Apr 252011
 

GLENROTHES

 A TASTING THROUGH THE SEVENTIES

Two from 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978, Three from 1979 and John Ramsay (73-87)

 

1969 saw the zenith of man’s achievements in Apollo 11, Whisky and Woodstock.  Enter the seventies.  Whisky is booming and single malts are starting to become popular, but great rock stars like Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix are removed from the collective genius that is rock.  Whisky and Rock are still at the top but ,like a foreign species invasion, disco and rum are emerging in the void created by the passing of rock superstars and the break up of so many great rock bands.

An Irish political philosopher, Edmund Burke, said it best with this variant quote “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil rum is that good whisky makers do nothing”.  Fortunately distilleries like Glenrothes continued to produce fantastic whiskies throughout the seventies.  This foresight by Glenrothes to continue the production of great whiskies allowed rock music to once again flourish into the eighties and undo the devolution which was the stain of the late seventies caused by the intoxicated rum driven disco craze.

To honor Glenrothes for their contribution towards the demise of disco the ‘gang of four’, named after a failed attempt to take control of Diageo a few years ago, sat down to a tasting of ten seventies Glenrothes malts.  Eight of which were elegant and floral and two sherry bombs.  We found all the malts enjoyable and very similar (excluding the two sherry bombs), but only noted our top four.

1972 Restricted Release November 2, 1972 – March 26, 1996 43% ABV 

NOSE:  Tropical fruit, honey and spice.

TASTE:  Chewy, dark chocolate, hazel nuts.

FINISH:  Medium – long.

ASSESSMENT:  I need you, by me, beside me, because when you’re bad, you’re so so good.  Run away favorite and number one of the night.  Rumor mill – this was removed from Canada because of the levels of carcinogens in the malt. Observation -why is it that every time I like something it’s bad for me?!

1972 Limited Release December 5, 1972 – March 29, 2004 43% ABV Bottle # 05091

NOSE:  Eucalyptus, apples, herbal.

TASTE:  Pears, vanilla and dark chocolate.

FINISH:  Short to Medium.  Bit oily.

ASSESSMENT:  Now it’s all right, it’s ok, just not a good as the other 1972.

1973   March 16, 1973 – July 5, 2000 ABV 43%

NOSE:  Ripe oranges, pears and honey.

TASTE:  Raisins, toffee.  Bit oaky.

FINISH:  Medium.  Very dry.

ASSESSMENT:  Won’t you take me to funky town.  Not in the top four, but has some nice qualities.

30 Year Old Limited Release August 15, 1974 – November 8, 2004 50.2 ABV # 967 of 1134 Bottles

NOSE:  Oranges, cherries and honey.

TASTE:  Citrus, vanilla and almonds.  Malty.

FINISH:  Medium.  Uber elegant

ASSESSMENT:  Oh, that’s the way; uh-huh uh-huh I like it, uh-huh uh- huh.  It really is a wonderful malt and finished in the top four.

 

 

1975 Vintage Release August 1975 – April 25, 2006 43 % ABV Bottle # 1581 of 3708 Bottles

NOSE:  Toffee, cherries, honey.

TASTE:  Coffee bean, nutty.

FINISH:  Medium. Very soft.

ASSESSMENT:  Looking for some hot stuff baby this evening.  Just finished out of the top four.

1978 Vintage Release November 3, 1978 – July 1, 2008 43% ABV 

NOSE:  Floral, jammy, cherries and vanilla.

TASTE:  Spicy, apples and marzipan.

FINISH:  Medium.  Soft for the nose and very drinkable.

ASSESSMENT:  There’s a party going on right here.  Finished in the top four.  Could sip this malt all night long.

1979 General Release November 24, 1979 – February 13, 2002 43 % ABV 

NOSE:  Grapefruit, oranges and floral.

TASTE:  Apples, sweet, red liquorice.

FINISH:  Medium to long. Warming and bit dry.

ASSESSMENT:  I love to love you baby.  Used to be one of my favorites when it was released, but fails to make the top four in this range taste.

John Ramsay  Legacy  46.7% ABV   # 1228 of 1400 Bottles Bottled 2009 .Vatted from 2nd fill American oak sherry casks from 1973, 1978 , 1979 , 1982 , 1985 , 1986 , 1987

NOSE:  Floral, ripe sweet oranges, vanilla and a trace of mint.

TASTE:  Grapefruit, nuts, malty.

FINISH:  Medium to long.  Demure and understated.

ASSESSMENT:  If I can’t have you, I don’t want no other baby. This is good stuff, hats off to the mad vatter. Finished second behind the restricted release 1972

1979 Single Cask # 13458 1979 – June 7, 2000 57 % ABV Bottle # 35 of 519 Bottles

NOSE:  Oranges, raisins, mellow spice, cinnamon and little sulfur.

TASTE:  Chewy, cappuccino.  Sticky sweet port.

FINISH:  Long and intense.

ASSESSMENT:  First I was afraid, I was petrified, kept thinking of the sulfur that Jim Murray had testified.  This, in my not so humble opinion, is not a wrecked cask.  Has less sulphur than cask #13459.

1979 Single Cask # 13459 1979 – May 4, 2006 56.6 % ABV # 96 of 492 Bottles

NOSE:  Sharp spice, sulphur, raisins, dark chocolate and bananas.

TASTE:  Robust and chewy.  Liquorice, raspberry jam.

FINISH:  Long.  Warming and very intense.

ASSESSMENT:  Burn baby burn.  Satisfaction came in a chain reaction of chewy spice and all things nice.

– Maltmonster

 Posted by at 9:49 am
Apr 062011
 

“SPRINGBANK   IN   SPRINGBANK”

1911 – 2011

IN MEMORY OF WILLY HARDY

A TASTING OF SEVEN SPRINGBANK MALTS

SPRINGBANK –18 (2009), 18 (2010), 21, 25, 32, 40 SIGNATORY

LONGROW – 18

Legend has it that a Scotsman from Cambeltown, named Willy Hardy, a tarry-fingered lad wanting to escape persecution from the law, after a misunderstanding involving whisky ownership, is responsible for the community name of Springbank in Alberta, Canada.  Rumors told of Willy having a severe case of Kleptomania, and when it got bad he would be forced to take something for it.  Eluding the Scottish law, Willy immigrated to Canada in 1911.  After learning to speak English he settled aboot the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, between Banff and Calgary.  Lonely for his hometown, he decided to name his homestead in Canada ‘Springbank’ after the distillery that gave him so much pleasure and the motivation to move here.

Springbank has flourished since that time and is now a thriving community in which I call home.  To honor the legend of Willy we decided to have a range tasting of Springbank whiskies and celebrate this most important of anniversaries.

SPRINGBANK  18 YEAR OLD    OB    46% ABV.    Release 2009

NOSE: Cotton candy, fruit, cream and mild smoke.

TASTE: Candied apples, cream.

FINISH: Medium to long.

ASSESSMENT: This has been a much anticipated malt, which is to lead us back to the 21year old.  Please Springbank never run out of 21 ever again…or least in my life time.  Rated # 6 of six tasted

SPRINGBANK    18 YEAR OLD    OB    46% ABV.    Release 2010

NOSE: Citrus lemon & lime.  More floral than the first but not as much smoke.

TASTE: Bubblegum, spice and some liquorice.

FINISH: Medium. This finish seems to fade quite quickly.

ASSESSMENT: Not as good as the 2009 release (Don’t make us beat up Peter Currie when next he is in town).  Need to kick it up for the road back to the 21 year old. Rated # 5 of six tasted.

SPRINGBANK    21 YEAR OLD    OB    46% ABV.  Limited to 2,400 Bottles.

NOSE: Brown sugar, all fruits, cinnamon, milk chocolate.  Tender smoke.

TASTE: Citrus, mangos, cloves and other spices.

FINISH: Rich and warming, long, lip smacking.

ASSESSMENT: The royal flush of single malts.  Very complex and balanced.  This is the reason I drink single malts and not that cane juice.  Rated #1 of six tasted.

SPRINGBANK    25 YEAR OLD    OB    46% ABV.

NOSE: Citrus fruits, vanilla and more than a little oaky.

TASTE: Nutmeg and raisins.

FINISH: Medium to long and fades nicely.

ASSESSMENT: Bit of a let down after the 21, not as complex but is still a great malt. Rated # 4 of six tasted.

SPRINGBANK    32 YEAR OLD    OB    46% ABV.

NOSE: Very sharp varnish note dominates the nose.  After working this one we find coconut, lavender.

TASTE: Sweet, whip cream, fruits and little oily.

FINISH: Medium to long, lightly warming.

ASSESSMENT: The taste in this case is better than the nose but is still a very exceptional malt.  Rated #3 of six tasted.

SPRINGBANK (Signatory) 40 YEAR OLD     54.4% ABV.    1969 – 2009,

Single Sherry butt, cask # 263    356 Bottles.

NOSE: Exotic fruits, coconut, spice and all things nice.

TASTE: Burnt sugar, fruit explosion.

FINISH: Rich and warm.  Long and lingering.

ASSESSMENT: You really can find all the fruits in this malt.  Age has mellowed and enriched this whisky nicely.  Rating #2 of six tasted.

SPRINGBANK – LONGROW   18 YEAR OLD    OB    46% ABV.    2008 Release    Limited to 2,280 Bottles

NOSE: Infused smoke, apples and pears, caramel.

TASTE: Pepper, raisins, cigar humidor, liquorice.

FINISH: Long and zesty.

ASSESSMENT: Not rating this one with the other Springbanks as this needs to be rated against other Longrow or other peated malts.  Is another great product from the stills of Springbank.  Great to drink now, can’t wait until this hits 21 years as well.

– Maltmonster

 

“All of life is a dispute over taste and tasting” (Nietzsche)

 Posted by at 6:30 am
Apr 062011
 

Malt Messenger No. 46

Dear Malt Messenger Subscribers,

I had intended to put this Malt Messenger out on St. Patrick’s Day, but preparations for my trip to the whisky show in Las Vegas, and following vacation time precluded me from finishing. Well I’m back, and the Malt Messenger is finally ready to go… You may detect something of an Irish theme to this edition, a tip of the hat in honour of St. Patrick’s Day. I have highlighted the whiskies of Cooley distillery, Ireland’s only independent distillery, as well as that of Auchentoshan, a Scottish distillery with an Irish connection… 

I have a very good customer with an interesting sense of humour and an incredible palate. Whisky is but a hobby for this individual, but it’s a hobby he takes very seriously. In addition to frequenting many of our tastings he also contributes to a whisky website: www.allthingswhisky.com.. I loaned him some samples for an Auchentoshan conspiracy feature/tasting he ran on the website, its worth checking out if you have time: http://www.allthingswhisky.com/?p=499.. In return, I asked to be able to publish his tasting notes in the Malt Messenger for your comparison and enjoyement!

There is much more to this Malt Messenger than Auchentoshan and Cooley, like our new Arran casks which are finally here, the Machrie Moor (peated Arran), the Glenmorangie Sonnalta (96.5pts  Jim Murray) which is exclusive to our store and a number of other interesting new whiskies we have to offer. The new whiskies include bottlings from: Gordon  MacPhails, Benromach, Tullibardine, Laphroaig and others..

Also of note is our Spring Tasting Schedule, which went online on March 17th. We have an extensive line-up of beer, whisky, tequila and rum tastings for the months of April, May and June. Our Spring Single Malt Festival is scheduled for Thursday June 9th, and as always there’s a special whisky dinner (The Peat Monster Dinner in this case) on the following night. You can register for tasting in store, by phone 403-283-8000/888-283-9004 or on our website: www.kensingtonwinemarket.com/tastings/register.php..

There is also a very exciting tasting taking place tomorrow night at the store, the BenRiach Vintages tasting. There are some spots left that are worthy of consideration… We will be sampling 5 BenRiachs and 2 of the recently arrived Glendronach vintages.

I had hoped to tell you about Nth Whisky Show in Las Vegas, but that will have to wait until later in the month. I will have some other new whiskies to tell you about at that time like the next batch of releases from Duthies, which feature an Ardbeg 16 Year, Highland Park 18 Year and a massively peated Longrow. I will also have some even bigger news to tell you about. I am off to Scotland on Thursday for an unexpected trip, I’ll fill you in on the details upon my return… in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this edition of the Malt Messenger.

Slainté!

Andrew Ferguson

PS-Don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/scotch_guy..

 

In This Issue:

  1. Our Arran Casks and the Machrie Moor Are Here!
  2. Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX
  3. Tullibardine 1987 Gold Medal Marketing Cask
  4. Two New Whiskies from Gordon & MacPhail
  5. Laphroaig 10 Year
  6. Two New Expressions from Benromach Distillery
  7. A Couple of New Oldies from Douglas Laing (Old Malt Cask)
  8. A Tale of Two 27 Year Old Port Ellens
  9. Cooley Distillery – Ireland’s Only Independent Distillery of Irish Whiskey
  10. Distillery in Focus Auchentoshan
  11. Collector’s Pick – Gold Bowmore 1964 44 Year
  12. Penderyn – Welsh Whisky
  13. Four New Glendronach Vintages
  14. Spring Tasting Schedule

 

OUR ARRAN CASKS AND THE MACHRIE MOOR ARE HERE!

Kensington Wine Market approached the Isle of Arran distillery to purchase a cask this fall, with the intention of launching it at our annual Burns Supper. KWM bottles a couple of casks of whisky every year, usually choosing the barrel from a selection of 6 samples. This is typically done with the assistance of some handpicked customers. The tasting usually ferrets out a clear favourite, but this time we found ourselves torn between an exceptional bourbon barrel and a superb sherry cask.

I wasn’t sure what to do, I had set out with the intention of bottling a Bourbon cask Arran which I feel generally best compliments the distillery’s raw spirit, but as good as the Bourbon Cask bottling was, and it is great, the sherry cask was excellent too! So we did what any rational person would do, we decided to bottle both, and I am ever glad we did. Our Kensington Arran bottlings will be coming in at around $85 a bottle; by far our most reasonably priced bottling yet!

The whiskies were officially launched at our Robbie Burns Supper on January 26th with special guest, Isle of Arran Brand Ambassador Andrew Hogan. In addition to sampling a range of whiskies from the Isle of Arran distillery, participants were the first to sample our bottled casks. The whiskies are in store now and are both selling very well!

Both whiskies are from single casks, bottled at their natural cask strengths without any artificial colouring. Each of the bottles are individually numbered. My tasting notes for the two casks follow below, as does a tasting note for Arran’s limited edition peated expression Machrie Moor.

  1. Arran KWM Bourbon Barrel – Distilled July 9th, 1999 – Bottled January 19th 2011 – 11 Years – 57.4% – 202 individually numbered bottles –My Tasting Note: Nose: very floral, like a garden center on a hot day, toasted oak, fruit salad, honeycomb and crisp toasted oak; marshmallow and white chocolate show later; Palate: sweet and very toasty, lush vanilla, caramelized honey, poached white fruits, croissant with almond paste and floral oils; Finish: long and still toasty with rich vanilla and more caramelized honey; Comments: when I set it out to find a Bourbon cask of Arran, this is exactly what I was looking for! Secondary Comment (original tasting note from the advanced samples): the nose is the same but now showing creamier tones and buttery fruits. The palate is still spot on, except it again feels creamier and more buttery! Over all the extra couple of months in the bottle has added a harmonious quality to the whisky, with everything sewn seamlessly together! – Exclusively bottled for KWM! – $84.99
  2. Arran KWM Sherry Hogshead – Distilled April 2nd 1998 – Bottled January 19th 2011 – 12 Years – 55.3% – 282 individually numbered bottles – My Tasting Note: Nose: like opening a bag of jelly bellies; nutty, caramelized fruit, fruity chocolate, marzipan, candied orange, ginger and cinnamon top notes; Palate: rich, sweet and sherried; waves of caramelized fruit, assorted jelly bellies, some strong notes of clove up front, but they faded quickly; Finish: long, drying and sweet with more assorted jelly bellies; Comments: I hadn’t intended to bottle a sherried Arran, I had a preconceived desire to bottle a Bourbon cask, but the heart wants what it wants! Secondary Comment: The nose is still largely the same with the Jelly Bellies dominating, i get a note of peanut butter brittle that I don’t recall before, and it is now much softer on the nose. The palate is still largely the same with again more of a nutty character: peanut brittle and beer nuts. This really is a brilliant sherry cask and like the Bourbon the months it has spent settling down in the bottle have been greatly beneficial! – Exclusively bottled for KWM. – $84.99 
  3. Arran Machrie Moor (Peated) – 46% – 14PPM Phenolic Content – 9000 total bottles – No Age Statement – My Tasting Note: coconut rice, fresh mowed lawn, smoke filtered by damp air, honey with soft citrus fruits; Palate: soft sweet vanilla very quickly fades into dried cut green grass and soft peat oils only to morph back into creamy honey; another sip reveals cream brulee, fresh mint and cookie dough; Finish: drying, soft and vaguely sweet with more cut green grass; Comments: for a young whisky it has much to offer. It would without doubt benefit from greater time in the oak, but is a good first start. Anyone who enjoys Kilchoman, Kilkerran or any of the other recently released younger whiskies will see the merits in giving this one a try too! – KWM is getting but 60 bottles, half of which have already sold! – $77.99

 

 

  

  

NEW EXCLUSIVE GLENMORANGIE SONNALTA PX

The Sonnalta PX was the first expression in The Glenmorangie “Private Collection” range. The range is series of limited edition expressions which will highlight the best of the Glenmorangie style while pushing the bounds of creativity. In Scots Gaelic Sonnalta means “generous”, an appropriate name for this full and complex whisky. Like the Extra Matured whiskies in the Glenmorangie range (Lasanta, Quinta Ruban and Nectar D’Or) the Sonnalta PX has spent approximately 10 years maturing in first fill ex-bourbon casks before finishing for a few years more (extra maturing) in Spanish Pedro Ximenez casks. 

We are seeing a lot of whiskies matured in ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks (PX for short) these days. Pedro Ximenez is an intensely sweet and very rich style of sherry. Legend has it that the grape originated in the Canary Islands and from there was introduced to regions along the Rhine in Southern Germany. A Spanish soldier—Pedro Ximenez  serving Charles V in the Spanish Netherlands was said to have brought it to Jerez in Southern Spain in his baggage. The rich, sweet, bold sherry was named in his honour. It’s a great story, but may be a bit of a stretch.  It is more likely that the grape was brought to Spain by the Moors and renamed after the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula.

Jim Murray’s Tasting Note: Nose: now this works: has that heavy-handed feel of a sweet sherry butt (or five) at work here, usually the kiss of death for so many whiskies. But an adroit praline sub-plot really does the trick. So with the malt evident, too, we have a three pronged attack which somehow meshes in to one. And not even the merest hint of an off-note…goodness gracious: a new experience…!!! Taste: Neanderthal grape drags its knuckles along the big vanilla floor before a really subtle light Columbian coffee kick puts us  back on course; sharper vanillas from some awkward oak threatens to send us off course again but somehow finds it settled, common ground; Finish: now goes into orgasmic overdrive, as Demerara sugar is tipped into some gorgeous, cream-lightened mocha. This is obviously to wash down the Melton Hunt cake which is resplendent in its grape and roast nut finery…phew!!! It is, unquestionably, the perfect whisky finish… Balance: this one passed me by. If they told me anything about this chap, I’d forgotten. It absolutely groans from the lucid sweet grape and I discover its actually Pedro Ximenez. Brave. Foolhardy, even. Because over the last decade of studying whiskies matured in that sugary beast the experience has usually ended in tears. Not here, though. This is a gamble that has handsomely paid off: Glenmorangie as you’ve never seen it before. Probably Scotch malt as you’ve never seen before. But after buying one bottle, you’ll be wanting to see it again. A giant among the tall stills.” 96.5/100 Whisky Bible

Malt Advocate Tasting Note: The first of Glenmorangie’s new “Private Collection” line of whiskies for Travel Retail. This one is finished in Pedro Ximenez (PX) sherry. With PX being so rich and intense, and Glenmorangie spirit so subtly complex and delicate, does the sherry dominate here? No, it doesn’t. Still, this is viscous and very textural for a Glenmorangie. I’m picking up rhum agricole drenched with honeyed apricot, toffee almond, chocolate-covered raisin, glazed citrus, and cherry pits, all leading to a leathery, tobacco-tinged finish. A visceral whisky with plenty of grip. Great for after dinner. 90/100 pts John Hansell

My Tasting Note: Nose: very elegant, soft and complex on the nose—to steal the words of my employer who sampled it briefly “it is very pretty!”—with a fruity, doughy, French bakery character; notes of honey, vanilla, spice and caramelized fruits dance enthusiastically together while kicking up a dust of assorted powdered, rock and granular sugars; as the nose develops tones of Bourbony vanilla, perfume and white fruit notes emerge; supposedly you can smell sweet… the whisky may have something to say about that; Palate: very soft, complex and deep; right off the bat I am amazed by the bewildering depth and layers, sweet fruits and balancing spices in almost perfect harmony; the creamy honey/vanilla backbone slowly emerges with some burnt orange peel and dark chocolate; thick grassy malt and sweet rum notes are also present with some minty tones; overall sweet, rich and multifaceted; Finish: long, sweet and spicy; sugary malt, honeyed oak and chewy grape tones; Comments: this whisky is a bit of Cameleon, its layers are many, and it shifts its character with each and every sip. The touch is deft for a Pedro Ximenez matured whisky, but the effect is superb. Anyone can enjoy this delightful little dram from the neophyte to the experienced connoisseur! Exclusive to KWM – $74.99

 

  

  

TULLIBARDINE 1987 GOLD MEDAL MARKETING CASK – $145.99

This may be old news to those of you who saw the last Bulletin, but I felt it needed to see the light of day one last time. Our dear friend Andy Dunn, President, CEO, CFO, Mail Room Boy and Owner of Gold Medal Marketing’s heart truly has no bounds. Andy represents some of the most interesting Scottish distilleries in Alberta including Springbank, Benromach and Tullibardine. He’s just recently brought in a cask he’s selected himself for the Alberta market. Andy is donating $5 from each bottle sold to the charity of the retailers choice, ours in this case is CHAS, or the Children’s Hospital Aid Society! The cask is a first fill sherry hogshead (not a sherry finish as my tasting note below hypothesizes), bottled at a cask strength of 58.3 after 22 years in the cask. Only 213 bottles are available from the cask, and knowing Andy, his selling prowess, the charitable slant and the quality of this whisky, it won’t last long. We’ve already sold more than 30!

 Tullibardine 1987 Gold Medal Marketing Cask – 58.3% – Sherry Hogshead Cask #627 – 22 Years – My Tasting Note: Nose: very fruity, cinnamon and cardamom, tones of “goats milk white chocolate” (yes there is such a thing, see Epiphany at 1417B 11st SW in Calgary for more info) and raspberry jam; I also detect a twinge of mom’s rhubarb crumble; Palate: rich and spicy with ripe candied fruits; sticky toffee pudding, cinnamon, ginger, clove and more spices besides; is there an undertone of soft vanilla? The whisky is very nutty, with a rich sherry character; it is hard to tell if under all the layers of sweet, spice and oak whether there is an American oak influence to be found (Is this a straight sherry or a finish I wonder?), in the end I suppose it doesn’t matter, it is the journey that’s important, and I’m enjoying this one!  Finish: the finish is rich, smooth and sweet; candied fruits linger fading with hints of honey, soft spice and toasted oak; Comments: this is an excellent Tullibardine cask, the alcohol comes across a little strong at first, but settles down after a sip or two. Would a little water tame that down? I don’t know. Truth be told I was enjoying it too much straight to find out! – $145.99

* After thought: since sampling the whisky I was informed there is no Bourbon influence, this is a straight sherry cask. I think that speaks to the quality of the cask with no trace of sulphur or rough edges!

 

 

TWO NEW EXPRESSIONS FROM GORDON & MACPHAIL

Gordon & MacPhail is one of Scotland’s oldest and most respected independent bottlers. Gordon MacPhail was founded in 1895 in the city of Elgin. In addition to being a grocer it was also a wine and whisky merchant. In fact, Gordon & MacPhail was bottling and marketing single malts long before most distilleries. Next to Cadenhead, Gordon & MacPhail is Scotland’s oldest independent bottler. Back when distilleries devoted very nearly 100% of their production to blends, G&M was maturing, bottling and selling single malts to the people of Elgin and beyond. Gordon & MacPhail is different from most independent bottlers in that they mature their own casks from new make spirit, rather than buy mature casks from whisky brokers.

  1. G&M Connoisseurs Choice Glen Keith 1968 – 46% – Exclusive to KWM – Distilled March 1968 – Bottled June 2010 – Remade Hogshead – My Tasting Note: Nose: waxy, floral and honeyed; corn starch, vegetable oil, marzipan and white fruits; it has a very light, elegant but complex nature; Palate: very soft, almost silky then it begins to warm and the soft oils begin to coat, caress and moisturize your palate; more marzipan, sweet spices, mixed sugars (brown, white and Demerara) with tobacco and leather showing late; Finish: drying, sweet, coating and soft. Comments; the finish is a tad short but the nose and palate are sublime. I had originally resisted bringing in this whisky, it seemed to me a little over oaked, but there were no fewer than a dozen people at our Fall Single Malt Festival that just had to have a bottle so we brought it in, and I’m glad we did. My feelings on this whisky have taken a 180! – $247.99
  2. G&M Cask Strength Old Pulteney 1995 – 60.5% – First Fill Sherry Butt – Cask # 1505 – Distilled August 25th 1995 – Bottled March 12th 2010 – My Tasting Note: Nose: thick, rich, lush sherry notes, some toasted oak and spice; thick with caramel and burnt sugars, chocolate cake, toffee sauce and leather; Palate: thick, rich and full throttle; big, , nutty, sweet, spicy sherry dominates the palate; salt, smoke and sulphur all have something to say, but the last word is left to the sherry notes: ginger, clove and nutmeg with Christmas cake; Finish: drying and nutty, with Christmas cake and traces of smoke and sulphur; Comments: You have to hold on to your shorts for the first few sips, but then it settles down into a sherry bomb… I’m by and large not a fan of Gordon & MacPhails’ sub 46% bottlings, but boy do I love their cask strength range! Usually from a single cask, and often first fill sherry. Whether it’s the Longmorn 1973, Strathisla 1960 (KWM), Imperial 1997 or the previous Old Pulteney 1993 they know how to bottle a sherry bomb! 

 

 

  

  

LAPHROAIG 10 YEAR IS BACK!

You may recall the excitement last year when Laphroaig 18 and 25 were launched in the Alberta market! Lost in the excitement was a single 12 bottle case of Laphroaig 10 Year which came into the store. Only 60 bottles had come into the province as a whole. 8 months have passed and Laphroaig 10 Year is back, and by the looks of it for good! Beam Global Canada, the owners of the brand, took over promotion and distribution of it last year. Since then they have rolled it out across the country. I know I don’t have to tell all of you malt lovers how good we have it in Alberta, but this may interest some of the rest of you. Some of these whiskies have also been rolled out in other provinces, but at a much bigger mark up:

– Laphroaig 10 Year – $57.49 (KWM Alberta) / $84.95 (Ontario) / Not Listed in BC

– Laphroaig Quarter Cask – $50.99 (KWM Alberta) / $64.95 (Ontario) / $79.49 (BC)

– Laphroaig 18 Year – $101.99 (KWM Alberta!!when available!!) / $179.95 (Ontario) / Not Listed in BC

– Laphroaig 25 Year – $509.99 (KWM Alberta) / $629.00 (Ontario) / $610.95 (BC)

*Truly the best place to buy Laphroaig in Canada, is in Alberta!

 

Laphroaig 10 Year – Tasting Note by Jim Murray, Whisky Bible: “Nose: less intense smoke; Taste: much silkier delivery than usual with the sweetness all up front as the peat dovetails in and out of the barley—more complex; Finish: a drier finale with a shade more caramel…” – $57.49

 

 

TWO NEW LIMITED EXPRESSIONS FROM BENROMACH DISTILLERY

Benromach is the Speyside’s smallest distillery; its production is less than double that of Edradour, Scotland’s smallest. Benromach was saved from oblivion by Gordon & MacPhail in 1993 when they purchased it from United Distillers. After more than four years of rebuilding, replacement of lost and damaged equipment as well as other upgrades Benromach began operations again in 1998. The distillery has just launched two new expressions in Alberta, available in very limited quantities.

  1. Benromach Pedro Ximenez Wood Finish – 45% – Distilled 2002 – Bottled September 2010 – Finished 30 Months in Pedro Ximenez Casks – 1800 Total Bottles – 120 in Alberta – My Tasting Note: Nose: lots of initial sherry, sweet and sour with nutty tones, homemade date bars; Palate: sweet, chewy and earthy with strong nutty sherry notes; maple syrup, PX sherry and treacle sauce with burnt and candied fruits; there is a whole lot of spice to this whisky too: black pepper, clove and nutmeg; Finish: medium-short with strong drying sherry notes; Comments: much better after I let it breathe for a couple of hours; perhaps the freshly opened bottle just needed time to breathe. Secondary Comment: it has really opened up since the bottle was opened.  My second tasting of the whisky is very close to the first.
  2. Benromach Hermitage Wood Finish – 45% – Distilled 2001 – Bottled September 2010 – 1300 Total Bottle – 30 in Alberta – My Tasting Note: Nose: dry and dusty, jujube-like fruits, burnt sugar and damp liquorice root; Palate: leathery, earthy, peppery and spicy with an underlying creamy backbone; there are some notes of orchard fruits like apricot and poached pear; very woody, firm, taught and lightly bitter; the sweet notes eventually come around but not without a dollop of peppers and spice; Finish: drying and oaky with heat from the spices still glowing; Comments: its good but the earthy, leathery oak is toning everything else down a little too aggressively.

 

 

A COUPLE OF NEW OLDIES FROM DOUGLAS LAING (Old Malt Cask)

There are few other independent bottlers who can not only sell 40+ year old whiskies, but can do say at a fair price. We’ve recently received our fourth cask of whisky from Probably Speyside’s Finest Distillery, Douglas Laing’s euphemism for Glenfarclas distillery. Glenfarclas is the only distillery in Scotland with extensive stocks of the whiskies aged up to 40 years of age, and they sell these at relatively reasonable prices. Officially Glenfarclas doesn’t sell or trade casks with independent bottlers, but it is interesting that of all the independent bottlers only Douglas Laing has access to these casks and that in return they never refer to the distillery by name, instead praise it as probably the finest in Scotland. We have the new 42 year old expression in stock as well as a very unusual Bunnahabhain expression.

OMC Bunnahabhain 30 Year – 50% – Refill Butt – DL Ref 5120 – My Tasting Note: Nose: spices, clove and nutmeg, a little bit of early heat from the alcohol or sherry burns off quickly, graham wafers, soft toasted oak and crystallized honey; Palate: very spicy (at least at first), oily, and honeyed with some lovely sweet notes mainly in the form of dried apricots, something reminds me of an Imperial(extra strong) India Pale Ale with a very malty, hoppy character, possibly something mildly sulphurous but not so strong as to ruin the palate; there are faint traces of something earthy, maybe peat, certainly some sea salt, but nothing unpleasant or strong: Finish: dry tannins and oak spices and a lithe oils; Comments: a lovely sherried whisky with a very unusual mid palate, I’ve never had such an old “malty” whisky before, and certainly not one that seemed hoppy! – $199.99

OMC Probably Speyside’s Finest Distillery 42 Year  – 50% – Sherry Butt – DL Ref 6245 – My Tasting Note: Nose:  new leather sofa, cobblers shop, damp cigar tobacco and toasted oak all lead into classic sherry notes which gradually develop: candied fruits, Christmas cake, brown sugar and sweet spices; Palate: rich, sweet, sherried, spicy and oaky; a lot of structure and balance to this whisky, Christmas cake notes are complimented by dry spice, there are coffee and espresso notes, along with dark chocolate and Pedro Ximenez; Finish: it finished off very dry, the oak shows its age here, lots of spice, sweet dark chocolate and a mild cigar aftertaste; Comments: not the best 40+ year old “Probably Speyside’s Finest Distillery” (read Glenfarclas) bottling we’ve had, but far from the worst. It lacks the complexity of at least one of the previous bottlings, but is a very enjoyable drink, and certainly not over the hil. – $311.99

 

 

  

  

A TALE OF TWO 27 YEAR OLD PORT ELLENS

You may recall in the last Malt Messenger that I highlighted a new 27 year old Port Ellen from Douglas Laing. Now I have another Port Ellen 27 year old, it too under the Old Malt Cask label bottled by Douglas Laing. I thought it would be fun to give them a go side by side. Only 12 bottles of each are available in the market, with more than half of each already sold! You’ll also note that the prices for even for independent bottlings of Port Ellen are going up… I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, Port Ellen is getting older, rarer and more expensive with every passing year. The first is the bottling I announced in the last Malt Messenger:

  1. OMC Port Ellen 27 Year Cask 6588 –  50% – Single Refill Hogshead – DL Reference 6588 – 225 Bottles – My Tasting Note: Nose: dry biscuity peat, lush backdrop of soft vanilla, bread dough, green grass and savoury herbs; there is salt and smoke too, but it has faded with time; Palate: creamier than I expected with an Ardbegian quality to it; the palate also has elements of chewy malt, vanilla custard, the same savoury herbs found on the nose and soft thick oily peat that reminds me of the Ardbeg malt bunds served at Glenmorangie House; Finish: long and savoury with clean smoke, gentle herbs and delicate peaty oils that leave a pleasant film on your palate; late lingering notes of cigar smoke finish it off; Comments: I haven’t come across a lot of Port Ellen’s that I don’t like, just some that are a lot better than others. This one is very drinkable, it is not the best Port Ellen I’ve ever had, but it is a pleasant drink which will please the palate of any Islay drinker. It is a fine example of a Port Ellen matured in American oak Bourbon barrels. 2nd Tasting While Comparing: the nose is just as above but with white fruits like apple; I find the palate to be the same with the exception of traces of browning apple; the finish is just as described before. $349.99 – Only 12 Bottles – Exclusive to KWM
  2. OMC Port Ellen 27 Year Cask 6397 – 50% – Refill Hogshead – DL Reference 6397 – 199 Bottles – My Tasting Note: Nose: rubbery with soft vanilla, briny smoke, fresh cream and gentle oily peat; the nose is surprisingly gentle with liquid honey and a touch Panda black liquorice; Palate: sweet, smoky and salty; the palate is very honeyed and sweet to start with brackish peaty smoke and damp muddy earth; there is a salty backbone and some bitter espresso notes; more black liquorice; Finish: drying and very smoky; the finish is very earthy like a dry mouth full of dirt; Comments:

How to decide between the two? I think it comes down to a simple question which you have to ask yourself. Do you want a brackish, peaty, earthy, smoky, salty Port Ellen, or do you want a Port Ellen that’s creamy with layers that soften and balance out the smoke. If you pander for the former style of whisky, you’re after 6397, but if you’re after a less peaty whisky with more balance 6588 is your dram! Whichever it may be don’t hesitate these two will be gone in no time!

 

 

COOLEY DISTILLERY – IRELAND’S ONLY INDEPENDENT DISTILLER OF WHISKEY!

Irish whiskey was once the toast of the world, its quality and reputation were second to none! In the mid 1800’s there were around 1000 legal and illegal distilleries operating in Ireland, today there are three, four if you count Kilbeggan which Cooley is in the process of reopening. But history was not kind to the Irish Whiskey industry. First there was the war of Independence which shattered Ireland’s relationship with Great Britain, and closed its access to the biggest and most important market in the world, the British Empire. The war of Independence was followed by a Civil War which destroyed Irelands already shattered economy. Add to this prohibition in the United States (the last most important market for Irish Whiskey) and the Great Depression and you have a recipe for the collapse of consolidation of the Irish whisky industry.

Irish Distillers was formed in 1966 when the last three remaining distilleries in the Republic of Ireland merged. They shut down their respective distilleries and consolidated production at the newly constructed Midleton distillery in 1975. Bushmills the only remaining distillery in Northern Ireland was also added to the companies portfolio, but being one of the oldest distilleries in the world it was kept open. In 1988 Pernod Ricard acquired Irish Distillers in a friendly takeover. The Irish whiskey industry was a monopoly when John Teeling, a maverick in the true sense of the word (not the Sarah Palin/John MaCain kind) decided to try his hand at starting a new Irish distiller. He already had his hands in Iraqi oil fields, Gold deposits in Iran and a diamond mine in Botswana.

   Cooley Distillery

In 1987 John purchased a closed industrial grain whisky distillery called Ceimici Teo in Dundalk. The distillery was producing potato alcohol for industrial purposes. Teeling began converting the distillery to produce whiskey and renamed it Cooley. In 1988 A. A. Walt Distillery(not an actual distillery) and Tyrconnell (a prominent brand) merged with Cooley. In the same year Teeling bought the decommissioned Locke’s Kilbeggan Distillery, which is the oldest surviving distillery in the world. In 1989 Cooley installed a pair of pot stills to be used in the production of both malt and grain whiskey. In 1996 the distillery launched a Connemara, a lightly peated Irish single malt whiskey. It is a myth that Irish whiskey is different from Scotch whisky in that it is unpeated, only true that remaining brands until the release of Connemara are all unpeated. In 2007 the old Kilbeggan distillery was reopened.

     Kilbeggan Distillery

Today Cooley has an extensive portfolio of whiskies. Firstly, there is Tyrconnell, an unpeated single malt Irish whiskey brand dating to the late 1800’s. The whiskey is named for a horse which won the National Produce Stakes against incredible odds of 100:1. Secondly, there is the aforementioned Connemara, a heavily peated Irish single malt whiskey, more characteristic of what Irish whiskey would have been like in the 1800’s than today. Thirdly, there is Kilbeggan, a blended Irish whiskey named for Ireland’s oldest distillery, and in fact the world’s, which can trace its origins back to 1757. Busmills, is often incorrectly purported to be the oldest distillery in the world. Its owners both past and present often site a 1608 license granted by James I to Sir Thomas Phillips as the original founding date, but in fact the distillery wasn’t established until 1784. Finally, Cooley also produces a single grain whisky called Greenore.  

The Kensington wine Market stocks the following whiskies from Cooley distillery:

  1. Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey – 40% – Connemara is a peated Irish single malt whiskey produced by the Cooley distillery. This is the entry level Connemara expression. – My Tasting Notes: Nose: the nose is light and creamy, there is a faint trace of soft peat with grassy notes; Palate: warming with soft earthy peat and clean smoke, light sweet honey and fresh cream; some late burnt orange peel; Finish: drying and dusty with gentle peat and traces of honeyed sweetness; Comments: good but not great, I’d like to see some more peat! – $56.49
  2. Connemara Cask Strength – 57.9% – My Tasting Note: Nose: grassy and earthy, log fire smoke strong enough to hide everything else; Palate: very peaty, lots of smoke, leathery, grassy earthy malt and some sweet vanilla/honey tones and spice, black peppery spice; Finish: drying oily peat, fading sweet vanilla and spice; Comments: finally some big peat, now I know why I loved this whisky best of all the Connemaras when I first tried the range several years ago… This is why I love cask strength, non chillfiltered whiskies. Chill filtering and bottling the whisky below 46% kills its potential! – $69.99
  3. Connemara Sherry Cask – 46% – Sherry Finish – My Tasting Note: Nose: dry, nutty sherry notes dominate at first, some spices and caramelized fruit, cinnamon sticks; Palate: nutty earthy sherry notes, very leathery with soft chunky peat and clean woody smoke; burnt fruits and dark spices dominate the palate; Finish: drying and earthy with sweet spices and burnt leathery fruit; Comments: good, but the peat is so delicate that the sherry really runs rough shod over it. Nice to see this bottled at 46%. – $83.49
  4. Connemara 12 Year – 40% – My Tasting Note: Nose: malty, very floral, clean smoke, subtle vanilla, peat oils; Palate: sweet and earthy, some good body, gentle spices, clean wood smoke and subtle vanilla and honey notes; Finish: drying and sweet with clean earthy smoke; Comments: much better than the entry level peated expression, and more than worth the price difference.  – $98.99
  5. Connemara Gift Pack – Glencairn Glass and one 50ml bottle each of the Connemara Peated, Connemara Cask Strength and Connemara 12 Year – A pretty good deal considering a Glencairn glass alone costs $18. – $27.49
  6. The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey – 40% – Pure Pot Still Irish Single Malt – Named for the horse which won the National Produce Stakes in 1876 at 100/1 odds. – My Tasting Notes: Nose: grassy malt with honey and citrus notes with lemon on goat cheese; Palate: very honeyed with chewy grassy malt, toasted oak, soft earthy spices vanilla extract; Finish: drying with more grassy malt and toasted oak; Comments: a great entry level single malt, and one of the best unpeated Irish whiskies under $50! – $48.49
  7. Kilbeggan Finest Irish Whiskey – 40% – No Age Statement – A blend of Malt and Grain Irish Whiskeys – Kilbeggan is the name of a blended whisky made by Cooley, Irelands only independent distiller. Cooley recently reopened the old Kilbeggan distillery and have begun distillation there. Kilbeggan, extablished in 1757 is the oldest whiskey distillery in the world. My Tasting Note: Nose: very sweet and fruity, raspberry and cherry brandies; Palate: chewy malt and thick grainy oils, almonds, soft vanilla and green grassy notes; Finish: drying with grassy vanilla and roasted almonds; Comments: a great alternative to Powers, Paddy or Jameison. – $40.99
  8. Greenore 8 Year – I wasn’t prepared at the time of publishing this Malt Messenger to prepare a tasting note of the Greenore 8 Year. Tasting Note by John Hansell of Malt Advocate: Light, crisp, and gently sweet. Notes of vanilla, cut hay, honey, and lemon, with a grainy, dry bourbon-oak finish. A warm weather whisky, or as an aperitif. Perhaps a way to introduce a vodka drinker to whiskey? – 82pts – $50.99

Two Additional Cooley Whiskies Recently Available in Alberta

The following bottlings were recently available in Alberta. Their future status is uncertain. Kensington Wine Market is currently sold out of both:

  1. Greenore 15Year – $109.49
  2. Kilbeggan 15 Year – $132.49

 

 

DISTILLERY IN FOCUS – Auchentoshan

Is there a more Irish of Scottish distilleries? Auchentoshan makes a triple distilled, un-peated single malt whisky in the Clydebank suburbs to the west of Glasgow proper.  The Clydebank is an area with deep Irish roots. Settlers poured in from the Emerald Isle between 1845 and 1852 during the Great Famine, known outside Ireland as the Irish Potato Famine. The Irish mainly settled to the west of Glasgow where the River Clyde empties itself into the sea. Searching for a better life they found work in the docks, shipyards, factories and distilleries of the west coast.

A licence to distil was taken out for Auchentoshan distillery in 1823. Built at the foot of the Kilpatrick hills the distillery may have operated illicitly for decades before it was forced to go legit. There are many references to a distillery called Duntocher in the area from the turn of the 19th century. There is some speculation that this may have been Auchentoshan. Auchentoshan is one of only five active distilleries in the Lowlands of Scotland, and is the only one to continue the practice of triple distillation. Springbank distillery produces a small amount of Hazelburn, a triple distilled Spirit, and BenRiach distillery has released a very limited triple distilled expression called Solstice, but Auchentoshan alone is the sole distillery in Scotland practicing full time triple distillation.

The name Auchentoshan means “the corner of the field”, an appropriate name given its early rural roots. The distillery is surrounded on three sides by urban development and a major motorway on the other. Though the distillery is in the Lowlands the water travels quite a distance from a Highland Loch.  The distillery matures on site in a mix of three dunnage(earthen floor) and two racked warehouses. The cooling pond out in front of the distillery is a relic of a German aerial raid in 1941. For three days during what  became known as the Clydebank Blitz the Luftwaffe dropped thousands of tons of bombs of the vital shipyards and docks along the Clydebank. Auchentoshan was severely damaged during these raids, with several warehouses being severely damaged.  The cooling pond was created by one of these bombs.

Stanley P. Morrison created Morrison Bowmore Distillers in 1963 after purchasing Bowmore distillery. In 1970 Glen Garioch Distillery is added to the Morrison Bowmore portfolio, followed by Auchentoshan in 1984. In 1989 Suntory, Japan’s biggest beverage company, takes a 35% stake in Morrison Bowmore, they buy out the rest of the business in 1994. Since acquiring the distillery in 2004 £1 million is spent on refurbishing the distillery and visitor center. In 2005 the distillery ceased selling production to blenders, with the parent company choosing to focus its production on single malts. In 2008 the product line was revamped, currently the Kensington Wine Market stocks the following whiskies:

  1. Duthies Auchentoshan 11 Year – New exclusive due in next week! Distillery Tasting Note: Nose: A fruity flavour burst. Strawberries, raspberries and a very pleasant sweet confectionary aroma. Palate: A very gentle, sweet and delicate dram. Orange fondant, icing sugar and more strawberries. Finish: Lingering vanilla and sugary sweetness. – Coming Soon – New Exclusive – $77.99ish…
  2. Auchentoshan 12 Year –40% – Bourbon & Sherry Casks – My Tasting Note: Nose: lots of caramel, citrus fruits with browning apple, clean soft vanilla and gentle sherry notes with the faintest touch of spice; Palate: the sherry oak notes make a big impact on the palate, this is nothing like the old 10 Year of old; the citrus note signature of Auchentoshan in buried under chewy but gentle sherry notes; dark fruits develop later adding to a toasty-spicy palate; Finish: soft, light and ctirussy once the spicy sherry notes fade; Comment: a great little sherried whisky for under $50. – $47.99
  3. Auchentoshan 18 Year – 43% – Bourbon Cask – My Tasting Note: Nose: very Bourbony with green toasty oak, Moroccan mint tea (served with mint leaves and sugar in the glass) and macadamia butter; Palate: clean and soft with warming toasted oak, traces of the barley can still be found along with caramelized honey and thin vanilla; Finish: finish is drying and smooth with more toasty oak; Comments: I have not always been a fan of this whisky,  but I find I am enjoying this current bottling more than previous ones.
  4.  Auchentoshan Three Wood – 43% – Matured in Bourbon and Finished in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks – No Age Statement – My Tasting Note: Nose: rich, thick and dark; date bar, figs and sweet Pedro Ximenez notes; I also get a twinge of leather and candied nuts; Palate: very soft given its dark foreboding appearance, it is sweet, dark and faintly spicy but with the lightest touch; it becomes chocolaty, nutty and drier with time; the sherry is in charge here but it’s not abusing its authority; there are many layers to this onion; Finish: is drying, light and perhaps a little short; Comments: it is easy to see why this is the most popular Auchentoshan in Canada! Would like a longer richer finish. – $73.49

5.       Auchentoshan 1998 Sherry Matured – 54.6% – Sherry Cask – 11 Years – My Tasting Note: Nose: honey, almonds, a touch of spice and some floral-grassy notes; Palate: surprisingly light in strength and flavour for a cask strength sherried whisky; the palate is very honeyed and nutty, the oak is a light touch with the lemon/lime citrus notes shinning through; I find it zesty, sweet and warming with notes of raisin and caramilk bar; Finish: starts strong then fades rapidly into drying toasty oak; Comments: nice to see a cask strength Auchentoshan under $100! – $64.49

6.       Auchentoshan 21 Year – 43% – Bourbon and Sherry Casks – 21 Years – My Tasting Note: Nose: French bakery each on a Saturday morning with croissants, paint au chocolate, fruit tarts and fresh bread filling the air with their aroma; it is thick with vanilla and dark fruits; Palate: rich creamy vanilla accented with gentle spices and a mix of orchard and tropical fruits; marzipan, coconut and fruit flan fill out the palate with brittle white chocolate candies; Finish: is drying, sweet and long; vanilla, creamy oils and gentle spice slowly fade away; Comments: this whisky feels more powerful than most Auchentoshan but makes up for it with subtle layers. The trademark citrus notes can be found if you search hard enough but there is much more there to take their place. – $126.49

7.       Auchentoshan 1978 – 53.4% – Bourbon Cask Matured – 480 Bottles – 30 Year – My Tasting Note: Nose: sweet vanilla, toasted oak, fresh cream, plum blossoms and natural oils; Palate: very sweet and delicate, white chocolate soufflé, toasted almonds, and candied ginger with thick vanilla; Finish: drying and sweet with vanilla and white chocolate; Comments: I prefer the 1977 mostly because its sherry influence, but never the less this is a very elegant dram! – $543.99

  1.  
    1. Malt Monster’s Tasting Note: NOSE: Kentucky bourbon sweet, bit of varnish, cherries and oranges. TASTE: spice, almonds and oily buttery notes at the back end. FINISH: Medium. Drying. ASSESSMENT: This really has a new bourbon favor to it.  Let the Bourbon take hold and find yourself floating like a leaf down the Cahulawassee River whilst the genetically compromised hill people gently serenade you with Banjo music from the surrounding hills.

8.       Auchentoshan 1977 – 49.0% – Sherry Cask Matured – 240 Bottles – 32 Years – My Tasting Note: Nose: nutty and spicy with cigar smoke; burnt sugars, chocolate fudge, dried out Christmas cake: Palate: richly sherried, full and nutty with big Christmas cake notes and firm spices; the intensity tones down on the second sip allowing into focus the classic sherry notes: Christmas cake, leather, tobacco and toasted nuts; layered and balanced my third sip reveals layers of fruit and maple syrup; Finish: drying and sweet, with tobacco; the finish betrays the whisky’s age with oak tannins making a strong show, there is a lingering maple syrup like sweetness and more tobacco; Comments: this is an excellent whisky, and a shame that it is from such a small batch. Only 18 bottles came into Alberta, we bought 15 of them and they are all gone! We have requested the last 3 bottles from the distillery, of which one is already spoken for!

9.       Auchentoshan 1957 50 Year Cask 479 – 46.8% – Oloroso Sherry Butt – 171 Bottles – Still available in limited quantities. – My Tasting Notes: some delicate citrus, floral orange and a promise of something bold to come; marzipan, chocolate fudge, red berry fruits and toffee all start to emerge; Palate: oranges and grapefruits morph into marzipan toffee and candied nuts; there is toasted oak, sweet and drying spices, raw cocoa nibs and a creamy buttery character which teases the palate—never fully developing; red berry fruits and strawberry liquorice develop later; Finish: long and drying with sweet warming spices; Comments: very elegant, sophisticated and vibrant the whisky is far from showing its age. This 50 year old isn’t even close to over the hill…

  1.  
    1. Malt Monster’s Tasting Note: NOSE: toffee and eucalyptus are battling it out at the start giving way to cherries and some ripe oranges. TASTE: Little tart at the beginning then it totally transforms to creamy butterscotch, WOW! Chocolate, Melons, citrus fruits and a little black liquorice. FINISH: long and warming at the end. ASSESSMENT: Much lighter in color than cask # 480..Taste this, and be henceforth among the gods thyself, (Thanks Milton) it’s that good

10.   Auchentoshan 1957 50 Year  Cask 480 – 49.1% – Oloroso Sherry Cask – 144 Bottles – No Longer Available in Alberta – My Tasting Note: floral but fleshy with some honey and jammy fruits; reminds me of some grilled prosciutto wrapped figs filled with blue cheese: sweet, sour, savoury and salty all at once; Palate: thick, sweet and sour to start, the first sip is like a series of waves lapping the shore, there is much going on but I can’t capture it all at once; stewed fruits, a trace of bubble gum, clove, pepper, candied nuts and orange peel; latter the oak seems to take hold; Finish: very drying, heavy oak with notes of sweet and spice crying out in the night; Comments: there are layers a plenty in this dram but it is skirting the edge of too oaky… just a little on the right side!

  1.  
    1. Malt Monster’s Tasting Note: NOSE: Floral, marzipan, slight hint of cheese and raisins. TASTE: chewy butterscotch, oranges and pecans. FINISH: Medium. Tart and lingering. ASSESSMENT: Its ok, but for fifty it’s just not nifty. Sure the old who are not strong do not whither, but they don’t taste any better.

 

 

COLLECTOR’S PICK – GOLD BOWMORE 1964 44YEAR – $4389.99

The Gold Bowmore is the third bottling in the Bowmore Trilogy Series. I’ve written about it before but I have only recently tasted it. The first bottling, the Black Bowmore 1964, a 42 year old, has long since sold out on the distribution level, though there are still a few bottles left to be had. There are still bottles of the White Bowmore, the 2nd in the series and a 43 Year old available, though they are getting scarce too. The Gold, the final bottling in the series has sold through in Alberta, though our suppliers have managed to find us a few more bottles from other markets. These are enroute… but they won’t last.  Here is my tasting note, followed by that of John Hansel at Malt Advocate:

Gold Bowmore 1964 – 44 Year – My Tasting Note: Nose: right off the bat I can tell this will be a whisky like the Black Bowmore, the nose is replete with similar tropical fruits like mango and papaya, there is a lush creamy layer of vanilla, the smoke is faint, but there, a little like being in a room where someone has just finished a cigar or pipe; ginger abounds with hints of candied ginger and darker moist ginger cake; there are also hints of treacle, and plum; Palate: rich, spicy, earthy and fruity with light elegant smoke; the tropical fruits are present on the palate, but not as prominent as they are one the nose; tobacco, leather and Christmas cake notes are much more prominent; later spice and earthy tones take over cushioned by a lush creamy vanilla backdrop; the whisky has incredible diversity of palate, as the spices fade the tropical fruits start to appear drowning in heavy cream and honey, while a tinge of salt can be found on the sides of my tongue; Finish: creamy, soft and mouth-watering with clean drying smoke, cigar smoke and crusty salt; Comments: by any measure this is an excellent whisky! The parallels between the Gold and the Black are undeniable, but I find it bears much more in common with the White. Oh to try all three of these in a glorious tasting… stay tuned! – $4389.99

Gold Bowmore, 1964 vintage, 42.4% Price: $6,250.00 (*Note the US Price!) – “Deep gold color. Surprisingly lively on the nose for its age. A complex array of fruit (tangerine, sultana, pink grapefruit, papaya, and the general overall citrus DNA that you’ll find in old Bowmores), with balancing notes of honey and vanilla. A hint of damp smoke and coconut. Just like with Black Bowmore, this is a texturally soothing whisky on the palate, which continues to evolve in waves — first the sweet honey, coating vanilla, and lively fruit, then turning quite visceral, with juicy oak, damp earth, deep peat smoke, and charcoal, followed by another wave of fruit (this time, dried fruit), finishing off with subtle charred oak and roasted nuts. This whisky is better than White Bowmore, and it falls just short of Black Bowmore (which I rated 97), because it’s just a bit softer and less vibrant on the palate.” 96/100pts Malt Advocate

 

 

PENDERYN WELSH WHISKY

Wysgi” hadn’t been made in Wales for more than a century when a couple of friends decided to start up the Welsh Whisky Company in 2000. The last legal Welsh whisky distillery closed in 1894 after the demise of its prominent distiller. The industry had been in decline for decades, mostly because of a powerful temperance movement. Penderyn was setup, in the words of Gillian MacDonald, Master Distiller, after a meeting held by “three guys in a pub.”

Pederyn distillery is located in the village whose name it bears in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales. The wort is produced by a local brewery, and the whisky is uniquely distilled in a single copper pot still. The Faraday Still consists of a single pot and two columns. The still was designed by a descendent of Michael Faraday, Dr. David Faraday, to produce a very light elegant spirit. The Welsh are able to get creative in this aspect because unlike Scotland there is no prohibitive legislation. Penderyn’s still produces raw spirit at an impressive 92%, around the level of many grain whiskies. The whisky is then filled into Bourbon barrels from Evan Williams and Jack Daniels. The regularily available core expression of Penderyn is then finished for a period of at least 6 months in Potrugese Madeira barriques. Production is very limited, with but one cask filled per day!

I’ve met Gillian a number of times before, but recently sat down with her to sample the range again:

  1. Penderyn – 46% – Buffalo Trace Bourbon/Madeira Finish – My Tasting Note: Nose: toasted oak and gentle spice, grassy-floral-herbaceous tones; Palate: sweet and soft, subtle malt, creamy vanilla, gently toasted oak, poached apples and plentiful sweet spice; Finish: long with warming toasted oak and fading white chocolate; Comments: well balanced. – $76.99
  2. Penderyn Sherrwood – 46% – 30% Sherry & 70% Buffalo Trace Bourbon – My Tasting Note: soft and fruity, raisins, maple syrup and honey notes; Palate: soft, medium-light body, some Christmassy oak notes, undertones of vanilla and grassy malt; Finish: drying with leather and more grassy malt; Comments: my favourite in the line-up. It maintains the delicate Penderyn style with a more flavourful palate. Would love to see a 100% sherry expression in the future! – $114.49
  3. Penderyn Peated – 46% – “Accidental Peated Casks” (unpeated malt spirit was matured in casks which once held heavily peated malt whisky) – My Tasting Note: reminds me of tequila, lush vanilla, sea breeze, smoked mussels and very green grassy/vegetal notes; Palate: big creamy vanilla, white chocolate, kale, clean smoke, white fruits and more grassy/vegetal notes; Finish: grassy with clean smoke; Comments: an interesting addition to the lineup. My second favourite of the three! – $119.99

 

 

FOUR NEW GLENDRONACH VINTAGES DUE ANY DAY

Four different vintages of Glendronach have come in, and they are exclusive to the Kensington Wine Market in Canada. We received just 6 to 12 bottles of each vintage: two different bottlings from 1990 and one each from 1991 and 1996. These bottles have mostly sold, restricted to one bottle per customer, but there are still a few left. The vintage releases of Glendronach are described below:

  1. Glendronach 1990 Cask 3068 – 20 Years – 52.6% – Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon – Distillery Tasting Note: Nose: Ripe raisins and dates envolope the mouth and this integrates wonderfully with allspice and dense Pedro Ximinez notes. Palate: Creamy and smooth but with huge intense sherry characteristics. Dark chocolate sauce and sweet cinnamon and clove attributes. – $179.99 – SOLD OUT!
  2. Glendronach 1990 Cask 3059 – 20 Years – 54.9% – Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon – Distillery Tasting Note: Nose: Intense Pedro Ximinez aroma at the beginning followed up by ripe berry fruits with brambles and ripe plums. Palate: Fantastic ripe berry fruits and rich cocoa elements. The chocolate element intensifies with pronounced fresh sugar syrup on the mid palate. – $179.99 – SOLD OUT!
  3. Glendronach 1991 Cask 2512 – 18 Years – 51.9% – Oloroso Sherry Butt – Distillery Tasting Note: Nose: Hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds create depth with a rich sweet Oloroso backbone. Palate: Bold sherry notes react in perfect harmony with chocolate fruit and nut torte. Toffee-apple elements impart a fresh fruity element to the mix. Delightful.  – $149.99 – ONLY A FEW LEFT!
  4. Glendronach 1996 Cask 202 –  14 Years – 58.3% – Oloroso Sherry Butt – Distillery Tasting Note: Nose: Super-ripe morrelo cherries and stewed plums combine with spiced raisins and allspice. Palate: Chewy and rich. Sweet plum pudding and chocolate coated raisins with an elegant sherry finish.  – $134.99 – ONLY A FEW LEFT!

* A couple of these vintages will be available for sampling at the BenRiach Vintages tasting on Tuesday April 5th! See tasting schedule below for more details.

 

 

SPRING TASTING SCHEDULE – April – June 2011-03-10

Our Spring tasting schedule is now online and open for registration, including our Spring Single Malt Festival. We have another excellent line-up of whiskies for your consideration. To register give us a call (403-283-8000 or 888-283-9004), visit our website: https://www.kensingtonwinemarket.com/tastings/register.php or pop in by the shop 1257 Kensington Road NW. Our Winter sessions filled up very quickly, and I was able to add additional Rare Malts and Classic Single Malts tastings. I won’t be able to do that this session as I will be in Scotland April 7th-13th (more info on that to come) and guiding tours May 8th to 21st. So if there’s a tasting you don’t want to miss, don’t hesitate, sign up now!

  1. BenRiach Vintages Tasting We saved one bottle each of 5 rare vintages from BenRiach for a special tasting: 1991, 1984 (peated), 1978, 1977 and 1976. Only 1 case of each came to Canada! – Tue Apr 5th – $50
  2. What’s Next? Beer and Cheese! – Think wine and cheese make the perfect match? Think again! Beer is cheese’s true soul mate. – Tue Apr 19th and Tue May 24th – $30
  3. Isle of Arran Cask Release Party – It’s official! Our two exclusive casks of Arran (Bourbon and Sherry) will be launched and tasted along with Machrie Moor, the new peated Arran and others. – Tue Apr 26th  – $35
  4. Rare Malts – Only the oldest and rarest whiskies need apply. Taste whiskies which have been matured more than 20 years and are from closed distilleries, or are exceptionally rare. – Tue May 3rd – $75
  5. Cinco de Mayo Tequila – We’ll celebrate the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla with 6 of the best premium Tequilas available in Alberta. Viva el México Libre! – Thr May 5th – $50
  6. Spectacular Speyside – The Speyside is home to most of Scotland’s distilleries including many of its most iconic. Join us for a scenic tour and comprehensive tasting of some of its best whiskies. -Thr May 26th – $60
  7. Whisky, Women and Chocolate – Round up the gals and join our scotch expert, Andrew Ferguson, for a pairing of fine whisky and premium chocolate. Lassies only. Fri Jun 3rd – $50
  8. Spring Single Malt Festival – Our bi-annual whisky festival is not the biggest in the city, but it features the most interesting and eclectic line-up of whiskies in Alberta. I always find a couple curiosities and add in a few very special whiskies for the event which will host 100 customers, 80+ whiskies and you’ll leave with your very own Glencairn glass! – Thr Jun 9 – $60
  9. The Peat Monster Dinner –Six massively peated whiskies from the likes of Ardbeg, Bruichladdich and Kilchoman, each carefully paired with a dish complementing its peaty provenance! Dinner will take place at Buchanan’s Chop House. – Fri Jun 10th – S120
  10. Raucus Rums – There are some exceptional older rums available in Alberta, so we’re throwing a tasting to sample some of the best. – Tue Jun 14th – $50
  11. Classic Single Malts – It’s called “back to basics”. Classic Malts is our introduction to the world of Scottish single malt whisky, its regions, history and taste profile. – Thr Jun 16th – $35
  12. Master Malts – This tasting will push your palate to its limits with a lineup of very rare and old whiskies like Macallan 25 Year, Glendronach Grandeur and Glenfarclas 40! – Thr Jun 23 – $100
  13. Summer Brews – We’ll welcome the start of summer with some seasonally appropriate beers to keep your thirst quenched and your body refreshed! – Tue Jun 28th – $30

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If you have any whisky questions or comments concerning The Malt Messenger please contact me by e-mail, phone, or drop by the store. Feel free to forward me any whisky news you feel should be included in a future issue of The Malt Messenger; it might just get included.

All of the products mentioned in THE MALT MESSENGER can be purchased in store, over the phone or from our website at www.kensingtonwinemarket.com.. All prices quoted in the Malt Messenger are subject to change!

 

Thanks for reading the Malt Messenger!

 

Slainte!

 

Andrew Ferguson
KWM Scotchguy

403-283-8000
888-283-9004
1257 Kensington Rd. NW
Calgary, AB, Canada
T2N 3P8

scotchguy@kensingtonwinemarket.com

 Posted by at 6:06 am