Whisky Review – Rock Oyster Cask Strength (Douglas Laing) @dlaingwhisky

Rock Oyster Cask Strength (Douglas Laing) 

57.4 %ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

Available soon
  

Read more on this release and order now from Douglas Laing directly

You can see my review for the original Rock Oyster here. I loved it and immediately bought a bottle. Let’s see how the cask strength version performs.

Nose. 

On first sniff there the wonderfully fresh, complex aromas of fresh apples, tarty lemon juice, salt heavy seaside air and a slight touch of peat fire smoke. It’s immediately on first pour a great thing. After letting it sit for a wee while creamy vanilla fudge notes come aboard, while the dominance is on the maritime notes. Some fresh fish and shell based treats pop in on the fishing boat just arriving into harbour. I don’t always go all subjective with the notes, but this is putting me right on a Cornish coastline fishing village front, reminding me of family holidays.

Palate. 

Creamy fudge, sweet and salty all at once, settling after a brief alcohol heat exchange, loads of fudge now, honey, some under-sweet crispy seaweed from the Chinese takeaway, a touch of salted caramel, light milk chocolate, light syrup over pancakes, a drip of lemon juice on the pancakes also. Mouthfeel is coating and lush. Further into the development we get some sea salt encrusted toffee. The more I sip the more dangerously moreish this is, must save a bit for a drop of water, though right now this doesn’t need it. 

Finish. 

Medium-long length, toffee, fudge and apple skin fades gently. With the sea air/light saltiness retaining for a good duration, remnants of Islay memories flood back, a gentle mossiness pops back and a forever feel good factor is warming on the chest. 

Adding water. 

Doesn’t need it. Small drop in the last little bit I have. The nose has more smoke bellowing out, with an added sugar sweetness depth. Still loads of fudge and some fruit. Oooo, that’s good. The palate has more immediate depth of flavours, the fudge is creamier and chewier and the the whole experience more rounded and accessible. The finish is slightly shorter, with more emphasis on smokey embers. It’s actually great with a drop of water. Damn. Should have added it sooner, but without water it’s so drinkable as well. Just dip it’s toe in water when you pour a glass. 

Conclusion. 

A relaxing, seaside reminiscing, beauty of a dram. One to whisk your mind away to windswept fishing towns. With a touch of water the experience is expanded significantly, and this goes from a great dram to an awesome one. Really great work here. Love it. 

Many thanks to Douglas Laing Ltd. for the review sample

Whisky Review – Arran 1996 18 year old cask #896928 Single Malts of Scotland @whiskyexchange

Arran 1996 18 year old cask #896928 Single Malts of Scotland 

50.5% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£79.95 from The Whisky Exchange 

  

Nose. 

On first pour and sniff there is quite the fresh gingerbread aroma in the front with a backing of brown sugar crusted Creme brûlée. With a little time in the glass the Sherry influence comes forward, in the form of spice and some sherried raisin. It’s never too abrasive or enforcing, only enhancing the gingerbread sweet malt. Sweet cinnamon buns, toffee, fresh caramel, oranges and apples are all in the beautifully complex mix. It’s one of those combined aromas, which for me would be an ideal perfume for valentines! A little more time and more citrus an shortcake come though. 

Palate. 

Gentle sweet citrus turning to pleasantly sugared sour lemon juice. A touch of alcohol spicy twang quickly subsides, for more layers of lemon, lime and orange juices, interchanging with creamy vanilla and malty biscuits. Some light bites of fresh ginger interspersed throughout the experience. Some clove spice comes in late in the development and a few dark fruits wave to you right at the end of the development, but it’s all about the citrus and biscuit creams, and it’s very pleasant for it. 

Finish. 

Medium to long in length. The finish is spicy, again retaining clove, cinnamon and a touch of pepper. Fruit juices turn to pith and peel, for a lip smacking finish. The slightest hint of menthol at the very end. 

Adding water. 

Really enjoying this neat, so only the slightest drop added. More sherry spices and some dry nuttiness is coming through now, with some of the citrus fruits taking a step back. Still very creamy and sniffable. The palate, now softer, more integrated, more orangey, less citric and sweeter. Ooooo, that’s delicious, big, complex, epic! Touches of coffee in and around the sugar and toffee. The finish is slightly shortened, less spicy. Sweet and sumptuous. Really beautiful stuff. Very very sippable. 

Conclusion. 

A whisky to share with mates, converse over, contemplate and enjoy. This is really nice stuff. It’s not big on the sherry. But compliments a solid quality malt and some great gentle maturation. It’s a citrus sipper, and dangerously moreish. 

Many thanks to The Whisky Exchange for the review sample

Whisky Review – Wemyss “Barrista’s Dram” – Craigellachie 2002


Wemyss “Barrista’s Dram” – Craigellachie 2002

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

2002-2015 in a Butt (assumption of ex-sherry)

820 bottles


£51.67 available from Master of Malt

  

Nose. 

The first sniff gives a bag of mixed nuts, some spiced toffee and a little dusting chocolate. Time in the glass leads to a creamier experience. Runny honey. Caramel and chocolate. Caramelised orange slices. Quite a bit of quality street going on! As the name suggests, there is a touch of coffee going on in the background. 

Palate. 

Arrival is thick, with a very oily mouthfeel. Rich sweetness and nuts immediately, with clove and honey moving into the development which comes with thicker toffee notes, penny toffees, caramel. Some citric gooseberry. Iced coffee with a hazelnut syrup added!

Finish. 

Medium length and full of chocolate, toffee and all things sweet. Slight leftover coffee grounds with plenty of hazelnut dust added in. 

Adding water. 

A splash added. More coffee notes are now evident on the nose, intertwined with all the confectionary sweets previously experienced. The palate has a slight metallic bite and a lighter mouthfeel to the undiluted variant. The finish is lighter, has more of a milky coffee note running through and less nutty dryness. Personally I prefer this dram without a splash of water, but it’s worth the experiment. 

Conclusion. 

I haven’t had many independent bottling/single cask Craigellachie drams. This is pleasant, toffee rich stuff which would suit after dinner desert style dramming. 

Many thanks to Wemyss for the review sample

Whisky Review – Benriach 1998 17 year old cask #7758 TWE Exclusive @whiskyexchange

Benriach 1998 17 year old cask #7758 TWE Exclusive 

48.9% ABV

Triple Distilled

PX Cask Finish

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£99.95 from The Whisky Exchange 

  

Nose. 

On first pour we have a very intense alcohol infused fruitcake. Some rich treacle toffee and dusty oak sits in the background. After 10 minutes sat with a cover we get creamy vanilla, some rich shortcake biscuit and some added stoned fruits, specifically cherry. It’s a bit of a sherry bomb on the nose with a lovely subtle creamy background character. After a little more time cherry becomes more prominent with touches of orange rind and oily almond marzipan. 

Palate. 

Initially a sweet blast of cherry and fruit hits, quickly taking a back step to a little tart sourness and nutty dryness, then a short alcohol blast. After that subsides, we have layers of dry fruits, nuts, some very dark crumbled chocolate, some vanilla and tobacco. Later in the development it has quite an old aged Armagnac note running through. Sweeter, chewy stoned fruits are very pleasant at the back of the mouth. The mouthfeel, silky and delightful. Quite a set of zingy flavours which makes this a lovely experience all around. 

Finish. 

Dry and nutty, more walnuts and hazelnuts now, touches of fruit in the very background. Some left over dried marzipan at the very finish. Chest hugging warmth accompanies the finish giving a great feel good factor. 

Adding water. 

A few drops added in and further time applied. The nose has some added age now in the form of dusty bookshelves and polished mahogany. The sherry intensity is increased slightly with more alcohol infused fruits, sweet cinnamon and clove. The palate is slightly lighter and all about the fruit blast, much juicier now and exceedingly quaffable. Lots of bright and juicy fruits, sweet and citric. The finish is back to the dry nuttiness, with a fruitier citrus zing. It’s absolutely lovely, and quite a different dram with water. It’s a two-face one, so try both variants, take notes and enjoy it with or without at your own luxury. 

Conclusion. 

A beautiful sherry monster of a dram, with a softer side. I’ve been off my sherry style recently, but this has really re-invigorated my desire for those fruity, spicy, nutty monsters. Beautiful stuff. 

Many thanks to The Whisky Exchange for the review sample

Whisky Review – Wemyss “Blowing on a Sea Breeze” – Bunnahabhain 1990 @wemyssmalts

Wemyss “Blowing on a Sea Breeze” – Bunnahabhain 1990

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

209 bottles


£114.52 available from Master of Malt
  

Nose. 

First sniff is full of tropical fruits. Pineapple, banana, guava, all deliciously ripe and juicy. There is a juicy fruit chewing gum remembrance also. The backing is that of some sea salt in warm waters. With some time in the glass more ozone notes become evident, with some softening to the original fruitiness, making things rounder. There’s some furniture polish, a slight touch of acetone, light vanilla ice cream, a real creamy, luxury about the whole experience. It’s one to really get your nose in the glass and the eyes roll back with absolute delight. More time and a waxier nature to the fruits is revealed. 

Palate. 

Immediately full flavoured and bursting with sweet fruit. Pineapple, orange, sweet lemon. Then comes a tingling tang of acidity (sour apple sweeties) and some salt, this subsides to bring further rich, waxy fruit bursts, some light toffee and rich vanilla custard. Immensely chewable. The mouthfeel is awesome, very coating and makes the whole experience luxurious. Lovely balance and just so drinkable. 

Finish. 

This long finish goes through waves. Fruits diminish quite quickly leaving behind some salt water, then a subtle dry toffee, then some drier sea air on the exhale, finally a warming, satisfaction of leftover fruits.  

Adding water. 

I really don’t want to add water, so I will only add a drop. The nose has a softer fruit with a touch of added floral, the waxiness is slightly muted now. The palate retains its fruit/zing/fruit experience, now with added toffee sweetness and a slightly weaker mouthfeel. The finish has more of a steady nature, still great stuff, but this dram DOES NOT need water. 

Conclusion. 

Fabulous stuff. I really love this. Reminds me of an old Clynelish, but has enough to stand on its own two feet. Loads of gloriously old and tasty fruits. Do not water it though. This is a reward, plain and simple. For crappy days weathered and celebrating the happy times. Lovely. 

Many thanks to Wemyss for the review sample

Whisky Review – Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 5

Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 5

55.3% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£51.50 from Master of Malt
  

Next up we have a favourite of mine. Glendronach cask strength has been a really strong contender as to why NAS doesn’t always mean NASty. This has been a great dram in the past and I’m once again looking to delve into its sherry monster pleasures. Here we go!

Nose. 

On first sniff we have quite a monster in the glass. Dusty chocolate and spicy toffee leads in front. Vanilla pods. High cocoa percentage chocolate covering thorntons special toffee. Touches of menthol cigarettes. There are some herb notes I can’t put a finger on yet. Going to let this sit a while. Things have got quite a bit nuttier now, with walnuts overtaking the spices. Dried fruit is starting to make a heavier appearance, and cloves integrate nicely to bring that familiar fruitcake nature of Glendronach. I would say this is slightly nuttier and more chocolatey than previous batches. There’s quite a bit of fruit ‘n’ nut bar going on in the glass. 

Palate. 

Fruitcake fruitcake fruitcake! That says it all really. The arrival comes straight at you with lots of dried fruit, rum and raisin, sultana, cherry stones. Development turns drier with the walnut and almonds coming in alongside the clove, cinnamon spices and lashings of brown sugar caramel. Some chocolate dusting is ever present throughout the experience. Mouthfeel is thick and enveloping. This is actually quite drinkable at full strength. Good, wholesome, characterful, delicious. 

Finish. 

The dried fruit becomes juicier in the medium-long length finish, with spicy elements continuing until the end. There is a slight oak tannin bitterness right at the very end, but the fruitiness makes this almost unnoticeable. 

Adding water. 

This can take a drop I think, so a drop or 4 it gets. The nose is nuttier now, with quite an intense coffee aroma added in. Espresso! The palate is more fruit concentrated, sweeter, with the spices more integrated. Real concentration on the cherries now, with that touch of menthol we get Tunes (a cold/throat sweet). The finish retains that fruity juiciness and with the dilution the heat turns to warmth and is very relaxing and fulfilling. Water makes this one go from great to frickin’ awesome. 

Conclusion. 

Gorgeous. A sherry monster as expected and delivers with no disappointment. Fantastic stuff, it won’t be around forever, so if you like your sherry monsters jump on this sooner rather than later. 

Many thanks to Glendronach for the review sample