Mannochmore 20, 1997-2017, Bourbon Hogshead, 52.7% – Cadenhead

Mannochmore is, to me at least, one of those distilleries that pops up with something really good every decade or so, and then is quickly forgotten about.

Just before deleting the second paragraph I decided to look down the annals of the Usquebaugh Society’s Blind Tasting Competition because I was writing about being blown away by a Mannochmore bottled by the SMWS, which was part of that competition. Luckily, I did, because it turned out to be a Balmenach. An equally overlooked distillery, but still not quite the same…

Image from Whiskybase

Anyway, recently Mannochmore popped up in ‘The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay‘, by Fable. And now I found a sample of this one near the front of my sample shelf. Being near the front means it’s been a recent addition, but I scarcely remember from whom I got the sample. As I never do.

Sniff:
Very malt driven, with lots of barley and porridge. Some orchard fruits like apples and white grapes. Baked apples too, but apart from that it’s a bit flat.

Sip:
A veritable mountain of barley must have gone into this whisky, since there’s almost nothing else to be discovered. Grain, grain, grain. It’d be an interesting style for the Terroir things that Waterford, and to a lesser extent Springbank, Kilchoman and Bruichladdich are doing. Some apples, white grapes, oatmeal cakes and a slightly creamy note.

Swallow:
The finish is a little bit more rich than the palate was. It’s more a pastry note, than a raw grain note here. Barley and oatmeal still.

Well, I’m not entirely sure what to say about it apart from the fact that there’s actually just one note to be found, with some things that are found by association. It’s a malt whisky, that’s for sure, but other than that I find this one very, very boring. Not bad, just very boring.

82/100

Still available for € 117 in Italy

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

Heaven Hill 2005-2015, Bourbon Barrel MoS15042, 52.1% – Malts of Scotland

I always thing it’s funny when a brand like ‘Malts of Scotland’ releases a whisky that’s neither a malt, nor from Scotland. Of course, with all the Irish stuff and American releases that are coming out from bottlers, this happens quite a bit more than it used to, but I still think it’s funny.

Image from Whiskybase

This Heaven Hill comes from German bottler ‘Malts of Scotland’, and surprisingly, it’s from a regular bourbon barrel. I’ve not done a full count, but Malts of Scotland released quite a few Heaven Hills from sherry casks, port pipes and even ex-peated-whisky casks.

Some of those were pretty good, but especially the fortified wine casks were far too sweet in my opinion. That shouldn’t be too surprising since bourbon tends to be on the sweet side anyway, and then you add more sweetness to it…

Anyway, this one then. A regular one. Let’s see how it fairs.

Sniff:
Really solid bourbon, with lots of corn, sweetness and rich oak. It’s light with a hint of menthol. Cherries and blackberries.

Sip:
The palate has a lot of osky dryness, with some sweetness to back it up. Cherries and blackberries again. Cigars and autumn leaves. Proper bourbon.

Swallow:
The finish gentle, with some sweetness and warmth lingering. Some oak towards the end.

I can see this working well on a summer night, on the porch, in a rocking chair. ‘Uncle Jesse’ style. Not that I have a porch, or that summer was particularly sunny this year, but still.

87/100


I’m chucking this one in as a bonus, since I only had a sample and I can’t find a picture of the bottle anywhere.

Heaven Hill 5yo, bottled in 2000, 63% – Cadenhead

Sniff:
Very fiery bourbon, no pun intended. Lots of chili heat with lots of sweet corn and typical American white oak. Quite light, with some rather crisp spices. Sage and basil.

Sip:
Sharp, but in such a way that it takes a few seconds before you realize it. Very dry because of the high ABV, with lots of weight and richness. Cola, corn syrup, sage. A very interesting way and a flavor combination that makes me want to eat barbecue.
After about 20 to 30 seconds the heat becomes rather unbearable.

Swallow:
And then we continue straight on towards the rich finish, with more of the flavors from before. Cola, barbecue, marinade, corn syrup, brown sugar, maple syrup. A lot of things that work very well in a bourbon, all combined.

Interestingly the massive sharpness takes it down a notch, but enough notches were earned that it still is quite ‘up there’. The hints of cola and barbecue were very nice! It’s this one, on Whiskybase, but it doesn’t have a picture…

87/100

Posted in - American Whiskey, - Bourbon, Heaven Hill | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bunnahabhain 33, 1987-2021, 53.4% – Michiel Wigman, Prometheus

Yesterday, Michiel Wigman’s newest bottles came in. I didn’t buy this one, but I did get a sample of it. I’m simply not one to spend this kind of money on a single bottle. I have never done so, and so far I’m fairly convinced I neverwill.

Although, I was convinced that € 180 for a bottle of Port Ellen or Brora was way more than the booze was worth too, and I’d never spend that much on any bottle. We all can guess how that went.

Anyway, contrary to the ‘They Inspiried’ series for the other whiskies, and the ‘Precious Moments’ series for non-whisky booze (Cognac and Rum so far), this one is called ‘Prometheus’ and I’ve forgotten to ask Michiel why that is.

But, enough rambling. There whisky to be tasted, and that’s what we’re doing here.

Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
It’s an older whisky, that’s for sure. It’s quiet and gentle, not even packing a punch that I would expect for a 53.4% ABV bottle. There are notes of hay and tall grass. Some coastal salinity and a hint of resin. Quite some oak, green and pulpy. To my own surprise I also get a hint of peach, and a tiny bitter note of peach stone. Some seaweed later on.

Sip:
Again, the notes of peach and peach stones are here. It’s very consistent with the nose with hay, seaweed, resin. Some salinity and lichen, moss, basalt maybe. Something old, weathered and green.

Swallow:
And once more, the consistency between nose, palate and finish is incredible. I do get all the notes from earlier, but there’s a hint of vanilla added to the flavors.

This is a whisky with two different faces, not unlike yesterday’s undisclosed highland whisky. On one hand, it’s a gentle and time-mellowed Islay whisky. It’s rather typical of the distillery and of the island if you disregard the smoke that most distilleries are famed for. Lots of grassy notes, with some salinity.

On the other hand, it does feel a bit closed. I’m not sure if I had to coax out the flavors a bit more (not sure how to do that, by the way), but apart from the grassy and slightly salty notes, there’s not too much going on.

So, much like yesterday’s review, it’s a very good whisky but not entirely in my wheelhouse.

88/100

Thanks to Michiel for the sample!

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

Secret Highland Distillery 34, 1985-2019, Hogshead, 47% – The Whisky Agency

A few years ago when a whisky was from an undisclosed distillery, that generally meant the bottle was a bit cheaper than its named counterparts. That is far less true now, since people have come to realize that the whisky is just as good, if not better than in more regular releases.

I tried this blind, a little while ago. On top of that I have to admit that I don’t recall where I got the sample from. But, an older bottling like this should be good without knowing its provenance…

Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
On the nose it starts off with wax and oak. Some pine resin too, with old apple and cake batter. Apple pie, cinnamon and some other spices. It’s rather classical, and quite mature too.

Sip:
The palate is a bit more intense than I would expect from a 47% dram, but not sharp. White pepper and fresh oak. Some waxiness to follow, with the resin and the apple pie. Baking spices too.

Swallow:
The finish is more wood driven than the palate was, but I also get some red fruits. Quite long with lots of oak and a note of beeswax.

This one is a little bit of a conundrum. As in, it’s a very good whisky with lots of lovely flavors. However, it’s not as complex as you would expect such an old dram to be. The flavors, while nice and mature, old even, are good but I do expect this to be a little bit more interesting.

The ‘oldness’ of a whisky should not just be determined by the flavors that tell its age, but also be accompanied by complexity and depth, and that’s where his one lacks a little bit.

Having said that, it still is very good. Very drinkable. Just nog € 400+ good by quite some margin.

88/100

Posted in Undisclosed | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Anomaly 26yo, Bourbon Hogshead, 49% – Cadenhead Online Tasting Week

With my order going horribly wrong last year, for Cadenhead and Springbank’s Online Tasting Week, I decided to skip this one, especially since Brexit had already happened too.

Of course, most whiskies were probably awesome and very reasonably priced, because that is what Cadenhead does. Most of them I’ve already forgotten after skimming the email about it though. Except this one.

Image from Whiskybase

This blended malt is called Anomaly, because it’s green. And by green it’s not a light bourbon cask that looks a tad green in the right light, but actual, slightly muddy and mossy green. Like ‘water from a fishtank in some post-apocalyptic movie with a decaying goldfish in it’-green.

Initially it sold for some £ 75 and quickly ramped up to € 175 on the secondary market, and even that bottle has sold by now. I doubted about buying it, until I found a sample available online and bought that instead.

Sniff:
It’s very woody with ‘green’ oak. The kind that leaves your hands green if you would touch the trunk. Pickled walnuts, somehow, with a slightly moldy hint of vegetables. Later on I get a scent of those big green plums.

Sip:
The palate packs a bit more punch that the 49% ABV suggested. A sharp oakiness with a touch of vinegar. Those pickled walnuts again. Walnut shells too, lots of wood, green apples and green plums.

Swallow:
The finish is somehow very old fashioned. Very oak driven again with hints of green malt on top of that. Quite a bit more barley notes than before, with some apples and a tiny bitter note.

So, contrary to what you might think after reading the tasting notes, this is actually a very good whisky. It’s something quite different than what you’d normally encounter, but it sure is tasty. Lots of oak and other kinds of green notes, plums, apples, moss, unmalted barley, and so on. I very much enjoyed it, to be honest.

88/100

Posted in - Blended Malt | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deanston 12, 2006-2019, Fino Cask 1608, 55%

Everytime when a whisky matured, or in this case finished, in a Fino Sherry cask pops up, my interest peaks. Apart from actually liking Fino Sherry, I find it imparts great flavors on whiskies through the reuse of the oak.

It’s more dry and spicy than most other Sherry casks, and sometimes even brings a little bitter note.

Deanston 2006
Image from Whiskybase

On the other hand, Deanston is not a distillery I enormously enjoy. I often find their whiskies a little bland, or so heavily cask influenced that the pendulum swing the other way entirely. But, if this was a nice bourbon cask before it was transferred into the Fino cask, it should be good. I was game for a sample.

Sniff:
A slight salty dryness with grape must. Quite some oak, a grape seed bitter note too. Very drifferent from the more common fruity sherry casks. Some baking spices and sawdust.

Sip:
The palate brings more spiciness, the baking spices and the sawdust. Some bitter fruits, with plum stones, almonds, date stones. Again, it’s very dry.

Swallow:
The finish is very similar to the palate. Some fruit, lots of spices, a bit of bitterness. Very dry and that touch of salinity from the nose makes a reappearance too.

In this case, I think it’s very nice that Deanston isn’t too flavorful by itself. Generally I want the spirit to shine through as well as the cask, but the Fino does the job very well on its own. I love the dryness, even though most spices and fruits stay a little nondescript. A very drinkable and good Deanston.

87/100

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

World Whisky Tasting: Ireland 2021, by De Whiskykoning

Contrary to regular years, in which I visited the shop in Den Bosch regularly for tastings, I now visit the shop semi-regularly to pick up tastings. As in, samples, for later tasting.

I generally get a sample pack of each tasting since it’s a very good way to try new whiskies at a very affordable price. Also, since De Whiskykoning is fiercely independent, and has been for a few decades, he tends to stray off the beaten path and have some stuff in his line-up that I’d otherwise never try. Not always, as you’ll see, but often.

This tasting consists of 6 new Irish whiskies, all released in the last year and a half or so. From big on-brand releases to independent single casks. What you expect from Rob Stevens. Let’s dive in!


The Busker Single Pot Still, Bourbon and Sherry casks, 44.3%

Sniff:
Young and sharp with lots of fresh oak. Very reminiscent of American craft distilleries, in the way the focus is on the sharp wood and the young distillate. Star fruit and a sharp graininess.

Sip:
Dry and sharp again, but it does mellow quickly. Light and grainy, with apple and sharp alcohol notes. Straw too, and that youthy flavor too.

Swallow:
The finish is slightly more rich and full.

With American craft whiskies that ‘harsh’ flavor is something they tend to get over when the product gets a bit older. Here it is present too, and it too is not a very good thing. This stuff is too young and not matured enough (no, that’s not the same thing).

79/100


Kilbeggan Single Pot Still, Limited Release 2019, 43%

Sniff:
Puff pastry with sweet apples, cinnamon and brown sugar. Milky brioche too.

Sip:
Soft, baked apples with brown sugar. Dry oak and pepper. It starts sweet but gets more hearty and dry as time goes by. Some grains too.

Swallow:
The finish is a combination of dry grains, sweet apple and puff pastry.

It’s a lot more mature than the Busker, but it’s still a tad young. And also, it’s a bit simple. There aren’t too many layers to peel back.

81/100


Hinch Single Pot Still, The Time Collection, 43%

Sniff:
Flint and oak on the nose, with grain and apple too. Again, very young, but more rich than the previous two. A bit sweeter (and in my opinion, therefore more Irish too) than the Busker.

Sip:
Sharp and dry with fresh oak and lots of grain. Slightly spirity with apple, lychee and chalk.

Swallow:
The finish suddenly brings a note of copper and iron. Chemical, apple candy, wine gums and a bit of dryness.

This one is very inconsistent between nose, palate and finish. I’m not entirely sure what they were going for with this one, but I’m not overjoyed.

80/100


Writer’s Tears Copper Pot, Florio Marsala Cask, 45%

Sniff:
Initially, lots of wine on the nose and some grain in the background. Fruit, hazelnut praliné, and a whiff of orange.

Sip:
Sweet citrus with oranges. Hazelnut, clove, oak, grain and wine.

Swallow:
The finish is slightly more balanced than the palate, balanced between fruit, grain and oak.

I generally quite like Writer’s Tears. Especially the higher proof ones and that Mizunara cask of a while ago. This one is a bit too sweet for me, though. The wine just lifts it up too much, in the sweeter regions. Still, it’s a more mature or better made products, and that shows.

85/100


Teeling 14, 2005-2020, Brabazon Series 3, 49.5%

Sniff:
Sweet sherry with sweet whisky. Slightly grainy with brown sugar, cinnamon and a hint of molasses.

Sip:
The palate is a bit more dry, with a hint of red chili pepper. Oak, black pepper, peach. Very sweet.

Swallow:
The finish shows even more sherry, and doesn’t feel very well integrated.

Initially I though I’d find this a little bit better than the Writer’s Tears but that layer of not-so-well-integrated sherry on the finish pushes it back a little bit. Again, too sweet for me. It’s an already sweet whisky (nothing wrong with that) but the PX brings more sweetness, and that’s, again, a bit too much.

85/100


The Irishman 17, 2003-2020, Sherry cask 6949, 56%

Sniff:
Scottish in style, with dry hints of straw and grass, grain and oak. Some red fruits too.

Sip:
Dry with oak and straw. Some chili pepper and black pepper, peaches too.

Swallow:
The finish is full and rich, without becoming too sweet. Fruity, with straw and grass, grain and oak again. The sherry brings nice hints of peach.

I guess this is how it is supposed to be done. A much dryer whisky that can stand up to a sweet sherry cask without getting overly cloying. Very, very good stuff indeed!

88/100


So, once more, the younger Irish whisky brands haven’t been able to convince me, while the older ones seem to be going steady in levels of quality and flavor. Especially that last one.

All whiskies are still available at Whiskyslijterij De Koning, just click the images!

Posted in - Irish Whiskey, Busker, Hinch, Kilbeggan, Teeling, Undisclosed, Writer's Tears | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caol Ila 3, 2018-2021, First Fill Quarter Cask, 52.1% – The Whisky Jury ‘1 Day Old’

Image from Whiskybase

Of course this isn’t really one day old. It’s whisky after all, and the vintage and bottling year are given. It’s more like they wanted to provoke us drinkers to indicate this is a very young whisky and challenge you to try/buy/drink it anyway.

But, it is a Caol Ila that received some good reviews in the past. And I like Caol Ila, generally, so I’m game. Especially if I can buy it by the sample, instead of a full bottle.

Somehow, it reminds me of the ‘Three Year Old Deluxe’ from Compass Box, some years ago.

Sniff:
It’s an all-out assault on my nostrils, and the aromas are far more sharp than I would expect of a 52.1% whisky. Heaps of peat, vanilla and alcohol heat. Pastry cream and a whiff of diesel and old engine grease. A minor note of brine later one.

Sip:
The palate is very similar to the nose, but mellows a bit. A bit hot at first, of course. Diesel, pastry cream, vanilla and a whiff of baking spices. Slightly briny.

Swallow:
The finish brings more coastal salinity than before, with more engine smoke and smoke in general. Not overly long.

Well, what this does is be a very typical and solid Caol Ila. The combination of the pastry cream and diesel smoke is rather typical and something I quite like. I’ve read some other reviews which mentioned more citrus notes and hints of mezcal, but I didn’t find much of that.

So, good, especially since it was very cheap at not even € 50! Of course, it’s long gone, since it was released more than a few weeks ago and was positively received.

87/100

Posted in Caol Ila | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Highland Park 15, 2003-2018, 1st Fill European Oak Puncheon 1306, 58.1% – OB for the Independent Whisky Bars of Scotland

Longest. Title. Ever.

Anyway, this sherry’d Highland Park sits in my collection, waiting for a moment to be opened. When at Maltstock in 2018, it was used in a tasting by Jon Beach and Tatsuya Minagawa in their ‘Japan vs Scotland’ tasting. I seem to remember this one winning the round.

Luckily, for a proper review, it was also in last year’s Advent Calendar and I got to sit down for it properly.

Quite contrary to most of these private cask bottlings by Highland Park, the IWBOS (Independent Whisky Bars of Scotland, that is) are keeping their casks reasonably affordable. This one went for £ 90, I believe, while similar bottlings for Dutch cask owners often ended up around € 150. Of course, this is now sold out and selling on the secondary market for € 400…

Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Wet hay, fruity sweetness. Almost something farmy. Almonds en cherry stones, plums. Cherries, but also something ashy. A grassy ash, burnt leaves. A heathery dryness. Some beeswax, but also a crisp hint of ‘coastalness’. A whiff of licorice toffee.

Sip:
Surprisingly gentle at first, but there is some bite after a while. The slightly sweet sherry cask keeps that in check. Beeswax, heather, oak. A bit sooty, greasy. The bitterness of the almonds and cherry stones is present here too. Later on, the licorice shows up here too, with some bay leaf.

Swallow:
At first it’s pretty fierce but it mellows quickly. It continues with the licorice notes, and some baking spices. Oak, a hint of smoke, dirt.

As far as first fill sherry casks go, this one isn’t overly sweet and that’s a good thing. It gives more room to other flavors and aromas. Especially towards the finish. I like the complexity, and the addition of the slight sootiness, with the waxy notes too. All in all, it combines Highland Park with a whiff of Clynelish and a touch of Caol Ila. Some of my favorite distilleries.

90/100

Posted in Highland Park | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tennessee Distillery 13, 2003-2017, 50.7% – The Whisky Agency

And now a complete rarity. An undisclosed Tennessee whiskey isn’t too rare, of course, but one bottled by The Whisky Agency, at a decent age, for the Taiwanese market is.

I got a sample of this from Whiskay.com and had to do some digging, since the stated ABV is slightly off (50% stated, but it is 50.7%). Anyway, it’s from a bottling series called ‘APXAΓΓEΛOΣ’, which I have no translation for. Neither does Google Translate, by the way.

I guess there are ways to find out what it all means, but I’m not entirely sure I care enough. Let’s keep it at ‘it’s a bit chaotic’. An American whisky, from a German bottler, with a Greek label for the Taiwanese market. Probably THE most international whisky ever.

Let’s just dive in, because there’s not much else to tell.

Image from Whiskay

Sniff:
Quite an impressive bourbon (tasted blind, so we’re going with bourbon for that) without being overly rich. Dry with corn husks, some grainy and grassy notes too. Brown sugar and spices too.

Sip:
A bit of bite, not too much. There’s oak and golden syrup and spices. A bit of corns husk, grass and woody spices. I suck at identifying spices, but they weren’t the obvious baking spices, there was more too it.

Swallow:
The finish gets a little bit more dry, wiht more oak. It’s not overly long with the molasses and spices again. Brown sugar too.

Interestingly, it’s not rummy even though it has hints of molasses and golden syrup. Even the corn husks could be found in rum, and this is completely different. The spices really add a massive layer of depth and while there’s definitely oak, it’s not overpowering.

It’s like a solid bourbon, but done without the bitterness you normally get from an older one.

89/100

Now, on the hunt for a bottle…

Whiskay.com has samples available

Posted in - American Whiskey, Undisclosed | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments