Bowmore Warehousemen’s Selection, 17yo, 1999, 51.3%

When I was on Islay, of course I didn’t just buy a shared bottle of Bunnahabhain Marsala Cask, we also went to Bowmore. We obviously went to Bowmore since we could see the distillery from our cottage, and it’s a great distillery to boot.

At the time they didn’t have a cask out for a handfilled Distillery Only bottling, which was a shame. They did, however, have this Warehousemen’s Selection available. A 17 year old whisky, matured in. This looked very appealing, but that may be the case because I was all giddy about being on Islay and being at Bowmore. I couldn’t remember for the life of me that this was matured in wine casks, as well as sherry and bourbon. I generally don’t like wine casks, and Bowmore’s wine casks have done nothing to change that opinion.

When I found this out, when I printed the label for my share, I was a bit apprehensive about trying it. Not entirely without reason.

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Image from WhiskyBase

Sniff:
Smoke with fruity wood notes. A bit like a burnt cake with red fruits. Almond ‘spijs’, nuts, dark and sugary bread.

Sip:
Quite sharp, with lots of sweet fruit on the arrival. It builds to a lot of chili heat, which gives it some sort of urgency. Red fruits, almonds, very dessert like. But with oak and smoke and barley.

Swallow:
The finish is strangely warm, with little to no typical Bowmore flavors. Lots of red fruits, stewed strawberries, sweet blackberries, maybe even rhubarb.

There’s a certain weirdness that’s not bad, but just weird. It makes it hard to love this whisky. The combination of flavors is a bit off whack, and the fact that the heat on the palate makes me want to finish is quickly is not a good thing.

So, there’s positives, with it being a complex whisky with lots of flavors. And there’s negatives with this being a very weird whisky that I couldn’t really find enjoyable. Bummer.

Apparently, I’m an outlier here, since it gets almost 90 points on Whiskybase, with almost a hundred ratings.

83/100

Bowmore Warehousemen’s Selection, 17yo, 1999, Bourbon & Sherry & Wine casks, 51.3%

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Lagavulin 12, 12th release, 56.1%

At one point, the Lagavulin 12 cask strength, the one that is released annually by Diageo, was going to be the thing I would collect. Every year it’s a top scoring whisky that’s truly amazing for it’s money, and it’s an overseeable amount of bottles you’re collecting. I wanted focus.

However, as the years progressed and I bought the annual bottling, and sometimes an older one through the secondary market, the prices of the first few releases started to go up, with me stopping to check once they reached some € 400 for the first two releases.

What happened in more or less the same period, was that I tried the 12th release next to the 17th release. They were virtually the same. Kudos to Diageo for consistency, utterly boring to collect. A side by side tasting would be the most boring tasting ever.

Then and there I decided to sell most of what I had collected over the years, starting with the once I had twice, and some of the ones that were actually worth something. Shit hit the fan when someone bought 6 of them and PostNL lost the package. I got most of the money back so it all ended up fine, but it took six months, a lot of stress and I still lost over a hundred Euros.

Anyway, that 12th release I tried next to the 17th was nearing its end, so I wrote notes and emptied the bottle. Here we go!

20190112_210033Sniff:
Quite fuel like. A massive smack of alcohol, with loads of smoke, diesel and brine. Some very light fruityness with grapes, unripe pears and apples. A bit of pine.

Sip:
Quite strong and very consistent with the nose. White grapes and unripe pears. Brine and smoke and sea weed. Very much Lagavulin as you’d expect it.

Swallow:
A bit sea wwedy again, lots of brine. Quite vegetal with some floral notes too. Smoky, slightly diesel like, some oak. Grass, brine.

So, all is well in Lagavulin Land. This is a tremendous whisky with everything that you want there. It ticks all the boxes, if you know what you’re looking for in a 12 year old Lagavulin. Quite strong, but with a very coastal and harbor like character. The brine, the sand, the fishing nets, the smoke from the boats’ engines. Gorgeous stuff.

89/100

Lagavulin 12, 12th release, 56.1%. Still available for around € 140 in shops, and € 125 in the secondary market.

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De Whiskykoning’s Bottoms Up 2019

As is tradition for Rob Stevens of De Whiskykoning, he hosted his annual Bottoms Up tasting yesterday. The second Sunday in January is an afternoon to be reckoned with, and this year was no different from before.

Of course, it’s really tricky to blog about this afternoon, since Rob always puts in a lot of curveballs, depending on how much time he has beforehand. And by curveballs I don’t mean an unexpected whisky, but whisky’s swapped between bottles, or sometimes swapped with something else entirely.

A few years ago there was a tail end of ‘Ardbeg Kildalton’, the original from 1980, which turned out to contain Wenneker Jenever that was finished in an Islay cask.

Here’s some pics of what we supposedly had.

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This wasn’t really this. The Winter Storm was somewhere on the table, but I doubt I had it.

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This was nice!

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Hidden in a tiny sample bottle, we ended this quickly after finding it. Such a good dram!

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A bottoms up bottle of which the seal wasn’t broken. Interesting, and not a bad whisky either.

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Also hidden in a sample bottle. A bit strange on the nose, but a very tasty whisky.

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Even though it’s an old bottling, it wasn’t very good. Didn’t finish it.

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This one was also hidden in a different sample bottle. I put the original upside down to finish the last five drops. Stellar stuff.

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Strong, but tasty.

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This wasn’t this either.

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This wasn’t this either. 

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This legendary whisky was in on of the two bottles above and it was epic. Since nobody was looking at it twice, I finished it all.

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This was whisky too. Not very good, but not too bad either.

In between these I got handed a couple glasses from obscured bottles, since JP was trying to try all the ones in tin foil. There was a very tasty Springbank 25 in there, but a lot of them were so-so.

All in all, by the time the tasting was nearing it’s end I was very much done with the amount of different flavors that had been barraging my palate for about two hours. I did have some epic drams that weren’t going to be topped anyway. I think we headed off little before the official end of the tasting, and we weren’t alone.

Pizzas were bought and Magic was played for the rest of the night. In short, an epic Sunday.

Thanks to Rob for inviting us over once again!

Posted in - Blended Malt, - Blended Whisky, - Grain Whisky, Belgian Owl, Bladnoch, Bourbon, Bowmore, Elijah Craig, Finlaggan, Floki, Glen Drummond, Glen Moray, Glenfiddich, Longmorn, Port Dundas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kilkerran 11, 2007-2018, Sherry Butt, 58.1% – Cadenhead

I just opened up the stats on this Kilkerran on Whiskybase and it’s currently going for € 162. It was released in July, and back then it was not even € 80. It has already doubled in price. Maybe at some point that used to be shocking, but since we’re in 2019 now and this is a single cask, cask strength, full sherry Kilkerran, it’s not as mental as you’d guess.

I don’t have much else to say except to just get into the fray. It is, after all, a single cask, cask strength, full sherry Kilkerran!

Sniff:
Big sherry, with spices, dried fruits, earthy notes and some very heavy, slightly sulphury notes. I think the ‘pro tasters’ won’t really like this one. Some burnt pork fat, the stuff that sticks to the barbecue grill. Lots of meaty notes. Dates and figs too, all big notes.

20190111_225042.jpgSip:
It’s slightly sharp, but only because it’s not my first whisky of the night. If it was, and I’ve tried, it’s insanely harsh. The fruits are a bit more prominent on the palate compared to the nose. It’s also not as meaty and as heavy as expected. Even though I like these big whiskies, I think that’s a good thing.

Swallow:
The afterburner is quite something in this dram. Even though the palate can be a bit harsh (depending on the prep) this is just hot at first. The flavors, luckily, are big enough to combat the heat with some really big, heavy and feinty notes. Earthy, barbecue char on pork drippings.

This is quite something. It’s a massive dram. It doesn’t pretend to be anything that it’s not, so you are actually drinking a not-too-old massively sherried Kilkerran. But it is insanely tasty if had late at night. It absolutely is not a starter, and when I did try it without warming up properly, I actively disliked this whisky because of it’s harshness. Keep in mind this comes from a guy who virtually never adds water to even the strongest whiskies.

The whisky itself brings a lot of heavy flavors and especially the barbecue-y notes are a nice change of pace. A decade ago they seemed to be everywhere, but now it’s been a while since I had a really meaty whisky like this. So, highly recommended, but do warm up.

88/100

Kilkerran 11, 2007-2018, Sherry Butt, 58.1%, Cadenhead’s Wood Range

 

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Tomatin 1997-2014, 51% – The Whisky Agency / Liquid Library

When this came out I was planning a trip to Scotland with a couple of friends for the end of 2015. Also, Tomatin was suddenly widely available with some really good bottlings, so I decided to pick one up. What helped is that The Whisky Agency is a very good bottler with above average results in what they release.

I never did a write up of that visit to Tomatin, because the Usquebaugh Society chose a Tomatin as their next club bottling in early 2016, and I did a write up in the club magazine. I might translate it at some point and put it on the blog…

So, a fairly random 1997 Tomatin, at 17 years old. It was drawn from a refill hogshead, which I consider to be, in general, quite a good way of maturing whisky. It it not too intense, which means the spirit gets some room to shine. It’s also not too flat so you’re not drinking 17 year old new make. Luckily, Tomatin has a very nice vegetal spirit that can take a beating.

I emptied the bottle last Maltstock, except for the sample I am emptying tonight. So, a bit of live blogging here, that also gets me a bit closer to my goal of emptying loads (half, at least) of the things I’ve amassed over the last few years.

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Some barley sugar and malty sweetness. A bit vegetal, like expected. Some hay, ferns, slightly green with some moss and algae. You know, the north side of a tree in the northern hemisphere. Almost no oak, although the spirit is quite tamed. All typical for a refill hogshead.

Sip:
Quite sharp, even though it’s ‘just’ a 51% whisky. Dry, grainy notes. Freshly fallen leaves, forest floor, a bit of oak. A bit sweeter than I expected initially, even though the sweetness was there on the nose too. So, green with a lot of grain. Typically Tomatin.

Swallow:
The finish is a bit warmer than the palate made me expect. Still some sweetness but it’s  a bit more woody and goes in the direction of cooked apples, some baking spices, bread and butter pudding. Not overly long.

So, this is absolutely not a bad whisky. It’s maybe a bit predictable, although there’s enough happening to keep one interested for a while. I think to go through an entire bottle is a bit much, but it’s far from bland.

A typical Tomatin, albeit a bit generic and one that does not stand out from any other 12 to 20 year old single cask, in my opinion. Enjoyable and not something you’ll regret, but not remarkable either.

Maybe not surprisingly, it’s still for sale for some € 100

84/100

Tomatin 17yo, 1997-2014, Refill Hogshead, 51%, The Whisky Agency / Liquid Library

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The samples

So, I tallied the samples I’ve got lying and I got to 110 samples of whisky. That’s specific because there’s eight more samples of new make and thirty samples of assorted booze.

I already finished three of them over the weekend. Reviews will follow shortly, of two good ones and one ‘meh’ sample of Bowmore. Quite a good score.

The fun thing about counting all these samples is that they passed through my hands again and I found some goodies. There’s a 1978 Glen Albyn, and a 1973 GlenDronach and some others I have yet again forgotten about.

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But, I didn’t want to empty just samples. Some bottles have been around for a bit, some are leftovers from bottle-shares, and some have been open for the last year or so. The point is that I want to empty them so I can start trying some new ones I’ve got lined up.

On Mark Zuckerberg’s private spy network I already started offloading a few of them, but there’s quite a few more that I’m ready to part with. Below there’s the list. Get in touch if you fancy some of them.

Samples are 10cl, prices are per said 10cl.

  • Glenallachie 1995, 22yo, Whiskybase, 51.8%, € 22 (x3)
  • Glen Moray 2002, 15yo, OB for their 120th anniversary, 52.4%, € 22.50 (x3)
  • Inchgower 1982-2011, 29yo, Duncan Taylor, 54.6%, € 25 (x4)
  • Glenrothes 1997-2017, 19yo, Whiskybase, 58.8%, € 18 (x2)
  • Glenrothes 1997-2017, 19yo, The Single Cask, 58.5%, € 24 (x1)
  • Speyburn 1989-2013, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseur’s Choice, 46%, € 17.50 (x2)
  • Willett XCF, American Rye finished in Curacao Casks, 51.7%, € 20 (x3)
  • Speyburn 2004-2018, OB for Boomsma, Sherry cask, 52.5%, € 17.50 (x2)
  • I.W. Harper, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, bottled in the early 80s, 40%, € 15 (x4)
  • Heaven Hill, 2001-2015, Sherry Cask, Malts of Scotland, 48.9%, € 17.50 (x3)

 

I might update the list in a little while, but I first want to start with these.

But honestly, I also kind of want some cash to flow back towards me after spending after a few ridiculously expensive months. That’s why there are some really good whiskies in that list and I’m not just getting rid of shit I don’t like…

Posted in - News and Announcements, Glen Moray, Glenallachie, Glenrothes, Heaven Hill, I. W. Harper, Inchgower, Speyburn, Willett | Leave a comment

Bunnahabhain Moine 2004, 13yo, Marsala Cask, 56.6% – OB Distillery Only

In April of last year I went to Islay with three of my best friends for a rather epic week of booze, scenery, Scotland and a few games of Cards Against Humanity. We decided to not do too many distillery visits, since we also wanted to see the island itself, which was a good decision (read more here, here and here).

Of course, way more was spent on whisky ‘for bottle sharing’ than anticipated, but this one was a no-brainer as soon as we tried it. The then Distillery Only bottling at Bunnahabhain was one that I didn’t expect much of (weird cask, peated to where I prefer their unpeated whisky), but a sip of it during the Warehouse 9 Tasting made me change my mind. Of course, there’s the risk of it being significantly less impressive out of its natural habitat, but here we are.

20190106_141347.jpgSniff:
Far lighter than you’d expect from a peated Bunna, Marsala and the ABV. The smoke is slightly menthol like. Some leather and a bit of dried fruit. Mango, peach, figs and honey, a bit more gentle than ‘normal’ sherry casks (so, no dates, plums). Fatty/creamy milk chocolate.

Sip:
Still not ‘unsharp’, but more in the range of a 48/50% drink, compared to the 56.6%. Thick, juicy and fruity with hints of leather, and baked fruits. Peaches, mango. The smoke is quite present, but not overpowering. A crisp hint of menthol and thyme. Dry oak and old dunnage warehouses.

Swallow:
The finish focuses more on the oak and the smoke than before. The fruit is still there, but slightly dialed back. A bit funky with old moldy warehouses and old casks. Rather long and warming.

Truly like being back at the distillery during the very epic tasting, on a Monday morning. We had an awesome tasting then, which colors your judgment. But in this case the enthusiasm is still alive and kicking nine months later. An absolutely gorgeous and fruit dram that really embodies what Bunnahabhain makes me think of.

It’s rather thick and syrupy, which works well in this case, with the light dried fruits and leather. A very old fashioned Bunnahabhain, and I love it.

The only drawback of this whisky is that I decided to split it with my friends, and therefore only had a (sizeable) sample. Silly me.

90/100

Bunnahabhain Moine 2004, 13yo, Marsala Cask, 56.6%, OB Distillery Only in 2017/2018.

Of course, it’s now available through the secondary market for a lot more…

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