Dram Review: Clynelish 14 Years Old Bottled by Royal Marine Hotel

[Less than 92° Proof・14 Years Old・Bottled Circa 1960s・Original Bottling Bottled by Royal Marine Hotel・Limited Release]

Nose:

Sea breeze captured in a velvet like state, pungent ripen fruits laced with a stickily sweet caramel sauce followed by a tail of wee metallic notes, clean malt spirit and toast charred on coal fire.. swiftly becoming more mineral driven.

Palate & Finish:

The dram showcasing even more ripen fruits on the palate, poached pears, caramelised banana slices, can peaches, lavender and candied pineapples, some caramel fudge in the follow through as it effortlessly becomes maltier.

Summer berries and tropical fruits in the finish, minerals and sea salt to close.

Thoughts:

Historic bottle showing OBE with some fascinating traits, perhaps telling the story of how it fares over the years more than how things used to be.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Lagavulin Bottled Exclusively to Celebrate Feis Ile 2008 Distilled in 1993


[52.9%・Distilled in 1993・Bottled in 2008・Official Bottling・Cask No. 1403・ Single Cask Release]

Nose:

Endearingly rounded, gently Sherried and with an elegant sea breeze following through. This is this certain creamy tone with a soft umami touch.

Palate & Finish:

Delicious and gooey, immensely creamy for a Lagavulin with red fruits infused to the dense red tea before the earthier wave arrives.

Leather and chocolate powder with an oaky brush of herbs to even things out.

Thoughts:

Would love a bottle of this to help with the cabin fever.. makes for a perfectly cosy few days.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Lagavulin Available Only at the Distillery Distilled in 1993

[56.5%・Distilled in 1993・Bottled in 2007・Official Bottling・Cask No. 4893・ Single Cask Release]

Nose:

Ocean produce with a prominent presence of wet sand, some Chinese herbs mixed along with cocoa dust.

Palate & Finish:

Dry, dark and bitter, anise wrapped in peat smoke whilst being incredibly herbal.

A lengthy tail of peat smoke and bitter chocolate.

Thoughts:

A challenging and taxing genre, a technically sound single cask consistently deprived of joyous moments.

[Recommended if you like the distillery/style]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Hidden Spirits Balmenach 2004 Aged 13 Years

Style: Fruity and Creamy

Nose:
Powerful, lively while also incredibly dense sweetness bursting forward. Tinned pears, honey oatmeal, coconut shreds and vanilla cream shaking up a brilliant concoction. In comes a long queue of glazed fruits rained with lavender petals, peppermint leaves and barley husks. The fragrance is nicely counterbalanced by assorted dry spices and green grass notes. A massive and impressive aroma.

Palate:
The theme of creamy pears, toffee apples and glazed tropical fruits continues on the palate. The sweetness is compressed, condensed and fired at the front with power. Then we have some orange confectioneries and give zingy side brushes. Cream soda fizzing, barley tucks under and build a cereal bed well below the sweetness. Hints of white flower confectioneries and taro pudding. A slight mineral flick, followed by a small bite of white oak at the tail.

Finish:
Soft bitter afterbite and a sense of lingering cream soda sweetness, and perhaps some mixed fruits jelly. A subtle end to a big whisky.

Thoughts:
Despite its youthfulness and lesser-known status, this Balmenach is a juggernaut of whisky. The starburst of ultra-condensed fruits is simply mind-boggling, which is then adeptly neutralised and complimented by the massive creaminess and undercurrent of dry spices, they combined and produce a beautiful fruit bomb with incredible weight and texture. I don’t know about you guys, but I have already tried quite a few excellent Balmenachs and couldn’t help but feel this distillery deserve a little more love… Back to this dram, although there are still some roughness and limitations because of its age, for me at least, this is a drop I would highly recommend.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[51.2% | 2018 Bottled | 2004 Distilled | Single Cask | Independent Bottling | Cask Reference: BLM418 | Cask Strength | **-]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Hidden Spirits Aberfeldy Aged 10 Years

Style: Fruity and Spirit-y

Nose:
Begins with a pleasant oiliness on the nose – big and round apricots and fragrant peaches thoroughly drenched in viscous almond oil. Digging deeper, we have assorted nuts, raw peanuts, macadamia and more almonds manifesting under the fruity notes. Then comes a wave of immense spirit spice smashes in and anchors at the bottom of the aroma, bitter green herbs, boiled potato, crème de menthe… or maybe reminiscence of Chartruese, getting slightly harsh and restrictive at the back.

Palate:
Unexpectedly strong for a 51.9% whisky, although maybe not that surprising since it is an Aberfeldy. The spice dominates while the rest is struggling to make an impact on the palate. There are glimpses of fruits shining, but they are quickly overrun by the spirit. Peppermint schnapps and chili-infused vodka splashing over stone fruits, apricots and passionfruit. Feels like a fruit salad spiked with herbal liquor. Pine and green grass wrapping around the malt, finishes with coconut shreds.

Finish:
Bitter herbal overtone continues to dominate, cold peaches and nectarines soda fizzle and give an icy bite.

Thoughts:
A massive power struggle at play between the spirit spice and the fruits in this whisky. Unfortunately, on this occasion, the spirit vindicates while other elements are stifled at various degrees. The cask is pretty good, I give you that. However, the spirit harshness at one point reminds me of grain whiskies, or even vodka, which probably points to a high distillation strength. I am not 100% sure about the practice of Aberfeldy these days, but from memory it does have a higher filling strength than most of its counterparts. Maybe that ultimately has a negative impact on the quality of the malt. Borderline tick, I guess…

[Recommended if you like the Style/ Distillery]

[51.9% | Independent Bottling | 2009 Distilled | 2019 Bottled | Single Cask | Cask Reference: AB919 | 171 Bottles | Cask Strength | t-]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Hidden Spirits Mortlach 2002 Aged 17 Years

Style: Fruity and Spicy

Nose:
Begins with fragrant apricots, pineapples and tangerines, followed by delicious oat biscuits, all sweet and bright. A secondary layer of stone fruits, fruit salad taking a splash of vinegar. Spearmint shooting from the back with power, emitting a young and vibrant vibe. Blue berries, pumpkin puree, cornflakes and crème burlee forming a subtle layer. Slowly we are working towards the meatiness which is hidden very slyly right at the bottom, subtle yet distinct – mostly chicken broth and celery. Wood chips and mineral notes orbiting at the outer rim as we are coming to a close. Very nice.

Palate:
Minty spice continues to make an energetic charge while stewed fruits are swept aside and forced to play a slightly lesser role. Tropical fruits converge at the summit and beaming so positively – More pineapples, coconut jelly, paw paw and summer berries are then carried away by a strong herbal undercurrent. The malty side starts its show earlier than usual – oatmeal, carrot cake dusted with a small pinch of nutmeg and icing sugar. Barley, chocolate oak, game meat and dried mangoes circling and lingering at the back.

Finish:
Tropical fruits jelly and coconut pudding with just a small piece of peppermint leaf. Corn syrup, malt with subtle wood shavings. Sweet and cool.

Thoughts:
A rather fruit-forward Mortlach, with tropical fruits putting in a clean and extravagant performance. The expression is thoroughly sweet and vibrant, which makes me feel the spirit is reaching its peak. Meanwhile, the signature meatiness is rather subtle but adds a good depth which makes Mortlach inherently different, or better in this scenario, than most Speyside distilleries. I remember someone said Mortlach is only good in Sherry casks, and now I possess an exhibit to the contrary. Very nice.

☆ [Recommended]

[55.5% | Independently Bottling | 2002 Distilled | 2019 Bottled | Single Cask| Cask Strength | Cask Reference: MR219 | *+]

-Esmond