Whisky Review: Kavalan Distillery Reserve Peaty Cask R091211002A

Style: Fruity and Spicy

Nose:

Charming, cheerful fruits dipped into malt syrup. Green pears hitting the high notes, white pepper dusting down. Copper, a dash of apple vinegar, finish with dry spices.

Palate:

Spice arrow carries the juicy fruity core and shoots across the palate. Starting with clean orchard fruits, lightly stewed as we progress. Sherry signatures on a more prominent display which the nose revealed very little, peaty sherry cask maybe? Toasted barley sugar, copper tune piping in again, vanilla marshmallows. Soft tannins wandering and finishes with a faint hint of coal-fired peat.

Finish:

Subdued red fruits whispering, brittle barley shatters. Delicious finish with texture.

Thoughts:

Spicy, but a beautiful piece from Kavalan. I heard it is an ex-Islay cask, and it feels like a refill sherry cask to me. Very limited amount of peat can be felt here, but the delivery of fruits is exceptionally fragrant, refined and delicious. A young malt no doubt, but it is showing qualities beyond its age.

 ☆ [Recommended]

[52.4%・Original Bottling ・Single Cask・Cask Strength・Non Coloured・Non Chill Filtered・286 of 311 Bottles・No Age Statement・Cask Number: R081211002A]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Kavalan Sherry Cask Selected by and Bottled for The Nectar S100203018A

[57.8%・NAS・Bottled in 2016・Official Bottling・Single Cask Release of 518 Bottles]

Nose:

An overt sense of heavy and relentless darkness.  Chocolate mud cake and marzipan dusted with a generous brush of almond sugar.  Poached fruits absolutely drenched in toffee treacle that is slightly burnt, the syrupy nature engulfing hints of black tea, ginger, leather and black shoe polish.

Palate & Finish:

The palate is taken over by prunes and brown sugar syrup with a huge oomph of spices humming then exploding, blasting out a path for rich toffee and milk chocolate to come in.  The acidity from the poached fruits somewhat spikes after the initial spices.  Soaked orange slices with a proper cinnamon bite and raisins rushing in on the mid-palate.

The finishing is rather dry.  Dark chocolate and espresso.

Thoughts:

Pretty much a dram for those who want to be thrilled by a Sherry bomb blasting all their senses away.

It’s all very dramatic but somehow it does feel like the concentrated heaviness is a bit forced and manufactured.

Nicholas

Whisky Review: Kavalan Solist Bourbon Cask B100723021A

Style: Sweet and Spritely

Nose:

Delicate orange flower infused with a rich thread of mint candy. A rather tight and raw aroma which needs a bit of time to unlock. Once it opens up, malty, syrupy core, batter cupcake. A touch of acid pop, some coconut shreds. Sweet with an oily texture.

Palate:

On the palate, wow, you can immediately feel the youthfulness of the dram, but not very new make-y. Orange drop with spirit menthol on the first wave. Spice at searing intensity. A mix of white flower and creamy malt cake. Nice sweetness. Oak emerges overtime giving a visible bitterness. Slight saltiness lingers till the end.

Finish:

White oak with a jolt of dry barley husk. Malty notes extend for a short while. Subtle salted caramel popcorn and crystallized fruits to finish.

Thoughts:

I remember Ian talks about how the quality of Kavalan Bourbon casks peaked at 2.5 years and will slowly fall off after that. Personally it feels there is an asymmetry of the (im)maturity of the spirit and the amount of oakiness injected into the whisky. Maybe a few months more it will be overoaked while the spirit remains at a relatively young phase… On the other hand, you can see the multiple facets of sweetness displayed here in the spirit – Floral, fruity, confectioneries, sweet and creamy. Close to a tick.

[57.1% • 2010 Distilled • Original Bottling • Single Cask • Cask Strength Non Coloured Non Chill Filtered • 2 of 199 Bottles • No Age Statement • x+]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Club Qing Speyside Region Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 40 Years

[52.8%・40 Years Old・Bottled in 2016・Club Qing Bottling・Single Cask Release of 96 Bottles]

Nose:

The nose is oozing of naturally sweet white fruits gently supported by the tender and creamy notes from a majestic Fino cask.  Sandalwood perfumes and ground pepper in the background sweetened by a subtle blend of pineapples and ginger flowers.  Hint of smoke on the backend to even out the sweetness.  It’s stylistically pleasing in a simple and pleasurable manner, stately yet retains the exchuberant youthful fruitiness even after all these years.

Palate & Finish:

A matured fruitiness politely brings along a gentle maltiness.   Hazelnut cream with aged lemon marmalade towards the mid-palate.  The blossoming of jammy white fruits is really attractive, it transcends and extends.  Hint of burnt butter supplementing the general maltiness as the oak ever so lightly taps on.

The finishing is on the soft, drying side, vaguely floral with wee brush of tobacco and dreamily drags on.

Thoughts:

I don’t necessarily do nightcaps, I have always preferred a cheeky afternoon dram on a lazy day, and this to me is a most perfect dram to savour on a cool Saturday afternoon sitting outside at your local cafe or when you are typing away on your kitchen bench top as rays of light comes through from the blinds.

It’s very lovely in a Bohemian sort of way.

☆☆

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Tomintoul 1968 Thosop BVBA Belgium Exclusive for Malaysia

Style: Complex and Dignified

Nose:
Very shy to start with, tight peppermint grip loosens up inch by inch and develops into sumptuous, beautiful aroma – Slow cooked tropical fruits, cinnamon sugar, walnuts, chocolate almonds mixed with soft floral perfume. Still a bit hot, but after 30-40 minutes it all smooths out and shows incredible depth.

Palate:
Incredible elegant entrance. Chocolate cigar, polished oak, fragrant and juicy tropical fruits simmering with more chocolate and malt syrup. Ultimate amalgamation of elements and the delivery and texture are near perfect. Lightly wood smoke emerges from mid-palate, subtle toasted almonds, malt cake and dark fruits. Tannins and black pepper gently tingling. Very nice.

Finish:
Lemon honey, soft malt cake, chocolate oak and wood spice to finish.

Thoughts:
My first ever indie Tomintoul and I started with a bang. Magnificent bottling, but you have to really patient and wait for it to open up, it took me more than half an hour. All the lovely flavours you can expect from a well-aged malt are orchestrated and played beautifully. Complex and also incredibly vibrant for a 45 years old.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[47.9% • 2013 Bottled • 1968 Distilled • Independent Bottling • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Chill Filtered • Non Coloured • Aged 45 Years • 198 Bottles • **]

-Esmond

Tasted at the Elysian Whisky Bar, Melbourne.

Dram Review: Simon Brown Glenfarclas Distillery (Distilled in October 1970)

[46.0%・Distilled in 1970・Bottled in 2008・Simon Brown Traders Bottling・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

The nose is breathtaking, dark cherries and fine mahogany conveying that aged goodness.  Aged leather and brown sugar wrapped around and laced over a fascinating rice fragrance.  Moist fruit cake brushed with blueberry jam as traces of well seasoned wood sips out.

Palate and Finish:

A balanced acidity on the palate, perfectly juxtaposed by the velvety sweetness. Ripe fruits and sakura combine with blackcurrant jam.  Black Forest cake made with a French vanilla sponge layers dressed with dried orange slices.  Excellent mouthfeel as the dram shows strength as a 46%.  Hint of leather to go with a coconut cream base as ample wood spices set in.

The Sherry inspired fruit cake and dark cocoa notes linger on, the follow through tilts towards the dry side.

Thoughts:

The label may be confusing but make no mistake, this is a very pretty dram.  Vibrant and beautifully Sherried without showing signs of being over-oaked.  Definitely a cask that benefitted from decades of ageing.

It is interesting how the distillery characters seem to have mostly been mellowed out, and what remains is just a beautifully Sherried Speysider..

☆☆

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Antique Lions of Spirits Speyside Region Malt Aged 41 Years in a Fino Sherry Cask

[46.9%・41 Years Old・Distilled in 1975・Bottled in 2016・Joint Bottling of Jens Drewitz, Max Righi (Whisky Antique) and Diego Sandrin (Lion’s Whisky)・Single Cask Release of 230 Bottles]

Nose:

Expressive and wondrous, pinewood with a satisfying cigar creaminess.  The wood imparts a stately presence as soft white fruits caress lovingly, as per a quality Fino cask.  Rounded with hints of sherbet, honeyed granola and sweet cherries. Absolutely divine nose.

Palate & Finish:

The initial burst of maraschino cherries is immensely pleasing, the spices show a glimpse of strength before reverting to the lovely softness of fragrant white fruits with a slight waxy coating that stretches on, leaving much to imagination.

Thoughts:

Did I mention that this dram is immensely pleasing? It’s exceptionally marvellous on the nose.

The flavours have been laid out in a manner that accentuates the spirit characters of a Speysider of the old; with the Fino cask only serving in enhancing the experience, providing a tenderness that can only been achieved after decades of refining..

☆☆

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Talisker 1977 Aged 35 Years Special Release 2012

Style: Bright and complex

Nose:

Delicate stewed tropical fruits sprinkled with supple white pepper spices. Briny peat, a delicate, continuous copper undertone which is nicely protected by an emphatic layer of honey wax. Zippy lemon and orange drop shaping up beautifully, a touch of sour blackberry, sparkling vanilla sugar granules at the back. 

Palate:

Delicious orange bitters leading the line, herbal liquor, black liquorice, polished brass and dignified oak marching on the wings. Ultra-cooked tropical fruits thoroughly dusted with white pepper. Naval oranges, lemon candy, sweetness beautifully honed, all layers intertwined and braiding up a complex spiral string of expression… Finish with vanilla sugar and dry barley notes. 

Finish:

A soft and deeper tone on finish. Chocolate, peppermint mist, dry barley and earthy, maritime peat.

Thoughts:

A modern-legend bottling, and rightly so. Perfect illustration of how a spirit can be magnificently sculptured by time, alongside with great blending skills. Radiating sweetness, elements of Talisker entwined and delivered with perfect balance, near-endless complexities, my favourite Talisker I have tried so far, no doubt. Not a perfect whisky (which I am starting to question if it exists), but it is a small step above some of the best whiskies I had, a step ahead enough for me to give my first 3 stars whisky. Most recommended.

☆ [Most Recommended] 

[54.6% • 1977 Distilled • 2012 Bottled • Original Bottling • Limited Release • 865 of 3090 Bottles • Non Chill Filtered • Matured in refill American and European oak casks • ***]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Redbreast 1999 All Sherry Single Cask (Exclusively bottled for the Whisky Exchange)

Style: Sherry and Herbal

Nose:
Robust chilli spices fires up while pull pork notes knitting into heavy cranberry jam. Strawberries and cream, dark cherries, coffee jelly infused with herbal liquor. Balsamic vinegar overtone, faint grassy notes and cereal malt. Polished off with a subtle copper tone.

Palate:
Thick dark cherry trickling down on the palate. Jelly beans, whipped cream, milk chocolate sauce, a hint of citrus all pouring into steaming cappuccino. Herbal greens stride through with strengthening dry spices. Caramel coffee candy, a pinch of crushed barley. Salty, smoked meat overtone which is quietly weaved into the expression. More grassy liquor emerges towards the back, black liquorice finish.

Finish:
Red currants, more black liquorice all building on top of a molten caramel layer. Smooth, sweet and slightly earthy.

Thoughts:
Curious. We have thick and round sherry crust while the spirit within hitting unusual high notes; massive dark fruits sweetness stewing with distinct dryness embedded in the core; an overall matured vibe but glimpses of rawness. Quite a few traits from both ends of the spectrum. A rather unusual profile that I need time to adjust to it, but maybe that’s because I don’t have much experience with Irish whiskey, especially at cask strength. But it is definitely an interesting and complicated one to play with, sweet and robust.

☆ [Recommended]

[59.9% • Independent Bottling • 1999 Distilled • 2015 Bottled • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • 026 of 576 Bottles • Distilled From Midleton Distillery • Matured in 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt • Cask Number: 30087 • Aged 14 to 15 Years • *-]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: The Glendronach “Grandeur” Aged 24 Years Batch 006

Style: Rich and Elegant

Nose:
Cool spearmint plating on an intricate dark fruits puzzle – fragments of Demerara sugar, cinnamon bark, Ukrainian plum, prunes and almonds piecing together beautifully. Round and rich aroma with an appetizing acidity to it. Raisin caramel sauce at perfect density. Toasty malt sits at the bottom.

Palate:
Sweet, beautiful Oloroso signature portrayed with breathtaking finesse. Ringing a black fruits glissando, ruby grape juice, purple plums, raisins and chocolate lava cake with a deft white flower touch, all manifest so delicately yet with quite a fulfilling texture. Brown sugar mildly torched on crème brulee and almond croissants while coal amber burning gently. Toasted malt buttered by peppermint chocolate sauce, chocolate getting darker, until the sweetness gradually fading away. Beautiful.

Finish:
Christmas cake goes with a running stream of chocolate fondue. Toss in a couple of frosty mentos, delicious strawberry jam finish.

Thoughts:
Glendronach presented at a brilliantly refined form. Not often you can find a delicate balance in ultra-sherried malts, especially not in modern sherry bombs. But when you call it “Grandeur” you would probably expect a little extra elegance, I guess? A grand spectrum of dark fruits building a rich, complex structure which you will have no trouble to indulge dram after dram. An elegant and extravagant malt. Bravo.

☆ ☆ [Highly Recommended]

[48.9% • Distillery Bottling • 2014 Bottled • Cask Strength • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • Limited Edition • Batch 006 • 830 of 1180 Bottles • Matured in Oloroso Butts • **]

-Esmond