Dram Review: Dark Valley Lark Raven’s Rest

[60.3%・779 Days Old・Bottled in 2016・Dark Valley Bottling・Single Cask Release of 32 Bottles]

Nose:

Heavily sherried but tilted towards the meaty side of things, it’s thick but perhaps a tad burdensome; black pepper, squid ink, gun powder and dark chocolate all in the mix.  There is a hint of earthy peat smoke with the oak gradually becoming rather overbearing.  Blackcurrant jelly with wee mint infusion in time to lighten things up a little.

Palate & Finish:

Fortified wine-esque with the dried muscats gently caressing at first; followed by an explosion of Cadbury chocolate & sticky toffee along with some scarring hot spices hammering on the mid-palate before a blackcurrant cough syrup note is released.

A brush of peanut butter to go with a vague floral note in the finish.

Thoughts:

It’s always a coin toss with 20 litre casks, and the Raven’s Rest is perhaps an example of a cask that has deviated from the cask owner’s wishes and became something rather peculiar all together; still, I imagine there will be a few folks who think this is a thrilling dram.

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: The Macallan Edition No. 1

 

Style: Light Sherry and Spicy

Nose:

A quick strike of matchsticks brings us to a musky mist over brown sugar and dried (still unmistakably Macallan) sherry fruits. Slip of Balsamic vinegar over subtle walnuts. Spice hiding rather deep with the malt.

Palate:

Timber spices lashes out unexpectedly on the palate. On hot glowing tracks we have bountiful figs with apples, dates and raisin chocolates on the side. Uncompromising spice and tannins continue to tingle on mid-palate. Dry ginger becomes increasing evident. Milk chocolate and butter toast as oak rolls in. Red fruits heading to a semi-dry tone towards the end.

Finish:

Dry ginger stays on. Soft honey, dates and chocolate. Dried figs, dried figs.

Thoughts:

Macallan on the light and spicy side in my book. Edition No. 1 was remembered as one of the lesser Macallans in our vertical tasting last year (well, to be fair, we had some really great older Macallans in the line up). I ran another blind vertical tonight just to make sure. It was actually okay. For me, it is highly drinkable, but technical-wise, I do prefer my Macallan to have more flavours if the strength is tuned up. That being said, the Macallan spirit, the DNA, remains magnificent as ever.

[48% • 2015 • Original Bottling • Non Chill Filtered • Non Coloured • No Age Statement • Limited Edition • x]

-Esmond

 

Dram Review: Octomore Edition 02.2 Orpheus

[61.0%・5 Years Old・Bottled Circa 2010・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Immediately immersive, instantly transforming the setting to a cowshed with a peat fueled campfire burning away in the background.  There is a certain milkiness to it, and a certain madness as well, black forest cake splashed with tar and ink.  Oak splinters, pepper and coal smoke working over time, ferocious but pairing so bloody well with lighter tones of red fruits and dark toffee.  Purely exciting.

Palate & Finish:

An instant gratification with how the peat interacts with the sultana and molasses.  The fiery sensation builds up but at no point becomes punishing.  A rewarding journey as the peat keeps on giving, bringing along some of the more delicate characters that tend to be lost in recent renditions.  It’s mightily enjoyable experiencing how the sweetness, the oak, the barley, the spices and the citrus come together, it’s something I wish I can translate into words..

Thoroughly poised, the finishing encapsulates what a fun ride this has been, the peat carries through, but so do the red fruits and toffee treacle with some added traces of menthol.

Thoughts:

Nothing short of phenomenal.

☆☆ [Highly Recommend]

-Nicholas 

Dram Review: Lark The Revolution Release RR 09

[69.3%・3 Years 8 Months Old・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

Sweet sugary cream and french vanilla, oomph of peat fire giving an ashy, herbal vibe with some gunpowder sulphur lurking in the background, sandstone and minerals also in the mix.

Palate & Finish:

Sticky orange flavoured chocolate and a brush of cupcake icing as more toffee thickness comes oozing out, bringing along a dose of Port drenched raisins.

A finishing that’s perhaps more well rounded than its peers, a subtle blend of earthiness, ground-up maltiness, woodiness and sugared ginger; rounded but yet still somewhat short of being satisfying.

Thoughts:

Perhaps the 009 was never destined to be released on its own, there’re some very attractive traits but also some flaws and it would perhaps best serve a bigger purpose.

Something for the guys at Lark to think about perhaps, and may be something for other Australian distillers to think about too..

-Nicholas

 

Whisky Review: SMWS G13.1 Chita “A Complete Revelation”

Style: Sweet and Peppery

Nose:
A sweet and spicy opening. Incredible amount of white pepper scattered with herbal and minty side touches. Solid sweetness anchor nicely in the middle, caramelized bananas and mandarin citrus. Going slightly creamy, delicious vanilla marshmallows and white chocolate. Chalky oak slowly emerges towards the end. Massive and immensely enjoyable nose. Most impressive for a young grain.

Palate:
Herbal and hot spices on the first touch, but what follows is a similar but silkier entrance comparing to the nose. Peppermint overtone, dry grass and ginger slices. More white pepper as the sweetness kicks in, fat orange drop, green bananas plus a hint of juniper berries. Light, creamy texture, perhaps another block of white chocolate. Shaved timber surfaces with lingering herbal spices at the end.

Finish:
A rather soft and quick finish, lightly grassy, subtle vanilla candy and banana.

Thoughts:
What a sublime cask from this Japanese grain distillery. Rawness can be hardly detected at this very young age yet it is already so delicious. It feels this virgin oak cask has done wonders on the spirit, the sweetness combines splendidly with the herbal character to create a great profile. A complete revelation indeed, bravo!!

☆ [Recommended]

[58.3% • 2015 Bottled • 2009 Distilled • Independent Bottling • Aged 4 Years • 622 Bottles • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • Virgin Oak Puncheon Matured • *]

-Esmond

 

Whisky Review: Ardbeg Supernova 2015 Committee Release

Style: Smoky and Peaty

Nose:
Citrusy spices aroma buzzing on the nose. Slightly tight and quite dry. Seaside minerals twinkling alongside with mossy peat. Light peppermint hue, lemon peels transfigure into subtle orange drops, the sweetness is rather soft and buried underneath with the malt.

Palate:
A rather herbal and sooty entrance on the palate. Sweetness is less shy and comes forward. Lemons, oranges and apricots start to roll in, while silky vanilla chocolate and coconut cream relax on the side. Peppermint and chilli slowly boiling to give slight hotness. Light, delicate texture while it also comes with a velvet creamy touch. Smoky peat surfaces from the background with subtle brine.

Finish:
Damp peat followed by dried apricots, more coconut cream and ends with a light herbal overtone.

Thoughts:
Ahhhh… the peaty Ardbeg and this is the final bottling of the Suernova series. Slightly tight and green on the nose but it works out great all the way from there. Ample supply of signature Ardbeggian flavours – tar, mossy peat, apricot fruits with a fine-tuned balance. A good finale for this famous series…

☆ [Recommended]

[54.3% • 2015 • Original Bottling • No Age Statement • Cask Strength • Non Chill Filtered • Limited Edition • *]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Limeburners Cask Strength Directors Cut M230

[59.5%・NAS・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Single Cask Release of 202 Bottles]

Nose:

Slow-cooked prunes conveying that acidity across as the peat remains almost perfectly concealed.  Thick strawberry jam and lemon preserve as a lace of earthy smoke faintly wraps around.  Brandy flaming away as the Christmas cake is set ablaze, and a pot of black tea brewing in the background.

Palate & Finish:

Sticky and chewy, a thoroughly enjoyable mouthfeel.  Buttery creaminess dressed with lovely raisins, after eight chocolate thins, moist Christmas cake.  Sensational.

Mint cream with the Christmas cake note lingering on, there is a tidy oak influence which lays the path for a returning of jammy note, this time more gingery.

Thoughts:

I will have to hunt down a bottle somehow.

Not a lot of Australian distilleries can put out a whisky of this caliber, and the Limeburners guys seem to have a higher strike rate that most other folks.

I have enjoyed quite a few Port casks from Limeburners now and cask to cask wise it’s as close as consistency as you’ll ever get with Australian single casks, somehow they are able to create a certain identity that just shows in their casks.  This is really a testament to their crafts and their proficiency in picking great casks.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas 

Dram Review: Lark The Revolution Release RR 10

[68.6%・2 Years 11 Months Old・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

How marvellous, marshmallow, crisp apples, honey and lemon.  The bourbon cask influence is sublime.  Sanded wood desk at a carpenter’s workshop.

Palate & Finish:

Vanilla leads the way and brings along generous dose of tropical fruits, syrup poached apples and milk chocolate.  Sandalwood with a light floral note that disperses with the hotness and returns with a delicious marmalade note.

The finishing is soft, sugar syrup with a hint of oak and traces of fruits.

Thoughts:

Another delicious Lark aged in 20 litre ex-Makers Mark cask, it’s bottled at 68.6% but it conveys such heavenly flavours without being over the top.  The RR 010 really epitomises the magic of Australian whiskies, you mostly won’t know how or when but sometimes a great cask comes along and it’s just so damn satisfying.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Limeburners Cask Strength Heavy Peat Barrel M225

[61.0%・NAS・Cask No. M225・Official Bottling・Single Cask Release of 183 Bottles]

Nose:

Dark chocolate, vanilla essence from charred oak staves laced with icing sugar.  Coarse rock salt, quite an oomph of peat smoke providing a perhaps fiery foreshadowing, heavily peated indeed by Australian standards.  Ground flannel seeds as notes of freshly plucked fruits slowly come on.

Palate & Finish:

Orchard fruits with a thick syrupy note, think caramelized banana splashed with even more crumbly brown sugar.  The spices apply a constant pressure with the peat smoke fizzling through out.

The peat continues to press on in the finish, charcoal and burnt barbecue seasoning aided by the presence of lemon peels.

Thoughts:

I vaguely remember sampling its sister cask M226 last year, if I remember correctly it wasn’t to my taste.  I was told that this has won a couple of awards.  I then did some browsing, and it would appear that it was in fact the M226 that won all those awards..

Perhaps I just don’t have an Australian palate..

-Nicholas

P.S. cheers to Asit for pointing out that the M225 has in fact also been awarded.

Dram Review: Limeburners Peated

[48.0%・NAS・Bottled Circa. 2017・Official Bottling]

Nose:

Spirit driven and rather piercing on the nose.  Wet grass and mud, yet just a faint presence of smoke.  Wood chips and limestone with a curious red brick note slabbed on top of a base of floral tones.

Palate & Finish:

Sugar melting into butter as the oily spirit takes centre stage; rather green with bits of peat attaching themselves onto the teeth whilst the sugary content runs on.

Hint of menthol with traces of cough syrup residues giving a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Thoughts:

Last year’s peated release was a single cask, this year’s has been vatted; to me this is not necessarily a minus, not every barrel of whisky is destined to be released as a single cask and Australian distilleries in particular need to understand that.

I applaud the Limeburners guys’ foresight in recognising the significance of putting out a good vatted, non-cask strength expression.  The peated release should become more matured and more importantly, more consistent over the next few years.

Side note:  I wonder if the “Australian peating method” will ever catch on?

-Nicholas