Whisky Review – Hudson Four Grain Bourbon

Hudson Four Grain Bourbon
46% ABV
£40.96 from Master of Malt (35cl bottle) 
  
Something a little different here. Made with corn, rye, wheat and malted barley, this is a 4-grain bourbon from Tuthilltown Spirits, producers of the first legal pot-still whiskey in New York since prohibition!  My review sample is from batch E7 from 2014, bottle number 3660!

Nose.
Sweet vanilla and clove spice takes the front, but there is some complexity here from the varying grains used. Some yeasty bread dough. Rye bread. Cherry stones. Hints of real ale. Stewed Apple pie. Wood glue. Acetone (nail varnish remover!). Something old and musty, almost dunnage warehouse, but with more paper products. It actually reminds me of a good old comic shop with shed loads of back issues!!! It is a very funky and unique mix mash of a nasal conundrum. 
Palate.
Immediate sweet vanilla. Medicinal, cough drops. Cherry throat lozenges. Intensive spiciness, cloves, pepper, ginger, but softened with the vanilla. Oak, sawdust and a touch of intriguing mustiness. Touches of menthol. Oak char. Some light chocolate and rich toffee. Then late development brings some oddness in additional complexity, heavy rye spiciness, some vegetal notes, almost mushroom like, with stripped bark oakiness. 
Finish.
Big spices and some soft vanilla remains for a long length finish. Some more acetone, continuing a musty vegetal theme, with some more rye and different spicy oak. Odd, unique and fascinating. 
Adding water.
A couple of drops added. Water has quite the effect on this whiskey, calming down the spicy elements and also dulling things quite a bit. Much of the complexity is lost and it is a more basic set of dusty, oaky, vanilla, chocolate aroma. The palate still has quite a bit going for it, with some complex spices and oak, but isn’t as sweet or appealing in the arrival.  The finish is also a diluted experience now. I wouldn’t water this one again. 
Conclusion. 
This is a whiskey I wouldn’t normally think to purchase, and I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to try it. It’s different.  Very different, in a good way. Lots of unusual aroma and taste experiences to have here. I can understand how this wouldn’t be for everyone though, and at around £40 for half a bottle it is quite the luxury to try out.  If you are a bourbon/rye fan, or a fan of the more unorthodox and complex whiskies, I would say this is well worth a try. Complex, unique and unusual.
Much thanks to Hudson for the review sample. 
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New release – Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2015

I can’t wait. This is always a favourite release of mine.

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PR release as follows:

This is a landmark year for us at Kilchoman, our 10th anniversary year! Back in 2005 our first cask was filled and now, 10 years on, we have many more maturing away in the warehouse. There will be a few celebrations going on throughout the year and will be letting you know all about them soon..

Our first release of the year is the latest edition of Loch Gorm. Loch Gorm 2015 is being bottled as we speak and will be released on Monday 23rd of March at 10am – RRP £63.00.

Only a limited quantity of this exclusive bottling will be available and if past releases are anything to go by, it will sell quickly. This is the third annual Loch Gorm to be released and each release is differentiated by the distillation and bottling dates on the front of the bottle and gift carton.

The Loch Gorm releases are traditionally matured in ex Oloroso sherry butts and this latest edition is no exception. Where the 2015 version differs from the previous year is the use of sherry hogsheads to mature a portion of the whisky rather than just sherry butts. This edition will also be marginally older than the five year old 2014 version, it being bottled from casks filled in both 2009 and 2010.

Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills said: “As well as this year’s release being slightly older, we decided to increase the ratio of single malt matured in smaller sherry hogsheads versus that matured in larger sherry butts. This increases the influence from the sherry casks and gives the whisky a striking intensity and richness. That said, the whisky retains the balance and complexity Kilchoman releases are well-known for.”

Whisky Review – Tomatin Cask Strength

Tomatin Cask Strength
58.5% ABV
Non Chill Filtered
No Added Colouring
£44.99 when available 
This Cask Strength Tomatin is now added to the core range, and quite frankly something that had been missing.  I’m very pleased to see Tomatin taking this move and can’t wait to try it. Each batch will be around 15000 bottles. Again. Enough waiting already. Taste time. 

Nose.
Closed initially. Fresh bread dough. Quite spicy, with white pepper. Some pine and cedar wood. It has some nuttiness, walnuts. Requires some time in the glass most definitely. More sweetness is coming through, citrus fruits and some brown sugar. Another 10 minutes in the glass and things are starting to wake up. Lemon peel and juice. Light pine wood. There’s a yeasty dough, like bread rising. Some real ale notes. Some sweet toasted caramel. Background sherry notes, some light raisin. Some dusty whisky warehouses. Also fresh herbal notes, parsley. Fascinating, complex stuff. 
Palate.
The arrival is sweet and sour with some immediate sherried fruits. The high ABV hits, but isn’t as destructive as I thought it would be, quickly subsides, and we have a very fruity dram going on. Juicy oranges and lemons. Some thick chewy toffee. The mouth feel is costing and glorious. Syrupy goodness with caramel and some oat cakes. As the development continues we get some drier notes and pleasant bitterness, some burnt toast and vanilla. Also some pencil shavings. Nicely complex and developmental palate. 
Finish.
Reasonably smooth considering the ABV, medium length, dried fruit, drying oak and some herbs, with a spicy peppery undertone. 
Adding water.
Added a small splash. The nose is sweeter, boiled golden syrup sponge cake. Rolled porridge oats. Pine wood. With the fruit going to the background. The palate is sweet, complex fruits, oak and sweet cake mix. Still oh so thick around the mouth. Getting creamier now, more vanilla.  The finish is warming and vibrant with creamier oak and vanillas.  Going to add a dash more water. More vanilla sponge cake and less fruit on the nose, with the palate becoming more creamy, loads of vanilla cake and ice cream, with a side of apple and pear compote. The finish is creamy and light, warming and moreish. Lovely stuff. 
Conclusion. 
This is a fantastic addition to Tomatin’s range. I’m already a big fan of the Legacy, 14 year old port wood and 30 year old, and this is just great stuff. Complex and explorable, this is no quick drink, this is something to experiment with the water levels, take a lot of time and savour.  An essential Tomatin buy. 
Much thanks to Tomatin for the review sample. 

Whisky Review – Tomatin Cù Bòcan Virgin Oak

Tomatin Cù Bòcan Virgin Oak

46% ABV

Non Chill Filtered

No Added Colouring

£49.84 from Master of Malt

This is the third release of Cù Bòcan, Tomatin’s peated single malt expression. This time it has been fully matured in Virgin Oak casks. Limited to only 6000 bottles. Can’t wait, so I’m not going to. Time to taste.

Nose. Lots of crisp lovely lively fruit. Citrus dominates. Lemons, limes, oranges, peel juice and pith. Mostly juice though. Vanilla spice of course, some pepper and cinnamon. Touches of sweet pepper. Hints of spearmint. There is some smoke evident, but merely wisps, more of an oak char. As time goes in the glass we get more toffee and vanilla coming forward. With some confectionary notes, cinder bar. In the background there are more sugary sweet shop curiosities, pineapple cubes, barley sugar & old style boiled sweets. More smoke is coming through now with some frazzled earthy moss.

Palate. Arrival is sweet and immediately sour, acidic like lemon juice, mouth puckering, but in a good way, as this subsides (through the alcohol nip), things goes back to sweet and creamy. Vanilla, fruit sweets, fudge, honey, brown sugar. Custard. The mouthfeel is viscous and coating. A wee touch of the peat comes through at the end of the development.

Finish. Medium length sweet and full of confectionary. Some chocolate intermingled with the vanilla toffee and a hint of smoke and a fair whack of spice.

Adding water. 4-5 drops added in the mix. The nose now has more smoke immediately. Bonfire smoke, still thick with creamy vanilla and fruit. Very much a pudding on the nose. We also have some added floral heather. The palate, now slightly softened from its previous punchlines has more fruit layers, more cream and gentle spiciness. The finish is similarly creamy and relaxed. A tale of two parts here, this is lovely both ways, with and without water. Certainly more of a relaxed and chilled out dram diluted, but really punchy and spicy fresh without water. With more time in the glass notes of desiccated coconut come into the mix.

Conclusion. Brash and punchy on its own, or calming and relaxing with a slash of water. Another beautiful addition to the Cù Bòcan family. It’s dangerous using virgin oak a lot of the time with single malts as it can overpower the spirit, but I think this is not the case with this expression, it’s very well matured. A dram for relaxing away an evening with. Lovely. Much thanks to Tomatin for the review sample.

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Whisky Review – The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve

The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve
40% ABV
£32.00 from Asda


More controversy with this dram. The Glenlivet have discontinued their 12 year old expression in favour of a NAS “Founder’s Reserve”. While one would seem increasing. The retail price just slightly.  Well, whisky is popular, and if I could make more money out of what I do as a day job because of demand, I certainly would! Anyway. Let’s taste it. 
Nose.
Sweet. Very sweet. Toffee in abundance, honey and a touch of milk chocolate. Some stewed apple. Orange. Sweet cinnamon. Light pepper. Very pleasant nose, very Glenlivet. Very straightforwardly appealing. 
Palate.
Sweet orange arrival turning into bitter orange during the development. With some toffee, lots of honey and some pepper spice.  Slightly more spice than I can remember from the 12 year old. 
Finish.
Short. Oranges, spice, drying out with bitter honey. Simple but moreish. 
Adding water.
Now, I remember (it’s why I write reviews) that a drop of water improved the 12. I’m only going to add a drop here and see if we have the same effect. The nose is quite diminished, only the concentration of honey really present now and weaker. The palate is weaker, more immediately bitter toffee, with bitterness really being the theme, and the finish as well, bitter, toffee…don’t water it. Not even a drop!
Conclusion 
From memory this is very very similar to the 12 year old.  A little more alcohol bite in the palate, and a slightly more bitter twang in the finish. Still, it is a very honest and straightforward whisky. As long as you do not dilute It’s an easy drinking, perfectly pleasant and non-offensive whisky. I wouldn’t mind having this as a session whisky, but it’s not one to really think a lot about.  
From memory as well (I really need to open a 12 to confirm) this seems slightly lighter in colour, so I don’t know if they are holding off on the colouring, which isn’t a bad thing. 

Whisky Review – Balvenie 15 Year Old Single Barrel (Sherry Cask)

Balvenie 15 Year Old Single Barrel (Sherry Cask)
47.8% ABV
Non Chill Filtered
£77.80 from MasterOfMalt

Nose.
Yay. Sherry monster time.  Sweet, rich, thick sherried malt nose. Poached pears. Christmas cake. Rum and raisin. Light christmas spices, clove, cinnamon. Loads of Chocolate. Oranges. Hints of cherry.  This monster is heavy on the rich chocolate and fruit cake. There are touches of tropical fruits way in the background. All of which are smothered in melted dark chocolate. 
Palate.
Gentle, rich arrival of chocolate, then a smash of spices hit, pepper, almost chilli chocolate, as the spice subsides we have layer upon layer of sticky fig pudding, chocolate, sherried berries, chocolate, Christmas cake and chocolate. Cloves. Luscious chocolate. Thick honey. Chocolate toffee. Oh yes, the  non-chill filtration is very evident in the mouthfeel, it’s very coating, and thick and chewy.  This is bloody lovely stuff. 
Finish.
Medium length finish. Dry dark chocolate cocoa, dried fruit and spices. Some dusty dark chocolate is left behind, oh and a few crumbs of fruitcake. A little dried pineapple. 
Adding water.
A few drops added, though in honesty I’m loving it as it is. The nose has more of a nuttiness to it now, in conjunction with the previously observed aromas. The palate, has lessoned of the spice, and now has a more seamless arrival to development with tonnes of fruit and chocolate flavours,  possibly a tad less chocolate intensive, and with some nutty dryness late in the development.  The finish is drier, with more fruit and nut coming through. Personally I prefer this dram undiluted, but it does add a variation to try with and without water and make your own mind up, there are pros and cons to both variations. 
Conclusion 
I may have said chocolate too many times, but this is a very chocolatey dram.  With many layers of additional complexities and chewable, so very chewable. This is really top notch stuff. Price wise, it is on the expensive side, but it is very lovely at the same time.  If you like sherried whisky, then this is one of those that should really hit your spot. Cracking dram. Personally preferred without water. 
Thanks to the Balvenie for the official sample

Whisky Review – Monkey Shoulder

Monkey Shoulder
40% ABV
£24.46 from MasterOfMalt

Monkey shoulder is a repetitive strain injury sustained by the malt men who spend their lives turning the malted barley day in and day out. I tried turning malted barley once, I wasn’t very good at it!
It’s also a brand of blended malt whisky.  Coming from the William Grant & Sons camp, this blended malt is made up from Glenfiddich, Balvenie & Kininvie whiskies. 
Nose.
Fresh. We have Apples, stewed and spicy. Cinnamon. Creamy vanilla. Sweet and nicely honeyed malt. With some time we get some pear drops, sherried fruits, sweet liquorice, candied orange peel and touches of oak. This dram does benefit immensely with some air and time to settle down. 
Palate.
Immediately sweet, then spicy arrival. Lots of honey, and runny caramel. The development moves into the spicy fruit areas.  Some sherried berries and apples taking the front, with the sweet cinnamon coming later on, all the while there is a creamy texture. Some oak spice further in the development and a tang of oak. 
Finish.
Short length, honey and spice. Doesn’t stay around too long unfortunately.
Adding water.
I don’t think this will benefit from dilution, but I’ll add a couple of drops in the interest of  interest. The nose is weakened, a touch of floral, but any punch it had is weakened significantly. The water has the same effect on the palate as the nose, weakened, and touches of bitterness in the end development. The finish is watery wi some spice. Don’t add water to this one, it ruins it. 
Conclusion 
A very pleasant blended malt whisky. This is marketed towards more of the mixing and cocktail front of things, but I think it’s a perfectly good session whisky, or a starter for the palate before a tasting.  It would be very interesting to try a older aged version, or a slightly higher ABV version? 🙂 
Thanks to Monkey Shoulder for the official sample.