Monday, January 17, 2011

Old Pulteney

This week we will see an unofficial release of the follow-up to Old Pulteney WK499. On thursday 20th January there will be a collective twitter tasting, so if you're interested I am sure it will be worth searching on #WK209 and #OldPulteney this thursday. I am not participating myself, but I am sure those that do will have a lot of interesting things to say :-)

Right before xmas, Lukasz of the Edinburgh Whisky Blog ( sent me some samples, Old Pulteney 17yo and 21yo. As I understand it he is doing some online marketing for Inver House and being a twitter contact of him can be beneficial, as you can see on thursday :-)

Together with a few of my own Old Pulteneys, I will do a little distillery vertical.

Old Pulteney is the northernmost distillery on mainland Brittain. It is located far up north in Wick, in an coastal area with very little trees and lots of weather :-). The distillery is located in the outskirt of the southern part of the city, and coming down the street to it, the distillery looks like a part of the buildings facing the street. No pagodas or anything is revealing the distillery. There's a wee visitor center and a tasting room, where you can bottle your own Old Pulteney. I bottled one in 2005 and another in 2007 and both were around 15yo ex-bourbon casks. They were excellent whiskies and are of course long gone....both among the best bottle-your-own whisky I ever had, and I had some over the years.

1. Old Pulteney 12yo 40%


This is somewhat a different 12yo OB than what you otherwise find on the market. I mainly find this dry and minty, with nuts and oranges emerging and then more mint. It's very minty actual, and that's something I like. The finish is short and in generel this is quite moreish and I really enjoyed. Should have been bottled at a higher ABV, but I always say that :-). Above average in the 40% OB catagory, I think its the mint!

Rating 82

2. Old Pulteney 17yo 46%

A natural upgrade of the 12yo. The biggest difference is the finish which is longer, and there's a slight char or ashy touch to the nose. The palate got a spicy touch, and the mint is not as powerful. It's a nice good dram which reaches well about 80 on my rating scale

Rating 83

3. Old Pulteney 21yo 46%

Oh, a huge change to a more nutty and spicy character. For sure the wood influence is getting more powerful. The finish is more intense but shorter again. There's a natural development for the age of these three OB's. Another lovely dram

Rating 84

4. Old Pulteney WK499

This is back to style of the 12yo, but the cask strength REALLY benefits this Old Pulteney. It's a very sharp and briny whisky, and as salty is often mentioned as the Old Pulteney character I finally get it here, or see what others mean when they describe Old Pulteney as "salty". A very enjoyable dram, and you wont get better value for money whisky out there. I've seen 2 liters for 50£ in Edinburgh Airport !!. Excellent

Rating 86

5. Old Pulteney 1982 58.2%
This could be bottled in 2002 as the bottlecode starts with L2...

It's a miniature and the writing on the label is just too small and too hard to read

read it yourself..I can't

Oh, this is quite different. And similar at the same time. Sweet. Mint, slight sulphur, could be something I imagine. The initial sweetness weirdly turns into a very very dry whisky fast. This isn't really working for me, is it a refill sherry cask ?. Does Old Pulteney work with ex-sherry casks. It sure does with ex-bourbon. Lets see how WK209 is received on thursday, its supposed to be from ex-sherry casks - It got something to live up to for sure.

This one I don't like. The sulphur bits.... I am going back to WK499 now

Rating 71

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bunnahabhain - is it malty ?

The start of 2011 hasn't been optimal from a whisky drinking perspective for me. Flu, colds, coughs, soaring head and sleepy days. Time to catch up, and I thought going through a few dregs of Bunnahabhains that has been restless on my shelves for quite a bit might be good for me. This is the first day of 3 weeks of holiday, which will include quite a bit of travel and a lot of whisky so also a reason to celebrate :-)

Bunnahabhain is one of the lesser known Islays, if saying "lesser known" for an Islay makes any sense at all. I have always felt that Bunnahabhain is one of the better known secret gems out there.

Bunnahabhain with a pap in the background

The location of Bunnahabhain (and Caol Ila) is one of the most beatiful spots on the planet earth. Next to the Sound of Islay, with the Paps of Jura breathtaking looking down on you from the other side.

 Bunnahabhain and the Paps of Jura

 The distillery has received a little more attention from the owners the last couple of years, with the standard 12yo being upgraded to 46.3% and nonchillfiltered, but also a few special bottlings getting out to us. Bunnahabhain is, unlike most other Islay's, an unpeated malt whisky. But they did a few peated batch runs, earliest one is the Moine variation from 1997. Apart from the peated malts we have also recently seen a Bunnahabhain that has been matured on fresh oak,the Bunnahabhain Darach Ur.
In 2004 the distillery released a 1968 single cask, the legendary Old Acquiantance, one of my all time favourite whiskies, since then a few older OB's has been released, together with an extension of the range with a 18yo and 25yo and so on.
Various independent bottlers has released quite a lot of Bunnahabhains over the years. So there's actually an opportunity for quite a big background catalogue if you get around these. And it's usually a very good malt in my opinion.
 I often find Bunnahabhains very very malty, and this is a little scientific research to see if this a common distillery profile tasting note!
Bunnahabhain Tour in 2001

I will go through 5 bottlings of Bunnahabhains, and try to rate their maltiness on a 0-5 scale, with 5 being very malty, 3 quite malty, and 1 sligtly more malty than an average malt. I don't find malt whiskies malty in general. I can say I would rate almost all malts a 0 on this scale. I am meaning malty in a beer/ale kind of sense.

1. Bunnahabhain 1979 Flying no. 6 Pirate 46.3%
cask 11885 (Barrel). Distilled 31/10-1979, bottled 8/9-2008
Bottled by Juul's Vinhandel, Copenhagen, 1 of 199 bottles

Juul's series of PING and Flying has become world famous legends here in Denmark :-), and this Bunnahabhain is one og my favourite Flying's

This is a light Bunna, with a lot of spice, mint and a wee bit of citrus and with quite some maltiness. 

Maltiness 4/5

Rating 89

2. Bunnahabhain 33yo Royal Mile Whiskies 45.5%
cask 6249, 1 of 201 bottles

33yo Bunna from RMW

This is a bottling from Royal Mile Whiskies, and Edinburgh specialist whiskyshop.

This is not as light as the Pirate. First thing I note is a slight sulphur on the nose. The body is heavier, some spice, and still a bit of sulphur on the palate, but probably so little that quite a few wouldn't notice

Maltiness 1/4 

Rating 86

2. Bunnahabhain 31yo Falster 2008 47.3%
Bottled by Creative (David Stirk)
Distilled 1976

This Bunnahabhain is bottled for the danish whiskyfestival Wild Whisky Weekend by DMWA

This is a very delicious Bunnahabhain, with a slight maltiness, spicy again, sweeter than the others. The best so far. The finish is longer and really delicious. I think the sweetness completes this malt. It's not a sweet malt, but the sweetness is noticable compared to the other malts. 
Magnificient dram and I do agree on The Whisky Exchanges review here : and you can find a more articulate set of tasting notes in there as well :-)

Maltiness 1/4

Rating 90

4. Bunnahabhain 36yo Duncan Taylor 40.2%
03/1967 - 03/2003
cask 3325

A lot of the first Duncan Taylor bottlings were near going understrength, so there were quite busy bottling a lot of old whiskies before they went under 40% ABV. I don't think the world will ever see that amount of "cheap" old whisky on the market..oh the good old days :-)

The maltiness in this whisky is a bit different, it seems somewhat milder, as does almost everything is this whisky. The wood influence seems a lot less. There's a bit of fruit candy in this, and not particular spicy

Maltiness 2/5

Rating 85

5. Bunnahabhain 36yo Duncan Taylor 40.7%
1967 - 2004

A Duncan Taylor miniature

This is a malty Bunna, with a shot of citrus in, quite a big shot and a very delicious combo. Some sweetness and a medium finish, with a bit of spicyness as well

Maltiness 3/5

Rating 89

Verdict ?

Yes, I find the common note in Bunnahabhain to be a very malty malt, think of a low hoppped brown ale. There's quite a variation in the maltiness, but it's always there to some extent

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 - whiskies of the year as named by various bloggers, writers and whiskyentusiasts

When  December approaches, many websites, blogs, books and whiskyentusiasts name their whisky of the year, and some even have multiple awards, lists so long they can fill up the average whiskycupboards three times. Others do shopping guides and reccomendations. What's your favourite whisky of 2010 ?

Here's a little overview of what I could find, please tune in if you heard about more.

One of the earliest set of awards that emerges each year is the Whiskybible, but I think that its connected with it being a book (printed) award, and that the book is out around October, if I remember correctly

1. Jim Murray's whiskybible named Ballantines 17, which is i blend. The choice made quite a few people wonder, more people shrugging their shoulders or giggling and a lot of people confused. Jim Murray's choices always stir an argument, here's the full list from John Hansell's blog (Malt Advocate)

Personally I had great fun reading the discussion of his choice of irish whiskey of the year on the irish whiskey forum :

2. Whisky Magazine has a series of award sets, they probably manage to beat Jim Murray in number of catagories :-) there's quite a few sublinks to follow to get around all the catagories!

If you didn't manage to find it I can reveal that Ardbeg Corryvreckan was named scotch single malt of the year.

3. Scottish Fields, a lifestyle magazine named a Miltonduff 1969 from Gordon and MacPhail (Indy bottling of the year), 25yo Ben Nevis (Distillery Bottling of the year) and Monkey Shoulder (Blend of the year)

read more about it here

Scottish Fields awards are decided blindly with a large group of whiskymerchants (whiskyshops!) forwarding their favourites and then being judges themselves. Malt Maniacs is a group of whiskyentusiast who does a similar blind judging with a lot of whiskies entered voluntarily by distilleries, bottlers and merchants

4. Malt Maniacs rated Glendronach 38yo 1972/2010 (49.5%, OB, Sherry C#700, Taiwan) highest in 2010, here's the full list

5., a forum of whiskyentusiast chose Bladnoch 20yo as their 2010 whisky of the year

6. Spirit of Islay's Gordon Homer chose the new Bunnahabhain 46.3% as his favourite distillery bottling of the year (Islay) and a 29yo Caol Ila from John Milroy as his indy bottling of the year. His non-Islay whisky awards went to Amrut 100 from Bangalore in India and a 4yo 2005 Berry Bros Ledaig.

Full list here :

7. Malt Advocate,... well I expect something out in a couple of months, but here's their list from February last year

8. Ralfy also had the new Bunnahabhain 12yo 46.3% as his whisky of 2010

9. Whiskynotes has a shortlist of his favourites here : with a Longmorn 1972 from the Whisky Agency and a Glenfarclas 1968 from Thosop coming out on the top

10. Scotchhobbyist has a 2010 gift guide :

11.  Gavin Smith's whiskies of the year (and some of his pages visitors) :

12. Whiskyisrael set a budget Holiday Gift Guide :

13. The Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society has 11 catagories with Suntory Hibiki 21yo as 2010's overall favourite:

14. The Scotch Odyssey looks back on 2010 with Mortlach 16yo FF as his favourite dram

15. Dramming and Whiskyemporium did a joint post and Dramming chose Karuizawa 1985/2009 cask 7017 and Whiskyemporium chose an Old Bothwell 1982 Port Ellen cask 2039

16. awarded a set of Canadian whiskies

17. The Whiskywire selected his 12 drams of xmas

18. Jason had a wee Holiday Scotch Whisky Suggestions :

19. WhiskyBoys has The Best of 2010 in 3 catagories :

20. Whisky2.0 xmas shopping guide

(I never really got the point of awards like IWSC and the likes if anyone wonders.)

End of the day these links just shows how diverse the whiskies and peoples taste in whiskies are, and as a consumer its hard to go wrong, there's just too much good stuff out there :-)

And now it's time to go find the good stuff of twenty-eleven!