Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu X Kusuda 2017

[57.5%・Distilled in 2011・Bottled in 2017 ・6 Years Old・Original Bottling・Limited Release of 1270 Bottles]

Nose:

Dignified with the fine French oak influence; a polite presence of wine tannins alongside freshly plucked strawberries conveying that clean sweetness and dressed with ginger flowers.

Palate & Finish:

A subtle macaron-like sweetness as the jammy strawberries intensify then effortlessly dissolve, granting a spike of acidity that gives a beautiful zing.

A rewarding finish with the lush forest berries and a silky creaminess.

Thoughts:

This is the second collaboration between Chichibu Distillery and Kusuda Wines.  I have been searching for the first release for a couple of years now without success so naturally the anticipation has built up for this dram.  I’m pleased to say that this dram has rewarded my longing..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: SMWS G8.7 Cambus “Caribbean Banana Fritters”

[59.7%・27 Years Old・Distilled in 1989・SMWS Bottling・Single Cask Release of 240 Bottles]

Nose:

Wood vanish up front, beneath the top layer of grain spirit lies the banana toffee.  The grain is aggressive with a curious dose of tiger balm.  In time, the buttery note and orange peels reveal themselves.

Palate & Finish:

A masculine delivery of buttery toffee, hint of cherry liquor with a furious splash of gingery spices, sweet grapes join in from afar.

Wee brush of honey in the finish after the spices disperse, allowing the Sauternes influence to become more noticeable.

Thoughts:

Still rather untamed despite the age, even for a single grain, which was a surprise.  The cask finishing gave an interesting twist to the dram and probably eased the tone somewhat..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: SMWS 2.98 Glenlivet “Frothy Cappuccino”

[58.2%・13 Years Old・Distilled in 2003・Bottled in 2017・SMWS Bottling・Single Cask Release of 166 Bottles]

Nose:

Syrup drenched walnuts with a lemony undertone.  Thick caramel intercepted by a sharpness from the spirit and the wood.

Palate & Finish:

Cask-led vanilla with a thick creaminess which as the name of the dram has suggested, feels frothy.  Orchid fruits brushed with chocolate dust; quite a bite from the spices.

The spices run on with sprinkles of chocolate dust and cinnamon sugar.

Thoughts:

It’s been a while since the Society has bottled a Glenlivet, though on the punchy side this is still quite lively, welcome back you feisty “2”..

Nicholas

Whisky Review: Glenfiddich 15 Years Old Distillery Edition

Style: Sweet and Delicate

Nose:
Elegant autumn apple on the nose. Baked pastry, lemon tart underlined by subtle barley husk and honey brushes. Going deeper we have almonds and cinnamon dust comes with considerable chilli spices at the back. Icy and crisp.

Palate:
Warmer as we have a bigger malt presence on the palate. Vanilla malt moved up and sit next to orchard fruits at the front role. Very refined notes of apples and cinnamon sticks while ginger spice lashes out a zinging whip. Roasted almonds and a pinch of nutmeg sprinkled on top. Oak slowly emerges, milk chocolate, delicate and smooth.

Finish:
Dark and milk chocolate and orchard fruit notes staying on, surrounded by ginger spice which gives a tingling sensation. Pretty nice.

Thoughts:
To be honest, the thought of Glenfiddich at a higher strength gets me excited (WGS if you are reading this please do more 43s!). This one is bottled at 51% and I am not disappointed as the power is strong enough to deliver the flavours. The spirit itself exquisitely delicate and refined, crisp apples singing high notes while deeper, nuts and vanilla malt holding up nicely. This is no super cask or blend in here but I feel the quality of the spirit speaks for itself. No wonder Glenfiddich is one of the best single malts in the world, well deserved.

[51% • 2009 Bottled • Original Bottling • Non Chill Filtered • General Release • t]

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: SMWS 116.20 Yoichi 余市 “Fascinating complexity and finesse”

Style: Vanilla and Complex

Nose:
Vanilla toffee and hot toddy spiced up by white pepper on the nose. Round melon sweetness and wood shavings lightly smoked with gentle peat. A positive vibe. Caramel pudding followed by incredible amount of wood incense. Anise, cinnamon stewed with fruits which has been lurking deep with the malt. A virgin oak malt through and through.

Palate:
More and more vanilla caramel pouring onto the palate. In comes a nice amount of amber peat and wood smoke. Lapsang tea, white flower, tropical fruits, char-grilled pineapple, coconut cream. After a while the dram opens up to an endless stream of sweetness. Yellow flower, vanilla wood, vanilla milk, orange drops, ester fruits… It goes on and on… Finishes with a dash of salt, bonfire and barbeque seafood.

Finish:
Milk pudding, sesame with a touch of miso paste. Floral, fruitiness drying up and we have dying amber smoke and peat. Delicious.

Thoughts:
Honestly I don’t cheer for virgin oak cask malts, because in general virgin oak injects in a lot of vanilla and caramel which tends to overwhelm the spirit. But this whisky is one of the rare exceptions. Yes, there’re still ample vanilla and caramel, but when the whisky opens up, you can find much more complexities and finesse under the virgin oak mask. Layer after layer of flavours come to you… Very enjoyable. Pour yourself a healthy dram, you can enjoy this all night.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[61.6% • 2013 Bottled • 1987 Distilled • Independent Bottling • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • 452 Bottles • Aged 26 Years • Matured in Virgin Oak Puncheon • **]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Ocean Whisky Karuizawa Aged 21 Years

[43.0%・21 Years Old・Distilled in 1967・Ocean Whisky Bottling・Limited Release of 498 Bottles]

Nose:

Subtle and elegant.  Beeswax, red cherries, soft fruits and fine raisins carried through a mellow oak influence.  Some red apples in time as well as the comforting barley sweetness gradually comes on.

Palate & Finish:

Certainly more lively on the palate, bright oranges with the peels slightly torched, ripe mangos with a light wood influence.  Soft tannins tenderly grip on with the malt blending in well with the fragrance.  A perfectly soft delivery.

Clean finish, crisp fruits with a wee bitterness, the fragrance is rounded and lasting.

Thoughts:

Sometimes, how the flavours are conveyed is what makes the dram special.

Thomas said that this is not the usual Karuizawa and I agree.  Nevertheless, this dram here is executed sublimely.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Fannys Bay Barrel 10

[60.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Single Cask Release of 39 Bottles]

Nose:

A heavy “Australian Sherry cask” here, dark chocolate and raisins with the tone setting quite low.  Though at 60% and quite young the new make notes have been masked rather well by the alluring fragrance from the wood.  The dram captures the sweetness and acidity of the raisins and maraschino cherries well, and in addition a pleasant surprise with the prosciutto.

Palate & Finish:

There is an interesting saltiness from the wood that helps draw out the intense sweetness.  Despite the thickness attained, the new make characters still remain noticeably intact, however the delivery is not overly hot and is soon complimented by dark chocolate and sticky figs.

Soft finishing as the syrup disperses leaving traces of raisin notes behind.

Thoughts: 

Not a bad cask at all, like many Australian whiskies this could perhaps use some more maturation to polish out the new make characters but otherwise it shows that the distillery is on track.  Very much a sound progress report.  Welcome to the game Mr. and Mrs. Cooper.

Nicholas

Dram Review: Fleurieu Whisky Kisses

[55.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 600 Bottles]

Nose:

The nose is heavily influenced by the musky Sherry casks, muscat grapes with a rather big Chinese herbal tone that leaves quite an impression.  The earthiness and coal smoke form the structure, though that does go well with the molasses and toffee treacle; together with the Christmas cake notes the thickness is well conveyed.

Palate & Finish:

Chocolate sauce poured atop of Muscat grapes, the Sherry grips on to the tastebuds with a gorgeous acidity from the dried grapes and seasoned sour plums.  An excellent mouthfeel with sticky cranberries and cinnamon spices, just a bit of coffee ground and smoke from the mid palate onwards.

Grape and menthol jelly with the toffee and Ovaltine oozing out, there is a slight hint of burnt toast in there as well.

Thoughts:

Mr. Andrews’ third release is once again refined beyond its age and its provenience despite the herbal characters on the nose which could use some fine tuning.  There appear to be a clear identity in place with their releases and I am already looking forward to what’s to come next.

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Old Forester Statesman

[47.5%・NAS・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Quite an oomph of citrus, orange peels and on the dry side of things with a noticeable lean on the wood.  The char asserts itself confidently, cloves and tobacco at first and chocolate milkshake, honey and corn syrup sweetness to follow.

Palate & Finish:

The spirit lays bare as it’s dressed with orange essence.  Quite young indeed with some pear nectar joining in before a sudden wave of overwhelming spices.  Hints of milk chocolate and toffee wash up afterwards.

Light fruits and slight creaminess with a curious bitterness from the tannins and leather.

Thoughts:

It is said that the Statesman is created from casks that have been ageing in the “warmest places at the warehouse”, which supposedly allows more interactions between the spirit and the wood.  It does not appear that emphasis on wood influence pays off on this occasion.  Perhaps the sequel will do better..

Cheers to Brown-Forman Australia and Tonic PR for inviting me to the media launch and thank you to Zeta Bar and Mr. Millhouse for hosting us.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Royal Salute “62 Gun Salute”

[43.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2016・Pernod Ricard Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

The nose is ambitious.  Polished mahogany sitting at the workshop, trimmed vegetable tanned leather.  The incense disperses in the background as the edible notes enter.  Caramel is dressed with an even mix of ground black pepper and candied ginger as the oak injects itself into the conversation.

Palate & Finish:

A syrupy palate delivery of a crowd pleasing nature.  Plenty of oak as though it is imperative that the ages of some of the casks are highlighted.  The acidity from the Christmas fruits comes through smoothly.  Quite a complex presentation of notes such as dark chocolate, French coffee, cinnamon and sea salt.

The finishing is soft but the Christmas spices remain lively.  The Spanish oak tannins provide for a technical finish.

Thoughts:

The nose exceeds what one would hope to experience as the palate & finish deliver what one would expect from the dram.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas