Whisky Review: Johnnie Walker Blue Label “The Casks Edition”

Style: Rich and Spicy

Nose:

A simultaneous display of both sweetness and dryness here. Dried fruits and red liquorice wrapped around by robust peppermint. Plenty of dry spices laying around, complex overtone of white pepper, brass and meat stock. Honey drops bouncing off green tea leaves. Sweet, bit icy and meaty at the back.

Palate:

Delicate stewed fruits highlighted by more robust peppermint and dry spices. Double drizzle of honey and caramel over a stack of fragrant tobacco leaves. Chocolate sauce, earthy red liquorice, a brimming layer of honeycomb wax, barley sugar infused with bonfire peat. Brassy touch and fresh peppermint leaves. Vanilla cereal singing softly, finishes with a faint meaty track.

Finish:

Red strawberries, honey drop and deep malty notes. The waxiness lingers on for quite a while. Pretty nice.

Thoughts:

This does not feel like an upgraded version of the regular Johnnie Walker Blue Label, a very different beast, if you ask me. Quite rich and significantly louder. A wide array of elements carried by the powerful spice – young feisty malt leading the charge, sonorous earthy red fruits core anchors in the middle (I don’t know what’s the main malt here, but my money is on Talisker), a generous brush of honey wax from what feels like older cask(s) and several overtones high in the air… The complexities, and layering, on offer here are almost stunning. Maybe the spices are a bit too sharply cut here, but the flavours are delicious no doubt. A robust, splendid blend right here.

☆ [Recommended]

[55.8% • 2012 Bottled • Blended Scotch • Travel Retail Exclusive • No Age Statement • Cask Strength • Bottle Number: CE4 49375 • 8]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Espresso Roast Exp#9

[43.2%・NAS・Bottled in 2017・Johnnie Walker Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Muscovado syrup with a hue of Speysider grassy top note. The oomph of toasted coffee bean is understated with a vague seaweed-y peat note sipping out. The wee grain grittiness wears thin and it draws a soft gingery kick.

Palate & Finish:

Can pineapples with the charred oak note ingrained, the youthful Islay component provides a wee iodine note. This is followed by a wholesome blend of nutmeg, dark chocolate and earthy coffee ground, Sunday morning perhaps? Traces of peat and toasted nuts in the background as well.

Distant bushfire in the finish with a faint ashiness, brushed with chocolate sundae sauce.

Thoughts:

A rather inspiring profile with the complexity led by the deep roasted barley but I wish this could be more robust.

If they could bring out a higher strength version whilst keeping that balance, it’d probably be one of the most revolutionary releases Johnnie has brought out in a while.

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Rum Cask Finish Exp#8

Style: Delicate and Fruity

Nose:

Sweet pineapple unwinding over a thin line of pulled pork. Caramel sugar cascading with dry spices. A fragrant touch on bright tropical fruits, very nice squeeze of green lime which lunges from the back. Pretty well constructed aroma.

Palate:

A much fuzzier delivery on the palate. Vanilla milk clouding over tropical fruits punchbowl, papaya dices and coconut jelly in the mix. Fair bit of lime cordial floating over the cereal malt, a light brush of caramel syrup, it feels the rum characters have infused nicely into the spirit. Copper overtone, shattered dry spices snowing down – cinnamon bark, vanilla pod and star anise. Flavours quickly fading towards the end.

Finish:

Flavours fading rather quickly. Tropical fruits on a full retreat, vanilla switches to the drier side. An oatmeal tail.

Thoughts:

This is actually better than I first tried it. Some might find the delivery is too soft. Pretty laid back flavours, the rum character is pretty upfront, which is not always the case of rum cask finish. The spirit have combined with it to generate nice fruitiness – almost like a cocktail itself (while the whisky is actually designed for making cocktails). Clean structuring, maybe you can make a good highball out of it I guess. Not bad for a introductory whisky as well.

[40.8% • Blended Scotch • Limited Edition • Bottle Number: RCF1 04546 • x]

-Esmond

Thank you Johnnie Walker, Diageo Australia, Sweet&Chilli and Leo Burnett Sydney for the bottle.  

Dram Review: Johnnie Walker Aged 18 Years

[40.0%・18 Years Old・Bottled in 2017・Johnnie Walker Bottling・General Release]

Nose:

The nose is on the approachable side, ripe fruits, marmalade with pear sweets and a light splash of grain spirit spices.  Just underneath lays a hint apple cider vinegar with the light creaminess and sandalwood interwinding together.  In the background, there’re traces of mineral water laced with a vague smoke.  The level of intensity maintains on the same level through out as the burnt toast reveals itself over time as does a matchstick box.

Palate & Finish:

Early entries from the raisins and sultana, it’s quite a sweet delivery defined by its fruity quality.  Notes of cream sherry in play here giving the dram a bit of texture.  Brown sugar and milk chocolate with a bit of sugar coated almond nibs on the backend.

Medium finish with a hint of cinnamon bite whilst being mildly gingery.  Apple crumble, minerals and chocolate dust sipping out.

Thoughts:

The new 18 is a pleasant drop with an easy-to-get profile. The minerals don’t really bother me although I do find the presence quite curious.

I can’t remember if it is too different from the now discontinued Gold Label Reserve or Platinum Label, however as a solid release the 18 is well suited as an everyday whisky and as a festive dram for all the thirsty distant relatives after a feast.

Thank you Johnnie Walker, Diageo Australia, Sweet&Chilli and Leo Burnett Sydney for the bottle.  It is much appreciated.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Louis XIII de Rémy Martin

[40.0%・NAS・Bottled Circa 2016・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

The nose is elegant and composed.  Complex fragrances from a broad spectrum but certainly not overwhelming; balanced acidity complimented by an understated sweetness and a fine brush of clay earthiness.  The aromas of white fruits and white flowers are effortlessly pleasing, with jasmine and orange blossom leading way.  The oak is of course present but there doesn’t seem to be any suggestion of the spirit being over-oaked.  Light cinnamon dust on prunes, only a little drying.  The aromas retain through time but evolve into notes of dark chocolate and a heavier floral musk.

Palate & Finish:

Syrupy prunes and figs with a light brush of cinnamon.  The sweetness from the grapes provide a lovely coating.  A splash of black pepper, cinnamon and peppermint before the arrival of toffee creaminess on the mid-palate.  The back-palate has traces of Vienna almonds and liquorice stretching on as the oak gently sets in.

The finishing is elongated and without any harshness.  A touch drying towards the back end.

Thoughts:

I was told that the minimal age of the cognac blended into this release is 40 years, with the oldest coming from the 1917 vintage.

The nose is mellow but magnificent as one’d expect.  That continues through out its delivery yet staying true to what the curation is inherently meant to be.. pleasing to novices and connoisseurs alike, serving attractive flavours that are easy to understand whilst allowing all the finer details to be discovered by the more experienced drinkers.

The balance of oak is particularly well kept considering the age of the cognacs that went into it.

What a bliss.

Thank you Mr. Desmond Fung of Swiss Concept and Mr. Vincent Cuche of Vacheron Constantin for the invite to the intimate dinner featuring the beautifully crafted Overseas and thank you Mr. Morgan de Premorel of Rémy Martin for sharing the Louis XIII with us.

Also cheers to Mr. Haoming Wang for letting us use the photo of the Louis XIII. You can learn more about his works on http://www.haomingwang.photos

☆☆

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Glenfarclas Aged 40 Years

Style: Sherry and Dignified oak

Nose:

Starts with tobacco skin and dark cherry, the aroma carries a nice weight. Massive dark-red fruits expanding quickly, prunes, a wee bit of plum wine, black liquorice contributes some sweet earthiness, followed by a more elusive copper and meaty tone. Firm malt cake sitting deep at the core.

Palate:

Now there is more emphasis on tobacco leaves and dark cherries on the palate. More delicious red fruits, dark liquorice slightly on the herbal edge while still giving a steady, earthy vibe. Blood orange liquor, gold kiwifruit and a spoon of cough syrup. The bitter note is very positive here (very rarely so), dignified oak is honed and enhanced by dark sherry, tannins and the ashy notes. A bittersweet cigar tail to finish.

Finish:

Coffee grounds, more cigars sinking lower, while fig jam surfaces. Malt humming till the end.

Thoughts:

I remember not liking it at all when I first tried this 2 years ago – thought it was too bitter but not sherried enough. But tonight, when I revisit this, I see this Glenfarclas 40 in a new light. Vintage Oloroso signature which is satisfyingly deep and rich, the bitterness is beautifully polished and garnished to contribute in a meaningful way. Not often you can appreciate the role bitterness played in whisky and this is one of the rare occasions. Brilliant dram.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[46% • Original Bottling • 2010 Bottled • General Release • Non Chill Filtered • **]

Dram Review: Glenfarclas Passion

[46.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2014・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 6000 Bottles]

Nose:

Candied ginger, almond butter and fine vanilla grain.  Give the dram some time to breathe and the bright fruity notes are released along with the toffee treacle.  The malt then returns for a seamless visit.

Palate & Finish:

Golden honey sweetened further by the natural sweetness of barley sugar.  The toffee note adds a chewiness to the affair with a couple drops of fruit nectar that provide a soothing follow through, complimented lightly by the spices.

Traces of fructose lingering for a wee while in the finish.  It’s rather wonderful.

Thoughts:

A simple but delightful Glenfarclas that showcases genuine distillate and refill cask characters in a coherent manner.  Certainly a bang for the buck at the price point when it came out in Germany.

This is perhaps a coincidence but the release with both Mr. Grant on the label is by far the best expression from the Legend of Speyside series.. albeit they are all quite similar..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Glenfarclas Springs

[46.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2014・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 6000 Bottles]

Nose:

Lime twists and toasted almonds.  Honey glazed leg ham and stone fruits.  The nose conveys a typical refill Sherry influence and is not overly complex at all.

Palate & Finish:

In contrast to the lighter notes on the nose, the delivery oozes of caramel.  Molten white chocolate with plenty of barley sugar and a splash of spices and minerals as the raisin sweetness is laid out.

The finishing is simple and non-challenging, with a hint of vanilla sugar.

Thoughts:

It’s important for me to bear in mind that this series is really aimed at introducing Glenfarclas to the German market at an affordable rate.  The Springs is a much sweeter iteration on the palate of the three, a reflection of consumer preference perhaps.
-Nicholas

Dram Review: Glenfarclas Team

[46.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2014・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 6000 Bottles]

Nose:

The nose is young with a settled oiliness to it.  Apricots and Cadbury’s Chocolate with a hint of lime peels and a layer of fragrant barley.  The toasted barley note gradually thickens in time, it’s as if one is standing in front of a working mill.

Palate & Finish:

The delivery is on the basic side, zesty orange combines with a youthful maltiness.  Milk chocolate sips out along with wood chips that have been coated with a brush of buttery caramel, and it all leads to a short malty finish.

Thoughts:

It’s on paper a Glenfarclas and it is stated to have been “matured in Sherry casks”.  But unfortunately this is not a great representation of either, it appears to be on the young side with mostly refill Sherry influence.. certainly a curious choice as an “intro to the distillery” release..

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Lark Cask Strength Port Cask 2014 #512

Style: Musky Fruits and Spicy

Nose:
Fat, musky, fruity aroma rising from the glass, take some grape bubblegum and a good crunch of chocolate waffle. Spice not forgiving at this strength, but through the wave awaits some clean malt with a teasing acidic touch to it.

Palate:
Full strength unleashed on the palate. More grape bubblegum and red fruits notes, then there is chocolate malt, assorted fruits – bright orange, coconut, banana… Burnt caramel sauce, holding up by pepper spice and a touch of bitterness from the oak to the mix. The sweetness of the caramel and assorted fruits are given time to shine, extra spice gives a good foundation, the flavours accumulate and anchor at the back end to give a brilliant mid-end palate. 

Finish:
Sweet toffee parties hard with a peck of vibrant grapes and spice. Soft malt taking a good, long and satisfying stroll to finish. 

Thoughts:
Very enjoyable Lark. Most Aussie cask strengths tend to give your nose some harshness but like this one, it mellows out after a while. Personally I enjoyed this quite a lot, larger-than-life muskiness, gigantic flavours keeping me busy, savory sweetness… Massive Port cask, massive spirit, the essence of Aussie style. 

☆ [Recommended] 

[58%・2014 Bottled・Original Bottling・No Age Statement・Single Cask ・Cask Strength・Non Coloured・Non Chill Filtered・Cask Number: 512 • *]

-Esmond