Dram Review: SMWS G1.14 North British “Banana Walnut Cornbread”

In Australia, grain whiskies are ordinarily overlooked at this age of single malts, the avid grain whisky fans normally have to rely on independent bottlers bringing in limited expressions and they often differ in quality; though now and again you do come across gems from the grain whisky producers, and more often than not they come from North British distillery, a Edinburgh-based powerhouse that traditionally uses a high-maize-content mashbill.

I had the fortune to sample this 37 year old North British bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society a while ago at a society event in Sydney hosted by the charming Mr. Matt Bailey.

The nose does come across as a bit thin in comparison to earlier malts but the scent instantly grabs for attention. Our friend Jonathan proclaimed this as a beautiful grain whisky moments after nosing his glass.  Coconut sugar and forest berries with a distant sweet barbecue smoke, after the initial grain spices comes more of that custard note. A slight hint of yeasty nature is present and in time the sweet caramel note becomes more apparent and as a result it feels more rounded.

An instant gratification on the palate, a smooth delivery of orange blossom and rose water embodying its fruity nature; hint of ginger before the oak starts to assert itself, but only lightly and sparingly, as a complimentary act that reflects the fact that the spirit has been well aged.

Onto the finish and the dram now releases a brush of white chocolate with a mesmerizing buttery aftertaste. It remains a comforting dram through out with just a slight bitter note in the very end to sign things off.

In my book, this is certainly a highlight out of the various bottlings SMWS released this year.

☆ 

Nicholas

 

Whisky Review: Paul John Indian Single Malt ‘Bold’ 

Style: Fresh and Peaty

Nose: 

Take off with a sublime aroma of green mango and coconut jam. Vanilla pods, oak with a trace of smoke and ash. The acidity brings out the sweetness and creamy notes. Barley sugar undertone.

Palate:

Green fruits overture quickly disrupted by herbal ashy peat. Tropical notes run on a slightly sour edge combines with the spice perfectly to give a stirring freshness. Macadamias and peanuts, uncovering another layer of dusty peat and smoke, while herbal tea floating lightly at the back. Fascinating structure… Vanilla and bitter oak surfacing towards the end.

Finish:

Milky, herbal and hints of peat rolling on. A rare combination but it has worked pretty well.

Thoughts:

Intriguing profile – something I never had before. Unconventional combination of herbal, cream, nuts and peat worked like a charm here and it is immensely enjoyable! Solid flavours with great structure and transitions. Perfect spice control. Perhaps not many people know about Indian single malt, but they are making truly beautiful whiskies.

☆ [Recommended]

(46%2015 Bottled ・No Age Statement ・Non Chill Filtered ・Non Coloured ・Batch 1)

 

 

Dram Review: Westland American Oak American Single Malt Whiskey

[46.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2016・Official Bottling・General Release]

The gentlemen at Alba Whisky were kind to send over a trio of samples from the popular Westland Distillery, based in Seattle, U.S.A.

Westland is perhaps the poster boy with respect to the new narrative in whisky production, known for utilizing various barley and yeast strains, it’s certainly an innovative distillery that intrigues a lot of whisky fans.

The American Single Malt is Westland’s flagship expression, the grain bill includes five different types of malts and it’s a vatting from whiskey aged in three types of casks for a minimum of two years.

Nose:

A vague maltiness bringing about an earthy presence on the nose, light char drawing out notes of ripe pineapples and poached white peaches.

Palate & Finish:

It’s lemony on the palate, with notes of kiwi jam and sun-dried mango slices painting a rather attractive vibe. A heavier earthy tone sets in, with the introduction of digestive biscuits. It grows lighter with the surfacing grassy note and a wee feinty note towards the back end.

Thoughts:

Based on the dram, the outlook of the distillery does appear to be rather positive. For a two year old, the dram does seem to offer more. The guys at Westland are certainly onto something..

Nicholas

 

Whisky Review: Cadenhead Imperial-Glenlivet Single Cask Aged 37 Years 

 

Style: Dignified and Energetic

Nose:

A sweet and herbal introduction on the nose, a beautiful creamy balancing brush sparks the dram to life. Barley sugar beaming lightly, aged timber, bitter oranges. You can feel the spirit has come a long way, delicate with a lot of refined depth, but it is also unbelievably lively.

Palate:

Vanilla icing melts gently on the palate with indistinct eucalyptus and peppermint murmurs. Flavours condensed beautifully. Citrus honey caressing, tropical fruit notes slowly building up. Pine and oaky touches crossroad with creamy patches. A fresh, green herbal wave giving a slight bitterish and medicinal bite towards the end.

Finish:

Shallow footprints of spearmint, malt syrup lingers, long and savoury finish.

Thoughts:

Where shall I begin with? Superior maturation which has completely captured my heart, delicious flavours, complexity, tender texture, vibrant spirit and what a unique profile we have here. While not many whiskies are not able to sustain 37 long years of maturation, this cask has made it and did great things.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[53.5% • 2015 Bottled • 1978 Distilled • Independent Bottling • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • **]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: The Glenrothes 1988 (Bottled in 2014)

Tasting Notes:

The Glenrothes 1988 (Bottled in 2014) ☆

Style: Sweet and Spicy

Nose:

Candied orange with a generous slice of ginger. Lemon citrus brimming tenderly, peppermint, assorted traditional dried fruits with loads of apricots. The aroma is rather delicate but the core looks very solid.

Palate:

Similar construct to the nose but the sherry component is much more prevalent on the palate. Sweet red grape coat wraps around the dried fruits and spicy nucleus. Shaking off raisins and brown sugar dust, we have big honey malt amped up with hints of tannins and dryness tailing it. Increasingly savoury overtime, rather juicy and complex than I first thought. Impressive.

Finish:

Thick fruity honey trickling with vitality. Smooth and delicious.

Thoughts:

Despite generally bottled at 43%, I personally feel Glenrothes puts in a fair amount of emphasis on spiciness and that might not be very beginner-friendly. While the ginger notes draw away some attention but when I spend time with this dram, there is a lot going on from the malty and fruity side – solid and delicious flavours hiding under the spicy edge of the whisky. Celebratory dram.

☆ [Recommended]

[43% • 2014 Bottled • 1988 Bottled • Original Bottling  • Aged 26 Years • Limited Release]

-Esmond

 

Whisky Review: The Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 Edition

 

Tasting Notes:

The Yamazaki 山崎 Sherry Cask 2016 Edition ☆

Style: Sherry and Composed

Nose:

Heavy sherry presence with an alluring balsamic vinegar touch. Light smoke, red fruit notes. Mature oak with a strong hint of tobacco leaves on the lower tone. Burnt caramel, bright cherry and roasted popcorn constitutes the rest of the aroma.

Palate: 

Plum sauce and grated chocolate on the first palate. Well-aged sherry taking the lower branches, giving an enormous undertone of reduced soy sauce, maple syrup, caramel candy and raisins, which is quickly followed by the enthusiastic red fruits combining orange citrus and spice to play a dynamic interlude. Oaky flavours slowly hold up at the back, with the increasing dryness slowly unfolding with a fine brush of maltiness.

Finish:

Sweet prunes and dark fruits team up with the malt on the finish. The flavours of raisins, nutmeg and chocolate staying overtime and gave a long lasting finish.

Thoughts:

Evident that this Yamazaki has a fair share of old (sherry) component in the whisky, in fact, according to the description, there is some 25 year old plus in the mix. While the older side has laid a rock solid sherry foundation, the vibrant side is unleashed, given the freedom and running rampant on the palate. Great sherry juice, a must-have for sherry bomb fans, even more impressive on the interplay between the brighter and lower tones, enhancing the complexity and dynamics of the flavour. Skilfully crafted whisky. Worth the hype? Try it for yourself!

(48%/2016/NAS/OB/LR)

-Esmond
You can read Nicholas’ thoughts on the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 Edition here.

 

Whisky Review: Glenglassaugh 30 Years Old

Tasting Notes:

Glenglassaugh 30 Years Old

Style: Oaky and Dignified

Nose:

Thick overripe peach fragrance hovering on thirsty malt. Spice, hints of smoke perhaps? Big toffee on this one! Then we have orange peels and cinnamon breathing in some fruitiness. The flavours are slowly rolled into mango-infused, chewy, bitter tea leaves and tobacco leaves. Texture going slightly creamy overtime.

Palate: 

Quite mouth drying, bitter and spice hits together with the malt – tobacco leaves hammering hard on the first touch. Imprisoned cereal and vanilla escaping from its grasp, crossed-path with dark cherries and pomelo oil. Heavy oak lands, a hint of red fruits, tanny and a more bitter note kicks in. You can almost feel the charcoal smoke and burnt barrels at the back.

Finish:

Sweeter end notes – sugar coated grapefruit skin, and in comes more oranges, mangoes , vanilla, caramel and an occasional raisin touch. Malty notes shining through from time to time.

Thoughts:

It is a whisky which massively edges towards oak, bitter fruits and smoke. It masks but doesn’t completely hide the complexity of this whisky. The fun here is you will have to spend time with it, it breaths and unlocks more flavours along the way. Just like digging treasures, you will find highlight after highlights, especially on the nose, it will keep you busy for an hour or so. Have fun!

(44.8%/2015/NCF/Bottle Number: 4534)

-Esmond