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

Whisky Review: Yamazaki Heavily Peated 2013

Tasting Notes:

Yamazaki Heavily Peated

Style: Fragrant and Oaky

Nose:

Aroma of lively vanilla honey dripping onto barley, Autumn forest and shrine wood. Fresh beat from zested orange, pineapple and white pepper. A rather woody body which is slightly smoked and peated, faint notes of white flower and nectar.

Palate: 

Strike a few keys lower at the palate. Starts with a lick of orange vanilla syrup which is swiftly overrun by the mouth drying and bitter-ish oaky notes. Minimal, tantalising spice burn with an injection of smoke. Evasive almost Illusive soy sauce and wood incense fading in and out. Timber runs rampant, the peat is engulfed and hardly detected.
Ongoing dryness and the bitterness from the oak certainly exerted their influence throughout. The tone remain rather suppressed as very little honey sweetness was able to get through.

Finish:

Wood shed , roasted barrels, coffee beans combine and conjure a fairly heavy end note.

Thoughts:

I find it is more heavily “oak-ed” than peated”. It is a whisky which is both light and heavy – light bodied but with heavy woody notes, flavours resembles of tree barks, dried twigs and forest scent which dominated the proceedings. While the peat, orange and vanilla notes are more of some side decorative touches. That being said, there is still definitely a stronger peat presence comparing to other Yamazaki(s), giving it some extra dryness that others do not offer.

(48%/2013/OB/LR/NCF)

-Esmond

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

Whisky Review: The Yamazaki Puncheon

Thick fluffy peach-vanilla spiced with a quick spicy touch of pepper and cloves. Tender fragrance of honey milk soap diffusing in a heart warming fashion. Tight notes of orange zest, rather raw and bitter-ish at the back.

A delicious blend of pineapple juice and vanilla cream! Fruitiness went into an aromatic burst, followed by soft coconut milk and burnt caramel. Cleansing spice flares up to give a nice texture. Honey malt sweetness and a gentle touch of oak lingers.. Aftertaste of honey toast with a hint of burnt spice. Subtle floral fragrance and vanilla oak gently fluttering from back to front.

To me this is a rather typical whisky that does not make big statements or play in any specialities, no wow factor. But it struck me the other night when I did a whisky flight. This Yamazaki is simple, sweet and light, but the flavour unbelievably refined, with stunning finesse! As if every particle in the dram has been super-charged with the lovely flavours which reaches its fullness… This is the reason why I have a lot of respect to this distillery located near Osaka, Japan.

(48%/OB/nas/2011/+-/ncf)
-EC

Whisky Review: SMWS 66.66 Ardmore “Ginger Makes Fred Smile”

Tasting Notes

SMWS 66.66 Ardmore “Ginger Makes Fred Smile” ☆ [Recommended]

Style: Ginger and Spicy

Nose:

Huge, dry notes at the front – Autumn leaves in early winter breeze, followed by a robust scent of vanilla yogurt, full cream milk with a swirl of honey and figs. Ginger spice kicks in with a hint of ashy peat and salted caramel.

Palate:

Honey caramel first touch and the devilish ginger steers in and took charge. Flooded with spiciness like a sea of fire… This is one of the spiciest Whisky I have ever tasted! Leftover an underlying layer of smoking wood ash and peat, then my attention was then brought back to the sweetness which has never left – chocolate fudge, toffee, toasted oak and sweet malt lingering, ginger bite towards the end.

Finish:

Fantastic finish – freshly peeled ginger skin! Dry, sharp, raw and earthy! Soft chocolate notes has sustained well to support the texture.

Thoughts:

Big big fan of this whisky. Enormous character with a marvellous charge of dryness and spiciness with great strength, which is adequately supplemented by the swaying caramel sweetness, striking the perfect balance… My favourite go-to SMWS bottling so far, it is already half way through in less than 2 months! Boy I should have bought more than one bottle of this…

[61.8% • 2014 • Aged 10 Years • Independent Bottling • Cask Strength • Single Cask • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • Limited Release • 261 Bottles • First Fill White Wine Hogshead]

-Esmond

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