Dram Review: Waterford Ballykilcavan Edition 1.1

[50.0%・3 Years Old・Distilled in 2016・Bottled in 2020・Official Bottling ・Limited Release of 8,640 Bottles]

Nose:

Unfortunately not quite enough cask impact, which is obviously a problem for a barely legal whisky, Feels rather rawer and dirtier than the Bannow Island Edition 1.1 with minerals, wee green fruits and burnt toast.

Palate & Finish:

Burnt toffee, some fresh fruits really struggling to show, clearly not meant to be served just yet as things remain rather untouched.

Some of that awkward sweetness carries on in the finish.

Thoughts:

Hard to drink neat. I suppose you can’t spell terrior without error.. really a disservice to the distillery’s campaign of going full transparent.. the whisky is only as good as what the distillery claims if it is actually objectively a worthy dram, the extra labouring is futile otherwise.

Perhaps Ballykilcavan releases will get better in time, perhaps they won’t; perhaps this will end up being a vindication rather than an experiment for the sake of experiment, perhaps I’d rather be drinking something else..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Waterford Bannow Island Edition 1.1

[50.0%・3 Years Old・Distilled in 2016・Bottled in 2020・Official Bottling ・Limited Release of 8,616 Bottles]

Nose:

Umm, surprisingly muted, new make, hint of cardboard, plastic as well, some green mangos, certainly some citrus to it.

Palate & Finish:

Alcohol new make, oily and somewhat sugary, wee brushes of fruitiness and grassiness from the spirit.

Some more fresh fruits in the finish, green kiwi fruits.

Thoughts:

How does one evaluate a very, and I mean very young whisky intelligently? I suppose one could go into their practicing of full transparency? But we’re talking about practice..

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Kavalan Single Cask Vinho selected by The Whisky Exchange W120614028

Style: Red fruits and Oaky

Nose:
Sweet, round ruby grapes march in majestically with figs, strawberries, hawthorns, bay berries and plums lining neatly on the side. Light dedemara syrup and butterscotch rounding up the sweetness nicely. Varnish and freshly shaved timber sweep in, while a deeper umami tone lurking quietly in the shadow. Youthful chili spice takes the rhythm to a higher level, a round and bright aroma.

Palate:
Crystallized cherries floating along a red wine river. Assorted red berries leading the top notes, while dark fruits submerge into the core – figs, sultanas and quince thoroughly brushed with high power acetones. Round, young (not raw) and bright. White pepper sprinkling on pencil shavings, tropical fruits gradually surfaces after layers of wood dissipated. Paw paw and honeydew dipped into dark chocolate.

Finish:
Cherry pie, blackcurrants and tropical fruits parfait. Oak sitting deep and finish with a light peppermint hue.

Thoughts:
A bright and round Kavalan loaded with abundant, delicious red fruits. It starts strong at the front and there are also plenty substances to follow up which gives the expression a very good depth. On the other hand, the oak is rather forthright and I wonder if 6 years of maturation is testing the limit of the climate in Taiwan. I must admit, the dynamic of Taiwanese whiskies (and New World whiskies to a greater extent) is rather different to scotch, the oak can cut in quite deep while the spirit is still relatively young. Don’t get me wrong, it is not necessarily a bad thing, instead, it just feels… different. There is a unique charm to it when the balance is right, and this one is close enough. Solid dram.

☆ [Recommended]


[53.2% | Original Bottling | Single Cask | 2012 Distilled | 2018 Bottled | Cask Number: W120614028 | Cask Strength | 37 of 180 Bottles | Non Coloured | Non Chill Filtered | *]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Cadenhead 175 Anniversary Single Cask Cooley 1992 Aged 25 Years

Style: Sweet, Grassy and Comlplex

Nose:

Crystallized orange flowers blossoming beautifully on the nose. Small pinch of black pepper, fresh-cut grass and banana gummies building on top of vanilla cupcake. A touch of oily, hay peat smoke mixing with mineral granules. Sweet and complex.

Palate:

Navel oranges leading the way, while banana gummies and vanilla cream tagging along gleefully. Sweet Concorde pears converges, chewy digestive biscuits, green grass lightly torched. A gentle kiss of mineralic and almost coastal-like peat. Ends with herbal and earthy tone.

Finish:

Tropical fruits, lime and oranges stepping on burnt, ashy leaves. Relaxed macadamia nuts.

Thoughts:

Pretty sure this is the oldest Cooley I have ever tried, and quite a beautiful dram we have here – Orange confectionery-driven sweetness delivered at a great weight and depth, bright grassy notes enhanced by the subtle peat. Good balance, maybe slightly on the technical side which takes me longer to get to it, nonetheless it is still a very rewarding experience.

☆ [Recommended]

[51.3% / Independent Bottling / 1992 Distilled / 2017 Bottled / Single Cask / Cask Strength / Matured in a Bourbon Barrel / 174 Bottles / *]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Amrut Spectrum 004

Style: Fruity and Complex

Nose:
Creamy red grapes and sticky date pudding sitting on top of a herbal base. Caramelized banana, plenty of tobacco leaves with a light peppermint flower overtone. Dark fruits reaches out and bind all the elements together. Strawberry Shisha molasses puffing out a faint smoky breath. A round and deep aroma.

Palate:
Strawberry sauce, fat toffee and more tobacco leaves flooding onto the palate. Round and sweet, flavours are nicely integrated together. An array of fruitiness starting to shine after the sherry washes off, orange candy, crystallized tropical fruits and subtle white flowers shattered into tiny fragments and snowing down onto the underlying espresso oak. Spearmint spice combines with the herbal DNA in the spirit and reaches a resounding freshness. Butter brushed barley sugar with a dry, husky tail.

Finish:
Red fruits and confectioneries staying around. Orange candies combines finishes with murmuring cigar malt.

Thoughts:
After tasting this, it is only natural to compare this 004 with the first Amrut Spectrum. I feel in general the progression and structure are quite similar to the previous version, but the sherry is less prevalent with 004 – noticeably less PX I think. As a result 004 is weaker on the Sherry side but it also unshackles the expression of other fruitiness on multiple levels. Thumbs up from me because Spectrum is supposed to be showcasing complexities, right? A welcomed improvement.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[50% • Original Bottling • No Age Statement • Non Chill Filtered • 2017 Bottled • Limited Edition • 1800 Bottles • Sample Tasting • **]

Thank you Heath.

-Esmond

 

Whisky Review: Kavalan Selection Sherry Cask for Maison Du Whisky Singapore 10th Anniversary

Style: Sherry and Spicy

Nose:
Waterfall of heavy molasses, red dates, fig jam, strawberries, brown sugar all pouring over crystallized orange candy. Icy, green peppermint overtone while copper notes slipping under. Dry black peppercorn with a lick of dry oak staves.

Palate:
A pretty sip of muscovado syrup on the palate. Java sugar, citrus orange beaming gently. Cherry liquor, purple grapes bubble gum, dark prunes with tobacco leaves and punchy peppermint. Cacao powder dusting on almond croissants, a slice of Christmas cake. Dark chocolate KitKat to finish.

Finish:
Sweet, dark cherry pie. A nice puff of cigar smoke. Finish with bitter tea leaves.

Thoughts:
Dark, dark, dark and deep Kavalan we have here. Manifold facets of sherry fruits putting in a charming performance. While youthful spirit manages to march through the sea of heavily-armed dark fruits, showing a decent degree of complexities with a powerful whack. A young, heavy sherry bomb without a doubt.

[Recommended]

[58.6% • Original Bottling • Single Cask • No Age Statement • Cask Strength • Non Chill Filtered • Non Coloured • Cask Number: S81217015 • 495 of 510 Bottles]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: SMWS 134.1 Paul John “Exotic Rainforest Fruits”

Style: Hot, Fruity and Complex

Nose:

Immediate whiff of herbal overtone, a layer of peanut brittle followed by deep, round tropical fruits and confectionaries. Packing a fragrant but powerful punch. Peppermint and lavender notes sneaking under the hot wave, vanilla malt carpet rolled out carefully at the back. Fiery heat but it carries the aroma through nicely.

Palate:
More signature peanut notes from Paul John – nuttiness with a
hint of saltiness. Soaring herbal breeze knitting into a juicy candy core which is riding on enormous energy. Plums and red liquorice, wood shavings, blue berries, honey oat and milk candy, showing plenty of layers, all bright and sweet. Earthiness and charry notes lurking at the back. Deliciously complex.

Finish:

More pencil shavings, ripe tropical fruits humming without pressure as the spice and intensity wanes. Cherries with a final kiss of peanut butter.

Thoughts:

Such an energetic display from this Society Paul John, really wakes you up with this level of intensity. It feels both the distillate and the cask have really worked really hard here, weaving layers after layers of flavours, very complex and complete. Made in India, but definitely qualify for a perfect winter dram.   

[Recommended] 

[57.9% • 2010 Distilled • 2016 Bottled • Aged 6 Years • Independent Bottling • Single Cask • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • Matured in Refill Bourbon Barrel]

-Esmond

Tasted at Archie Rose Distillery, Sydney.

Dram Review: Jameson Caskmates Young Henrys Brewing Co. Edition

[40.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

A copper zing followed by a dose of light creamy barley, very much Irish and very much triple distilled. Quite a bit of white pepper along with hop inspired floral note on the side.

Palate & Finish:

Vanilla sugar licked with some swift spices, good presence of malt giving a rounded mouthfeel even if it wears a bit thin. Grapefruit peels and lime twists brushed with simple syrup.

Finishes effortlessly with lemon, vanilla and honey.

Thoughts:

Fairly fun dram, don’t spoil it by thinking too hard..

Enjoy it on a hot day under the Australian sun..

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Redbreast 1999 All Sherry Single Cask (Exclusively bottled for the Whisky Exchange)

Style: Sherry and Herbal

Nose:
Robust chilli spices fires up while pull pork notes knitting into heavy cranberry jam. Strawberries and cream, dark cherries, coffee jelly infused with herbal liquor. Balsamic vinegar overtone, faint grassy notes and cereal malt. Polished off with a subtle copper tone.

Palate:
Thick dark cherry trickling down on the palate. Jelly beans, whipped cream, milk chocolate sauce, a hint of citrus all pouring into steaming cappuccino. Herbal greens stride through with strengthening dry spices. Caramel coffee candy, a pinch of crushed barley. Salty, smoked meat overtone which is quietly weaved into the expression. More grassy liquor emerges towards the back, black liquorice finish.

Finish:
Red currants, more black liquorice all building on top of a molten caramel layer. Smooth, sweet and slightly earthy.

Thoughts:
Curious. We have thick and round sherry crust while the spirit within hitting unusual high notes; massive dark fruits sweetness stewing with distinct dryness embedded in the core; an overall matured vibe but glimpses of rawness. Quite a few traits from both ends of the spectrum. A rather unusual profile that I need time to adjust to it, but maybe that’s because I don’t have much experience with Irish whiskey, especially at cask strength. But it is definitely an interesting and complicated one to play with, sweet and robust.

☆ [Recommended]

[59.9% • Independent Bottling • 1999 Distilled • 2015 Bottled • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • 026 of 576 Bottles • Matured in 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt • Cask Number: 30087 • Aged 14 to 15 Years • *-]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Nantou Omar Cask Strength (Lychee Liqueur Barrel Finished)

[56.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

A faint grassiness draws out notes of green lychees and heat rub.  Beyond that it’s rather new make-y with quite a bare showing of barley husk.

Palate & Finish:

Neutral spirit sweetened by sparse hints of lychee and ginger flower.  Juniper berries, green mangos and green papaya salad with some milk chocolate coming out.

Dry and spicy finish.

Thoughts:

Hmm, I think with a longer finishing stint, the lychee liqueur barrel may yet show us something entirely different. Right now it appears to be an unfinished product.

At the moment, the distillery’s exercise of putting young whiskies through curious finishing regimes seemingly serves only to copy and paste some flavours from said odd casks (in this case a lychee liqueur barrel) without actually integrating the influence to enhance the existing flavours of the base whiskies.

One to circle back in a few years’ time perhaps..

-Nicholas