Dram Review: Bruichladdich Rare Cask Series Sherry: The Magnificent Seven 1986/30

[44.6%・30 Years Old・Distilled in 1986・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 4,200 Bottles]

Nose:

Some subtle farmy characters in play, brown sugar blanketing wee minerals and a tinge of herbal notes.  Crystallised honey and vanilla sugar brushed over pinewood as a intriguing woody incense burns in the background, slowly emitting aromas of molasses rubbed on oily barbecued brisket..

Palate & Finish:

Gooey figs and a hefty woodiness seasoned with honey and icing sugar, the rounded sweetness is substantial and elevated by minerals and sea salt, the hint of Ibérico saltiness swirls with essence oil from burnt oranges.

Soft brown sugar and toffee crisp in the finish, tailing off with some slightly earthy café au lait..

Thoughts:

The combo-casking of Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez really intensified the experience, making it a much more of a substantial affair with the two Sherry types complimenting each other.

A really well done Sherried Laddie in my opinion and a luxury to be able to gamble with the finishing like that.  Close to a two star..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Bruichladdich Rare Cask Series Bourbon: Hidden Glory 1985/32

[48.7%・32 Years Old・Distilled in 1985・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 4,200 Bottles]

Nose:

Somewhat char driven in a mix of honey and vanilla, pinch of sea salt to go with minerals, salted caramel, breakfast cereal and some cute bouquet fruits.

Palate & Finish:

Vanilla and custard apples, followed by a gush of honey, oak and peppery spices.  Sweet pineapples with some cinnamon and vanilla sugar seasoned strawberries as some minerals wash up.

Lingering notes of honey and minerals, just a subtle hint of brine in the background.

Thoughts:

Quite a pretty Bruichladdich in my view, even if it is debatable whether the double re-racking/finishing/ace-ing is entirely necessary.. there are noticeable benefits via the pleasing wine cask influence added but at the same time some costs are evident as well and not just in the purist sense..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Silver Seal Bunnahabhain 1980 “Whisky is Art” 34 Years Old

Style: Sweet and Malty

Nose:

Vanillic malt gleaming beautifully at the front, followed by overripe white and yellow fruits, calm, sweet and round aroma. Wood shavings laying at the bottom, while spearmint echoing gently. Very faint hint of shellfish and tar at the background.

Palate:

High concentration of malt converges at the front, sweet and delicious. Beautiful white fruits – fresh and tinned peaches, nectarines served with a slice of apple pie. A light drizzle of passionfruit syrup, peppermint dressed on the side. Mini pineapple jelly, ink etched deeply into wood planks as oak sinks in, also taking a hint of Earl Grey. Barley husk bringing in some subtle dryness which is quickly balanced by vanilla cream at its tail.

Finish:

Spontaneous showing of barley husk and barley sugar, white fruits regress and the sweetness gradually fades out.

Thoughts:

A mighty fine, old-school Bunnahabhain we have here. Not often you see a Bunny can unleash its potential and reach the highest order, but this dram has managed to set one foot into the realm of brilliance. Beautiful, peaceful interpretation of malt – so condensed, so pure, which is exquisitely empowered by the white fruits which carves such a lovable expression. Maybe it is a bit too confined within the malt and barley as the other elements are on the weaker side, but it remains a great drop to be cherished.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[46.6% | Independent Bottling | 1980 Distilled | 2014 Bottled | 270 Bottles | Cask Number: 84 | Cask Strength | Single Cask | **-]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Bunnahabhain 1997 Palo Cortado Cask Finish

Style: Sweet and Lightly Smoky

Nose:

Plenty of malt juice rolling in, green herbs placed on the side, stewed yellow fruits and agar agar. A dash of white pepper, vanilla pod and cinnamon stick. Pencil shavings, green cucumber, throwing in a few cranberries. Tarry smoke gently clinging on, nice.

Palate:

Pretty much mirroring what the nose has suggested, a fine stream of liquid malt running and forming the core of the expression. Yellow fruits – papaya, pineapple and mangoes thoroughly stewed and stir in with coconut jelly and more agar agar. Fresh green grass and aloe vera swaying on the side, while tarry peat gradually precipitates to bottom. Another light dose of white pepper, dark cherry chocolate, taking a hint of chicken broth at the tail. Delicious.

Finish:

Molten milk chocolate mixed with malt syrup, cherries, ruby grapes and cranberries coming through while some ashy tar lingers till the end.

Thoughts:

Sometimes a good whisky can really paint a picture, and boy, this is one of those – Imagine a small river passing a malt barn, tall green grass growing alongside the water, fragrance of fresh red berry shrubs diffusing through the air and mixing with light, distant coal fire smoke… A pretty scenic picture isn’t it? Of course there is imagination involved. But this dram does offer a good structure as well as a sense of serenity; a gentle, positive vibe which makes it highly enjoyable.

☆ [Recommended]

[54.9% | Original Bottling | 1997 Distilled | 2018 Bottled | Aged 20 Years | Cask Strength | Non Chill Filtered | Non Coloured | Sherry Cask finish for 2 Years | *+]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Three Rivers Tokyo Bunnahabhain Aged 26 Years “The Dance”

[49.8%・26 Years Old・Distilled in 1987・Bottled in 2014・Three Rivers Tokyo Bottling・Cask No. 2461・Single Cask Release of 179 Bottles]

Nose:

Fine layer of gentle cask led raisins, light brush of cherries as well. The oak and a light smoke combine to lead out more and more dark fruits and liquor soaked sultana.

Palate & Finish:

Dark fruits rush in with a dry chocolate undertone, black cherry compote, wood and leather politely easing in as the dried orange slices tie the fruitcake spices together with the subtle tannins.

Banana bread served with syrup laced walnuts, a nice touch of earthiness to round things.

Thoughts:

A delicate Sherried Bunnahabhain, fleeting moments of mesmerising tenderness as time slows down on the dance floor so the label suggests.. infatuating even with it being just a touch bitter..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Bunnahabhain Distilled 1963

[43.0%・33 Years Old・Distilled in 1963・Bottled in 1997・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Some orchard fruits in play, but also slightly showing its age with the leathery note and hazelnuts brushing past.  Bitter cocoa dust layered on the mildly floral citrus marmalade note as a hint of muddy wet grass mellowly runs underneath.

Palate & Finish:

Quite a pleasant burst of juicy white fruits seasoned with ginger powder.  Smooth milk chocolate and toffee swirl carrying some bitter notes from the oak.

Mildly malty and settle into a medium finish of brown sugar and leather.

Thoughts:

The specs might elicit unjust expectations but in saying that this is a restrained dram that is well put together, a bit aged and a bit simple that’s all.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Lagavulin Aged 16 Years (White Horse Distillers Bottling Bottled Circa Early 1990s)

[43.0%・16 Years Old・Bottled Circa 1990s・Official Bottling・General Release]

Nose:

Quite a spirited nose, the peat is fiery but not at all invasive, medicinal with green fruits and coal smoke combining really well together.  Iodine and campfire as it progresses, quite thrilling in a manageable manner.

Palate & Finish:

The soft fruits provide this pleasing sweetness and when combined with notes of plastic and dry twigs makes for an unexpected harmony.  Coal smoke side by side with lollies.

The peat extends softly in the finish.

Thoughts:

This one is a slightly earlier bottling to the other White Horse Distillers Bottling previously reviewed.

It’s a testament to the distillery that releases these days are not drastically compromised like many of its fellow key distilleries that were thriving a few decades ago.

But of course in saying that this White Horse is just finer and more special..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

P.S. Thank you Raf, thank you for this dramming experience my friend.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Lagavulin Aged 18 Years Feis Ile 2018

[53.9%・18 Years Old・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 6,000 Bottles]

Nose:

Surprisingly quite dirtily peated, the oak also comes on quite strong.  Powdery sugar sprinkled atop of dried fruits.

Palate & Finish:

Jammy fruits and oily toffee, the fiery and tarry peat punches through, a heap of black pepper atop of a slightly waxy underlay with some ripe fruits in the mix.

A mild brine-y finish, pepper casually sprinkled on oyster shells, with a thrilling oomph of peat.

Thoughts:

Slightly a bit on the brute and relentless side for me, just faring somewhat harsher than I would have hoped for even at 53.9%; may be it’s just me though, it’s probably a fittingly thrilling release for the festivities..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: SMWS 127.44 Port Charlotte “Cantina Mexicana”

Style: Sweet, Smoky and Spicy

Nose:

Wow, very powerful stuff, ample caramel drizzle generously on barbeque ham, aroma cruising on a ferocious spice. A signature blend of red wine, minerals, seaweed, iodine and heavily smoked barley. Nutmeg and ginger powder sprinkling down on dark cacao. Finish with some toffee apple.

Palate:

Red currants dusted with cinnamon, pomegranate, all sorts of grapes thoroughly smoked. Black peppercorn coming upfront, spice firing at all cylinders… It’s a 65.9% afterall. Chocolate malt, hay stack, a hidden brush of floral fragrance, dry barley, peated chorizos and sardines at the tail. Soft oak and resin at lower levels, peppermint, vanilla ice cream rounding up nicely at the back. Very hot, but very tasty.

Finish:

More barley, raisins and Cadbury. Peat smoke crackling gently, black liquorice and dark fruits to finish.

Thoughts:

I have been meaning to write about this for quite a while but full-strength Port Charlotte is not easy to review. Mostly because, by the time I get to the Thoughts session, usually I am already half-tipsy/drunk. Now, this Port Charlotte is no exception I afraid, a scary 65.9%, definitely not for the faint hearted… Somehow for me, cask strength Port Charlotte generally feels “stronger” than Octomore regardless of the strength or ppm, as if there is a relentless force pushing the expression forward. The funny thing about this is, even under such a crazy strength, it works, especially with sherry casks – fascinating layering, texture, sweetness, and complexity are completely in sync with the robust spirit. Are we looking at Port Charlotte at its peak? Maybe, but it sure is dangerously addictive.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[65.9% | Independent Bottling | 2003 Distilled | 2016 Bottled | Aged 12 years | Cask Strength | Non Coloured | Non Chill Filtered | 588 Bottles | Single Cask | Mature in second-fill OIoroso Butt | **-]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: SMWS 105.13 Tormore “Pouring treacle on cut grass”

Style: Sherry and Grassy

Nose:

Cranberry-infused malt syrup singing in the embrace of a fresh, grassy landscape. Light herbal touch, rose water, vanilla sponge cake… Assorted red fruits, cherry and treacle dipping lower while an energetic grassy tone surges up at the end.

Palate:

Toffee apples, strawberries and blackcurrants dressed prettily around honeycomb. Fresh grass rolling in, a perky herbal touch, followed by dried mangoes, stewed red fruits and chocolate éclair. Cinnamon dusting on blood orange malt cake with a reminiscence of peach skin. Ginger spice gathering momentum to finish high.

Finish:

Vanilla biscuits gently dabbed into cranberry sauce, goji berries, a light serve of egg pudding and some red fruits to give a nice sherried finish.

Thoughts:

A straight arrow Tormore shooting with plenty of sherry, very Speyside, very modern. Another expression from this distillery which is running at a relatively high pace, which creates a sense of brightness and vibrancy, it does not feel like a 26-year-old at all. Maybe still lacking a bit of substance on the palate, but sometimes I wonder if this young distillery is on the road to create something big. Quite nice.

☆ [Recommended]

[56.0% | Independent Bottling | 1983 Distilled | 2010 Bottled | 318 Bottles | 1st Fill ex-Sherry Hogshead | Cask Strength | Non Coloured | Non Chill Filtered | *-]

-Esmond