Dram Review: Samaroli Coilltean Caol Ila 1995

[45.0%・10 Years Old・Distilled in 1995 ・Bottled in 2005・ Samaroli Bottling・Cask No. 1118 & 3263・ Limited Release]

Nose:

The softest honey and caramel fudge, tender white fruits with a gentle touch of iodine dressed in Italian herbs and fennel seeds, coastal seaweed, crystallised sea salt and a barbecue saltiness now surfacing, making it a savoury affair.

Palate and Finish:

Golden syrup atop crisp pears and juicy aloe vera, with peat, ash and roasted hazelnuts bursting out from the sweetness, a spirit crispness driving a rather peppery note on the mid-palate.

Wee bit earthy with a woody and peppery aftertaste and traces of orchard fruits.

Thoughts:

On the back label it reads “this whisky has been selected with love”, and a honest representation indeed.

A pale coloured dram that packs a spectrum of flavours beyond its age, combining nuances I wouldn’t have expected, could it be from the vatting or could it be from years of mellowing and refining?

☆ ☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Laphroaig Càirdeas Master Edition (2010 Edition)

[57.3%・11 Years Old・Bottled in 2010 ・ Official Bottling・Limited Release of 5,000 Bottles]

Nose:

Peat, mud, sultana and soft pears, medicinal with mandarins and other dried fruits.

Palate & Finish:

Crisp barley sweetness with bubble gum and a burst of honey before a mid-palate of oily petrol and dried fruits takes over.

In the finish, seaweed, dried fruits and some nutmeg spices.

Thoughts:

A much more balanced Càirdeas that is entirely modern but gives a much sweeter than expected hit.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Laphroaig Càirdeas (2008 Edition)

[55.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2008 ・ Official Bottling・Limited Release of 3,600 Bottles]

Nose:

Seaweed and rock salt rubbed bacon under a heavy smoke with wee notes of limes and twigs.

Palate & Finish:

Jammy but fiery, peat, smoke and spices initially blanketing over the subtler notes of vanilla, oak and tropical fruits before a gradual return to a sweeter touch.

An earthy finish with dried Chinese herbs, salt flakes and chocolate dust, hints of sweetness and saltiness to go with the bitter tail.

Thoughts:

Pretty brutal but in a watching a front rower making a line break kind of way.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Laphroaig Unblended 15 Years Old

[43.0%・15 Years Old・Bottles Circa 1985 ・Official Bottling Imported by Larios Malaga・General Release]

Nose:

Soft white fruits with a fine brush of peat and a subtle seasoning of sea salt. Endearingly rewarding as the softness of white peaches and pineapples harmoniously vibes with the warming sensations of beachside seaweed and some diesel smoke.

Palate & Finish:

The gentle tarry note synchronises elegantly with the fruits, wonderfully constructed with honey and caramel drizzling on apples and pears as the peat slowly sips out.

Dried but rewarding, a long tail of summery tropical fruits lingering on with tarry peat.

Thoughts:

Brilliantly constructed, I could simply use a few profanities in lieu of saying that the era-specific terroir, that extra years of maturation and the body at that strength have all come together for this dram.

☆ ☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu The Game (6th Edition)

[61.2%・Distilled in 1988・Bottled in 2014・Ichiro’s Malt & Shinanoya Bottling・Cask No. 192・ Limited Release of 471 Bottles]

Nose:

Mizunara wood with a slightly acidic tone, pine wood and hazelnuts integrates nicely with the malt to form a foundation that later on releases notes of beeswax and warm tea infused with lemon and honey, the wood becomes more grounded and expressive in time.

Palate & Finish:

Citrus and lemon with quite a splash of pepper over golden honey as spices and oak come on. The oily spirit carries this fermented rice note much like sake.

A mild finish that steadies on with honey and floral notes as the malt and wood slowly take over.

Thoughts:

Composed and sophisticated aromas on the nose but the palate doesn’t quite capture the magic.

A missing puzzle perhaps (pun intended)?

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu Whisk(e)y Matsuri 2020 Chichibu 9 Years Old (Cask No. 972)

[61.6%・9 Years Old・Distilled in 2010・ Bottled in 2019・Official Bottling・Cask No. 972・Single Cask of 215 Bottles]

Nose:

Fruit punch, candied strawberries and a wild floral note, but also slightly metallic and rather spirit driven.

Palate & Finish:

Ginger syrup with a whole heap of aggressive spices, quite a prominent malt spirit presence, with some background notes of sticky strawberries, sugar cured watermelon slices and wee peanut brittle, the ginger spices continue on to impale the tastebuds.

Chewier and spicier in the finish.

Thoughts:

You would have thought the dram would have at least mellowed out a bit after 9 years but it is just too raw and spicy for another episode of the king’s new clothes I’m afraid..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu 神田 Kanda Bartender’s Choice 2013

[60.9%・Distilled in 2000・Bottled in 2013・13 Years Old ・Ichiro’s Malt Bottling・Cask No. 959・Single Cask Release of 303 Bottles]

Nose:

Mildly earthy with late harvest grapes, deep floral notes dispersing with elegance along with a suggestion of smoke and ash, brush of umami note developing in time.

Palate & Finish:

A concentrated sweetness from the grapes and seasoned with sea salt, a grounded brush of malt and vanilla with a shortbread biscuit note giving a chewiness and leading to the dram’s floral side.

A mild but elongated acidity from the grapes amidst the extensive sweetness with a warming, malty aftertaste.

Thoughts:

I believe this is a vatting of hogsheads finished in a Cognac cask.

The wee suggestion of earthiness really elevates the whisky, and that balance of sweetness and acidity from the grapes is simply mesmerising.

This dram is special.

☆ ☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu The Single Cask Peated (Cask No. 2077)

[61.8%・Distilled in 2012・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Cask No. 2077・Single Cask Release of 356 Bottles]

Nose:

Metallic and peaty, seaweed and brine painting a rustic scene, ocean waves rushing towards a bon fire built on wet sand to create a salty and ashy vibe, followed by notes of green fruits and cigarette smoke.

Palate & Finish:

Syrupy sweet with a thrilling immersion of peat and spices with pepper and sichimi and later on seaweed and brine. Only afterwards does a follow through of ripe fruits come on.

The peat continues strong into the finish with a brush of espresso.

Thoughts:

Such saltiness in a dram, powerful and relentless, and depending on your preference it may be considered exhilarating.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu Malt Dream Cask for Cask and Still

[61.8%・Distilled in 2009・Bottled in 2016・ 7 Years Old・Official Bottling・Cask No. MDC541・Single Cask Release of 193 Bottles]

Nose:

Rich vanilla from the get going but other than that a bit on the shy side initially but turns out to be quite a spicy number despite the floral honey sweetness, a prominent cereal note develops in time.

Palate & Finish:

Honey and syrup intertwining with soft pears and pineapples as the spices build up.

Lemony and slightly malty with the honey stickiness making a come back in the finish.

Thoughts:

Aged in a 1st full Bourbon barrel from Maker’s Mark, intensely flavoured like a fever dream.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Springbank Aged 50 Years

[40.5%・Bottled in 2001・50 Years Old・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 580 Bottles]

Nose:

It is hard to believe how clean the nose fares for its age, crisp pears and mangoes, lightly floral with a nice brush of malt and just a hint of grilled vegetables.

Palate & Finish:

Succulent with dried fruits, the delivery is on the grassy side and is reserved in the most tender of ways.

A wonderful but fleeting dryness with a soothing touch of minerals to close.

Thoughts:

A dram that eases in its nuances, comforting and pure even at an advanced age but perhaps shows a touch of reluctance, an imperfection to some..

☆ ☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas