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.