ATW

Aug 232019
 

Rosebank sorta straddles that barrier between first tier and second tier when people discuss their personal biases and rankings for the much-mourned closed distilleries. No two ways about it, there’s a deep sentimentality out there for this iconic and quintessential Lowlander, but Rosebank will almost certainly never be held in the stead of Port Ellen or Brora. Especially now, as the eve of the distillery’s renaissance approaches. Another factor, of course, is that Rosebank closed in much more recent times than did the ‘Big Two’. Ten years later, to be exact.

But I think more than any other issue at play is simply the makeup of the malt itself. We’re a comparing a relatively innocuous (that’s not to say it wasn’t lovely, and occasionally even spectacular) light and floral dram with the enormity of the massive peat profiles from an era where homogeneity hadn’t yet become the de facto standard. Now, hear me out: brands don’t strive for homogeneity, of course, but when your grand pursuits are yield and consistency, it becomes inevitable that character will be the sacrificial goat. In the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s there were many more variables at play: a ‘by touch’ method of brewing and distilling, inconsistent cask policies, wild west wood policies, etc. Inevitably, this is what led to such fantastically singular casks slumbering away in some of these fossil distilleries we hold in museum piece-like awe. This is the very same reason that Springbank continues to climb the charts in drinkers’ esteem nowadays.

This 25 year old Rosebank is a near perfect example of what the distillery’s ‘house style’ could be considered. And though I still don’t find it a home run dram, I can’t argue the intrinsic quality. It’s there in spades. Lovely dram. One more please.

50.5% abv. From an ex-bourbon barrel that yielded 192 bottles. Distilled in 1991, just two years before the distillery closed, and bottled in 2017 for the 175th anniversary of Cadenhead.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Definitely soft and perfumed. White chocolate and a drizzle of warm honey. Toasted marshmallow. Rosehip. Gooseberry. Pineapple upside down cake with French vanilla ice cream. A very berry-heavy artificial sweetness. Also quite creamy.

Palate: Toasted oak, much more assertive than expected, and almost leaning toward bitter. Grapefruit pith, which also bitters a bit, but in a more pleasant way. Orange, mango, kiwi and lychee (yup, as it says right on the bottle).

Finish: Clean and oak-driven. Rather lovely, if maybe a bit anemic.

Thoughts: Really good example of the style and the distillery, but also a perfect example of why Rosebank will rarely be knock-out whisky for me. Very drinkable (not far off some good old Irish whiskey I’ve had, actually), just not my preferred style. Should also note that it just gets better and better with time in the glass. I probably had it a point or two lower than the score it’s getting before it ‘evolved’ with time.

88/100

 Posted by at 10:52 am
Aug 212019
 

The Vintage Malt Whisky Company was founded in 1992, and has spent better than a quarter century now releasing independent bottlings, undisclosed malts and blended malt whiskies to the masses eager for a) better prices than the big brands can (or are willing to?) offer up and b) interesting alternatives to the mass market branded sector. And as with any such company, it’s inevitable that you’ll find a plethora of singular flavours and varying levels of quality. Such is the nature of it, especially as regards the single cask stuff.

The company is particularly big on undisclosed Islay whiskies, boasting no less than three unique Hebridean brands in their portfolio in addition to a blended malt that is composed largely of Islay malt as well. Sounds like a bunch of folks after my own heart, doesn’t it? Both The Ileach** and Finlaggan have, at times, been purported to be undisclosed toddling young expressions of Lagavulin, but we all know the nature of these whiskies, aye? With no declaration, and contractual obligations ensuring tight-lippedness, these whiskies could be from any distillery on the island. Not only that, they could be sourced from different distilleries from batch to batch. I guess with a price point as fair as we see here ($75-80 locally), we can’t get too worked up so long as the quality is high. I’ll weigh in with my own guesses on these two at the end of the tasting notes below.

Oh, and by the way…

Ileach is the name given to folks who live on Islay. Finlaggan is the seat of the Lord of the Isles.

**(pronounced somewhere between ee-leck and ee-lack, please! And with a proper throaty Scottish ‘ch’ at the end, if it do ya!)

Finlaggan Cask Strength

58% abv

Nose: Lime and licorice. Peat and smoke, as expected. Very youthful and ester-driven. Also very oceanic shoreline-esque. Minerally, and rich in seaside decay (actually a very pleasant aroma, despite what you might think). Marzipan. Brittle, crispy bacon. Eucalyptus. Prickly, with plenty of licorice. Not overly complex, but for a young’un, I like it just fine.

Palate: Very young. Some untamed new make notes, but no feintiness to be detected, so ultimately…we’re happy. Lemon. A lot of smoke. God…even more of those young citrus notes piling on. Anise. Charred scallop. Toothpicks. A mouthful of ocean surf (like when you bail off a wave and biff it into the deep; and yes…that is the voice of experience, though my surfing days are long behind me now). Burnt kale chips. 

Finish: Granny Smith apples. Oily vanilla pod. More of those charred scallop notes. Long, long, long.

Thoughts: A bit lighter in color; perhaps all ex-bourbon?

86/100

The Ileach Cask Strength

58% abv

Nose: A wee bit of a garbage-y, cabbage-y note at first (Sulphur compounds, but not of the struck match sort). This does sort of off-gas after a bit of time in the glass. Behind that, it’s a bit more syrupy than the Finlaggan. Ardbeggian, even. Or more like Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength, upon reflection. Maybe a sherry butt or two in here? Ashy and sooty. A few drops of orange juice.

Palate: Definitely into young heavily phenolic Laphroaig territory now. Like licking rubber bandages. Black and green wine gums. Green ju-jubes too. Soooo much smoke. Charred citrus peel (and yes…I have tried that), and again… a little bit of orange. Hate to say it, but that strange funk from the nose carries through here too, just milder. I kinda feel that the palate does help redeem the nose a bit.

Finish: Again, uber long. Fortunately that faint sulphuric tinge is MIA at the back end. Unripe Bartlett pears and tannic fruit skins. More lime. Some clean wood.

Thoughts: Meh. S’ok. Definitely an off note to be dealt with. I think (just my two cents) maybe the result of a bad butt in here. (Yes…I realize that sounds like Jim Murray windbag-ism). Previous batches have been better. I think I’ll stick with the Finlaggan.

81.5/100

If I had to guess blindly? Finlaggan = Caol Ila. The Ileach = Ardbeg. I’m sure that’s not the case, but such is the way it goes with super young Islay malts: they’ve often yet not grown into the face they’ll wear later.

 Posted by at 11:57 am
Aug 202019
 

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Dead Distillery Births Live Monster of a Whisky!

Yep. This one really is a true monster of a whisky. And I mean that in all the right ways. Towering, monolithic, hideously beautiful. This takes the concept of subtlety and pounds it into a bloody pulp of submission. And it’s that paradoxical contrast of refined maturity and overt, beastly aggression that makes me slaver over it.

I should be forthright and confess my personal bias here, so you know to take my score with a grain of salt. I love malts like this. They’re over-the-top, far from balanced, and almost not even whisky anymore. They’re also an utterly fantastic and welcome deviation from the mainstream. Shame about the price point (tickling the four figure mark), but it is fair. Relatively speaking, anyway. Caperdonich is, after all, shuttered for good, and the stuff in the glass is almost four decades old. If the occasion arises, do not miss out on this one.

In terms of drinkability…a slow, deep contemplative sipper.  A heavy, one-and-done, take-your-time kinda dram.  In terms of true appreciatibility (yes, I sometimes make up words; what of it?)…a near priceless glance at a bygone era.  The sort of malt I get sentimental about.

50.4% abv. 462 bottles.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Deep and rich and beautiful. And 100% over-sherried, but I love it for that. Polished wood. Old Cognac or Armagnac. Orange oils and morello cherries. Dunnage and old libraries. Rancio. Oily, dried tropical fruits. Sandalwood. Marzipan. Very high end dulce de leche. Licorice. Quite savoury, actually. A distant whiff of smoke.

Palate: Waxy with notes of old polish and that fine old Cognac or Armagnac again. Dried mango, fig, cherry and papaya. Kirsch. Apple skins. More of those savoury notes threaded through with a bit of mince. Moist trail mix (nuts, chocolate, dried fruit). All Sorts and Eat More bars. Tastes…well…old.

Finish: Long and pleasant. Less oaky than expected. Nice, slow-drying fruitiness, bordering on tannic, but not quite.

Thoughts: Alright, maybe a little long in the tooth, but this style works for me. It’s not a regular go-to type bottling (even if the price was lower), but it is a hell of an occasional experience. Ahhh, who am I kidding? I’d drink this anytime I was offered one.

92/100

 

 Posted by at 1:01 pm
Aug 192019
 

Poor man’s Aberlour a’bunadh? Maybe. Maybe not. In terms of personal preference and local price point, yeah, I guess it would qualify as such, but the reality is that Tamdhu Batch Strength is more like a savoury variant of the big, bold and youthful sherry bomb that Aberlour took to the mainstage a wee while back when they launched a’bunadh. It’s great to have options, innit? And it’s even better to have options that come in $35 lower than said Aberlour. (a’bunadh is now $140 in Alberta! WTF happened there?!)

Most of the Tamdhu I’ve had thus far has been much older than this one, mellowed by a couple decades in wood and allowed to soften into something cool and complex. Especially those gems from the ’60s and ’70s. Wow! This beast, though? Never in a million years would I have pegged this as Tamdhu. The style is loud to the point of distortion. Distillery character is almost lost in favor of (obvious) wet-fill sherry casking. This sort of intensity is almost like sipping the syrupy eau-de-vie out of a jar of griottines. A one-and-done per night sort of dram for me.

All said…quite nice. Won’t have the complexity, depth and age that seasoned drinkers generally look for in their malts, but definitely serves as an occasional bombastic treat and will certainly light up the noobs.

59.3% abv

Tasting Notes

Nose: Spicy mince. Ginger bread with kirsch baked right through it. Or maybe it’s Chambord. Berries or tree fruit either way. Quite figgy. Damp cedar. Melting chocolate and new leather. Tobacco. A floral note runs through the middle as well. Caramel-y, fudge-y notes. Freshly made cinnamon buns before they hit the oven.

Palate: Jaysus! This is hot. Big sweet and spicy arrival. Lots of tree fruits and berries. Ginger and cinnamon. Peppered berries. Big, bold and spicy oak notes. Hints of mulled wine and cold tea. A little bit of licorice, red and black. Reminds of Christmas.

Finish: Just slightly tannic, but overall very juicy and man…does this one linger. Eventually tightens up into cranberries and red popsicle (still on the stick).

Thoughts: Definitely not one of those antique-y styles of old school sherried malt we love so much, but still exciting. I’m not generally a water-in-my-whisky kinda guy, but something this young, this spicy and this high strength will absolutely take a decent dollop of water and survive. She’s a feisty ‘un. And I have a bit of a crush on her at the moment, despite the fact she’s not my preferred style.

87/100

 Posted by at 12:58 pm
Aug 182019
 

The newest, most badass malt club in Calgary is called the sinDicate. Fifty dedicated (lost) souls gather every few weeks to taste sicko whiskies, down a couple o’ pints and bring a little rowdiness to the downtown core. We do things a little more irreverently than most. A little cheekier. And we also try to differentiate ourselves from the pack a wee bit. Not just for the sake of standing out, mind you, but simply to give members experiences they wouldn’t have had elsewhere or through other clubs. Case in point: who’s ever heard of a Scapa tasting? It took us a few years to gather the bottles we thought would make up a decent range, but we finally got there. Members of the sinDicate tasted their way through nine expression from this Orcadian runner-up distillery: five OBs and four IBs. The event? Spectacular. A brilliant night of exploration and getting our Orkney on. The whiskies? Well…a little less spectacular, if I’m being honest, but there were definitely a few gems sprinkled throughout the range.

For a few years beginning around the mid 2000s (after the death of the 12 and 14 year old expressions), the 16 year old was Scapa’s mainstay. Actually, it was sort of their only ‘stay’. There was simply nothing else on the market, barring the occasional indie bottling. And even today, those are about as readily available as hen’s teeth. Alas, fast forward to the present and even the 16 is gone now, replaced by a couple of lesser NAS offerings. (Having said that…the first batch of Skiren showed really well in our range!)

As for the 16…

It took a couple of go’s at this whisky before I could really get a handle on it. It’s not overly complex, nor is it especially colorful. It doesn’t have a big personality, nor does it really lend itself to comparisons that would allow you to describe it to your average malter and have them respond with an ‘ahhhh, I get it.’ In plain speak, this one is, at best, a ‘good’ whisky. ‘Good’ being about as exciting as white bread with butter. Margarine, actually. And even ‘good’ is being a tad generous when you account for how hideously dilute this one is, at its wafer-thin 40% bottling strength.

I guess I don’t mind this, really. It’s an easy sipper. A decent aperitif dram, and a fine summer evening whisky.  Sadly, the price – even back then – was too much to justify this sort of easy quaffer.

40% abv. Sigh.

Tasting Notes 

Nose: Light and kinda pretty. You can feel there’s more to this one, if only it had been left more intact (i.e. not chill filtered). Vaguely perfumed. Almost dry tea-ish. Or maybe heather? The cereal is nicely etched. And it does carry some decent fruit notes. Mostly apple and just a little citrus. Maybe some underripe berry. Just a faint hint of earthiness.

Palate: Very silky arrival (notice how careful we are not to use the word ‘smooth’?). Straight into crisp malt and apple. More lemon and some gentle dulce de leche notes. Slightly bread-y as well, but leaning to the artificial; I guess maybe cake-ish might work as a descriptor. Custard and soft vanilla.

Finish: Oak and a slight tannic note (not bad at all). Mostly a floral, herbal and honeyed denouement. Final dying note (think that last fading chord in A Day In The Life by the Beatles) is more wood.

Thoughts: I like it just fine. I’d drink it if it was poured for me (of course), but wouldn’t buy one, even it was still available. Oh, and do not add water. You’ll drown this guy.

78/100

005

 Posted by at 3:08 pm
Aug 182019
 

The 28 year old official bottling of Convalmore from 2005 was, if not a knockout in the traditional sense, definitely one of my personal favorites. Its simple and elegant, yet bold, approach to a very naked and traditional style won me over big time. It did the same for others I know, as well. I seem to recall Dave Broom had a particular fondness for it. Though I see eye to eye with Dave’s views less and less as the days go on (though, having shared beers with him, I can attest he is a lovely man whom I’d love to hang with more frequently), I do have to say I’m riding shotgun with him on that particular dram. If memory serves, the 32 year old was really quite fine as well. So let’s dig into the 36 year old now. All three of these OBs are, of course, Diageo releases.

Convalmore’s last spirit ran through the safe in 1985. The buildings are still intact, but the equipment is long gone. It’s malts like this that make us mourn these closed distilleries with a tear in our eye.

58% abv (Wonder what this was racked at, in order to still be sitting at 58% after nearly four decades.) Distilled in ’77; bottled in ’13. Only 2,680 bottles.

Sincere thanks to my mate Brett Tanaka for the opportunity to taste this. The range of bottles he’s been opening for what we’ll call ‘The Brett Sessions’ are simply beyond comprehension. And I am beyond humbled to be able to partake. I’ll be reviewing dozens of them in the coming weeks/months.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Great attack! Wow. Almost savoury. Extremely well-composed. Perfectly matured, clean ex-bourbon style. Crème brulee with a sprinkling of pepper. Crème caramel. Almost apple pie-like too. Lightly toasted almond. Saw-burnt wood (like when your tool gets bound up mid cut). Biscuit tones. Honey. Gentle fruit notes, nudging into tropical territory, though hard to pinpoint specific fruits. Most of the sweetness, though, is just clean, fresh orchard fruit tones.

Palate: Amazing arrival. Uber juicy. Slightly tart and furniture polish-y. Apple crumble this time, complete with that cunchy, crusty, awesome toastiness. Brioche. Deeper fruits now, much deeper. They’re starting to fight the wood by this point, and just barely winning. Bottled at the perfect time.

Finish: Fantastic slow fade. A perfect flavor marriage of all that came before it. Dies a slow death.

Thoughts: Beautiful old dram. Leaves me wanting another glass. And another. And another.

93.5/100

 Posted by at 9:25 am
Aug 162019
 

A rather iconic, but very much ho-hum malt, in this chap’s ‘umble opinion. I don’t mean that as a sleight. Honestly, I don’t. I just mean that DoubleWood is a supermarket single malt if ever there was one. Available at discounted rates in Costcos and Superstores, taking up prime real estate in every neighbourhood ma and pa liquor store, and almost guaranteed to be available in any fine spirit retailer. It’s everywhere. And that makes sense, since DoubleWood is sort of the flagship of the Balvenie range.

Straight outta the gates…I like it just fine. But it’s Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, in a way. Bland and inoffensive, but perfectly constructed and definitely drinkable. (Not to mention…it will probably make you feel better when you’re down!) I’m just not buying it. There are way more interesting whiskies out there.

Now, if I were as shallow as a certain fellow reviewer out there who many of us know – and was willing to award points for packaging(!) – this would definitely score an extra notch or two, ’cause let’s face it: Balvenie bottles look great. Clean, clear and classy. But…come on: that is utter nonsense. The whisky in the bottle is what counts, and that’s ultimately all that counts. The rest is just set dressing (and in some cases, lipstick on a pig). And as for the concept of ‘double wood’? Where do I start? Ex-American oak into ex-sherry wood. Not exactly innovative. I guess it all comes down to who brands things first, and who markets the concept to the widest audience.

Anyway, let’s wrap it up: safe, pleasant, pretty enough. Also, thin and rather easy to forget.

Oh, and 40% abv? Ugh! Come on, guys and gals. You’re better than that. All we’re asking is 46%.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Oh, so honeyed. Like honey poured over fresh fruit and eaten off a wooden spoon. A fresh floral top note. Gooseberry and orange marmalade. A touch of raspberry. Fresh plump raisin. Hot cross buns, or maybe warm brioche or something. Decent mid-palate spices. Led by pepper and ginger.

Palate: Oak and honey lead the charge. Slightly out of balance, I think. Berry fruit leather. More of those raisin notes. And firmly malty. Very dry cinnamon stick. A little too drying for my liking, almost tea-like.

Finish: Rather tannic and wearing the influence of the sherry quite prominently. Surprisingly lengthy for a 40%er.

Thoughts: Not bad. Far too thin, though.

78/100

 Posted by at 11:11 am
Aug 152019
 

The Imperial distillery was a rather late casualty in the whisky world. It had an ‘on again, off again’ production cycle for most of its life and suffered sporadic (but lengthy!) periods of closure throughout much of the 20th century. The distillery managed to survive the worst rash of closures in the tumultuous early 1980s, but was eventually mothballed in 1985. Production resumed in 1991 – largely for fillings – but only for a few years, before the distillery was shuttered for the last time in 1998. The buildings stood intact until 2013, when they were razed to make way for the new Dalmunach distillery on the same site. A sort of phoenix act, I guess. That’s the quick and dirty for you. Well, not all the dirty. This particular whisky is pretty filthy in its own right. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense.

Did you check the abv on the bottle shot below? 70.2%. Seventy-point-two! To quote the great Billy Connolly, “Jesus suffering f*ck!” If I’m being dead honest, sipping this 11 year old neat is kinda like licking a flaming pool of angry bullet ants. I don’t generally add water to my whisky (generally, I said, before I get lynched here), but this whisky almost screams for it. Otherwise, the anesthetizing effect will simply kill your ability to suss out nuance.

Distilled in 1979 and bottled in 1991 for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Matured in first fill Fino. I never would have guessed that in a million years. Maybe the sherry is simply obliterated by the peat and scorching strength.

Final word on Imperial: while this is another of the oh-so-coveted closed distilleries, it’s definitely no collector’s darling yet. Give it time though. People will be scrounging for Imperial at some point. Buy while the prices are still sane.

Sincere thanks to my mate Brett Tanaka for the opportunity to taste this. The range of bottles he’s been opening for what we’ll call ‘The Brett Sessions’ are simply beyond comprehension. And I am beyond humbled to be able to partake. I’ll be reviewing dozens of them in the coming weeks/months.

Tasting notes

Nose: Liqueur-soaked angel food cake. Chamois leather. Light smoke tied to some earthy notes. Herbal and ghrassy. Old ju-jubes. Apple slices in canola oil. Chocolate. A bit of a sweaty funk. Fino? Where?

Palate: The cereal shines through nicely here. More of those chocolate notes. A wee bit of peat. Orange oils. Dusty almond flour. Salty play-dough. Again, if there’s sherry influence here it is absolutely buried.

Finish: Long, of course. Takes a while for the initial heat to subside. Ebbing notes of cereal, peat and fruit skin. No wine.

Thoughts: I did drink this neat*, but holy hell…water is requisite here.

83/100

* One of the very few things I agree with the Fedora-sporting fella on: If I’m reviewing whisky, it has to be done neat. No two people will ever add exactly the same amount of water, so how can we compare apples to apples if we’re not tasting straight from the bottle?

 Posted by at 5:14 pm
Aug 142019
 

Yet another bit of absolute malt insanity. These are the sorts of whiskies I live for.

If you know your barley juice quite well, you may know that Ayrshire is another name for the infamous Lowlander, Ladyburn. With less than ten years production, Ladyburn is one of the scarcest malts in the whiskysphere. It’s also another of those uber-singular whiskies that was produced at a distillery within a distillery. There were a few of these anomalous set-ups, of course, but we’ll save the ramblings on the others for future days, lest we drag on too long here, only to spoil the narrative later. Ladyburn was produced within the Girvan distillery between 1966 and 1975. So, as you can tell by the photo below (or just by reading the review title), this particular ex-bourbon barrel was filled in the last year of the distillery’s existence. It was one of (at least) a couple of sister casks released by Signatory in 2007. Cool stuff, aye?

Enough preamble, though. Let’s jump into some tasting notes. That’s why we’re here, after all.

This 31 year old Ayrshire is a bit of a mishmash. It hits some very cool high notes, but they’re kind of outliers in a whole that seems a bit murky. And not just murky, but also sort of befuddled. It’s a malt that really has no cohesion, but has an intrinsic niftiness that keeps pulling me back in. Hard to explain. At its heart, though, its a whisky that matters more for just being here than for what it actually is. It ain’t pretty, but it in its own way it is actually sort of beautiful.

Sincere thanks to my mate Brett Tanaka for the opportunity to taste this. The range of bottles he’s been opening for what we’ll call ‘The Brett Sessions’ are simply beyond comprehension. And I am beyond humbled to be able to partake. I’ll be reviewing dozens of them in the coming weeks/months.

47.7% abv

Tasting Notes

Nose: Doughy, with a slight cheesy note. Salty dough, actually. And kinda footy, to boot (bad pun, I know). Nutty and putty-like. Faint peat with some muddled fruit mixed in for good measure. Damp burlap. Real apple juice. Cold coffee grounds. But the nuttiness is omnipresent.

Palate: Very hot and woody. Anise. Bitter chocolate. Walnut paste. Maybe some almond. Buckley’s cough syrup. Earthy and organic dried peat notes (as if it’s only just been lit). Cereal. Drywall mud.

Finish: Quite tannic. Mostly apple skins.

Thoughts: Overall? Quite challenging. Points could go up or down by a couple depending on time of day and how sentimental I’m feeling about these spectacular closed distillery bottlings.

80/100

 Posted by at 9:12 pm
Aug 102019
 

Yep. I hate to say it, but we still have yet to fully emerge from this age of ‘style over substance’. An entire range of (rather boring) entry level malts from the mighty Diageo hyped up by the runaway success of the monolithic Game of Thrones franchise. Marketing BS at its apex. All I can say? Blech. The concept, I mean. Not necessarily the whiskies. Maybe it’s simply wishful thinking on my part, but I do believe we’re starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Age statements are making a comeback (including from the rather confrontation Macallan family), prices are seeing small true-ups (looking at you, Mortlach) and less goofy-named releases are bogging down headlines on the whisky wire. Fingers crossed that sanity is finally prevailing.

But this GoT Laga? Well…what can I say? It is unquestionably a part of the overarching dough-headedness, but at the same time, it is at least being offered a) at a fair price; b) at a decent abv; and c) with an age statement. I guess we’ll cut a little slack here, aye?

This isn’t bad whisky. In fact, bad whisky is a relative scarcity from Islay’s Rolls Royce of distilleries. And we should all know by now that peated malts are quite tasty when they’re served up this young and hot, right? Yup. But I can’t say I’m in love with the casks chosen for this vatting. I get a bit romantic for Lagavulin. Can’t help it. I love the history behind it and the tales of resilience that backstop some of these archaic and beloved distilleries. But even a profound bias in favor of the producer isn’t enough to make me want to actually buy one of these. It takes a bit more than the crushing weight of the marketing machine’s wheels to make me part with my shekels these days.

But…credit where credit is due: they did at least give it to us at 46%. Well done, Diageo. (But how sweet would it be if they opted to up the bottling strength of the iconic 16 y.o. to 46% as well? Sigh. A dream. A very lovely dream.)

Tasting Notes

Nose: Sweet, malty gristy notes. Damp Band-Aids. Smoke (but not too pungent). Lime. A faint suggestion of pineapple. Honeydew. Green jelly beans. Pepper and powdered ginger. Starfruit. A nice briny-ness. Iodine. Decent spices and some minerality behind what feels like an almost artificial fruit sweetness.

Palate: Surprisingly prickly arrival. Very sweet, right up front, but immediately darkens into shades of black licorice and tar. Some more of those malty notes follow and weave throughout. Dirty, oily smoke. Brioche. Fresh smoked oysters. More citrus and some vanilla. Popsicle sticks. Ultimately, though…it seems kinda flat.

Finish: Slightly tannic, but just slightly. And surprisingly, a bit like heavy cream stirred into lemon curd. Then under ripe pear skins and oak. Reminds me of chewing on peated malt. Slightly ashy at the tail end. Decent mid length linger.

Thoughts: Much more impressive (and expressive!) nose than palate. Drinkable. Hard to love, though.

82/100

 Posted by at 4:47 pm