Dram Review: Port Ellen 16th Release

[55.2%・37 Years Old・Distilled in 1978・Bottled in 2016・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

The heavy woody presence sets the scene, saphir renovateur along with a seaside influence as the seaweed breezes across.  It grows savoury with notes of smoked meat and dry cured bacon, whilst a fiery and oily undertone gradually develops in the background.

Palate & Finish:

A well balanced delivery with honey and stone fruits interacting with the oak tannins and the crisp malt.  Juicy and succulent with an oomph of spices muscling through, weighted with richness from the darker syrupy notes but still bursting with energy.

The ocean seasoned malt keeps stretching and twitching, the briny presence makes for a rustic maritime finish.

Thoughts:

The punchier notes we now associate with Islay whiskies have long been striped off but this somehow feels very Islay, perhaps, it’s the cold and unforgiving coastal vibe..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Cragganmore Limited Release

[55.7%・NAS・Bottled in 2016・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

What a gorgeous nose, with its waxy, velvety thickness giving a glimpse to the dram’s seductive body.  Stewed fruits with a fine layer of earthy mushrooms that adds to the depth.  Creamy toffee swirling and dancing, giving a sense of great pleasure.

Palate & Finish:

Vanilla paste with a stewed fruit infusion providing an initial coating which transforms seamlessly into a clean lager note which in turn evolves into something that’s quite special, a translucent crisp pear cider note paired with a gooey salted caramel note that fluidly elevates the enjoyment.

The finishing is soft, but it gently stretches on, with sprinkles of  forrest berries and just a hint of nuttiness.

Thoughts:

The conspiracy theorist in me can’t help but wonder if Diageo is toying with the age-statement-loyalists psychologically by making their annual NAS releases absolutely superb, with the two past Clynelish offerings and now this Cragganmore..  I am not complaining though, this is just a brilliant dram.

☆☆[Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Gordon & MacPhail Glen Grant 1954

[40%・Distilled in 1954・59 Years Old・Bottled in 2014・Gordon & MacPhail Bottling・Single Cask Bottling・Cask No: 1822]

Nose:

It starts with the mellow aromas of a mahogany desk that has received a fine polishing treatment.  The dark fruits in the background are rich and alluring yet the tone remains bright with the rose petal flavoured cotton candy .  A leathery presence that evokes excitement akin to unboxing your newly arrived Edward Green Oxfords made from Delapré leather tanned in Alsace, it’s the oiliness of the leather that marks the difference.  Further along there is the candle wax note with dried prunes giving the acidity and the ripe mango slices easing in the sweetness.  Dark cocoa on the backend as the oak settles back in, merging with the vibrant sherry note in the form of fresh red apples.  Roasted almonds and coconut flakes that were lightly toasted bring on the caramelisation.  Slight sprinkle of pepper and muted dried spices juxtapose the luscious black cherry note in the background.  Stupendously complex and far exceeding the great expectation, it’s so suggestive yet it is presented in such a elegant manner, a perfect nose.

Palate & Finish:

A satisfying viscosity that coats the tastebuds with delicious fruitiness, carrying citrus  raisin characters that tilt marginally towards acidity as opposed to the sweeter spectrum.  It then displays unmistakable traits from a half-century-long maturation with the spices in place that noticeably must have grown gentler over the years.  The woodiness becomes more and more prominent with the oven-baked raisins lacing the tannins through out, yet it retains the essences from the plump red fruits.

The finishing carries traces of minerals, a restrained follow through that is elongated with just traces of tobacco and menthol to go with the minuscule presence of plums and prunes, with a hint of earthiness and coffee beans roasted with treacle.

Thoughts:

This is certainly up there with some of the best “old” whiskies I have had, certainly in a class of their own.  A classic that has spend decades refining itself in a first filled sherry puncheon.  This is a whisky distilled from around the same period as when Rolex applied star hour marks on their dials.. the fascinating bygone era which simply cannot be replicated, even if there are the means to do so I am not so sure there is such intention…  It’s only through time capsules like this may we experience such precious histories that are bound to be forgotten soon.  Thank you Gordon & MacPhail for this experience.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

Nicholas

 

Whisky Review: Gordon & MacPhail Tormore 1996 Cask Strength Aged 20 Years

Style: Sweet and Complex

Nose: 

Bright citrus lemon sponge cake joined by refreshing mango tartness on the first whiff. Beneath sits dense caramel sauce. Smooth and creamy texture. Vanilla milk steaming and the fragrance of butter toast slowly follows through.

Palate:

Coconut cream glides in beautifully with peppery spice. A energetic burst of bright tropical fruits sweetness on the palate. Fizzing lemonade, flavours of banana split coming to mind as milk chocolate notes come knocking. More oak presence towards the back and it sets a more delicate tone. Ripe fruits and white pepper buzzing lightly to finish.

Finish:

Hazelnut and more butter toast with dim overripe tropical fruits whispers. Nice and gentle.

Thoughts:

Complex Speyside firing with electrifying pace. Multi-dimensional flavours binding nicely, brilliant phase transitions, fruity and deliciously sweet. I haven’t tried a lot of Tormore(s) so far but this is an eye-opener for me. One of my Speyside highlights this year.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[57.4%・2016 Bottled・1996 Distilled・Aged 20 Years・Independent Bottling・Single Cask・Non Coloured・Non Chill Filtered・Cask Number: 5655・Refill Bourbon Barrel]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Glenkinchie 24 Years Old

[57.2%・Distilled in 1991・24 Years Old・Bottled in 2016・Official Bottling・Limited Edition]

Nose:

A shy nose that embarks with notes of pine wood, wild flowers and honeyed granola. Buttery waffles to follow with a spray of lime vapours and rounded off with grilled pineapple slices once it has been given ample time to open up.

Palate & Finish:

Lemony and lively, the citrus note jumps out and it brings out this clean maltiness that has been accentuated by the white oak note. A subtle honey sweetness inserts itself and this leads to a crisp but steady finish decorated with tannins.

Thoughts:

I am not usually a Glenkinchie fan; but this is certainly a fine offering, a dram I wouldn’t mind having more of. If Lowland malt is your thing, your prayers have been answered.

-Nicholas

 

You’re Invited: An evening of Kavalans

We are very pleased to officially announce that on 18 May 2017, we will be cracking six rather special offerings from Kavalan distillery in Taiwan.

The line up of the evening is as follows (The pours are ~20ml):

Kavalan Cask S090306002

This is a bottling selected by “Brother Tiger”, a famed figure active at the Hong Kong and Taiwan whisky scenes.  The bottling is nicknamed “Extremely Dark” and to say that is a fair representation is perhaps an understatement.

Kavalan Cask AM100618001A

A Kavalan Amontillado cask.  Its sister casks have been well received by the international whisky community of late and they are certainly some of the highlights of Kavalan’s current corp of offerings.

Kavalan Cask S100203018A

This bottling is specifically bottled for the Nectar, the Belgium based whisky importer/independent bottler, to celebrate their 10th year anniversary.

Kavalan Cask S081217015

This bottling is specifically bottled for La Maison Du Whisky to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of their Singaporean operation.  This was a big hit at Whisky Live Singapore 2016.

Kavalan Cask S100125026A

A recent Whisky Exchange bottling.

Mystery Kavalan Bottling

???

All will be revealed in due course.
Thank you to World of Whisky Double Bay for providing the venue.  We will kick things off at 6:30 pm.

Please send us an email at whisknick@gmail.com for cost info and to reserve you place.

We hope to see you there, until then…

Dram well & be thankful.

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Talisker Neist Point

Style: Sweet and Smoky

Nose:
Warm, rich almonds with a touch of signature meatiness on the nose. Subtle, dry maritime minerals clinging on the wave of vanilla meringue which is lightly smoked by the peat. Sweet plums painted with caramel sauce, dry black pepper crackling gently. Pleasantly balanced aroma.

Palate:
Sea breeze riding more on the forefront and link with fruity crème brulee on the palate. More sweet plums. Apricots and ester fruits sitting on top, menthol covering the dry spices and mineral notes hanging on the lower branches. The maritime back bone extends all the way to give a delicate depth. Thinned caramel sauce and almond blossoms with peat smoke, flickering gently towards the end.

Finish:
Silky, waning sweetness, very solid smoked almonds humming towards the end. Faint fruity peat, soft and tantalizing.

Thoughts:
Sweetness? Tick. Richness? Tick. Balance? Tick. Complexity? Tick. Strength? Tick. As if Talisker Neist Point is trying to prove a point for NAS here, and it certainly did. Delicate yet rich and charming. I can easily get a case here and drink this every night for a while. One of the gems you can pick up in the travel retail exclusive category. Quality dram.

☆ (Recommended)

[45.8% • 2015 • Original Bottling • No Age Statement • Travel Retail Exclusive • Limited Edition]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Caol Ila Aged 15 Years “Unpeated Style”

[61.5%・15 Years Old・Bottled in 2016・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Quite spirity off the mark, juniper berries with an emphasis on the rawness; splashed with notes of blazed oak staves and brine solution.  Slight hint of green apples with a filtered whiff of coal smoke that makes its obligated entry but doesn’t quite give that thrilling sensation.

Palate & Finish:

Caramel driven with an introduction of anise and green apples, and the malt biscuit centre of maltesers.  A vigorous swing followed through with nutty and tannic notes.

It’s salty and grungy in the finish with the oak acting as a counterbalance that ropes in the hotness.

Thoughts:

I was told that the “unpeated” Caol Ila releases were endearingly nicknamed “Coal Ila”.  This 2016 release, however doesn’t quite resemble its predecessors.  It’s raw and untamed, but it lacks the smoky presence that first makes you wonder if the whisky is actually “unpeated” or not but then slowly captures your heart as the Caol Ila tragic in you gets immensely satisfied.

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Glenmorangie Tùsail Private Edition

Style: Malty and Dry spices

Nose:

Nutmeg and ginger infused firmly with rich, malty sweetness. Lightly smoked barley, vanilla icing sugar and poach pears. Dryness showing in spicy undertone. Cinnamon and orange candies.

Palate:

A warm caramel coat slowly dissolve on the palate. Again, spices have weaved tightly into the sweet barley dance. Fresh ginger, cinnamon roll stand up against orange and sweet pears. Nice oily mouthfeel, spice burning lightly, barley gradually drier and subtle smoke staying low.

Finish:

Drier tone and tannins, as if to showcase a taste of bare barley. Sweetness has been pushed back showing a few discrete glimpses of vanilla. Dates emerge very late on.

Thoughts:

There is quite a bit of debate how much does barley contributes to the flavour. I have no idea if the Maris Otter barley has contributed to the profile, but the texture feels slightly heavier, and it is also slightly drier with a decent malty Glenmorangie core. To me, all of these point towards the notion of “a Glenmorangie with a touch of Barley”, not sure if that is the true intention, but if it is, you have to admire the amazing blending skill coming out from Glenmorangie.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/distillery]

[46% • Original Bottling • Non Chill Filtered • No Age Statement • Limited Edition • t]

-Esmond

 

You’re invited: The Spanish Acquisitions

G’day guys,

As the theme suggests, this upcoming sharing session is all about whiskies I brought back from Spain recently. 

Thanks to Scott and the guys at the Oak Barrel, we are again fortunate enough to use their place for the sharing session. The line up for the night (we kick things off at 6:30pm on Friday 5 May 2017) consists of the following six bottles (plus a mystery welcome dram)..

Compass Box Delilah’s 40%

Bruichladdich Cuvee 382 46%

Mackmyra Preludium: 04 53.3%

Eld Vatten Invergordon Cask #SE036 55.5%

Lark Single Cask LD138 58%

Classic of Islay Cask #1704 56.4% 

Serves are 21ml each. 

Please inbox me for cost info and to reserve your place, we hope to see you then!

Until then..

Dram well and be thankful.

Nicholas