Monday, January 16, 2023

Port Askaig 25, Mortlach 20, Stranahan’s Cask Strength, Hogback Distillery Mixed Bag

Happy “official” New Year. This is my first entry started after the holidays (even though it’s January 16th). Mostly malt with a small inclusion of other since it’s sometimes hard to group thing together meaningfully.

Port Askaig 25 (Impex), 45.8%
This is a pleasant surprise gift from friend Mike. This is a Caol Ila 25 bottled by Impex in 2019. There are total of 3000 bottles of this, though there is a European counterpart to this batch, I’m not sure if it counts as part of the 3000 bottles. Either way… ‘Small’ batched IB Caol Ila 25! Did I mention I enjoy old peated whiskey even while I whine about young peat being gross yet? Lightly salted, complex smoke on the nose reminiscent of fish smokehouse that’s not been in use for a while. Salty floral notes, lightly spiced vanilla. Incredible legs on the Glencairn. The palate is gentle, floral vanilla, light smoke, almost no saltiness at all. Peppery, warming and lightly smoked aftertaste that lasts and lasts and lasts. Overall: Easily excellent example of light (or mostly dissipated) peat that’s complex rather than punchy. The palate is barely peated at all, with the smoke only showing up somewhat in the nose and in the aftertaste. Excellent drinker. There’s something to be said here that this is different from OB Caol Ila that’s typically saltier. The particular bottling could have benefited from sherried cask or two in the mix to bring up another layer of complexity… Overall though I’m grasping for straws with my biggest thought being that while it’s excellent, it doesn’t seem to stand out in a distinguishable way. Value: This was ~$350 in 2019… Eeeeh.. Leaving it at “This is tasty but I’d not buy a bottle”.
https://www.whiskyba … kaig-25-year-old-sms
Score: A

Mortlach 20, Cadenhead Small Batch, 53.4%
I seem to be reviewing a lot of Mortlach around here… Well, too bad! I enjoy these! And I write reviews. Small batch bottling from Cadenhead, 700ml so EU. The nose is full of baked pears and green apples with a touch of vanilla. The palate is excellently orchard-fruity ex-bourbon standard faire. I cannot believe it’s proof vs how gently it drinks. The long aftertaste is gentle vanilla and a little bit of ginger spice warming the very back. Overall: Excellent drinker, with nothing to complain about here in the scope. Value: N/A (from friend)
Score: A

Stranahan’s Cask Strength, Dry Creek Liquors SP, 57.86%
A high proof Stranahan’s single malt. No info unfortunately. Likely at reasonably respectable age as the distillery has been able to put up 10 year old malt release (though that one was distillery exclusive), suggesting that their stocks are coming up in average age nicely. Of note I’ve poorly reviewed the Small Batch (~2 years old) version and really liked the exclusive higher proof Carcavelos Cask (at very respectable 8.5 years of age). Let’s dig into this one. Tropical fruit pie on the nose, with bananas and mango fruits leading the charge predictably. More of the same tropical banana mango custard on the palate, rather sweet and spiced with cloves and nutmeg and topped with vanilla whipped creme. Long sweet, and tingly aftertaste follows that reminds of red hots cinnamon aftertaste. Overall: This is enjoyable. It’s not particularly complicated and the banana pie is certainly indicative of American single malt that may not appeal to some malt drinkers. Without the context though this is quite drinkable and high proof helps a ton here. Value: Similar Store Picks are priced circa $70… assuming that this is the same for this particular one… good value.
Score: B+

Hogback distillery Tasting… They do a bit of everything so this is going to be a mix. https://www.hogbackd …

Hogback ‘Oak & Aspen’ Bourbon, 61.8%
So this is a high rye bourbon finished with aspen wood stakes for 3 months. The sample is ~4 years old. The nose has a noticeably dry wood character to it, similar to lumber isle in a hardware store. The palate is spicy and pleasantly woody, sweet; lots of toasted notes, quite creamy texture. This reminds me somewhat of lighter MGP stuff, though I believe this is distilled at the distillery itself. Long, pleasantly sweet and lingering aftertaste follows with a touch of cinnamon in the very back. Overall: Enjoyable for a sipper. Hard to tell this is young. Lacks secondary notes, but overall a reasonably rounded experience, that extra wood really helped here I feel by filling in some gaps so that the palate doesn’t fall flat onto itself. Value: N/A. This is undiluted version, the official version is 44% abv and costs $45. If the high proof version is about $60, it’s a fair deal.
Score: B

Hogback ‘Eclipse’ Rye, 60.5%
This time a rye from the same distillery. From the blurb: “Aged a minimum of 4 years in a virgin oak barrel and ex-rum cask”. Smells like a typical rye to be honest, salty dill and pine, with a touch of nuttiness. The palate is a different story entirely. Very complex and multilayered. Salty, sweet, spicy, this reminds of a sweet and spicy pickle of some kind. The aftertaste calms down somewhat after the roller coaster that is the palate, its medium length, and slightly bitter at the very end. Water makes it a little better with apples coming through but it’s still a weird one. Overall: This has the ‘typical’ rye underpinnings which I usually don’t enjoy so I don’t particularly like this one either. The nose is alright, the palate is wild and aftertaste brings some bitterness. It certainly is flavorful but it’s almost like 3 different drinks rather than one. It could have used some more time in the cask to integrate better. I’ve finished it surprisingly after a bit of added water so perhaps it’s in the drinkable category. Still I’d rather mix than sip it. Value: This is $70 on the official site… Which isn’t a particularly great deal.
Score: C

Hogback Wallace Malt, 61.6%
This is a Cask #5: Matured in ex-rye American oak barrels for four years, then finished for six months in 4-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon red wine barrels from the Philip Togni Vineyard, Napa. The initial nose is quite funky and I’m letting it air out. The best approximation is that it smells like cooked buckwheat, nutty and somewhat yeasty. Frankly the nose has some of those newmake notes that come from low aging or weird cut during distillation. I am NOT a fan of this at full proof. I need to proof it down. Still nope. Too grassy and acrid, bordering on bitter. Way too weird for me. Overall: It’s possible that something’s off with my palate tonight, meanwhile: “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do NOT like them Sam-I-am”. Perhaps someone may enjoy it? Value: This is $149.99 SRP?! Hard pass.
Score: D-

Hogback Wallace Peated Malt, 61.2%
Peat and barley is sourced from Scotland. Matured in ex-rye American oak barrels for four years, then finished for six months in 2-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon red wine barrels from the Continuum Estate, Napa. Alrighty this is sweet & acrid, heavily peated and frankly not my thing. I can imagine a peat-heads liking this. Supposedly it tastes a lot like Ardbeg. I don’t like Ardbeg. Value: $175. Hard pass
Score: D+

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