Ireland 1991-2015, 23yo, 54.9% – The Nectar of the Daily Dram

For little over a year now Irish whiskey’s have become vastly more popular than they were for years. At least, to malt whisky fanatics that is. Irish whiskey has always had its fair share of fans for Jameson, Redbreast and a lot of other brands.

Since independent bottlers started focusing on the emerald isle, however, things have picked up a notch or two. The undisclosed single malts that have been released are, simply put, all great. All of them.

The ones that are beyond great and are truly stunningly awesome drams are the 20-something year old bottlings coming from a slew of bottlers. The Nectar of the Daily Drams is one of the bigger parties in this, even though Adelphi was at it earlier with their Limerick bottlings.

At Maltstock, Jürgen Vromans brought a series of these drams for sampling. Unfortunately it wasn’t a masterclass and he was one of the folks who had drams available for a little extra money. Still, things were affordable and although I generally don’t want to spend any money at Maltstock, I bought a sample of this one for taking home. A fiver well spent, I’d say.

Although it’s all undisclosed single malt, there are just two options for this, them being Bushmills and Cooley. The story goes that Bushmills distilled some peated spirit for Cooley in their startup year, but this one from after that period (and unpeated), so my guess is that this is Cooley.

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

The nose is very light and fruity. Quite estery. Some apple and fresh pear, with dried pineapple. There’s hints of barley too, and almost no oak to speak of. I get a hint of lemon on the background.

The palate is a bit sweeter than the nose made me expect, and there’s more vanilla than there was on the nose. The pear and apple are back, as is the pineapple but I’m not getting the hint of lemon. Quite spicy after a few seconds of swimming, some white pepper heat. Behind it all is a clear flavor of simple syrup.

The finish is rather nice and quite long. The barley is a little more outspoken and there’s some fruit. Not overly exciting.

Weird. Honestly, I’m a little disappointed by this one. Maybe because I know some others are a lot better than this. Having said that, this is a very relative statement. Mostly because this whisky still is very, very good. It’s just not as good as some others.

Still, if I’d have spent the original € 130 on it, I’d be a happy camper and I’d gladly go through the bottle. The fruity hints that you want from an Irish whiskey of this age are present and there’s almost no oak influence to speak of, which is nice.

Ireland 1991-2015, 23yo, 54.9%, The Nectar of the Daily Dram. Long gone…

Posted in - Irish Whiskey | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Millstone Rye, 10yo, 58.6% – OB for The Whisky Exchange

A little while ago I organized a bottle share of this baby, after tasting some great samples of Zuidam Rye. I got enthused by this one from the moment they announced it at The Whisky Exchange, but I found the price a little prohibitive (£ 84 / € 118).

But, with bottle shares going quite well I thought to give it a go. Billy Abbott was coming to Maltstock anyway, so that way I could save on shipping. The bottle share filled up quickly and last weekend I sent out all samples to the participants.

The same night I tried my sample (all 5cl of it…).

Anyway, Zuidam, the distiller behind the Millstone brand is making some really good rye whisky. I think it can rival the great American rye whiskeys out there and have not yet had another one from elsewhere that comes close. Our club bottling is pretty awesome, their regular 100 Rye is great, and other samples I’ve had were pretty bad ass too.

There’s a lot of oak, but that’s not surprising after a decade in new American white oak. Very spicy with chocolate. Green, wet wood, tree bark and some light peppery hints. It’s sweet with hints of mint and pine, some pesto (basil/pine nuts, mostly). It’s a very interesting combination of heavy and crisp notes.

The palate is spicy but I would never have guessed this is almost at 60% abv. Some red chili peppers, slightly sweet with big hints of rye. Bread, black pepper, cinnamon. All quite dry wit bitter chocolate. Full and rich.

The finish is mostly spicy at first, with peppermint and regular mint. Quite long with hints of oak. The ABV is a little more noticeable here.

So, in short, I no longer think the price is prohibitive. I think this is one of the best rye whiskies I’ve had. It’s not really comparable to Sazerac 18 or so, but the fiercely strong Thomas H. Handy is in the same league. I might just prefer this.

The 10 years in oak have given the whisky some depth and a lot of flavors to go around. I absolutely love this. It’s not for nothing that my sample ran out immediately. Shame I haven’t kept more for myself!

The combination of fresh, crisp notes of pine and mint are a great counterbalance for the heavy oak and other spices. I would not have imagined this to work but it really does. I’ve also not had many whiskies with a hint of pesto, but again, it works surprisingly well.

Get this while you can!

Millstone Rye, 10yo, January 2004 to September 2014, cask 667, 58.6% – OB for The Whisky Exchange. Available there for £ 84

Posted in - Bottle share, - Rye Whiskey, - World Whisky, Millstone, Zuidam | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BenRiach 1998, 17yo PX Finish, 48.9% – OB for The Whisky Exchange

At Maltstock I generally trade a lot of booze with other people. For some I bring samples, for others bottles. And for Billy Abbott of The Whisky Exchange, I normally bring a few beers and whatever I’ve got lying around that I think he’ll find interesting.

Luckily, that deal works both ways. The guys at The Whisky Exchange got in a couple new bottlings and Billy, being the awesome chap he is, brought some sample of them for me.

Add to that the fact that I am generally quite impressed by what BenRiach releases, and there was one of that distillery in the bag. I am a happy guy, and this is the first one I picked for in depth exploration.

Well, as far as 3 cl samples go, that is. In depth is more like half a bottle.

This is a curious BenRiach as well. It’s been triple distilled, which is something not many Scottish distilleries do anymore. As far as I know it’s only Auchentoshan for all their product, and BenRiach and Springbank for some of it.

The spirit is very light and quite unlike any other BenRiach I’ve had before (I never tried the triple distilled yet). There’s a sherry influence that’s pronounced, but not overpowering and quite gentle. Slightly ‘green’ with wet wood, leaves, barley, that kind of stuff. Also raisins and some other fruits. Certainly PX, with that added sweetness. Some orange after a while.

The palate is light again, but shows some ‘spirit’. It’s sweet with tropical fruit. Plums and dates, some peach. Also baking spices with cinnamon leading the way. It gets sweeter as you let it swim, and again, very late there some orange.

The finish shows slightly more sherry with flavors of raisin, spiced cake. Quite consistent with the palate, just a tad more sherry. The clean spirit is noticeable again too.

So, this is an interesting whisky. It’s different on many levels. The PX influence is much lighter than I’m used to from almost all bottlers and distillers. Also, the triple distilled whisky sure makes a big difference between this and regular BenRiach.

The funny thing is that my sentiment towards this whisky is what I’ve had with some drams over the last couple of weeks. At first I don’t really like it, but after I write the review I really want to have more of it. Especially with this dram, and how gentle it is, it would fill a void in my collection that ‘needs filling’. (Like I NEED more whisky…)

So, in short. A very interesting, easy drinking dram that does offer enough complexity to keep you interested in it. Good picking by The Whisky Exchange!

BenRiach 1998, 17yo, Triple Distilled with a PX Finish, 48.9% – OB for The Whisky Exchange. Available for £ 99.95

Thanks to The Whisky Exchange and Billy Abbott for the sample!

Posted in BenRiach | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Man walks into a Pub – Pete Brown

It’s been ages since I finished a book, let alone one that has some significance for the blog. But, last week I started commuting by train again, and that means at least 40 minutes of reading extra per day. In some cases I don’t even mind delays, depending on which book I’m reading.

Anyway, I finally finished ‘Man walks into a Pub’. Finally does not mean it’s a bad read, but it does mean I didn’t get around to it as quickly as I would have liked.

The book is a history of British pubs, and therefore a history of beer in England. I felt the time was right in reading it now since I’m going to Dorset for a week soon. I should know what I’m getting in to, right? I already checked the Camra website and it seems the Best Real Cider pub of the UK is near where we’re staying. So that’s a good thing.

Anyway. The review in short is: Read this book. It’s awesome. Although it stretches back some 500 years it is nicely focused on the periods that matter, sometimes making jumps spanning decades in which not much happened.

It start with ale houses, inns and stage coaches. While this is all quite interesting I was more interested in more recent times, and that’s where the biggest part of the book focuses on. From the first world war and the temperance movement from that era onward to current times is more than half of the book and it’s very interesting to read how the brewers got bigger and bigger. How the pubs sometimes had to close down because of changing social and economic standards, and how a pub was obliged to open if it had a license in WW2.

Add to that the history of beer itself and what styles were popular at which times, and more interestingly, why they were popular and you’ve got a great read. While all this info might sound a little stale at times, it’s written in a very affable manner and isn’t lecturing at all.

There’s enough jokes and cynicism to entertain me (and I am cynical of a lot of things). The book and more important, the writer don’t take themselves too serious. Also, while I’m not much of a lager drinker, I find it very refreshing that lager is an important part of the story told and Pete Brown is never condescending towards lager drinkers. He even admits to being one himself. That doesn’t happen often in professional beer writing!

So, if you have an inkling of curiosity towards British pubs, or beer in England, you really want to read his book. You also might want to pledge a couple of bucks to his new book in which he will write in depth about the ingredients that make a beer a beer.

Posted in - Book | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Oban 12, decanter from the 1970s

A bit of a divergent title since there’s not much info in there. Funny thing is, there’s not much info on the bottle either. No ABV, no contents. Just that it’s been bottled by John Hopkins & Sons. Based on the tax label info it’s from somewhere in the 1970s.

What I do know is that I like Oban, in general. There aren’t many out there I won’t say I’ve tried a lot of them, but even the regular 14 year old is a pretty decent dram. One of the better standard whiskies, I think.

I got a sample of this in a recent trade, and that’s a good thing. I finally get to try older Oban from one of those decanter bottles. I’ve been eyeballing those in auctions for a long time but there was always something else to go after. Now I get to check whether that was a good thing to do.

The nose is light, but has some of OBE (Old Bottle Effect) which makes you recognize it as an old bottle straight away. Quite coastal with a gentle layer of smoke. Some oak pulp, leather an old books. Like an old library with armchairs. Dusty grain, wet, moldy cellars and wet cement. Somehow there’s also a hint of yeasty sherry and sawdust. Quite cloyingly sweet with a lot of fruit. Overripe mango and papaya.

The palate is more rich and full than I expected from such an old whisky. Sweet again with the overripe fruit. Leather, oak, old wood. Slightly salty an that wet cellar scent again. Dunnage warehouses and books.

The finish continues down the same path. A library from a couple of decades ago, with armchairs and a sea facing window that’s open. Quite old fashioned. Heavy and slightly cloying.

It’s quite interesting how much this whisky reminds me of the current Benromach 10 year old. Apart from that, it’s a great dram. There’s so much going on for a regular 12 year old. With booze like this I can imagine people considering older single malts (not in age, but when they were distilled) are better than their current counterparts.

I love that there’s a slight coastal note going on behind all the old books and leather notes. It makes for a very interesting and deeply layered dram. I absolutely love this kind of stuff and I can imagine it being in my next auction biddings. Whether or not it’s going to be in the winnings is an entirely different story, with current prices being north of € 200.

Oh, and based on ABV, I’d say this is a 43% whisky.

Oban 12, no further info but probably from the late 70s. Currently worth some € 250

EDIT: I’ve checked the tax label, and it’s one of those Italian ones. The contents of the bottle is ‘da litri 3/4’, and according to my own research with help from Max Righi we found that this wasn’t done after 1977. So, a real oldie with distillate of 1965 at the latest!

Posted in Oban | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Old Pulteney 2000-2014, 14yo, 61.1%, Hand bottled at the Distillery

Somehow I don’t try many Old Pulteneys. That’s more strange since I generally really enjoy the taste and aroma it brings, with gentle briny notes covered in fruit and vanilla.

Deducing from that you might say I prefer the bourbon casks of Pulteney Distillery, and you’d be right. So, when I could get my hands on a sample of the Hand Bottled version from last year, I did so.

What’s surprising is that after 14 years in oak, the ABV is still above 60%, and this makes me guess they filled it slightly above the usual 63.5%. Especially in a wet climate like Wick’s I’d expect to have much more alcohol evaporation and the declining ABV that goes with it.

Or, it was just a really dense grained cask. Really dense.

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

I think I get a minor whiff of smoke from the start. There’s vanilla and yellow fruits, which I expected. Apple, pineapple. There’s a sugary sweetness going on and a trace of pastry cream. Apart from the smoke we’re still talking bakery here! Some lemony notes too.

The palate is sharp and drying, and that’s not all that surprising. There’s hints of freshly sawed oak. White pepper and alcohol, vanilla. It’s quite sweet still with the hints of fruit and pastry cream being present here too.

The palate is warming and sharp. Again there’s vanilla and sweet bread. Brioche like. Some lemony notes again, but those are faint. Not overly long.

If I just regard the taste of the whisky, without any other factor measured in, I’d be thrilled with a dram like this. It shows the default Old Pulteney flavors and does so in a great and fierce way.

However, when I’d be bottling a distillery only version of a whisky, I always hope that it’s going to be a little extra special. Or maybe it’s more that if I try a distillery only whisky, I miss the experience of bottling it myself and the whisky has to do all the talking. In that situation, this one is good, but it just misses that little extra nudge to make it stand out a little more.

So, this is one of those cases that if it had been me at the distillery having to shell out some 70 quid for this bottling, I’d gladly do so. If I’d have to buy it elsewhere, I might have skipped it.

Then again. In the current climate in which a 15 year old cask strength costs € 100 and this single cask clocks in just below that. I’d still gladly buy it and be happy with it. How things have changed.

Old Pulteney 2000-2014, 14 years old, Bourbon Cask 649, Hand bottled at the distillery, 61.1%. Currently about € 95

Posted in Old Pulteney | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two new bottle shares!

I’ve been doing bottle shares since forever, and recently I started a group on Facebook (hidden and such) for the usual suspects of them. Those guys get first crack since they’re participating a lot and also because they’re in The Netherlands. That’s just making things easier for me.

The following two didn’t fill up there, so now’s the chance for everybody else to join in the fun!

Bottle share: Compass Box Flaming Heart Anniversary Edition and Compass Box ‘This is not a Luxury Whisky’.

‘This is not a Luxury Whisky’ is a blended whisky from Compass Box, and the next in line of their rather awesome blends (remember The Lost Blend and The General?). In this case it’s a whisky made up of:

  • 79% 19 year old malt whisky aged in first fill Sherry butts from the Glen Ord Distillery
  • 10.1% 40 year old grain whisky from the Strathclyde distillery,
  • 6.9% 40 year old grain whisky from the Girvan distillery and
  • 4% 30 year old malt whisky from the Caol Ila distillery.

It is bottled at 53.1%.

‘Flaming Heart’ is one of their usual suspects but this one is slightly more luxurious since it’s the anniversary edition. They’ve already released some other anniversary editions but this is the newest and the first I’m actually going to do a bottle-share of. This one is made up of:

  • 27.1% of 30 year old and 38.5% 14 year old Caol Ila whisky
  • 24.1% of 20 year old whisky from Clynelish
  • 10.3% of undisclosed Highland whisky aged in ‘French Oak hybrid casks’

It is bottled at 48.9%

5 cl of this bottle share will cost € 30, 10 cl will cost € 60 and so on.

If there’s enough enthusiasm I might also do the other Anniversary editions, but first have to get this going.

Currently there’s 40cl available.

Bottle share: Willett whiskey

I’ve always been enthused by Willett whiskey. They used to have ancient ryes available but those have all gone and go for astronomical prices in auction. So, we’re down to the younger branches of the family.


This bottle-share will consist of the following:

Willett 2yo Rye (own distillate) op 55.4%
Willett 2yo Rye (own distillate) op 54.9%
Willett 6yo Rye op 58.7%
Willett 8yo Rye op 58.8%
Willett 7yo XCF op 51.7%

Own distillate means that they’ve distilled this themselves. The brand never went away, but the distillery was shut down for a long time. They’ve been firing the still for a couple of years now and the two year olds are from themselves. The others are from MGP in Indiana.

The XCF is an Exploratory Cask Finish, in this case a French Curacao cask. Curacao is a liqueur made of Laraha fruit (a citrus fruit native to Curacao). This is the expensive one in the list.

5cl of these costs € 40, 10cl is a tad cheaper at € 75

Currently there’s 50cl available

Let’s hear it!

Full disclosure:

Prices are calculated as follows. I order the bottles and the total amount of that is split by 12 or 13 (so I get my sample of either 10cl or 5cl for free). I then add a couple bucks for the bottles. Packaging is included in the price.

Why do I get my stuff for free? Because I organize this, obviously. There’s a lot of work involved in sampling, labeling, going through the post office. It also counts as a fee for those who bail after participating. Unfortunately that happens and can be a drain on funds in some cases.

Posted in - American Whiskey, - Blended Malt, - Blended Whisky, - Bottle share | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments