Thursday, July 26, 2012

Arran The Devil's Punch Bowl

Arran The Devil's Punch Bowl 52.3%

This is named after a beautiful mountain on Arran.

Photo "borrowed" from The Maltbank Herald

It is a mix of
3 sherry butts from 1996, 
6 bourbon barrels from 1996, 
2 sherry butts from 1997,
8 sherry hogshead from 1998 and
5 bourbon barrels with peated Arran from 2006

Ugly packaging

This is not an unusual Arran, I would say it's quite typical. That is, if you don't consider the fact that this is peated. Well, slightly peated, as the peat is only very faint in this whisky. It is to me, but I often suffer from peat immunity, it must be from all the peated whisky I drank as a kid...:-). A rough calculation would say that 15-20% of the whisky is this bottling is from peated whisky. According to the Malt Whisky Yearbook 2012,  in 2006 peated Arran is 12-14 ppm so it's not a surprise that I find the peat very laidback in this. It can't disguise the Arran character of this malt. It actually reminds me a lot of the recent The Golden Eagle. Same tropical fruitness. Canned pears, pineapple, some fresh wood spicyness, its like when you nose a cask where the wood is a lot more present compared to when you nose a whisky with no cask nearby. The different casks add a lot of complexity to this malt. The thing is, that whisky at different ages affects different parts of your tongue. The older a whisky gets the longer back on the tongue the tastes tends to appear. With different ages of whisky in this malt, the flavours is appearing on a wider part of your tongue, giving several taste sensations at the same time. 
So a complex, very tropical-fruity but not that sweet malt, with a hint of peat malt and a faint medicinal squeek in the finish

Very good whisky, and a general step up from the icons (apart from Peacock which is still my favourite)

Rating 87/100

PS I don't like the packaging. But I don't care, I buy whisky for the content not for the packaging. The fact that this kind of packaging at least is responsible for 10% of the price is to be considered as I find this a very niced price whisky as it mainly contains a bunch of the oldest casks from a small producing distillery :-)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

12 whiskybase whiskies in 4 hours

Long time whiskyfriend Ras Mazunga, and fellow PLOWED member likes to send me samples from his shops own independent bottling label ARCHIVEs, some of which has been sitting on my shelf for some time now. I better do something about it. Normally I would only review 1 or 2 whisky at a time, but today I will do 12!!. A lot of puritans will shake their head on this, but this is in fact a great mirror of how I often drink whisky with friends, where we sit down and go through 20-30 drams and just have fun, and do some light comparisons between the drams

Ras filling our bourbon cask at Las Vegas Distillery

So this is a set of fast reviews where I will spread thoughts about these malts and compare them to each other.

1. Tomintoul 1969 42.4% 42yo
Sweet, fruity, candy, winegums, fruit drops gently replaced by a delicate sweet spicyness when the first nips are taken. This is exactly how you hope an old Tomintoul will taste. Rating 90

2. Glen Grant 1975 46.6% 36yo
Sweet, spicy, also candy again, which for is typical old Glen Grant. Similar in style to the Tomintoul, but more dry and oily, with a lot more spicy wood with a medicinal finish. Rating 88

3. Dailuaine 1983 47.3%  28yo
Very Oily, heavy in texture, classic malt whisky. Grassy oiliness oozes in the nose, and I find it remarkable how the oilyness hits you allready at the nose. Just a hint of woodspice. The remarkably oilyness continues for long in the finish Rating 86

4. Longmorn 1992 48.5%  19yo
After the Daluiane this is back to a more normal texture. Mint is the first thing that hits me, not intense, but more on the light side, still nice oilyness and this has a slight meaty texture as well. Rating 87

5. Imperial 1995 51.7%  16yo
Great Classic Imperial. Mint. Vanilla. This is sooo imprinted with these bourbon characteristics that I could describe this as a bourbon without the heavy wood and the sweet corn. What's left ?. Mint and vanilla. Simple. Great. Delicious. Rating 90

PS Many great Imperials "flooding" the market at the moment from bottlers like Gordon and MacPhail, OMC and Duncan Taylor. This is another one to mark up this relative unknown and unfortunately closed distillery.I'm a big fan of this relaxed simple vanila/mint/bourbon style

6. Glenrothes 1988 53.4% 23yo
Never been the biggest fan of Glenrothes. The 1991 OB was a big pleasuree to me though, and this reminds me of that. This actually tastes a bit like a mix of the Dailuaine and the Imperial!. Fullbodied, not a lot of vanilla and mint, but it's there. Rating 88

Allright, feeling slight intoxicated by now, brewed some coffee (Ethiopean beans off course), to clean my palate between drams. Still 6 drams to go

7. Littlemill 1988 49.3% 23yo
This is the 2nd Archives Littlemill and I really loved the first one, which was an unusual and weird malt malt whisky, but hey, isn't that the Littlemill in a nutshell ?
It's reviewed here :
This is the first "tainted" dram in the session. I wouldn't expect otherwise from Littlemill, which is almost always on the weird side in the world of whisky. Tainted is a hard word, cause there is nothing wrong with this dram, just a slight rubberness, but its my favourite kind of rubberness, it's the women in tight wet latex again. This is smooth velvet latex sherry cask and quite nice. Not very herbal opposed to the first bottling, more mainstream, but still the light fingerprint of Littlemill. Quite smooth and delicious actually. Rating 87

8. Glen Garioch 1990 54.0% 21yo
I always considered Glen Garioch recent bottlings to be somewhat on the rough side, and this is also a bit rougher compared to the 7 first drams, but not as much as expected. The first thing that hits me is the peat. Is Glen Garioch a peated malt or not?, it depends on the period it was distilled in. Around 1990 they for sure used considerable amounts of peat, at least enough for me to pick it up :-)
This Glen Garioch got quite a lot of peat (relatively) but is still very delicate highland whisky. Rather dry, medium woodspicy Rating 88

If you are looking for serious whiskyblogging I would stop reading now

9. Highland Park 2000 50.9% 11yo 
According to the whiskybase website this is 11½ years old. I thought only kids younger than 6 counted their age in ½ years :-)
I didn't describe colours of the drams before, so far most of the drams have been whiskycoloured. This one is far lighter in colour than any of the other drams. Highland Park is said to be heathery and this is exactly what I can taste from this dram right now. After 8 drams my palate is not in the best shape, but I reckon what I pickup is mainly differences from what else I had. HP is also supposed to be peaty, but being a peathead for many years I often find myself immune to peaty flacours, especially after a series of drams. The heather is here. The colour would suggest an immature whisky but is not so. It's rather delicate flowers and probably a good way to experience the true distillery character of Highland Park, not masked by Sherry casks. Well, some would say that sherry casks is part of the HP distillery character so maybe not..:-). First time in this session I feel the spirit of the whisky coming through (ethanol). This is very different to what HP offers itself via their OB's
Rating 83

10. Isle of Jura 1988 51.3% 24yo
What can be more scary than Isle of Jura ?. The OB line tends to scare away most whiskyentusiast, while at the same time being quite popular with people that are not every day whisky drinkers. I have similar views as the mainstream whisky entusiast on Isle of Jura, but I have to admit that some of their special releases have been very nice as well as a few independents. Lets see how this fare...
Some sour notes in the notes which I don't like, but my nose quite fast get used to it and a lot of fruityness emerges. But everytime I lift the glass back to my nose I get this (baby)puke. The palate is better, but still this offnote I dont really like in Jura. Cabbage ? Yuk. This will only appeal to Jura Fans. Admitted, there's a lot of good things going on in this malt, but a delicious sticky toffee pudding is never gonna taste good with sour parmesan cheese in top. Rating 70

I am getting pished now. I for surely how hope the last two whiskies are better

11. Ledaig 2004 61.9% 7yo
The youngster in this seesion. Ledaig often gives me same troubles as Jura. There's just this offnote I never liked (I usually refer to it as the tobermory-note, as this is where I experienced it first many years ago.)
This has got it just a little bit on the nose, but not much. The palate is a fullbodied malt whit great oily texture, but still with a sour ledaig youthness that I am no particular fan of. Well, if you drink a young whisky, expect it to taste like a young whisky. But do young whiskies have to taste sour. No. Rating 79

My hopes are now left on Laphroaig

12. Laphroaig 1998 54.2% 13½yo
After 10 and 11 this is pure whisky heaven :-). A well balanced peaty whisky. Not as floral as I find younger OB Laphroaigs, and this is exactly why IB Laphroaigs is my favourite to OB these years when it comes to 15 years or younger. This is a nice peaty Laphroaig, and if you are a peathead looking for great alternatives to OB islay releases this will not dissapoint you. Rating 87

Final comments :

Archives is an excellent independet bottler which easily matches OB's when it comes to Tomintoul, Laphroaig, Glenrothes and Glen Garioch and gives a good alternative when it comes to Highland Park. If you don't like Ledaig and Jura, Archives wont change your mind. For the more unknown distilleries expect top class whiskies

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cutty Sark 25yo Old

Cutty Sark was a blend by Berry Bros and Rudd (BBR) in London but in 2010 the brand was acquired by Edrington (With the distillery Glenrothes going from Edrington to BBR)

Cutty Sark bottles a range of ages 12, 15, 18 and special bottlings. The 25yo is their oldest of their regular releases.

Cutty Sark 25yo 45.7%

The first thing I think when I see a dark blend is e150, caramel colouring. This is me being prejudiced. Shame on me. But at the end of the day the whisky will have to speak for itself. And it does. The nose has a distinct sherry part. It's very nice. This actually reminds me of old Macallan with a twist. This sample is probably from before 2010 but BBR and Edrington work tight together. Well logic says it should be Glenrothes :-). The conclusion is that colour and nose/taste is not in disharmony. 

Heavily sherried, more dry than sweet, the context gives me greasy clay associations, probably because there's oilyness and earthy mustiness burried deep inside this dram. Makes me think there could be Caperdonich in this. 

This is a blend for the sherry heads. For sure this should me drunk neat, it's very drinkable and the somewhat extra than needed ABV gives this sufficient oomph to satisfy single malt enthusiasts while the smoothness will make this go down well with the (occasional) blend drinker, where smoothness and drinkability is a key factor. Not everyone is capable or used to drink neat alcohols. 

It's also very nice to drink a heavily sherried product with no or little trace of sulphur. If there is anything in this it might be some latex rubber, but I could be making this up in my head. 

Noone knows whats inside this blend but for me this is signatured Rothes in Speyside as I get associations to Macallan and Caperdonich which is located in or near Rothes. Being a BBR/Glenrothes product just adds to this. The blend itself also have faint similarities to Speyburn 10yo, while I can't see any connections to Glen Grant or Glen Spey, but its not like I have tasted much Glen Spey 

Rating 88

I think I got this sample from Willie JJ. Not sure. But thanks to Willie JJ anyway, he is always generous with whisky :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Whisky online part I of II - Forty Creek

No doubt about it

Being whisky-active online has gived me a lot of good experiences over the years. Forums, Chatrooms, Facebook and Twitter has given me many contacts and most of my very good whisky-friends, I met via the internet in various disguises.

I have just been on a distillery trip to USA and a couple of twitter contacts helped me setup a couple of distillery visits which was part of making the trip very memorable!

Johanna McInnis, Canadian Whiskyblogger of the fine blog The Perfect Whisky Match helped me setup a visit at Kittling Ridge Distillery. It was always a distillery I really wanted to visit. So I am very grateful. Johanne and I made contact via her blog and twitter!

Kittling Ridge is probably my favourite Canadian Distillery. "Probably", as I don't have the biggest experience with Canadian Whisky

Kittling Ridge Doubler

The Warehouse

Tim Burrows of Kittling Ridge preparing a few samples

Kittling Ridge is a winery that turned a distillery. Their Whisky is named Forty Creek. Named after Forty Mile Creek nearby. It was named so because the mouth of the stream is about 40 miles from Niagara.

Forty Creek is single grain whiskies blended together and often double matured or married together in a different set or type of casks. The three grains used is corn, rye and barley, which is distilled separately, matured separately and then blended together. And then usually caskmarried/double matured. 

Read more about Forty Creek here :

Personally I would like to try their whiskies at full strength, but in true canadian tradition almost everything is bottled at 40%. Geeks like me is probably not gonna change this as Canadian Whisky outsells all other countries in USA, including USA itself. 

In general I find Forty Creek whiskies to be fullbodied and creamy relative to other 40 percenters and. More about Forty Creek in an upcoming blogpost.

A big thanks to Johanne and Tim Burrows of Kittling Ridge for setting this up. 

Johanne is the top Canadian Female Whiskyblogger. Follow her (and her husbands) blog here: and I also recommend following her on twitter @whiskylassie where she is often participating in qualified and interesting whiskychats/discussions!

Graham and Johanne of The Perfect Whisky Match