Sunday, December 26, 2021

Bruichladdich, Milk & Honey, Omar, Kavalan Santa Edition

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… Secret Santa has come and gone and I’ve gotten a few sample bottles of single malts that I’ve not tried yet… I may mix in a few others but let’s start with Santa-samples in no order. If my Santa reads this message: one of their samples has been well-reviewed elsewhere on this site and I’m very thankful for the nice variety this year. Happy Holidays to you too!

Let’s make the 3rd year of pandemic the best one yet!

Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2010, 50%
The Islay Barley is the semi-regular Laddie limited-ish release… This one is a yellow tube distilled in 2010 showcases local farm and growers and is Bruichladdich’s distillery take on terroir. Mostly ex-bourbon with some french wine casks mixed in. Perhaps due to me doing quick dig around for info on the bottling, the color of the pour looks yellow-gold to me, which I found psychosomatic as I rarely get color associations from the glass. The nose is quite typical Laddie, clean unsmoked unsalty iodine vanilla funk. The bog without the rot, a forest after the rain. Wet stacks of seasoned wood. It’s certainly hard to describe but it’s something that the nose from just about every bottle I’ve tried from the distillery shares. Unpeated, clean, slightly salty rather than sweet vanilla and very malty palate with lots of bourbon notes, little bits of bourbon spice and nutty bitterness make themselves known in the secondary notes. Clean, warming aftertaste that is medium long and continues evenly from the palate wraps it up. Easy-going and quite enjoyable as a bar or a daily pour as is the norm with most Laddies. I would not go for a full bottle. Value: Originally priced circa $69 or so; right now it is a reasonable value for the contents released in 2017 and the name. Bruichladdich bottlings tend to be overpriced across the board; so in 2017 I would argue that it should be about $50-60.
Read details here: https://www.bruichla … h-islay-barley-2010/
Score: B

Milk & Honey, Single Cask Nation, 2 years old 59.85%
An Israeli distillery, trying to compete with the big whiskey places? Arid and hot climate helps with fast maturation. Though… really, come on, a 2 year old?! I’m skeptical. Malty fresh oranges on the nose, still a little raw on the alcohol. The alcohol is also quite sharp on the palate department too. Some bitter baking spices, a pinch of salt and little bit of honey vanilla notes are present on the palate as well as just a touch too sharp alcohol presence. Jarringly short but pleasantly sweet aftertaste follows. This soars high on flavor and falls flat almost immediately in the aftertaste department. Water makes it taste… watery and doesn’t open anything up as is expected with such young malt, but does cut the alcohol notes which is perhaps a blessing in disguise. Certainly an interesting sample and sure something to be said about Israeli distiller trying to compete. Right on the edge of really tasty overall, but the malt needs few more years under its belt to really sing. I can see greatness soon but not quite yet. It’s unclear if this cask is an average or exceptional example from the distillery… but the reality is I quite enjoyed this pour after my palate adjusted. Value: Priced around $80… For a single cask that’s a maybe sort of pricing if I were to close my eyes at the actual age. With the age in consideration that price is ridiculous.
https://www.whiskyba … y/157229/mh-2017-jwc
Score: B (a smidgen below B+)

Omar, Sherry type. 46%
A new, for me, Taiwanese distillery to try… I mean they clearly took inspiration from Kavalan’s success. The nose is roasted figs and some alcohol belying its 46% abv, wood, spices… so far, so good. Woody, well balanced sherry sweetness and malt on the palate. Well integrated flavors are at play here… a bit of bitter nuttiness and bourbon spice, together with coffee-chocolate (mocha) secondary notes. The aftertaste is a little bitter, big, long and spicy with malt disappearing quickly, showing it’s unfortunate youth. Overall this is enjoyable yet unremarkable sherried malt with the distinction of hailing from Taiwan. Shockingly for the proof… water makes it sweeter and little more enjoyable for me. Perhaps a perfect highball faire? Value: Total Wine lists this at $93. A little high for a no-name 46% NAS in my humble opinion… I am a-okay with supporting up and coming distilleries but I’m not going to spend $100 on a bottle of this. When NAS similar Kavalan (okay okay at 43% abv) lists at a little more than half the price of this bottle… It’s a hard tag to swallow. Certainly a bar pour or a splurge on a present to a person that likes their world whisky as very few out there tried this yet. Knocking the plus off due to being 100% forgettable after 10 minutes.
Score: B

Kavalan, PAFWS SP, Solist Ex-Bourbon 57.8%
Ah, Kavalan, the original(?) Taiwanese whiskey distillery and certainly the more famous one of the two with Omar above. Selected by “Palo Alto Whiskey Shop” cask number ‘B101214010A’. A quintessential bourbon cask nose. Spiced pears and red apples, butter vanilla, honeycomb, eye-twitching proof in the nose. Tropical fruits galore on the palate, mango, coconuts, ex-bourbon warming spice are subdued but balance off the sweetness and fruitiness amazingly. My mouth is salivating for more. Medium length aftertaste of additional tropical fruit notes and warm alcohol. Overall, Oh this is so very very good. I don’t know what magic Kavalan does to their casks but this particular one is delicious. Yes, it’s not too old and a little unbalanced and probably falls apart with water but it’s tasty stuff in the class at the end of the day. Value: This is Kavalan Solist ex-bourbon so I’d expect this to be $160+… frankly Kavalan’s entire Solist range is somewhat on expensive side. Considering the amount of Solist casks out there makes blind buying of Kavalan bottles a bit of a risky business, which I would personally not recommend as it’s a pure gamble… but then there are gems like these in the mix which mostly justify their tag… so YMMV, good luck. I’d likely get a bottle of this if anywhere under $180 out the door.
The ‘other’ Kavalan is reviewed here: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry210101-233819
Score: A

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown