Benromach 2010-2018, Peat Smoke, Sherry Cask, 59.9% – OB

A little while ago a friend of mine (RvB) bottle-shared half his bottle and after someone got there first, I took the remaining 25cl.

Generally, Benromach is a very solid whisky that works very well with both bourbon and sherry casks. I’m not a huge fan of the wine casks, but that goes for most wine casks and not just Benromach’s.

Anyway, an 8 year old Benromach at high strength, from a sherry cask is a good thing. The distillery’s whisky works rather well at a young age. A sherry cask helps, not to take the edge off, but give it a bit more depth. The bourbon casks can be very sharp, at a similar ABV.

Geen fotobeschrijving beschikbaar.

Image from RvB

Sniff:
Heavy leathery sherry, with some dried fruits like dates and prunes. The heavier stuff. There’s spices too, baking spices, with a lot of feinty notes. It’s very big on the nose. Fatty smoke, like barbecue marinade on the barbecue, without the meat.

Sip:
The arrival of the whisky is surprisingly smooth, but that doesn’t last very long. It gets very sharp swiftly, but more like 55% sharp instead of 60% sharp. It’s slightly lighter and drier than the nose made me expect. Leathery, lots of oak, very dry. Baking spices, some pine needles, shoe polish, dates.

Swallow:
The finish brings some heat initially, and leaves a rather warming sensation. The dryness is largely gone but the leather, fruit and slightly funky flavors linger. The smokiness lingers too and is still that fatty, greasy smoke.

I’m having a hard time describing the weight of the whisky and the feintiness/funkiness of it. This is very significant, and it reminds me of something that I can’t put my finger on. It has to do with leather and paint, so maybe a leather factory?

Anyway, it’s a rather great whisky and with it clocking in below 60 pounds makes this a very good buy if you’re up for a whack-in-the-face amount of alcohol. And sherry. A lot of sherry too. Highly recommended!

88/100

Benromach Peat Smoke 2010-2018, 1st Fill Sherry Hogshead, 6500 btls, 59.9%

It’s still available at the better whisky shops.

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Springbank Local Barley 14yo, 1999-2014, 57.8% – Springbank Society

Yet another sample I had in my cupboard from some years ago! And what a sample it is. A local barley Springbank (they already got me there), from the Springbank Society (cool, cool), from a sherry cask and bottled for the Society’s 10th Anniversary in 2014.

What’s not to love except for the price tag it currently fetches in the secondary market? Not much, I tell you that!

So, one of my favorite distilleries does one of the things I like best about them for a club I’m a member of and really, thorougly, love being a member of. Not sure how I missed this in 2014, but at least I got a sample!

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Lots of peat for a Springer. Dry straw and some dark fruit. Loads of barley, dry and crisp. Cherries, blackberries, figs.

Sip:
Quite sharp and hot, pretty clean on the sherry. Again, the dark fruits, with the huge dryness and farminess of the barley.

Swallow:
The finish goes back to smoked cherries, lots of straw and barley. Some oak. Some funkiness that wasn’t there before.

Very rugged, very Springbank. I wouldn’t have guessed Springbank because of the peat on the nose, but since they’re also doing Longrow there might occassionally be some weird combination of the two, flavorwise.

I love the combination of peat and sherry, if done well. And it is done well. The typical ruggedness of Springbank is well represented too. I’d almost give this 90 points, but something holds me back. It’s a very good whisky, but it’s just shy of being THAT good…

89/100

Springbank Local Barley 1999-2014, 14 years old, Refill Sherry Butt, 57.8%, bottled for the Springbank Society. € 975 in the Whiskybase Market

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Burnside 1991-2018, 26yo, 46.7% – Cadenhead’s

As I sit here reviewing this almost-single-malt I think about how clever this ploy of the whisky industry actually is. William Grants, the owners of Balvenie Distillery don’t want their distillery’s name on a bottle, so they teaspoon it with some Glenfiddich so it’s not technically Balvenie, and not technically Single Malt.

However, William Cadenhead, the bottler, now have their own brand name ‘Burnside’ linked to the quality of the whisky. I know there’s one bottle of Burnside bottled by Adelphi, but Cadenhead’s wasn’t overly happy with that. So now, Burnside is a brand too. And it’s a brand that comes with high expectations.

Last year at Maltstock, it was one of my favorite bottles available on the sharing table and over a glass of it I had some very interesting chats with Charles Maclean, who also loved it. When this particular one we’re about to review was announced I instantly jumped on it, since I really wanted something similar.

I can lift the veil already by saying it’s not as good as I remember the one at Maltstock to have been, but it still is a fairly cracking dram.

20190510_102830Sniff:
Very fruity on the nose, with stewed apple and brown banana. Not overly sweet and there’s quite a bit of oak to balance it all. The oak does impart a little bit of bitterness and dryness, but not a lot. Pretty intense, but even though the ABV is quite low, it is cask strength.

Sip:
The palate is intense, but not very sharp. The apple is dialed back a little bit and the dry notes are more present. There’s quite a lot of oak, and a bit of leather. The apple does come back after a few seconds, but in a slightly more dry and ‘old’ way. Somehow, this whisky makes me think of pancakes, with golden syrup and bacon.

Swallow:
The finish carries on the pancakes and the apple. It’s quite a strange flavor to think of, but it is appetizing. The dryness is slightly less present, which makes it a bit sweeter, and the pancake batter highlights some of the cereal notes.

It’s not as good and as fruity as I remember the single cask from Maltstock to be, and the pancake flavors make it a whole different beasty. However, I do really like a whisky like this, since it is something a little bit more unique than ‘yet another Balvenie’. Good stuff!

88/100

Burnside 1991-2018, 26 years old, bourbon barrels, 46.7%. Available in Germany for € 150

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Macallan 1990-2003, 12yo, 57.6% – Signatory Vintage

Yet another random sample I grabbed from my shelf before I went on holiday last week. On the label there was only the vintage and the ABV, so at least I knew I didn’t want to start with this one.

What I didn’t know was that it was ‘only’ 12 years old, which is not a bad thing to be oblivious about. It saves from some preconceptions you might get about older Macallan.

So, at 12 years old, from a sherry cask, you can go either way. Although, with older vintages, you’re generally in the good era for Macallan single casks. Not the epic or brand-settling era, but the good era.

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Image from WhiskyBase

Sniff:
Big sherry, with some pickled walnuts. Strangely, not uncommon with older Macallan. Big on the Oloroso, candied orange, creamy with citrus bavarois.

Sip:
Strong and sharp, as the ABV promises. Bread, oak, alcohol with lots of fruity sherry. Lots of sweet orange and candied pomelo.

Swallow:
Lots of epic sherry, with fruit and European oak. A long and fruity finish.

Based on assumption, i.e. the fact that it was in my collection, and not since 2003, I guesstimated this to be 20-something years old. The complexity and big flavors made me go for that guess too. However, this is only 12 years old. The ABV should have sent me there, but it’s not the first time an older whisky has the spirit of a younger one.

In short, this whisky is more or less everything you want a Macallan from 1990-ish to be. Big sherry, bit flavors, absolutely gorgeous stuff.

91/100

Macallan 1990-2003, 12 years old, Sherry cask 8747, 57.6%

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Spring cleaning, 2019 edition

Every year there’s a period in which I get a bit itchy to downsize more or less every part of my life that’s consuming an out-of-proportion amount of time, effort and/or money.

Bottles

Generally I try to supress that itch but this time I’m trying to go through my whisky collection and sell a couple of bottles that have been collecting dust. Having a family with three kids is an expensive thing to run and with the amount of money that’s been going out lately, it’s a sane thing to make sure some gets back in as well (winky face).

I’ve updated the page on which I’m trying to sell bottles, and made it public again, which means there’s a list of bottles available there.

Samples

Apart from that, I’m going through my set of open bottles and see if I can empty some by selling samples, or bottle-sharing them. Whatever you want to call it. I’ve ‘made available’ a dozen or so bottles for sharing and sampling, so if there’s something to your liking, let me know please!

‘Made available’ means: prepped myself mentally to not drink it all…

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Also, I’m bottle-sharing a duo of interesting Glenmorangies. I find ‘investigating’ whisky interesting, and I would like to know which ingredient does what to a dram. Therefore, I’m bottle-sharing their Tusail and Allta.

The Tusail is a fairly regular Glenmorangie, but they changed the normally used barley for the rather old-fashioned Maris Otter barley. The Allta does the same trick, but instead of the barley a used locally found wild yeast.

10cl of both of these will set you back € 30, and for now I’m only doing these as a duo.

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Longmorn 1973-1999, 25yo, 55.5% – Hart Brothers

Every once in a while there is one of those drams of years ago that keep popping up, even though they drawn from a single cask. This Longmorn is such a dram. I tried it first a decade ago, at a small whisky festival organized by Dutch Whisky Connection (a familiar bunch at good festivals). GvB, one of the Longmorn Brothers, poured it and told me I made a good choice.

Ever since, I’ve been able to try it every few years. Coincidentally it was one of the more hidden drams at last January’s Bottoms Up tasting at De WhiskykoningJanuary’s Bottoms Up tasting at De Whiskykoning, and somehow a sample was in my collection. I randomly grabbed a few samples a little while ago, so I would have some things to drink on holiday, and would get through another couple samples. This happened to be in that grab.

When I looked at the label I didn’t really believe it was THAT Longmorn, but after some checking it turned out it was. Lucky me! Let’s say, it wasn’t the last dram of the week away, since I didn’t want to wait with such goodness.

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Image from WhiskyBase

Sniff:
Massive cask influence, with insanely big and rustic oak notes. I’d put my money on European oak. Winey, with dried fruits and raisins and some rancio. Quite funky.

Sip:
Quite gentle for its ABV, with a lot of richness battling for prominence. Dried fruits, very old and syrupy port. Oak, a light bitterness, almonds. Big, big flavors.

Swallow:
The finish focuses on the lighter, more fruity notes. The oak is still present, but a bit dialled down. Tropical fruits with bitter almonds. A long, winey finish with rancio and a light funkiness.

While this is a port cask, and not a sherry cask, I would have believed either. My guess would be that this is a European oak one, since it imparted a whole array of flavors not regularly encountered anymore.

The depth of the flavors and the intensity of the oak is something stellar, and not something I’ve found in contemporary bottlings. Maybe the ones coming closest are these older bottlings of Karuizawa, and maybe some Macallans of yonder year. Epic, epic stuff.

93/100

Longmorn 1973-1999, 25yo, Port Cask 4117, Hart Brothers Finest Collection. Currently selling for close to € 1000.

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Balblair 2002-2015, 55.1% – Handfilled at the distillery

Handfilled at the distillery, unfortunately not by myself. Balblair is a bit of a strange brand, from a Dutch perspective. The brand is known, but quite rare to see on the shelf of a regular bottle shop. Even most of the better whisky specialty shops don’t have many official bottlings knocking about.

However, ever since I visited the place in 2013, I’ve loved the distillery. It’s one of those distilleries that I consider under-represented in my collection. Something I should remedy. But, back to the opening paragraph of this post, I don’t see many bottles available where I shop.

Anyway, I got this sample. Not a clue from who or when, but most likely more than three years ago. I finally decided to finish it off.

Sniff:
The interesting combination of Balblair’s fruity sweetness, but with a strong fresh-bourbon sharpness. There’s an edge to this one. Freshly cut grass, crisp Granny Smith apples and star fruit. Even though it’s 12 or 13 years old, it doesn’t seem tamed yet.

Sip:
The palate is very similar to the nose. Very dry and crisp with lots of youthfulness, but also rather sweet and fruity. A combination of those two makes an interesting dram, apparently. The fruitiness is mostly apple, star fruit and white grapes, maybe some unripe pears too.

Swallow:
The finish is, if possible, a bit more dry still. The sharpness leaves a nice tingle and bites a little bit less than before. Quite warming and autumnal.

A very interesting and tasty dram, if I may say so. One that plays good cop, bad cop on its own. It roughs up your palate a bit before the fruity sweetness kicks in. It happens to be the fruity style that I generally like (you might have noticed that in my reviews), and one that Balblair does very well at a younger age.

Now, I might have to start looking out for some older Balblairs.

88/100

Balblair 2002-2015, Bourbon Cask 1433, 55.1%, Handfilled at the distillery

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