Last Friday I participated in the first virtual tasting for Adelphi and Whisky Import Nederland. The tasting was hosted by the Dutch importer and joined by Alex Bruce and Connal Mackenzie from Adelphi.
We tried five different drams, four ‘whiskies’ and one armagnac. Whiskies is between quotes since one of them was technically still a spirit, at just two years old.
Let’s do tasting notes first!
The Glover, 5th batch, 4yo, 54.7%
We started with the most recent batch of The Glover. This whisky is only four years old and consists of two casks of 6 year old Chichibu, and two casks of 4 year old Ardnamurchan. One of the Ardnamurchan casks is peated, so a whiff of smoke is bound to be there.
Lots of dry grain, with notes of barley. Pretty light with hints of oak, straw. Dried apple, apple peels, pear peels. Sponge cake too.
At first it is quite smooth and gentle, but it builds with some heat from the alcohol. Hints of apple, pear, straw, barley and oak. Slightly coastal with a touch of salinity.
The finish shows a bit more of the spirit, without neglecting the few years in oak it had. Warming and smooth, with a touch of vanilla.
Throughout it is the tiniest whisp of smoke. Supposedly there’s a lot of lemon and citrus in there, but I can’t find it. Maybe some lemon pith on the palate.
Not overly complex, but it tastes much more mature than expected from a four year old. The biggest problem this whisky has is that it costs € 170. Technically you can’t taste price, but for a five year old, it’s ridiculous.
Ardnamurchan 2017-2019, 2yo, 1st Fill Sherry casks, 57.4%
One of the Ardnamurchan releases Adelphi has been doing for the last few years. It’s very young but does contain some actual whisky. The cask make-up is quite complex, but they’re trying to blend towards something that’s like their aimed-for product.
Smooth spirit, with lots of sherry cask influence. Lots of dried fruits, some baking spices. Very cakey, Christmas cake, raisings, angelfood. More earthy than smoky. Slightly meaty like cured ham.
The peat is much more clear on the palate, as well as the youth and the sharpness. Still quite a lot of sherry with dried fruit. Plums, dates, raisins. A slight bitterness like raisin twigs, date stones. That meaty note is here too, hammy.
The finish shows a bit too much sherry, with loads of dried fruit. Luckily, a few seconds later the smoke, earth and feinty spirit. Some charcoal, even.
While this is very young, once again the casks make themselves known and it tastes much more mature than just two years old. Going by this sample, Ardnamurchan is a distillery to keep an eye on when their first official release will be coming out later this year!
Bas Armagnac France 1994- Scotland 2020, 25yo, 55.1%, AM1/20
Not even too typical for a fruit distillate. Lots of wood, with some fruits. Quite rich on the floral side. Certainly some glue. Some mint, later on.
The palate is very gentle, after the Ardnamurchan, with lots of dry, old oak. The glue comes through next, with hints of perfume. Creme Brulee, for a bit. After a while the fruity spirit starts coming through. Fermenting grapes.
The finish is much more typical for Armagnac with lots of fruit, fruit spirit, fermenting grapes, and quite some glue.
The one non-whisky in the tasting. It’s a bit of a strange armagnac. As in, it’s quite gentle compared to the whiskies surrounding it, but it didn’t taste like most 25 year old armagnacs I’ve had. There certainly quite a lot of wood influence but it’s not as dominant as I expected.
It’s rather complex with lots of directions it goes in, but in the end I found the glue notes and rather heavy pot-pourri a bit too much for me. Once again, this comes in at the very high price of € 190. I’m not entirely sure how that is justified. In France, even older armagnacs like this are a lot cheaper.
Linkwood 2008-2020, 11yo, First Fill Oloroso Hogshead, 54.7%
You have to fork bits of this into your nose, that is how massive and solid this is. Beef and marinade, with candied orange, walnuts, dates and plums and raisins. Super rich.
The palate starts of with chili peppers and lots of oak. Lots of dried dark fruits with heaps of ‘sea banquet’, milk chocolate and mocha.
The finish is quite hot, with a decent afterburner. Meat and marinade, with certain umami notes.
There’s no balance to this. It’s interesting for sherry heads, but there’s no Linkwood left over. There’s no spirit, no ‘beeriness’, which I normally associate with Linkwood. It’s one of those whiskies that I’d initially rate highly, but would get bored with quite quickly.
Caol Ila 2007-2020, 13yo, First Fill Oloroso Hogshead, 50.8%
The barbecue-y style of Caol Ila! Not for everyone, but I like it. Diesel smoke, soot, charcoal. Some iodine smokiness, kippers, umami.
Cigars, bbq pork belly, charring marinade, hot and cold at the same time.
The finish suddenly shows leather and diesel smoke, with lots of furniture polish and charry pork.
As with the Linkwood, there’s not much balance here, but I think Caol Ila can handle that much better. The solid sooty smokiness fights back a little bit and shows the style of the distillery at least a little bit, through the sherry that has almost overtaken the entire dram.
This is quite a good and enjoyable dram, and a solid end to the evening!
I was especially impressed by the Ardnamurchan. In style I think it goes a bit towards what Benromach is doing, and I love that distillery. This is very promising for future releases. The Glover was rather impressive too, for just five years old.
However, reviewing this tasting, a few nights after it has happened leaves me with some strange impressions. First of all, the event itself was pretty awesome, with lots of fun anecdotes and stories by the Adelphi guys.
It wasn’t as interactive as I’d hoped, but with 50 people in a Zoom call, that might be impossible without it turning into a shouting match.
Then there’s the price of the bottles. Adelphi has always sat at a slightly higher price point than its competitors, but that always translated into better whisky. It was worth it. I think now, the prices have increased more rapidly than they should have, and I don’t think the quality level has risen with it.
It’s all nice and dandy to have a very solid five year old blended malt whisky in your inventory, but that should never cost € 170. I don’t even think it should cost half that. The same goes for the Armagnac.
The level of quality doesn’t match the price, which once again proves that tasting before buying is a very clever thing to do. Apparently I’m a deviant in thinking this since all bottles had sold out before the tasting even started.