Saturday, December 31, 2011

World Whiskies - Happy New Year

As the new year is rolling in over the globe over the next 24 hours lets have a look at whisky from around the globe

Whisky is a popular dram. Distilleries are popping up all over the world, Personally I have always regarded Scotland, USA, Ireland and Japan for the classic 4 whisky countries which have a long tradition of making whisky of all kinds. Many would argue that Canada belongs to this list, and I don't really have an opinion if it does or not, I simply lack experience in canadian whiskies

But the world is coming. Amrut from India has already made it to the stars of whisky

World whiskies doesn't have the same reputation as whisky from the countries mentioned above, and there's a couple of reasons for that.

Some world distilleries simply make crap whisky and/or

Some distilleries bottle whisky that's too young

But that's not something particular for world whiskies. I could say the same about some whiskies from Scotland. But let's leave the bad ones.

This blog post is my personal recommendations of whiskies from around the world worth having a look at. The list isn't complete as I haven't tasted everything out there.

Let's start in America!

McCarthy's Oregon single malt whiskey





Single malt whiskey from Portland in Oregon, made at Clear Creek Distillery
This is a peated malt made on Holstein still's one a one-run distillation (with a twist)
Read more here : http://www.clearcreekdistillery.com/whiskey.html
A delicious peaty dram, well worth a look

Charbay

Charbay is a winery and multidistillery in the hills between Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley just north of San Francisco in California. Marko Karakasevic is a somewhat excentric distiller who decided if he had to dsitll beer, it has to be the best beers, so Charbay whiskeys is made from bottle ready IPA's, stouts and the likes. This isn't the cheapest whiskeys on the market and its not easy to find either as the releases has been few over the years

Moving over to Europe now :

France:

Glann ar Mor


Still




A Bretagne distillery in France keeps the celtic connection up, and with a double distillation, live flame heated, onion shaped pot stills, worm tubs and wooden wash backs this is as traditional as it can be.

Lars reviewed the peated version, Kornog here:
http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/kornog-glann-ar-mor-distillery-france.html

Distillery home page here : www.glannarmor.com 

Czech Republic:

Hammerhead



A Czech distillery in Pradlo decided to make some whisky in 1989, right before the velvet revolution. The casks were forgotten in the mild turmoil that created the czech republic and the whisky was "rediscovered" in 2010 and bottled as a 21yo. The new owners , The Stock Spirit Group, were really surprised by the quality of this spirit, and it has been availbale for bargain prices in duty frees



Taiwan:


Kavalan



Kavalan is a Taiwanese whisky, the distillery was started in 2006. Several expressions has been released, Kavalan, Concertmaster (port finish), Solist (single casks of various types) and King Car (un-chill filtered, 46%). The whisky is sold mainly on the chinese markets and is really hard to get in Europe (and the US)



Last, I believe that Australia is an up and coming whisky producing country, but I simply haven't tasted anything under proper circumstances recently, but I did try Lark whisky at Glasgow Whisky Festival and it's for sure something to keep an eye on as well

Canada : Look out for Forty Creek whisky from the Kittling Ridge Distillery

Friday, December 30, 2011

Beer hunter, Whisky chaser. A book review by Peter

First Blog by Peter
Hi this is my first take on a review on this page.
Before starting the review I had better introduce myself
I am an anorak (just as the other guys reviewing on this page. My specialty/interest is whisky books and Rosebank whisky (feel free to send me samples to review ;-) )
I have chosen to start with a review on the late great Michael Jackson's memorial book, Beer hunter, Whisky chaser.




Beer Hunter Whisky Chaser
Not a book by Michael Jackson, nor is it about the man (well not a lot anyway). But a book written as a tribute to him. (And as a money maker for the Parkinson Disease Society, UK). For that alone it gets a few stars extra!
Now I am both a whisky fan and a beer fan, so this book should be great for me! It is, but only in whisky terms. Apparently I'm not used to read a lot about beer, other than recipes for making it, so I'm a bit lost reading those parts of the book.
Because of that, the whisky parts will have to Carry the price. Luckily it does. Charles MacLean's analysis of the renaissance of malt whisky is the star of the book in my view. And the rest is not bad either.

For diversity the book gets an 85
For the whisky, it gets an 85 as well
For the charity, it gets a 92
Total 87

RIP
Michael Jackson

PS, if you want to see why you should buy this book and support The Parkinson Disease Society, then just check this YouTube clip and see the last interview with MJ. That ought to convince you if you have not all ready bought a copy.



Peter

Last drams of 2011 part 5

Old Grand Dad 100 proof bottled in bond 1982


To me, the bourbon terms sometimes seems odd. Bottled in bond means a vintage whiskey and straight means the whiskey is minimum 4 years old :-)

(read more exact definition here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bottled_in_bond)

The Old Grand Dad is today a Beam brand, and uses a special high rye mash bill different from the other Beam whiskies. The whisky is named after Basil Hayden, the original distiller Raymond Haydens grand-dad. The name is also known from Beam's Basil Hayden's bouron which also uses the same mash bill.

Nose : Shoe polish, rye, liqeur

Palate : Wow, pure rye heaven. It's very smooth and hasn't got a lot of wood. Is this OBE ? (old bottle effect). I do find slight similarities to this and AH Hirsch 16, and the AH Hirsch 16 did spend around 1½ decade in stainless steel tanks. One thing is sure, I am glad I have been stocking up on bourbons bottled last century. I get more from this. Mint, licorise, floor varnish, rye, vanilla, but this is also one of the least woody and smoothest bourbons I have tried

Finish : medium-long

Rating 91

Thanks to Mike Ly for the sample

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Last drams of 2011 part 4

Karuizawa 1967 cask 6426, 58.4%
The Whisky Exchange 10y online anniversary, bottled 24/8-2009



The colour and looks of this whisky reminds me of balsamico.

Nose :

Boiled in fruit, leather, and a bit of the inside of a pair of wellingtons.

Palate

Extremely oily on the verge of being gritty without being it at all. Dried fruits, Ris a lamande cherry sauce, a long finish. A drop of water brings up wood notes , and a little sweetness, a sweetness you would have thought would have been there from the start, but this is actually a surprisingly non-sweet sherried whisky. Very unlike any other whisky I have a tasted, an exceptional good dram, the leather taste is dominating, and leather is usually something I pick up in Lagavulin and old Ardbegs. No noticeable peat or smoke in this Karuizawa

Rating 89

Last drams of 2011 part 3

Tamnavulin 40yo Single Malts of Scotland 40.4%


Nose : apple-shoe polish. A very delightful nose, not that intensive, but one of those whisky you can keeo going on nosing. This is like a girl in a summer dress.

Palate : This is a very fragile dram. A composite of apples with some spicy wood parts, which gives away the old age of this malt. Its very moorish, but also so delicate and fragile that it will have trouble following any other dram.

Finish : medium with a some bitterness

Tamnavulin is a Speyside distillery located up the hills behind the Glenlivet distillery also on the Glenlivet estate. The distillery is owned by Whyte and Mackay and reopened in 2007 after have being mothballed for 12 years.

Rating 86

Tamnavulin anno 2007

The old mill used to host a visitor centre


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Last drams of 2011 part 2

Laphroaig Quarter Cask 48%






Quarter Cask  is a No Age Statement Laphroaig. It is regular Laphroaig that has received a finish on quarter casks. Quarter Cask , having a quart the size of a normal cask, hence the name, has a larger surface to volume ratio. This results in larger wood impact to the spirit, well some would call this a slightly speeded up maturation

Nose : sweet, peaty and floral.

Palate : Again quite sweet, with some floral notes and a background of peat

Finish : Long and peaty

This is a dram for peat lovers. The peat is dominating, but its a very delicate and drinkable whisky, despite its young age and relative high ABV. Recently I found a lot of the Laphroaigs distillery bottlings sligtly floral, opposed to independent Laphroaigs. It's all a matter of taste but personally I prefer the independent bottlings of Laphroag out there, with the 10yo cask strength being on the same level

It's no where floral on the same level or same kind as many associate with Bowmore, especially Bowmore from a few years back!

Rating 83

Last drams of 2011 part 1

Caperdonich 1972 Hart Brothers 30yo 50.1%


The nose is warm, meaty and a bit confined.

The palate is rough, bitter, musty and dusty, without any sweetness. Not an atypical Caperdonich thou. 

The finish is long with a nice bitter-vanilla

Rating 84


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A couple of very different whiskeys from Kentucky

1. Rittenhouse Rye 25yo 50%
Barrel no. 6


Rittenhouse is a label by Heaven Hill. The old Heaven Hill distillery burned down in the 90's and a few years later Heaven Hill acquired the modern Bernheim Plant from Diageo (who had closed a range of distilleries in the 90's and moved all their production here, before moving away from the production side of american whiskeys). This rye is most likely distilled at the old Heaven Hill distillery. 

I think that rye whiskey can age a lot easier than bourbon. It seems the spirit is a lot more robust for wood influence. It could be the fact that the rye spirit itself is a lot more flavourful than corn spirit?. This barrel no. 6 Rittenhouse 25yo has retained a surprising amount of the rye flavour after so many years in the barrel. The nose is very similar to a much younger rye, without the spirit burn. I usually find older ryes more woody, but not as woody as older bourbons. The nose puts me into a scenery of walking through a forest of fresh pine woods in the summer. Very aromatic and spicy, and you just want to get your nose as close as possible to the spirit to inhale these nice aromas. Opposied to scottish single malts, I don't really mind that bourbons and ryes are watered down. They are far more intense and flavourful. This is well represented at 50% and will still be too intense for some, if not most. The palate has got the same rye spices, with a lot of delicate toffee-caramel flavours and the wood is coming in the finish. Seems more intensive than the other Rittenhouse 25yo's I tried. A very delicious dram, and it benefits a lot from a few drops of water - and I don't add water to whisky very often

Rating 86


2. Kirkland 7yo Straight Bourbon 51.5%
Batch B-5183



Corn Juice. Sweet and woody. Nothing spectacular, it can be drunk neat, with ice or in a cocktail. At 20$ish a liter this is quite a good deal. A lot of dominant flavours, wood, toffee and slightly bitter on the finish. Lasting impression is a lot of toffee and very drinkable- For a lower priced bourbon that easy matches and beats a lot of the more known brands

Rating 80

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Danish Whisky Blog awards 2011

2012 are getting closer. It's time to look back on one of the best whisky years for me personally. I happened to revisit about everything I did in 2010: A couple of US trips with some superb dramming included, Spirit of Speyside, Limburg, Glasgow Whiskyfestival, Juul's at the Beer and Jazz Festival here in Aarhus and a number of fantastic private get togethers.

I also managed to visit Islay and Jura, Campbelltown and a trio of very interesting american distilleries, Las Vegas, Charbay and High West

The best way to drink whisky, is to drink it with friends.In the post before this I pointed out the numerous gatherings we have had this year, which had a fantastic range of bottlings http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/caperdonich-72.html

If I have to mention one specific it must be my co-writer, Lars, who invited all his whiskyfriend over and shared his Coleburns bottles. 14 different bottlings, from an old 1968 12yo dumpy Cadenhead to a 36yo 1970 Signatory. I was surprised of the quality of this sadly closed and very forgotten distillery..

Distillery of the Year


Lagavulin


Lagavulin from the seaside




Lagavulin's have a standard range well chosen. Very well chosen in my opinion. They have a 16yo OB and the PX finished Distillery's Edition. Beside that they have a 12yo cask strength, a distillery only bottling, the occasional 25yo/30yo bottling and a few smaller releases now and again. The 12yo Cask Strength is a personal favourite of mine. Nothing unnecessary, but a well varied selection. But the main reason for choosing  Lagavulin is the experience you have (or can have) when coming there as a visitor.

Iain "Pinkie" MacArthur

Scotland attracts a lot of whiskytourists and most distilleries do offer guided tours these days. Some distilleries even offer extended tours, verticals, manager tours or connaisseurs tour. Very often these tends to be very (too) expensive. One of the best, if not the best is the Lagavulin warehouse tour, which is reasonable priced. It's a wee vertical tasting of some cask samples lead by the very entertaining Iain "Pinkie" MacArthur. Just the experience itself and the whiskies, which you don't really have a chance to taste otherwise, makes you want to come back to Islay. I think other distilleries should follow this good example. I find this a lot more fun than those distilleris that offers extended tours with three whiskies from their standard range which you probably finished a few bottles of yourself allready at home. Give you visitors, who might have travelled from far away, something they will remember. Like Lagavulin does

I would have linked to Lagavulin's webpage but I don't like the unwelcoming and annoying agecheck they meet you with :-)


Independendt Bottler of the Year


The Whisky Exchange


Not just in 2011, but the last couple of years I have really adored a lot of wonderful bottlings from the different labels of The Whisky Exchange.

The Whisky Exchange has a series of ranges that I all find worth an award in themselves. Elements of Islay is a series of 50cl bottles, which now includes 8 of 9 Islay distilleries (I can't recall a Bowmore!). This is very high quality young Islay whiskies, bottled in batches, with older, but still No Age Statement (NAS) single cask Port Ellens as the more expensive variety. My favourites so far has been Pe2, Lg1 adn Ar2

Port Askaig is a range of Islays : the brand has so far released a NAS, 17, 19, 25 and 30 year olds. The whisky is probably Caol Ila, with the recent 30yo being  one of the best Islay releases I tasted from 2011 and the bottling that turned this award toward TWE!



The standard range of Single Malts of Scotland is also worth mentioning, the magnificient 35yo Glenallachie pictured above being one example. Other series, like the 10 years online anniversary bottlings (2010) and the Whisky Show Bottlings are always worth mentioning, and don't forget the few releases you also find under "The Whisky Exchange" label itself. I just wish I tasted them all :-)

Whisky Bottling of the Year


Port Charlotte 9yo


I had a lot of good whisky in 2011, it may have been the best year for me. Quite a lot of the stuff I am so privileged to taste are older bottlings - and I want to thank all my good whisky friends - you know who you are! - who have shared their good whisky with me and their other friends

For this award, I want to focus on my favourite 2011 releases.

And the price goes to a private bottling from a cask bottled by Jørn, a very good whisky friend of mine, who simply seems to have a very lucky hand with the cask projects he gets involved in. (or skilled?)

It's a fantastic Port Charlotte, very sherried and very peaty, harmonic and powerful, sweet and peaty, and by far the best Port Charlotte I have tasted.


I had a short review of this bottling in July :




Tasting of the year


Jolly Toper's Ben Nevis tasting






Hosted by Mark Davidson from the Cadenhead Shop in Edinburgh. Well, Ben Nevis has never been my favourite distillery, and I have to admit, I didn't like a couple of the Ben Nevis's served at this tasting, but the fact that Mark choses to share a true rarity like the Ben Nevis single grain (and a dumpy Cadenhead from the 60's) at his tasting (it is very reasonable priced) just makes me wants to move to Edinburgh so I can participate in more things like this

So much "exciting" whisky sits on the shelf of collectors, but I do believe that whisky has to be shared. I am very grateful I got the chance to taste this bottling. The fact that Mark decided to share this bottle at one of his tastings is fantastic, and the fact that it could have been sold for a considerable amount instead is worth celebrating. Mark reckon's that only two casks of Ben Nevis Single Grain has ever been knowingly bottled. And by the way, the grain was very good!.

Here's a link to his tastings : http://www.jollytopertastings.co.uk/whisky-tasting-dates/ - if you are a regular you will be dragged around Scotland and the world for a great variation of whiskies, and often whisky that is very hard to get by, or you never heard of before, is included :-)

I wish everybody reading this a fantastic 2012 dramming year


Steffen


PS Last year's awards can be found here:


http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/danish-whisky-blog-awards-2010.html

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Caperdonich 72

There's quite a few similar minded whisky friends around where I live. We often meet up for a dramming party, and everybody brings a couple of bottles and what else they want to present. Often with a theme. At other times someone invites guests over for a themed tasting and present what they have gathered. We done Port Ellen, Islay, Old Whisky, non-scottish, Brora, Glenlivet, Lossieside, Ardbeg, Coleburn, Edradour, Amrut, several Caperdonichs, Glenburgie and many others

Some artifacts I smuggled from my travels. Piece of Caperdonich in front

Most recent event was yet another Caperdonich day and here is what we managed to gather :

Caperdonich 1968-69
Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare 41yr 40,3% 10.69/2.11 cask 3250 
Connoisseurs Choice 40yr 46% 1969/2009 
Murray McDavid Mission 37yr 46,2% 1969 sherry/madeirafinish btl. 188/500 
Connoisseurs Choice 36yr 46% 3.68/8.04 refill sherry casks 

Caperdonich 1996-98
Signatory 12yr 43% 16.5.96/13.8.08 Hogshead Cask 82229, btl. 48/371 
Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection 12yr 52,6% 96/03.09 317 btls. 
Single Malts of Scotland 10yr 58,5% 4.5.98/1.10.08 heavily peated 251 btls. 
Single Malts of Scotland 12yr 57% 4.5.98/27.5.10 cask 8712 heavily peated 242 btls. 

Caperdonich November 1972
Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare 38yr 53,6%, 11.72/2.11 cask 7460, btl. 9/160 
Duncan Taylor Rare Auld 37yr 56,50% 11.72/3.10 cask 7414 147 btls. 
Duncan Taylor Rare Auld 36yr 51,2% 11.72/9.09 CS SC btl. 96/283 
Duncan Taylor Rare Auld 34yr 55,6% 11.72/04.07 btl. 25/198 

Caperdonich 1972-80
Gordon & MacPhail Reserve 36y 57.0% 14.3.72/26.8.08 cask 1975 1st fill sherry butt 430 btls. 
Old Malt Cask 34yr 41,5% 12.73/5.08 cask DL4296 
Chieftain’s 28yr 46% 01.74/02.02 cask 389/391 hogshead 636 btls. 
Cadenhead's Chairman's Stock 27yr 56,8% 1980/6.08 hogshead 264 btls. 

After Dinner drinks :

North of Scotland Dream Drams grain 37yr 38,3% 2 casks 128 btls. 
North British Duncan Taylor 30yr 54,7% 08.78 – 04.09 Cask Q247 btl. 19/122 
Springbank 21yr 46% bottled 1998 sherrycasks
Convalmore 1975 Enjoy Whisky (Germany) 46,9% 15.10.75/14.11.06 cask 2570 268 btls. 
Tullibardine OB, 45,9% 1973/5.05 cask 2518 hogshead 239 fl. 
Banff DMWA/Falster 34yr 44,1% 1975/2009 Creative Whisky cask 09/06001 
Bunnahabhain DMWA/Falster 31yr 47,3% 1976/2008
Royal Lochnagar Norse Cask 29yr 50,4% Jan 1977/okt 2006 refill hogshead 140 btls. 
Royal Lochnagar Old and Rare Platinum 34yr 57,2% 1971/2005 474 btls.
Port Ellen Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask 25yr 50% 12.79/07.05 sherry finish 425 btls.

Here's what I contributed :

1. Caperdonich 1972 34yo Duncan Taylor 55.6% cask 7435
34yo distilled November 1972, bottled April 2007

yet another DT Caperdonich 72

The nose is very fresh with a hint of citrus. You immediately know you are nosing old delicate whisky from an ex-bourbon cask

Palate is an unexpected explosion of flavours not expected from the delicate nose. Typical dry musty Caperdonich flavour, with a spicy-woody touch, tiny hint of licorice and some toffee

Finish : Medium

A very typical Caperdonich. Reminds me of Amrut

Rating 88

2. Caperdonich 1972 Gordon and MacPhail cask 1975 57.0%
Distilled 14/3 1972, bottled 26/8 2008. 1st Fill Sherry Butt

A sherried Caperdonich

Wow. A powersherried Caperdonich!!. But the distillery character can't be disguised by the sherry which gives this whisky a really nice and unusual balance of the malt and the sherry. Again a "typical" Caperdonich with the odd musty-spicyness. 

Its not very sweet, but got plenty of notes of dried fruits. Prunes, licorise and Caperdonich

Finish : long and very fruity

Rating 90


Sunday, December 4, 2011

My first blog - Douglas Laing

Hi everyone.
My name is Thomas, and I have been invited to put out some of my thoughts about whisky. I have never written any blog, or about whisky before, so I am really looking foreward to try this.

My interest in whisky started about 15 years ago where I was introduced to single malt. I guess I did what everybody else did in the beginning, which basically was to buy any single malt I could find in supermarkets, and on every vacation I went on. I can remember buying a bottle of Port Ellen in Paris some fourteen years ago, did'nt know what it was, and I did absolutely not like it at all :-)

After having tried a substantial amount of distillery bottlings, mostly 10 to 15 years old, something happened that changed my perspective on whisky. My friend Steffen, yup - he who has started this blog - invited me on a trip to Scotland. That was in spring 2005. I was so exited, and the first distillery I visited was Isle of Arran. After that there was no way back. I lost my heart in Scotland.

In the years after I have visited Scotland many times, and I still keep coming back. To me that place is heaven. It is not all about whisky, but the friendlyness of the scottish people, and not to mention the scenaries...

So - what is it with me, the whisky and Scotland in particular? Well, this may sound weird to some, and perfectly normal to others, but an Ardbeg is not "just" an Ardbeg to me. When I pour my dram and takes in that first sniff - I am standing at the distillery. My mind is wandering, and I can visualize the bay, the trees in the wind, and the whole atmosphere on that distillery. To me single malt is taking all the essence of that particular place, and putting it in to the glass in front of me.

Anyway, enough about me for now. Tonight I have chosen to write about two whiskies, both bottled by Douglas Laing. One of them is an Old Malt Cask, and the other is from their Platinum Series called Old & Rare.

This gives me a chance to tell a small story that took place during a Douglas Laing tasting earlier this year. It seems that OMC is bottled at 50.0% because the people at DL finds this the "optimum drinking strength"? One of the last expressions we tasted came from their Platinum series, and here we were told that "since these were their best casks, they were bottled at cask strength"?? I tried - quietly - to ask the natural question: "If these are the best casks, why were they not bottled at 50.0%"? Of course the big crowd sitting at a table from wemyss, duncan taylor, cadenheads and so on, started to go: "uuuhhhh", and it became so noisy, so it was hard to hear the answer :-D

I should say that I always enjoy the DL tastings, our host there is a great guy, and I do like many of the OMC, despite the fact that I do prefer cask strength whiskies.

Tasting notes:

1. Glen Grant, 32 years old, Butt DL ref 5034, distilled 12/1976, bottled 3/2009, 50.0%

Nose: Burnt sugar, a distinct "warehouse smell", a bit of wood and ginger
And then there is a certain scent, maybe it is iron? but I always finds it in Caperdonich, but maybe it is just my imagination.

Palate: Slightly woody, lots of christmas cake, raisins, spicy

Finish: Medium long, prickling on the tounge. If you like big sherried whiskies, you are going to love this one.

Rating: 87

2. Royal Lochnagar 33 years old, distilled 1973, bottled 2006, 57,2%

Nose: Cinnamon, citrus, a little peatfire in the background

Palate: Oily, vanilla and honey, more of the cinnnamon and peatfire, big fat chewy whisky

Finish: Medium long, with some pepper and a little peat.
It occures to me that it could have been my tasting notes for an older Talisker, and it is not far from that! In a blind tasting I would definately have guessed Talisker.

Rating 87
























Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Amrut Portonova

1. Amrut Portonova 62.1%


Steffen's review

I got no official recipe of this whisky at the time of writing this review, but I understand it's another sandwiched whisky similar to the Intermediate Sherry Matured

As the name suggest this involves port pipes

Nose : Wood, rhubarb and tropical fruits

Palate : Quite woody, licorise, tropical fruits, a kaleidoscope of tastes

Finish : Very long and very complex. I really enjoy it. It has the earmark of old whisky, which is a fantastic accomplishment when you know that Amrut whisky is around 5 years old give or take a few days

Rating 89

This is a very delicious and complex whisky, where the different flavours plays around and around and around. A masterpiece. The ABV is high but the whisky is very welcoming. This could appeal more to bourbon fans


Lars' review
Nose: Inviting exotic tones with a very sweet port influence. The casks really come out to shine with warm glowing vanilla. Vanilla sugar, vanilla ice cream and all the while accompanied by creamy, macadamia nuts.
Taste: Very sweet with port nuances and oak vanilla combined in a charming, young style. There is an elegance of perfumed pine wood to this stylish dram and I imagine myself sitting in the garden on a warm summer night listening to locusts in the tall grass and catching the scent of blossoming flowers in the night air. A thick and oily whisky made to enjoy.

Rating 86

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cleaning out my samples - part 5 of 5

1. Balblair 2001 46%


Balblair Stills



Since Balblair revitalised it's bottling style a couple of years ago, we have seen the distillery releasing a series of vintage bottlings. Of the youngest expressions we have seen 3 10yo's (or approximately 10yo). The 1997, the 2000 and now the 2001. This coincides with the distillery opening a new visitor centre.

This 2001 46% is upped in ABV from 43%, and is unchillfiltered. And I doubt there is added caramel, as it doesn't taste like that and the colour is delicious bright

In style this is faithful to the 97 and 00 vintages. It has got a bit more oomph and texture than the 00. The whisky is malty, nutty, vanilla and very fresh with a little sweetness on the finish. This would appeal to both geeky cask strength drinkers and those who have a more "normal" approach to whisky. It's not going to to revolutinise your whisky world but when whisky is represented like this it's a bit like drinking fresh beer opposed to canned/bottled beer , if anyone knows what I mean by that

Rating 84 


Recently I served some blind samples on a vacation to the US.

http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/4-blinds-for-california.html

Here are my views on two of them


2. Amrut 100. 57.1%



This is a special bottling by Amrut. 100 proof, 100cl's and it has been partly matured on 100l european virgin oak casks. The whisky was released with 100 bottled for five locations, of which one was Denmark-

I understand why this would easily come across people as being sherry matured as the european virgin oak casks have a huge influence on the palate of this whisky. 

The Amrut 100 is quite peaty. Medicinal, spiced wood and an unusual complexity for a whisky this peaty. Very often wood inluenced complexity comes with aging a whisky, but aging a whisky also diminishes the peat content. So here you got the cask influence and the high peatyness combined.

Some Amrut's can be overpowering at Cask Strength but its not the case here. This even ends up with a sweet delicious. This is in league with the intermediate sherry cask Amrut

Rating 88

3. Pe1 58.7%

A NAS Port Ellen, you don't see a lot of those around :-)

From the very fine series Elements of Islay from Whisky Exchange

Licorise. Peat. You don't really get the age of this whisky as it it very potent and intense. The finish is delicious long with a nice soft peatiness dominating. A bit of buttery kinda the scotch way notes underlying as well

Rating 85

PS I tried the Pe2 at the Jazz and Beer Festival a few weeks ago, and I liked that A LOT more



Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dalmore 17 yo Duncan Taylor


Dalmore, 17 yo 06.1990/10.2007, Duncan Taylor's Rare Auld, sherry cask 7325, bt. 396/662, 55.5%

Nose: Creme brulée, irish coffee, delicate sherry nuts. Sweet strawberry notes and dark chocolate, exotic, mexican spirit - like dewdrops on a blade of grass. Caramel, yeast and freshly baked bread. Raisins and brown sugar.
Taste: Creamy, caramel candy, grass, strong alcohol. Juicy sherry with a rather fine, dry finish, where the cask comes out to play. A pretty good Dalmore.


Rating: 86


Lars

Saturday, October 22, 2011

4 blinds for California

Recently I went on a holiday in south-western USA, mainly California, Utah and Las Vegas.

Apart from visiting family and friends of my parents, some fantastic National Parks in Utah (recommended), I also managed to get some time with whisky friends. I have always liked to serve blind samples to people. At this trip I had made 4 samples. Only hint was that they were from different distilleries, and all had peat and was from sherry casks. One wasn't from sherry casks thou, but it taste like that. More about that later

The crash-test-dummies were fellow PLOWED members and a couple of their friends.

Blind tasters were Mikey, Ganga, FX, Xray, Marty, Hyperfuji, Andy, Tim (Ardbegproject) and Jake  

One of the nights, while the others were going through the 4 blinds, FX poured me a blind. I really liked it. Unadultered sherry, extremely peated and with some age. I guessed it to be Laphroaig 20+yo, but it showed out to be the legendary Brorageddon, one of the earliest PLOWED bottlings. Nice treat. I knew I had this before, but couldn't recall it tasting like this. But then again, I probably wasn't in an analytical corner the first time around. Which I actually seldom is. Most of the time (95% or so) I drink whisky just to enjoy it without being overly analytical, rating it seriously or writing feeble tasting notes.

Now to the four secret drams. They were served in table discussion fashion, and I tried to note as many things down as possible. A total of three sessions in various locations in California.

First one up was Amrut 100, 57.1%. 

Peated Amrut, 100 british proof, 100cl, 100 bottles. Gives the name. Matured in ex-bourbon then transfered into 100liters virgin oak barrels. Thanks to Ashok and MACY for the sample, it has now travelled the world :-). This is the one whisky that has not been on a sherry cask, but could they tell ?

Comments : 
Very Peaty, Fruity, Sherried. High ABV (Mikey)
Peated Speyside, Refill Sherry, Irish ?, Peaches, Burnt Peat, Pinenotes, Stonefruits (Ganga)
Jura Prophecy, Japanese, Old Jura, Chocolate, Peat, but not heavy, Chocolate (Marty)
Sulphur, Iodine, Bitter Red Apple Peels, Sticky finish, not a lot of sherry (Hyperfuji)
Golden Delicious Apple, Chili Pepper, Lemon (Andy)
Oranges, Peppermint, Amrut? (Tim)
Anis, Toffee (Jake)

Whisky no. 2 was Caol Ila 1996 Gordon and macphail Cask Strength, 59.0%, cask 16070-16072, bottled 2007

Comments:

Butterscotch, vanilla, young cask strength, Bowmore (Mikey)
Syrup, Candycorn (Jake)
Butterscotch, Bitter Licorise (Ganga)
Coconut (Marty)
Butterscotch, Saw dust, citrus, fino sherry (Hyperfuji)
Nutmeg, Iodine, Charred Wood (Andy)

29.83 Kissing a Balrog's Bum(Laphroaig) 20yo 52.3% bottled by SMWS, Refill Butt

Before I purchased this was reported to me as being terrible sulphured. Personally I can't find any, and I am very sensitive to sulphur, well, I look at it as an off-note. Maybe more when it express itselfs as rotten eggs sulphur, opposed to rubber-latex on a mild level. I was looking forward to see to what extent the others would pick up sulphur here. The name gives a hint, but these guys didn't know the name

Black Tea, Nice, Sweet, Cherried (Hyperfuji)
Rubber Cement, Bitter Greens (Andy)
Impressed, Slight rubbery the way I like it (Marty)
Saltwater, Cocoa powder (Jake)
Raisins (Tim)
Soapiness, Hot, Young (Xray)
Apple, Sweet peat, Laphroaig like, freshly cut grass, medicinal peaty (Mikey)

The 4. whisky was PE1 by TWE, 58.7%


Kind of perfumy, 80's Bowmore (Mikey)
Grains Hay, Red Licorise (Tim)
Sulfur (Jake)
Creamy, Caramelly (Xray)
I really like this, Sweet, candied, cherry, graphite (Hyperfuji)

I recommend LA whisky society http://www.lawhiskeysociety.com a great source of whisky reviews from a group of whisky entusiast that I regard high

So what were the favourites ?

Mikey and Xray : Amrut 100
Hyperfuji, Andy and Tim : Pe1
Jake, FX and Marty : Kissing a Balrog's Bum
Ganga : Caol Ila 1996

Next Blogpost : I will take on Amrut 100 and Pe1

Thanks to everybody to be being willing to participate and going public. I know of whisky "experts" who never would do things like this :-)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Highland Park vertical


Highland Park was one of my early favourites when starting out on my malt journey. Time to see how a large part of the standard range comes out here in 2011.

















Highland Park 12 yo, 40%
Nose: citrus and toffee caramel - golden toffee. Crisp biscuits and some fruit. All good.
Taste: Sparkles in the mouth. A little peat coated in honey sweetness nicely balanced with flowers. In the finish a little smoke appears. A great 12 year old whisky!
This baby is mainly from european oak and it seems to me that the profile has changed over the years. Still a cracker though.
Rating: 87

Highland Park 15 yo, 40%
Nose: Fruits like kiwi and melon. Fresh, light and kind. Citrus fruits and bonfire smoke.
Taste: Malty freshness, citrus and meadow flowers. The finish is dry. Not my HP favourite.
Rating: 84

Highland Park 18 yo, 43%
Nose: Flowers and honey, great mouthfeel. Sweet and full of joy. Salted almonds. A sherry harmoy that lights up this humble taster.
Taste: Beautiful honey, heather, flowers that caress. Like the perfect dream you don't wanna wake up from. Fruity notes flicker by and ends in a dry finish.
This whisky is combined of 40-50 casks. It has always been a favourite of mine and will continue to be so.
Rating: 90

Highland Park 21 yo, 47.5%
This 21 yo is from american oak that has held sherry. According to a HP representative it should contain whisky more than 40 years of age and in style is aiming to be close to the old Bicentenary.
Nose: delicious. Crispy nuts and golden cornfields united. 'Burnt' candy, fresh made coffee. Really fantastic.
Taste: simply beautiful. A juicy complexity with vanilla and wood from the cask in just the right amounts. A synergetic whisky.
Rating: 91

Highland Park 25 yo, 48.1%
Nose: the 50% 1st fill sherry european oak comes forward. The sensation is of deep sherry, boiled fruits accompanied by tangerines, nuts and pine.
Taste: what a whisky! The balance is out of this world. Sherry, fruits, nuts, raisins and pine wood. This 25 yo is better than I remember. Has it improved over the years or is it just me?
Rating: 92

Highland Park 30 yo, 48.1%
Nose: Nutty chocolate, brittle, diesel-sherry. Almost beyond words.
Taste: Harmonic and complex for sure but it's actually hard to pin down specific notes after the stunning 25 yo. There is a sweetness but it's also a bit thin, again compared to it's smaller sibling. Perhaps it's the fact that more refill casks have been used here.. It's like a mountain climber well on his way dreaming of the summit but when he gets close the weather changes and he has to return down. A fine dram that deserves to be enjoyed on its own.
Rating: 90

Concluding comments: Highland Park has more than stood the test over time and is still a favourite of mine. The quality is high and the style really suits my palate. For me, the 12 yo seems to be the one which has changed the most over the years. The 25 yo especially is a fantastic whisky and I look forward to trying the Viking range in the not so distant future.

Lars

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Amrut Two Continents Second Edition

1. Amrut Two Continents Second Edition 50%


Steffen's review

Nose : Belgian beer, vanilla and exotic fruits

Palate : malty and nutty, very chewy with a lot of texture, a lot of spicy vanilla

Finish : Medium-long with some wood spicyness hitting me late

Rating 85

Comment : This is quite different than the first Two Continents. There's a lot more of India than Europe in this. I would describe this as vanilla infused Amrut!

Further Comment. Retasting a couple of weeks after initial review, this is just of of those whiskies that improves from being open.


Lars' review

Nose: Cereal, hay, warm spirit. In the background almonds and different nuts try to play their part. Exotic fruits – cocktail berries and unripe litchis. After a while some clean toffee arrives.
Taste: Nuts, chili and pears with a touch of ginger in the finish. A good, uncomplicated, young and straightforward whisky.

Rating 80

Monday, September 12, 2011

Whisky Agency

Whisky Agency is a german independent bottler associated with the organisers of The Limburg Whisky Fair, one of the best whisky weekends out there.



1. Tomatin 34yo 1976 51.2% Liquid Sun
Bottled 2011. Matured in a sherry butt. 272 bottles

Nose : Sweet sherry wine, with a bit of wood

Palate : Very fruity sherried, and quite woody. Plums, vanilla

Finish: Medium-long and woody

Rating 85

Comment : I can't help wondering how much sherry they forgot in the cask before filling it with newmake. This fruityness is very sweet and fresh, and much more plums than dried fruits a lá raisins. This is a sherry monster, and if you like sherry and sherried whisky, you will like this. I think it's a bit too much. But behind all the pieces of fruits floating down the glass instead of legs, there is some depths to explore. Give it time and it develops in the glass!

2. Ardmore 19yo 1992 49.9% Liquid Sun
Bottled in 2011. Matured in a bourbon barrel. Heavily peated. 202 bottles.

Nose :  ash and fruits. This is a very fruity

Palate : A nixe mix of spice, peat and fruits (sweet apples and pears) and dry ash

Finish : Medium-long and the peat lingers

Rating 88

Comment : When you aim for a bottle of Ardmore this is exactly what you hope to get. A nice mix of peat and a fruity whisky typical for speyside. And a peated whisky benefits a lot from when you can taste the age kicking in

3. Laphroaig 13yo 1998 53.3% Liquid Library
Sample

Nose: Classic Laproaig how it should be. Clean and simple. Peat, vanilla, and a bit of citrus and apples

Palate: A clear follow up to the nose. Very peaty, but you expect that. Dry and the fruit is just detectable

Finish Short-medium

Rating 86

A very sherried whisky for the ultra sherry fans, a very peaty whisky for the peatheads, and a nice peated speysider, which is also for the peatheads...

DMWA, Danish Malt Whisky Academy is the danish importer of these bottlings.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Highland Park 12 and Lagavulin DE 1980

1. Highland Park 12yo (L0671F L11) 40%

Nose : Very delicate. A pleasant mix of fruit, light peat and flowers

Palate : Moss, flowers and peat with a dominant floral background. Is it heather ?

Finish : Medium-long with a little bitterness

Rating 84

Comment : This batch is tad more floral than I remember and maybe a bit over the top. The batch variation of this standard OB is greater than you think. Nice level of peat. My mum likes it


2. Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1980 43%

Nose: Very sweet with underlying spicy peatyness

Palate: Woody, sweet and peaty

Finish: Sweet and long

Rating 84

Comment : The sweetness affected by the PX cask is huge. This whisky is for people who likes very sweet sherried whiskies

Final Comment. Two very drinkable whiskies. Sweet and welcoming. I was gonna describe them as very female whiskies until I remembered quite a few woman doesn't like peaty whiskies :-)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cheap whisky in Denmark

This sunday the local coops had whisky on offers unspoken of in Denmark

These 3 Diageo annual releases at 349,- danish kroners, just slightly more than the average 12yo OB standard bottlings, so all the whiskyentusiasts were queueing up. So how are these whiskies from 3 distilleries that's very hard to find whisky from?

1. Pittyvaich 20yo 57.5% distilled 1989 

Pittyvaich 

Pittyvaich was a very shortlived distillery. It was located in Dufftown, just above Dufftown the distillery and only operated from 1975 to 1993

Nose: fresh cabbage style vegetables and cocoa

Palate: Cocoa beans, musty and vegetables again.

Finish medium-long with some vanilla, honey and banana kicking in.

Rating 78

Comments : reminds me of Scapa and somehow how I remember the few Pittyvaich's I tried before. Not floral or fruity in any particular way. This whisky will benefit from the bottle being open, this even tastes better doing the second round today.

2. Auchroisk 20yo 58.1%
"Matured in american and european oak casks"
Auchroisk

Auchroisk is a nice distillery build in a gothic-like style

Nose: Vanilla and pear dessert

Palate: Apple, vanilla, dessert

Finish: Shortish with faint vanilla-elderflowers (!)

A light and enjoyable dram, but somehow anonymous. I think this will benefit from being opened a bit. Mind you, I am reviewing these 3 on the day of purchase.

Rating 82

3. Benrinnes 23yo 58.8%
"Matured in sherry wood"
Buddha and Benrinnes

Nose : One of those noses that gives you associations of being in a warehouse! Heavily sherried and lightly sulphured

Palate : A light bodied whisky fighting the heavy sherry influence. An archtype sherried whisky, nutty and malty and plenty of standard sherrycasked whisky notes of dried fruits. No licorise

Finish: Medium

Rating 84

Comment: Again I have this feeling this will benefit when being opened. The sulphur will probably go away or diminish. I really like the warehouse feeling of this whisky

Final comments. 
A world release of approx 6000 bottles each, these three never caught a lot of frenzy until locally here, when they suddenly came out heavily discounted at around 41-42£ a bottle which is a bargain compared to the 120-175£ these retail for in UK. 750-850 bottles each selling in DK which is a substantial percentage of the total bottle amount when you take the size of our country into perspective. 

These bottling doesn't hold the usual standard of the Diageo annual releases. Maybe there's a reason Pittyvaich is closed and we don't see the other two distilleries bottled usually. I had some good Benrinnes before, but it has never been a distillery that gives me high expectations. I actually dislike the Benrinnes Flora Fauna bottling. And from the Pittyvaichs and Auchroisks I tasted before I didn't have any expectations at all, with the FF's being very anonymous bottlings. Pittyvaichs are usually slightly better and Auchroisk too hard to find. Maybe these distilleries isn't better or maybe Diageo should just hire me to select casks :-)

The discount is justified, I consider Auchroisk and Benrinnes bargains still. Should have been priced in the 60-70£ range originally, mind you, they are not even single casks but bottled in the same numbers as Icons of Arran is.

PS I will post about the development of these bottling in a month or two..