Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu The Game (1st Edition)

[61.2%・Distilled in 2000・Bottled in 2009 ・Ichiro’s Malt Bottling・Limited Release of 476 Bottles]

Nose:

Gooey vanilla custard tarts, oak and pepper also on show with a toasty base note.

Palate & Finish:

French vanilla grain and lemon butter crêpes serve with pear purée, the thick creaminess comes and later on leads to and a digestive biscuit note.

Slightly lemony with a hint of the burnt sugary layer from a Portuguese tart.

Thoughts:

A fun and accommodatingly lovely albeit not quite composed dram from a dead distillery, perhaps a prototype exhibiting what eventually would become known in Chichibu whiskies? Don’t think too hard about all the accolades surrounding Hanyu or the Game, just put on Peter Bjorn and John and have fun with it..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Clynelish Aged 14 Years

Style: Fruity and Waxy

Nose:
Citrus grapefruit and orange beaming positively at the front, the fruity sweetness is nicely supplemented with a gentle touch of candle wax. Decent vanilla brush, fresh lemon peels garnished around the core, with mineral spice combines with barley and cereal notes. Faint aroma of banana split at its tail.

Palate:
More lemon and grapefruit sweetness teams up comfortably with the growing waxiness on the palate. Citrus-scented candle and balm sealing the top. Light tropical fruits slipping under, quite similar to what the nose has suggested. The tone gradually drops lower to the drier region, with minimal vanilla drizzling on oat and barley, faint sea salt and ends with a hint of kumquat oil.

Finish:
Sweet lemon and orange wax, a final touch of menthol singing out pretty nicely.

Thoughts:
Clynelish, though not as well-known as some other single malts, is the beloved distillery of many connoisseurs, myself included. It is not hard to see why – Bright citrus fruits character fits perfectly with ample waxiness to create a deliciously sweet, comfortable and effluent profile. An excellent style which is now a rarity in modern era, and this current official general release offers you a glimpse of what Clynelish is about. A nice introductory whisky.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/distillery]

[46% | Original Bottling | General Release | circa 2016 Bottled]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Isle of Raasay “While We Wait”

Style: Fruity and slightly Smoky

Nose:
Fresh apples, smoked toffee drizzling on a green, meaty malt. The aroma is pleasingly rich and oily. Grapes with vines, popcorns, the sweetness opens up to bubble gum, bright ester fruits laced with hot chilli spice. Mineral notes, peppermint, smoked ham rubbed with just a touch of vinegar. Very young, but quite pleasant.

Palate:
Orchard fruits slowly fused with caramel popcorn, while smoked hay circling some rich citrus confectionaries and grape gummies. All sweet, rich and oily at the core. Digging deeper we have some green herbs stacking over a deep layer of malt. Light vanilla brushing around the core, tropical fruits, coconut jelly with a subtle Eau de vie tail. Smoked barley showing the drier side of the spirit. Young, but not raw.

Finish:
Soft malt-barley hybrid mixing with agar agar and diluted orange juice.

Thoughts:
Another budding distillery under the current whisky boom, fascinating times for whisky drinkers, isn’t it? Now Isle of Raasay Distillery has commissioned in 2017 so we will expect the distillery’s first whisky in 2020. While we are waiting, voila, we have this pseudo-OB to play with. On the label it says, “Distilled in the Highlands for R&B Distillers, in anticipation of our future production on Raasay.”, so I suppose it is an indication of what R&B Distillers envision their whisky will be like in the future. Now, judging from the profile, this feels like a lighter version of Ben Nevis by using soft wine casks to finish and a higher proportion of unpeated spirit, resulting a light, fruity whisky but also retain a decent level of texture and oiliness. Interesting choice, but I think it has worked out pretty well. Hopefully the guys in Raasay can emulate this style in their future endeavours. All the best!

✓ [Recommend if you like the style/distillery]

[46% | Original Bottling | 2018 Bottled | No Age Statement | Bottle Number: 9163 | Non Chill Filtered | Non Coloured | Finished in Tuscan Red Wine Casks | T]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Game of Thrones “The Night’s Watch” Oban Bay Reserve

Style: Fruity and Slightly Bitter

Nose:
A light mix of pears and green apples quickly covered by a layer of vanilla cream. Crystalized apricots nougats infused with oat biscuits and barley stacks. Caramel balanced by the freshness of green fruits.

Palate:
Sweet orchard fruits flowing in followed by a touch of honey mead. Apple skins, herbs, the bitterness makes an early show and locks up part of the expression. Caramelized/burnt liquorice (weird, right?), some apricot yoghurt and can pineapple. Barley leading the expression to the drier side, more vanilla towards the back.

Finish:
Faint but a decent level of fruit yogurt, coconut and nectarines remaining behind.

Thoughts:
Hmmmm, Oban in Game of Thrones, not sure what I should expect, but regardless what the marketing spin is, you always hope the juice inside is good. This is a reasonably young and fruity Oban, but a fraction of it is unfortunately shackled by some overcooked oak. Not good, not bad. Well, I suppose you can’t always have everything in this world, can you?

-Esmond

[43% | Original Bottling | Limited Edition | No Age Statement]

Dram Review: Dalmore L’Anima

[41.5%・49 Years Old・Bottled in 2019・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 1 Bottle]

So a little background information, this is a polygamous marrying of Dalmore whiskies from a bourbon barrel, a cask seasoned with 40+ year old Pedro Ximenez and a Tawny Port pipe, filled in a Baccarat crystal decanter and stored safely in a bespoke handcrafted wooden cabinet..

I was generously offered a taste of a sample taken out for prospective bidders.

Nose:

Provocative from the get go with a sultry dose of aged leather and almonds, brushed with fine chocolate and cinnamon dust. Prunes seasoned with a seductively acidic strawberry reduction as the oak inspires some sensual notes of roasted rosemary and dried mint.

Palate & Finish:

A luxuriously creamy mouthfeel of filtered prune syrup dripping onto marzipan, only a subtle showing of tannins at first, fully immersing into the thickness of the dram.  Blood orange liquor in time unclothes notes of earthy espresso and cigar leaves.

A lasting velvet-esque finish, the Tawny Port influence leaving notes of matured and slightly dehydrated grapes and strawberries on the tip of the tastebuds with leather and dried mint suggestively stretch on, and for the final course a satisfying note of crispy streaky bacon.

Thoughts:

Having the L’Anima reminds me of the Ortolan scene from Billion, “one is bliss, two is gluttony” and I must shamefully confess that I had three nips of the dram. Not quite three stars but perhaps one of the most memorable drams I have come across..

At this age and strength, it’s not deigned to create an existential crisis for whisky snobs but rather to give immense pleasure, for me this is the Dalmore, such outrageous boldness with such soft touches.  At the risk of political and brand incorrectness but with all due respect and admiration this is Adriana Lima in black La Perla.

I was rather turned on by the idea that the L’Anima possesses this savoury edge that just pushes it over the top, and the Tawny Port influence is simply hedonistic; no doubt a Dalmore bathed in all of its finest elusive glory and the articulated campaign to celebrate this whisky is rightfully justifiable, in my opinion.

Pairing the L’Anima with dishes created by chef Massimo Bottura’s likely would be a religious experience..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

P. S. Thank you Joshua, Justin and Martin for this experience.