Dram Review: Karuizawa Noh 21 Years Old (Cask No. 6149)

[63.6%・21 Years Old・Distilled in 1994・Bottled in 2016・The Number One Drinks Company Bottling・Cask No. 6149・Single Cask Release of 380 Bottles]

Nose:

Quite malty on the nose at first but then the peat cuts in assertively and perhaps somewhat unexpectedly early.  Honey, heather and dry herbs follow, in time the dram grows smokier with a distinct dirty diesel note.

Palate & Finish:

The dram leads with big lemony sweetness with a hint of saltiness, some Manuka honey with the malt being quite sturdy and gentle as the peat arrives in a dry, herbal manner.  The honey sweetness on the palate sticks on and allows a hint shortbread to develop.

The peat falls softer and softer in the finish and eventually disappears, leaving behind a bitter burnt toast note.

Thoughts:

I suppose if you are a Karuizawa collector, whether or not this is rather noticeably peated matters little, though I do find this to be interesting enough. Quite close to scoring one star..

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Karuizawa Noh 15 Years Old (Cask No. 2326)

[62.2%・15 Years Old・Distilled in 2000・Bottled in 2015・The Number One Drinks Company Bottling・Cask No. 2326・Single Cask Release of 495 Bottles]

Nose:

The nose is quite pungent, heavily handed on the malt, butter and honey. The vanilla note is quite prominent with some toasted nuts and almond butter as well, gets quite bread-y, raisin bread in particular.

Palate & Finish:

As the nose would indicate this is quite a dense and relentless dram, prunes, leather and oak all getting dialled right up, sticky syrup and buttery honey as the somewhat youthful malty spirit shines through, leading to a brutal dose of minerals, wood and hot spices.

Medium finish on the malty side.

Thoughts:

Would this work better in a small batch?  Probably, this is arguably weighted down by the heaviness of the spirit and the wood, in saying that though I do recognise that people can still take enjoyment from an unbalanced act..

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ardbeg Twenty Something

[46.3%・23 Years Old・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

The peat is mild and melted into a pool of oil diesel, fumes and smoke.  Faintly Sherried and slightly milky, there’s some iodine in there but perhaps it’s a tad metallic as well.

Palate & Finish:

Vanilla, chocolate and Sherried fruits, the delivery is not too dramatic, antiseptic and raspberry coulis layering on in a follow through that’s perhaps less refined and more rustically textured.

There is this seaweed-y note in the finish that’s a tad rough around the edges.

Thoughts:

A twenty something Ardbeg generally has this certain appeal..

This is more in line with contemporary releases but perhaps just not as delicate as what people expect from a more matured Ardbeg expression, it is unfortunate that this is a follow up to the Twenty One..

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Spirit Review: Archie Rose Six Malt Spirit matured in 100L Apera Sherry Cask for 18 months

Nose:

Powerful spice, but the core aroma is surprisingly gentle on the nose. Soft but determined dark/red fruits notes, raisinets uplifted by an herbal overtone. Orange drops and black currants. There are still glimpses of raw new make malt syrup notes here, but some rough edges have been polished off.

Palate:

Red fruits with an unexpected touch of subtle wood smoke backing it up. Lollies, red liquorice and orange drops forming a fairly strong fruity core. Raw herbal spice flaring up, while chocolate and barley husk dropping lower. Finishes with more confectionaries notes and roasted coffee beans.

Thoughts:

Despite 6 months short from becoming an actual whisky in Australia, it is almost ready. There has been a substantial fine-tuning with the Archie Rose spirit to create its own style, and I am delighted to see what we have here is thoughtfully polished. The sherry injects a nice sweetness to it while the barley in the drier facet sinks even lower and form a nice spirit underlayer. An enjoyable treat, and I am seeing all sorts of positive signs from this distillery in Sydney.

[Filling Strength of 63.5% • Cask Sample]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Samaroli The Glenlivet 1976

[45.0%・25 Years Old・Distilled in 1976・Bottled in 2001・Samaroli Bottling・Cask No. 5521・Single Cask Release of 648 Bottles]

Nose:

Ahhh, this is nice, soft English toffee, Muscovado sugar, and buttero leather; red tea with just a bit of gingery kick.  Beautifully Sherried in such a manner that embodies the characters of Italian independent bottling as the malt moves in to accentuate the creaminess, so elegant and full bodied, hints of chocolate, oak and aged cigar leaves in time.

Palate & Finish:

This is a wonderful Sherry cask, Christmas cake and syrupy red berries with just a spike of gingery and cinnamon notes, ever so gently pleasing with the wonderful tannins softly layered on, bringing out more dried fruits and berries along the way.

The tannins elongate in the finish, letting out some menthol and vintage leather with the Sherry creaminess mellowing things out, hints of strawberry preserve to give this lingering enjoyment.

Thoughts:

Such dreamy elegance, this really is a great Italian style Sherry cask, one of many from that era but still one for the ages.. this is really lovely.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: The Glenlivet Archive 21 Years of Age Batch 0414N

Style: Rich and Fruity

Nose:
Starts with a faint whiff of gunpowder, leading to poached pears and black currants. Ginger spice shoots through all layers, berries compote lightly dipped in honey vanilla milk, whereas soft oatmeal trail tracing at the back. A nice fragrant fruity core, unfortunately maybe it is slightly tainted by sulphur.

Palate:
Dazzling array of red fruits delivered at perfect weight. Forest berries, sugar plums and poached pears lifted up by fresh ginger and grassy notes. Sulphur notes diminished and lurking in the background. Just as some raisin chocolate is building up, the sweetness hits the brake at the back while barley and oak giving a stringent finish.

Finish:
Grapes and plums lightly powdered with milk chocolate. Tannic oak lingers till the end.

Thoughts:
A fragrant Glenlivet presented in such a comfortable manner. The expression is nicely tidied up to highlight the charming synergy between sherry-fruits and ginger spice at the core. Perhaps it is designed to be easy-drinking while showing a decent level of maturation. Although there are a couple of minor blips, it is still a rather decent dram, close to 1 star.

[Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

[43% • Original Bottling • Batch 0414N • General Release • 2014 Bottled • t+]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Artist #5 Glenlivet Aged 40 Years by La Maison du Whisky

Style: Sherry and Oaky

Nose:

Floral nectar crystallizing nicely at the front, sugared cranberries adding an extra sweet touch to the aroma. Early oak presence as we have generous amount of saw dust tipped and stirred into the mix. Sherry notes drilled into the core, ripe red mangoes underlined by chilli spices. Coconut shreds, a tiny dash of vanilla cream, followed by white pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. Full-bodied sweetness supported by timber notes and assorted spices.

Palate:

More delicate sweet mango notes at the first wave. Sultanas running in liquid form, all nice and sweet not for long as wood shavings infiltrate and deeply etched into the spirit. A flash of clean cranberries with subtle black currants on the side. Going drier towards the back, bitter oak and cereal notes forming a bizarre duo which is somehow rescued by bright ginger.

Finish:

Mangoes and apricots beaming positively as the oak fades. Honeycomb with a bite of malt biscuit, bitterness stacks up again at the very end.

Thoughts:

The injection of sweet sherry has somehow managed to semi-unlock/resuscitate the oak-entrenched Glenlivet. The portion which has escaped from the bitter shackles put up a glamorous display of delicious fruits and sharpness. However, the rest is having a hard time which makes me think the spirit is unfortunately flawed. There are a few good moments for sure, but the ride has been bumpy and scary.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

[46.8% • Independent Bottling • 1974 Distilled • 2015 Bottled • 240 Bottles • Initial maturation of Hogsheads(!), finish in a Sherry Butt for 45 months • Cask #1 • t]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: The Glenlivet XXV Batch 0115B

Style: Fruity and Spicy

Nose:

Round red fruits-citrus sweetness wrapping around fresh ginger slices on the nose. Barley husk sprinkling over a layer of vanilla agar agar pudding. Hints of earthy five spices. Aroma nicely sharpened, sweet and refreshing, quite nice.

Palate:

Red cherries and red currants taking on a strong ginger-lemon gust and fly high. Navel oranges and caramel popcorn condense at the core, peppermint leaves lightly burnt on top. Assorted spices forming a strong spirit backbone which pierces through all the layers. Oak, barley and white pepper combined in a peculiarly dry fashion. Dry and gingery towards the end.

Finish:

Beautiful red fruit-citrus notes surge back. Resounding sweetness taking a touch of minty spices. Nice.

Thoughts:

A pleasant, easy-drinking Glenlivet, but at the same time we have multiple layers stringing together nicely to offer a good level of complexity. Despite there are some strange moments down the road (I suspect there’re a few naughty virgin oak casks), ultimately it is still reasonably balanced and delicious.

☆ [Recommended]

[43% • Original Bottling • Finished in first fill Oloroso Sherry Cask • Circa 2015 • Batch Number: 0115B • Aged 25 Years • *]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Berry Bros & Rudd Glenlivet 1973 Aged 38 Years Cask Ref. 10658

[48.6%・38 Years Old・Distilled in 1973・Bottled in 2012・Berry Bros & Rudd Bottling・Cask No. 10658・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

Beautiful aromas of fruity nectar, vanilla and ripe banana peels swirling together with minerals as tame mahogany and a lager note continue to develop in a stately manner.

Palate & Finish:

Red tea and juicy cherries unfolding out of the velvety mouthfeel of maple syrup and lemony goodness, a nick of ginger comes along on the mid-palate as green plums and popcorn melt classily into the background.

Espresso and bitter chocolate in the finish but also hints of light white peaches to give the dram a subtly uplifting end.

Thoughts:

Such a gracefully presented Sherried Glenlivet, its luscious fruitiness at this age is particular alluring.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Spirit Review: Archie Rose Six Malt New Make

Nose:

Youthful malt syrup with grassy edges. Marshmallows, caramel and chocolate cookie dough developing on top of subtle fruitiness. Distinct carrot cake and earthy nutmeg notes coming forward towards the end.

Palate:

Vibrant confectionaries fruits sweeping across and transmute to drier chocolate barley husk on the palate. Abundant ester fruits – mostly oranges, nicely placed at the middle. Crisp ginger spices giving a zing, while barley brushes around the fruity core. Cornflakes and dry oatmeal at the tail.

Thoughts:

Of all new makes I have tried, there is a surprising amount of dry, naked barley signature injected into the spirit. Forming additional dimensions around the crisp and fruity core. Layers of flavours already distinctly formed, how they will develop in oak casks remains to be seen but it is definitely a good sign. Fairly drinkable and expressive at 50%. No ratings because it is not a whisky yet.

[50% • Distillery Bottling • Limited Edition • 3000 Bottles]

-Esmond