Oct 272014
 

Nikka Taketsuru 21 y.o.070

43% abv

Score:  88/100

 

Been a little bit since we shared notes on a malt from the little island nation.  Japanese whisky is increasingly becoming de rigueur, with opinion leaning heavily in favour, prices soaring and collectors foaming at the mouth for special releases.

This one is not a single malt, but a pure malt…or is it a vatted malt…no, wait…a blended malt.  Oh, whatever.  Let’s just go with what’s on the label.  ‘Pure malt’ it is.  In reality, this is a vatting of single malts from Japanese distilleries (of which, there are certainly not a plethora), with no grain whiskies weakening the impact or diluting the character.  The distilleries?  Not sure, but…Nikka owns two of the eight or ten operational distilleries in Japan, so let’s assume this is a marriage from their two interests: Yoichi and Miyagikyo.  (Ahhhh…Wikipedia…where would we be without you?)

The name ‘Taketsuru’, if you’re curious, is a tribute to the late Masataka Taketsuru, founder of the Nikka distiller and father of the Japanese whisky industry.  Taketsuru combined his bent for chemistry and love of whisky to blaze the trails for what has become arguably the world’s most burgeoning whisky scene.  After studying the art of distillation (and, of course, all other facets of the whisky making process) with the masters in Scotland, he returned to Japan and firmly cemented his place in world whisky lore.

This 21 year old dram was tasted blind recently in a mixed flight of other whiskies.  And no…I could not tell it was Japanese.  Tasting notes, score and thoughts were recorded before the ‘reveal’.  Here you have it…

Nose:  Big sherried nose.  And a very nice one, I might add.  Touch of coal smoke.  Orange marmalade.  Jammy, fruity sherry notes.  A little bit of tea.  Scones with black currants and jam.  Some decent vanilla notes.  Mild spices, in the vein of cinnamon and such.  Dark, earthy and leathery.  Slightly savoury.

Palate:  A wee bit too gentle on arrival.  Ok…a lot bit too gentle.  Pleasant, but kinda like driving a Ferrari and not taking it past 60mph.  The flavours of old whisky.  Deep fruits and a quick note of florals.  Maybe some tart ripe plum (skin and all) and plum sauce.  Chocolate.  Perhaps a touch of smoke again.  Hoisin-like savoury-ness.

Thoughts:  Tasted blind.  Immediately apparent it was a bit of a sherry bomb.  Not so apparent it was a blended malt (utterly seamless, as to be expected).  I initially guessed it at about 20 years old, but certainly did not peg this as Japanese.  All in all…a very well-made whisky.

 

- Reviewed by:  Curt

- Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 7:24 pm
Oct 272014
 

Balblair Vintage 1989061

46% abv

Score:  88.5/100

 

I’ve tasted a few, but this is actually the first Balblair written up for the site.  And a good thing it ended up being this one too.  The younger expressions I’ve tried so far have not done much for me, so why not get the party started with one that does turn my crank?

Perhaps it’s just a little bit of dust on the bottle (or cask?) that this Highland distillery needs in order for me to really cotton to it.  And by that I mean maturity of contents, not simply having sat on a shelf for some interminable period.  Or maybe it’s just that this is a particularly fine vintage.  Either way, this 1989 Balblair is really good dram.  A perfect example of what happens when a nice clean spirit run meets good – and none too rambunctious – wood.  The end result is an elegant ‘any time of day’ sort of whisky.  Light, easy drinking and very clean.  As this was tasted blind, I wondered initially whether or not this might be a very naked older Auchentoshan. 

This Balblair was distilled in ’89 and bottled in ’12, effectively making it a 22 or 23 year old, depending on actual dates.  Either way…mature and plucked from the barrel at a great time.  Not much more to say. 

Nose:  Immediately love the profile here.  A light latex paint kind of top note and the smells of older casks and slightly dusty wood (very nice!).  Bread dough.  Creamy custard.  Vanilla and ginger.  Sugar cookies.  Some jam, and maybe a hint of orange and cherry.  Faint smoke (just from cask charring, perhaps?).  A touch of florals.  Lots of clean cask, spicy notes.  Very nice overall.

Palate:  Fruit skins.  Toasted marshmallow.  Vanilla and cinnamon (from a clean bourbon barrel?).  Somewhat drying and almost tannic as it fully develops.  Nice mix of fruity notes:  orange peel, apple and something a little more bland…faint pear, maybe?

Thoughts:  Tasted blind.  I guessed there was some age on this one.  Around 20, I thought (and it seems to be either a 22 or 23 year old, as mentioned).  I also thought this was likely at cask strength.  Wrong there, but it is at a respectable 46%.  I should note…there is more going on on the nose than the palate, unfortunately, but it is a good dram nevertheless.

 

- Reviewed by:  Curt

- Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 2:36 pm
Oct 272014
 

Mortlach Rare Old083

43.4% abv

Score:  84.5/100

 

Diageo has really thrown down the gauntlet with this year’s rebranding of the Mortlach range.  Their challenge, it would seem, is against all reason and common sense.  Sounds like a harsh criticism, I know.  But as many of you will be well aware, what they’ve done, in essence, is (seemingly) arbitrarily premiumized a brand that has never – up ’til now - been known as a premium whisky.  In fact…until the last decade or so, it was almost exclusively a blending whisky, only really ever seen as a single malt in independent bottlings.

So how did they do it?  The answer is…through silence.  They haven’t spoken up to justify the outrageous new pricing strategy.  They haven’t explained the use of ‘rare’ in their naming conventions (considering the distillery’s capacity is nearly three million litres per annum).  The haven’t told us why they’re leaning to 50cl (500ml) bottles in most markets (and dumb, perfume-esque ones, at that).  And most importantly, they haven’t told us what changed to suddenly warrant escalating this distillery into the ‘premium’ whisky category.

Let’s be blunt.  I want to hate the new Mortlach.  If not for all I just said, then at least for being yet another brand leading the foray into the whole NAS camp and cost-jacking the consumer, while blurring the lines of trust between producer and consumer.  And I do hate them for all of this.  At the same time, it is simply foolish to not concede that the whisky is actually quite decent.  Or this particular one is, at least. 

Mortlach Rare Old is the ‘entry level’ expression in the new range.  ‘Entry level’ being relative, as it will run you over $100 in local markets (Canada).  From here things get even more ludicrous in terms of price positioning and assumed value.  As of now, I’ve yet to experience the entire new ‘core’ range from Mortlach, but irrespective of hijinx and shenanigans, I am still curious to do so. 

I will never get behind the concepts employed here (the same malarkey embraced by Dalmore, Macallan, etc), but at the end of the day, good whisky is good whisky, and needs to be assessed as such.  Is the Mortlach Rare Old great?  Nope.  Is it good?  Absolutely.  While I remain skeptical of the both the ‘rare’ and ‘old’ descriptors in the appellation of this one, I am at least pleased to say that the malt itself is much better than my early preconceptions allowed me to fathom.

Nose:  Little bit of apple and pear…and orange.  Touch of pepper.  Notes of cranberry, in its slight tartness.  Very nice clean oak.  Ginger and cinnamon.  Vanilla custard.  A sweet ju-jube kind of candy note.  Vague hint of banana.  There’s something like wet rock here too.  Not quite flinty, but…not sure.  Not unpleasant though.

Palate:  Wood.  Delivery is a lot more restrained than the nose belies, but is pleasant enough, if a little one-dimensional up front.  Apple skins.  Gentle cherry candy notes.  Faint fennel.  Cinnamon raisin cookies.  Hmmm…maybe leather?

Thoughts:  Tasted blind.  I said maybe a mid-ager (12-15 years).  Said it seemed Speyside-ish in the vein of ‘Livet or ‘Fiddich, but with a litte more personality.  After the reveal, I admitted that I’d never have pegged this as a Mortlach.  Seems devoid of all the meatier notes I associate with the distillery.  Good, solid dram either way, though could definitely benefit from a couple extra abv percentage points.  Also…while I concede it’s a decent malt (proven by blind tasting), it was somewhat disappointing to find out this was Mortlach.  Lacks all the character I previously loved in the distillery.

 

- Reviewed by:  Curt

- Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 12:29 pm
Oct 212014
 

Bowmore Laimrig (Batch 3)036

53.7% abv

Score:  91/100

 

Each time I sit down with a glass ( or two) of this malt I feel like I’m making a big mistake.  Like I should maybe be putting away a few extra bottles for that proverbial rainy day.  I think we’re all familiar with the old parable about the grasshopper and the ant, right?

With the current state of the whisky world being what it is (soaring costs, dipping ages and a steady veering towards no age statement malts) I fear it really is only a matter of time until the ’15’ disappears from the label of this expression.  Or further, that the Laimrig disappears altogether.  Let’s hope I’m wrong on that one, but I think either way it’s time to shelve a few bottles for future days.

Laimrig is a revelation.  A sub $100 release that simply outperforms anything comparable on the market.  Its appeal (at least for me) lies in the intricacies of the marriage of sweet and smoke, and how beautifully it manages to integrate these pieces into such a harmonious whole.  The three main factors at play here are peat + sherry + age.  The smokiness though, for any who may be concerned they may not be peat-conditioned enough for this one, is restrained enough to sit behind the syrupy fruit notes, creating a very broadly appealing dram.  I’ve yet to pour one for someone and have them not like it.  And finally… probably the single greatest asset working in favour of Laimrig is a return to a fruitier style of Bowmore.  This profile is far preferable to the more floral Bowmore we’ve been privy to for the past several years.  Absolutely a move in the right direction for this distillery.

Undoubtedly my favorite  under-20 y.o. whisky out there.

Nose:  Grape juice.  Smoke.  Deep jammy notes and berry coulis.  Well-oiled leather.  Sea spray.  A touch of grapefruit.  Ash and iodine.  Devil’s food cake and cherry pie filling.  Apples and apple skins.  A little bit of rubber.  A savoury, slightly meaty note.

Palate:  Deep, deep threads of smoked dark tree fruits.  Lush and juicy.  Smoky and hinting at a Fisherman’s Friend kind of medicinal edge.  Plum sauce and some dark gooey Asian sauces (hoisin?).  Apple skins and soggy wood.  Oil.  Viscous and rich.

Thoughts:  I adore this whisky.  Slightly different than previous ones I’ve tried, but equally awesome.  A little more on woods and less on fruits, I think, if I had to put my finger on it.

 

- Reviewed by:  Curt

- Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 10:32 am
Oct 152014
 

“The Spirits Have Done It All In One Night.” – Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol)

 

…and now, shamelessly, a quick advert…

Granted it is only mid October, but some things need be done sooner than later.

Whisky advent calendars have become all the rage of late, and it’s not hard to see why.  One…the Christmas season is a merry one, and what better method of merry-making than a dram a day?  Two…they inject a little bit of childhood excitement and anticipation into a sadly far-too-adult life.  And three…they make for a bloody brilliant gift for the discerning individual (or snooty Scotch snob alike!).

Calendar 2

Having said all that, I’m happy to be able to help a good mate of mine, Jonathan Bray, spread the word about a project he and his wife, Cindy, have launched.  The first edition of the Secret Spirits Advent Calendar is a seriously impressive undertaking.  From humble beginnings through to the eve of launch, this has been a fun endeavour to follow to fruition.  I’ve gone back and forth with Jonathan through much of the journey, and still can’t help but be wowed by the end result. 

The calendar is a 25 day outturn of drams from three of the whisky world’s leading independent bottlers: A.D. Rattray, Samaroli and Wemyss Malts.  This means, of course, that the whiskies herein could be from any number of different Scottish distilleries.  For those of us in Alberta, where nearly all (if not actually all) of these calendars will end up, this is a very special treat indeed, as bottlings by Samaroli and Wemyss are rare sightings around here and in a way we can almost consider this their formal entrance onto our local whisky stage. 

5808

Directly related to this grand arrival on the scene is what I personally see as the most exciting aspect of the calendar.  Many of the whiskies you’ll try from within its compartments will be made available in a limited number of 700ml bottles (maximum of 60 bottles) from select retailers.  Now this is smart marketing.  I can imagine there will be more than a few gems in here where a sample simply won’t be enough.  The theory is that each day through the month of December, when the whisky of the day is revealed on the website, the retailers with that day’s whisky will be featured.

The wee bottles snugged into each cushioned seat of this hefty Dickensian / Victorian gothic chest are all generous 50ml pours, and run the range through all of the major whisky producing regions of Scotland.  A perfect introduction to the world of Scotch whisky for the aspiring single malter, or just an opportunity for the seasoned pro to take a ‘virtual jaunt’ through the rolling hills of Scotland.  In short, if you’re keen on Scotch, this should be right up your alley.

Calendar

As to the spirits themselves…well…

I’ve shared the word on A.D. Rattray releases (and the company itself) a few times here on the site.  To put it simply, Mr. Morrison has some spectacular casks at his disposal, and duds are few and far between.  Any chance to try a new expression launched under this banner is welcomed.

I only recently tasted a Samaroli release for the first time.  A few weeks back, Jonathan came by for a visit and a few drams and brought along a bottle of Samaroli that has to be one of the most unique releases I’ve ever tried.  I’ll save the specific details for a very near future review, but suffice it to say that the casks at the disposal of Samaroli seem to be of an astromonical quality.

And when it comes to Wemyss, I must admit that I’m as ignorant as can be, so will happily just join the rest of you on the ride and see what sort of stocks they possess.

(And no…I do not know exactly what whiskies are in the calendar.  Pease don’t ask.) 

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The calendar was unquestionably a labour of love.  The aesthetes out there will easily be won over by the top notch craftsmanship, as the attention to detail is astounding.  But much like any other whisky, it’s what’s inside that counts.  On that note…I ask anyone who does manage to score themselves one of these units to share their thoughts and nosing / tasting notes on the malts each day through December as they’re unveiled.  

And finally…speaking of scoring one of these… 

Do note that they probably won’t last long in stores.  This first edition is limited to a mere 400 units.  I’m pretty sure if you don’t get in early, you won’t get in at all. 

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So…for those of you for whom single malts are old hat, but who just want to mix it up with a surprise a night…this is a hell of a way to do so.  And for those out there looking to begin their journey down the road to Scotch knowledge, there is simply no better way to work your way through the Highlands, Lowlands, Islands, Speyside and Islay than what amounts to a crash course in Scotch whisky.

Secret Spirits have set the bar high with this first edition calendar.  I can’t imagine a better launch for this new brand.  We’ll be looking forward to watching the company grow in the coming years.

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The Secret Spirits Advent Calendars are confirmed to be hitting store shelves before the end of October. 

Check out the Secret Spirits site for further details and a list of retailers who should have this available for purchase in the coming days.

…and for anyone who cares to sponsor me a calendar, I’m not too proud to accept early Christmas presents.

An early seasons greetings to you all and a wish for sweet dr(e)ams.

 

- Words & Photos:  Curt

 

 Posted by at 1:10 pm
Oct 142014
 

Bruichladdich X4+3 091

63.5% abv

Score:  82.5/100

 

This is gonna be a hit or miss malt for many, I can imagine.  It simply does not boast a profile that falls in line with most preconceptions of Scotch whisky.  Actually, I’ll go a step or two further and say that this is one of the oddest whiskies I’ve ever tasted.

Imagine mixing young Scotch, old Canadian whisky and citrus-scented cleaning products or polish.  That’s about as close to the profile as I can articulate before we get to actual tasting notes.  For those of you out there with one eyebrow cocked in cynical questioning…relax.  Irrespective of where your mind initially takes you with the above descriptors, rest assured that this is actually a pretty decent whisky.  Albeit very young and aggressive.

X4+3 is Bruichladdich’s infamous X4 spirit (read: quadruple distilled Bruichladdich) that has napped for a brief three years (hence the ‘+3′ in its appellation) in very active barrels.  And I mean VERY active.  The flavour notes imparted by the cask are kinda like a high note held on a very tightly strung instrument.  Struck and left to resonate at an incredible pitch for a very long time.  The abv here, and Bruichladdich’s wonderful adherence to the practice of foregoing chill filtration, ensures this one will be clinging to your teeth and tastebuds for hours after sipping.

As one might expect, an incredibly pure spirit maturing in new vibrant wood means an end product that is razor sharp.  Don’t come into this one expecting a mellow, wizened old dram.  This is meant to be approached as an anomaly in the whisky world.  This is Jim McEwan being Jim McEwan and having a bit of fun in the halls of his Wonka-esque laboratory.  Having said that…it is still infinitely sippable, and very, very sweet.

From the ledger of the good people at Bruichladdich:  “In 1695 Martin Martin, a Hebridean traveller wrote of an ancient powerful spirit, which translates from the Gaelic as “perilous whisky”. he was told by the natives: “one sip and you live forever; two sips and you go blind; three sips and you expire on the spot”. Humbly, and in the typical Bruichladdich spirit of adventure, we have re-created this legendary, quadruple-distilled blockbuster dram.”

Nose:  Incredibly clean, with lots of lemon and lots of vanilla.  Some orange, and definitely grapefruit.  Even pineapple.  Big woody notes (not dissimilar to a Canadian whisky…the old Alberta Premium releases, in particular).  Vanilla ice cream and orange creamsicle.  Chocolate, both milk and white.  Lemon coconut macaroons.  Pine Sol and an almost cut-spruce freshness.  Maybe even a vague hint of mint.  Softer than imagined, though, somehow.

Palate:  Oh wow.  What an arrival.  Enormous, and almost overwhelming.  Citrus fruit, rind and pith.  There’s a tartness and tang here I adore.  Grilled pineapple.  Again…25-30 year old rye (Alberta Premium!).  A lot of wood here.  Spice and sour ju-jubes.  Candied ginger.  Distilled fire.  A lot of syrupy texture.

Thoughts:  Certainly not everyone’s cup of tea (malt), but I kinda dig this profile.

 

- Reviewed by:  Curt

- Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 1:10 pm
Oct 092014
 

Cairdeas.  A Gaelic word that means ‘friendship’.  The word itself, for those phonetically curious, is pronounced somewhere between ‘car-chess’ and ‘car-chase’ (depending on how thick the accent of the speaker is).  These annual releases from our good friends at Laphroaig were originally launched as an exclusive for that ever burgeoning group of peat geeks known as the ‘Friends Of Laphroaig’.  In recent years, Laphroaig has upped the outturn on these Cairdeas expressions, and they’re now quite readily available in most markets.

Through all of its various incarnations over the years, there’s one thing that has been fairly consistent with Cairdeas: the presentation of a strong natural whisky of high quality and character.  I honestly haven’t regretted buying a single one of  them.  These releases have been a mixed bag of ages and styles, but the Laphroaig profile (earthy, smoky, peaty, medicinal) has been omnipresent throughout.  The subtleties change, of course, but that familiar and homey style we all love remains intact. 

Highly recommended from this guy.

Now…before we get to the whisky…a quick toast…

This one is for all of the whisky folk out there (bloggers and writers and schillers, oh my!) who seem to have gotten just a little too friendly with the industry of late.  Perhaps it’s a testament to the wisdom of Sun-Tzu.  Hmmmm…wish I could believe that. 

 

Laphroaig Cairdeas Master Edition 2010025

57.3% abv

Score:  91.5/100

 

Nose:  This one has the softest nose among these four.  Reminds a little of Laphroaig 18, but jacked up a notch or two.  Smoke, of course.  And peat.  White pepper.  Ginger.  Soft green melon.  Key lime pie.  Green ju-jubes.  A fleeting glimpse of bubble gum.  Slightly minty.  A touch of clean oak.  Wee hint of rubber.

Palate:  Again…soft and beautiful.  Love the candy notes and gentle fruits.  Dry smoke leads into peat, then explodes in sweet notes.  Crisp green pear and MacIntosh apple skins.  Light (very light) orange juice and lemon notes.  The toasted crust of good creme brulee.

Thoughts:  Good balance of old and young.  Aging peat is a thing of beauty.   So much harmony between the nose and palate.  Apparently this is a mix of 11-19 year casks, and you can definitely see the influence of the older whiskies within.

 

Laphroaig Cairdeas Ileach Edition 2011019

50.5% abv

Score:  89/100

 

Nose:  Mint Leaves jelly candies.  Peat and earth.  Smoke, but it’s not quite as big as I’d normally expect.  Iodine.  Brine.  Dark soil.  Lemon rind.  Salt and pepper.  Creamy, soft mild cigar tobacco notes.  A touch of vanilla.  Soft white / green fruit.  Bread dough.

Palate:  Peppery, right off the bat.  Slightly drying too.  Fruit candy sweetness.  Smoke and wet rock.  Nutty, earthy notes.  Dry ginger.  Quite a sweet development throughout.  Wet ash.  Fresh lemon squeezed over oysters on the shell.

Thoughts:  Young-ish, but who cares?  Peat is a hell of a ride when offered up in its youth.  And there are definitely no flaws in the actual whisky here.  A great version from a much-loved distillery.

 

Laphroaig Cairdeas Origin 2012002

51.2% abv

Score:  88.5/100

 

Nose:  Smoke and a very coastal iodine tang.  Salty dough.  Organic, peaty notes.  Damp ash (a fire put out with saltwater!).  Dusty, old wood (maybe dunnage?).  A faint note of peppered greens.  Fresh dill.  Dirt.  Soft caramel notes.   Seems slightly older than the 2011 edition.

Palate:  Pepper leads (with some salty / briny notes as well).  Apple.  Smoked shellfish.  A fair bit of rubber.  Smoked grains.  Licorice or fennel.  More of that peppery bite again.  Ginger.  Dirt and wet rocks.  A mouthful of ocean water.

Thoughts:  I initially fell in love with this one while at the distillery in late 2012.  Happy to report we’re still in love.  It was a treat when this release landed on Canadian shores last year.  I immediately snapped some up.

 

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014003

51.4% abv

Score:  89/100

 

Nose:  Slightly farmy.  Warm saddle.  Hay and horse blanket.  Zesty…almost savoury (tomato sauce-ish).  Big, clouds of smoke, but very much dampened by the sweetness of the sherry influence.  Peat.  Cinnamon, pepper and ginger.  Notes of good marmalade.

Palate:  Rubber.  Yep.  A fairly hefty amount of smoke and warm rubber.  An odd oregano-like note.  Kinda flinty.  Very dirty Laphroaig (in other words: awesome).  Medicinal notes.  Play dough.  Granny Smith apple.  Quite earthy.  Deep spice, almost chili-esque.  Surprisingly savoury overall.

Thoughts:  Peat and sweet.  Love the marriage of mighty Laphroaig and soft sherry.  This is a heck of a dram.  Wish I knew the age on it. 

 

- Images & Words:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:57 am
Oct 072014
 

Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 47)010

60.7% abv

Score:  88.5/100

 

A’bunadh is my ‘slipper’ malt.  When I’m cold…this is what I curl up with.  When I have a cold…this is what soothes.  When I’ve had a shitty day and am just hoping for comfort and familiarity…this is where I turn.  When I’m simply craving a damn good ‘suits any occasion’ kind of whisky…this is nearly always the one I turn to.  It’s as comfortable and welcome as the best pair of soft worn-in slippers.  Honestly. 

I recall an incident that happened in the dead of winter a  few years back while I was on my way home from work.  My bus had been slipping and sliding all over the roads in an absolutely horrendous blizzard.  It finally gave up the ghost on a hill about eight or ten blocks from my house, slipping back in the slush and muck to rest horizonally across both lanes, effectively blocking the entire street.  It was dinner time, almost dead-of-night dark and the snow was flying in thick sheets; creating a virtual wall of snow.  The driver opened the doors and offered to let us walk if we preferred, so as not to wait for a tow (nice fella, that one).  Indeterminate wait for the possibility of rescue vs the frigid December hoolie.  What would you choose? 

Well…that 15 minute walk in -25C weather…in snow up to my knees…in dress shoes and good clothes…was one of the most miserable experiences of my entire life.  Interestingly enough though, what lingers more than the memory of numb extremities, frozen eyelashes and aching ears, is the thought of finally trudging up my drive, shaking off the snow on the front steps and heading straight for the front of the fire place with a Glencairn glass half full of a’bunadh.  Canadian winters.  Beautiful misery.

By now a’bunadh should be no mystery to most of you.   If it is, however, please browse some of the previous reviews here on the site.  Suffice it to say, this is a big and bruising cask strength Oloroso sherry bomb.  Small-batch released.  Almost always incredible.  And…a personal favorite.  After a less than stellar Batch 46, it’s nice to see Aberlour back on top with this Batch 47.

Nose:  Moist cigar, or maybe a walk-in humidor. Cherry liqueur.  Mincemeat tarts.  Some shortbread behind all of the spices and savoury notes.  Cinnamon bun dough.  A very pleasant toasted (almost burnt) marshmallow note.  The wood is a little louder than expected.  Brings a little more complexity, and ‘seriousness’ than I expect in the rowdy a’bunadh (if that makes sense).  No shoddy casks buried in here.

Palate:  Beautiful sweet, caramel fruity delivery.  Deep, dark dried fruits.  Orange zest.   Dark caramel.  Roman nougat.  Maraschino.  Toasted pie crust.  Baked apples with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Brown sugar.  Fruit cake.  Figs.  Charred woods.  Apple skins.  Leather.  And FRUIT leather.

Thoughts:  Great balance here.  Nice sweet ride all the way through.  There is plenty of this batch still available on the shelves locally (Calgary) for those who are interested.  I’ll be nabbing another, as mine is now down to the bottom half a bottle.

 

- Reviewed by:  Curt

- Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 2:35 pm
Oct 062014
 

038Glenlivet Nàdurra (Batch 0712U)

55.5% abv

Score:  89/100

 

I cracked open this batch of Nadurra with a bunch of good friends just shy of two weeks ago.  Between us, we managed to put a healthy dent in the bottle that night (along with a few others), and I’m not gonna lie…the bottom half of this one has been calling to me in the evenings ever since.  I figured we should maybe get ’round to sharing some notes before there was nothing left to share notes on.

Nadurra is, quite simply, one of the most consistent and seemingly underrated malts on the market. Maybe ‘underrated’ is the wrong word.  ‘Under-mentioned’, is more in line with what I’m trying to get across.  While quite universally respected, it never seems to garner as many mentions as several of its contemporaries do (105, a’bunadh, etc).  I’m not sure if this is due to the preconceptions associated with the rather simple and prototypical Speyside profile we generally ascribe to the name Glenlivet, or if there are other factors at play.  Or maybe its simply a matter of where I’m looking and who I’m speaking to.  Either way, Nadurra deserves to be held up as a shining example of well-crafted single malt whisky.

‘Nadurra’ is the Gaelic word for ‘natural’.  It is a batch-released whisky served up big and bold, and is sort of a poster child for the model that, in my opinion, all distilleries should be following (age-stated, cask strength, non chill-filtered, etc).  I think we’ve gone through most of this before spiel before, so let’s just get on with it.  What say?

I should note, before we get into tasting notes, that I specifically remember the day I bought this bottle.  I was wandering the shop with a handful of dollars burning a hole in my pocket and a view to doing a future write-up.  I couldn’t really find anything that was lighting my fire, and ended up settling for this one.  I recall leaving the store slightly disappointed that I hadn’t found something more exciting and unique to bring home, but there is absolutely no regret now.  This is a great bottle, and one I may try to track down a second of if any are still dust-gathering around here.

Nose:  Peach tarts.  Freshly peeled apples.  Perfume / floral notes.  Toasted wood.  Cinnamon.  Pepper.  Ginger.  Slightly creamy.  Utterly brilliant nose.  Nothing too complex, but rings out like a beautiful harmonic.

Palate:  Great delivery.  Kinda peppery.  Woods and apple right up front.  Just a hint of peach again, but that may be olfactory carryover.  Now ginger and mixed spice.  A kind of ‘champagne-like’ nutty, herbal note.  Tart apple skins on the finish.  Somewhat drying.

Thoughts:  Great right off the cork, but even better once it settles down in the glass for a few minutes.  There’s a wonderful creaminess that develops over time. Great stuff. I love it when a malt I remember as being a favorite from way back still manages to knocks my socks off by now being even better than I recall.  This is still a top notch malt, years on from when I first tried it. Absolutely no quality slippage here, and this particular batch is one of the best versions of Nadurra I’ve come across. 

 

- Reviewed by:  Curt

- Photo:  Curt

 

 

 Posted by at 1:25 pm
Oct 062014
 

No, I haven’t given up.

Bear with me a little bit longer as I struggle to get this engine turning over.  A busy few weeks and a lack of poetic inspiration have kept me from the keyboard for far too much of the last month and a half.  Worse still, finding time to sit down in a controlled environment and properly taste some whiskies has been next to impossible.  Things should be coming together in the next day or two.

Coming soon…

Glenlivet Nadurra
Bruichladdich X4+3
Port Charlotte Scottish Barley
Ardbeg Kildalton
Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 47)
Bowmore Springtide
Bruichladdich Legacy 35 y.o. (Series Three)
Dalmore 18 y.o.
Four different Laphroaig Cairdeas releases
A few 25 y.o.’s
A couple SMWS releases
etc…

Do let me know if there’s something you want to see.  I’ll do my best.

Cheers,

Curt

 

 

 Posted by at 8:35 am