Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt & Grain Chichibu Whisk(e)y Matsuri 2020 Single Cask World Blended Whisky

[58.6%・NAS・Bottled in 2019・Official Bottling・Cask No. 7256・Single Cask of 293 Bottles]

Nose:

A really filling serving of creamy grain with a proper showing of char coming from the wood, fruits displaying some greenness, green plums along with some white pine sticks.

Palate & Finish:

A bit sharp as expected, with some decent notes of ume and red cherry flavoured glucose gel; quite spicy with a creamy layer of grain notes following through.

Spices ease off with some menthol and buttered charred toast in the finish.

Thoughts:

Fairly fun if I were to be honest but certainly with some rougher edges in my opinion, good for session dramming with a few casual whisky drinking friends and enjoying their envious looks..

[Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Longrow Red Pinot Noir Cask Matured Aged 11 Years

Style: Sweet and Smoky

Nose:
Begins with oatmeal taking a good amount of smoke. Barley sugar, raisinets and fresh apricots enveloped in sharp, green spice, a bit tight here. Cornflakes, together with minimal tar sink and form the foundation. Whereas shisha, grape skins and sweet bubblegum building up the top aroma. Subtle “dirty” notes gradually unfurl overtime, farm-y notes, diesel oil and brine sprinkled with black pepper.

Palate:
Glistening red grapes showing great clarity at the front. Red fruits sitting on the acidic spectrum, plums, hawthorns, raspberries and cherries. Liquorice roots, tame peat smoke in the form of a gently humming Diesel engine. White fruits and peppermint leaves gradually open up, whereas crunchy cornflakes sit at the bottom. Pomegranate liqueur pouring on milk chocolate. Red fruits and smoke echoing back and forth beautifully.

Finish:
Crystallised red fruits continue to echo at the finish. Minimum smoke and aplenty of sweet red grapes, very nice.

Thoughts:
Longrow red has always been a bit controversial and I think this is my first review on the series. Personally I don’t have a problem with the combination of Longrow spirit and red wine casks at all, but a few of them didn’t worked out that well. For this one, I find the nose a bit tight but the rest is very enjoyable. The balance (or proportion, to be more accurate) between the red fruits and smoke hits the sweet spot whereas the “dirtiness” has integrated into the profile nicely and keeps things interesting. A very good sipper.

☆ [Recommended]

[53.1% | Original Bottling | 9000 Bottles | Cask Strength | 2019 Bottled| 8 years matured in Bourbon casks and 3 years finished in Refill Pinot Noir casks | *]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Samaroli Longrow Natural Strength Sherry Wood 1974

[56.0%・Distilled in 1974・Bottled in 1987・Samaroli Bottling・Limited Release of 408 Bottles]

Nose:

A charming combination of a lucid sugary delivery infused delicately with fresh cropped grass orientated peat. The Sherry influence is restrained, presenting itself in the form of stewed apples with a fascinating edge of soft cheese, served upon a fine layer of buttero leather.

Palate & Finish:

Sensational swirl of dried dates, caramel and blackcurrant sauce conveying the cask’s brilliant Sherry elements, some citrus notes as well with a most pleasing peat eases on followed by those tender leathery notes.

A long and emotional finish, velvet like peat dressed with vanilla and Christmas fruits, sprinkled with a pinch of sea salt to close.

Thoughts:

Such a complex and lovely dram even by vintage Longrow’s standards, navigating through all these colourful nuances and conveying them coherently.

Such class, a dram that begs you to look further.. and look further still..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

 

Whisky Review: Talisker Aged 15 Years Diageo Special Release 2019

Style: Sweet, Woody and Spicy

Nose:
Wood shavings and fat toffee melding with iodine and oysters, got to say it is a curious combination, but it works out pretty well, not sure if it is everybody’s cup of tea though. Chilli spike, then in comes assorted dried fruits, mostly tropical, decorated with wood varnish, acrylic, paprika and plenty of signature white pepper. As the sweetness slowly retreats, the tone becomes increasingly maritime – mineral notes, moss and limestone at the bottom. Some sour, green fruits tugged at the back, quite nice.

Palate:
The virgin oak continues to be quite outspoken and controls the palate – pencil shavings, cinnamon sugar, caramel, coffee jelly and dried paint. Tropical fruits, crystalized pineapple and mangoes unwinding overtime just as the woody side begins to dissipate. Maritime and smoky notes remain quite soft, sea rocks and unshucked oysters with a bit of damp moss, seasoned with abundant pepper and dried chilli. The vanillic oak sweetness staying till the end.

Finish:
Fragrance of toasted oak lingering in the air, cinnamon sugar dusted on dark cherries and peaches. A satisfyingly sweet and woody finish.

Thoughts:
This is a Talisker driven by virgin oak/ freshly charred cask, at least for me, this is a new and entertaining experience on this much beloved distillery. The caramelised wood component is the main character while the maritime, peppery spirit steps back to play a more supportive role. It seems there is no buzzing synergy between them like some other distillates do with virgin oak (like Yoichi), but the expression is steady, coherent with intensity. Not my favourite Talisker but it is still a very decent one.

☆ [Recommended]

[57.3% | Original Bottling | Natural Cask Strength | Limited Edition | *-]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Sullivans Cove American Oak Single Cask HH0339 Aged 17 Years

[47.5%・ 17 Years Old・Distilled in 2000・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Cask No. HH0339・Single Cask Release of 195 Bottles]

Nose:

A bit shy at first only showing rich vanilla and a poised oak note, in time notes of Anzac cookies and cooked oats surface along a subtle hint of floral fragrance, as the wood develops.

Palate & Finish:

Pleasantly tropical and fruity, pears and white fruits with a smooth underlay of oak and chocolate covered toffee crisps.

Soft finish, traces of lychees and rice paper with a subtle café ah lait note coming on.

Thoughts:

A bit shy at first on the nose but once it has time to open up it really shows those polished subtleties that reflect how well the Sullivans Cove spirit ages in time.

Perhaps collectively we are guilty of shaping the current climate of Australian whiskies, of putting young distilleries in positions to struggle; oftentimes we are too keen to indulge in and over-celebrate the bold white noises too easily without asking for more, because we do not know subtle elegance in Australian whiskies, in the past decade we just do not come across expressions often enough that are poised with complex, texturised nuances that challenge the sophistication of one’s palate. We are too content with colour and strength and flavours of the first few moments that we forget that real flavours can come in waves that are truly wonderful.

I am optimistic in another decade or so we will see most operating Australian distilleries making the leap, but right now Sullivans Cove is one of may be two, three distilleries in Australia that offers something elevated.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas