in the supermarket regular malts. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while as I’ve tried a few independent Clynelish bottlings at whisky shows and always enjoyed them. This is a first for the standard official bottling for me.

Curiously bottled at 46% you would presume this maybe non-chill filtered, but there is nothing on the bottle/box to clarify this. Therefore I’m not putting it on the review. I’d love an official comment to clarify if this is NCF though.

Nose.

A deep floral concentrated, fruity complex nose. Orange blossom. Vanilla. Rich toffee. Citrus, lemon and orange juice. Sponge cake. Light oak spices. Aniseed. Malt cereal and biscuit. A little coconut. It’s a really lovely nose you can spend absolutely ages getting off of.

Palate.

Sweet and sour arrival. Some saltiness. Bitter citrus and honey, developing into chewier toffee, a slight alcohol nip, then more vanilla comes forward and some sponge cake, with some light jamminess.

Finish.

Medium. Some pepper spices, oak, a touch of bitter dry treacle. Drying out nicely with touches of oak and sawdust.

Adding water.

A few drops added. The nose is now slightly less juicy, more floral with some added strength to the spices. The palate is lighter in the mouthfeel, but has more of the juices now, with a very nice spicy fruit chutney development, the finish is fruitier and spicier and is absolutely lovely! One to add some drops too but not a lot.

Conclusion

The nose is absolutely wonderful, let down slightly with a less complex palate, and a few bitter notes. With water it becomes a very nice whisky indeed, one I would recommend to a whisky drinker who has passed their introductions to single malts and want a little more of a challenge with their malt journey.

From my own stash

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Whisky Review – Oban 14 year old

Oban 14 year old
43% ABV
£42.90 available from Whisky Galore at the Green Welly Stop

Filling in some gaps in my general supermarket available malts, and Oban is one of those. Long past time I tasted and reviewed it. On first opening this bottle I have to say I was not impressed. It was very sweet and one dimensional. It needed a number of days and a touch of air to get its act together. A great example of not judging a whisky on its first sniff/sip.

Nose.

Heather honey sweet. Wood char and slight damp dunnage warehouse. Touches of ozone, sea air, light salt. Airy, clean and fresh. Stewed cooking apple. Grape juice. Cinnamon. Some oak. Clean linen(!). It’s a very light and fresh nose, easily sniffable, nothing stands out or bangs you in the face, it’s one to get into and search for things.

Palate.

Initially sweet in the arrival, light mouthfeel, crisp. In the development some spices come into play, pepper, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon. We have the apple infused honey from the nose, some sweet toffee, a touch of chocolate, a little floral, and a little charred oak. It’s very gentle all the way through. Very pleasant, non offensive, reasonably complex, but with nothing standing out.

Finish.

Medium, light finish. Sweet honey, touch of apple/grape juice and some pepper. A touch of oak. It’s actually quite a long finish, but non abrasive with no particular flavour dominating. Gentle.

Adding water.

Tiny drop, this feels well diluted as it is. The nose is now thoroughly concentrated on the floral aspects, with a little fruit juice remaining. The palate, weaker, and has introduced a slight salty bitterness during the development. The finish has retained this saltiness, and added a little vanilla ice cream. Hmmm, it’s a strange one as to add water or not, on one hand it is weakened, but the bitter touches can be somewhat nice and the finish is a little different now. Try with and without and make your own mind up on this one, I wouldn’t add too much though. Personally I prefer overall without.

Conclusion

This is a very gentile single malt. Has some nice maritime characteristics, but all the time nothing really stands out about this whisky. It’s an easy enough drinker and if you want something light and mellow at the pub, this is the whisky of choice.

From my own stash

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Whisky Review – Rock Oyster (Douglas Laing)

Rock Oyster (Douglas Laing)
46.8% ABV
Non Chill Filtered
No added colouring
£35.95 from Whisky Galore at the Green Welly Stop.

This is the latest exciting Malted blend release from the Douglas Laing camp. Following in the footsteps of Big Peat (Islay), Scallywag (Speyside) and Timorous Beastie (Highlands), comes Rock Oyster, a malt blend of whiskies from the Islands of Scotland. I can’t bear to hanging around to say more. Let’s taste.

Nose.

Initial thoughts of salted caramel. Some iodine. Some tcp. Light smoke. Sea air. Seaweed. Shellfish (I don’t wanna say oyster, but!). There’s a youth in the nose, but it carries very nicely giving a fresh airiness to the experience. Heather. Earth. Moss. Sweet wet grass. Really fresh, coastal and airy! In the way that it transports me to the south coast! Lovely lovely stuff.

Palate.

The arrival is sweet and salty. Sugared and salted popcorn. Development moves into sweet peat, earthy moss, all the time remaining very crisp and clean. Lots of runny caramel, salt and sugar. Development then gets more peat sweet, with grass and hay notes. Clean and crisp. A lovely oily mouthfeel! Beautiful.

Finish.

Medium to long length finish. Sweet peat smoke, light ash. Caramel, salt sugar. Touches of popcorn. Lovely stuff. Really easily drinkable.

Adding water.

Not got much left, so the slightest drop. The nose now has more smokey spice. The maritime notes haven’t been touched, but we have some added heather honey to the mix. The palate is slightly biased towards the sweetness now. But still sea sir goodness through and through. The finish is salted sweet caramel goodness.

Conclusion.

Fantastic stuff. Fans of Islay and island maritime drama will adore this (as I do). An exceptionally constructed and drinkable dram. Fresh, complex and tasty. Love it. Highly recommended to those who love their drams salty and earthy.

Thanks to Douglas Laing Co. for the review sample.

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Whisky Review – Aultmore 25 year old

Aultmore 25 year old
46% ABV
Non Chill Filtered
No Added Colouring
£296 from The Whisky Exchange

Nose.

Wow. Soft, elegant. Toffee encrusted popcorn. Rich, burnt vanilla. Some charred oak. Stewed and mashed spiced apples. The age is very evident. There’s a definitive dunnage warehouse feel of old oak and that familiar damp brilliance that you will only know from a traditional dunnage warehouse. Some beautiful floral rounds things off. Lovely stuff. I could sniff this all day. It’s one of those noses that makes me think perfume should be made like this. With time in the glass we get more age. Dusty stately homes with polished mahogany.

Palate.

Loads of spicy stewed fruits in the arrival. Dark fruit jams. Black currents and berries. Raisin. A deep toffee chocolatey edge as well. Clove spice and oak. Still quite lively in the alcohol spicy burn, but there are such depths of flavour that makes the age very apparent. Development continues into some earthy dusty oak char.

Finish.

Long length. Dusty. Rich toffee. Aged oak. Very rich, dark fruits, thick jamminess going on. Some charred oak and cocoa dust.

Adding water.

Very minute drops! The nose has, yes, more floral elements, retracting slightly from the original magnificence, there is some additional chocolate notes now. The palate does have some very forward milk chocolate notes, still heavy on the chewy toffee and caramel, in fact it has practically become a Cadbury’s Carmel egg (original chocolate, not hat ever Kraft has done with the chocolate shell – don’t start me). The finish is continuing the theme with heavy milk chocolate and some soft caramel. Lovely stuff. Small water on this dram. If in doubt. Don’t risk it. The rewards are worth the experimentation with the tail of your dram though!

Conclusion and comparison (12yo, 21yo & 25yo)

First off again. I MUST commend Aultmore for their craft presentation. 46%. Non chill filtered. No added colouring. These are basic traits that should be a part of every whisky, but are not. Every distillery who releases their products should be applauded.

So, in conclusion. For the most complex and intriguing experience there is no doubt but to go for the 25 year old, it’s really fabulous stuff. But it comes with that price tag, so it’s a matter of if you can afford it. And I have to say the 21 year old is rocking as well, but again on the expensive (but could be worse) side of things. The 12 year old is my personal pick though. It’s still a little expensive for a 12 year old whisky, but it is lovely, and with a splash of water, it’s really excellent, beautiful experience.

Many thanks to Aultmore for the review sample

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Whisky Review – Aultmore 21 year old

Aultmore 21 year old
46% ABV
Non Chill Filtered
No Added Colouring
~£125 from Duty Free around the world

Nose.

Similar to the 12 year old. The yeasty bread has gone though with the added age. Fresh apples, although now slightly sweetened and boiled. Vanilla. Raw sugar cane. Some rum like qualities. A softer, yet more complex nose. Some furniture polish. Varnished wood. A touch of rum and raisin ice cream. Clove is more evident, but gentle, Integrated. Lovely age to this nose. Very nice indeed.

Palate.

Sweet, thick arrival. Chewy caramel and treacle toffee. Development moves into the stewed fruits and dried raisin area. Some polished oak, tobacco and some burnt chocolate brioche. There’s a pastry note to this whisky as well, with some malted cereal and caramel biscuit (the kind you get with coffee at some restuarant/hotels) notes, fascinating stuff.

Finish.

A lovely, polished oak, long length finish. With some dried fruits, toffee and chocolate, drying out with some old oak notes.

Adding water.

Just a few drops, not many. On the nose we have more floral, some of the age has diminished a little, but then there is a lovely integration of age and flavour. On the palate we have loads of fruit, slightly softened, with a little youth coming through and a touch of bread/pastry, amongst this is lots of jammy fruits and a great feelgood element. The finish has more wood spice. This is worth adding a drop of water, but be very careful not to add too much.

Conclusion and comparison (12yo, 21yo & 25yo)

First off again. I MUST commend Aultmore for their craft presentation. 46%. Non chill filtered. No added colouring. These are basic traits that should be a part of every whisky, but are not. Every distillery who releases their products should be applauded.

So, in conclusion. For the most complex and intriguing experience there is no doubt but to go for the 25 year old, it’s really fabulous stuff. But it comes with that price tag, so it’s a matter of if you can afford it. And I have to say the 21 year old is rocking as well, but again on the expensive (but could be worse) side of things. The 12 year old is my personal pick though. It’s still a little expensive for a 12 year old whisky, but it is lovely, and with a splash of water, it’s really excellent, beautiful experience.

Many thanks to Aultmore for the review sample

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Whisky Review – Aultmore 12 year old

Aultmore 12 year old
46% ABV
Non Chill Filtered
No Added Colouring
£41.95 from The Whisky Exchange

Nose.

Clean and fresh. Crisp apples. Sweet barley. There’s a yeasty ale note to this nose. Bread rising. Some pears. Light oak spices. Cinnamon. Tiny hint of clove. Lemon drops (boiled sweets). Creamy custard. Vanilla. A nicely complex yet clean nose.

Palate.

Clean and crisp goes onto the palate theme as well. The arrival is sweet and sour. Development moves into a little alcohol spicy warmth, settles into fruit salad (apples & pears, touch of citrus), with some watered down custard. Vanilla. Touch of cinnamon and pepper spices. A little oak in the late development, along with earthy moss.

Finish.

Light and damp mossy grass like qualities hang around for a medium length finish. With some cereal grain and vanilla cream. Dry at the very end with a touch of oak.

Adding water.

A few drops added into the mix. Still a very crisp and clean nose on this one, with some added floral and moss now. The palate reflects this. Replacing the alcohol hit with some really chewy vanilla toffee and fudge effects, a little water goes a long way in this dram. The finish seems a little longer to me, continuing those toffee/fudge notes ending in a pleasant bitter toffee which does make you want more. Go for water on this dram.

Conclusion and comparison (12yo, 21yo & 25yo)

First off again. I MUST commend Aultmore for their craft presentation. 46%. Non chill filtered. No added colouring. These are basic traits that should be a part of every whisky, but are not. Every distillery who releases their products should be applauded.

So, in conclusion. For the most complex and intriguing experience there is no doubt but to go for the 25 year old, it’s really fabulous stuff. But it comes with that price tag, so it’s a matter of if you can afford it. And I have to say the 21 year old is rocking as well, but again on the expensive (but could be worse) side of things. The 12 year old is my personal pick though. It’s still a little expensive for a 12 year old whisky, but it is lovely, and with a splash of water, it’s really excellent, beautiful experience.

Many thanks to Aultmore for the review sample

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Whisky Review – Glenmorangie Tùsail

Glenmorangie Tùsail
46% ABV
Non Chill Filtered
~£75.95 from specialist whisky suppliers.

Tùsail (Scots Gaelic for originary) is the latest bottling in the Private Edition range from Glenmorangie, is created using a rarer breed of barley known as Maris Otter. This barley tends to have a lesser alcohol yield than more traditional barleys used in whisky production. Maris Otter is used quite frequently in the production of ale. The winter barley being traditionally floor malted at Glenmorangie.

Nose.

Light, clean, fresh fruit nose. Nearly ripe banana. Citrus oil. Sweet shop sugar based sweeties. Sweet cigarettes. Refresher fruit chews. Light pineapple. Touches of pear drops. Powdered sugar. Some hot cinnamon spice if you get your nose in too deep. Some toffee and honey notes in the background with whiffs of floral. This is a very fresh fruit dominated nose.

Palate.

An initial soft sweet arrival, getting more vigorous into the development, with a little salt, some pepper spice, and alcohol heat, subsiding quite quickly to reveal thick, gentle fruit flavours. The mouthfeel is oily and thick. We have lots of thick barley maltiness, dry in the development, quite nutty, with walnut skins coming to mind. Some chewy malted barley notes and subtle citrus fruits.

Finish.

The nuttiness remains with some sugar sweetness returning, then a mainly dry finish, with continuing nuttiness, wood spices, pencil shavings and pear skin.

Adding water.

A few drops added to my rapidly disappearing dram. There is little change in the nose, possibly a little more spice up front, with the fruit still dominating nicely. This is a very fruity, juicy nose which I do like a lot. There is a touch more of the powdery sugar confectionary on the nose now. On the palate we have a more refined, constant gradual experience, fruit moving through the development more, but with still a nutty overtone. The finish retains a little of the fruit, and is still drying and nutty, with some added toffee, almost like a nut brittle bar.

Conclusion

A unique dram, I’ve not tasted anything like this before. The nose is fabulous, with lots of fruity goodness. The fruits are more slight on the palate, and a very different nuttier experience is had, the likes of which I hadn’t experienced before. It’s truly a unique barley.

This is going to be a very popular whisky being of the highly acclaimed Private Edition range from Glenmorangie. If you’re buying, for collection or enjoyment, I suggest a quick move would be needed. These things tend to sell out quickly!

Thanks to Glenmorangie for the review sample.

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Whisky Review – Port Charlotte PC12 Oileanach Furachail (Bruichladdich)

Port Charlotte PC12 Oileanach Furachail (Bruichladdich)
58.7% ABV
Non Chill Filtered
No added Colouring
~£110 available from Airports

Port Charlotte PC12 is the latest in the yearly releases from Port Charlotte. It’s another Travel Exclusive, which has give me a little frustration from my personal point of view, not being a frequent flier, but if you are going through duty free and see one. Check it out! Here’s my thoughts.

Nose.

Now that is a meaty nose. Beefy. Oily. Rich. There’s a fair proportion of dark fruits from sherry maturation, but this hasn’t overwhelmed a deep, complex spirit. The smoke is more gentle than we’re used to from younger Port Charlotte’s. It’s gentle, a combination of bonfire and medicinal peat smoke, with some floral thrown in. Considering the near 60% strength it’s easy to get the nose in amongst the glass. We have moss, damp hay and some dunnage warehouse. With some added time we have touches of menthol. Vanilla, overripe melon, a smidge of orange and some pear. Very complex. Evolving quite significantly as I’m nosing it. Time will unlock more and more of the complexities.

Palate.

Initially a blast of sweet and sour. Develops to sweet and rich. Earthy moss and smoke. Buckets of deep fruits, blackberry, raisin, melon, stewed berries and various jams. Crikey. It’s late 58.7%, that’s dangerously drinkable at full strength. Development further evolves into fruit and cream, with some thick honey, and floral heather. the mouthfeel is sublime, oily and coating all around.

Finish.

Very long smokey as anything. This is where the smoke kicks in and retains added flavour, and sooooo long. Honey, toffee, some, smouldering heather. Then dirty mossy earth. Then…oh, I’m sipping again…warmth is in the chest, and the sweetness on the tongue remains. I could get really soppy with my comparisons now but I won’t, let’s just say it gets me right here *thumps at chest*

Adding water.

Better do the water thing because I am loosing track of the dram and there isn’t a lot left. Few drops added. Oh my. The nose has opened up to give more bonfire smoke, some added dust to the dunnage, the fruits are more forest based and vibrant. There is an added creaminess in the background of the nose now. Deep. So much going on here. Amazing. The palate is sweeter straight from the off, development gets smokier, the mouthfeel still very oily, some added grass and moss in the development, with the finish retaining lots of that smoke and fruit. With or without. Well, there is quite the difference, but this dram is very special neat. Horses for courses on the water debate with this one, try both then stick with the one you prefer. Personally….I can’t decide yet…need more!

Conclusion.

This is a dram to loose time to. I maybe in the south west, but it is blowing a gale tonight and it’s bloody freezing in that wind, and this dram hits all the spots. In truth it would hit the spot any night. It’s rich, very well constructed, tastes glorious and gives an amazing feelgood factor. Considering the relative young age of the whisky, this has an awesome amount of complexity. It’s not a cheap bottle for sure, but this isn’t for glugging back, this is a savouring dram, a time taker, a life enhancer.

Thanks to Bruichladdich for providing a review sample. Now I’m going to have to get on a plane. :-/

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Coming Soon – ‘Rock Oyster’ blended malt from Douglas Laing

ANNOUNCING THE LAUNCH OF
“ROCK OYSTER”
A MARITIME BLEND OF ONLY MALT SCOTCH WHISKY FROM DOUGLAS LAING

With nearly seven decades experience in the Scotch Whisky industry, leading independent Scotch Whisky specialist, Douglas Laing & Co today announce the release of their brand new Island inspired “Vatted” Malt – Rock Oyster.

Prise open a rock oyster and you’ll be lucky indeed to find a pearl. The real treasure though is the hidden, tasty delicacy inside, rich with the flavours of the sea.

Bottled at 46.8% alcohol strength and traditionally without colouring or chill-filtration, this Small Batch bottling has a truly maritime and oceanic character of sea-salt, sweet peat, smoke, honey and pepper.

Much attention and consideration was spent creating the packaging which features a bespoke illustration of both an oyster, and a nautical scene, while telling the story of this seafaring spirit.

Paying homage the sea, Douglas Laing’s Rock Oyster is a Small Batch bottling created using the finest maritime Malts including those distilled on the rightly esteemed Islands of Jura, Islay, Arran and Orkney.

Says Douglas Laing’s Managing Director Fred Laing: “Rock Oyster showcases the archetypal Island character of gentle peat-smoke, vanilla’d honey and salt. If I could select just one dram to transport the Whisky enthusiast to the Islands of Scotland, it would be this one. Rock Oyster will sit proudly alongside our other core regionally themed Vatted Malts – Big Peat from Islay, Scallywag from Speyside and Timorous Beastie from the Highlands – hopefully contributing to Douglas Laing’s continued growth.”

Douglas Laing’s Rock Oyster will be available from specialist Whisky retailers from January 2015.

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Whisky Review – SMWS 4.194 Lip-Smacking and Mouth-Puckering (Highland Park)

SMWS 4.194 Lip-Smacking and Mouth-Puckering
Distillery – Highland Park
Maturation – refill ex-bourbon cask
Distill date – 30th November 1995
Age – 18 years old
60 bottles
53.3% ABV
Non Chill Filtered
No Added Colouring
~£70 from SMWS – now sold out.


Nose.

Sweet pine trees. Pear drops. Acetone. Newly painted statues (this reference coming from the first time you open the packaging of a statue of a geeky origin, for me, new Star Wars statues/mini busts!). Leather. Sweet liquorice. Clove. Cinnamon. Sticky sweet chilli sauce. Oranges. Fresh crisp apple. Pear drops. There’s touches of ozone, fresh sea air and a light nuttiness. Very complex and explorable.

Palate.

Intensively sweet, sweet shop confectionary rings out, some melted chocolate, oranges, toffee. There is very little alcohol burn, it’s very palatable at full strength. In the development we have honey, some chewy toffee. Later in the development we have peat smoke coming through. While this sounds very similar to other drams, the experience is something else, it ‘feels’ quality. This is a very very intense feelgood dram.

Finish.

Long, developing sweetness, chest hugging warmth. Toffee, a touch of peat smoke and earthiness. Slowly drying out with a touch of oak char. I’m finding things a little speechless this feels so damn good. Utterly beautiful, just an amazing experience of a dram.

Adding water.

A few drops added. On the nose we have floral now. Lots of heather. Parma violet sweeties. More leather. A touch of pipe tobacco. Polished oak. Some wood char. On the palate we have refined delicacy, so well balanced, sweet, light smoke, so many sweeties, gentle spice, chewy honey, creamy vanilla ice cream, a touch of oak. The finish goes on for an age and is low down in the chest warming, calming, gorgeous stuff.

Conclusion.

I’m finding this one difficult to express. It’s amazing stuff. Such balance and finesse. I don’t know how to express how much I flipping love this. Other than saying that obviously! Ok, in summary. This makes me HAPPY!

My own bottle

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