Diamond Distillery 20yo, Guyana, 50.8% – The Duchess

This is a bit of an interesting one, as was the Foursquare from a few days ago. The Foursquare was matured in both bourbon casks (fairly regular) and sherry casks (fairly unique). This one is matured in Armagnac casks, even more out of the ordinary than the sherry casks were. I wonder how this works out, because this is a pretty different distillate compared to what rum is.

Again, this is a bottling from The Duchess, a Dutch bottler makeing ways into the world of rum, and to a somewhat lesser extent, the world of whisky. They sent me a sample to get some exposure, fully knowing that my views are my own. The booze is sponsored, the review is not.

While that sounds ominous, it’s just to get some of the ‘newer readers’, if they exist, in the know about how these sent samples work.

I don’t know much about Diamond Distillery, apart from that I’ve tasted rum from them before, in a pretty shit bottle share I did some years ago. In this case I blame myself for the lower quality level of the share, since I didn’t pick many good bottles then, while knowing there’s much better out there.

18498_big

Let’s see what this one is about.

Sniff:
Wow! That Armagnac cask is there! A very ‘young fruity’ distillate is quite noticable. The rum sweetness is behind that all, but there’s not much of it.

Sip:
Quite sharp, even though it’s a lot less sharp. The fruit distillate is pushed back a bit, with very dry, and very not-sweet rum. Sugar cane with it’s grassy flavors.

Swallow:
More of the grassy notes. Lots of green flavors, grass, parsley, herbs. Sugar cane, molasses.

So, there’s two sides to this rum. I love the fact that it’s been matured in a cask that’s rather experimental. It makes for a pretty unique drink and something different to try. However, I think the Armagnac overpowers the rum to a too big extent. The fruit distillate is very, very present and pushes out the more typical rum flavors.

What is a very sizeable redeeming factor is that this is available for € 95, which is pretty cheap for a 20 year old rum!

80/100

Diamond Distillery 20 years old, 1998-2019, Guyana, Armagnac Cask #27, 50.8%

Sample kindly provided by Best of Wines.

Advertisements
Posted in - Rum, Diamond Distillery | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caroni 21yo, Trinidad, 64.1% – The Duchess

Caroni is more or less the Port Ellen of the rum world. It’s been closed for a decade or two, and prices are soaring since most people are only now (the last couple of years) discovering the quality of the product. Or, maybe, as with Port Ellen whisky, it needed more time than it had had when they decided to close the place down.

Anyway, Caroni is no more. Stocks are running out. I’ve managed to taste a few, here and there. Most notably at Cadenhead’s last year in April, when FV and I were straggling to pick up our bottles. Back then we had an 18 year old one, which was described as Mark Watt’s private cask, by Mitch. If I remember correctly, that is.

But now, a year and a bit later, I’m writing about another one, bottled by The Duchess. My friend Nils works for the brand (and more or less created it, if I’m not mistaken), and has been bottlings some great rums over the last few years.

Of course, this being from a closed distillery makes the price go up, but compared to some other recent releases, the € 200 this goes for isn’t that far fetched. Also, this clocking in at 64.1% means you can make a bottle and half of it without it getting too weak…

18190_bigSniff:
Rather complex, herbaceous, sweet, burnt caramel, walnuts, pears. Not too woody, molasses, golden syrup. Dark bread, lots of depth.

Sip:
Quite sharp, but also quite palatable at 64%. Dark, fruity, some baking spices. Figs, prunes, dark bread, golden syrup, molasses.

Swallow:
The finish is quite rich, with chocolate, popcorn, walnuts. Caramel, and sweet wood.

Now, I’m not an authority on anything, let alone older rums. What I do know is that I like this one and it’s different from the overly sweet and woody stuff you’d expect from a 20 year old Caribbean spirit.

I do love that it’s both fruity and herbaceous. It doesn’t give too much way to sugar and caramel and oak. So, there’s a lot of character here and that makes for an awesome drink. Recommened!

89/100

Caroni 1998-2019, 21 years old, Cask #20, Trinidad, 64.1%. Available from Best of Wines for € 200

Sample provided by Best of Wines, much obliged!

Posted in - Rum, Caroni | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Foursquare Hereditas 14yo, Barbados, 56% – The Whisky Exchange

It’s been a while since I got this sample, but I’ve been quite busy over the last couple of months. Most reviews that have appeared on this wee blog have been written ages ago, because that saves a lot of time when writing a post. However, this week I finally got around to trying it, together with two other rum samples I got from Dutch bottler The Duchess (through Best of Wines / Best of Whiskies).

But, back to this one. It’s been bottled for/by The Whisky Exchange who, like many other bottlers, are exploring rum more and more, with whisky becoming more expensive and (if more affordable) worse. This specific bottling from Foursquare Distillery in Barbados has been matured in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks.

rum_fou14yo

A sample was provided by The Whisky Exchange

Sniff:
Very soft for a cask strength like this. Warming, with a bit of heat on the nose. Slightly herbaceous, and grassy. Burnt sugar, some iron, quite gentle.

Sip:
Very much like whisky on the arrival, with vanilla and a lot of oak. Quite dry, burnt caramel, that green, herbaceous note again. Warming with a small hint of chili and copper.

Swallow:
A mellow finish, with more typical rum notes of sugar, wood, molasses. Rather long, with a little dryness and sweetness remaining. Towards the end there’s a hint of matches, in a good way.

I’m not entirely sure whether the sherry cask maturation is something I really enjoy on spirits that are sweeter to begin with. I’ve had it with Bourbon as well, with a Heaven Hill matured in a sherry cask. In this case it, I think, flattens out the spirit a little bit. I’ve noticed quite some similarities with whisky, which I think indicates that the casks are taking over and driving the flavors and scents more than the distillery.

Having said that, it’s still a rather nice drink, and maybe it’s more my unfamiliarity with rum’s different distilleries and characters thereof.

85/100

Foursquare Hereditas 14yo, Barbados, 2520 bottles from bourbon and sherry casks, 56%, The Whisky Exchange, £79.95 at The Whisky Exchange.

A sample was provided, free of charge, by The Whisky Exchange

Posted in - Rum, Foursquare | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jura One and All, 21yo, 51%

Let’s get this out: I generally think of Jura as my second least favorite distillery in Scotland. The number one spot is taken by Abhainn Dearg. Somehow, I decided to give them another chance two years ago when this one came out. It must have been a shit day, since it’s not only a Jura, but also a jumble of generally not-so-good-for-whisky casks. They could have kept the Pinot Noir and Cabernet, for all I care.

To demonstrate how much I don’t like Jura, just read on.

I was on the Isle of Jura last year. We decided during our trip on Islay to do a little bit of walking there. Of course, ferry times weren’t properly investigated, so we didn’t get around to climbing one of the paps, but did some hiking randomly. Also, we decided we knew better than the extremely detailed and updated hiking maps and decided there was a path where there was none. Somehow, after a torn pair of pants, mud up to our crotches and knackered hiking boots, we ended up at the Jura Distillery. We didn’t go in. It might be one of the most hard to reach distilleries in Scotland, and we couldn’t be arsed.

Anyway, a 21 year old Jura, from Sherry, Bourbon, Cabernet and Pinot Noir casks. I tried to bottle share it but didn’t get through all the bits. I brought it to Maltstock last year after taking a small sample for later assessing. I think it emptied over the weekend.

isle-of-jura-one-and-all-whiskySniff:
A lot of cask influence from the wine casks. It changes the normal funkiness of Jura. Still, it has a bit of that rubber band scent that puts me off of Jura. There’s a lot of oak, with a jumble of scents, none prominent.

Sip:
The palate is rather sweet and has a lot of peppery heat. Black pepper, pink peppercorns and chili. Again, a bit of a jumble. A lot of oak, and the funkiness is a bit less than on the nose. More feinty, and smoke, heavy smoke. Thick and fatty, with hints of barbecue.

Swallow:
The finish is rather mellow, with a bit of dry oak, more than before. The wine cask is coming through, with sweetness and rancio and fruit.

Quite drinkable, for a Jura. The balance is weird (…not there…) with the wine casks taking over the distillate, and the rest of the casks only adding a bit of confusion instead of depth.

I can’t seem to like what they’re produce. I tried that 1966 one which was great, but apart from that, I don’t think I’ve ever had one I wanted a bottle of in hindsight.

78/100

Jura One and All, 21 years old, a variety of casks, 51%. Available for 125 quid

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

Springbank 1992-2019, 47.7% – Whisky Kingdom & Duckhammers Rare & Fine

I snickered at the name ‘Duckhammers’. It seems like a very inefficient hunting tool.

Anyway, I got a sample of this in the mail a little while ago with the request to review it soonish. Unfortunately, it got ridiculously hot and that wasn’t really the kind of weather to properly sit down and assess a dram of this caliber.

Admittedly, I had never heard of the Whisky Kingdom and Duckhammers Rare & Fine. I had, however, heard of Boris Borissov and Sebastian Jaeger, because of their involvement in that awesome Lagavulin 21 by (among others) The Whisky Nerds. They got my address from Bram, of the Whisky Nerds. Normally I’m not fond of others spreading my address around, but if it results in hooch like this, I’m quick to forget.

Let’s review it!

223458-bigSniff:
Very warming and wood driven Springbank, but still very Springbank. A whiff of wood smoke, with some coastal notes. Slightly salty, hessian and barley. Roasted barley, like they dried it at too high a temperature. After a while I start getting grilled peaches. Strangely, there’s a hint of paint too.

Sip:
The palate is a little bit more sharp than I expected based on the ABV. Lots of oak, wood smoke again, very dry. The dry notes translate to hessian and straw. Some slate, minerals and coastal salinity. There’s fruit, but it’s very timid. Some peaches. That surprising scent of (latex) paint also translates to the palate.

Swallow:
The finish is much more typical for Springbank, with more fruit (apples, peaches, pears) and slightly less oak focused (fOAKused?). Still very dry with salt, sand, wood, hessian and roasted barley.

This is very much to my liking, but not a quick dram (not just because of the price tag). This whisky reveals itself very slowly, so if you rush it only a little bit, you’ll miss out on a lot of good things. Things that make this whisky awesome.

Even the weird notes of wall paint are great, and only add to the complexity. All in all, this is a tremendous dram, but it has the risk of being underwhelming when you don’t give it the attention it deserves. Absolutely gorgeous.

92/100

Springbank 1992-2019, 26yo, Bourbon Barrel 153b, 47.7%, Whisky Kingdom & Duckhammers Rare & Fine. Still available from The Whisky Kingdom

Thanks to Boris, Sebastian and Bram for the sample!

Posted in Springbank | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Houses Tyrell, Greyjoy, Lannister, and the Night’s Watch

So, rather counterintuitively, I got excited by the Game of Thrones whiskies. Generally I steer clear of those highly marketed, media tie-in things, but in this case the media tie-in is something I was rather enthusiastic about. Of course, I wasn’t completely daft all of a sudden, so I didn’t bottle-share all of them. Also, I bottle-shared them so I didn’t end up with whole bottles.

Of course, with Scotland being north of The Wall, they couldn’t really use geography to link the distilleries to the whiskies, so they made things up. I haven’t been able to find any resemblance of logic behind the combination of a Game of Thrones house, and a distillery, so that’s a bit of a loss in my book.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor westeros map uk

Let’s not dwell on this much further. I know I’m late in reviewing these four drams, which means you probably already know they’re not very good. Some people I know were rather livid about the quality of the whisky, but I don’t think it’s that bad. They’re just a tad expensive for what you’re getting.

house-tyrell-and-clynelish-reserve-game-of-thrones-single-malts-collection-whiskyClynelish, House Tyrell, 51.2%

Sniff:
Quite waxy, with shammy leather. Pears and apples, orchard fruits. Very Clynelish like, but after the wax, it wanes rather soon.

Sip:
Sharp, with the typical Clynelish notes of apple and pears and beeswax. It’s not overly dry, but rather sharp, soicy and a tad hot.

Swallow:
Rinse, repeat.

This one’s pretty good, but very predictable. It’s Clynelish, so if it’s ‘just Clynelish’ it’s pretty good anyway. It doesn’t add anything over that though. Luckily, at € 60, this isn’t too expensive for what you’re getting.

84/100


house-greyjoy-and-talisker-select-reserve-game-of-thrones-single-malts-collection-whiskyTalisker, House Greyjoy, 45.8%

Sniff:
It smells like real Talisker, with brine and smoke. Apple, smoked wood, some vanilla.

Sip:
Very peppery, lots of wood and a sharp smokiness. There is quite some briny coastal notes.

Swallow:
Very dry, grassy and coastal. Smoky, salty vanilla with oak. Pretty peppery and a tad youngish.

Unfortunately, this whisky has no reason to exist. Why not? Because the Talisker 10 exists. It’s both cheaper and better. This is not exactly a bad whisky, but it’s a pointless one.

80/100


house-lannister-and-lagavulin-9-year-old-game-of-thrones-single-malts-collection-whiskyLagavulin 9 years old, House Lannister, 46%

Sniff:
Fairly generic smoke on the nose. Strangely, it’s one of those drams where it would have become better with moer age, and more specific. The label says Lagavulin, but it could be more or less any young Islay whisky (much like Smokehead, The Big Strand, and so on). Some sea-weed, thick peat smoke, some greenness. Strangely, it reminds me of the smokiness on that Icelandic sheep-dung-smoked beer.

Sip:
The palate is similarly generic, with some big smoky notes where the spirit hasn’t really had the time to shine and get back over the intense smokiness. Some green grassy notes, some sea-weed and salinity. It’s quite a bit whisky, but it’s also very uninteresting.

Swallow:
The finish is slightly numbing, even at the end of the evening. I would have expected this to be more gentle. Not much else that hasn’t been mentioned before.

Much longer tasting notes, which suggests there’s more to discover here. I guess there is. Unfortunately, that’s about all the good things I can say about this whisky. As with the Talisker, there’s no reason for this to exists. At the same price (€ 60-ish) you can also buy the 8 year old or the 16 year old (not much logic there, I know), and especially the 16 year old is miles ahead of this one.

77/100


nights-watch-and-oban-bay-reserve-game-of-thrones-single-malts-collection-whiskyOban, The Night’s Watch, 43%

Sniff:
Lots of barley on the nose, a whiff of peat. A bit watery, with some oak and sawdust. It’s all very basic.

Sip:
The palate is a bit cardboard-y, with some pepper and dry oak. Some sawdust, some light smoke.

Swallow:
The finish lives up to the Oban name a bit more. Slightly more complex and better balance.

So, The Night’s Watch. The rugged band of outcasts protecting the rest of civilization from the dangerous northern barbarians. And you get a 43% Oban. Unsurprisingly, a 43% NAS whisky isn’t going to have a lot of impact on the palate or the memory. This one drives that point home by being an extremely boring and rather thin whisky. It’s only redeeming factor is that it’s an Oban, and Oban is rather nice, generally.

78/100

By the time I had tasted these four drams, I was rather happy with not buying the other four (Dalwhinnie, Glendullan, Cardhu and Royal Lochnagar). If the whiskies from the range that generally are the most intense and typical are generally thin and boring, the more gentle ones are going be forgotten before the glass is empty.

So, once again, except for the Clynelish maybe, just buy the Talisker 10, Lagavulin 16 or Oban 14. All of these are a lot better than these Game of Thrones versions. I guess I’m not part of the target audience.

Posted in Clynelish, Lagavulin, Oban, Talisker | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bad-Ass Whisky Night #4

My backlog of things to blog about is massive. I still have notes lying around from tastings I went to three years ago, and I still mean to use them for a write-up at some point. However, this tasting was only three months ago, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

As with all previous Bad-Ass Whisky Nights our little group of tasters went to De Whiskykoning at the end of winter for a night. We gave him a good bit of money and the assignment to arrange a tasting of cool whiskies. He’s in charge of the theme, of the bottles, of everything.

This year, for the first time, he ran a theme by me since he thought it was a good idea to do the whole Game of Thrones line of all <enter number of bottlings here> bottlings. However, I had bottle-shared some of them, and the reviews were rather scalding, so it didn’t really feel like it would live up to the level of bad-assness we’ve come to expect. That idea got scrapped.

Then it got spoiled just a little bit when we figured out one of the hints. CSMW turned out to be Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky. However, basing things on previous editions I expected there to be one Campbeltown whisky, but it turned out to be seven of them.

I wrote only short notes on this otherwise blind tasting. We knew only the provenance of the whiskies, nothing else.

20190322_2211371: Springbank 21, 2019 edition, 46%

Sweet sherry, stewed pears with quite a lot of oak. Some red berries, strawberries and a hint of port. It turned out to be the new 21 year old and, while initially a good whisky, it didn’t hold it’s own when the other whiskies started coming along.

Also, I found it a bit too sweet and too port-cask like, in a less than sublime way. Not bad, but not great either.

 

20190322_2213182: Springbank 25, 46%

This had more peat with a lot of sherry. Dried mango, peach, dates. Not too much oak.

If this was going to be the level of whiskies for the rest of the night, we’d be set. An awesome dram, with a lot of complexity and depth. Of course, it’s really hard to put a price to whiskies like these, but the hundreds of euros that this is going for is stretching it. A lot of it is for the number on the label.

 

20190322_2214253: Hazelburn Oloroso Cask, 14yo, 2018, 49.3%

Funnily enough, most of us at the table who had tried the 13 year old from 2017 thought whisky number one was the newer version of the Hazelburn 14. Were we wrong…

I got olive oil, oak and furniture polish. A hint of mint too. The increased ABV was noticeable. It’s a very dry whisky with notes of clove, apricot and a whiff of sulfur. Vanilla too.

I was positively surprised by this. Mostly because I had also tried it in last year’s Blind Tasting Competition and thought it was shit. This time around, I liked it much better.

20190322_2217404: Springbank 12, Cask Strength, 2019, 54.8%

This one was an instant hit. We were with ten guys at the tasting, and I think six of us bought a bottle of this, yours truly included.

This whisky is much like whisky from two decades before this was actually distilled. A lot of depth and old fashioned notes that are currently considered weird and funky. Which is exactly why I liked it so much. Very farmy with dry horse shit and peat. Lots of oak, wood spices, salt and minerals. Basalt, with dry hints of thyme. Even a floral hint towards the end.

What a cracker. The farmy notes are not unlike Brora’s farmy notes (in my memory at least, it’s been ages since I tried Brora) and those scents and flavors are rare, nowadays.

20190322_2220135: Springbank Local Barley, 1965-2001, 36yo, 52.4%

Apparently, we were only thinking we were having an awesome tasting up to this point. I have had the luck to be able to try this whisky some years ago as well, and I instantly recognized the style. I was sitting next to WhiskyNerds Bram and after the first sniff we looked at each other, smiling, and knowing, but still a little bit in denial.

This whisky is one of those drams that change your outlook on whisky. When people write a review stating that a whisky is good but not life-changing, this is the opposite. An absolutely epic dram, and surely the best dram I’ve tried this year, maybe even over the last five years.

The hints of glue, engine oil and diesel smoke are only the start of what’s there to be discovered. Lots of fruity sherry with oak, slate and flint. Very old fashioned, and it blew everything else out of the water.

All ten of us just sat there admiring this whisky in complete silence. Which never happens.

The only one with a rating, and I think I’d have to rate this 97/100

20190322_2221486: Longrow Red, 11yo, 2019, Pinot Noir Casks, 53.1%

Unfortunately, after that, it can only be less good. Luckily these whiskies still knew how to leave an impression, since it went in quite a different direction.

This whisky gave away it’s fruitiness right away, but it’s not so obviously a wine cask that it turned us off.

Old boates in a dry dock. Smoke, rope, oak. We assumed wrongly that the fruitiness was from a sherry cask. Spiced, smoky, ashy even. Quite sharp and dry, and strangely, with a hint of banana candy and hay.

20190322_2224297: Longrow 18, 2019, 46%

We were more or less unanimous that this must be the Longrow 18 and we guessed it right. It’s a very distinct whisky that was received with a lot of praise around the table. Even though it is ‘only’ at 46%.

The whisky is smooth with quite some smoke and peat. Minerals like iron and slate and basalt, with quite some salinity. Dry, with straw and ash. A lot more modern than what came before, strangely.

 

As you might guess, this was quite the tasting. It wasn’t ‘cheap’, but compared to what we tried it was a bargain. Especially if you appraise the Local Barley properly. Massive, unending gratitude towards Rob at De Whiskykoning is appropriate!

Posted in Hazelburn, Longrow, Springbank | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment