It’s not often that you find yourself tasting Glendullan. It’s a distillery who’s whisky is mostly used for blending, and since it’s owned by Diageo, my guess it goes towards J&B and Johnnie Walker mostly.
This one then, bottled by James Eadie, a newish bottler with mostly rather young whiskies available. Somehow they managed to get a cask and I got a sample from Longmorn Brother GvB. He really likes this, and rates it 87 points on Whiskybase. Let’s see if I agree!
Sniff: Young, rather green spirit with honey and vanilla. Youthful sweetness, moss and some minerals.
Sip: The palate is a bit hot with alcohol heat. Apart from that there’s a lot of honey and vanilla, slate, iron and moss. Quite dry, and foresty, although the vanilla is quite pronounced.
Swallow: The finish is a bit warmer, a bit darker. More notes of pastry, apple crumble with custard and some cinnamon.
Well, at its price of € 50, it’s not overly expensive and that’s a good thing. This makes it a decent daily drinker, but nothing more than that in my book.
Of course it’s young, but that’s not necessarily a detriment. What pulls this one down a few notches is that it’s so vanilla focused. That also makes it a bit generic, although the minerals and mossy notes work hard to correct that.
What always strikes me as interesting is that some distilleries or brands are most famous for an entry level drink, which is utter crap compared to everything that comes after.
As in, Johnnie Walker is a pretty solid brand, but compared to all of their products, the Red Label is pretty shit. The same goes for Jack Daniel’s, or at least, that’s the reputation of Jack Daniel’s in whisky fanatic’s circles.
A little while ago I decided to put that assumption to the test and see whether the ‘Old No. 7’ is as bad as we like to think it is, and whether all the other expressions are significantly better than it.
So, for this I got myself more Jack Daniel’s than I’ve ever had in the past. That’s not a high bar by any means, but an interesting deep dive. Of course, virtually ever other product they release is a single barrel whereas Old No. 7 is not, so there tend to be batch varieties. However, I like to think that JD also likes to keep differences limited, as to have a more predictable product an appeal to return customers.
So, 7 Jack Daniel’s, incoming!
Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, 40%
Sniff: Very sweet with hints of glue and banana. It’s quite young. Some charred wood, quite simple. A hint of wood spices too.
Sip: The palate is really thin, and quite harsh. Glue, charcoal dust, unripe banana peels, charred wood, new oak.
Swallow: It has the typical bourbon sweetness with quite some banana on top of it. The charry notes remain.
Even though it’s considered pretty shit, it’s actually a bit better than that. Also, it’s welcoming in a rather nostalgic way. Even though I hadn’t had it in years, it’s recognizable and brings back some memories.
On the other hand, it doesn’t have much to offer in sense of complexity or depth. So, while it’s not a ‘bad whisky’, it’s also not interesting at all.
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select, Cask 20-06701, 45%
Sniff: Glue, some oak, quite a lot of banana, nail polish remover with a lot of sweetness. Some wood spices with cinnamon and tree bark.
Sip: Quite rich (especially compared to the Old No. 7), with more hints of oak, dry corn and other cereal. Still some banana, but less pronounced than on the nose. Rather dry, with more spices.
Swallow: The finish has some red cinnamon heat, with a hint of woody pepper.
It’s quite comparable to the Old No. 7, except that the balance of flavors is much better, and there’s a LOT more intensity. It’s like a massive step up. Like a professional chef making a meal with the same ingredients as an amateur cook.
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel 100 Proof, Traveler’s Exclusive, Cask 18-4703, 50%
Sniff: The similarities are the glue and the charred oak. There’s still a whiff of banana, but again, somewhat less than before. On top of that there’s some barbecue char, a bit of acetone. Golden syrup on steroids, almost like molasses.
Sip: The palate is incredibly dry and suddenly brings some chili heat on top of the previously present white pepper. Charcoal dust, a whiff of barbecue smoke, grilled banana, golden syrup. Cinnamon sticks, and quite some oak. Still pretty sweet but the wood dominates a bit more.
Swallow: The finish initially turns the heat up a notch, before making it a comfortable experience. There’s some bite, with pepper and cinnamon, and tree bark. Hints of barbecue like charcoal dust. The fruit is pushed back a little bit, but there’s still that familiar hint of banana.
This is starting to be really good, and not just because we’re three drinks in on an Tuesday night! The dryness keeps the sweetness in check, and allows for a lot more depth than in the 90 proof version. More spices, more woody notes. Good stuff!
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Rye, Cask 20-06383, 45%
Sniff: Again, quite a recognizable whiff of glue. Menthol, rye spices, mint, moss. Quite some dry oak on the familiar backdrop from before. It’s consistent with the rest, but adds the typical rye flavors. Barbecue char, sawdust.
Sip: The palate is a bit more syrupy than I expected, but suddenly amps up the chili pepper. Oak, peppery heat, wood spices, menthol cigarettes, barbecue char. A tad thin compared to the 100 proof that came before.
Swallow: The finish is quite long, but does become a bit thin soon. Dusty sawdust, menthol cigarettes. Towards the end there’s a flavor and dryness in line with Earl Grey tea.
Even though we took a step back in the ABV, the intensity of the spices and rye make up for that. It’s interesting that there are notes of tea and cigarettes. It makes for a surpringly drinkable concoction of flavors and quite a good bottle of whisky!
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Rye, Cask 20-03290, 45%
Sniff: Rich and complex with spices and herbs. Oak, candied orange and caramel. Charcoal, a whiff of paint that strangely adds some complexity.
Sip: It starts with a bit of peppery bite, but it’s not sharp, just intense. There’s sticky caramel, rye spices and bread. Oak, barbecue char and some brown sugar.
Swallow: The finish is a tad short, and mellows quickly. Caramel and brown sugar linger, with oak, barbecue char and candied orange again. Some dark rye bread towards the end too.
This is the sample that kick-started the deep dive, after Norbert sent it to me for a tasting. I’m glad he did since this is a very solid whisky and the best of the bunch. The depth of flavors and complexity is quite something, and the ABV allows for a nice sit-down to explore it all.
Jack Daniel’s Bottled in Bond, Traveler’s Exclusive, 50%
Sniff: Instead of a note of glue, there’s a bit of turpentine, or paint if you will. There’s the obvious note of banana, but it’s more like ‘banana flavor’ (by that, I mean it’s the artificial banana flavor that doesn’t taste like banana, but everyone knows to associate it with it). A touch of mint, oak and pop-corn.
Sip: The palate is nicely dry, with more focus on the oak and some black pepper. Dry corn flour, sawdust and a touch of cigar tobacco. The paint like note is still here but it’s small. A cherry stone bitterness too.
Swallow: The finish is dry and a bit papery. A hint of cardboard with corn flour, and banana crisps.
This one sits, in levels of ‘interestingness’ between the Single Barrel 45% and 50% of before. It does show the banana character of Jack Daniel’s and still is a massive step up from the Old No. 7, but isn’t an overly captivating drink.
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Barrel Strength, Cask 20-06226, 64.5%
Someone turned on the afterburner!
Sniff: It’s a bit hot at first. Not even that it scorches, but it’s a tad overpowered by the ABV. More crisp, more woody, but also a different kind of sweet. Not as chemical, more wood sweetness, more spirit sweetness. Quite a lot banana again.
Sip: This is bone dry and gets very hot, very quickly. Lots of leather, as in, my mouth turns to leather. Almonds and bitter oak, lots of banana again. With a drop of water there suddenly are some marachino cherries.
Swallow: The finish brings quite some fruit with cherries and banana. Some almond like bitterness, even. Lots of oak, and compared to the palate rather agreeable.
While there’s a lot to be discovered, I do think the ABV gets in the way of the depth and character of the whisky a little bit. Of course, I could start to muck about with water, but I tend to take whisky ‘as it comes’. In this case, that might not be the smartest approach, since 64.5% is a lot.
Honestly, that was a fun night, when JPH and I tried five of these. The ‘other’ rye was the one that kick-started it all, and was also the best of the bunch.
I still think it’s remarkable that the Old No. 7 isn’t more interesting, or better if you will. They can apparently output some really good whiskies, but apparently the world is satisfied with the least of it.
In the last year or so, I’ve been getting a bit more into bourbon again. There’ve been quite a number of bottle shares and I’ve used one American whiskey in most of the #StayTheFuckHome Tastings that I’ve been doing with some friends.
I even started watching some Youtube reviews of bourbon, and a thing that stood out was the level of enthusiasm for the 1792 bourbons distilled at Barton Distillery. Of course, that meant I had to get me some!
And when things aren’t readily available through normal channels in Europe, you go to auction sites and you spend some more money than you should. That’s life, if you want to have the stuff that isn’t available…
With this one, though, it kind of sucked. I started bidding on one, since it wasn’t available in Europe at all, and I ended up paying € 70 for it. Of course, then there’s shipping and the auction’s premium, so it was about € 85-90 before I had the bottle in my hands.
While that’s bad enough, the next thing that happened, literally in the same week as my bottle got in, is that this stuff was suddenly imported into The Netherlands and became readily available at below € 40… #FML, right?
Sniff: It starts with a lot of new oak sweetness, and quite a lot of corn too. A bit of grain sugar and some gumballs. A whiff of mint, burnt popcorn.
Sip: Syrupy and sweet on the palate. Corn, maple syrup, vanilla cream, a hint of chili. Some tropical fruit like mango and papaya.
Swallow: The finish is slightly drier than the palate, but still syrupy, malle syrup, a touch of chili heat.
While this is a fine bourbon by any measure, it is an entry level one. Compared to the 1792 Full Proof, this is a massive step down. It’s good, but it’s not great. Luckily good bourbon is very enjoyable, and the part of the bottle that I kept for myself went rather quickly.
So, yes, it’s worth the € 40, but hell no, it’s not worth the € 90…
How’s that for an obscure bottle! Longmorn Brother GvB brought it by and was kind enough to give me a sample a little while ago. It’s been ages since I tried a Knockdhu, and I like the official line of AnCnoc. At least, I liked it a few years ago when I last tried them.
So, what is it? Knockdhu or AnCnoc? The correct answer is ‘both’!
Knockdhu as a brand name was objected to by Diageo, who own Knockando, as it would be too similar. So the distillery is still called Knockdhu, but the whisky they release is called AnCnoc.
Anyway, a 10 year old from an obscure series. Sounds interesting enough to me!
Sniff: Closed off initially, with some oak and barley at first. Lots of dry notes with straw and grass. Dry barley, grist.
Sip: The palate is quite similar to the nose but adds some black pepper and sawdust. It doesn’t seem to open up. Lots of grains and barley. Grist-y too.
Swallow: Grainy, with wood and hay, some straw.
I’m not a fan. I see that this is getting quite good reviews and based on that I was quite thrilled to be able to try an independent Knockdhu, but there’s just nothing happening.
I might be wrong, of course, since everyone else seems to like it, but I find that it’s closed off, and it doesn’t open up.
What’s good is that it’s quite spirit driven, my guess would be that this is a refill bourbon cask. So in a way it’s very pure, but I would like to find some more flavors in a dram.
The third release of Ardnamurchan was released last week. In the Netherlands at least. Of course, the shops that had it first sold out instantly, and by the end of the week the rush was already over and it’s available almost everywhere.
I had to get a bottle for a taste for myself, and the rest for sharing. As far as new distilleries go, Ardnamurchan is both affordable, and high quality. And, maybe another important factor, is that they release in a schedule that one can keep up with, unlike some others (looking at you, Waterford!)
So, the share went well. I only kept 6cl for myself and tried it yesterday. Let’s be quick, for a change!
Some more information, this release is made up of 65% ex-bourbon casks, and 35% ex-sherry casks
Sniff: Rich and old fashioned. It’s a bit Benromach-like, in a way. Wet oak, hessian, hay, some woody sherry too. Cinnamon, nutmeg, stewed strawberries. Dried fruit, like plums and dates too.
Sip: Slightly dry, some bite but it’s not hot. Black pepper, oak, sawdust. Dried fruit, plum stones. Some apple crispiness too.
Swallow: The finish is gentle, fruity with dried fruits, plums, dates, almonds, dark cherries. All gentle, with a bit of coconut husk, and oak and tree bark.
It’s a weird jumble of flavors, but it’s strangely tasty. It’s got flavors from all over the spectrum, but it kind of works.
Of course, what it lacks in maturity, it’s very young after all, it makes up for in complexity. Weirdly so, because it does something from all cask types that are used. The sherry casks are a bit stronger than the bourbon ones though.
But, all in all, this is a very tasty whisky that brings much more to the table than it’s age, or it’s price tag would suggest! Highly recommended.
Where there always have been a lot of ‘secret Speyside’ releases over the last decades, there weren’t that many secret Highland version around. This has changed over the last couple of years with more and more distilleries not wanting their brandname on bottles over which they have zero control.
Supposedly, this is a Clynelish, based on my sources. Generally, ‘a Highland Distillery’ is either Clynelish or Glenmorangie, although none of the others can be ruled out. It just generally turns out to be either of these two in almost all cases.
Anyway, a ten year old whisky from a sherry cask. Should be interesting!
Sniff: A very rich and tropical nose with lots of mango, papaya and dates. There’s honey and a whiff of red chili peppers, and later on a bit of a greasy soot scent.
Sip: The palate is consistent with the nose, with a bit more chili heat, though. Syrupy because of the fruit and the honey. Maybe a touch of beeswax?
Swallow: The finish turns a bit dry, compared to the palate, with a minor note of heather showing up. Dates, and some almonds too.
A drawback to these very sherried whiskies is that it gets very hard to determine whether or not the flavors and aromas match a distillery’s character. So, after having tasted this it could very well be Clynelish, or something else entirely.
Having said that, if you enjoy very sherried whiskies, this is right up your alley. If you prefer to have a bit more distillery character, and originality, this might not be it.
I’ve had these samples for a while but for some reason sitting down and reviewing them hadn’t happened yet. A shame, but let’s do a bit of catch-up!
Diamond Distillery 17yo, 2003-2020, 59.3% – The Duchess (Hummingbirds)
A little bit of research tells us that Diamond Distillery is an interesting one. They approach things quite differently from scotch whisky, and in some ways more in an American way.
For starters, they cultivate their own yeast instead of buying commercial stuff. I like this, and while it’s common in bourbon distilling, it’s a rarity in Scotland.
Also, when a lot of other distilleries in Guyana closed their doors, Diamond bought their stills. The result is that they have nine different stills at the distillery: 3 English two-column coffee stills, 2 French Savalle four-column stills and, perhaps most interestingly, 3 wooden stills, one of each: Versailles, Port Mourant and Enmore. The first two of these are pot stills and the enmore is another Coffey still.
While this results in some cool products and the option for the distillery to produce a wide range of products, it also makes output from Diamond Distillery quite unpredictable. If you like one release, as a casual rum drinker, you might have something completely different the next time around. And, on the label of this 17 year old rum, the type of still used is not on the label.
Sniff: Funky distillate, overripe fruit. The outside of a pineapple, whatever that’s called. Peel? Skin? Shell? Acidic and fruity, simple syrup, cocktail bitters.
Sip: The crisp and slightly bitter spicyness is here too. Grilled pineapple, with its skin. Oak, sugarcane, sugar.
Swallow: The finish brings some molasses and sugarcane juice. Some burnt sugar, palm leaves, coconut.
I’m having a hard time describing this rum. There are some weird and deliciously funky flavors manifesting, but I find it hard to pin them down. What I do know is that I really like this one, and it’s quite different than what I expected. It wouldn’t surprise me if this came from one of those wooden stills, although I would put my money on the Enmore Coffey still instead of the pot stills.
EDIT: I was wrong, it’s from the Versailles still. So a distillate from a wooden pot still!
Worthy Park Distillery 14, 2006-2020, 56.8% – The Duchess (Hummingbirds)
While the brand ‘Worthy Park’ goes back to 1720, the current rum distillery on the premises only started production in 2005. It’s quite a modern plant compared to what you (I, at least) generally expect when talking about rum production.
They stopped producing rum in 1962 because of over production and far less consumption since World War 2.
The style of distillation is a lot closer to how Scotland distills its whiskies with the copper pot still being from Forsyths in Rothes, Scotland. The estate is run by the Clarke family since 1918.
Sniff: Intense with lots of sweetness. Sugarcane with other vegetal hints. Burnt sugar, with quite some oak too.
Sip: The palate is a bit more thin than I expected. There’s peppery heat and dry oak. Sugarcane, vegetables, red paprika, caramel.
Swallow: The finish is a bit more typical, but also has strong coffee treacle, molasses.
This too is an interesting drink. It’s a bit inconsistent with the vegetal notes on the nose and palate, changing gears into coffee treacle on the finish. It’s a different take on rum, once again.
What I like is that the sweetness of the nose isn’t directly present on the palate, because that might have been a bit much.
Generally, when a bottler releases an old whisky like this, there’s quite some information on the bottle. Previous contents of the cask, year of bottling, age. Stuff that makes it stand out. Things that make you go ‘I want that 30-something year old Longmorn!’.
Not these guys. Apart from the vintage, which is impressive nonetheless, there’s not much to go by. Luckily, a whisky friend (GvB) is one of the Longmorn Brothers and decided to bring me a little sample of this, so I could taste it!
Sniff: It’s quite oak driven with lots of gentle woody notes and old barley. Dried peach, apricot, straw. I also get a hint of cedar and gingerbread.
Sip: The palate is smooth and complex, with hints of dried peach, grilled peach too. Notes of puff pastry, coconut husk. The cedar and old barley are present on the palate too.
Swallow: On the finish there’s more baking spices, with cinnamon and clove. Still, the barley and pastry notes linger, with oak and peach.
This is gorgeous stuff and quite a good example of why people love old Longmorn so much. A lot of different flavors are to be discovered and none overpower the rest. Different sides and aspects make this a whisky to return to and discover something new, every time.
It’s absolutely gorgeous, and even though this is an older bottling, the initial retail price was some € 130 and I would have gladly paid it for a bottle. Of course, when this would pop up now it would cost a multitude of that.
Of course I had already forgotten about it, but I did get a sample of last year’s Cragganmore Special Release by Diageo. It’s not even that the announcement of the special releases for this autumn reminded me of it, I just happened to stumble upon the remainder of the sample.
So, last Sunday I decided it was time to both finish the sample and write some tasting notes.
I’m generally not a huge fan of Cragganmore. Not that I dislike it, but I’ve never really cared about the brand. The regular 12 year old is a middle-of-the-road whisky that is bottled at 40%, and could probably be a whole lot better when bottled at 46%. Although, geeks like me probably isn’t the demography they’re marketing to.
Anyway, a 20 year old came out last year. The year before it there was a peated special edition, which I didn’t like. Somehow I had hope for this one.
Sniff: It starts with some very gentle notes of honey, with sweet barley and oak. After that I get heather and dried apple, with a bit of a papery undertone.
Sip: The palate is, somehow, a little bit ashy, with oak. There’s reed, barley, straw and heather. Very straight forward, but it somehow seems to get to the core of whisky.
Swallow: A full finish with lots of barley driven flavors. Again, there’s reed and apple, oak and straw. But all of a sudden I also get strawberries.
I didn’t check anything about the whisky before tasting it and was surprised by the ashy note I got on the palate. Knowing now that it’s drawn from new fresh-charred casks it’s not as surprising of course.
I actually love this whisky. I like that with all the barley driven flavors and the new charring it seems to get to the core of whisky. Barley and oak. It’s mellowed nicely over time and I didn’t really feel the burn of almost 56% ABV. Very good stuff!