In northern Germany, in Oldenburg there is a shop called ‘Whisky Erlebnis‘. They focus their inventory towards the luxurious side of things with all kinds of whiskies, gin, rum, cigars and more. They’re fairly new to the world of whisky, only coming into existence in 2018.
They’ve not been sitting still since and apart from their shop, which focuses on online sales mostly, there currently also is a brand new independent bottler called ‘Earlskine – Your Whisky Destination’. The brand came into existence about a year ago and have now just released their first three single cask bottlings!
I was lucky enough to be sent a sample of each and thought it high time to write some reviews to these samples!
Ledaig 9, 2010-2020, Sherry Cask, 59.2% – Earlskine
There is a lot of smoke, with a massive whiff of diesel. Grass, hay, fresh white oak. A beach bonfire with lots of coastal salinity.
The palate is not too hot, but it’s not the first dram either. There’s a lot of alcohol still! Lots of smoke and still quite diesel-y. Grass, marram grass, hay, charred wood, brine.
The finish starts with an huge afterburner before it gets a bit more mellow. There still is quite a bit of lingering heat, but after a minute there’s a lovely smokiness left. Some sweetness comes up then too, a bit of vanilla, and pastry cream.
It’s not as clean as some other Ledaigs from around the same vintage, but it’s not as dirty as the distillery got to be known for a decade or so ago. I think they hit the sweet spot between a true coastal, peated whisky and some other stranger notes to keep things interesting!
Bunnahabhain 11, 2009-2020, Sherry Cask, 50.2% – Earlskine
Very sweet with heaps of dates and plums, treacle and a hint of coffee. There’s a whiff of aniseed, hay and a minor note of oak behind all the sweetness.
The palate continues down the same alley, but brings a bit more dryness and is surprisingly hot for a dram at 50.2%. Chilli peppers and oak shavings, straw. Still there are lots of dates and plums for sweetness. Honey and chocolate covered raisins.
The sweetness is back in the spotlight, although the peppery heat lingers a bit too. Rather honeyed with dried fruits like dates and plums again.
Very good, and even though it’s very sweet (generally not too much to my liking). A quality Bunnahabhain, but I guess that’s what we know the distillery for nowadays.
BenRiach ‘The Spider’ 21, 1999-2021, Port Cask Finish, 52.9% – Earlskine
I would have sworn this was a sherry cask instead of a port finish. The typical notes of jammy red fruits and old mulchy wood didn’t really pop up. Keep that in mind when reading the tasting notes…
Dried fruit with apricots, plums, peaches. There are hints of old oak, some vanilla and dried apple. A hint of straw, and later on the oak and gentle sherry notes get deeper. Rather autumnal.
The sherry is present on the palate too, but is far more spicy than it was on the nose. Warming, with some definite peppery heat, and some oak sawdust dryness. There’s dried fruit and barley. Dried apple and warm hay. Vanilla, dried leaves, and slightly funky sherry too.
The finish keeps the middle between the nose and the palate. The sweetness is a bit more prominent than on the palate, but not as much as it was on the nose. Funky, some sweet orange like notes, autumn leaves, straw. The works.
This is very delicious. There is a lot happening, although it’s not utterly unique. This must have been a good cask indeed! I love that I found that note of orange in the finish. That makes it more interesting than ‘just dried fruit’.
After knowing this was finished in a port cask I’m curious to know what the whisky matured in before, but it’s not likely to be a sherry cask. Anyway, it does show quite a lot of those dried fruit notes, and not the strawberry jam I would normally expect from a port cask. Very interesting, but either way, the whisky is very good.
The balance between warmth, woody notes of vanilla, spirity notes of straw and ‘previous-contents-of-the-cask-notes’ of dried fruits is exactly right. A very good dram indeed!
All three of these whiskies are still available in Germany, with approximate prices as below:
After having tasted these three whiskies, I’m very curious to see where the brand will go from here! I think they’re off to a really good start with three very good whiskies. Especially the BenRiach is a nice one, although I’m still a bit surprised by the cask type used, and the flavors that resulted in.
Thanks for the samples Christian and Andreas!