Whisky Review: SMWS 33.138 Ardbeg 2007 12 Years Old “A thigh-slapping dram”

Style: Sherry and Smoky

Nose:
Begins with a rather intricate layout – Seafood barbeque, tar and bonfire smoke forming a dynamic exterior, in which semi-elusive cherries and red liquorice are tucked right into the core. Maritime tides rolling in, fennels and pineapple lollies. Herbal spices, liquorice roots and brown sugar sink lower to form a powerful undercurrent. Very complex for a 12-year-old… Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper at its tail. A clean limoncello tone gradually rises from behind.


Palate:
Salted apple toffee marches in, while plenty of tarry smoke clinging firmly onto the sweetness. The sweet-maritime crust melts after a while and releases creamy chocolate and red fruits residing within. The oloroso sherry is now singing beautifully. Shellfish and seaweed both simmering in thick treacle. Liquorice and confectioneries combine to form a solid secondary layer. Lemon and lime soda with a dash of brine to finish.


Finish:
Dying bonfire, slightest hint of ammonia and grilled shrimp overtone. Cranberry jam and mocha, a light lemonade touch at the end.

Thoughts:
Wow. This is incredibly complete and delicious at mere 12 years old. Beautiful profile, excellent structure, interweaving nuances. The distillate synergizes so well with the Oloroso sherry to create a rich and velvety sweetness, which somehow reminds me of the earlier Uigeadail – the sherry-bourbon-distillate balance was simply immaculate. Together with the composed tarry peat and mighty herbal drive, we have an Ardbeg that epitomises the limitless potential of this resurrected distillery. Enchanting dram.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[60.9% | Independent Bottling | Single Cask | Cask Strength | 2007 Distilled | 2019 Bottled | Non Coloured | Non Chill Filtered | 2nd Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt | **+]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Milano Whisky Festival 2009 Port Ellen 1983 Over 26 Years Old


Style: Spicy and Smoky

Nose:

Begins with a quick whiff of barbeque smoke. Baked fruits, pretty deep and oily aroma. Then underneath we have tar coating, paprika and even some faint gunpowder. Brazilian grilled pineapple, tropical fruits fragrance radiating beautifully from the core. Chilli flakes and a pinch of curry powder. The sweetness softens and taking a slight citrus edge. Subtle mineral and oyster shells. Bonfire smoke slowly grows and dawdles in the background.

Palate:

Relentless spice runs rampant on the palate like angry waves battering the shore. Ashy air, boiled tropical fruits are carried all the way by the waves. Habanero chillies, white pepper, the expression is hyper-charged by fiery spice. Fruit punch, grapefruit and kumquat gummies follow through and brimming beautifully. More ash, burnt oak, over-toasted vanilla sticks with a soft mineral brush. The heat is still red hot at back palate. A smoky dark chocolate tail.

Finish:

The bitterness lifts its lid and some tropical fruits escaped from the hot clutch. Still a bit ashy. The sweetness unwinds gingerly to show a relatively peaceful finish.

Thoughts:

Phew, sometimes Port Ellen can be quite intense. There is so much power injected into the expression which has effectively compressed and sealed the tropical fruits heart which lies deep within. If you give it plenty of time, the magical sweetness will unlock and blossom fabulously for you. Clearly, patience is a virtue. I remember talking about how strong Port Charlotte is a while ago, but man, Port Ellen is really on another level, I wonder if this kind of distillate will/can be replicated again.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[56% | Independent Bottling | 1983 Distilled | 2009 Bottled | Single Cask | 156 Bottles | Cask Strength | 156 Bottles | Non Chill Filtered | Non Coloured | **-]

-Esmond

Dram Review: The GlenDronach Single Cask Aged 20 Years (Cask No. 33)

[59.1%・20 Years Old・Distilled in 1993・Bottled in 2013・Official Bottling Specially Selected for AbbeyWhisky.com・Cask No. 33・Single Cask Release of 592 Bottles]

Nose:

Bright prunes, thrilling menthol with just a hint of meatiness. Sticky Christmas cake with maple syrup poured all over top and served with strong red tea.

Palate & Finish:

A bread pudding richness concentrating on vanilla and raisins with some of the raisin skin bitterness as well as dried orange slices, maple infused honey and ample of leathery notes and oak tannins sipping through.

The creamy tail becomes earthier, woodier, with cinnamon and poached fruits.

Thoughts:

This is my idea of a hometown comfort feed at its heartiest, I got started early on with a GDSC and I am still quite fond of a 93115 with this sort of delivery, it is what it is, and for me there is always a time and place for a dram like this, just makes you warm and fuzzy.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Kinko GlenDronach 1994 18 Years Old

[55.3%・18 Years Old・Distilled in 1994・Bottled in 2012・Kinko Bottling・Cask No. 2002・Single Cask Release of 234 Bottles]

Nose:

Leather, coal and Sherry. Meaty toffee and immensely powerful, cherry liquor poured over chocolate mousse and dressed with toasted almond flakes.

Palate & Finish:

Sticky and savoury on the palate, soy sauce and burnt toffee making up a heavy assault of savoury meatiness full of umami with an intense aftershock of earthy molasses.

The earthy and smoky vibe continues, salt-roasted almonds drenched in coffee syrup with the oiliness of the spirit lingers on.

Thoughts:

Wooahhh what a fierce dram, it’s so different, I can’t put my words around it but I imagine it would be immensely satisfying having a hearty pour of this over a thick, fat cut of steak

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: The GlenDronach Single Cask Aged 23 Years (Cask No. 40)

[58.5%・23 Years Old・Distilled in 1993・Bottled in 2016・Official Bottling・Cask No. 40・Single Cask Release of 584 Bottles]

Nose:

Quite provocative with a deep perfume note, acai berries, red cherries and red oak, creamed honey with a bright ginger-y zing.

Palate & Finish:

Bursting of maple syrup and simmering strawberry jam, seasoned with just a pinch of cinnamon with a creamy beeswax follow through.

A nicely delivered Oloroso tail of stewed fruits, lengthy and warming.

Thoughts:

A Jane Holloway kind of red.

☆ [Recommended]

Thank you Clifford brother..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Glenfarclas The Family Casks 1971 Autumn 2014 Cask No. 147

[51.4%・Distilled in 1971・Bottled in 2014・43 Years Old・Official Bottling・Cask No. 147・Single Cask Release of 438 Bottles]

Nose:

Sugar caramelising into brown syrup, a vintage mahogany piece that has just been meticulously polished, with candied mandarins and dried cranberries bringing the brightness in acidity. Still, there is more to give in this dram, with fine vanilla grain and nutmeg later on drawing the oaky spices and leathery notes out.

Palate & Finish:

Warming and indulging with the Christmas themed affair, gummy bears with just a kick of candied ginger, the nectar of the fruits settles in as does a dignified, drying note from the wood with an aftertaste of dark chocolate thins.

The dark chocolate bitterness lingers, with spearmint and nutmeg as the oak gradually unfolds into dried fruits of sorts, figs , plums, cherries and mandarins.

Thoughts:

Much like an evening you can’t relive, chances are I will not see this dram again; I know these words weigh heavy but then again I think being melancholic is missing the point, the idea of an evening well spent is not necessarily something that requires proof of lasting memories.

☆☆☆ [Most Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Glenfarclas The Family Casks 1986 Autumn 2014 Cask No. 3456

[55.5%・Distilled in 1986・Bottled in 2014・28 Years Old・Official Bottling・Cask No. 3456・Single Cask Release of 542 Bottles]

Nose:

Assertively oak driven, seasoned with incense spices, toasted granola with cinnamon and chocolate dust. Notes of raisins and mandarin gradually easing their way in.

Palate & Finish:

The initial acidity of the fruits is swiftly mellowed out by a thick maple syrup, though the dram retains its freshness and zesty vibe, a tad rubbery on the mid-palate with some cocoa butter note.

Getting woodier in the finish and tails off with a creamy hot chocolate note.

Thoughts:

Flavour-wise it is exciting and on any given day it feeds the thirst for a Sherry bomb, but the Sherry cask influence is rather intense, with the wood driving in the flavours quite forcefully.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Glenfarclas The Family Casks 1981 Autumn 2014 Cask No. 1603

[52.9%・Distilled in 1981・Bottled in 2014・33 Years Old・Official Bottling・Cask No. 1603・Single Cask Release of 529 Bottles]

Nose:

Marmalade of ripe apricots and figs, silky with a luscious Sherry creaminess. Natural nuts with hint of cheddar and coconut butter with a hint of pear sweetness.

Palate & Finish:

Creamy texture of pears and coconuts with just a hint of Sherry acidity, some double creamed brie melts into waves of malt and charred oak. Sticky strawberries preserve with walnuts and cinnamon then sip out along with a minty follow through.

FInishing adorably with wee notes of strawberry jam and caramelised pineapple slices.

Thoughts:

Delightfully matured and appropriate, it’s attractive but perhaps a little bit restrained for a Glenfarclas single cask at only 33 years of age.

It’s older, but better, but older..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: The Whisky Agency & The Nectar Tomatin Aged 45 Years

[46.1%・45 Years Old・Distilled in 1966・Bottled Circa 2011・The Whisky Agency and The Nectar Joint Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Leather and stewed dark fruits, all signs of a well aged dram.  There is perhaps a hint of rubber in the mix of forest berries and violets.

Palate & Finish:

Gorgeous burst of red cherries on a sweet, creamy mouthfeel, dusted with black tea, dark chocolate and finish off with a glaze of burnt dark syrup.

A well constructed tail of crushed berries and bitter tannins.

Thoughts:

I think this is good now but would have been a little bit more special had it been bottled a few years prior, just seems to have lost a bit of vibrancy..

45 years is a long time to age a whisky, and for most whiskies it’s probably a bit much.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Gordon & MacPhail The Book of Kells Longmorn 46 Years Old

[51.3%・46 Years Old・Distilled in 1964・Bottled in 2010・Gordon & MacPhail Bottling for Japan Import System・Cask No. 1033・Single Cask Release of 165 Bottles]

Nose:

The kind of excellence you sort of take for granted from a heavily Sherried Book of Kells bottling, not very distillery specific anymore as one would understand.. but not overly heavy and woody either.. Horween tanned Cordovan and dark chocolate, prunes and figs poached in muscovado sugar with cinnamon dust with this aged ginger note.. again, it’s excellent.

Palate & Finish:

The wood shows a more stately presence on the palate, the creaminess of the Sherry wood merges well with a basket of poached forest fruits and dark raisins and nuts.

Christmas pudding with warm black cherries and dusted with cinnamon, the hint of vanilla sauce lingers on with the oak..

Thoughts:

Generically excellent, properly and substantially Sherried, the wood does indeed make the whisky.

Not sure how particularly Longmorn this is but how often do you still come across Sherry casks like this?

If I keep being good and may be with a bit of luck I should like to dram this at a quiet bar in Japan for a Sherry Christmas.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas