Alternative Review – The Armagnac Advent Calendar. 

The Armagnac Advent Calendar.   

This is the first window in my lovely Armagnac advent calendar, featuring 24 different Armagnacs. These are a spectacular gift for the one you love. I swear you will get all the favours you want through December and an awesome Christmas present(s) if you give one of those to your loved one. And not just Armagnac, there is everything from Whisky (including an awesome Premium whisky Calendar), gin, mescal, bourbon, and even chilli vodka (you may not get so many favours with that one, it’s an acquired taste). Check them out here
The various Spirits Advent Calendars. 

Behind the number 1 window. Dec 1st (opened Nov 11th!)

Clos Martin XO 15 year old Folle Blanche
Bas Armagnac. 
40% ABV


Nose. 

Very complex and different to what I’m used to (first Armagnac review for me!) Almond marzipan. Quite a dusty milk chocolate. Hessian soaked in brandy. Raw cashew. Very nutty and oily on the nose. Soaked plump plums. Figgy pudding. Brown sugar. Fruity coffee. A little perfume/floral in the background. Rich desert wine comes to mind, sweet and sumptuous. I’m liking this, it’s an easy continuous sniffer. 

Palate. 

Rich, stewed fruits. Loads of plums, sultanas, soaked in booze. Christmas pudding. Later in the development the nuttiness comes through with almond rich marzipan (so now Christmas cake with marzipan and icing comes to mind). Some mild, sweet, milky coffee with a chocolate flake dipped in. I need to learn more, I don’t know what the score is with filtration and if it’s a similar situation to whisky, but this does have a nice oiliness to it. 

Finish. 

A medium length of fruity coffee dregs and powdered almonds remains. Reminds me of a sponge cake mix made with powdered almonds rather than flour (try it. It’s lush!)

Adding Water?

Small drop added. More floral now. Brand new plastic light fittings straight out of the polythene bags! Now I know that sounds weird. But seriously! The palate retains a lot of stewed fruits and depth, very coating and pleasing on the palate. The finish has a little more charred oak notes. I kind of prefer without water. I think. 

Conclusion. 

Something very new and different for me. I mean I have had Armagnac before, but only one and really didn’t concentrate on it further than yummy. Armagnac is a beautiful drink, and something I recommend as a little variation to keep your whisky adventures interesting with the occasional break.

Thanks to Drinks by the Dram for the awesome advent calendar. I am going to blissfully enjoy the next 23 new Armagnac Adventures. 

Whisky Review – Glenmorangie – A Midwinter Night’s Dram 

Glenmorangie – A Midwinter Night’s Dram 

43% ABV

£40 exclusively from Sainsbury’s
  

Glenmorangie – A Midwinter Night’s dram is an exclusive bottling to Glenmorangie and Sainsbury’s. Bottled at 43%, chill filtered, this expression has been matured in ex bourbon casks and extra-matured (finished) in Oloroso sherry casks of the type famously used for the maturation of Lasanta. Now I’m not sure if that means it’s essentially younger Lasanta or if it’s a marriage of whisky made up from packages which have been matured in ex bourbon and packages extra matured in Oloroso. It’s a little confusing, but let’s have a taste because that’s the best way to see what it’s really like. 

Nose. 

On first pour we have an baked apple and orange citrus rich fruit blast, a good pinch of pepper and ginger. A little wood glue. Some clove. Vanilla pod. There’s an undertone of juicy fruit chewing gum freshly chewed upon. Hints of toasted oak, with some pinewood green freshness. With time in the glass the greener notes dissipate and there is a lovely fruit jamminess along with a light Christmas cake note coming through.

Palate. 

A gentle, sweetish but more sour and dry arrival, becoming quite toffeed during the development, with some wood sour, ginger, mixed berry jam, some burnt caramel. Toffee apples. Charred oak. Some very light cherry stones and nuttiness. 

Finish. 

Nutty, drying, ginger and spiced caramel. A remaining lingering lick of apple juice. 

Adding water. 

A small splash added. The nose has a little more Christmas spiciness about it now. With some enhanced Christmas cake. Juicier fruits, and a little cherry. The palate is also fruitier with more of a balance and range of fruits throughout the developments. Much more Christmassy. The finish also, juicier, much improved. This dram appreciates with a splash of water. 

Conclusion. 

As a Christmas gift of whisky to a loved one I think this works reasonably well, it’s a variation on the Glenmorangie theme, and people wanting to try something a little different to their usual 10 year old may appreciate the change. Personally (and this maybe just me), I find the 10 year old so good, i would much rather have it over this expression. I would of course rather have the Quinta Ruban as well and the Nectar D’or. They are both stunning Glenmorangie expressions and really enhance on the 10 year old. Just saying. 

Much thanks to Glenmorangie for the review sample

Whisky Review – Deveron 18 year old

Deveron 18 year old

40% ABV

Around £65 a bottle 


  

  
Located where the river meets the sea, Macduff distillery sits near the mouth of the river Deveron, shortly before it’s cool waters join the restless surge of the North Sea. Sheltered from the worst of the Seaboard storms and winter winds, this tranquil spot has seen the creation of the Deveron whisky for many a decade. 

Emanating from five small copper pot stills, and unusual horizontal condensers that gently coax extra character from the spirit, the Deveron is an approachable dram which has a tang of coastal air about it. The distillery is set up for an light, fruity spirit that’s replete with Apple tones and nutty notes. 

The new expressions of the Deveron 12-year-old and 18-year-old have never been released before now and will be available from October 2015. There is also a 10-year-old expression which is only available in the French markets. 

Let’s have a taste!

Nose. 

On first pour there is a lovely depth to the honey sweetness. Creme caramel. Soft, smooth vanilla. Cake icing. Vanilla sponge with a touch of jam. Lots of fresh cream. With a little time more spiciness comes to the fore, much like the 12 year old there is cinnamon, pepper, but this time a touch of clove. The spices are more subdued behind the fruity sweetness, and this us a highly sniffable dram. Some more perfumed floral notes are coming through and some buttered brown toast. 

Palate. 

A lovely honey rich sweet arrival. Quite oily and mouth coating considering the presentation. Waves of fruity jam come in the development, with some tarty citrus tickling the side of the tongue. The spices are very well integrated with the fruit. The balance on this whisky is remarkable. Gently spiced honey rounds thing off very nicely. 

Finish. 

Sweet honey, some soft cinnamon, and touches of creamy cake goodness remain for a medium length finish. A touch of waxiness at the very finish. Quite delicious. 

Adding water. 

Only a minuscule amount added. I don’t want to ruin this experience. There is a touch of drier nuttiness to the nose now, but the honey depths are still ever present. The palate has some added spiciness and a little dryness creeping into the development. The finish has some slight oak added. While I don’t think water necessarily degrades this whisky I prefer it without. 

Conclusion. 

This is a lovely whisky. It’s a little younger in the drinking than you would normally find for an 18 year old whisky, but it is very very nice, easy, warming, soothing stuff, and I therefore recommend. Price wise it’s at the average for this age and presentation, but I would have dearly loved to have tried this whisky with a little higher ABV and non chill filtration. 

Much thanks to Deveron for the review sample

Whisky Review – Deveron 12 year old

Deveron 12 year old

40% ABV

Around £40.00 a bottle
  
Located where the river meets the sea, Macduff distillery sits near the mouth of the river Deveron, shortly before it’s cool waters join the restless surge of the North Sea. Sheltered from the worst of the Seaboard storms and winter winds, this tranquil spot has seen the creation of the Deveron whisky for many a decade. 

Emanating from five small copper pot stills, and unusual horizontal condensers that gently coax extra character from the spirit, the Deveron is an approachable dram which has a tang of coastal air about it. The distillery is set up for an light, fruity spirit that’s replete with Apple tones and nutty notes. 

The new expressions of the Deveron 12-year-old and 18-year-old have never been released before now and will be available from October 2015. There is also a 10-year-old expression which is only available in the French markets. 

Let’s have a taste!

Nose. 

First sniff. Sweet, gentle baked apples, cinnamon. Lots of honey. Quite a fresh aroma. With a little time there is more pastry notes, Apple Danish pastries, lots of cinnamon, pepper and touches of nutmeg. 

Palate. 

Arrival is sugary with a good amount of apple jam fruitiness. Cinnamon again on the palate, along with that pastry feel. A little hotter ginger and pepper proceed into the development, which increases in honey and brown sugar notes. Mouthfeel is light, but with some subtle oiliness. Uncomplicated and easy to sip and enjoy while relaxing. 

Finish. 

Spices return, soft, cooked apples. quite lip smacking, but very fast in fading away. 

Adding water. 

Think water may murder this, so only a minuscule amount added. Spices have been reduced on the nose for a more floral lavender and oaky replacement. The palate has more fruit juices and a little less bite with the sweetness dialled down a notch, and a touch more tartiness to the fruit. The finish is a little longer with more of a fruity retreat. Water is good for this whisky. 

Conclusion. 

A very straightforward whisky. Not immensely complex, but good enough at what it does, it’s tasty, easily drinkable and I wouldn’t ever refuse a glass. I can see whiling away an evening with this dram quite easily. I think it’s reasonably priced, but availability seems an issue as I write this review. Will update when it becomes more widely available. 

Much thanks to Deveron for the review sample

Whisky Review – Flaming Heart 15th Anniversary (Compass Box)

Flaming Heart 15th Anniversary (Compass Box)

48.9% ABV

Non chill filtered

No Added Colouring

£99.74 from Master of Malt
 
Talisker (the cat) was too fascinated to know exactly what is in the whisky and as felines are immune from the laws of the world here’s the details:

  

Nose. 

On first nosing I’m greeted with a waft of floral rich smoke. Heather honey, bonfire ashes, with a freshly lit burning tree nearby. It’s quite a smokey number, but with some fruity smoke subtlety from the older Caol Ila backing it up. After a little time in the glass the smoke settles and some fruitier notes come forward. Soft fruits. Oranges, banana, sugared lemons, all roasting on a bonfire. The smoke is bellowing back up again. There is some waxiness to the fruit elements, accompanied by a rich ginger and cardamon spice bite. There is a touch of lavender in the background. This is fascinating and unique, I could spend an absolute age with my nose deep in this glass. 

Palate. 

Sweet and sour arrival, the fruits are King, big, sweet orange, brash bitter lemons, ginger and chilli spices raise up and slowly gently edge towards a sweet, sugar rich development, full of sweet shop goodies, some lemon bonbons, cardamon cake. The fruit becomes waxier and more forward, juicy, mouthwatering. The mouthfeel is beautifully thick and coating, and the whole experience of this palate is quite exhilarating. 

Finish. 

Very long. The waxy fruit lingers, and the smoke has a backdraft moment, re-establishing itself in the exhale. The coating of flavour on the tongue does last a long while thanks to the oily mouthfeel on this whisky. The smoke lingering in the back of the throat and the fire warming the heart.

Adding water. 

I don’t want to it’s gorgeous as it is. But. I always do. So just a couple of minute drops. The smoke on the nose has been enhanced. We have more vibrant bonfire smoke. The fruits and floral have been muted a little. The fruits are back and juicer on the palate, with some added custard creaminess. Mouthfeel diminished slightly, but still excellent. Things are somewhat chewier. The finish is just as glorious as before, but with a touch of liquorice in the finale. With/without? Personally I prefer without, but others may disagree. 

Conclusion. 

Bloody lovely stuff. This is one of those whiskies which is an experience through and through. It’s on the smoky side, so probably not for everyone (leaves more for the rest of us). I think it’s stunning and will be seeking out a bottle to enjoy later on when whisky of this calibre just won’t be affordable, and I don’t see that being too far away unfortunately. Great value, beautiful whisky. Thank you!

Many thanks to Compass Box for the review sample