Bourbon Whiskey #1, 24yo, 48% – That Boutique-y Whisky Company

That Boutique-y Whisky Company (TBWC) is a bit of a weird one. I’m very much all for them, as a skeptic.

When their first reveal happened at Maltstock there were some serious issues with the whiskies, which were only solved several years later. All of them tasted like fennel. That’s been solved for quite some time now, and another positive spin was that t76905956_10157388855651210_1159962897330208768_ohey started adding age statements, initially in support of Compass Box (they got complaint about being too open about their blends).

However, currently I find their pricing policy utterly ridiculous. Most whiskeys that come out get really good reviews, but then you check what they cost and you soon find yourself closing that browser tab. Especially when considered that you only get a 50cl bottle, while the price is generally higher than their 70cl counterparts.

Anyway, this one then. A 24 year old bourbon was priced quite fairly. Especially last year when it was discounted. You would still have to spend about € 150 for a bottle, but with current bourbon prices, that’s not a bad investment. Let’s see if it warrants the price tag!

Sniff:
Lots of oak and bitterness, a lot of cask influence, which is quite obvious after a quarter century in a barrel. Some dark chocolate and popcorn. Toasted bread, some blackberries.

Sip:
The palate is very light, with quite some dryness from the long time in the cask. The bitterness reminds me of autumn leaves and cigar leaves. Toasted bread, popcorn and cocoa. The intensity builds a little bit after some swimming. It gets more autumnal too.

Swallow:
The finish has some alcohol heat to it, but mellows quickly. It’s slightly more sweet here, with the popcorn becoming more like corn syrup. Still a lot of oak, but the autumnal bitterness is more or less gone.

It has the bitterness of old bourbon, without it having turned into liquid splinters. So that’s a good thing. However, I would have preferred a bit more complexity. It’s a fairly light bourbon, without too many different flavors. Although it’s nice that you get the popcorn flavor. I like that quite a lot.

87/100

Bourbon Whiskey #1, 24 years old, 48%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Currently still available in the UK for £ 200

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Willett 2yo, Small Batch, 55.9%

There’s two main distinctions with the Willett whiskeys: The stuff they distilled, and the stuff the bought and blended.

The older ones are all bought casks from other distilleries, and these ‘Family Estate Small Batch Rye’ are from casks they distilled themselves. Interestingly, the character is largely the same, for both types of whiskey from Willett.

Also, the much older versions, like the 25 and 27 year old ones, are insanely good and by now, insanely expensive. I was lucky to snatch one up at a regular price in 2011. Of course, that’s long gone by now. For some reason I never reviewed it on my blog, so I guess the notes are in one of the many books of unpublished notes I found yesterday.

Anyway, this one then. A two year old I bought for a share some years ago, when I was doing a lot more shares than I am now. This means that I never reviewed it yet, like some other bottles and samples I have from back then.

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Spicy with a lot of green spirit, rye and quite some oak. A tad beery, with some bitterness too. The spices are a tad dry, with some cinnamon and clove.

Sip:
The palate is quite a bit sharper than the nose makes you expect. If you know the ABV it’s not overly shocking, though. Surprisingly woody for a two year old whiskey. Dry and spicy with baking spices, and sawdust. It gets a bit more sweet after a few seconds, with some vanilla.

Swallow:
The finish has a bit of a sugary coating, but the alcohol and dryness quickly bite through that. It makes for an interesting end of a dram, but not overly deep and complex.

While it’s very drinkable it’s not a very complex dram, and could do with a couple more years of aging. I wonder what their spirit is up to now, since this was bottled some years ago.

83/100

Willett 2 years old, Family Estate Bottled Small Batch Rye, 118 Proof, 55.9%

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Paddy 10 year old, 40%, 1960s

Yet another ancient whiskey from MvZ. I tried this one a little while ago but with the massive backlog of tasting notes (at least a hundred…) I’m just randomly picking what to review at this point.

Paddy is a brand of whiskey from an Irish Distillery that got centralized in the Midleton plant in 1975. Before that it was made at the Cork Distilleries Company, which went defunct in 1966. This means that the distillate is at least 54 years old, and likely a little bit older than that.

The Cork Distilleries Company was already in County Cork, so the move wasn’t a big one, geographically. However, when the new distillery got up and running, practically everything changed in Irish Whiskey and we got to the whiskey we all know from about a decade ago. Luckily, since then there’s more variety and more distilleries popping up.

Anyway, Paddy 10 year old.

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Image from The Whisky Exchange

Sniff:
Lots of oak, some chocolate notes. Slightly fruity with oranges and lime. Quite sweet after a while.

Sip:
Gentle, dry and dusty. Fruity with a lot of citrus. A whiff of chemical fruit flavors, some nutmeg and clove.

Swallow:
The finish is warming and largely similar to the palate. Warming with some spices and fruit.

In a way, this is a pretty nice whiskey. It doesn’t come close to matching the current price and the quality (it was available semi-recently for £ 600 at The Whisky Exchange), but then you’re paying for scarcity, mostly.

The biggest point with this whiskey is that it is very inconsistent. The nose, palate and finish could all belong to different whiskeys, with the only thing that overlaps is the citrus between the nose and palate, and the spices between the palate and the finish.

It makes for a very strange drinking experience, which is very strange for a product that was focused on consistency, as were most whiskeys from that era. Having said that, it’s never bad, it doesn’t have any obvious flaws and it’s very interesting to drink something this old.

82/100

Paddy 10 year old, Cork Distilleries Company, 40%

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Springbank 2004-2015, 51.9% – Malts of Scotland

It is no secret that I love Springbank. It more or less embodies everything I like so much about the world of whisky. They are a small company that works on a rather local scale without much happening outside of Campbeltown. They focus on the craft of the whisky making in such a way that the distillery is actually a working museum, especially compared to a lot of the newer distilleries.

Then, on top of everything, the whisky is generally awesome. Even their regular 10 year old is a stellar dram and you can’t get a much better dram at € 45-ish.

In recent years, though, the independent bottlings of the brand have become increasingly rare, and when they are available, the price point is something to make you think twice, or three times.

The biggest drawback of these rather expensive whiskies is that, when you try them, they’re generally still worth it…

Luckily, sometimes you still have a random sample of a random bottling from a couple of years ago, when things were more achievable. This one currently sets you back less than € 90. It’s not cheap for a 10/11 year old whisky, but it’s not that shocking either. Unfortunately, you would have to go to Germany to get a bottle.

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Image from The Whisky Cask

Sniff:
Slightly moldy, but otherwise rather gentle sherry, especially for Springbank. Fruity with caramel apples, oak, leather and barley.

Sip:
The palate is sharp in a very nice way, not too much but nicely challenging. The malt floor is present, as are leather and wood. There’s more caramel, dates, plums.

Swallow:
The finish has a bit of woody sharpness, and the caramel fruity flavors linger.

While this is not a whisky that will rock your world, it is proof that Springbank is cracking. At 10 years old, this scores much higher than many other, older and more expensive whiskies. The cask is not overpowering and leaves plenty of room for the distillate to shine through. It’s feinty, fruity and old fashioned. Great stuff!

87/100

Springbank 2004-2015, Sherry Hogshead MoS 15039, 51.9%, Malts of Scotland. Available here.

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Dufftown 1979, 18yo, 57.1% – Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection

When you see the whisky the ‘Sherrywood Matured’ on the label is kind of self explanatory. The whisky, in the bottle, is almost as dark as coffee, and even in the glass there’s quite some color to it.

Also, as you might have noticed, this is a ridiculously old bottle since it was bottled in 1998. 22 years ago. Back then I wasn’t even allowed to drink whisky. Luckily, some people have some stock and you can occasionally taste something as old as this.

MvZ gave me a sample in a trade a few years ago and with the recent ‘going through all samples’ sessions, I’ve finally found it again and drank it.

The 100 proof strength is quite something, but nothing that is too off putting for a dram like this. At least the promise is there to easily cope with the alcohol if there’s enough flavor. Let’s find out!

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Big spicy sherry with dried orange and clove. Massive on the nose with lots of fruits and lots of spices. Very different than younger/modern sherried whiskies. Luckily it’s not just that and there’s also barley and oak.

Sip:
The palate continues, but also adds a bit of feinty notes with shoe polish, leather and a whiff of paint stripper. It’s quite strong, and very warming, with dried orange again, and sour cherries. Clove, nutmeg and a hint of ginger.

Swallow:
The finish is very long and eventually goes into a very nice and warming boozy Christmas cake, even if it is blasphemy to say something like that. There’s just lots of baking spices, and lots of dried fruits. Especially the orange and clove linger and that’s gorgeous.

This is a style of sherry that no longer exists. Maybe it’s one of those paxerette casks, but I doubt we’re ever going to find out. The dried orange and clove style is something utterly gorgeous and increasingly rare. The last time I had it (that I remember) was with a late-eighties Macallan. That’s eight years ago.

Utterly awesome stuff, this.

91/100

Dufftown 1979-1998, 18 years old, Sherrywood Matured, 57.1%, Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection

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Michter’s King Tutankhamun , 43%

My friend MvZ is quite a fan of old stuff. He wrote for the magazine of the Usquebaugh Society on the topic of old bourbon and old Irish whiskey. Luckily, he was also kind enough to trade some samples with me.

Unfortunately, for a lot of these older whiskeys, there’s a bit of a conundrum. As in, they’re all interesting because they offer a perspective into old time whiskey making, but in a lot, if not most, cases it’s more a gimmick than an actually cracking dram.

When you start going down history lane for bourbon, you get to the seventies, sixties and fifties pretty quickly. Although there’s still quite some palatable stuff going around, you notice that bourbon wasn’t popular at the time, and was steered towards a lighter style to accommodate the palate that was shifting towards vodka, at the time. You have to go back to before prohibition to get to the really interesting stuff.

Now, this insanely kitschy decanter in the shape of King Tut’s sarcophagus’ bust is from 1978, so the whiskey is most likely from the early seventies. Let’s find out where this one lands on the scale of deliciousness.

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Image from WhiskyBase (and MvZ)

Sniff:
Very gentle with quite a lot of oak, mustiness and corn. Not overly sweet, with quite a lot of cigar leaves. Some cinnamon and nutmeg too.

Sip:
A bit of peppery bite. Black pepper and some nutmeg, cinnamon. Quite hearty for a bourbon. Some popcorn, cigars, wood.

Swallow:
The finish is a bit sweeter, but still complex with corn, oak, black pepper.

It’s very easy drinking, and very smooth. It’s also clearly a lot lighter than contemporary bourbon, and prohibition era bourbon. I think it is even lighter than most other bourbons from these times that I’ve had.

Having said that, it’s not bad at all. The lightness luckily doesn’t translate to a sweet corn-syrupy mess. There’s quite some black pepper and oak, with hints of mustiness and baking spices. I actually quite like this, but I do think this would’ve been better at 50%.

Also, the bottle is so insanely hideous that only because of that I’d want a bottle.

86/100

Michter’s King Tutankhamun , bottled in 1978, 43%

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Glen Scotia 12yo, 2006-2019, 59.1% – Whiskybase

With every ten thousand new bottlings added to WhiskyBase they release a new whisky. Apart from that Whiskybase occasionally releases something extra, and this Glen Scotia was exactly that. It was released last year, at twelve years old from a bourbon cask, but that will because adamant upon tasting the whisky.

After twelve year it still hits the fairly ridiculous ABV of 59.1%, which in itself isn’t necessarily a drawback, but over the last couple of years I’ve found myself appreciating whiskies at a lower ABV more, right around the 50% mark, I’d say.

Anyway, this being released about a year after a phenomenal visit to Glen Scotia distillery made me want this, and it was quite fairly priced, which resulted in me buying the whisky. I drank most of the bottle but sold some shares from it, resulting in this bottle being no longer in my collection now. As in, I drank the last bit, and sold about 20 centiliter this week.

Time for a review, right?

215616-bigSniff:
Quite some barley, a bit of oak and vanilla. Some minerals, some hessian, some dusty attic. Custard cream horn, with some moss and basalt. The vanilla gets more intense after a few minutes, the greener notes are pushed back a little bit, which is a pity.

Sip:
Obviously it’s hot on the arrival, at almost 60%, but it’s not as ‘bad’ as expected. The high ABV somehow keeps the vanilla in check a little bit and gives some room to the distillate to shine. There’s still some apple crumble with custard going on, but the fresh water burn, the basalt and moss are given some more room. The little bit of funkiness from the nose is gone completely.

Swallow:
The finish goes down warmly and has a bit of an afterburner. After it wanes a little bit the finish becomes nicely gentle with lots of barley and honey notes. Still the apple crumble with vanilla, but a bit sweeter.

It’s a bit too cask driven, with quite a lot of vanilla going on. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but it makes for a more modern whisky that shows slightly less of the distillery’s character. I think this would’ve been better with a few years of proper mellowing in oak, with a slightly lower ABV.

85/100

Glen Scotia 12, 2006-2019, Bourbon Barrel, 59.1%, bottled for the members of Whiskybase.com

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