New Release – Glendronach 8 Year Old The Hielan.

GLENDRONACH LAUNCHES THE HIELAN’, A REMARKABLE 8 YEARS OLD SINGLE MALT

Im a bit of a fan of Glendronach, so learning this news yesterday had me really excited.  As we’re all used to a more sherry dominant dram on the core Glendronach range, Im looking forward how a mix of bourbon and sherry will taste and feel.  Im also particularly pleased that they are sticking with the 46%, no colour, no chill filtration approach.  This is sure to be excellent, engaging fluid.  I can’t wait to review it!

GlenDronach 8YO The Hielan' 2

Official Release follows

AWARD-WINNING GlenDronach is today (May 28, 2015) proud to launch The Hielan’, a stunning new 8 years old Highland single malt from its Forgue, Aberdeenshire, distillery.

This innovative expression, specially selected by Master Blender Billy Walker to complement the distillery’s burgeoning range of outstanding malts, has been lovingly matured and married in a combination of the finest bourbon and sherry casks.

The intriguing name is a heartfelt tip of the hat to the extraordinary Forgue distillery, GlenDronach’s spiritual home in the Highlands and one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries. Founded in 1826 by the inventor, pioneer and entrepreneur James Allardice to produce “the guid GlenDronach”, it has been instrumental in creating some of the world’s finest richly sherried malts.

The 8 years-old The Hielan’ is a phenomenal, fragrant whisky, redolent of spices, sultanas, raisins, butterscotch and sweet sherry. Billy Walker’s tasting notes show this remarkable expression, at 46% vol, is set to become yet another stellar GlenDronach.

Appearance: Amber with a burnished copper glow.

Nose: Rounded waves of orange blossom and a citrus twist flow over buttery, golden sultanas, sundried raisins and ripe yellow plums, all dusted with a touch of vanilla.

Palate: Crisp, vibrant oak spices warm soaked sultanas, apricot jam and gingerbread; all rounded by delicate hints of butterscotch, cocoa and toasted almonds.

Finish: Classic sherry overtones with a contrasting crisp dimension demonstrate the complexity of the traditional Highland character.

GlenDronach’s selection of malts ranges from twelve years through fifteen, eighteen, twenty-one and twenty-four to the Recherché at 44 years old, but there was a gap in the market for an 8 years old to lead into the portfolio.

Its sweet, creamy taste and classic sherry signature tell you immediately it is a very fine GlenDronach, a rich and immensely satisfying dram which delivers in the mouth exactly what it promises on the nose.

For more information, go to www.glendronachdistillery.co.uk

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Whisky Review – Balvenie 17 year old Doublewood

Balvenie 17 year old Doublewood

43% ABV

£81.29 from MasterOfMalt
  


Nose.



Rich and intense sherry spices on first sniff. Breathtakingly intensive. Clove and cinnamon aplenty. Lightly perfumed honey. Fruit laden stollen. Ultra a and apple mixed fruits. Almost mincemeat (as in mince pies not beef!). Some orange peel. Vanilla and Cocoa. With time in the glass there are some fine pipe tobacco notes. And some jelly babies!

Palate.



Sweet apple pie filling. Honey. Toffee. Chocolate. Lots of confectionary. Lovely sweetly fattening. Boiled sweeties. Jelly sweeties. It’s basically a sweet shop. Some spiced coffee. Cinnamon comes through nicely. Very chewy and lush mouthfeel, really is a pleasure to hold on the tongue for a long time. The development goes on and on, and brings cherries, more variation on the chocolate and coffee themes and some zingy spiciness. 

Finish.

Long length spicy finish. Nicely warming, hot cinnamon and clove on the tongue lingers for a while, with cherry sweets (cherry lips) and some nice sherry fruits coming back. Delectable. 

Adding water.

Only a small drop. This does not need it. The spicy intensity has diminished, leaving more floral elements on the nose. Much easier to sniff, and if you like very floral whiskies this will now be more your thing. The palate is more juicy now, Apple juice very much in the front, with the spices put in the background. The sherry influences are also wakened, it’s all about the green fruit juices. The finish is gentle, floral, some fruits, shorter and less of an overall event. If you want event and experience whisky then no water. If you like things softer. Add a drop, but only a small drop. 

Conclusion 

A lovely whisky. Easily drinkable, one to spend hours over any evening after a hard days work. Very enjoyable, and a noticeable upgrade from the 12 year old double wood, an excellent dram in itself, this one just has that extra refinement about it. 

Thanks to the Balvenie for the official sample

Whisky Review – Balvenie 21 year old port wood

Balvenie 21 year old port wood

40% ABV

£125.75 from MasterOfMalt

  

The Balvenie 21 year old Port Wood is also available at duty free, as a non-chill filtered version at 47.6% ABV. The version I’m reviewing here is the 40% standard retail version. 

Nose.

This is a port pipe finished whisky and is quite apparent on the nose. There are lots of initial whiffs of sherry influence with a wrapping of port notes around it. Turkish delight is the first smell that comes to mind. Rose variety, glistening and sugary sweet. There is chocolate. Plump rum drenched raisin. Fruitcake. Touch of dusty warehouses, dunnage like. Cinnamon spice and a hint of clove. There’s some walnut skin nuttiness. And messed inside you have some nice red berry jam. Quite restrained. But there and all the more gorgeous and unique a nose for it. 

Palate.



Warming, gentle sweet, with dry fruit arrival. Pleasant oiliness, nut oil, covering the palate. Clove and cinnamon head the spices with some light liquorice. Lots of fruit complexity as the sherry soaked raisins and the berry jams interchange through the development. Further into the development we have some crushed up chocolate Brazil nuts

Finish.



Medium to long length. The red berries and fruitcake spices diminish into some drier nut skins. Spices stick around the longest with sweet cinnamon finishing. 

Adding water.



I really don’t want to add water. 40% is low enough. But one drop into the remainder of my dram. The nose is now very floral. The fruits quietened by the dilution. Still very pleasant but lost the complexity. The palate has lost some of the mouthfeel. It’s slightly more port focused, with more strawberry than raisin, and the finish isn’t as long or as nutty. Personally I would leave this one well alone and not add anything. 

Conclusion 



This is a delightful dram. Very well matured and married together. It’s very tasty, moreish and delicious. It is a little pricy, and I would prefer to spend the little extra and buy one in duty free at the higher strength and non-chill filtered because if the quality of this one is anything to go by that duty free version is going to be a flipping monster. 

Thanks to the Balvenie for the official sample

Whisky Review – SMWS 3.243 “Dark, smouldering flamenco gypsy” (Bowmore)

SMWS 3.243 “Dark, smouldering flamenco gypsy”
Distillery – Bowmore
Maturation – refill ex-sherry butt
Age – 17 years old
57.1% ABV
Non Chill Filtered
No Added Colouring
£80 (for members)  from SMWS’ Islay Party
£120.99 (non-members – but why aren’t you a member anyway?! :))

  
For the first time, SMWS will be holding their own Islay Festival event on May 22nd at Islay House. This is their special festival bottling for the event. I love a good, late teens sherried Bowmore. Let’s crack on. 
Nose.
Wooooh!  Dark treacle. Sherry. Christmas cake. Salted mackerel. Fishmongers. Sea air. Ozone. Plump rum soaked raisins. Smoke, lots of smoke. Thick bonfire variety. Barbecue sauce. After a little time in the glass. More meaty. Definitely getting some pork produce to go alongside the barbecue. Ribs. Kebabs. Also the slightest touch of floral, trademark Parma violet/lavender. But so slight. Pencil case. A touch of pleasant rubber (from the top of the pencils) Bloody Lovely stuff. 
Palate.
Sweet and sour arrival, extremely thick on the mouthfeel. Liquid silk. Alcohol comes and goes quite quickly, developing into thick rich toffee, chocolate, coffee, sherried dates. Hot cinnamon bun with melted chocolate. Meaty richness and that BBQ sauce coming in. Bonfire ash. Very tasty stuff. 
Finish.
The finish returns in waves, I was going to say medium length but then it came back. Treacle toffee, syrup, sherried fruits, hay, smoke, sea salt, smoke, fruit and meat. Lots of variation and intrigue. 
Adding water.
This is quite the experience undiluted but I’m adding a few drops. The nose has a touch of added floral, the meatiness is very prominent, and while I hate to quote from official tasting notes I have to say that shredded duck and plum sauce does feature quite distinctively, even with a touch of cucumber!  Loads of sherried dark fruits and Christmas spices very present and still a plea of gorgeous thick smoke. The palate has more sherried elements, a nutty dryness reminiscent of great oloroso matured whiskies. The mouthfeel still almighty thick and lush. Still undeniably Bowmore. The finish is longer, fruitier and plain delicious. The after finish is a big wide smile. 
Conclusion. 
Love it. Can’t say much more than I know this will be my first Islay Festival purchase. Bloody beautiful stuff. 
Thanks so much to SMWS for providing the sample. 

Whisky Review – Kininvie Batch 3 23 Year old

Kininvie Batch 3 23 Year old
42.6% ABV
Available for £120.00 From the Whisky Shop
  
Nose.
Initial sniff on first pour. Dried pineapple. Pineapple cube sweeties. Fruit salad chews. Grapefruit. Light oak spices. Very delicately fruity. Not in your face, but gentle. Very easy to get your nose right in there. After some time the fruit notes become more forthcoming and we also get some creamy vanilla and orange juice. There are also some summer berries, jammy and delicious. This is an exceptionally juicy, fruity nose. 
Palate.
The arrival is fruity and spicy. Quite the bite of pepper and chilli in front of the juices of pineapple, orange and red apples. The mouthfeel is reasonably oily and very coating with intensive spicy fruit flavour. Once the spices calm the flavour develops to contain even more waxy fruit, a summer fruit salad bowl brimming with juices. Some creamy vanilla custard and oak tannins round things off. 
Finish.
Spices return and creamy vanilla remain, while the flavours dry out to reveal some oak dust and dried pineapple. A medium-long length duration. 
Adding water.
The smallest drop added. The fruits now have some added intensity on the nose and a touch of added powdered sugar. The palate is less spicy during the arrival, with mountains of fruit juice complexity with some delightful sugars and some oak juices and spices. The palate is more waxy diluted.  The finish is slightly shortened and drier with a little less complexity and more oak. 
Conclusion. 
Considering the 23 years of age this whisky still has a lot of spirit driven action. It is very fruity and enjoyable. It is somewhat expensive at £120 for a half bottle though. And while I am thoroughly enjoying this dram, I’m finding it a little difficult to justify the price if I were going to buy one. I suppose a lottery win, or for a special occasion I could easily be swayed. 
Thanks to the Whisky Shop’s W club for providing the sample. 

Whisky Review – Blair Athol 18 year – Old Malt Cask

Blair Athol 18 year – Old Malt Cask
50% ABV
Non-Chill Filtered
No added colouring
Available for £100.00 From the Whisky Shop
  
Nose.
On first sniff old sherry oak. Polish and dusty wooden furniture. This nose has a dusty intensity of fine pepper. Breathtaking. Vanilla. Varnish. Acetone. Pear drops. Stewed pears. Boiling Strawberry jam that’s just about to burn. Cigarette smoke. Heavy oak char. After a little time in the glass the fruity berry jam notes take over. Strawberry & blackberry, with a touch of underripe banana and orange. Spicy pepper and vanilla spices. Old oak and some wood glue. 
Palate.
Immediately very sweet. Boiled sweets. Quickly the alcohol and spices jump in, but always remains very very sweet with a touch of wood sour. Then we have lots of creamy vanilla, buttery rich and very nicely textured. Lots of spices continue through the development. Pepper and borderline chilli heat. Bracing. 
Finish.
Medium-long length finish. Fruit juices and oak remain, fading to leave some wood and dried fruits. With a hot bitterness left behind. 
Adding water.
Adding a splash, think this will take water well. The nose has a softer ginger concentration now. Some sweet pepper relish and chilli jam. The fruit jam notes more well defined where the dilution has cut through the heavier spices. The palate is now far more accessible, fruits are richer, with some added cherries, toffee and runny honey. The finish is sweeter and feels longer, with the sweetness carrying through with a touch of cocoa as the oak notes dry out at the end. 
Conclusion. 
This is a flavoursome dram, but quite difficult to drop strait into. It needs water and time in the glass to develop and calm down. It’s quite a beast without patience so this could put some people off. 
Thanks to the Whisky Shop’s W club for providing the sample. 

Whisky Review – Arran 16 year – Old Malt Cask

Arran 16 year – Old Malt Cask
50% ABV
Non-Chill Filtered
No added colouring
Available for £100 From the Whisky Shop
  
Nose.
Sweetness and spice on first sniff. Lots of confectionary sugar and sweet shops. Lemon oil. Sherbert. Hints of vanilla. Cracked black pepper. Some fresh ginger. Some sweet liquorice. Touches of mint. A little sage. Some green pine. It gets more herbal, with a greater oak presence as time goes by. More time in the glass and the sweet shop sweetness comes back in the forefront. More time and we have elements of milk chocolate. 
Palate.
Sweet arrival, with some chilli and ginger spice interwoven around the sweet icing sugar, citrus juices and root liquorice. There are some similar herbal elements as with the nose. Touches of cress and hay. With added time and sips, some chocolate comes forward, fry’s chocolate cream bars. Some spiced caramel. A very complex and challenging palate. 
Finish.
Medium to long length. Some spicy liquorice, ginger and green peppers initially with a little saccharine. Some drying oak.  The sweet sugar and herbal notes hang around for a very long time in the back of the mouth. 
Adding water.
Few drops added. The nose is richer, sweeter. Lots of thick honey and toffee now. The sugar has lost the lightness and really developed into a boiled up thick syrup dram. Spices are lighter, it’s more about the thick sugary treats. The palate is very rich, sweet, fattening, chocolate, caramel, honey, some herbal elements remain right in the background. The finish, again, sweet as, and longer. With some drying out oak and herbal greens. Sage and cress again.  A few more drops of water and some more time in the glass and we have more herbal elements in the forefront again. The palate becomes something extra special with the herbal elements back and intermingling with the rich sweetness. Ever changing and so complex. 
Conclusion. 
A good, solid and complex Arran. Very sweet initially but has some herbal and spicy complexity which makes this a dram to spend a lot of time overs not the dram for a beginner. This needs time, patience and work. Spend lots of time over this whisky and it will reward you in droves. 
Thanks to the Whisky Shop’s W club for providing the sample. 

Whisky Review – Highland Park Dark Origins. 

Highland Park Dark Origins. 
46.8% ABV
Non-Chill Filtered
No added colouring
Available for £64.82 from Master of Malt
  
Dark Origins is a heavier sherried no aged statement whisky from Highland Park recently added to their core range. It has a higher percentage of first fill sherry casks (80% first fill, 20% refill) making up its mix (60% first fill European oak, 20% American first fill Oak). The result should be a bit of a sherry beast. Let’s find out. 
Nose.
Sweet sultanas and squashed juicy plums. Rum drenched fruitcake. Raisin. Cherry. Heavily sherried as expected. Lots of fattening aromas of chocolate, cake and all that goodness. There is some charred oak in the background. Burnt coffee. Light cloves and pepper spices. It is a sherry monster on the nose for sure, possibly even too much, as there isn’t an awful lot of Highland Park about it. 
Palate.
Sherry sweet arrival, bites of ginger and clove, juicy development, with a lovely mouthfeel coating everywhere. More fruitcake, molasses, cocktail cherries, coffee, chocolate, burnt caramel, spicy waves run back and forth through the development. Lots of tasty sherry notes continue all the way through. With hints of nuttiness later on. 
Finish.
Lots of chocolate, cherry and rum fruitcake flow for a medium length finish. A tiny touch of sherry soaked charred oak remains at the very end. 
Adding water.
Little splash in the glass. Ooo, interesting. Some additional peat smoke is coming into the nose now, the water seems to have awoken the Highland Park spirit a little. The sherry notes are sweeter and lighter now. The palate is less oily, still has a beautiful development of sweet to spicy and back and forth. Lots of flavour, but not quite as rich as undiluted. The finish is spicier, with a little more oak smokiness. It’s a tale of two halves with if you should add water or not in my opinion. So I would try both. 
Conclusion. 
This is a lovely little sherry monster, it’s got a lot of nice character about it and is good to play around with water. Being perfectly honest I don’t think it’s very characterful of Highland Park, but it is a smashing sherry monster and admittedly have bought a bottle of. 
Thanks to the Whisky Shop’s W club for providing the sample. 

Whisky Review – Compass Box Hedonism Quindecimus

Compass Box Hedonism Quindecimus
46% ABV
Non-Chill Filtered
No added colouring
Available for £128 from Master of Malt
  
Here’s the recipe for this blended grain goodness:
  • 17.6% North British 20yo from first-fill American standard barrels
  • 36.6% Port Dundas 25yo from rejuvenated hogsheads
  • 8.4% Dumbarton 28yo from American standard barrels
  • 19.4% Port Dundas 20yo from first-fill American standard barrels
  • 18% 32yo Loch Lomond mystery blended grain from American standard barrels
Nose.
Rich, buttery and intense. Lots of polished oak and varnish. Lots of toffee, honey. Buttered toast. Some sweet lemon citrus. A touch of tangy citrus as well. Darker fruits are present in a boiled down, sugared jam fashion. With touches of marmalade. Coconut is also hanging around, some sweet tobacco. A little chocolate. Pepper and cloves. Even a touch of fruitcake. Wonderfully complex. Beautiful. 
Palate.
Coconut flesh sweetness and vanilla is the immediate arrival, a touch of alcohol nip, quickly subsides and we get layer and layer of creamy, buttery, popcorn, desiccated coconut.  The mouthfeel is awesomely thick and coating. We get some boiled down apples and dark berry jam. More sweet vanilla and coconut. Lashings of fresh cream. A hint of coffee. More butter, this time on some toast. Icing sugar. Some plain vanilla sponge cake. Lovely complexity, which is evolving with time, every time I go back I find something slightly different. 
Finish.
Long lasting. Oak and vanilla and coconut. Creamy, so very silky and creamy. Marshmallow, and a touch of chocolate. It’s almost a jammy marshmallow tea cake in a glass for the finish. Dries out with some fruit jams and dried fruits remaining, and some more cake!
Adding water.
I think this is very well diluted and works a treat, but will add some drops for completeness. The nose has more intense spice. Extra pepper and cloves. Still lovely, sweet and cakey.  In fact I would say all the aromas have intensified, although maybe at the cost of the varnish/polished oak a little. The palate continues to be glorious, it’s got waves and waves of luscious flavours, all as previously described, maybe a touch oilier, this is a whisky that’s so difficult not to swallow, although every second you can hold it in your mouth is another second of happiness. The finish as with the diluted nose and palate is somewhat enhanced and just absolutely delicious. 
Conclusion. 
Ok, this is bloody lovely stuff. Beautiful. It’s not cheap, but for what your getting its not expensive either.  There is some old and younger grain whiskies in this blend, but it’s still 20years old at least, and the quality is just shining through. Highly recommended. It won’t be around for long because of the quality. You don’t find a lot of Compass Box in the auctions for the very basic reason. They are too good to collect, these whiskies are meant for drinking and savouring and that’s exactly what I’m going to do with mine!
Thanks to Compass Box for providing the review sample. 

Whisky Review – English Whisky Co. Chapter 16

English Whisky Co. Chapter 16
46% ABV
Non-Chill Filtered
No added colouring
Peated. Sherry cask 693, 694. 
6 years old. 
Available for £51.95 from The Whisky Exchange
  
Nose.
On first pour there is a sherried malt prominence with the smoke in the background. Dark fruits, blackberries, strawberries alongside fruitcake, with a menthol cigarette burning in the distance. There is quite a minty presence. Wrigley’s spearmint chewing gum. The fruits get more boiled down in time, quite jammy and delicious. Sweet pepper spices, vanilla, clove. Smoke always remains in the background and is quite a distance live bonfire smoke, with a lot of pine on that bonfire. There are also touches of heather. Nicely complex nose. Engaging stuff. 
Palate.
Sweet arrival turning towards hot spices and bitter mint (like chewing raw mint leaf). After the heat subsides we have spicy dark fruits, burnt toast, toasted liquorice root. Overcooked fruitcake. Treacle toffee. Burnt caramel. It’s quite the overdone palate, in a good way, quite unique and intriguing liquid. 
Finish.
The toasted overcooked things fade slowly. With some creamier caramel and toffee elements poking through at the end. The after mouth of a couple cigarettes back to back, but while chewing on some dried sultanas. Nice. 
Adding water.
A few drops added. The nose seems even more woody now, with some pencil shavings right up front. Quite a dusty textured nose. Breathtaking. The palate is softer, less spicy and warm. More fruit, and touches of earth and dirt. Lots of fruit, less charred, but still well on the point of burning.  The finish is dirtier, smokier, more cigarettes and has some finally of burnt fruits. Overboiled homemade berry jams. 
Conclusion. 
This is quite a weird and exciting whisky. Being the first English Whisky Co. Whisky I’ve actually sat down to write about, I don’t know what to say.  I’ve tried EWC whisky at shows and always had a pleasant time and this is no exception. It’s very different. Engaging. Challenging. Tasty. And great fun to sip on. A little bit difficult to get now, but well worth a gander if you see it on your travels. 
Bottle share with friends