Just short of greatness

You know that feeling when you are tasting a very, very good whisky, but somehow it just doesn’t cross the magical 90-point threshold? You realize that you’re tasting whisky that’s way above average, but you can’t shake the feeling you should have spent the money elsewhere?

I know I am very, very spoiled in regards to whisky, but that also has made me very picky in what I want to spend my money on. In all honesty I think that’s a good thing, because it means I’m very inclined to try a whisky before buying it, and in the end I spend less money because of it.

While leafing through my notebook I found a couple of these that I reviewed in the last couple of months (there’s a mountain of tasting notes that have not yet appeared on the blog) and thought to get these out there.

Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 1990-2017, 27yo, The Whisky Agency, 48.1%

The first of these drams that fell just shy is an Irish single malt from 1990. Now I know I have a love-hate relation with these whiskeys since they can be absolutely stellar in some cases, but in most there’s this chemical, candy-like sweetness that I don’t love.

On the nose it’s sweet like winegums (yup, there it is) and a hint of wheat ale with some sweetened lemon. Rather intense and crisp, but the sweetness trumps it. The palate is surprisingly sharp at first. The sweetness is back here too, with that chemical edge. Candy drops, wheat with lemon. Rather light. The finish is gentle and long with the candy sweetness and wheat ale notes. The fruit is a bit more tropical like mango and papaya. Dried pineapple too.

So, the dried pineapple on the finish is great. The wheat ale (wit beer) notes are interesting but not great, but there’s enough to like here. Quite complex, while being held back by the chemical sweetness.

88/100

(Thanks to Teun for the sample!)


Dailuaine 1974-2005, Cask B111/2, Berry Brothers and Rudd, 46%

This one I got for a bottle share with some friends. It had been making the rounds on some Facebook groups and I got my eye on it a while ago. I have had some early seventies Dailuaines in the past (I remember the Adieu Lina very fondly) and wanted this one.

That it was bottled by Berry’s made it more of a sure thing, since that’s a cracking bottler.

On the nose it’s smooth but with some kind of beery scent to it. I guess that’s due to the malting, and it’s something I’ve found in some other old Dailuaines as well. Lots of malt, a hint of crispness of lemon and lots of old oak. The palate is very consistent with the nose. Lots of barley, lots of newly cut oak but also something that makes it feel old. Like a sawmill. Dried apple peels and tree bark. The finish is dry and soft, quite rich with lots of oak again. Long, with heaps of barley, bread and beer. Apple and pear peels.

So, how is this not an amazing whisky, you ask? It does everything that you’d expect from an old Dailuaine, but it just lacks a bit of depth. The ‘oldness’ is definitely present, and there’s fruit, oak and some hoppy spiciness. But, for true greatness I would have expected a little more depth and flavor. There is some fruit and some spice, but not much of either. And just wood and barley keeps it below 90 points.

89/100


Yamazaki Limited Edition 2017, 43%

(no image as some guys started complaining of my post nicking their image from WhiskyBase)

Last year I did a bottle share with the 2016 release from Yamazaki and that whisky was amaze-balls. I kept 10cl of the bottle for myself and have considered buying an entire bottle for myself. So, when this year’s edition came around I shared one again. Maybe I should have waited since prices in the secondary market have been dropping since I bought the bottle… Quite unexpected for a Japanese whisky.

The nose of this one is dry and rich, with lots of oak and caramel, treacle and golden syrup. Lots and lots of oak with sweet peach, apricot and banana. The palate then, it’s soft, sweet and ever so slightly bitter. Peach and apricot and other stone fruits. Caramel again, and some browned butter. Very syrupy. The finish is very consistent and warm, with fruits, golden syrup and lots of oak.

This is the least interesting of this post. I’m not sure how it can be so vastly different from last year’s edition. I think this is the most un-Japanese whisky from Japan I’ve ever had. The woodiness doesn’t have that sandalwood like scent and flavor that is so common in Japanese whisky. Quite a shame, because that puts it on a level with much, much cheaper blended malts from Scotland.

87/100

Posted in - Irish Whiskey, - Japanese Whisky, Dailuaine, Yamazaki | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two other Archives: Glentauchers and Glen Keith

The ‘non-Speyside’ whiskies from the recent Archives release are a Glentauchers 1996 and a Glen Keith 1992. Obviously both are from the Speyside region, but they aren’t marked as an undisclosed Speyside distillery.

Both are a bit weird in regards to how I feel towards the distillery. As in, I’ve had absolutely stunning Glen Keiths over the years, but the name never sticks with me so I never actually bought a bottle of anything. Glentauchers is a hit and miss distillery in my book, with more misses than hits, so that one never found its way on to my shelf either.

Glen Keith is one of those distilleries that has some great years and some forgettable ones. I think in this case the great years are 1992 and 1970. Obviously, the 1970 one have all come and gone, but were stunners. 1992 still sounds ‘young’, but is also 25 years ago by now.

Glentauchers 1996, 20yo, Barrel 7324, 53.9%, Archives (Fishes of Samoa)

153488-bigIt starts woody and green on the nose, with old plants (the stalks have become wood like, you know). There’s grass and hay, with a very light and dry feel to it. Some black pepper and bread crust. The palate is a bit more sweet than the nose, but still has some peppery heat. It’s light and quite sharp with grass, hay, plants, black pepper and oak. Gets dryer if you let it swim a bit, with a nice and spirity (in a good way) feel to it. The finish is warming and dry, with hay, ferns and woody plants.

Very different than most Glentauchers’ I remember, but also quite good. There are some definite wood based flavors in there, but there’s also a lot of spirit still making its way to the forefront. Good stuff!

87/100


Glen Keith 1992, 24yo, Barrel 120633, 59.7%, Archives (Fishes of Samoa)

153487-bigRight, then the Glen Keith which is supposed to be from one of the best years the distillery has had.

The ABV makes itself known on the nose. An assault on the nostrils at first. This needs a couple of minutes to air out a bit. After some recovery I start getting oak, black pepper with lots of bourbon influence and vanilla. Quite sweet and rich with hints of sponge cake, cinnamon, clove. Almost like a Scottish bourbon. The palate is somewhat lighter with dry oak, bark and sawdust. Lots of spices and a hint of bitterness. An oaky bitterness that is, with nutmeg, cinnamon and clove. The finish is less sharp with lots of spices again. Long, dry, slightly bitter.

Well, I expected this to be a vanilla heavy dram and that didn’t disappoint. A lot of great flavors are here for discovery and it all makes for a rather tremendous dram. A great pick from the guys at Whiskybase!

89/100

Of course, the whisky world wouldn’t be the whisky world as we know it if these were still available. Prices used to be 90 euros for the Glentauchers and 125 for the Glen Keith.

Thanks a million for the samples, Whiskybase!

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Three new Speysides from Archives

Last week the guys from WhiskyBase released five new bottlings in their Archives series. Three ‘Speysides’ from 1973, 1973 and 1998, and a Glentauchers and Glen Keith, respectively from 1996 and 1992.

Speyside 1

The first two are in a new series, no longer the Fishes of Samoa, but the Echinoderms from Australia. I feel they could have picked an easier species to name their whisky after, but what the heck.

They sent me samples of these drams, which is pretty awesome, and I decided to not wait a year before ‘getting around to them’. Of course, it’s been a week so almost everything is sold out by now, because that’s how the world of whisky works nowadays.

I’ll review the three Speysides first. Shall we?

Speyside 1973-2017, 43yo, Cask 9, 46.5%

On the nose it starts with old wood with a hint of vanilla and caramel. Some peach stone, almond and dried fruits. Smooth and sweet with buttercream, baked apple and some cinnamon. The palate continues on the fruit with grapes, apple and peach. A lot of oak with some slightly bitter almond. A tinge of butter and some spices. The finish is long and showcases the age of the whisky with it’s oak and smoothness. Some spices near the end too.


Speyside 2Speyside 1973-2017, 43yo, Cask 8, 46.8%

This one is slightly more fruity at first, a bit richer as well. Banana and mango, with oak and the greasiness that goes with those fruits. A bit more fresh, and even slightly acidic, like pineapple. Lots and lots of fruit. The palate is smooth (not very surprising) with lots of oak and yellow fruits. Pineapple and banana, with that tinge of acidity. Slightly oxidized, indicating age and maturity in this case. The finish is great with more of that ‘old whisky’ woodiness and complexity. Fruit, but surprisingly, red fruit. Blackberries and raspberries, also some apple.

Both of these ancient whiskies are pretty damn awesome (and sold out). The first one is a bit more focused on the oak, where the second one is slightly more fruity. Apart from that they are very comparable, I think. I do prefer the fruitiness of the second dram, though. That does not mean I wouldn’t be perfectly happy going through a bottle of the first one!

Both came out at 380 euros a bottle. The first one, at 90/100 is here, and the second one, at 91/100, is here.


Speyside 3Speyside 1998-2017, 18yo, Cask 1034, 52.7%

A very much darker whisky than the previous two, even though they’re all three from a butt. That doesn’t mean it’s European oak, and based on what scents and flavors I got on the first two, I think those are from American Oak butts. This one might be different, though.

On the nose I get lots and lots of sherry with hints of leather and nuts. Hazelnut, dark and crusty bread with some slightly bitter caramel sauce. Spiced cake (not Christmas cake, but a drier version that’s not uncommon in The Netherlands) with rich sherry. The palate is sweet and thick with sherry. Quite dry and bitter, and very intense. Lots of oak, dried plums and dates. Mole even, with some peppery heat. The finish is predictable and continues on the mole. Dark chocolate, some coffee and even some notes of old rum. Dry and long.

A very different beast, this. Initially I wrote down a score of 88 points, but upon reading my tasting notes again, I really think this deserves more, so the score is upped to 89 points. The sherry is gorgeous and even though it does mask the distillery character, the flavors are tremendous and have a lot to offer.

This one clocks in (and is still available) at 115 euros. Apart from this being much younger, I think the value for money ratio is better here, although the whisky is not cheap. Still as said, highly recommended!

Thanks to the guys at WhiskyBase for keeping me in good spirits!

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Clynelish 23, 24 and 24, all from Adelphi

A while ago I did a bottle share with three Clynelishes

About every second post on this blog starts like that nowadays. And if it doesn’t start with it, there’s mention of some kind of share down the line. This one is no different and as stated above, I did a bottle share with three properly aged Clynelishes.

The idea came up after going to The Hielander Whisky Festival in February, where my father in law and I tried a 1984 Clynelish from Silver Seal, which is one of the greatest whiskies I’ve tried in a long time.

So, there had to be a Clynelish bottle share. That in combination with a great bottler, preferably. Adelphi kind of is, I’ve had a lot of great drams from their stables, and so I ended up ordering a few bottles from The Old Pipe, who have a vast collection of their whiskies.

Let’s start with the odd one out, since the other two are sister casks.

20170714_095405Clynelish 24, 1989-2013, Refill Bourbon Cask 3846, 53.1%

On the nose it start with a scent of old wood, slightly decaying (or rotting), with hay. So, more or less a wet field near a forest. Very light and even slightly mezcal like. A tad coarse with a whiff of wood smoke, lemon and an oily idea to it. The palate is sharp with lots of oak and that whiff of mezcal again. Slightly chemical, in a good way (I like Mezcal). Olive oil, lemon and agava, before the Clynelish resin shows up. The finish focuses on the oak and is dry with a hint of wood spices. Resin and straw.

Well, this is a good start, but it’s not what I expected. The resin notes typical for Clynelish are present, but not superfluous. The oak is a lot stronger and there’s a hint of spirit, like that smoky Mezcal hint I got.

88/100


20170714_095410Then we’re off to the duo. Both casks are distilled in 1990 and since they’re numbers 3233 and 3232 we can say they’re true sister casks. Also, my money is on them being distilled on the same day. The difference is that one of the two (3233) was bottled in 2014, and the other in 2015. In this case that makes them 23 and 24 years old respectively.

Clynelish 23, 1990-2014, Refill Bourbon Barrel 3233, 49%

On the nose this one starts out like a true Clynelish. There’s straw and candle wax. Oak and quite a bit of sharpness. Some brittle caramel and some fruitiness. Pear, and quite a mature nose in general. A whiff of wood spices pops up later. The palate is sharp with lots of oak. Resin and that brittle caramel again. Slightly bitter with apple seeds, old fruit and straw. The finish is typically Clynelish with oak and resin, candle wax. Quite a long finish too.

89/100

20170714_095415Clynelish 24, 1990-2015, Refill Bourbon Barrel 3232, 50.2%

The nose of this one starts quite similar to the previous one, but that’s not very surprising since it’s practically the same whisky. Smoother, even though it’s slightly higher in ABV. Oak, lots of resin and candles. Pear, apple and honey. The palate is quite smooth with honey, walnut and a creamy texture. There’s oak, resin, wax and a bitter note again. Very rich. The finish is smooth again, long and rich too. Wax, and some Scottish tablet (sugary fudge, if you like) and caramac bars.

90/100

The last two are far more in line with what I expected from well aged Clynelishes. Especially the last one does exactly what I expect a Clynelish to do. Both are good, but the last one is the best one of the bunch if you ask me. Especially since it’s a tad smoother than the other two (or my palate was more warmed up), but I really loved that one.

20170714_095355

The sister casks are still available from The Old Pipe in St. Oedenrode (which is an awesome shop to visit, if you happen to be in the neighbourhood.

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A flock of Inchmurrin

LochLomondAfter some posts of Islay whiskies, we’re moving a little bit east to Loch Lomond. This truly stunning are is home to a large but largely unknown distillery of the same name. Most of it’s fame (if you can call it that) comes from Captain Haddock, and cheap blended whiskies.

Luckily, they’ve been making massive headway with revamping their bottles a while ago and getting some really good whisky on the shelves.

Why are we talking about Loch Lomond while the title of this here posts says Inchmurrin, you ask? Well, Inchmurrin is, like Loch Lomond, two things. The first is an island in Loch Lomond, the second is a range of whiskies from the Loch Lomond distillery.

Last year I did a minor bottle share of their new 12 year old and a Signatory bottling of a 22 year old single cask. Then recently I got some samples of upcoming bottlings by The Whisky Nerds. Time for reviews, don’t you think?

Inchmurrin 12, 46%, 2015 release

inchmurrin-12-years

Available at Passie voor Whisky

On the nose it’s ridiculously fruity and there’s a whiff of peat if I’m not mistaken (apparently they make Inchmurrin with varying levels of peat). Fresh menthol and some oak. Quite a lot of barley scent. Apple, grape and pear peels.

 

The palate is smooth regarding flavor, but the 46% (as a slightly elevated ABV) is noticeable. White pepper and some dry oak, with fruit and some ash. A light smoke with crisp fruit. Lemon, cactus maybe? Apple.

The finish offers a smooth ending to this whisky. More oak and barley. Again crisp and fruity, with an ashy edge.

For a ‘standard distillery bottling’, as in the entry level, it’s ridiculously good. Thoroughly enjoyable and one that I could drink again and again (which I did). Summery and fresh, and much better than I expected.

Standard distillery bottlings being ridiculously good nowadays seems to be a theme by the way. Think about Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Springbank Talisker, Clynelish, this one, Speyburn, Balblair, and probably many others.

87/100


Inchmurrin 22yo, 1993-2015, 59.2%, Signatory Vintage

 

The nose of this one is a lot sharper, but that comes as no surprise. It still is quite light, though. Almost Lowlands like in style. A whiff of artificial fruit flavors, like in candy, with a gentle sweetness of powdered sugar. Dried pineapple, wine gums, pear. Quite nice! Some malt in the background.

 

The palate is dry and sharp, with the alcohol being very noticeable. Dry barley, oak, a whiff of smoke again and that dried pineapple. The wine gums are back too, but it’s slightly less sweet than I expected.

The finish has some more oak and malt, and is rather dry. Less fruity and more ‘generic’ if that’s a thing.

87/100


Then we get to the about-to-be-released Whisky Nerds bottlings. There’s quite some awesomeness going on here so bear with me.

It’s a triptych for starters. Two of the bottlings are coming out any day now. Those are a sherry cask matured whisky and a bourbon cask matured one. The third one will follow in autumn and is the same whisky, but married together.

So, not all of the whisky from both the bourbon and sherry cask have been bottled yet, but have been put together in one cask for marrying (or blending, if you will).

Also, the two whiskies that we’ll be reviewing here are called “Law” and “Order”.

Inchmurrin 2003-2017, 14yo, 53.3%, cask 168, Bourbon cask, The Whisky Nerds

pdfresizer.com-pdf-crop (2)-page-001 (1)The nose instantly brings lemon drops and a whiff of light smoke. There’s crisp apple and pineapple. Lots of yellow fruits. A very light grainyness and (this is a first) a scent of Fanta. With fizz.

The palate is a tad sharp and light. Slightly dry peat with grass and fruit. Pineapple and lemon. Still a tad spirity (which is a very good thing) and not a lot of oak. Slightly sweet with powdered sugar.

The finish is slightly more comparable to the above two. A fruit bomb that’s sweet and dry. Again the pineapple, lemon and apple. Rather long.

Well, I knew to expect a fruity whisky, since that’s what Bram and Floris always aim for. They succeeded, massively. Surprisingly I got a whiff of peat, but there shouldn’t be any. Of course, that can be caused by me being bad at this, or maybe the distilling apparatus are not 100% clean before the next batch goes in. Who knows. It just adds to the experience. if you ask me.

90/100


Inchmurrin 2003-2017, 14yo, 56.3%, cask 169, Sherry cask, The Whisky Nerds

pdfresizer.com-pdf-crop (5)-page-001 (1)The sherry cask is promising to be quite an intense one. I didn’t expect the color to be this dark, but if that means anything, we’re in for a treat!

The nose brings big, rich and intense sherry notes from the get-go. No smoke here, but lots of dried fruits with mostly plums. Lots of oak based scents and very dry. Apricot, raisins and tea.

The palate continues this sherried rampage, with hints of slightly bitter almond and cherry stones. Apricot, lots of oak and splinters. The dried fruits make an appearance here too.

The finish is gorgeous and gorgeously rich. Lots of apricots and plums again, with a hint of mint.

Again, knowing the guys who chose the casks, I’m not overly surprised by how this whisky tastes, except, as with the previous one, it tastes a lot better than I expected it to. Another scrumptious whisky that does everything a good sherry cask should do, with a great fruity backdrop and lovely bitter hints.

90/100

Both of the first two reviews are bottlings that I’ve finished by now. Both of the latter have not been released yet, but will most definitely end up on my shelf. They are bloody awesome!

Of course, as with all previous Whisky Nerds bottlings, they will be available in selected Dutch whisky specialists.

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A rediscovered love for Islay’s whiskies

My pervious post was about several things, including (and mostly) how I have started loving Islay whiskies again. At some point I got done with the continued barrage of peated drams, but that’s no longer the case.

This is part just me changing my preferences again, but also because I’ve shifted to quality over quantity a bit more. Due to bottle sharing, and buying less but better, I’ve not gone through “yet another 2000s Caol Ila” (those can be good, but they can also be very boring). Instead, I’ve had the chance to try some truly awesome drams.

Where the previous post had some old Ardbeg, Feis Ile and Jazzy Lagavulins, and an old Caol Ila, this time we’re having quite a different line up. Or at least, some older, some younger, some old and young (not too long in the cask, but a bottling from yonder year).

Caol Ila 1984-2016, 32yo, Single Malts of Scotland for The Whisky Show Old & Rare, 50.2%

CaolIla1984

Image from Just-Whisky.de

One of the bottle shared ones that was bottled by Single Malts of Scotland for their second festival, called ‘The Whisky Show – Old & Rare’. An even more special festival focusing on ridiculously decadent whisky.

On the nose this one turns out to be a bit greener than expected. There’s a smokiness that’s slightly mezcal like, with a chemical hint. Some gasoline and slate. Moss and ferns, fresh leaves and even a hint of spirit.

The palate is pretty intense, even a tad sharper than expected for a thirty-two year old whisky. Quiet fresh and crips with fresh lemon, and candied lemon. Slightly fatty with a hint of bacon and smoke.

The finish is still somewhat sharp at the beginning, but mellows quickly. Some oak and a light herbaceousness. Plants and a very light smoke.

I’m not entirely sure what to think of this. As in, it’s a very good whisky, but it’s very different than what I expected, and very different from any other 30+ Caol Ila I’ve ever had. Initially I found this a bit of a downer, but as I got nearer to the end of my 10cl, I started liking it more and more.

89/100 points

The price has gone up by now. It’s available for 700 euros at Just Whisky.


 

Bowmore 17yo, Feis Ile 2016, Pedro Ximenez cask, 56.1%

Bowmore

Image from Whiskybase

A pretty decently aged Bowmore, from a fresh sherry cask, bottled for Feis Ile 2016. One that I was rather enthousiastic about when I found it in my sample box a while ago! Especially since it means this is bottled in the nineties, which is a pretty cracking period for Bowmore.

The first scents indicate a fairly strong whisky, with LOTS of sherry to it. A lot of big fruity scents follow with banana, dates and peach. Sweet fruits and soft oak scents. Slightly spicy, with oak and a light smoke. Not much spirit character to be found, though.

The palate is dry and sharp and sweet. Some peat smoke with oak and wood spices. Tree bark, sherry, but slightly more typical for an Islay whisky. Rich, and sharp.

The finish is dry with a coarse smoke. Long and sweet, with oak, spices and sherry. Some fruit too, but less than before.

Well, I’m not overly thrilled by this one. It sure is drinkable, but there’s so much sherry going on that it could be a lot of different distilleries instead of Bowmore and you’d never notice. I prefer my whiskies with a bit more spirit character that is not completely trumped by the oak.

86/100 points


 

Lagavulin for the Islay Jazz Festival 2016, 54.5%

Lagavulin Jazz 2016.jpg

Image from Best of Whiskies

The follow up the one I tried in the previous post. Another one that I bought for a bottle share, together with the new Ardbeg Kelpie (a review will follow later). Like the 2015 edition, it’s a whisky without an age indication, which is not something Lagavulin often does.

The nose is much heavier than I remember the 2015 to be. Warm and dark and wintry. Scents of mud and marram grass. Old oak and dunnage warehouses. There are some young edges, and a bit of green-ness to it.

Initially the palate is sharp and fierce, but with time it mellows a bit. It does get a bit drier too. Green with moss and ferns. Oak, campfire with earthy notes and straw. Dirt and dunnage warehouses. Slightly sweet later on.

The aftertaste is quite rich and a tad lighter. It’s long and dry with straw and marram again. That earthy, muddy dunnage scent is there again too.

Well, to be honest, this is a cracker! Much better than the 2015 version if you ask me. Truly good whisky with a nice and young edge, but quintessential Lagavulin.

90/100 points.

Available for 255 euros at Best of Whiskies


 

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2015, Madeira Hogshead, 51.6%

Laph

Image from Whiskybase

Generally, I’m not a fan of the Cairdeas’. This year’s edition is a stronger version of Laphroaig’s Quarter Cask, of which I’m no fan either. Add to that that there was a port cask which was quite horrendous a few years ago and you might understand why I sold the couple bottles of different editions that I collected. Then this one came with the ‘buy a sample of each Feis Ile bottling’ pack…

On the nose it’s sweet with a very lightly spicy fortified wine scent. Slightly nutty with hazelnuts and walnuts, without the dryness of those. The sweet peat kind that I’ve found before in Laphroaig. Quite young, but also not without some layers of flavor. Straw, oak, and some sharp smoke.

The flavor of coarse smoke hits first, then there’s oak and sweetness. Some ash, nuts and an earthy hint. Slightly spicy with wood spices. Pepper and a certain richness.

The finish is fairly simple and even slightly weak compared to the palate and nose. Still rich, but not as layered or flavorful.

Well, it’s better than I expected. Generally those fortified wines are a bit of a shot in the dark with most of them not being great. This one is pretty good though. More of a  drinking than a tasting wihsky though.

86/100 points


I was planning to do one more review, but that one is such a ridiculously special dram to me that I’m going to do a more specific review for it.

Posted in Bowmore, Caol Ila, Lagavulin, Laphroaig | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Islay, a baby and Twitter

20170527_193753It’s been two weeks since I’ve blogged. In those two weeks quite a lot has happened, varying from major life changing things to unimportant things that are fun to yap about.

Baby

On May 17th, our third child, Cato, was born. So far it’s been smooth sailing with her and she sleeps rather well, only wanting to eat/drink once per night.

The now middle kid is turning three in August, and I had already forgotten how tiny newborns are. Luckily, not everything is forgotten so a lot of things (diapers and such) can be done on auto pilot.

Twitter

About two weeks ago, maybe a little bit longer, I’ve decided to stop using Twitter. I wasn’t getting anything from it and my obsessive-compulsory treat kept me checking it several times per day sifting through nothing that wasn’t also in news feeds or on Facebook.

For that reason I’ve uninstalled all apps for it, and the only thing that’s still happening there regarding MaltFascination is the auto-post of every article. Apart from that, I’m not checking anything. If you want to get in touch, please use Facebook, or the comments on the blog!

Islay

Then, the most whisky related thing in this post! I’ve said it before a while ago, but recently I’ve been rediscovering my love for Islay whiskies. Of course, being the spoiled brat that I am I’m not talking about Caol Ila Moch, Laphroaig Select and the likes.

Honestly, I don’t really care about these drams. I find them too fiery with little or no balance and depth. However, with a bit of money to use in bottle-shares, there is some exquisite whisky coming from the Queen of the Hebrides.

Also, my Facebook timeline being flooded with pictures and messages from yet another Feis Ile I’m not attending might have something to do with it…

To celebrate the birth of Cato I dug through my sample stash and picked a few things I’ve been keeping for a special occasion, and one I should have tried before but hadn’t. Let’s do some reviews!

Lagavulin Feis Ile 2016Lagavulin Feis Ile 2016, 18yo, 49.5%

The Lagavulin that was released during Feis Ile for their 200th anniversary was matured in refill American Oak and European Oak sherry casks.

On the nose I got notes of bonfire, which means charcoal, burned grass and straw and wood. Quite a lot of peat and smoke, with hints of vanilla, thyme and brine. The palate has some bite and shows flavors straw, smoke and peat. There are hints of oak, salt and sand, with quite a rich texture. Some minor hints of tar and wooden fishing boats. The finish is slightly more salty, but softer and warmer. Rich and long with a lighter smokiness.

An amazing dram by any standard. Absolutely gorgeous regarding the layers of flavors and no overpowering smoke that leaves no room for other flavors and scents to shine. Top notch stuff, this!

91/100


 

Lagavulin Jazz 2015Lagavulin Jazz Festival 2015, 55.4%

This one is a lot more fierce than the 18 year old above. This one shows lots of oak and smoke on the nose. There’s salted lemon and notes of pastry. Malt, and hints of kippers, vanilla and a light herbaceousness. The palate is sharp with vanilla, lemon sorbet and lime juice. Some sugar, and a woody edge. Peat, smoke and basalt. The finish is an explosion of peat and smoke. Lots of flavor with a salty edge.

Another very good whisky, but a little less deep and layered. Still, very enjoyable.

89/100

 

 

 

 


 

12157_bigArdbeg 25, 1991-2016, 49.8%, The Duchess, Shieldmaiden Series ‘Malin’

I got this sample from Nils, who works at Best of Whiskies, which is also the company behind The Duchess, the bottler. They’re a relatively new bottler, but they have put the bar ridiculously high for themselves and therefore aren’t bottling many things at all.

The nose shows a malty sweetness, with ‘old’ lemon, smoke and chamois leather. Almost like a good Port Ellen. A light smokiness with hints of salinity and marshmallows. An older style smoke, but without the oak being overpowering. The palate is richer and slightly sharper than I expected. Smooth and sweet with marshmallows. Hints of white pepper, salty smoke. Some dried apples, simple syrup and hints of brine. The finish is rich and smooth, with lots of heavy smoke. No overpowering smoke, but a heavy smoke. Long and slightly spicy.

Dear god this is good. The most luxurious of the whiskies I’ve tried in this batch, and we’re not even done. The balance and depth is incredible and it shows the vastly great side of Ardbeg. A very expensive bottle, but I can sort of understand where the money goes.

92/100


 

96110-bigCaol Ila 1978-2002, 23yo, 61.7%, Rare Malts Selection

A sample I pulled from the box of things-to-get-to-someday, and I have no idea from whom I got this (sorry for that). Obviously, this fits this tasting nicely, so here it goes!

There’s the classic smoke and oak on the nose. But I also get a surprising amount of red fruits. Blackberries and blueberries, with vanilla crumble, so custard and sweet pastry. Far more complex than expected. The palate is very dry and very sharp. There’s sweetness with vanilla and lots of fruit again. The oak is toned down and the whisky shows the creaminess of Caol Ila with some smoke. A bit more gentle than contemporary Caol Ila on the smoke. The finish is dry and sweet with a little bit of heavy smoke.

Yet another cracker from on of my favorite distilleries. The style of whisky that got me hooked initially, some 14 (?) years ago. Good on a level that I even tried to get a bottle in auction this weekend. Of course, I wasn’t ready to shell out the money required for this kind of stuff nowadays.

90/100

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