Whisky Review – Big Peat 25 Year Old (Vintage Series – Gold Edition) @DLaingWhisky

Big Peat 25 year old

52.1% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£175.00 from Master of Malt

Big Peat has been a long running favourite of mine. The Christmas releases have always been to die for. Recently there have been an influx of variations along the theme, some may say too many with every country and its scallywag having a special labelled release. Not for me. I can’t get enough of the stuff.

Well now Douglas Laing are releasing a series of 3 Big Peat vintage editions. Big Peat has always been a non age statement up to date but here we have a Gold edition release aged at 25. That’s quite an age for Islay whisky nowadays and most Islay’s of that age would pack a pretty crazy price tag with it. This ones coming in around the £180 at retail which, let’s face it isn’t cheap. But then compared to some of the 25 year old Islay single malts. It becomes reasonable.

What’s most important is how it smells and tastes though. So here we go.

Nose.

On first sniff we have some massive smoke! Quite a surprise as often the older the smokey whisky the less smoke you get but this has some seriously bellowing twiggy bonfire smoke going on. There’s a touch of sweet and burnt caramel in the background. After a good time sat in the glass the smoke has calmed down. Still pungent though, just more relaxed. Bonfire smoke. A touch of wet rope. Maritime salty sea air. Fresh tar. Pipe ash. There is caramel sweetness with a touch of stewed apple. Burnt brown sugar. There’s a herbal liquorice, but purer, more like fennel or liquorice root. It’s very Islay and very Big Peat. After a LOT of time this dram becomes fruitier and vibrant. Lots of tropical fruits. Grilled pineapple. Fresh mango. A lovely delicious mix. But it takes a LONG time. Pour this. Wait an hour (drink something else) and come back. It needs that time.

Palate.

Immediately sweet peat on the arrival. Waves of sugar, toffee, rich caramel and honey with some interlaced smoke and ashiness. Later on we get some sweet liquorice and a touch of watered down and sweetened fresh lemon juice. There’s an occasional wave of clove speared ham, charred and crispy. With more time in the glass we get tropical fruit notes, tutti fruity like. A hint of mango and papaya.

Finish.

In the very long finish we have the remaining fruitiness, some dry smoke and a touch of sea saltiness. The smoke hangs around for an age. It’s like having enforced reminiscing of a great cigar.

Adding water.

The smallest of drop added to the remains (I’ve been enjoying this too much!). The nose has an increased smoky punch now, more herbal and a little less fruit and sweetness. The palate reflects this, while still sweet the herbal green and liquorice has more to say. The finish is dirtier, more earth and ash and elemental. Personally prefer this undiluted but can understand how the filth in the finish is appealing and I do like it in fairness both diluted and undiluted.

Conclusion.

This dram needs a LOT of time. It needs a lot of time to open up. I was trying this over the space of an hour and it was still developing. I can’t help but think I’ve missed out on a lot as a result of this. Fortunately I looked ahead and bought ahead. I have a share in a bottle and a whole one for a later date. 😉

Thanks to Douglas Laing for the official review sample.

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Whisky Review – Scallywag 13 year old @DLaingWhisky

Scallywag 13 year old

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£53.99 from Master of Malt

Nose.

A nutty rich nose on first sniff from the pour, with some sherry soaked raisin in the background and promises of much fruitcake-yness with a bit of time. After a little time things get richer and sweeter, the sherry more pronounced and a fruit filled honey syrup. Apricot, cherry, plums, all sweet, stewed and poached in honey. The nuttiness takes a back step, but is still present, there are some subtle Christmas spices. A massive fruity rich nose. Very excellent start.

Palate.

An intense dry fruit and nut arrival, turning rich, with honey thickness on the tongue. There’s all that fruitcake and Xmas spice going on, not quite as intense as some sherry monsters out there, gentler and easier on the palate. Spicy rich honey continues into the development. It’s a truly sip-able dram.

Finish.

A medium length nutty finish with a honey coating and a drizzle of melted treacle toffee.

Adding water.

A small drop added. The nose has an introduction of chocolate into the fruit and nut mix. The fruit has a little less intensity, but the milky dusty chocolate has added a new dimension. The palate reflects this and has become a little sweeter and more confectionary, all the flavours integrating and balancing out well. The finish is a little fruitier now. Water adds to this experience, it’s well worth adding a couple of drops

Conclusion.

This is a delicious winter warmer of a Whisky. A lovely sherried malt blend well worthy of your Christmas stocking. Recommended.

Thanks to Douglas Laing for the official review sample.

Whisky Review – The Gauldrons @DLaingWhisky

The Gauldrons

46.2% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£49.00 from The Green Welly Stop

Nose.

Sweet honey, heather, herbal throat sweets and a whiff of fragrant eucalyptus smoke on first sniff from the pour. These themes continue after a while in the glass. There is an intense maritime, fishing village, salty sea air theme running through. Green peppercorns, unripe Apple, gooseberry, malty cereal. It’s a complex, fascinating nose.

Palate.

A sweet honey start, quickly turning oily and dry, with some peppercorn heat. Barley richness then comes through into the development with a thick mouthfeel, creamed corn, a touch of vanilla, some sweet peat and a slight aniseed background. There’s some proper motor oil filth in here, which is a very good thing. This is characterful Campbeltown fare.

Finish.

Herbal spices, some dry toffee, a little dried spiced orange and a smokey exhale leaves this medium length finish. Good stuff.

Adding water.

A small drop added. The nose has a little more smoke and creamy barley. The palate has a touch of chocolate and a smoother all round creaminess, the dry phase is gone, it’s become even more chewable. The finish is lighter, very creamy and moreish. I can see dilution splitting the field on this one, so I would say it’s worth the experiment.

Conclusion.

Extreme Campbeltown. And that’s an extremely good thing. Bottle bought straight away. 👍🏻

Thanks to Douglas Laing for the official review sample.

Whisky Review – anCnoc Rùdhan @anCnoc_whisky

anCnoc Rùdhan

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

~£60 from Duty Free (Travel Retail outlets)

Nose.

A gentle ginger coating on a smoke stack is the first sniff encounter from the pour. My mind immediately tries to compare things with anCnoc’s Peatheart which I tried last week and Rùdhan is definitely lighter in its peat content, much calmer on the smokiness. A few minutes later and a very fresh lemon juice is present. This is turning into a lockets (honey and lemon throat lozenge) dram. There is loads of honey, lemon, touch of ginger some spring floral, and a background of gentle smoke, now feeling almost joss-stick like in its presence. It’s a lovely, bright, fresh aroma, well balanced and compulsory to sniff.

Palate.

A zesty lemon fresh arrival, with some hot ginger spice and a touch of eucalyptus. It’s delivering on the lockets nose! The mouthfeel is very oily and fulfilling. The development becomes spicier with a touch of pepper, the smoke starts to come through softly, sweet and earthy, with some seasaltiness. Further on things get a little herbal, with some liquorice root and some more raw ginger.

Finish.

Warming, spicy, medium length. The liquorice and ginger sticks around with a touch of menthol smoke at the very end.

Adding water.

A few small drops added. The smoke has reduced a little in favour of a more floral intensity on the nose. The palate has a sweeter edge all the way through, sweetened lemons and a more herbal development. The finish is similar in its sweeter liquorice ending. All in all I prefer the undiluted variant for the smokier side.

Conclusion.

This is a fine addition to the anCnoc range. A delicious, lightly smoky whisky which would suit the spring and summer season very well as a variant on their excellent 12 year old expression. As anCnoc’s smoky expressions go I personally prefer the Peatheart, which is smokier and a bit more of a beast. But saying that, Rùdhan is a beautiful whisky.

Thanks to anCnoc for the official review sample.

Whisky Review – Big Peat Christmas Edition 2017 @DLaingWhisky

Big Peat Christmas Edition 2017

54.1% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£49.00 from The Green Welly Stop

It’s that time of the year again. 😊

Nose.

Straight from the pour I’m getting that massive peat smoke blast of Islay. Huge, with some soft and sweet confectionary sugar and Danish pastries in the background. A little time in the glass and things get even bigger. Loads of medicinal Islay peat smoke, tcp, tar, wet rope, maritime, it’s all there and mouthwatering. There’s lovely sweet sugars and star anise, coriander and a touch of cumin. Gorgeous stuff.

Palate.

The smokey hot embers and coal chunks are in the arrival, with some burning heather and a chunk of smouldering liquorice root. Things get sweeter and creamy in the development, with some coconut marshmallows toasted and bubbling away on a cereal cracker. The mouthfeel is oily and coating as one would expect. This is young, Islay, peaty smoke bomb glory.

Finish.

The smoke sticks around for a looong time, with some liquorice and earthy damp forest floor. As Tony the Tiger used to say. It’s grrrrrrrreat!

Adding water.

Just a few drops added. The fires have smouldered, and there is more of a wet floral and cereal front on the nose now. The palate is still quite big, has the addition of a little fruit, peach, apricot type white fleshed fruits. The finish is creamy and more vanilla’s and custard. A variation diluted. But I personally like the pure big brash peat beater of the undiluted.

Conclusion.

Happy happy winter joy joy. This dram makes the winter bearable, and reminds me as usual this time of year, how much I want to be on Islay. Awesome.

Thanks to Douglas Laing for the official review sample.

Whisky Review – Ardbeg An Oa / @Ardbeg_com @QuercusComs

Ardbeg An Oa

46.6% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring (Assumption based on light colour)

£48.95 from Master of Malt

The few new release from Ardbeg into its core range in a very long time. No gossip on if it’s a take over for the 10 year old but it’s safe to assume it isn’t. The 10 year old is such an amazing dram there would be riots if it was going (probably). I’m a great fan of the 10 year old and the Uigeadail, can’t quite remember Corryvreckan, I think I need an excuse to open all three and do a parallel at some point.

Oa is a fictional planet that lies at the center of the DC Comics universe. Since its inception, Oa has been the planetary citadel of the Guardians of the Universe and the headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps. Unfortunately it has zero to do with this whisky’s name, but Ardbeg An Oa name comes from the Mull of Oa.

From the press release

At the heart of Ardbeg’s Distillery, in its intriguing new Gathering Room*, a smoky, sweet and rounded single malt is taking shape. Ardbeg An Oa (pronounced “an oh”) is inspired by the most untamed part of The Ultimate Islay Malt’s remote Scottish island home. Released in September 2017, it will be the first new permanent expression to emerge from Ardbeg for almost ten years.

Like the complex whisky which shares its name, Islay’s Mull of Oa is noticeably rounded. At the Island’s southernmost point, the headland’s towering cliffs stand defiantly against the raging Atlantic storms, providing welcome shelter for Islay’s south coast, to which the Ardbeg Distillery has clung for more than 200 years. Ardbeg An Oa pays homage to its untamed provenance, with contrasts of powerful intensity and sweet silkiness that celebrate the spot where storm meets calm.

Inside Ardbeg Distillery’s new and bespoke Gathering Room lies the vast Gathering Vat – specially created from French oak to bring Ardbeg An Oa into being. The different layers of whisky slowly mellow together within; the richness of spirit matured in Pedro Ximénes casks, the spice of whisky aged in virgin oak, and all the hallmark intensity of Ardbeg matured in ex-bourbon barrels. Culminating in an untamed single malt far more complex and rounded than the sum of its parts.

So, it sounds a bit like another recent release, lots of varied maturation. I don’t know what to make of that, proof of the pudding is in the sipping though so let’s crack on.

Nose.

It’s Ardbeg. 😋 A lovely dry lemon soot on first sniff. Background of vanilla cream. Some maltiness. But mainly it’s the fresh crisp smokey lemon juice that I come to expect. A little time in the glass later. It’s a little juicier, with the lemons and now a touch of orange. The smoke is ashy and intense, like a coal burner in the rain. There is some maritime influences coming through, some wet rope, tar and salty shellfish. It’s good.

Palate.

Intense sweet and sour arrival of lemons, ash, pepper and vanilla. Quite a smokey blast. It’s very chewable stuff, flavour intensive and a sensory experience. I can’t sense much in the way of the sherry cask maturation in this, so I can only assume there either isn’t a lot in the vatting, or the casks were many times used. There’s a fair bit of runny honey sweetness in the development, still smokey intense, a lovely oiliness demanding to be chewed and swallowed. This is a very moreish drop. A little more time and things get richer, this is an evolving whisky, needs time and patience. The sherry casks are starting to come through now, giving an enhanced level of richness and depths to the sweetness. This is very good.

Finish.

There’s a touch of toffee in the finish (there’s the sherry?), sweet vanilla, a rich smokiness, some dry lemon peel with the fading pinch of pepper. It’s quite a long finish considering the perceived youth of this expression.

Adding water.

A small splash added. The nose is slightly dirtier now. More earth, and even a little farmy. The palate has lost some of the lovely oils but has some more complex lemon intensity, less spice and smoke though. The finish has some herbal spice amongst the ashy finish. I like this with and without water, for the more intense, richer experience though I prefer it undiluted. Just.

Conclusion.

This is surprisingly great. I don’t mean to be completely surprised, but Ardbeg has a stonker of a core 10 year old whisky. Which is just brilliance. So any addition to the range is going to be met with some scepticism. This removes those doubts. This is a great whisky. Well constructed and bloody tasty with all the hallmarks of Ardbeg. For me the 10 year old is still gospel. But I wouldn’t have a moments hesitation in getting An Oa to have as an alternative, more youthful, but very richly flavoured Ardbeg experience.

Thanks to Ardbeg for the official review sample.

Whisky Review – Black Friday Whisky @WhiskyExchange exclusive.

Black Friday Whisky – 16 years old. Speyside Single Malt Whisky

54.6% ABV

Non chill filtered (assumption)

No added colouring (assumption)

£59.95 from The Whisky Exchange

Very little is known about this Black Friday dram from the Whisky Exchange at the time of writing, so I’m just going to get on with it.

Edit – Now we know it’s a 16 year old single sherry Butt from a ‘family owned’ distillery in Speyside.

Nose.

First sniff is almost not whisky like, given blind I would have said brandy or Armagnac. Thick with toffee and spice rich. Rich mahogany. Polish. Rum and raisin. Pungent, but not in the alcohol, i would say its older if it didn’t have the age on the bottle. It’s getting more bourbon like with some time (probably a sherry cask then – lol). Thick spiced vanilla, gingerbread, some candied orange. Hints of menthol and lime. More time and funky oak, lots of treacle, honey, caramel and all things sweet, still smells more like a classy brandy then whisky, but I’m bloody loving it. Starting to think more sherry cask now, as there is some nuttiness coming through the sweetness, and the sweetness is going full fledged highland toffee style. Yummy.

Palate.

Sweet intensity with a touch of bitter chocolate on arrival, turning rich with toffee. The same odd (but delicious) funky Armagnac oak thing comes through, but quickly turns nutty. There’s less spice on the palate to nose. But a touch of cinnamon and ginger. Mouthfeel is of a medium viscosity, not immensely thick, but pleasantly coating. A quality dark chocolate comes further into the development and the spices up a notch with a warming ginger blast. There’s some honeycomb and an all round pleasant feel good factor. Very compulsory sipper.

Finish.

Medium in length. Drying spices and nuttiness, a touch of chocolate and coffee grounds.

Adding water.

A few drops added. A more aromatic toffee comes forward on the nose now, and almost some smoke (char from the cask more than likely), a touch of herbal also added. The palate is calmed of the bitter chocolate, and there is a richer, sweeter and more intense toffee. A little chocolate is still there, but milkier. It’s thoroughly chewable, bags of thick sweetness and a little additional honey. The finish reflects this sweetness, but turns a drier treacle and the herbal from the diluted nose comes back, a little liquorice root and chewed pencil.

Conclusion.

I just want to know the distillery and how much! It’s a very singular whisky, I’ve not come across this combination of Armagnac, bourbon and sherry confusion in a while. Deftly complex and compelling stuff. Is it an Aberlour, is it a Glenrothes?! Well, we’ll all know by now, but I’m not going to change this text and be happy to look an idiot for being miles away from the mark. Regardless, it’s a delicious whisky, and one I would like to try again. Hoping it’s in my price window and I’ve done the necessary in buying a bottle! Well done TWE! 👍🏻

Thanks to The Whisky Exchange for the official review sample.

The Boutique-y Whisky Company Advent Calendar. @drinksbythedram

The Boutique-y Whisky Company Advent Calendar.

This is the Boutique-y whisky Advent Calendar featuring 24 different whiskies from the Boutique-y whisky company’s range. It’s gorgeous. With artwork from Emily Chappell, the celebrated artist of all of the boutique-y whisky labels. It gives tantalising tempting teasers of what lies inside showing some of the label artwork on the windows of the calendars. Crikey I can’t wait for December!

A spirits advent calendar is 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. There is quite literally everything from Whisky (in regional variations and also including an extremely premium Rare and Old whisky Calendar), gin, rum, cognac, tequila, bourbon, absinth (!) and even chilli vodka (you may not get so many favours with that one, it’s an acquired taste). For those with particular brand tastes you can also find Boutique-y, Douglas Laing and a dedicated Glenfarclas calendar.

I can’t recommend these calendars enough for the whisky/spirits fans out there who like a wee dram to keep the cold out. These give a great opportunity to try something different, random, and have a bloody great December throughout the stressful time of present buying and festivity preparations. Get your partner one of these and I guarantee they will be doing much of the hard work through December! 🙂

Check them out here.

https://www.masterofmalt.com/advent-calendars/

I will be posting pictures and reviews throughout the festive season from this calendar. But why wait until December to find out what’s inside. If your other half won’t take the hints. Just treat yourself. 😜

Massive thanks to Drinks by the Dram for the awesome advent calendar. I am going to be in a Boutique-y wonderland enjoying the December Advent-Adventures.

Whisky Review – The Balvenie 14 Year Old Peat Week @TheBalvenie

Balvenie 14 Year Old Peat Week

48.3% ABV

Non chill filtered

£56.95 from The Whisky Exchange

The Balvenie distill peated spirit only one week every year. This whisky is from that week in 2002, matured for 14 years in bourbon casks and released as a limited (but not that limited) extension to their core range. Bottled at a great 48.3% and non chill filtered, this is already looking great in writing, let’s try the liquid and see if it delivers.

Nose.

First poured sniff gives a light, floral smoke driven aroma. Heather honey. Some lemon pip sweeties, slight vanilla and haystack. After a little time to settle in the glass the smoke gathers a small amount of intensity, a little earthier now, still floral, slightly green (imagine pine branch fires). Added citrus fruit juices and peel now, predominantly lemon, but also lime. The smoke is more reminiscent of twig built bonfires, with lots of foliage. Unlike the medicinal and maritime nature of an Islay peated whisky.

Palate.

A sweet lemon juice arrival turning quickly more tarty, with some dry fennel and herbal notes coming through. This dram has a light oily mouthfeel. Runny honey accompanies a little liquorice root, and more lemon comes into the development in the form of lemon oils and a little pith. There’s a gentle smokiness coming through the whole of the palate, subtle, warming and gentle. Overall a beautiful balance.

Finish.

The medium length finish has a spicy pepper bite, lemon oils continue with a smoky exhale. Warming and relaxing smokiness, reminding me of a relaxing cigarette (not that i smoke anymore, but a healthier reminder of such days!).

Adding water.

A few drops added. The nose is a little smokier, but different, more of an extinguished bonfire smoke. A little more floral, still quite citrus, more homemade lemonade and less of the natural fresh lemon juice. The palate reflects this also, the citrus is lighter and more akin to a homemade lemonade, the herbal notes more toned down, overall sweeter and more approachable. The finish is sweeter, less spice, and less of the dry herbal liquorice, more of a dilute herbal throat sweet. Maybe even a touch of lavender (Parma Violet). Very tasty with or without water, it’s one to experiment with, maybe a couple of glasses side by side, dilute one, compare and contrast.

Conclusion.

It’s very good! This whisky is giving a great experience of fruit and smoke balance. It’s a very autumnal dram, perfect for these chillier nights. Really. Just perfect for this time of year. Highly recommended.

Thanks to The Balvenie for the official review sample.

Whisky Review – Double Single Blended Whisky @CompassBox

Double Single Blended Whisky

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£144.71 from Master of Malt

This blended whisky from Compass Box contains only two ingredients. Malt whisky from Glen Elgin, and grain whisky from Girvan. Both packages of whisky are in their twenties, you can get the full information from Compass Box themselves, just email them and ask. 

Nose. 

First sniff is met with an abundance of fruit. Lots of citrus led juices, lemon, orange, a hint of mint, lots of vanilla, but full of breakfast juice lushness. A little time and more of a sugar coated sweetness comes through, still plenty of tasty fruit in the background. With a hint of sweet oaky spices. Great balance. A little more time and the vanilla softness gives an ice cream coating to the fruit. 

Palate. 

A bittersweet arrival of sour orange, sweet lemon, some grapefruit with a touch of nutmeg and sweet cinnamon. Vibrant, zesty and fresh stuff. It really awakens the tastebuds. The development turns to a sweet confectionary, reminiscent of grapefruit flavoured fruit gums, with some confectionary sugar and a touch of all spice. There’s a creamy, thick mouth feel accompanying all of this tasty stuff, with some creamy porridge with a vanilla pod it. Nicely complex, very drinkable. 

Finish. 

The medium-long length finish is dry and sweet, lots of sugars, some brown raw sugar, the fruit juices have turned to dry fruit gums, vanilla still rich and creamy, with some oak spices finishing thing off. 

Adding water. 

A few drops added. The nose becomes more of a fruity floral, lighter, lots of springtime flowers amongst some dustier fruit boxes. The palate, now with a reduced oiliness in the mouthfeel, is still full of fruit sugars, a little more juicier and less complex, with a drier edge coming forward earlier. The finish is drier and sweeter at the same time, not as long. This dram is better without dilution. Keep it as it comes from the bottle. 

Conclusion. 

A delicious construction of a whisky. Proves that just two ingredients can have an awesome outcome. Very tasty and very drinkable. Quite a warmer weather of a whisky, with its citrus center best suited in warmer climates, but who am I kidding, I’d drink this any time of the year. It’s gorgeous. Maybe a little on the expensive side, but it is a great whisky nonetheless. 

Thanks to Compass Box for the official review sample.