Saturday, June 29, 2024

Auchentoshan 21, Glenallachie 15, Bimber #45, Rare Character Malt SFWS

After another bout with the sickness I’m able to review things again.

Auchentoshan 21, Berry’ Bros & Rudd, 49.8%
An Auchentoshan that was gifted to me by friend Venkat nearly a decade ago. This was distilled in 2004 and bottled in 2016 from cask #357, (ex-bourbon). The nose is punchy for the proof, with oaky vanilla, fruit compote and touch of a paint solvent note that borders on perfume rather than acetone. Powerful palate with hot and peppery spices that show up immediately and don’t hold back. Lots of drying wood notes, minerality and bitter baking spice, dark coffee and bitter chocolate as well as some smoke notes. The overall palate experience borders on near-bitterness suggests an active cask that the distillate spent a long time in. Long aftertaste that allows fruit notes to come through once again and balance out the overall experience. Water drastically improves the palate making it much more enjoyable and less overwhelming. Overall: This isn’t an easy-drinking pour. This is a complex and one that really needs to be thought about to enjoy. The bones of a fantastic malt is there but it feels over-aged out of the bottle. Few drops of water dilute the bitterness in mid-palate making it more approachable, though still unapologetically complex. Value: N/A.
Score: B+ w/water (B- without)

Glenallachie 15, 46%
I see sherry bomb… I cannot pass it by. More on that beginning of next year once pre-orders arrive, so keep eye on the booze list, but yet again; I digress. A 15 year old regular release of Glenallachie by Billie Walker, bottled at 46%. Speyside sherry bomb on paper. Does it deliver? Dusty sherry on the nose, mostly oloroso spice, sulfur, some fruitiness, baking spice, blatant vanilla extract. An unexpectedly plain, initially nearly-flavorless palate brings coffee, leather, more baking spice, coca cola, vanilla and bitter chocolate notes. There are barely any sweetness or fruit notes, and if there are any, they are drowned by the sherry notes. Medium-long aftertaste brings a note of tobacco but mostly follows whatever was on the palate with a cinnamon note cresting and then fading slowly. Overall: Serviceable sherry bottling, that neither amazes or disappoints. I really wish it was sweeter as the malt itself is known to be sweet, but this specific blend seems to be drowned in dry sherry notes instead. It will likely please those that are looking sherry bombs without the sweetness and leans somewhat heavily towards Edradour’s leather and tobacco profile. Value: I got this on sale for $89 which is quite reasonable, though at more common MSRP of $105 I wouldn’t have paid it. Get the Cask Strength bottling instead.
Score: B

Bimber Single Malt, Cask #45 58.9%
Bimber distillery, producing London single malt whiskey. This is a USA release of cask #45, sherry cask, bottled in October 2020. No age statement has been provided. The nose is very fruit-forward and sweet sherry reminiscent of PX with primary notes being chocolate-covered dried figs and cologne. Strong alcohol on the palate with, syrup, more dried figs and chili chocolate. Spicy hot chocolate and some dry tobacco notes continue into warm medium-length aftertaste with pleasant malt hug on the palate. A little bit of water tones down the alcohol burn but it’s a little tricky to get that balance right as too much and the malt falls apart. Overall: Enjoyably sweet and not a typical scherried NAS scotch bottling. I’m somewhat torn on my overall evaluation, though it does seem to grow on me since I’ve opened it few months back. Getting the water amount right helps immensely here. Value: I’ve paid $139 which seems excessive for what’s offered in the bottle… Yet… seeing other single cask prices recently… Urg. Let’s call it slightly above where it should be on the price, but not excessively so.
Score: B (/w water)

Rare Character Exceptional Series, SFWS SP, Kentucky Straight Malt 10.7, 68%
A Kentucky Straight Malt, bottled for SF Whiskey Society from cask E-M13-25. Let’s get it out of the way… This is Heaven Hill distillate. Same-ish series that went into their Parker’s Heritage malt release. The weird mash bill of 65% malt, 35% corn is funky and strange but with official definition of American Malt still vague it is not unwelcome. Let’s dive in! First, it’s medium chestnut in color making it rather dark, likely due to new oak casks rather than refills used in it’s maturation. Visually it can be easily mistaken for bourbon. The nose is a mix of malt and corn notes, backed by toasted wood. Let’s just approximate that it smells like malty bourbon. The palate starts as a complex mix of malted barley and bourbon and continues to be a complex mix of malt and bourbon on repeated sips. This isn’t a subtle Scottish export. Lots, and I do mean lots, of wood notes with some maltiness and corn and mostly bourbon’s baking spices dominate. Long and spicy aftertaste follows with more or less everything that was on the palate. It takes water like a champ, but doesn’t substantially change, other than the dulling the alcohol’s edge. Overall: This tastes like some of the best bourbons I’ve ever had. All the great things from bourbon more or less balanced and extended by the barley backbone. Lots of thumbs up on this, but this is does not taste anything like a malt. Neither International nor American malts taste anything like this. Value: These came and gone for ~$150 and for what it’s worth one bottle of the series is well worth picking up… But stop at one to sate the curiosity or buy a dozen.
Score: A- (malt-only-in-name)

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