Jun 102014
 

Jura Boutique Barrels 1995014

56.5% abv

Score:  89.5/100

 

Let’s go back to the familiarity of one of Scotland’s most isolated distilleries.  Just across the Sound of Islay lies the beautiful, sparse Isle of Jura, infamous for its red deer to human ratio of about 30:1 or something silly like that.  Man…what I wouldn’t give to leave the urban sprawl for a bit of that sort of existence.

Fortunately for us whiskyphiles, a few of those 200 or so people who constitute the entire populace of Jura (Duriachs, as they’re known) spend a good chunk of time engaged in the alchemy of turning solid to liquid, in the time-honored tradition of converting barley to whisky.  There’s always been magic afoot on Jura that extends well beyond alchemy, though.  For such a wee little place, there’s certainly enough interesting history to keep the intrigue high.

On to the malt now…

I really like these Jura Boutique Barrels releases.  Some, of course, are stronger outings than others, but all are definitely worth a ‘go’.  This more ‘whisky purist’-oriented presentation is a great direction for the distillery to be taking.  It seems as though Jura is better positioning itself in recent years; as something more than the bit part player it has on occasion seemed.   The malts are getting better and the presentation aspect is well covered.  This ’95 is case in point.  (Though I wonder about the lack of sleeve/tube/box.)

Nose:  Nice spicy, fruity dram.  Very surprising nose for a Jura, and truly shows how good the distillate is (if only they’d leave off those wine barrels and such!).  Berry scones, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Good dark bread.  Great spice mix and all the smells of great home baking.  Some pepper.  A little bit of apple, and some definite bourbon influence (of course).  Notes of dunnage warehouse.  Wet leaves and a touch of eucalyptus.

Palate:  Great oily and rich delivery.  Dark fruit puree.  Cranberry loaf and very tight oak.  More on the berries and maybe a touch of burnt marshmallow.  Slightly drying.  Chewy sour candies.  Caramel apple…wooden stick, tart apple skin and all.  There’s still a slight wine note here somehow.  Good, long finish.

Thoughts:  A bloody great Jura.  Very singular.  One of my favorites to come from the Willies and Tricky Dick, to be honest.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 

 

 Posted by at 7:45 am
Jun 092014
 

Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 34)004

59.5% abv

Score:  89.5/100

 

Fun.  Just found a sample I’d put away of another a’bunadh I had not yet written up. 

What say we cuddle up with a glass of Batch 34 from a few years back and jot down a few tasting notes for posterity?  Here we’re heading back into familiar waters, as long time readers will be well aware.  I’ve covered several of these releases over the years (and tasted many others besides).  With a’bunadh, the fact of the matter is that they’re all very similar, but somehow all very unique.  I’ll continue to cover as many of these releases as I can, knowing that there are some die-hard a’bunadh fans out there. 

First things first…I concede there are better sherried malts on the market.  ‘Specially some of the older ones from the storied old Speyside masters.  However…there are times when only a glass of a’bunadh will do.  Honestly.  I find myself returning to this malt time and again because the youth and bombast are simply unparalleled in terms of delivering an over-the-top fruity sherried experience.  This is a whisky for the days when your taste buds don’t want to be made love to…they just want a good, hard…well…y’know where I’m going with this.

Anyway…Batch 34 is a keeper.  A great progression on a theme.  If I come across any more of it on the shelves, I’ll be sure to clean ’em out.  Not likely to happen though, at this stage of the game.

Nose:  Flawless casks.  Big jammy fruits.  Cherry (my favorite fruit!).  None of the drier notes I’ve found in a few of the more recent batches.  Chocolate cake.  Cinnamon and nutmeg.  Some almond or Amaretto.  Pecan pie.  Toasted marshmallow.  A touch of eucalyptus.  Some Demerara.  A unique touch of smoke (from wood charring?).

Palate:  Oh, wow.  Like biting into a juicy handful of grapes.  Chocolate shavings.  Thick dark jam on hot biscuits.  Great spice and a touch of woodiness.  Some cherry and raspberry notes with just a touch of citric freshness.  Almost a Dr. Pepper or cherry cola familiarity.  Beautiful mix of sweet and tart.   The palate is a little different from the nose, but just as good and just as high scoring.  Great long finish.

Thoughts:  This is one of the better batches of a’bunadh I’ve ever doused my taste buds with.  Great release from a distillery that has successfully managed to walk the NAS tightrope.  As long as the malt maintains a profile and quality of about this level I will continue to buy.  Should also note…this is my Christmas dram.  Anyone coming to visit around the holidays can expect one of these while we listen to Dropkick Murphys’ ‘The Season’s Upon Us’.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 1:05 pm
Jun 032014
 

Glengoyne 10 y.o.5307

43% abv

Score:  78/100

 

Glengoyne.  The Highland Lowland malt.  An oddity in the Scotch whisky world wherein the spirit is produced in the Highlands, but matures in the Lowlands.  This has to do with the fact that Glengoyne straddles the regional boundary, with the distillery on one side and the warehouses on the other.  Fun little claim to fame, I suppose, but at the end of the day it is as incidental to the end product as any other regional appellation leveed on a malt.

Even up till now, many folks put far too much weight on a distillery’s regional nomination.  The simplest way I can point out the flaw in this theory is to ask you to blindly tackle a handful of Speysiders and Highlands together and tell me which are which.  Ain’t gonna happen.

Glengoyne is otherwise a fairly unremarkable whisky.  For a while there, in the mid-2000s, there was a bit of a buzz behind the name as the distillery experienced a bit of a renaissance under Ian MacLeod, but fanfare and rumblings do not a great spirit make, and unfortunately…I find myself still underwhelmed by the brand.  Yes…even in it’s older incarnations.  There are certainly some admirable characteristics in the Glengoyne expressions I’ve tried, but the sum never seems to equate to the parts, and balance is key to a great whisky.

I’m a little behind the times in getting to this review, as I believe it has now been replaced with a 12 year old expression, but such is.  I believe you can still find this one out there.

Oh yeah…One other little tidbit that Glengoyne likes to parlay to its advantage: it is “untainted by peat smoke” (their words, not mine).  Hmmm…so what?  Aren’t a whole whack of others as well?  Not sure why this would be a claim to fame.  And…’untainted’?  Like peat is a flaw?  Ummmm….ok.

Nose:  Caramel and malt heavy.  Creamy and raisiny butter tarts.  Gentle orange and shortcakeptype dessert notes.  Brown sugar.  Smells like a bit of a late bloomer.  Not quite grown up enough to be let loose.  Some mildly peppery, and leathery notes if you search deeper and longer.

Palate:  More sherry influence showing here than on the nose.  Cinnamon and dried fruits.  Slightly bitter nuttiness. Still fairly malty.  Apple.  The grains and oak are still miles apart here.  Both infintitely detectable as individuals and no cohesion yet.  Not a great finish.

Thoughts:  Simple and I suppose pleasant enough for anyone wanting a very entry level dram, but this doesn’t havbe much to keep me coming back.  Rather heavy for a 10 y.o. 43%er, I find, but not in a bad way.  Kinda makes me want to see the size and shape of the stills at Glengoyne.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:07 am