Whisky Review – Isle of Arran Devil’s Punchbowl II

Isle of Arran Devil’s Punchbowl II
53.1% ABV
£69.45 at TheWhiskyExchange

Despite some of the poor reviews of the first release of the Devils Punchbowl I liked it. It hit my spot on several areas and the bottle went pretty damn quickly. I’ve been looking forward to this release. Lets see if it meets my expectations.

Nose.

Complex. Vanilla. Honey. Toasted brown sugar. Toffee. Creme brûlée. Crisp apples. Very sweet. Time in the glass reveals sherry notes. Mild fruitcake. Oak spices. Baked apple pie. Grapes. Raisins. An alluring nose which has a lot of exploration yet to uncover.

Palate.

Immediately sweet. Then the high alcohol level nip hits. Keeping it on the tongue that burn subsides and the fruit swamps through. A little peat is there somewhere, sensed but never really fully exerting itself. The ripe apples go from crisp to baked with a coating of cinnamon spice. Pepper and chilli joins the party, while all the time the honeyed vanilla toffee dances away. Not a lot of the sherry influence in the palate immediately. Although, as with the peat, there’s a little something lurking in the darkness.

Finish.

Drying sherried oak tannins and some spiced apple sticks around. Along with the vanilla toffee.

Adding Water.

A good dollop added. Time given in the glass. The previous undiluted notes are still evident, but now an amount of age is also present. Some polish, old oak and more intensive sherried notes join the nose. Considering the peated casks in this I’m still hard pushed to find anything smokey about the nose. The diluted palate gives more balance due to the reduced alcohol nip. The many varying levels of fruit are more layered and recognisable, with some pineapple popping in alongside the baked apples from before. There is a tiny amount of sweetness I could attribute to peat, but nothing I would say that’s particularly smokey. However, in the finish, there is a touch of smoke now, just a little amongst the drying tannins.

Conclusion.

Well well. It’s a very different devil to the 1st release. For me the first release was more sherried, and had some individuality the likes of which I had never tasted before. I would say this dram is a lot more generic. Not in a bad way mind you, in a very good way, it’s very complex, has a lot of flavours and aromas to investigate and an excellent balance overall. Arran have done well and constructed a very intriguing dram. Recommended to you aroma/taste/demon hunters out there. 🙂

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Whisky Review – Bruichladdich Octomore 4.1

Bruichladdich Octomore 4.1
60.2% ABV
NAS – around 5 years old
Approx £100 if you can find it.
6.1 due sometime soon.

Bring the Peat!

Tasted and tested in the warm weather. Beware of inconsistencies due to British summer time!

Nose.

I can’t say BANG loud enough if I tried. It’s quite loud on the nose. A bit of everything on the peat types. Medicinal, BBQ meats, maritime, a bit of everything. There is also some floral there. Reminds me of Parma violets sweets from way back when. A little honey and vanilla reside in the background. It burns the nostrils, so don’t go in too deep for fear of olfactory scolding! Some fresh cut grass, hay and earth are also nicely evident. Time in the glass expands the floral notes and gives more honeysuckle and grassy earth tones.

Palate.

Sweet. Then kaboom! Salty maritime. Big heat thermonuclear stylee. Takes a while to overcome the heat. But floral pokes through, more salt, then grass and hay and earthy peat. An inferno all the way, but not unpleasantly so. It’s just a Kaiju of a mega monster!

Finish.

Its a long heated hot salty beast. (Sounds so wrong). Grass and hay sticks around. A little vanilla and honey returns during the drying moments.

Adding water.

Lets bring on a Jeager to try and calm this monster. In the form of chilled spring water! And a decent dollop at that. The addition of water has calmed the alcohol blast on the nasal senses to reveal more floral complexity. And possibly a little chocolate?! Yah, a definitely light milk, almost cadburys chocolate is coming through. Left it for a while and the peat is calmed significantly, more honey and vanilla, and yeah, still got that choco thing going on. On the palate the nuke is lowered, more complexity revealed. Vanilla, honey, floral notes all there. That chocolate is also lightly tingling the taste buds. It’s really tasty and complex. The finish is much shorter, still crisp and warm, but the dryness has some oak in it, drying vanilla and wood chips.

Conclusion.

This is a monster of a peat bombing mega dram. Takes some conquering, and a whole lot of exploration. If its anything like the Octomores I’ve tried in the past the next time I experience this creature it would have changed, mutated and attacked from a whole different standpoint. If this is the case I will add some notes. I was lucky to find one recently to explore, it must have slipped through a dimensional rift, but it was worth it! ;). This is one dram to cancel any apocalypse.

Ps. Pacific Rim. Worth a cinema viewing! It’s great fun, and a visual masterpiece!

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Whisky Review – Glendronach Cask Strength batch 2

Glendronach cask strength batch 2.
55.2%ABV
£51.95 from MasterOfMalt

Second batch release of the glendronach cask strength series. Buckle up. Ride ahead!

Nose.

Ok. I was expecting a rougher ride as there is no age to this Whisky. But bugger me if it isn’t full,
Fruity, and damn right snifftastic! It’s hot, but the sherried, rum and raisin, fruitcake is all there in abundance. There’s a thick edge to the toffee sweet edge as well. It’s a very satisfying nose for a sherry head like myself!

Palate.

Sweet. Sherried dark fruits. Heat comes through. Dissipates and results in the rich fruitcake notes you’d expect. Toffee. Chewy. Heavy oily mouthfeel.

Finish. Medium

. Rich toffee and sherried oak stays around to a drying conclusion. Warm. And embracing.

Adding water.

Dollop into my dram! The nose has developed a little age! There is some polished wood in the mix now. Still thick toffee but with an air of aged wood dust, which while doesn’t sound appealing it actually is! Very appealing. The palate has a more levelled balance, mouthfeel slightly diminished, in favour of a fruitier balance. It’s really a special dram. If I was blind tasting some age would come into this which would not be accurate. The finish is smooth, warming and truly feels special. Thick toffied sherry malt dominates in a warming way. The end game is just plain relaxing and therapeutic!

Conclusion.

it’s a monster of the sherried variety. It gives what you would expect from glendroach if you know them. If you don’t. Then expect a good smooth sherried, spicy beast of a dram. It’s spicy. Easy and challenging at the same time if you want it to be! Full of the rich toffee, dark thick fruity moments that sometimes life needs to keep you on the path forward. It’s a bloody fulfilling experience.

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Whisky Review – Cutty Sark (cask strength and carry on edition)

Cutty Sark (cask strength and carry on edition)
51.4% ABV
£34.95 at MasterOfMalt

This is the third release from the boys at caskstrength.net. I have to say thank you as I was one of the lucky two that won bottles of cutty sark in their draw! Thanks guys. I’ve been a follower of what they have been doing since absolutely bloody loving their ‘b’ release last year. The Benriach was absolutely cracking and I wish I bought more! Here’s looking forward to the ‘d’ release…coming soon?!?! I’m hoping Dalmore. But who knows! Lol.

Nose.

Wisps of smoke. Grain. Yeast. A little youth on the nose. Fresh green apples. Vanilla. A little honey in the backdrop.

Palate.

Sweet. Very sweet. Wasn’t expecting that. Mouthfeel is viscous and full. Alcohol nip kicks in and out. Then we have honey, vanilla, creamy custard notes. Quite smooth despite its higher ABV. Got some grain to it. But that isn’t a bad thing. We like grain here! It’s creamy and very enjoyable. Well, this is very easy to drink without water. But I think it may change.

Finish.

Short-medium. Youth! Young spirit. Vanilla. Very creamy. Warming and quick and wanting to get in for another sip!

Adding water.

Dollop into my dram. Minimal change in the nose. Palate is lighter on the mouthfeel. Sweeter. But has more to it in terms of honey, cream, vanilla. And general scrumminess.

Conclusion.

It’s a blend. And an easy one. Very tasty indeed. Grainier than your average dram. But that’s not a bad thing for variation if your a single malt type. It’s actually really creamy, light, easy, Friday night after a shit week at work type dram. One to toast the crap away with! In fact. Right now. For me. It’s bloody perfect!

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Whisky Review – Elements of Islay PL1

Elements of Islay PL1
60% ABV
Sold out. Though Corks of Cotham may have 1 or 2 left! £65.99

I love Bruichladdich. Love em I tell you! I’ve tried a few of their expressions. I love Octomore loads! I’ve tried a few of theirs as well. However…I think this is the first time I’ve done a Port Charlotte!

Nose.

Coastal BBQ. The sizzling bacon fat is bubbling away. The salted waves crashing in the background. From the colour and presumed (port Charlotte would have been going up to ten years at the time of this bottling so I would assume 6-9 years in a very active ex-sherry cask) age I would have thought more fruit present on the nose. But it’s very much a big, young, boosty Islay malt. It’s big ABV makes it harder to get your nose into. But with a litter perseverance the sherry spice and dark stewed fruit notes can be found lingering in the BBQ background. A little time in the glass and the fruit does wonder a little further forwards.

Palate.

Immediately some sherried dark fruits followed by a massive alcohol blast. As the blast subsides, it becomes quite maritime. Sea salt. Chilli and pepper. Peat earth. The fruit doesn’t return though.

Finish.

Salt and pepper. Some minimal fruit. Very warming. Drying wood tannins.

Adding water.

Think this will take a bit but will go in stages. Dollop 1. Nose is still hot. Rummed raisin coming through now. A little fruitcake in the background. BBQ still there in abundance. Palate. Wow. Big stuff. Fruity peat. Lots of fruit now. Really chewy. Great mouthfeel. It’s big, brash and fun. It’s got a lot of sherried dark fruits coming through but not the intensity of a a’bunadh, more sherried fruits with a peat fired rocket up its jacksie. Still got quite a bit of heat mid palate, but the flavours are coming out. Finish has some very subtle peat smoke infused fruits. More berried fruit now as opposed to raisins. I would go black/red/straw berrys. Lets do another water dollop. Dollop 2. For reference we have cloudiness. The nose is now well fruited. With many berries in addition to the raisin effect. The BBQ is more bonfire now. Damp brown leaf bonfire. There’s a little toffee coming in with the fire. The palate is now without the big burn. The malt is more toffied in its nature. Still fruity, very little peat on the immediate palate. The finish has peat earth, toffee encrusted fruit bars. Some cereal is floating around the mix as well. Possibly malted milk biscuits. There’s some creaminess throughout the experience now also. With or without water?! Can’t decide. Work to do there I think to find the right balance. It’s an experimental dram. You could spend a whole evening with a couple of these exploring the nooks and crannies. It’s an experience.

Conclusion.

A complex, different, big beastie boy of a malt. Lots to do, see, smell and taste. It’s not easy going. It’s a marathon of an Islay experience. Worth taking up though. If you can find it!

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Whisky Review – Glendronach 1994 / 18 Year Old / PX Puncheon #3547

Glendronach 1994 / 18 Year Old / PX Puncheon #3547
55.1% ABV
£79.95 from theWhiskyExchange

I love sherried whiskies. If you read my reviews you’ll see that as I usually have more to say about them than others. Doesn’t mean I don’t love the others. It just means that sherried whiskies, good ones that is, fuel my need to write. Kind of like a textual purge!

Bear in mind this is a first opened bottle. First dram from it. If it differs greatly in time I will post updates.

Colour.

Deep dark natural mahogany. They look effing rich and sumptuous (will try not to use those descriptors again in this review! Lol) in the bottle. You know your in for a thick ride!

Nose.

Sweet spicy sherried malt. Serious PX influence. There’s a nice bit of aged oak wood spices also. Some rum drenched sawdust. A little polish. Bucket tonnes of dark fruits. Raisins, sultanas, plums. Some chocolate. A dollop of coffee. And spiced oranges baked in mulled wine! Christmas has definitely come early!

Palate.

Damn my barring of those descriptors! Errrr. It’s thick and juicy! Sweet PX big sherried monster malt. Then the bite comes. Subsides and develops into more sweet dark fruity pleasure. Mouthfeel is oily, chewy and all around big. Some oak influence in the palate showing a subtle age, but the sherry sweetness is the dominant entity here. Right up my street! Sweet oranges, chocolate, spiced oak chips, rum engorged fruitcake, raisins, sultanas, some coffee.

Finish.

More coffee, chocolate, oranges, rum and raisin. Drying out to sherry drenched oak, a little sawdust and toasted oak chips.

Adding water.

Being cautious with the water due to the age. I think it will take a bit. But I’ll go slow as its the first dram from this bottle. More balanced now. Quite delicately so. All the same fragrances are in place, little less fruit dominance and more stabilisation with the oak age influences making more of a statement. Fascinating. The palate. Sweet, fruity, tasty big! Less burn gives development more space and layers interchange between oak and fruit and aged spiced oak and chewy fruit and oak and yummm and ahhhh. Finish is lighter, fruitier, and, oh balls to it RICH and SUMPTUOUS!
A little more water. Probably put too much in as its quite cloudy (a good thing I know, but maybe not for the age) and diluted. Lets see. The nose is more oak than fruit now. Lots of polish and wood. Fruit very definitely left behind. Palate wise, much weaker, still got its bits and bobs. But it’s lost a bit there. Finish is well, fruitier! How strange! It’s fruitier, sweeter and less oaky dryness! That’s a bit different! So. How much water? Well it’s worth a play. For me. It’s a dollop. But not too much!
*update* – bit of time in the glass and the heavier diluted is really good! It’s just worth playing with this dram. Pour a large one. Make it last and add water several times during the hour or two you slowly spend nosing and sipping. It’s a good slow ride to awesomesville!

Conclusion.

It’s friggin awesome. I’m biased because I love sherried whiskies and especially glendronach px matured whiskies. They don’t pay me or anything, but they can if they want! (I could do with a new job!) Lol.

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Whisky Review – Aberlour A’bunadh batch 45

Aberlour A’bunadh batch 45
60.2% ABV
£39.55 from MasterOfMalt

Nose.

Explosive, intense, bullish sherried malt. Fruitcake by the truck load. Immensely spicy chocomochafruitandnut. It’s a complete beast on the nose undiluted. You can do damage with this one. Nose with pleasurable caution! 🙂
With time in the glass the kick slows a little and more layered dark fruits and rum cake come to the surface. It’s a fantastic nose. One of the best a’bunadh’s I’ve sniffed.

Palate.

Big big kick. Needs a good bit of water. But we’ll get to that in a bit. When the nip subsides you get the richness of the sherry. The rum soaked raisins. Hot pepper spices with some chilli. All soaked in sherry and a handful of raisins/plums. And some coffee as well.

Finish.

Drying and nutty. Some mild coffee infused dark chocolate. A little salt in that chocolate. And then fruitcake leaves you satisfied that another sip is definitely required!

Adding water.

It needs it to really open up. So a good dollop. Left sat for a while. The diluted nose is still intensely satisfying, but calmed down. Now I get a good sense of wood oak spices and tannins. The in depth Christmas cake is there with added fruit. Spices are warm and cosy. It realty is a heartwarming dram for me! Spiced baked oranges are new to the diluted palate. Along with everything else that was there before but with less of an anaesthetic kick. The nose continues to develop in the glass. This is a good dram to experiment the effect of water and time with. Patience and time rewards! The fruit is getting richer and more rum soaked. Ah, it’s just sublime. Such good quality and enjoyment for the money. Bloody awesome. Sorry. Getting carried away with the joy. The palate is getting gentler and tastier with time. A richness to the sherried malt and rummy fruits is coming through, less intense, more mmmmmmmm. The finish is mellower, not quite as long, but just beautiful. It’s a complete sherry monster. But a bloody good one.
Adding a little more water brings out more chocolate, coffee and orange notes. Just so interesting and deep! Toffee! Toffee as well. A thick rich one!

Conclusion.

Batch 45. It’s a good one! A very good one. I’m not the greatest at identifying subtle sulphur, or even dissing it, I can sense a bad sulphur fine. Batch 41 was dodgy in my opinion, not terrible but dodgy, water made it better. This one has none of the bitter or dodgy notes that 41 did. This is better than 42 which was the last bottle of a’bunadh I had opened. This bottle is not going to last long I’m afraid. Worth getting another one in for spare. :-/

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Whisky Review – SMWS 9.72 Lockets Honey and Lemon Lozenges

SMWS 9.72 Lockets Honey and Lemon Lozenges.
17 year old.
62.1% ABV
£59.90 from SMWS

Nose.

Intense lemon citrus. Rich thick Honey. Powdery Vanilla. Icing sugar. There is a menthol/eucalyptus twang.

Palate.

Initially hot. Then waves of lemon followed by hot chilli spices. Milding out to hot toddy honey and lemon. Chilli sticks in there with some chewing but gives a more menthol freshness in the effect.

Finish.

Chilli fades to Vanilla, lemon, citrus peel. Drying out to oak spices.

Adding water?

A good dash. Opens up more citrus fruits. Oranges. Some apple. Very much more lemons, juice and peel. More honey and vanilla. Richer overall. Some waxiness on the nose also. On the diluted palate the heat is calmed down and the chilli effect. Allowing for the honey lemons to be more exploitable. Sweet icing sugar coats those honey lemons! Mouthfeel is thick and chewy. Finish leaves some menthol and spearmint now alongside the citrus with a little fizz. Added another dollop. Still heat to the nose. Lemons seem diluted in favour of the menthol and oak spice/pepper/chilli. But then later was more lemons again. On the palate it’s getting more watery but still has an immense amount of flavour going on. Heat more diluted now, lemons, lemon oil, citrus peel. Oranges. Honey and vanilla and sugars all there still. Lighter and more layered now. Finish remains fruity as anything, warming and satisfying drying oak. Needs and can take quite a bit of water. Reminding me of old bassett’s sherbert lemons!

Thanks to SMWS for sending me a sample.

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Whisky Review – Glendronach 1993 19 yo oloroso sherry butt #487

Glendronach 1993 19 yo oloroso sherry butt #487.
£99.99 at Whisky Barrel

Colour.

Dark dark mahogany.

Nose.

Quite constrained nose of concentrated fruits and nuts and chocolate. Rum soaked cherries and raisins. Almonds. Intensively syrupy sherried malt.

Palate.

Strong nip of alcohol. Penetrating concentrate of everything in the nose all at once.

Finish.

Slightly bitter chocolate. Drying.

Adding water?

Adding about 20% water. The nose gives rich dark sherried fruits. Xmas cake. Chocolate nuts. Sweet spices. Orange peel. Palate gives a Sumptuous fruity explosion. Rich and scrumptious. Smooth and still delicate yet bold. The finish is dryish. Fruity leftovers. Adding more water makes things less rich. More nut. Still scrummy, but the palate is less intense. The finish less also. Worth being discrete and careful with water quantity added.

Conclusion.

Another cracking single cask release from Glendronach. I’m a big fan. I know it may sound like I’m biased, been bought, sold out. But, I’ve bought these myself, as I am totally in love with this distillery! I am a sherry head and this distillery delivers for me! Thank you Glendronach!

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Whisky Review – Glendronach 1993 19yo PX butt #26

Glendronach. 1993
19 yo px butt #26.
Uk exclusive.
Now hard to find.

Nose.

Rich. Intense. Sherried dark fruits. Christmas cake. Oranges. Chocolate. Mouthwatering joy. It’s flicking awesome.

Palate.

Assault of fruit and Xmas cake. Needs some water but not much I reckon.

Finish.

Some musty age in a good way. Long. Fruit and cake is here to stay. Just plain awesome. Going back for more.

Adding Water?

Adding a reasonable dollop into my dram weakens the punch but shows more age. Getting varnish and good wood spices. On the palate All the fruity goodness and joy. Doesn’t need much water and I’m not adding anymore. Neat is fine but worth extending the experience a little with a drop.

Conclusion.

A Beauty of a dram. If you can still find it anywhere and you like your easily sherried whiskies then this is for you. If you find it anywhere and you don’t want to buy it please be kind and drop me an email! 🙂

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