Whisky Review: Glenmorangie Signet

Style: Sweet and Rich

Nose:
Semi-dry, caramel and coffee ground aroma on the nose. Java cake garnished with grated ginger, chocolate milkshake shaking up. Unhurried lemon and orange citrus floating up to the top, all bright and shiny now. Aroma started from a deeper level and brightens up overtime. Quite nice.

Palate:
A richer Glenmorangie than usual. The sweetness begins from solid, round, dark cherries, then the tone levitates to show more citruses, mostly blood orange with a casual few lemon drops on the side. Overripe fruits chip in, and the rhythm descends as chocolate malt cake enters. Spicy ginger candies walking in a parallel line. Roasted marshmallows finish with a hint of wood smoke.

Finish:
The roasted marshmallows now comes with Cappuccino while stewed fruits strapped on the back seat. Finish with molten milk chocolate. Elegant and satisfying finish.

Thoughts:
I love rich Glenmorangies and this is one of them, whether it is achieved by cask influence or chocolate malt. It injects an extra set/range of flavours and provides a nice depth to the expression. The under layer of chocolate, coffee and dark fruit notes supplement the spirit beautifully. Meticulous progression. I really don’t mind modern “experimental” whiskies, especially when the end result is so satisfying. Very close to 2 stars.

☆ [Recommended]

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

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or Aged 12 Years

Style: Sweet and Delicate

Nose:
Warm vanilla lightly brushed with drier malt, which is nicely supplemented by the delicious honey apple core. Sweetness in the malt offers an incredible depth, within the creamy almond cake hides faint notes of copper, mineral and dry spices. While delicate peppermint nudges from behind. Bright, balanced and smooth.

Palate:
Nice injection of vanilla which teams up beautifully with sticky apricots. The balance between white grapes Sauternes and the Glenmorangie spirit is impeccable – Offering plenty of honey apple, lemon zest, almond cookies and delicate floral touches, very nice… Peppermint and ginger spice fires up. Creamy texture, while undertone slowly emerges. Earthy spices dusting up, copper with herbal kiss. Light, cereal finish.

Finish:
Restrained apricots honey, while cereal malt taking over with a bit lime zest. Lime soda finish.

Thoughts:
Nectar d’Or has been long regarded as one of the top quality malts from the house of Glenmorangie, and I agree wholeheartedly – Easy drinking on the front but also it offers marvellous complexity for you to savour and appreciate. On the surface you are presented with Sauternes sweetness which synergizes so well with the spirit, and the sweetness is not cloying at all. Underneath the fruity, candied presentation unwraps plenty of nuances for you to explore. Beautifully crafted.

☆ [Recommended]

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

-Esmond

Dram Review: Glenmorangie Dornoch

[43.0%・NAS・Bottled Circa 2014・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Thin but likeable aromas of toasted oak, marshmallow, anise and pear sweets, in some ways highlighting the clean, soft distillate.  It feels young but has this rustic countryside charm with its faint floral notes and artificial vanilla essence.

Palate & Finish:

A pleasant mix of citrus and barley, light-bodied delivery bringing out rose petals and lavender essence, green apple pie and orange peels.  The mid-palate reveals the youthfulness of the whisky with some new make characters being quite noticeable though that’s mellowed out by some wee milk chocolate creaminess.

Some stewed granny smith apples in the finish, it grows slightly bitter.

Thoughts:

Quite a refreshing dram with the lightness of the distillate retained despite the Amontillado finishing, though this does feel a tad on the young side..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: The Exile Aged 15 Years

[62.0%・15 Years Old・Distilled in 2000・Bottled Circa 2016・Tasmania Distillery・The Exile Bottling・Cask No. HH 556・Single Cask Release of 344 Bottles]

Nose:

Blueberry jam with the oak heavily foreshadowing what’s likely to be the main theme.. Quite “Port”-y and slightly vegetal, dark and musky with the thick honey note gushing out and the lemon infused cola fizzling away.

Palate & Finish:

Hot initially but the palate soon settles down for a jammy chewiness of stewed prunes. The oak has a strong presence through out with an oily Pho tone. Cola and aged lemon peels simmering away with the brown sugar crystallising. There is a slight gingery infusion that lifts the tone on the mid-palate.

Touch of menthol, the stewed prunes come back again but then the woody and earthy elements set in to dry things out.

Thoughts:

Quite aptly named I thought, certainly feels like an exile rather than a self-imposed exile in the sense that the cask was seemingly selected by circumstances and not necessarily by choice.

A journeyman cask that is arguably past its best years, but the “Port” influence is gorgeous and is breathing in a lot of energy to revitalise the dram even though it is ultimately a touch burdened by the wood..

It’s one of the earlier private casks that got bottled under the current Australian whisky climate and perhaps one of the better ones as well.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/distillery]

Whisky Review: Upshot Australian Whiskey

Style: Sweet and Vanillic

Nose:

Creamy vanilla custard fusing with delightful green pear drops. Soft spice attack from behind, sawdust and acetone overtone. Followed by dry barley, chilli and five spices. Poached fruits and malt cake slowly open up at the back.

Palate:

Steamed corn kernels dropping into condensed milk. Fresh wood ply with a touch of acetone. Almond milk, the fruit faction is less overt than the nose, but we still have mild white peaches and poached pears. Getting nuttier and drier along the way. Finish with white pepper sprinkles.

Finish:

Diluted maple syrup, pears and vanilla sweetness slowly fading off.

Thoughts:

My first Australian “whiskey” review and I am glad I have started well. I was quite impressed when I first tried it in the Oak Barrel Whisky Fair 2 years ago. Eventually I got a bottle of this, although I suspect it is not from the same cask/batch. Nonetheless, it is still a pretty decent drop – flavours breathing out quite nicely, youthful but well-polished with a lovely progression. A nice summer whiskey for me.

[Recommended if you like the style/distillery]

[43% • Original Bottling • Single Cask • General Release(?) • Cask Number 6 • t]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Starward Wine Cask Single Malt

Dram Review: Heartwood @#$%^&*

[62.5%・10 Years Old・Bottled in 2017・Tasmania Distillery・Heartwood Bottling・Cask No. TD 124・Single Cask Release of 337 Bottles]

Nose:

A lower than usual ABV doesn’t mean this feels tamer than your normal Heartwood.  Still quite big with that familiar “Sherry” heaviness coming through; forceful to the point it feels like being pressed by Tim into a thoroughly drenched barrel.  Also quite vegetative on the side.

Palate & Finish:

Good mouthfeel, very thick with the two first fill “Sherry” casks working overtime, raisins and sultana through and through.  It’s singular but at the same time it provides a basic gratification.

A solid follow through that continues to be very syrupy.

Thoughts:

Three years of being rigorously “Heartwooded” in first fill “Sherry” casks obviously paid off in the sense that the whisky profile has completely been changed, now heavily showcasing what the finishing casks have to offer and it’s now big and bold enough for the ordinary Heartwood fans.

I do wonder what this whisky was like previously, it seems like any trace of its past existence has been mercilessly redacted.

[Recommended if you like the style/distillery]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Fleurieu First Release

[52.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2016・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 600 Bottles]

Nose:

An aged soy sauce note, rather umami.  Though there are shades of new make through out there is also the aged sherry influence giving off some dark vibes, meaty and rich with toffee.  It’s very indulgent for a young Australian whisky with a fascinating hint of coal smoke coming through on the back end.

Palate & Finish:

A syrupy and sticky affair, toffee sauce runs alongside molten caramel, a base of café au lait is sharpened by some bright dried fruits, lifting the delivery and giving a second wave of poached fruit sweetness.

The raisins steadily glide on, with a soft tree gum note.  A decent woodiness draws the charming proceedings to a close.

Thoughts:

For a first release, this is really quite something.

Sound profile and execution, this feels like a release from an Australian distillery with many years under its belt.

Gareth, just keep releasing quality whiskies and the distillery’s reputation will build itself. No marketing needed.

[Recommended if you like the style/distillery]

Nicholas

Dram Review: Nantou Omar Cask Strength (Lychee Liqueur Barrel Finished)

[56.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

A faint grassiness draws out notes of green lychees and heat rub.  Beyond that it’s rather new make-y with quite a bare showing of barley husk.

Palate & Finish:

Neutral spirit sweetened by sparse hints of lychee and ginger flower.  Juniper berries, green mangos and green papaya salad with some milk chocolate coming out.

Dry and spicy finish.

Thoughts:

Hmm, I think with a longer finishing stint, the lychee liqueur barrel may yet show us something entirely different. Right now it appears to be an unfinished product.

At the moment, the distillery’s exercise of putting young whiskies through curious finishing regimes seemingly serves only to copy and paste some flavours from said odd casks (in this case a lychee liqueur barrel) without actually integrating the influence to enhance the existing flavours of the base whiskies.

One to circle back in a few years’ time perhaps..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Nantou Omar Cask Strength (Plum Liqueur Barrel Finished)

[54.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Definitely quite young with the new make characters still apparent, carrying an oily spirit style.  The plum liqueur influence has a rather low tone, which is unexpected and a bit lacklustre.  A faint ester-y fragrance of over-ripen fruits and rose petals.  Interestingly enough the lower tone does promote the naturally sweet aromas of barley.

Palate & Finish:

The plums give off a quirky vinegary acidity which is followed by a noticeably young malty presence.  Some interesting umeshu notes in the background providing wee sweetness with a cheap-liqueur-esque alcohol burn before turning somewhat bitter with the introduction of nutmeg.

The finishing subduedly carries on the theme.

Thoughts:

An outside-the-box attempt to make something interesting, though it does feel like the execution was a bit muddled..

Growing pains of a young distillery I suppose..

-Nicholas