Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cleaning out my samples - part 4 of 5

1. An Cnoc 16yo 46%

Knockdhu distillery

An Cnoc is produced at Knochdhu distillery. Inver House has this label so this whisky isn't confused with Knockando, a speyside distillery owned by Diageo

I have to admit I have a soft spot for An Cnoc. They make simple classic whisky without any tempering, somewhat a trademark of other Inver House distilleries as well!. I also had a very nice event there during Spirit of Speyside 2010, a very releaxed and informal tour and tasting with the manager, his daughters and staff of the distillery. One of those days that justifies doing your 100 something distillery visit :-)

Apart from the 12yo, An Cnoc is bottled at 46% and unchillfiltered..something I appreciate.

Nose : classic whisky, lightly spiced and slightly on the sweet side

Palate : A nice mix of maltiness, citrus, sweetness and a tiny bit of vanilla

Finish : medium

Rating 84

Comment : An Cnoc is one of the secret gems of Speyside! or Highland if you prefer to locate it there :-)

2. Glencadam 25yo OB 1983-2008 46%

Vatting facility at Glencadam

Vatting tanks

Glencadam warehouse

Glencadam is (another) underrated overlooked distillery. It's located in Brechin on Scotlands east coast, and a lot of their produce is going to a range of various young supermarket blends. If you haven't tried whisky from their standard range, a 10yo and 15yo you missed something!

Nose : Heavy sherry, leather 

Palate : Sweet sherry, slight burnt sugars, dried - but not that dried - fruits, sligth rubber (not sulphur but latex), licorise, but the classic whisky characteristics do emerge from below the sherry. Some maltiness and vanilla can be detected.

Finish : Medium-long and in the end I get grapefruits off all things!

Comment : A heavily sherried whisky with underlaying layers revealing characterics of a whisky there isn't totally disguised by the very influental sherry cask

Rating 88

Thanks to Lukas and Jørn for the samples

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ardbeg Glenrothes 9 yo

A couple of years ago Douglas Laing released some young, vatted malts with whisky from two distilleries, one cask from each. Let's taste one of these bottlings.
Ardbeg & Glenrothes Double Barrel, 9 yo, Douglas Laing, 46%
Nose: Flint stones and salt come rushing out followed by fruity notes and tar. This is young and spirity. We're not talking a lot of nuancens here but it does hold your nostrils in a firm grip. After a few minutes a sweet rubbery note appears which is frankly a bit too much for this humble taster.
Taste: Pears and tar rumble their way round the mouth. Other fruits try to mix in but have to do with a background seat as the young alcohol dominates. The finish is peaty with asphalt and liquorice.
I must say I prefer a young Ardbeg on it's own or a Glenrothes ditto to this release which is by no means bad whisky. It's just not very entertaining.
Rating: 79

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two Coleburn's and lesser known malts

Some years ago I tasted a couple of malts from Coleburn distillery and found them surprisingly good. When reading through various whisky books, the remarks and reviews of Coleburn at the time were not exactly sky high. Since then I have found it interesting to find and taste great drams from some of the lesser known distilleries. Distilleries that you don't hear about very often or sometimes in a not so positive manner. As my little experience with Coleburn had been good, I decided to start here by buying some of the (rather few) Coleburn's that were out there to find.
Earlier this year I held a Coleburn tasting with 14 different expressions from this Speyside distillery which closed in 1985. I didn't quite know what to expect and was a bit nervous having invited a good bunch of whisky friends over. Would Coleburn make it or break it. It could go either way.
As it turned out, everyone participating in the event were positively surprised by the quality of the Coleburn bottlings. Most of the 14 bottlings were cask strength and the age ranged from 14 to 36. I must confess that now I really have a soft spot for this distillery and can honestly say I think it is one of the overlooked malts of the whisky world. Personally I scored the 14 whiskies between 84-92 points with five reaching the magical 90 or above.
Retasting a couple should be fun. Here we go:
Coleburn, 21 yo 1979/10.2000, Rare Malts, bottle 0024, 59.4%
Nose: Fresh and strong mixture of several vegetables including broccoli and horse radish. To that we can add grass and ammonium chloride. Oak juice.. Ahem, perhaps I should try squeezing a tree next time I'm in the forest to see if some of this comes out.. Moving on, in the end some candyfloss comes forward. The sensation in the mouth is extract like.
Taste: Lovely vegetables again. The oak juice here turns a bit more bitter but the profile is crystal clear. Grass and evening dew with no-nonsense shots of chili, ammonium chloride and horse radish. To me this is as authentic as it gets. Oldfashioned indeed and I'm very happy with that!
Rating: 90
Coleburn, 26 yo 1983/2009, The Whisky Agency, bourbon hogshead, 120 bottles, 49.5%
Nose: Beautiful rose flowers and sweet champagne avenúes. Perfume and garden fruits. Mixed candy galore. A loving embrace from someone you love.
Taste: Blossoming rose bushes, a summer field ready for harvest. Sweet mirabelles and plums. And something slightly spicy and rotten which I like! This Coleburn seems to have it all when speaking of softness and character. Only a little bit lack of oomph prevents me from scoring it as high as the words suggest. I could drink this every day...
Rating: 90
Concluding comment: If you're into oldfashioned, authentic malt whisky and have a sweet and fruity tooth (we're not talking much sherry influence here), try one of the Coleburn's around while they're still here.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Recent bottlings - Arran Westie and Deanston 12yo

1. Arran Westie 46%

This is the third icons of Arran bottling, following the 1996 Peacock (one of my favourite whiskies) and 1997 Rowan Tree. Drawn from 22 ex-sherry hogsheads, and named after the distillery manager James McTagger's dog Ruaraidh

Nose: Heatherhoney

Palate : Heatherhoney, butterscotch, a creamy slight bitter nuttyness, sweet

Finish : Medium and sweet

Rating 83

Comments: These icons of Arran's are very affordable good whisky

2. Deanston 12yo 46.3%

Nose : Vanilla

Palate: Spicy, nutty, tastes a lot older than 12yo. The woodspices sticks on your backpalate and gives this a woody spicy finish as if this was a far older whisky. Very intense in its flavours.

Finish: Medium-long

Comments: This is surprisingly good for a 12yo standard bottling. My favourite of the new Burn Stewarts. I hope they can keep up this quality. Did they put something in this mini ? :-). Wow

Rating 87

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cleaning out my samples - part 3 of 5

1. Hart Brothers 17yo Talisker 46%

Distilled 1993

Nose: sherry, slight wellington rubber, that actually smells good :-)

Palate: Sweet, peppery, peaty and prickly in a very nice combination. This will be exactly what a sherry fan picking up a Talisker would expect. This is really sweet! But the way the peat and the pepper emerges behinds the sweetness is absolutely delicious

Finish : medium

Comment: If you buy a sherried Talisker this is exactly what you hope for! More sweet than you'd expect thou. But if you can take the sweetness this will delight you!!

Rating 87

2. Caol Ila 15yo Bladnoch Forum 58.8%

This is one of the early Bladnoch Forum bottlings. Thank you Jesper for the sample.


Palate: very creamy and a big body. Vanilla, butterscotch and peat. Very peaty actually. 

Finish : long, with a wood-spicy touch that prickles your palate for a long time

Comment : I really like this whisky. Big and Bold is not usually the words associated to a whisky from an ex-bourbon cask this age!!

Rating 90

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Amrut Herald

Amrut Herald

Cask 2857, 60.8%
231 bottles

Matured 4 years in India then 18 months in Helgoland
Alcohol strength dropped from 64.8% to 60.8% while maturing in Helgoland

Amrut Still (Photo by Ras Mazunga)

Steffen's review :

This one is strong stuff. Needs water. And I almost never add water to my whiskies.

Nose: It's like Old Pulteney on steroids. Initially the nose has a slight vinegar edge, then a spicy woodyness appears.

Palate: Same pattern happens to the palate. The wood and spice makes this appear as the oldest tasting Amrut I have tried. Like a 30+ year old scotch, but the ABV gives it all away. Opposed to the Two Continents this has got a lot more "Amrut" in it. Tropical fruit, cocoa and a creamy nuttiness.

Finish : "Old whisky"-tannines, medium-long.

Comments: This is a bit like Stagg. Best consumed dropwise. A pour will last forever...the perfect long-drink. The ABV can be overwhelming. The whisky really benefits a lot from a little air or the bottle being open for a wee bit. Well this is a sample, but it improved from being opened a week! An enjoyable dram!

A good whisky, not for the fainthearted thou. One of the very few whisky I feels need a drop of water by default

Rating 83

Lars' review :

Nose: strong spirit, toffee, milk chocolate and dessert cookies. Friendly and inviting despite the 60.8% that tingles round my nose. Green nuts and sweets with touches of pineapple and pears in the background. After a while it gets a bit rum like.
Taste: sweet and warm. Rather complex. Milk, nuts and toffee chocolate. Warm milk for the adult child who can’t sleep  . Thick and oily. Nips the jaws. In the finish dry oak and more toffee appears.

With water the fruit comes out to play. A bowl of mixed fruits in the warm sun. This is one of the few whiskies where I could want to add drops of water. A fine dram.

Rating: 87     

(Note: review written without having seen Steffen’s or anyone else’s opinion on this whisky which is what I prefer to do)


Steffen's final comment

This might be a weird way to make a review with two different rating systems. The way my odd rating system is defined..(look to the right edge), I would say our ratings match quite close. Please don't take ratings too serious, its just a number to express how much we like a whisky

There will be 4 casks bottled of the Amrut Herald for different markets. 

Dramming reviewed another cask here : 

Gordon at Spirit of India reviewed the same cask as lars and me here