Dram Review: The BenRiach Cask Strength Batch 1

[57.2%・NAS・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

There is an elegant Speyside floral musk on the nose that puts the mind in ease. Pineapples and apricots with a appealing vanilla note. There is some youthful anise note but as a whole it doesn’t feel as young as some other cask strength offerings. There is a thin touch of maltiness with that mineral water note, a wee brush of menthol just on the very end.

Palate & Finish:

Lemony custard with a saucy chocolate note on the palate, and then there it is, the menthol note makes a chic entrance. A gentle delivery of maltiness then makes an entry with instances of vanilla and oak spices.

A couple serves of after eight in the finish with traces of maltiness delightfully preserved.

Thoughts:

A true speyside dram underneath the superb label, starring the malt.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

Cheers to Mr. Stewart Buchanan for bringing this whisky down under. A vat of a small batch at cask strength, the youngest being 10 years old, the oldest from 1986.

Nicholas

Dram Review: Glenmorangie Milsean

[46.0%・NAS・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

The nose is rather modest, with mint and eucalyptus being more noticeable upfront. It was explained to me that mint is one of the signature notes of Glenmorangie and this certainly carries it. A wee copper coin note with the main theme of this whisky in my opinion, blackcurrant. The blackcurrant note brings about candy like sweetness and fruity acidity, along with chilli spices. A hint of brand new car tires, there is also a salt cured white oak note with an underlying maltiness imbedded within. It has this fizzy grape soda note after some time.

Palate & Finish:

The palate is syrupy. Sweet, but quite different from the Signet, another Glenmorangie well known for its sweetness. The Signet’s sweetness has a satisfyingly thick body, and the Milsean’s sweetness falls on the other end of the spectrum. It has this blackcurrant character, the sweetness makes the whisky incredibly approachable and surely this has the making of a crowd pleaser, however the prolonged sweetness can be interpreted as somewhat being artificial, but I suppose sweet is sweet and you can’t argue with that.

There is a silky chocolate element that appears in the finish to go with the blackcurrant and eucalyptus notes, but it speaks relatively soft after the surprisingly numbing and youthful spices.

Thoughts:

It is an utterly sweet whisky and that’s fine, because it was designed with that in mind, a Glenmorangie with a rather unique character.

P.S. What a viral bottle design. I was told the packaging was apparently designed before the casks have even been selected. Glenmorangie and LVMH deserve a few claps for actually matching the whisky with the label.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013

[48.0%・Bottled in 2013・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Mmmmm the nose is satisfyingly rich. Premium leather, dark chocolate brushed with balsamic vinegar sauce. Bright dark fruits poached to a sticky reduction. Wine cured apricots and soft raisins bringing a wee citrus edge. A combination of moist oak and lightly toasted wood chips with a touch of cinnamon spices, rounded by a lovely creaminess.

Palate & Finish:

Flavours burst open on your tastebuds. Chinese style simmered coca-cola with a few slices of ginger and hint of cinnamon, coated by creamy café au lait and milk chocolate notes. The classic sherry influence presents itself in a balanced manner, the raisin note is assertive but it manages to intertwine smoothly into the narrative. Spices excite but swiftly fizzle out; the oak adds to the weight but doesn’t dominate the conversation, something only shared amongst a small number of old whiskies..

The creaminess lingers in the finish with the dark fruits steadily giving a citrus edge in the background. Hints of brown sugar and burnt toffee to provide the slight sweetness that sticks between the teeth. It’s sweet, but not in excess, with a hint of tobacco and leather to make this a chewy drop, closes off with just a faint dose of dark chocolate bitterness.

Thoughts:

What a dram! The fragrance just becomes more and more alluring in the glass long after the last drop had been tipped onto the tongue. Salivating stuff.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

Nicholas

Dram Review: Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Look, to be quite clear, this entry is not about whether Mr. Murray was right when he crowned the Northern Harvest Rye the best whisky of the year. It’s simply how I felt about this dram..

Sweet honey and maple syrup on the nose, a light dose of drying rye spices. Cinnamon dust, white pepper and a white oak note. It’s rather fragrant.

Juicy and fruity on the palate initially but it dries up rather quickly. The creamy side then surfaces, smoothening the body. Nashi pears and ripe strawberries dusted with vanilla sugar providing that refreshing sweetness.

A mild finish with a hint of caramel note, there is an interesting smokiness to go with the mellow spices.

It is a very pleasant whisky and the thing I enjoy the most about this dram is that unlike a lot of rye whiskies, it is not heavy-handed with rye spices. I have tasted quite a few whiskies this year but I must say this wasn’t on my radar… so cheers Jim for bringing this to my attention.

-NL

Dram Review: Miyagikyo 12 Years Old Malty & Soft

[55.0%・12 Years Old・Bottled Circa. 2012-2015・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

One of the key note expressions from the distillery in Sendai in the rather limited Nikka series, it has been procured by the wonderful Tokyo Bird for the lucky crowd here in Sydney.

Nose:

A lovingly rich dose of malted buttery shortbreads on the nose. Soft fruity note of apricot nectar with delicate sugary smoke. A wee hint of glue and wood chips, reminiscent of a childhood wood craft class from years ago.

Palate & Finish:

A luscious body of a palate, tropical fruit nectar and vanilla cream with a hit of wood spices. The maltiness surfaces with the spices slowly but surely reaching crescendo.

The spices prolong in the finish but eventually fizzle out, making way for the soft caramel notes.

– Nicholas

Dram Review: Old Pulteney 1990 Vintage

[46%・Distilled in 1990・Bottled in 2013・23 Years Old・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

I will be writing about the distillery soon, but first, a dram of this rather limited release at a bar. It may be surprising to most people, but Pulteney Distillery only uses 100% unpleated barley across its current range. So long story short, people who might expect a good old OP are in for a treat with this lightly peated expression!

Nose:

Fresh cream on the nose with a mellow semi-dried muscat note. There is a fascinating honey sweetness swirled with vanilla. Subtle anise and earthiness in the background with a wee citrus zing. A touch of smoke on the back end.

Palate & Finish:

Light raisins on the palate with a wee pineapple note. The surprisingly dry earthy peat is rather astounding. Smooth vanilla sugar infused with citrus elements.

The mouth drying peat note carries on in the finish with plenty of youthful tropical citrus notes.

Thoughts:

Fine and dry.

☆ [Recommended]

Nicholas

Whisky Review: Heartwood Convict Resurrection

Tasting Notes:

Style: Sweet and Very Spicy

Nose:

Spicy punch followed by robust cherry and dried plum notes, a nice fruity breeze at every breath. Moments of dryness reminds me the delicious scent of popcorns and parched rice!

Palate:

Cherry liquorice with fiery chilli, in unbelievable strength!! The spice erupts and ignite like burning flames! The liquorice dissolves and juicy blackcurrants and blue berries rolls in. A slight touch of caramel which slowly melts with the chocolate sauce towards the end.

Finish:

Reminiscent of cherry and blackcurrants mixes with chocolate malt biscuits and oak. Rather soft and humble finish with a good mix of flavours.

Thoughts:

Super strong whisky, no doubt as it has a whopping abv of 72%. Adrenaline pumped, sweated and nostril flared, this is a wake-up whisky (and too bad I am reviewing this before I sleep) as it works miles better than coffee! The sweetness from port was big enough to support and control the crazy strength. I love the oscillation – just as I think it is getting too spicy, the sweet cherry notes come to the rescue, and vice versa.

(72%/2014/14 years old/NC/NCF/CS/SC/Cask Number:HH0239/115 of 450 Bottles)

-EC

 

Dram Review: Yoichi 12 Years Old Woody & Vanillic

[55.0%・12 Years Old・Bottled Circa. 2012-2014・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

This is a bottle supplied to Nikka bars in Japan exclusively. Bottled at 55% ABV. In many ways, keynote bottles such as this that aim to showcase the wide spectrum of the flavour profile that goes into the standard Yoichi range are more sought after by cask strength heads such as myself.

Nose:

An intense sandalwood note initially, a thick honey sweetness. Toasted vanilla pod and coconut milk chocolate. A hint of cloves on the backend.

Palate & Finish:

A lovely sweetness on the palate with tangling spices coming through. There is the presence of vanilla cream of course, but there are also bright tropical fruit notes as well. Pineapples and oranges with a clean woodiness dropping by.

A creamy cocoa finish with some youthful citrus spices playfully dancing in the background. Just delightful. The creaminess lingers on for a satisfying finish.

Thoughts:

Personally, I really enjoyed this one. A delicious drop. Although it’s focused on displaying the woody and vanillic elements, this whisky is in no way incomplete.

☆ [Recommended]

Nicholas

Dram Review: Hibiki 21 Years Old

[43.0%・21 Years Old・Bottled Circa. 2013-2015・Hibiki Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

A full but tender sandalwood and incense nose. Coconut and vanilla making a wonderful entry with an underlying plum sweetness. Grain spices appearing, the smoke is delicate with a lingering soft cocoa note. The fragrant note with a hint of pepper come through after some time. Fresh wood chips with faint notes of mint and thyme, a subtle raisin note.

Palate & Finish:

On the palate, plum sweetness with notes of ripe strawberries and a lime zing. A pinch of ground pepper excites the tastebuds. The sticky raisins then surface such that the sweetness makes a comeback. There is a coconut creaminess on the backend.

The grain spices disperse in the finish with traces of light cocoa notes upon an underlying oakiness. A faint hint of orange zing and Japanese ginger note. The soft fructose element lasts rather long, that slight floral vibe is comforting. It’s complex but not overpowering. A flavourful yet tender whisky.

Thoughts:

She’s a shy beauty with plenty on the mind, leaving a lot for one to explore.

☆ [Recommended]

Nicholas

Dram Review: Fuji Gotemba Kirin Fuji Sanroku 18 Years Old

[43.0%・18 Years Old・Official Bottling・General Release]

Kudos to the Baxter Inn for securing a bottle directly from Japan. This is not a bottling from the ‘Big Four’ Japanese Distilleries but instead it’s produced in Fuji Gotemba distillery, owned by the beverage giant Kirin and it is just as highly sought after by the people in the know. The rarity of this particular expression stems from the fact that Fuji Gotemba mostly produces grain whisky for blending purposes and as such this 18 year-old single malt is a rather limited release. Only a small number of this expression would have made it across to Australia and I felt in luck that a nip of this didn’t cost me too much!

Nose:

This beauty starts off with forest pine and maple syrup on the nose. A lovely monogamy note to it. A hint of ripe strawberry nectar with some poached raisins. Let it breathe and a moist woodiness sips through. Sugary caramel and a bit of youthful ginger note, ripe apple flesh.

Palate & Finish:

The palate is first hit with sweet raisin notes with a faint hint of woodiness, the bitterness native to many Japanese whiskies. Lemon preserve, apple peels and hint of mandarin essence. The citrusy edge slides in seamlessly. There is a creaminess on the backend alongside chilli and pepper notes.

The dose of creaminess lingers on in the finish with soft spices and tender maltiness. Bits of caramel sweetness and dried fruit peel bitterness supported by that slight woodiness. There’s a lot of depth with this piece.

Thoughts:

A.K.A. “The Thirty Seventh View of Mount Fuji”

☆ [Recommended]

Nicholas