Dram Review: Bunnahabhain Aged 28 Years Cask No. 7713

[43.5%・28 Years Old・Distilled in 1989・Bottled in 2017・Bottled for Kevin & Steve・Cask No. 7713・Single Cask Release of 100 Bottles]

Nose:

Ultra fruity and stupendously expressive, tropical fruits, Nashi pears, candy floss and some rosemary as well.  Subtly waxy and oily with traces of menthol infused tobacco and traces of orange peels.  In time the nose grows quite powdery and more light floral notes sip out.

Palate & Finish:

A superbly fruity affair, succulent and juicy with plenty of crisp fruits dressed with light honey and apple vinegar.  Some white oak gives the delivery a dry edge but the base is nicely buttered, rather balanced with a crisp malt that’s quite velvety on the back palate.

Medium finish of malt, ginger flower and hint of menthol, traces of fruitiness everywhere..

Thoughts:

The fruitiness is quite charming at first but the dram is actually rather deceivingly malty, well picked! I am especially impressed with how Kevin and Steve decided to bottle at a lower ABV in order to accentuate the expressiveness of the nose.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: SMWS 3.307 Bowmore “A Journey Into Joy”

[55.9%・ 20 Years Old・Distilled in 1997・Bottled in 2018・SMWS Bottling・Single Cask Release of 564 Bottles]

Nose:

The nose is surprisingly and rather incredibly meaty with some burnt and deeply roasted barley notes lurking, perhaps living on the edge of sulfur street..  The obligatory deep, dark Sherry inspired dried fruits are there and are gorgeous.  Running parallel with the fruits are generous doses of toffee and vanilla.  In time there are more notes of toffee and creamy coffee made with dark roasted coffee beans, still somewhat feisty.

Palate & Finish:

Loads of rich dried fruits, milk chocolate and toffee cream, it is a big Sherried dram with the wood influence swirling with dark fruits, figs and nuts.  Excellent, luscious mouthfeel with the vanilla being quite accommodating before notes of burnt cocoa, leather, mahogany and bitter smoke arriving..

Tannins and other earthy notes in the finish, hints of dried muscat grapes, and traces of charred toast.

Thoughts:

This is quite a challenging dram in a technical sense, it does take some getting used to.

Immense wood influence and incredibly Sherried.

In time though, as my experience indicated one would be convinced that the experience was one of joyous..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Bowmore 15 Years Old (Hong Kong Whisky Bars Special Joint Bottling 2018)

[52.0%・15 Years Old・Distilled in 2002・Bottled in 2018・Butler, Club Qing, Ginger, Nocturne, Tiffany’s New York Bar Joint Bottling ・Cask No. 135・Single Cask Release of 100 Bottles]

Nose:

Very clean and towards the light side, wood staves torched carefully to give a delicate smoke that moves really well with mild floral note and some ocean breeze.  There is a gentle perfume-y note that brings about the hearty malty element.  The peat residue has been delicately placed alongside the vanilla sweetness and becomes a bit more rounded with the fruits in time.

Palate & Finish:

The spice is inherent and quite gingery but also serves to bring out the soft fruits and nougat sweetness over the slightly more masculine peat that runs beneath things.. the citrus marries the creaminess harmoniously as a tiny tinge of soapy bitterness surfaces on the back end.

Fresh barley sweetness and menthol float towards the top, whilst the creamy caramel note sinks to the bottom.. the white fruits only resurfacing much later on..

Thoughts:

Quite a wonderfully done Bowmore, to me this is a freckled beauty, bare and au naturel..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Caol Ila 2006 Exclusive for Hong Kong

[46.1%・11 Years Old・Distilled in 2006・Bottled in 2018・如果我們的語言是威士忌, Drink More, 香港威士忌(烈酒)分享站, 香港威士忌同好協會 Joint Bottling・Single Cask Release of 238 Bottles]

Nose:

Noses like a standard young Caol Ila that is quite well curated and much richer, grassy with ample caramel and vanilla.  As it sits in the glass the peat grows more prominent  with this wholesome charred toast note.

Palate & Finish:

The delivery leads with sweetness, vanilla and caramel combining well with the seaweed saltiness as the harsher elements of peaty Islay hit the palate.  The peat draws out a hint of dark chocolate and Chinese twenty four herbs.

Medium finish, charred toast, herbal and earthy notes, chocolate.

Thoughts:

As far as young Caol Ila independent expressions go this one is fairly above board, youthful exuberance instead of being a flaws ridden mess that is simply not ready.. well picked guys!

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: SMWS 29.241 Laphroaig “A Perfect Moment”

[49.3%・20 Years Old・Bottled in 2018・SMWS Bottling・Single Cask Release of 222 Bottles]

Nose:

Lime twist and tiger balm, the nose is on the tight side and a bit sharp initially.  The peat level despite the dram being quite coastal is actually rather restrained with the malt gently laid down, the tar slowly emitting from the background in time, and then some more stone fruits, iodine and light floral honey follow suit.

Palate & Finish:

The palate is succulent with little bits of vanilla, golden syrup, lychees and pears before the peat makes the entrance like a bass drop, though the dram still retains the fruitiness through out this suddenness.  A stretched delivery with the meaty confectionary note melting into the peat, the light fruits turn a bit orange-y on the back palate as the spices move in.

The dram transitions into a clean, spicy finish with wee fruity notes.

Thoughts:

A clean and minimalistically delicious 29 with the society’s somewhat noted preference for spice, I’m quite fond of this..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Fleurieu A Heart of Gold

[54.1%・4 Years Old・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Single Cask Release of 140 Bottles]

Nose:

The richness is quite reassuring, honey, toffee, vanilla nougat with a splash of anise.  Lemon marmalade and buttery salted caramel folded together.  More vanilla coming through, marshmallow with some wild flowers from the background.

Palate & Finish:

A virtually seamless transition from nose to palate with a thick, gooey mouthful of buttery toffee, sweet cream and lemon marmalade swirling together which brings out the inherently natural malty barley.  The citrus is shy at first but the raisins and sultana slowly blossom away, some minerals are added on the back end.

A gentler finish with golden honey drizzling atop of a chewy, nutty aftertaste..

Thoughts:

I suppose Mr. and Mrs. Andrew’s philosophy is really quite simple, to highlight the malt in malt whiskies..

In that sense, I must congratulate them in achieving what they have set out to do.. the Heart of Gold is quite an authentic dram simply celebrating good old barley sweetness.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

Thank you Gareth and Angela for sharing the dram, it’s much appreciated!

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Port Charlotte 2007 CC:01

Style: Sweet, Barbeque smoke and Spicy

Nose:
Sticky Riesling injected with a dose of barbeque smoke and iodine. A string of sweet white grapes, powerful chilli spice peeling off a layer of earthiness. Spearmint overtone, sugared green mangoes, dried apricots and meat stock shining at the core. Sweet and feisty.

Palate:
Sweet, smoky apricots served on the palate. Crystallized pears and sugar plums creating a round, satisfying sweetness, which circles around some smoked mackerel notes. Vanilla sugar, dry hay stacks building on top of iodine brushes, a seaside farm-y vibe I am getting here… Wine texture, a hint of olives and barbeque pork with a pinch of sea salt. Roasted coffee beans chocolate at the back. Finishes with subtle liquorice roots.

Finish:
Stewed tropical fruits with tarry smoke gently lacing around it. Clean, sweet white grapes continue to linger. Quite nice.

Thoughts:
Oddly, I see glimpses of Port Ellen in this dram. Of course they are not the same thing, also, young Port Ellen are usually much tighter than Port Charlotte. But there are a few overlapping moments which reminds me of a good PE in this PC – maybe it is the near-perfect distribution between fruitiness, meatiness, maritime notes and peat smoke, they gather, synergize and paint a colourful picture in front of you… Not saying this is the best whisky, but drams like this make me feel Port Charlotte is so underrated.

☆ [Recommended]

[57.8% • 2015 Bottled • 2007 Distilled • Original Bottling • Limited Release • Travel Retail Exclusive • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • No Age Statement • Aged 8 Years • *]

-Esmond

Whisky News: Port Charlotte Relaunches

Port Charlotte relaunches

Bruichladdich Distillery have announced the relaunch of Port Charlotte, their heavily-peated Islay single malt Scotch whisky. It will unveil a new range in distinctive new packaging this summer.

The style of the spirit will remain unchanged, peated at 40ppm, the distillery will release four new products in 2018.

Port Charlotte-Bottle-Port Charlotte 10YO R2018 700 BlackBG Floor.pngThe new Port Charlotte 10 Aged Years

Port Charlotte 10 will become the first permanent release under this brand, bottled at 50%, using 100% Scottish barley from Invernesshire region. It will be a vat of 65% First Fill American Oak casks, 10% Second Fill American Oak casks and 25% Second Fill French Wine Casks.

A new vintage of Port Charlotte Islay barley will also join the line-up. Drawn from their salt-soaked loch side warehouses, the 2011 vintage is distilled from harvests on three Islay farms; by Raymond Fletcher at Dunlossit, Raymond Stewart at Sunderland and Neil McLellan at Kilchiaran.

Port Charlotte-Bottle-Port Charlotte Islay Barley 7YO D2011 R2018 700 BlackBG Floor.png

The new Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2011

Bruichladdich’s Director of Distilling and Head of Operations, Allan Logan, is now working in partnership with 17 farmers across the island, all of which grow malting barley exclusively for the distillery, despite the challenges of the Islay climate. This 2011 vintage is the second heavily-peated offering from their uber-provenance “Islay barley” stable.

Concluding the quartet are two cask exploration, cask strength, limited editions. One each for domestic and travel retail. Drawing from a suite of over 200 cask types, Head Distiller Adam Hannett has hand selected casks which demonstrate the versatility and elegance of the Port Charlotte distillate.

New Travel Retail Exclusives

Joining Port Charlotte 10 and the 2011 Islay Barley for domestic markets, is the codified and limited Port Charlotte MRC: 01. Distilled from Scottish barley in 2010, MRC:01 is matured in the French oak casks from the Bordeaux left bank. Bottled at 59.2%, Hannett describes it as a superb combination of fruit-laden French oak, strong peat smoke and Islay maturation.

Releasing at the same time but exclusively for travel retail, is the codified and limited MC:01. This 2009 vintage was distilled from Scottish barley and matured in Marsala casks to impart a balanced fruitiness to the smoky spirit.

Both MRC:01 and MC:01 will be released in the autumn of 2018.

New PackagingAll four spirits will be introduced in a landmark bespoke bottle. The opaque green glass is a nod to the heavily-peated “Islay” category, whilst the modernist design clearly reflects the progressive values of the distillery.

On their philosophy, bold statements are made of being the first major distiller to conceive, distil, mature and bottle on the island. Hannett explains the distillery’s approach: “There’s nothing made up here. There are no tall tales of illicit distillation or local legends. This is about the actual provenance of the spirit in the bottle.”

Bruichladdich Distillery CEO Douglas Taylor further clarifies “Our distillery project is built around certain key principles which drive everything we do. The authenticity, provenance and transparency of our spirit is paramount. We are committed to source 100% of our barley from Scotland, 33% of which is now grown on Islay. We have reintroduced ancient varietals and experimented with regionality for texture and flavour. All our whiskies are conceived, distilled, matured and bottled on Islay, unchill-filtered and colouring free, using Islay spring water.

“We are committed to our community. We aim to be Islay-centric in everything we do and care about the positive economic and social impact our business has on the island. Over time we have become the biggest private employer on Islay; made possible because we are mature and bottle all our whiskies here. This vision has resulted in direct employment for 76 people at the distillery, with countless more involved through partnerships.”

Whisky Review: Port Charlotte 10 Aged Years

Style: Herbal, Citrus fruits and Ashy

Nose:
Starts with a pleasing blend of citrus drops, barbecue smoke, maritime notes and earthy peat. Vanilla milk emerges, a touch of herbal overtone, which then morphed into some generous seaweed signatures. Smoked ham, more citrus lollies and some apricots perhaps hiding up at the attic. Optimal chilli and peppermint spices with a few mineral flicks.

Palate:
Smoky orange pop drives in with a medicinal white spirit current on the palate to form some sweet lozenges at the front. Hay stack, flinty notes, coconut shreds and vanilla milk unveiling as medicinal tone starts to wane. Sweetness levitates and takes a more delicate form – Glazed pears, star fruits and even a hint of white jasmine. Another dose of smoked tea, bitter herbs lingers till the end.

Finish:
Mint lemon squash fuses with tobacco ashes, which is then drying up with a liquorice and herbal tail.

Thoughts:
A rather herbal dram we have here, couldn’t help but wondering if the house style is taking a slight grassy/herbal turn? From memory the previous version is banging more on maritime smoke and farm-y notes. Anyway, I have high expectations on this one because the last one I tried was very impressive. So this Port Charlotte manages to find a nice balance point of all the elements involved – the distillate, sweetness, peat smoke, finesse, etc. are all nicely calibrated and fired at a comfortable pace. Not sure if this is as good as the previous batch, but I am a happy man here.

☆ [Recommended]

[50% • Original Bottling • General Release • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • 2018 Bottled • *-]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Ralfy.com Meteorite Port Charlotte Aged 12 Years

[56.2%・12 Years Old・Ralfy.com Bottling・Cask No. 0941・Single Cask Release of 233 Bottles]

Nose:

From the get go there is this mouth-salivating smoked thick cut bacon note that is just fantastic.  It’s quite salty, squid ink linguine and a meatiness that is propped up by the Sherry. In the meantime a touch of maple syrup elevates the malty component.  The dirty smoke continues to grow and in time the raisins arrive to hug things in.

Palate & Finish:

Excellent mouthfeel, optimal thickness.  Bonito flakes with a hint of old soy sauce, maple syrup cured bacon with a generous dose of raisins as the peat sinks in.  Blackcurrants and blackberries follow on to run parallel with the peat, and the follow through is casually complimented by a fine layer of caramel..

The confectionery note and the peat continue to swirl together.  More dark chocolate and some dried raisins arriving but still retaining that smoothness..

Thoughts:

What a cracking dram, stylistically fascinating and perhaps even boundaries pushing with how well the saltiness is conveyed, this is bloody fantastic..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas