Whisky Review: Adelphi Limited Cragganmore 1986 29 Years Old

Style: Fruity and Complex

Nose:
Dense fragrance, ample apricot jam followed by free flowing white flower nectar. Powerful peppermint drive, more apricots, incensed wood spice combines with tasty sugar plums. Subtle lemon balm, stewed fruits gently highlighted, chocolate oak softly infused giving a hint of tobacco leaves bitterness. Beautiful sweetness.

Palate:
Powerful yet delicate entrance – gentle white peaches and apricots riding on a mighty wave of peppermint and black peppercorn spices. Honey, jammy sweetness sitting on top of a layer of waxiness. Light whispers of citrus lemon, sticky apricots, botrytis buzzing. Delicate and complex sweetness, so nice! Transits to a drier phase as cedar wood slowly tunes up with a generous brush of chalkiness.

Finish:
Polished furniture, earthy, cherry liquorice with more syrupy white peaches. Delicate but how good is this?!

Thoughts:
I feel pretty blessed as this bottle was a spontaneous buy, glad that my blind faith pays off (Hint: It was not cheap). So elegant yet the musky fruitiness make you always want to come back for more. All the other Cragganmore elements – wood smoke, liquorice, earthy chalkiness build up the complexity beautifully. A superb cask selected by Adelphi. Top dram.

 ☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[59.2% • 2016 Bottled • 1986 Distilled • Independent Bottling • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • Cask Number: 1490 • 168 Bottles • **+]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Adelphi’s Glenborrodale Batch Release No. 1

[46%・Bottled Circa 2016・8 Years Old・Adelphi’s Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

An appealing nose, pleasant aromas of chocolate powder, gingery spices with a lace of smoke with vintage vibe. The sherry influence is subtle in the background with the main theme being the reinvigorating grain spices along with toffee fudge.

Palate & Finish:

A gorgeous delivery on the palate, chocolate buttons melting on the tastebuds, molten caramel and burnt orange nibs with a ripe mango note. A creamy lolly note with a distant Islay influence coming out on the mid-palate, the syrupy orange liquor note continues to give still, leading towards a soft and malty finish with just a hint of peat smoke.

Thoughts:

The art of blended malt/vatted malt seems to have been kept at bay in recent years, but when one can afford to create something out of creativity and integrity rather than feasibility and necessity (this has some first filled sherry matured Glenrothes in it if I remember correctly), it is usually something that fascinates.

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Hakushu Sherry Cask 2014

Style: Sweet and Elegant

Nose:
Brilliant mix of forest fruits, pine and raisins. Tree sap and green grass flickering charmingly. Deeper hides an inkling of smoke and malt, spotless cucumbers and cereal notes rising from the back.

Palate:
Delicious raisins land with perfect weight. Sweetness of pears, dark cherries and oranges congregate at the fore. Followed with clean malts with nice bursts of spices. More forest fruits characters come in with freshness. Slowly dries up with cereal touches and oak towards the end.

Finish:
Sherry malt winking playfully, light tannins and oak emitting warmth to give a long, smooth finish.

Thoughts:
With the Japanese whisky giants, the balance is probably the last thing you would worry about, and this Hakushu performed admirably as well. Divine sherry brushes empower the malt spirit making it so elegant and bright. Sheer quality… Wish I can afford this day in day out.

☆ [Recommended]

[48%・2014 Bottled ・Original Bottling ・No Age Statement ・Limited Release • *]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Bruichladdich Redder Still 1984

Style: Sweet and Elegant

Nose:
Ruby pomegranate cascades over melted vanilla ice-cream on the nose. A touch of copper followed by feisty mints piercing through glistening but delicate tropical fruits. The core sits unusually deep inside, coconut sago pudding accompanies the soft chocolate malt.

Palate:
Deep, resonating ruby fruits residing nicely on the palate. Redcurrants, raspberry jelly and cranberry cake celebrating the juicy sweetness with a deft vanilla-caramel creamy touch at the tip. Honey and stewed papaya boiling gently, very delicate and fragrant palate. Quick flick of mineral smoke and perhaps the merest hint of sea salt towards the back. Glazed vanilla oak and white chocolate as we come to close.

Finish:
Gentle oaky tone opens up for vanilla cake while red fruits dance happily on top of it.

Thoughts:
It is a great pleasure for me to dissect one of the most complex sweetness I have ever tasted. A lot of depth has been created by the synergy between the vanillic American oak and red fruits driven French Chateau Lafleur cask. Floral brushes elegantly transmuted to rich red fruitiness, crisp sweetness with a creamy kiss, tantalizing vibe generated from the wine casks but there is sufficient spice injected to make it vibrant. Not only rich and round but also elegant and slick. Although it is not yet a perfect dram to me, the balance it has achieved here is truly remarkable.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[50.4% • 2007 Bottled • 1984 Distilled • Original Bottling • Cask Strength • Non Chill Filtered • Limited Edition • 1644 of 4080 Bottles • **]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice BenRiach 1969 12 Years Old

[40%・Distilled in 1969・12 Years Old・Gordon & MacPhail Bottling]

Nose:

It’s astounding that for a young malt the nose carries such a musky perfume tone, rather alluring indeed. Still, there are traces of coarseness that sip out in time.. hay straws, burnt toast and dried flowers. Rounded with notes of cafe later and milk chocolate, the dram attains a fine fragrant balance gradually.

Palate & Finish:

Black Forest cake with cured cherries, the style is very G&M-esque. An extravaganza from Seville oranges with a subsequent introduction of rawer notes of hay straws and grain toast on the back end.

The finishing is rather subdued, the focus is slightly tilted towards the soft poached pears.

Thoughts:

Bottles like this make you wonder if it’s just a case of whiskies being made in an entirely different era or if there was something else happening that made this 12 year old so sophisticated, so pleasing.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Aberlour 15 Years Old Double Cask Matured

[40.0%・15 Years Old・Bottled Circa 2017・Official Bottling・General Release]

Nose:

Poached pears and apple sauce, there is a toffee presence with some Italian herbs and perhaps a faint hint of smoke.

Palate & Finish:

Vanilla sauce and liquor soaked oranges; sultana and nutmeg with distant traces of milk chocolate coming up, bringing along a touch of red cherries as well..  all existing harmoniously.

Soft finish with a wee hint of sultana remaining.

Thoughts:

Certainly a quality Speysider that should prove to be quite competitive amongst its travel exclusive peers, rounded and generally pleasing without being too exhilarating but everything is in place.

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Octomore Edition 07.2

Style: Smoky and Peaty

Nose:
Started with an intriguing mix of aroma – French dessert wine, vanilla milk, herbal peat, smoke, damp forest wood, spice and raspberries. Scent swirled and entwined together in a rather gentle fashion. Spice a bit sharp fresh from the pour, but it significantly opened up after 15 minutes of breathing.

Palate:
Soft touch on the first palate. Sweet honey, fresh fruits and baked apples quickly balanced by timber and dry smoky notes. A hint of characteristic milkiness embedded within and slowly pushing outwards. Peaty notes condensing at mid, back palate. A dash of salt emerging, I am feeling a bit of maritime influence here? Oaky notes kicking in, combining the sweetness and we are treated with some milk chocolate towards the end.

Finish:
Ashy spice lingering, followed by faint vanilla sugar, slightly fruity, smoke and peat on the finish. Honey running thin, and malt coming into the focus at the very end.

Thoughts:
I admit I was not impressed when I took my first quick dram. Not as neat as 6.3, probably not as complex as the 10 years old, not as ashy as 6.1, probably not as fruity as 7.1… But it performed so differently when I sat down and took it seriously. Sometimes first impression with whiskies can be wrong. Spend time, take tiny sips, savour your whiskies, it might be something different than you first thought and you will be repaid well. I enjoyed the layering of this whisky, the nose when it firing all cylinders, the light palate and you can feel all elements are breathing so well. I wouldn’t mind picking up another bottle next time when I travel.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/distillery]

[58.5% • 2015 • Original Bottling • No Age Statement • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • Aged 5 Years • Travel Retail Exclusive • t]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Cragganmore 25 Years Old 2014 Special Release

Style: Fragrant and Complex

Nose:
Delicate, fragrant mix of aroma on the nose. Massive peach and sticky apricots, milky almonds, both stewed and dried tropical fruits. Subtle walnut oak infused with light chocolate malt. Peppermint sugar and a touch of dry herbal note.

Palate:
Quiet but a robust diffusion of incense cedar and sandalwood on the palate. Fresh apricots circled around by icy spearmint. Slightly meaty notes roll in while aromatic fruits blossom charmingly. Gentle wood spice, dry malt exposed, vanilla milk on honey oak. The bitterness slowly contracts to leave a light, dry walnut tail.

Finish:
Velvet fruits continue to stew gently. More peppermint and chocolate going on. Bitter stave and linseed oil sinks deep to finish.

Thoughts:
Such a delicate, fragrant and sophisticated malt. What is special here is the balance of this spirit actually elevates the expression to the next level. Look, I don’t want to sound like a Diageo cheerleader here, but after sampling a few special release bottlings, I am starting to see the beauty of these creations. It is about the vattings, the interpretation of house styles, displaying the spirit character by utilizing multiple casks/ cask types. Not to mention that Cragganmore possess one of the most unique spirit in Scotland. Incredible blending skills, magnificent whisky.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[51.4% • 2014 Bottled • 1988 Distilled • Original Bottling • Cask Strength • Non Chill Filtered • Bottle Number: 0372 • 3372 Bottles • **]

-Esmond

 

Whisky Review: Yamazaki Aged 12 Years

Style: Sweet and Fruity

Nose:
Velvety, fresh fruits sided with deep, fragrant oak spices and white pepper. Orange and cherry gummies, vanilla and a touch of red licorice. Gentle spices winking, warm, refreshing and balanced aroma.

Palate:
Deliciously sweet, ripe orange and peach sharpened by dry pepper spices and wood fragrance. Flavour contracts in the middle as zesty edge exposed. White oak, sandalwood – cigar smoke undertone at the back. Finishes with light honey, refined malt syrup, a light red fruits tail.

Finish:
Soft cherry wine garnished with orange zest. Molasses crossing path with vanillic wood. Reminiscence of peppercorns. Pretty nice.

Thoughts:
Sweet whisky with magnificent composure. Almost everyone in town is crazy about Japanese whisky. While the overblown craziness is mostly down to hype but part of it is true – the quality is there. The smoothness of spirit, splendid complexity and balance, the finesse of flavours is incredible. This whisky gives us a good glimpse of the class of Yamazaki.

☆ [Recommended]

[43% • Original Bottling • General Release • *]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Glenfarclas The Family Casks 1990 #1276

Style: Light and Delicate

Nose:
A light burnt match smoke tint reveals delicious baked dark cherry pie on the nose. Fresh green apple spices, aroma oily and rich. Incredibly refined tone to almost perfect smoothness, round and sweet. Red apples and roasted almonds, traces of slight overburnt gunpowder. Poached pears and syrup water mashing with the malt. Humble sherry lifting the spirit up without towering over it.

Palate:
Warm toffee apples levitated by delicate white flower honey. Freshness outlined by a mix bag of red and green apples, pleasantly fragrant and crisp. A speck of cinnamon dust, subtle five-spices glowing to give a drier side on the palate. Sugar plums, red grapes tart. Bright, orange marmalade malt marches in. Tannins and subtle oak layering at the back, some milk chocolate to finish.

Finish:
Red liquorice, soft dark cherries and black forest cake linked together with a thread of smoked honey oak.

Thoughts:
A polite Glenfarclas which invites you to explore every bit of nuances on offer here. It is sherried alright, just don’t expect a sherry bomb. The charming cherry tone leads you to a nice, firm fruity core and completes with gentle oak tannins. It doesn’t really nudge you to another direction, but leaving enough clues around for you to discover. Yum.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

[48.6% • 2014 Bottled • 1990 Distilled • Original Bottling • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • Cask Number: 1276 • 535 Bottles • Matured in Refill Sherry Butt • t]

-Esmond