Dram Review: Antique Lions of Spirits Fettercairn Aged 28 Years

[50.6%・28 Years Old・Distilled in 1988・Bottled in 2016・Joint Bottling of Jens Drewitz, Max Right (Whisky Antique) and Diego Sandrin (Lion’s Whisky)・Single Cask Release of 292 Bottles]

Nose:

A floral setting with subtle notes blended into the background.  Lavender, green mangos, tree gum, vanilla grain and faint traces of smoke and metallic notes, channeled with a surprisingly lively energy.

Palate & Finish:

A tasty delivery of orchid fruits and creamed honey, with the floral notes laying down the base.. only to have an oak led dryness cutting through in a plot twist.  The maturity of the dram is shown through its restraint; jamminess held in check by the spices.

Spices sprinkle onto the nourishing soft fruits. A polite finish but with flashes of European flair.

Thoughts:

A handsome dram with some unrested moments..  matured but has refused to settle down..  breathing is recommended and patience is accordingly rewarded.

[Recommended]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Adelphi Limited Glenrothes 1991 25 Years Old

Style: Complex and Gingery

Nose:

Robust, vanilla coated ginger slices punch through. Gunpowder mist shrouding in, which extends into a stream of sulphur. Behind the smoke screen, we have sweet orange drop descending deep into the core while white flowers and barley malt dressed on the side. The lurking sulphur notes becoming more evident overtime. Shredded ginger spice pinging at the tail.

Palate:

Bright ginger slicing in and hitting all the high notes. Another thread of sulphur anchoring onto the palate, a little less apparent comparing to the nose. The palate becomes cleaner after you “adjust” to it after putting aways a few drams. Malt syrup binds with crystallized oranges. Vanilla cream stepping in for a brief moment while more fresh ginger spice firing a blazing trail. Gunpowder combines with wood smoke, vanilla milkshake whipping up at the back. Coconut shreds, finishes with a sprinkle of cacao powder.

Finish:

Ginger candy, sweet lemon tea, dark chocolate and floral malt. Spearmint overtone to finish.

Thoughts:

After 25 years Glenrothes remains a massive ginger bomb, there is an excellent range of elements on display behind the ginger spearhead. However, as you can read it from my tasting notes, the spirit is tainted by sulphur at various points. Look, the suphur is there, but not overwhelmingly so. I did not pick it up until Nic pointed out. I find it is quite drinkable if you can adapt to the “profile” (took me 3 drams to forget about it). The light and bright sweetness slowly transcends to multiple form of complexities. Honestly, I am really okay with it, but if you are sulphur-sensitive, my advice is tread at your own risk…

[55.5% •  1991 Distilled •  2017 Bottled • Independent Bottling • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • 1 of 167 bottles • Cask Number: 5113 • x]

-Esmond

 

Whisky Review: Adelphi Limited Glen Grant 1988 29 Years Old

Style: Sweet and Malty

Nose:

Cereal gently squeezing out dense, honey malt syrup on the nose. Fresh green grass overtone, sweet ester fruits powdered by icing sugar. The aroma feels a bit “Adelphi-esque”, maybe it’s the way they pick their casks, but I am not sure how to phrase it… Herbal liquor, touches of peppermint stem. Orange and grapefruit candies slowly pushing through. Getting sweeter and juicier as it opens up. Nice.

Palate:

Abundant malt syrup overflows, coating the entire palate. Then we have sweet orchard fruits and red apple skins. Cereal notes with a touch of vanilla essence. Confectionaries waltz in, while the spiciness from spearmint and ginger shreds are glowing gently. A quick reflux of ester fruits towards the end, oak combines with cornflakes to finish.

Finish:

Pineapple tart, malt cake sprinkled with more honey cornflakes.

Thoughts:

Deliciously malty. I feel this is a rather distillate-driven Glen Grant, it feels the cask or time do not have much impact on the spirit, even being matured for 29 years . The lesser fruitiness has been absorbed and integrated into the resolute malty core. Imagine how good this can be if we have a powerful Sherry Butt to match the spirit. But hey, as long as it’s tasty. Enjoyable dram.

☆ [Recommended]

[52.2% • Independent Bottling • 2017 Bottled • 1988 Distilled • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • Cask Number 9174 • 1 of 465 Bottles • *]

-Esmond

Whisky Launch Event & Review: Glenfiddich 1977 Rare Collection Single Cask (Exclusively for Heinemann Duty Free & good Partners)

Glenfiddich has partnered with travel retailer Heinemann Duty Free to unveil the prestigious Glenfiddich 1977 Rare Collection Cask No. 15176. A single cask, aged for 40 years, this exquisite expression will be available to consumers from January 2018 travelling through Kuala Lumpur and Sydney airports. A launch event was held on 20th February 2018 at the Kittyhawk, organized by Agent 99 Public Relations.

Exclusive to Heinemann and its partners, just 150 bottles will be available for sale retailing at an RRP of AUD 4,352. Created as part of the Glenfiddich Rare Collection Programme, this single cask has been nurtured by Glenfiddich’s Malt Master, Brian Kinsman, who hand-selects only a small number of exceptional casks for the esteemed collection.

Mr. Kinsman commented, “Put into an American Oak Refill Hogshead cask 40 years ago, this is an exceptional whisky of rare character and complexity. Only a small number of casks are chosen for the Rare Collection and I am delighted to have selected this particular whisky for consumers to enjoy via Heinemann Duty Free and its partners.”

Richard Goodman, Head of Operations at Heinemann Tax & Duty Free, said: “We’re proud to continue our successful partnership with William Grant & Sons in this region. The exclusive product and customer experience are truly unique to our store, and we are excited to continuously elevate the travel retail experience at Sydney International Airport”.

Presentation is in a clear bottle to showcase the colour of the whisky, with a visible cork and hand applied temper evident strip. Each bottle is individually numbered to add collectability and guarantee authenticity, while the label highlights the “Heinemann Duty Free & Partners” exclusivity.

As a whisky lover, you know you are in for a real treat when you are offered a dram of distillery bottling Glenfiddich 40 years old single cask. Here’s my wee tasting notes on this…

Whisky Review:

Glenfiddich 1977 Rare Collection Single Cask (Exclusive for Heinemann Duty Free & Partners)

Style: Composed and Complex

Nose:

Beautiful golden malt, perfumed tropical fruits with a soft touch of wood smoke at its tail. Cereal grain, comfortable leather notes nicely accompanied by fresh and baked apples. A hint of green freshness can be found here, very nice. I am nosing from a tall wine glass (sorry no tasting glass or glencairn) here, the aroma is fainter than usual but overall a very balanced one.

Palate:

Oatmeal with more red and green apple slices on the front palate. Honeycomb, another touch of leather. Fragrant fruits supported by courteous oak and some dry barley. Cinnamon bark lightly torched, anise (maybe?) and nutmeg. Subtle dried figs emerges at the back. Oakiness slowly building up after multiple sips. Faint perfume notes return and hazelnut chocolate to finish.

Finish:

Stewed pineapple and papaya with a light smoky tail. Dried prunes, chocolate milkshake to finish.

Thoughts:

While a mere 22ml serve served in a tall wine glass is very challenging for me to whip up a proper review, but I am also very lucky given how rare (also read “expensive”) an OB Glenfiddich 40 is these days. A beautifully composed malt. Balanced on all fronts, subtle on delivery with elements breathing rather freely. Maybe an extra little magic can make it from good to great, nonetheless it deliveries right on spec – fares exactly what you would expect from a 40yo Glenfiddich single cask. A very nice dram. Close to 2 stars.

☆ [Recommended]

[43.3% • Original Bottling • 2017 Bottled • 1977 Distilled • Aged 40 Years • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Chill Filtered • Non Coloured • Cask Strength • Cask Number: 15176 • Matured in American Oak Refill Hogshead • 150 Bottles • *]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare

[46.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2018・Johnnie Walker Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Quite a smoky presence upfront, the peat leaves a quick impression alongside minerals and limestone. Hearty malt, soft honey and candle wax follow the initial peaty impression. There is a meaty lowland presence in the mix with soft fruits, crisp red apples, ripe banana, sultana and can pineapples balanced by hazelnuts, white chocolate, sandalwood and white pepper. It grows a bit sooty and chalky in time.

Palate & Finish:

A voluminous front palate made of honey and soft fruits – poached apples, cured pineapples and caramelised banana bringing about a full on tropical jammy sweetness as the mellow pear smoke run beneath it on the mid-palate. A splash of pepper and spices injects a liveliness to the juicy affair as the earthy woodiness showcases some of the components’ age, with the sweetened hazelnut cream providing a nutty afterthought.

Mild finish, clean barley sweetness drags on with some grain spices. Grows a tad dry like an earthy piccolo.

Thoughts:

The Brora fan in me likes how the distillery’s smoky years were subtly incorporated.

Rather than giving a full on Brora experience, Mr. Jim Beveridge did well by using 7 other grains and malts to highlight the period-specific characters of Brora, utilising their soft fruitiness to draw out the complementary Brora notes.

Quite a clever interpretation.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

P.S. Thank you to Mr. Simon McGoram, Ms. Liz Hunt, Ms. Sarah Rhodes and the rest of the Diageo and Leo Burnett Sydney team for arranging the tasting experience. It is much appreciated.

Whisky Review: Adelphi Limited Aultmore 1982 35 Years Old

Style: Sour-sweet and Elegant

Nose:

An inspiring fusion of raspberry yoghurt and hawthorns, sweet aroma with a teasing acidity, very charming. Sour fruits laced gracefully into a layer of coal amber smoke. Dark cherries, casserole fruits and honeycomb wax. Gentle ginger and peppermint heat. Finish with brown sugar and walnut oak. Very nice.

Palate:

Raspberry ice cream, fresh pomegranate with full-blown assorted black berries. The sour-sweet theme continues, with a less prominent fashion, but more other substances… Menthol overtone, vintage style of coal smoke churning lightly. Simmering red fruits unfolded at the core, a couple of waxy, floral drops rippling to the sides. Chocolate almonds, tobacco leaves and raisin toast. Dry spices giving a heart-warming zing. Finish with a bite of chocolate macadamia.

Finish:

Red fruits and chocolate stacking on each other to create a long satisfying finish. Tobacco ash undertone, a speckle of spearmint to finish.

Thoughts:

My first Aultmore from the 80s, a real eye-opener. A seamless amalgamation between unique sour-sweetness and vintage Speyside smoke matured to perfection.  Generally I do not buy two bottles of the same whisky, but I am seriously considering getting a second bottle… Mr. Charles Maclean said this is the best Aultmore he has ever tasted, and I think he is not wrong… Excellent dram.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[54.8% • Independent Bottling • 2017 Bottled • 1982 Distilled • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • Cask Number 1576 • 1 of 196 Bottles • **]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Adelphi Limited Highland Park 1989 26 Years Old

Style: Fruity and Elegant

Nose:

Incredibly pleasant floral mead flowing on the nose. Fresh grapefruits giving a great citrus zing, while a slab of honeycomb slipping underneath to add a bit of depth and round sweetness. Green spearmint heat, ethereal peat smoke knitted in between core layers, throwing in a tiny dash of salt from the side. Malt syrup and buttery biscuits sitting at the bottom. Gorgeous.

Palate:

Similar theme on the nose but expressed with a more compact fashion. Grapefruit citrus leading the floral peat and malt cake in. Sparkling fruit punch, confectionaries, lavender mint with a few chili nibbles. Going slightly chalky (or lightly oaky?) as we progress. White pepper dusting on a hint of lime fingers. Vanilla cream, coconut shreds and wood shavings to finish. Quite nice.

Finish:

Looks relatively dim comparing to what has been offered on the nose and palate. Light malt syrup, some floral whispers and a gentle, cascading finish of simmering fruits.

Thoughts:

I am down to the final third of this bottle as I am typing out this review, a little bit sad that there’s not much left in this. A citrus-driven Highland Park with all the mellow and elegant traits manifest beautifully overtime. For me, Highland Park at this age is about appreciating the graceful subtle elements residing in the spirit, this is totally my jam. Exceptional drinking stock.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[47.2% • Independent Bottling • 2016 Bottled • 1989 Distilled • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • 1 of 193 Bottles • Cask Number: 3006 • **+]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Adelphi Limited Miltonduff 1983 33 Years Old

Style: Fruity and Spicy

Nose:

Creamy tropical fruits building on a stealthy, but sturdy dry spices backbone. Papaya and dried mango slowly boiling in coconut milk. Jack fruit jellies riding on ginger notes. Polished copper tones. A pretty typical matured-Miltonduff nose. Round up with white peppercorns, a sweet and spicy aroma.

Palate:

Simmering tropical fruits braced with vanilla cream sweetness blossoming neatly. Tropical fruits punchbowl. A nice mix of pawpaw and coconut jelly, yum. Dry spices striding in, red chilli skins, a handful of ginger shreds, a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon dust. Cadbury milk bars to finish.

Finish:

Light, stewed and waxy fruits and milk pudding. Milk chocolate finish.

Thoughts:

Chivas’s workhorse distillery for the Ballantine’s blend. Not often I get to try Miltonduff and less so at this age. A rather bright and sweet malt which blossoms nicely on the palate. While the presentation is pretty light but a rather staunch spirit, reminds me a bit of Glenmorangie if you ask me. Not very complicated overall but very well honed. Good dram.

☆ [Recommended]

[52.6%・1983 Distilled・2017 Bottled・Independent Bottling・Single Cask・Cask Strength・Non Chill Filtered・Non Coloured・1 of 168 Bottles・ Cask Number: 7450 • *]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Adelphi Limited Teaninich 1983 32 Years Old

Style: Dignified and Complex

Nose:

Intoxicating concoction of overripe fruits, jasmine fragrance, honey wax and sandalwood. Flipping to the drier side as we dig deeper, wood spice gently incensing, dried apricots, lavender mint, black peppercorns gradually convert into a faint hint of peat smoke. Magical.

Palate:

Honey oak juice flowing, malt water, more dried apricots, pineapple tart, white rose petals, leather and a subtle reminder of grandma’s armchair nicely blended together. A very compact palate. Moving onto some oak tannins, dry grass, almost vegetal at times. Black pepper and chilli spice dive into fizzling chocolate milkshake. Cereal notes make a swift return and leaving a light smoky trail of haystack peat to finish.

Finish:

Drier components building on an oak under-layer. Dark cacao, cinnamon bark leading to a final hurrah of honey baked fruits.

Thoughts:

Time has certainly stamped its mark on this whisky. The spirit has been well-tamed while waxy, honey oak signature are in abundance. Maybe a tad oaky for some but it works for me. Smooth and compact. A workhorse distillery, but a well-matured Teaninich can be quite magical. Delicious.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[50.8% • Independent Bottling • 1983 Distilled • 2016 Bottled • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Chill Filtered • Non Coloured • Cask Number 6744 • 1 of 190 Bottles • **]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Adelphi Limited Laphroaig 1996 20 Years Old

Style: Complex and Robust

Nose:

Robust maritime notes carrying vibrant, young tropical fruits into the picture. Dry mineral spice marching in with iodine. Sea breeze, peat and smoked mackerel with green tropical fruits served on the side. A thick base-layer of tar emerges. The sweetness slowly transcends to a even sweeter stewed fruits tone as we approach closer to the core. The aroma might come off as a bit raw, but it offers nice density, sweetness and smokiness.

Palate:

Tropical fruits immersed into smoky water. A clean touch of green mangoes, followed by pineapples, passion fruit syrup, and fisherman’s friend open up beautifully. Powerful barbeque/ charcoal smoke through and through. Fried sesame and dried Konbu. Hints of Sencha tea leaves mixing with barley, herbal licorice and maritime peat to finish.

Finish:

Earthy tropical fruits with more energetic peat smoke lurking around. Finishes with black liquorice and dried medicinal herbs.

Thoughts:

As powerful and direct as a Laphroaig can be these days, sometimes you are offered to enjoy the complexity of the spirit like this dram. Especially when there is a lack of dominant force driving the direction of the whisky, the beta elements in this cask join hands and weave delicate and intricate layers among themselves. Not a “loud” Laphroaig, but there’s so much to explore you can spend a long, quiet night with it, very nice.

[Recommended]

[57.1%・Independent Bottling・Single Cask・Cask Strength・Non Coloured・Non Chill Filtered・1 of 484 Bottles・Cask Number: 6581 • *]

-Esmond