Whisky Review – Glen Keith 1995 – 22 year old (Claxton’s) / @claxtonsspirits

Glen Keith 1995 – 22 year old (Claxton’s)

49.2% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£103.09 from Master of Malt

Nose.

A strong apple and pear initial sniff. Followed by some waxy lemons and creamy malt. There’s a touch of oak char and some cinnamon. A little time passed and the nose is sweeter now, more confectionary and very much reminiscent of refresher sweeties. The lemon citrus is brighter, sweet and bordering on lemonade. Old powdered lemon bonbons!

Palate.

Sweet and sour initially, even quite acidic. This quickly turns thick on the mouthfeel and creamy. Leading with lemon juice, and adding a little custard cream in there for good measure, it’s been a while since I’ve had a lemon puff biscuit, but it reminds me of those! The development goes back into creamy vanilla and sweeter citrus territories.

Finish.

The finish is bright, zingy lemons, with some sweetened vanilla, and lemon toffee bonbons. Very consistent all the way through nose, taste and finish.

Adding water.

Small drop added. The drop of water has made this dram a little less vibrant, the nose is creamier, the palate has a little less of the acid and more of the creamy vanilla and even more of a cake like note to it. The finish is lighter. The water has made this more accessible, but probably just a little less interesting, I personally prefer this without the water added. It’s awesome undiluted.

Conclusion.

For 22 years young this dram still has a good amount of zing to it, very suitable for summer sipping. Very impressive.

Thanks to Claxton’s for the official review sample.

Benromach 20th Anniversary Tweet Tasting (10yo 15yo 20th Anniversary bottling). @Benromach

A few speedy tasting notes from the Tweet Tasting I was lucky enough to attend on Monday 30th of April 2018. Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Benromach.

Benromach 10 Year Old

43% ABV

£34.96 from Master of Malt

Nose.

Lots of sweet ginger spice, stewed apple, zingy citrus in the background, a touch of gentle smoke. In time thick porridge oats and custard cream coming through now, some countryside elements, hay and earthiness. barley oils coming through now, touch of pine and floral. good evolution going on. This is an honest to goodness whisky man’s whisky!

Palate.

Thick, oily viscous stuff. barley rich, a touch of peat amongst some brown sugar encrusted baked apple pie. Moreish and devilishly sip-able, the sweet peat alongside jammy fruits and sugar balances excellently, turning drier towards the finish, but more of a dry syrup pleasantness.

Benromach 15yo

43%ABV

£51.83 from Master of Malt

Nose.

A greater depth to the 10. More countryside berries, jammy, stewed down fruits, floral (elderflower?), ginger, cinnamon, caramel, and lightly toasted sugar topped creme brûlée. You can get your nose RIGHT into this one, practically dipping! Theres a prominent chocolate orange (Jaffa cake) thing now, with a Jamaican ginger cake surrounding it!

Palate.

Another thick, sweet dram, with some dark chocolate, lots of creamy quality sherry, kirsch cherries, rich honey. Lots of pudding richness with a fraction of the calories! Sticky toffee pudding with a side of mandarin compote covered dark chocolate. Im smitten with this one – lots of MMMMM Mmmmm mmmmmm going on!

Benromach 20th Anniversary

56.2% ABV

£299.95 from Master of Malt

Nose.

Dark chocolate shavings, yellow fruits, peach, apricot, leather, dusty maturation warehouses, some cherry, tobacco, really starting to talk its complexities now after a period of being quite closed. With a little more time we get more sweet shop notes coming through now, dusting sugar, Victoria sponge (jam and cream), alcohol soaked raisin, loads of chocolate, stewed cherries, gentle floral, stately home drawing room dust, oak and leather.

Palate.

fruity spicy big hitting complexity. Lots of rich apple, cherry, orange and sultana. A big old blast of fine spices, cinnamon, pepper. Thick spiced toffee, chocolate covered and the air from a musty cask filled warehouse. Special! Very special

Thanks to @thewhiskywire and @Benromach for having me along to the Tweet Taste. It was an absolute privilege to check out these drams, and I can’t wait to get stuck into the 15yo I have sat there begging to be opened.

Whisky Review – Kilchoman Port Cask (2018) @Kilchoman05

Kilchoman Port Cask (2018)

50% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£77.95 from Nickolls and Perks

Colour.

Don’t usually talk colour, but this is natural and pink!

Nose.

Initial smoky burnt jam followed by lots of fruity jelly beans. Hints of farmyard. Mainly strawberry, but there is a mixture. Next sniff has a mix of creamy vanilla ice cream with blackberry sauce. Now there’s some ribs on a barbecue with fruity bbq sauce. Next sniff and we’re back to the fruity confectionary, but now with some accompanying cherry pie pipe tobacco. Next sniff is a little more mentholated, cherry tunes (cough sweets). This is an evolving and evocative nose. Always going along the theme of fresh, fruity, slightly smoky, rich and mouthwatering.

Palate.

In the deep end of red fruit sauces, reduced wine, fresh jam, blackcurrent cordial. Next follows some aromatic smoke, almost onto the soon to be defunct menthol cigarette aftertaste. The ABV tingles with youth and adds to the mentholated effect. Some peat reek comes through, farmyard-y, more fruit quickly follows, burnt red berry jam. Beautiful thick mouthfeel throughout. There’s a touch of heat which will level out with some water.

Finish.

Short to medium in length, strawberry chewits, hints of traditional Anglo bubblegum, some dry ash and old bonfire. Menthol fresh aftertaste. Marlboro Ice blast!

Adding water.

A good few drops added. The nose has taken a softer, sweeter back step. Less smoke, still a touch of menthol, lots of red fruits, riper than before, stewed now, on the boil to become jam. The palate has become a red fruit plethora, a berry basket, ripe and totally delicious. A slightly smokey whiff here and there, but it’s all fruit and a touch of menthol, especially on the finish where the menthol comes back in force. I love this with and without water, it’s massively intense either way. I think the undiluted just tips the balance for me in complexity, but diluted it is a bloody huge fruit bomb.

Conclusion.

For a 3year old peaty port matured whisky this packs punch and flavour. It’s bloody delicious. I’m not 100% sure in the price point yet, but I believe it won’t be particularly cheap, but what you get here is an honest to goodness crazy fruit, red berry blast, with a lovely smokey background. It’s great Kilchoman, and I’m straight in to get a bottle or two. I adored the previous port cask release, and if you did too, I don’t think you will be disappointed with this one either.

Thanks to Kilchoman for the official review sample.

Whisky Review – Glenmorangie Spios

Glenmorangie Spios

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

£74.81 from Master of Malt

Nose.

Creamy and buttery with some spiced Highland toffee. Some time in the glass later, and things haven’t really changed a lot, it’s very light, subtle, and has a buttery vanilla overcoat with a slightly herbaceous toffee background. It’s quite summery with some light floral and hay. Some more time gives some fruitiness in the form of ripe apricot and a touch of peach.

Palate.

The palate is where this comes alive, more vibrant than the nose, it does retain a lot of the flavours gathered on the nose, presented in a very well balanced way. The creaminess, fresh cream and new churned butter is very present all the way through, the arrival has some light toffee, syrup and clove spice, some ginger, which then gives way into the development, where things get a little thicker, a touch of the fruit comes through, zingy juicy peach and some apricot skin. The mouthfeel is beautifully creamy and thick. Some of the warming spice from the rye casks hits the back of the throat with the swallow.

Finish.

Peach juice and spice for a short while overtaken by that thick and creamy butter notes coming back with some drier liquorice herbal notes left on the tongue.

Adding water.

After a small splash is added we have a less creamy and a more spicy intensity on the nose. The palate reflects this with a spicier intensity throughout the experience, a slight lacking in the fruitiness of the undiluted, with the creaminess still there in droves. The finish is very similar with a slightly more intensive spiciness.

Conclusion.

A well balanced, very tasty whisky. It’s most definitely a step up from the core range of the Glenmorangie, and fascinating to discover. A very interesting and successful cask maturation experiment.

Thanks to Glenmorangie for the official review sample.

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.

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.