Whisky Review: Acorn New Harmony Wardhead 1997 Aged 19 Years 

Style: Icy and Spicy

Nose:

Delicate orchard fruits strolling across a barley field. A nice yield of floral nectar and buttering aroma on the nose. Enticingly sweet while icy peppermint spice pushes in at a moderate strength. A nice balance of apples, fruitiness and cereal notes. Looking sharp but smooth.

Palate:

Feisty peppermint laying path for more orchard and stone fruits on the palate. Icy apple notes intertwined with the spices to form a nice backbone. Candy floss flies on top while malt butter undertone going lower. Nice delicate texture with a good balance.

Finish:

Malt brushes with a final glimpse of orchard fruitiness. The fruits stay on a while, sweet and smooth, finishes with a touch of white flower nectar.

Thoughts:

A very well structured Wardhead (for those who haven’t heard of Wardhead, it is Glenfiddich teaspooned with Balvenie, so it is technically a blended malt, but basically a Glenfiddich). Neat, sweet and balanced that makes you think that it is no coincidence that Glenfiddiich is now the best-selling single malt in the world. Not exactly complex, but the frosty, apple sweetness presented at optimum spice. Bueno.

☆ [Recommended]

[50.5% • 2016 Bottled • 1997 Distilled • Independent Bottling • Blended Malt • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Chill Filtered • Non Coloured • Cask Number: 186 • *]

-Esmond 

Tasted at Whisky & Alement, Melbourne 

Whisky Review: Silver Seal Whisky is Classical Series Glen Elgin 20 Years Old “Madama Butterfly”

Style: Sweet and Spicy

Nose:
Icy spearmint swooping down onto lightly stewed tropical fruits on the nose. Quite peppery and sharp, but the ester fruits are holding up very nicely in the middle. White flower coming through, banana, dried mangoes and malt cake on the subtle side. Bit shy but also sweet and alluring.

Palate:
A spicy arrow pierces through the palate, then we are bestowed with some beautiful sweetness. Icing sugar on a lemon sponge cake, lily, pineapple margarita, lightly stewed tropical fruits, aloe vera and boiled lemon flowing along. A final bite of delicious malt cake. Gentle wood smoke at the back, chocolate chip cookie. Finishes with a touch of oak.

Finish:
Spices with a minimal hint of earthiness. Malt, lemon cup cake with a dab of chocolate.

Thoughts:
A very elegant Glen Elgin. Slightly sharp on the nose but mmmm, an array of dazzling sweetness delivered on the palate. Very tasty. Classic Speyside reaching a rather high ceiling here. Very, very close to 2 stars. Well done.

☆ [Recommended]

[51.9% • 2016 Bottled • 1995 Distilled • Independent Bottling • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Chill Filtered • Non Coloured • Cask Number: 67 • 135 of 185 Bottles • *]

-Esmond

Tasted at Whisky & Alement, Melbourne

Dram Review: Yamazaki Mizunara Japanese Oak Cask Aged 18 Years 2017 Edition

[48.0%・18 Years Old・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

The nose is fairly understated and reserved here, which in a way highlights the spectrum of flavours and how evenly they are arranged.  Coconut chips, pear puree and subtle cherry preserves stacking neatly against each other like kissing buttons on the cuffs of a well measured suit.  Soft white fruits chosen as a contrast to the uniqueness of the mizunara woodiness; traces of  thinning solvent, cinnamon powder and aloe vera syrup.  Needless to say, it’s rounded and delicate, but it feels more like a sub 45% rather than a 48%.

Palate & Finish:

A brush of light creaminess with the sweet cherries brightens up the tone.  The main delivery is smooth but uncharacteristically short, complimented by subtle fragrances and soft spices, with traces of dried orange, sultana and oak diligently laced through out.

Finishes with a hint of buttery croissants and a gentle brush of tannins, with the oak re-entering the scene late, fading out but leaving an assertive and drying impression.

Thoughts:

Ultra refined and sophisticated, even the non-believers would begrudgingly admit that the Suntory team did a masterful job marrying the casks for this release.

It’s not as expressive as previous releases but if you are well versed in Suntory’s philosophy, the subservient profile will hit you profoundly.

I thought of my SBGA011 when I was contemplating how to pen my thoughts on this dram.  The meticulously polished hour markers would catch the faintest ray of light and and give off the most satisfying reflection whilst the blue second hand glides over seamlessly.  I am mindful that the bulk population of the world probably thinks each and every Grand Seiko is more or less the same and I do admit at times I wish they would release something absolutely revolutionary; but just like this Yamazaki release, I enjoy the Snowflake immensely because of the sum of its every excellence..

Thank you Mr. Miyamoto and Mr. Woolley for running us through the release and thank you Ghe Blend and Liquid Ideas for organising the launch.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Bowmore Mizunara Cask Finish

[53.9%・Bottled in 2016・NAS・Original Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

The maritime influence arrives in strides alongside notes of chargrilled vegetables, the subdued smoke pairs well with the translucent woodiness.  The ashy note has been kept at bay.

Palate & Finish:

The dram conveys a mellow honey sweetness with a sprinkle of lemony note that lays down a path for the Islay-esque characters to enter the main stage.  The smoke is intertwined with the presence of the oak, and the menthol provides a fine coating.

The light peat extends with traces of lollies chiming in, cloves and mint flavoured candy cane together providing for a pleasing finish.

Thoughts:

This is not necessarily a Bowmore that enraptures me, nor is it a mizunara matured whisky that truly fascinates; but it sure is a solid offering and I’m pleased that Bowmore has delivered on this occasion.

☆ [Recommended]

Nicholas

Dram Review: Yamazaki Mizunara Japanese Oak Cask Bottled in 2013

[48.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2013・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

A certain je nais sais quoi with how lovely the mizunara is laid out, absolutely mesmerising.  The top notes are refreshing with delicate jammy notes and subtle hints of coconut chips and marzipan.  The unfolding of the oak is alluring, layers peeling off to reveal hints of tobacco and sweet vanilla cream.

Palate & Finish:

The palate opens with plenty of citrus, mangos and apricots with a white tea acidity before settling into the creamy caramel note.  The oaky element follows on and becomes quite prominent; spicy, drying and slightly bitter.

A mellow and lasting finish with hints of citrus notes and light sparkles of youthful spices.

Thoughts:

A charming number that is cleverly put together.  The nose is particularly expressive and wonderful.  It is hard not to fall in love with mizunara matured whiskies after this dram..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Tokyo International Bar Show Whisky Live Tokyo 2013 Yamazaki Mizunara

[50.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2013・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 547 Bottles]

Nose:

The nose is filled with that old-timey, diligently polished wood note common in Japanese shrines and mizunara matured whiskies; within the wood exists hints of muscovado sugar and pepper.  Pine wood and a slight incense smoke give a calming touch, with maple syrup and a wee smoky barbecue note in time.

Palate & Finish:

Brown sugar and floral honey on the palate with a burst of sichimi spices.  The floral note now opens up with a touch of beeswax and the nectar melting on the tip of the tongue, it’s rich with a nuttiness to go with it.

A fragrant finish with the oak characters quite evident, a touch of earthy espresso with a sprinkle of cinnamon powder before the wood influenced bitterness eventually taking over.

Thoughts:

A well considered dram that tries very hard to contain the spices, relying on the complex flavours that are dexterously put together to draw the attention away from the spices but the delivery is ultimately let down by the finishing which comes across as a tad drying..

Nicholas

Dram Review: Timboon Christie’s Cut (Bottled on 31 July 2017)

[60.0%・5 Years Old・Distilled in 2012・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling]

Nose:

Lemony and grassy with a clear lager note.  On the spirit-y side naturally due to the high ABV and relatively young age.  Brushed with a fine vanilla paste, the orchid fruits start to appear with the waxy fruit peels.

Palate & Finish:

An explosion of bubble-gum-led favours on the palate, thick cream, popcorn and apple juice box.  After the alcohol burn there is the butterscotch note that follows through nicely with can pineapples and a hint of crushed mint.

A rather swift drop off but for the creamy and robust barley note that is quite lasting.

Thoughts:

For an Australian whisky, this certainly falls on the lighter spectrum, but don’t be deceived by the flavour profile, this dram is intense.  It could do away with the burn and could use a longer tail though.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Samaroli Ferry to Islay First Edition

[55.1%・NAS・Bottled in 2014・Coilltean Bottling・Limited Release of 300 Bottles]

Nose:

A generous wave of salty oceanic aromas, oysters and seaweed with that creme brûlée note from fresh bourbon casks.  The peat is understated but serves to accentuate the maritime influence.  Light top notes of baby powder stringing out the natural characters of the spirits elegantly, with the smoke and iodine in particular becoming bolder in time.

Palate & Finish:

The strength sets the dram apart from its peers, because it still retains the gentle mouthfeel of an Italian Scotch.  Light apple vinegar with some waxiness, a touch of apple honey collides with a splash of ground black pepper giving rise to ample of gingery spice, the heat steadily and surely provides a warming sensation infused with hints of lemon honey, blackcurrants and blackberries before giving way to a medicinal bitterness, think crushed pills.

Smoked haddock, dried seafood and burnt toast gradually make it to the surface, with the slightly tarry note staying on for a long while.

Thoughts:

A vat of malts from Bunahabhain, Caol Ila and Laphroaig.  Though the back of the label reads “a great peaty whisky, typically Samaroli!”, there is a certain youth that is encapsulated in the dram, despite some traits that feel familiar.  It’s almost as if the student is paying homage to the maestro but at the same time he is exhilarated to finally impart his own vision.

And that is perhaps a sign of greatness to come for A. W. B. ..

-Nicholas

 

Whisky Review: Compass Box “This is not a luxury whisky”

Style: Summer Berries and Cream Chocolate

Nose:

Alluring blue berries dipped in silky milk chocolate on the nose. Honey drizzled on green pears, stewed fruits and more summer berries followed by teasing spice. All sweet and comfy. Then there is a shy, drier facet – acidic limestone and five spices following through, underneath sits a subtle but steady grassy base which gels everything together.

Palate:

Satisfying mix of fragrant fruits and creamy chocolate on the palate. More fresh and ripe blueberries, cooked fruits and berry compote simmering in a delicious pool of melted milk chocolate. Soft but bright grassy tone lights up the rhythm, vanillic cereal grains dripping with waxy honeycomb. Very nice. Peppermint spice powers through and carries rich and oily sweetness to the end. Blackcurrants, nutella finishes with a touch of toasted oak and crystallized barley sugar.

Finish:

Thick blue berries yogurt stays on, malt biscuit finishes with a light peppermint note.

Thoughts:

What an eye dazzling whisky we have here. Sherry dried fruits are nicely honed by dignified, waxy grains while the delicate grassy undertone gives out a positive vibe. Glamorous creamy texture, beautiful layerings, can’t complain really… By the way yes, this is a luxury whisky, here’s the component breakdown – 79% 19 years old first fill sherry butt Glen Ord, 17% 40 years old Strathclyde and 4% 30 years old Caol Ila. I think each component can fetch quite a bit of fortune these days. This blended scotch is bloody brilliant.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[53.1% • 2015 Bottled • Blended Whisky • No Age Statement • Non Chill Filtered • Natural Colour • Limited Release • 4992 Bottles • **]

Dram Review: Heartwood The Beagle 5

[62.4%・NAS・Bottled in 2017・Limited Release of 175 Bottles]

Nose:

The casks give off an earthy and oaky vibe, the brute strength is obviously there.  It’s syrupy, presumably a product of involvement from the thicker textured casks with a prominent fortified wine led acidity; but otherwise it’s held quite tightly and requires some time for the richness to open up.

Palate & Finish:

A sticky and chewy drop.  Maraschino cherries and glazed strawberries with a good oomph of heat and plenty of minerals and tannins.  The delivery stretches on, date pudding served with fresh cream.  Rather umami towards the end.

Thoughts:

I am always intrigued by Mr. Duckett’s works, more so with his vatted malts and especially when he has had to actively tweaked the flavours.

The Beagle 5 definitely benefitted from having its different components.  Individually I suspect the casks may all be somewhat unbalanced and flawed but collectively this is a coherent expression.  I’m not sure though if it would have worked still if not for Tim’s unique ways of loving..

-Nicholas