Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Glen Keith, Benrinnes, Dailuaine, Craigellachie, Inchgower; Sample Glut, Again

Over the course of last week I’ve went from zero samples or bottles that need to be reviewed to fresh 18 samples or some of which need to be reviewed… I guess time to get to it.

Glen Keith 28; 1993 Old Malt Cask, K&L SP, 56.9%
Let’s start this with an Old Malt Cask. Nose is intense buttery shortbread with fresh green apple skins and a solid alcohol kick as appropriate to the proof. Palate got pears and apples, some grass notes, a little bit of lemon, and more of that vanilla complexity that’s often seeps from oak casks after long time. The texture of the palate is quite velvety. The aftertaste is quite long with lingering light pepper, ginger and other sweet spice notes. Overall: I’m really quite enjoying it. It’s definitely got that spiced pears and green apple going. Possibly one of the best Old Malt Casks I’ve ever had but with 28 years under its belt… it better be good assuming you like ex-bourbon vanilla and orchard fruits. Value: Actually quite solid price ~$150 for the age . I think I didn’t get it only because I already have some Glen Keith and didn’t want a repeat from the distillery.
https://www.whiskyba … iskies/whisky/192442
Still available as of this writing; https://www.klwines.com/p/i?i=1565106
Score: A-

Benrinnes 23, 1997, Old Malt Cask, K&L SP, 58.4%
Refill hogshead (ex-bourbon) from 1997… This seems a little darker than a simple bourbon refill. Nose is… confusingly… Bubble gum-forward with slight varnish in the back, and real light apple notes. The palate is both red apple crisp and peppery with anise and nutmeg notes somewhere in the background. Still, it feels like its got a slight hint of sherry in there somewhere. Aftertaste is quite long, drying with some wood taking a prominence after a bit and becoming almost metallic. Overall: Some folks may like it some won’t a quite funky and something different which could be both good or bad. This is also certainly hard one to grade but I would go with my preference here, quite solid stuff at the end of the glass. Oddly, the more it sits around the more sherried it feels to the palate. Value: At $120 for the age this is fairly decent value, though as usual with OMC beware of the ‘mediocrity’ that is good but not outstanding. The Laings know what they are doing so they wouldn’t bottle something truly amazing at that price considering they also got other brands (ie: “Old and Rare”) for truly interesting casks.
Score: B+

Dailuaine 10, 2010 Sovereign K&L SP, 59.4%
Young sherry cask that’s not a sherry bomb. Quick blurb that I didn’t write yesterday as I wasn’t planning to review it as I have a lot of Dailuaine bottles. Solid stuff at $55 that’s worth picking up if you need a single malt. Not mind-breaking but will do the job without breaking budget. Upgrade the score to a solid B if there’s a spot in your bottle shelf that needs to be filled.
Score: B-

Craigellachie 16, Old Particular, K&L SP, 56.3%
A sneak peek of a bottle I own. Thanks friend Charu (and for many other samples)! An Old Particular bottle for a 16 years old in refill sherry. The nose is nutty, spicy, unsweetened, dry fruit compote, very slightly rubbery. Really needs some air to open up. Woody, nutty, sweet with sherry palate. I really like the palate here actually. Aftertaste is drying spices, leather and serious amount of toasted apple skins. Overall: This is funky spiced and dried apple compote, quite enjoyable if one enjoys sherry. Value: A 16 year old single cask for $109 about average. Though the sherry adds a little bit to the cost so slightly below average to be fair.
Score: B+

Inchgower 22, Sovereign, K&L SP, 56.3%
A rare labeled single malt from a distillery that’s mostly used in blends. The nose is interestingly funky and alternates between sherry figs and pine resin or perhaps a little bit of rubber. The palate is a little rubbery but in a pleasant way that integrates with the sweetness, definitely gets better after first sip with mostly molasses and fig compote remaining. The aftertaste brings sweet vanilla, sherry fruits and spices and is nice and medium; with few sweet notes lingering for a while. Overall: Very sweet and funky flavor combination that’s unlike most other single malts that I can think of. It really is alike to some sort of spiced fruitcake. Yes, let’s go with ginger fig fruitcake on this one. Not particularly sold on the overall palate being a little too sweet for my tastes. Value: About medium at $109 for a mostly unknown 22 year old Single Malt Scotch.
Score: C+

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

Friday, October 1, 2021

Fancy v3; Redbreast, Midleton, Clynelish, Starward

More fancy samples. YaY! First two are by way of friend Jeffrey.

Redbreast 21, 46%
Another day, another Redbreast sample. While their finished series isn’t half bad the regular releases that don’t have an interesting cask involved tend to be too grain-forward. I wonder how this compares. Nose has a healthy dose of sherry, honey, apricots and some vanilla. The palate is luxuriously rich and is full of blueberries and some nuttiness with sherry spices and sweet backing. Unfortunately, either my sample was a little off or sat in the glass for about an hour and over-oxidized as those same blueberry notes are also bordering on soapiness. Quite fantastic long finish with gentle spices, vanilla oak and maltiness. Overall: I’m conflicted, I love more or less everything about it except the soapy note that spoils the experience for me. This being a sample I have no clue if that’s normal or not and for the sake of fairness I’ll fault on this not being a normal situation. Value: It’s $269 in Total Wine as of this writing, marks it mostly overpriced.
Score: Probably a tainted sample, ???

Midleton Dair Ghaelach; Knockrath Forest, Tree #7; 56.5%
That name is a mouthful. “This Single Pot Still Irish whiskey was matured initially in American Oak Bourbon barrels and finished in virgin native Irish Oak Hogshead casks”. Nose is rich vanilla, marzipan and some toasted oak. The palate is sweetly nutty, quite prominent with bitter spice and a good alcohol kick. Lots of darker orchard fruits mixed with tropical flavors in the background bring mellowness and sweet tunes to balance it all out. Basically a nutty dried fruit compote. Medium length aftertaste with more baking spice and toasted wood wrapping up the party. Overall: Quite enjoyable pour, it’s somewhat unlike most other things I’ve had in a good way. This is like Blue Spot’s well-respected father figure, it’s got good flavors on primary and secondary palate to balance itself (though AFAIK there’s no sherry in #7 compared to Blue Spot) and the maturity to back it all up. Value: KnL lists it at $320, rather out of my affordability zone.
Score: A-

Clynelish 20, 1996, Signatory; Binny’s SP; Cask #8789. 56.3%
A Binny’s/Winebow single cask aged in refill sherry butt. Bottled in 2017. The nose is spicy, nutty, dried fruit compote with prunes and apricots dominating. The palate is somewhat astringent yet full of dry honeycomb, roasted nuts, some malt, and sherry funk. Slightly bitter instead of sweet as the main note suggests it’s a tad over-aged in the cask. Not nearly as sweet as more modern versions this is perhaps an example of an older style of scotch with lack of clear big flavors but layers of complexity that are mostly hiding behind the sherry wood and chocolate notes. Nutty and quite pleasant aftertaste that’s is frankly better than the palate, as flavors finally snap into place; finishing with some dusty wood notes. Overall: For the pedigree, I’ve expected much better. It’s okay; not terrible by most means and would please several folks that I know enjoy this type of palate, yet it’s not quite hitting that perfect spot for me as more modern Clynelish bottlings have done. It does improve and becomes sweeter on the palate over time with repeated sips. Value: This was ~$159 (+tax) which makes it a slightly high but acceptable value for a cask strength 20 year old malt distilled in mid-90s at a well known distillery.
Score: A-

Starward 4, SFWBSS Pick, Cask #10608; 55.8%
An almost fancy bottle I have here. Australian Single Malt… A bay area whiskey group pick with somewhat unusual 4 year maturation age from Starward, which mostly does everything with 3 years old age statement. Red wine cask aged; this is actually nearly 4.5 years old and with a reasonably small 240 bottles outrun. So exclusively fancy. Quick note on color being borderline chestnut. The nose is intense late harvest zinfandel sweet chocolate cherry notes. The palate starts with same chocolate red dessert wine then transforms into nutty, slightly woody, malty luxury that balance out and contrast the initial palate sweetness nicely and consistently. Not quite syrupy and not quite thin, the mouthfeel is more of a velvet variety. The aftertaste fades into secondary notes pretty fast but the chocolate covered cherries stick around for a bit. Overall: This is chocolate covered cherries, in a whiskey form. It’s very different and it’s quite unique. I like it even if it doesn’t offer those deep malty or super complex flavors that older scotch does. Value: This was about $60, yah absolutely worth it for the uniqueness, it even came with a neat sticker which I’m not putting onto the pretty bottle.
Score: B+


Starward 4.5, RCWS Pick; 55.6%
Super quick comparison vs SFWBSS pick. Still very sweet, but slightly woodier, bordering on bitter oak variant. Less cherry more sherry spice but it’s actually owing the notes to toasted oak. More reminiscent of a sherry bomb scotch or over-oaked brandy. Tasty, sweet, dessert-like, but just not quite same without that solid cherry note in SFWBSS.
Score: B

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

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Fancy v2. Balblair, Bowmore, Highland Park, Bunnahabhain

Let’s get fancy again with the samples… I got a few…

Balblair 26; Vintage 1990, 46%
Kicking us off is an old Balblair distillery bottling. Dusty very dusty sherry with leather mixed in on the nose. Old wood workshop or a machine shop. Savory wood on the palate almost to the point of dill notes. Layers and layers and layers of flavor that’s so tightly bound that this becomes one flavor and none of the flavors. Mostly wood and some non-sweet sherry dominating with malt playing a 3rd fiddle somewhere. The aftertaste is medium with savory fading leaving a pleasant dusty sherry and spice sensation. Overall, this is totally not what I have expected here, an nearly over-wooded single malt with dill notes at brief glance. I really want to like this but either it’s not that great indeed, or my sample was too small to appreciate it. Interesting? Yes. Exciting? Not particularly. Will pay premium? No. Checkbox? Absolutely! Value: Its $250+… Yah, not a deal.
https://www.whiskyba … /99586/balblair-1990
Score: C+

Bowmore 24, Hunter Laing Old & Rare Single Cask. 53.2%
Got a sample via friend Jeffrey… I have to go off the sample label here since I am not able to find a record of this bottle in the whiskybase. The nose is super complicated with everything from pure malt to some iodine and some light peat that comes in goes in waves. The palate is paradoxically even more complicated, almost no peat to speak of but instead complex smoked cheese (gouda/mozzarella) flavors dominate together with complex malt sweetness. Butter pancakes, leche fruits, tropical undertones, this is incredible stuff. Long-long aftertaste that leaves some light smoke, yet again smoked string cheese and good cigar on the palate for a while. I don’t want it to go away frankly, and I’m the one that dislikes peat. Overall: Once in a blue-moon scotch experience of exceptional complexity and palate this is something that needs to be contemplated in front of the fire and taken in carefully and slowly. I don’t give out this sort of praises very often… Value: No clue on price but it’s not cheap… but holy cow! this is probably worth the price if it’s anywhere under $350.
AAAnd found it: https://www.klwines.com/p/i?i=1499783
Score: A+

Orkney (Highland Park) 17; Single Cask Nation Stones of Stenness, 54.4%
Read the details here: https://singlecaskna … riant=40218088013997… It’s a 17 years old highland park (single cask) aged in 2nd fill oloroso. The nose is pure milk chocolate and caramel strongly reminding me of Ghirardelli caramel squares. Tiny whiff of iodine and sea salt in the back of the nose but that just makes it salted caramel squares. Palate is full of sherry funk with toasted, nearly charred, nuts and a solid streak of chili peppers; and so much wood. Malt and sherry sweetness balance off the woodiness, yet drinker beware, it’s right on the edge of being taken over. Long pleasant aftertaste carries most of the palate over for a long time with some ginger tingle coming up midway through. Overall: Deliciously nutty, woody, slightly smoky yet sherry sweet and well spiced dram. Lovers of sherry bombs will appreciate the complexity and concentration here. The overall experience could be a little too much for a casual drinker though. Value: Absolutely worth a pour, but as with most Highland Park single casks this is overpriced.
Score: A-

Bunnahabhain 28, 1991; Gordon & MacPhail 50.3%
A refill hogshead (ex-bourbon) production. I was afraid of this to be peated; yet it does not seem to be peated at all. Aren’t I a lucky one? Whelp; the nose says ‘this is a malt monster’. Vanilla extract and malt galore on the nose indeed. Superbly multi-layered palate with more oak/vanilla, tropical fruits and bourbon baking spices, nutmeg, cloves, lemon zest, green jalapenos and yet again so much malt. Aftertaste is numbing and last for a while, while being surprisingly hot for its proof with chili spice and vanilla fighting for control. Overall: I’m not a fan and perhaps expected better with the pedigree. Super tightly wound ex bourbon that borders on mint, dill and green jalapeno salsa or just metallic on the palate. Slightly too many things going on in there without proper backbone; slightly too unbalanced. Stick this into refill sherry… and it’d be a winner, but alas we get ex-bourbon. This requires contemplation and no contemplation will be had at a bar. Enjoyable enough as a sample at least. Value: Circa $300… In a refill bourbon… Let’s go with medium cost at best; bordering on overpriced.
https://www.whiskyba … bunnahabhain-1991-gm
Score: C+

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

Friday, September 24, 2021

Glenfarclas, Ben Nevis, North British, Tamdhu

Glenfarclas, 43%
An original distillery bottling that’s not available in USA… this 18 years old is from UK (and is also 1L)… Everything else is very likely standard stuff including the liquid inside. I’ve reviewed the 12 before briefly and while it was a crowd-pleaser, it wasn’t very memorable. I hope that the 18 will buckle a trend, The nose is in-my-face malty with some sherry and bourbon spice notes. Dried apricots and prunes are there as expected as well as a bit of wet rubber smell (in a good way). The palate is a little on the thinner side texturally but more than makes up for in nutty bitter sweet vanilla palate as expected out of a highlander. Still more malt and surprisingly a bit of salt come up in the aftertaste so abv isn’t a too detrimental to this. Overall: It’s a workable daily drink with reasonably alcohol/flavor balance that transcends @work drinking but doesn’t quite reach ‘in front of the fire with a glass’. Share it with a neighbour that wants to get into Scotch… they’d love it. Drink it casually while watching TV… It is a workhorse that performs well but will not win any races. Value: I got it for about $60 open… and it’s $80+ closed so the value is reasonably solid here for an 18 year old single malt.
Score: B

Ben Nevis 21, Faultline, 46.4%
A Faultline (private label of K&L) bottling of a 21 year old Ben Nevis from 1995… This comes by way of friend Charu… who is generous enough to share some of his deep collection with me on occasion. The nose is all vanilla and malt with some kind of apricot or dried orchard fruit compote mixed in. Creamy consistency with basically pecan pie flavor with some fruit underlay, mango perhaps. Unbelievable. The aftertaste is the only real let down fading fast into some mellow spice and vanilla notes. Overall… A rare gem in the ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ category of a bourbon cask single malt. Value: At $89… that’s incredibly good value at the age price and vintage. I cannot believe I didn’t get a bottle of this myself.
Score: B+

North British 30. Single Grain. Old Particular. 49.4%
Another Old Particular Single Grain by way of K&L. Single Grain is… It’s own beast and often leads to… surprisingly amazing or mediocre results but I digress. Nose is deliciously butter citrus cookie as is common with grains with lemon meringue or curd shining through. Palate is marzipan, more lemon curd, nutmeg and clove spices; it is quite sweet and potent to boot. Aftertaste: Sweet nuttyness with tropical fruits primarily mango and pineapple dominating and of course some spiced ginger. Overall: Good, unique, tasty and not a slouch this is certainly also a niche drink, with grains being essentially aged neutral spirit, typically into the direction of vodka or bourbon-like distillation process. Is it tasty? Yes… Is it for everyone? No! Value… I got it at $120 or so and I think it’s alright for the age overall buuuut single grains aren’t prominently priced to begin with so I’d judge it at about average due to being 30 years old (especially few years ago when some fantastic single grain bottles went through K&L inventory at $80-$140).
Score: B+

Ben Nevis 7; 2013; Redacted (Thompson/Dornoch) Brothers 50%
A small sample shared for me for a review. Even though I try not to review same distillery multiple times. It’s a shame to not do it since it’s already there. Incredibly funky on the nose… My wife described it as “a mix of Windex, rubbing alcohol and paint stripper”… and while I certainly don’t believe it’s quite that, the nose does have that whiskey-flavored alcohol wipe sort of notes when sniffed. This also happens to be the youngest Scotch that I’ve ever tried at least to my knowledge. On the palate the story is actually entirely different. Waxy red apple skins dominate the entire palate almost to the point of soapiness (but not quite). Followed by some sherry sweetness and nutty spice character. It’s almost that feels like some sort of salinity is fighting with sherry sweetness on the palate. With repeat sips… I feel like more soap is coming to the front. Medium length aftertaste is pleasant and is quite sherry-dominant again fading slowly into pleasant peppery warmth. Overall: Very interesting, if disjoint between the nose and the rest of the palate and aftertaste experience that is rather unique. Value: This was $60 which is about the area I would have expected to pay for a 8 year old independent single cask… OK value i guess.
Score: B

Tamdhu 19, Old Malt Cask, 50.3%
Another Old Malt Cask… A refill of a refill of a refill likely of a color of pale straw. Nose is green apples in the store, perfume, bubble gum, vanilla. Palate is zippy with malt, more apples, some honey, even more vanilla. With time in the glass this develops into peppered honeycomb with perhaps just a touch of anice. Aftertaste is medium with brown sugar vanilla and oatmeal cookies, some pepper and a bit more of honeycomb. Overall, delicious for those that are seeking an interesting and subtle refill scotch and this certainly delivers layers and layers of delicate flavors. Value: This was $80 so this is super solid yes on value side with a 19 year old malt. As a personal experiment, I’ve added a few drops of sherried Clynelish to this pour… O.M.G.
Score: B+

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

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Edradour, Glen Garioch, Benromach, Waterford Gaia

Edradour 10, Signatory, Cask #364, 46%
An independent bottling of Edradour by Signatory, with a fairly standard 46% abv… While this isn’t from same series as Royal Brackla (reviewed here: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry210507-201920) it’s certainly seems to be from the same general direction. Lets get it out of the way… it’s a sherry bomb… mostly in a good way. The nose is wood shop varnish and sweet whiffs of charred caramel or burnt sugar (this is unpeated)… Palate is light sweet tobacco, yet again burnt sugar caramel. Mellow bitter-sweet chocolate and warming with sherry and malt. The aftertaste is long with more varnish sherry sticking around the palate and a little bit of tobacco. Quite delicious and much much better balanced vs Brackla. This does not disappoint. It may not mind-blowing but for a solid single malt and an Edradour checkbox… it’s well worth a pour and a sip.
Score: B+

Glen Garioch 10, Old Particular K&L SP, 59.2%
A bourbon-cask aged, Glen Garioch from Old Particular, by way of K&L. Interestingly, Glen Garioch 15 was one of my first reviews: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry190108-083714, though that one was Distillery/Original Bottling, vs an Independent. Nose is honeycomb with apricots and vanilla. A reasonably prominent amount of alcohol smacks me in the face since it doesn’t have anything to hide behind here. The palate is mouth-coating, velvety and oh so delicious. Little bit salty barley tea, anice, sweet vanilla-oak, and what a malty monster. The aftertaste is long, peppery with little bit bitter citrus and a dash of dustiness. Quite tasty overall. Value: Ummm it was $55… yah it’s good deal.
Score: B+

Benromach 10, 43%
This is the pre-redesign distillery bottling of a 10 year old malt. It’s also lightly peated, and considering I’m not huge peat fan let’s see how it goes. Malt, sherry and a solid bit of iodine on the nose with peat integrating nicely with that salty note. The palate is slightly off from the nose. More charcoal, salinity and a little bit of peat with not as much of a sherry sweetness of what nose would suggest. Nuts, brown sugar. Slightly bourbon-like with malt vs corn notes of course, it drinks surprisingly hotter than its proof. The aftertaste is coffee, burnt sugar, perhaps grilled (to the point of charring) fruits; it sticks around for a while but neither impresses nor disappoints. Yet again reminds me somewhat of a decent bourbon with that charcoal and roasted nut notes. Overall… it’s one of the weird ones that makes me think more of an American whiskey rather than a scotch. I’m glad I’ve tried it though, and while I’m not floored by its flavors, it’s a solid drinker that could be a bargain crowd pleaser for general whiskey drinkers and would appeal to both Bourbon and Scotch sides of the table. Value is fairly decent for the flavor levels at circa $50.
Score: B-

Waterford Organic Gaia 1.1, Irish Single Malt; 50%
I cannot quite talk about Waterford without briefly talking about terroir… but since others write better than me… I’ll summarize… Terroir is basically the area and methods of production that gives the product its specific qualities of taste smell etc… Typical terroir when disclosed is soil, elevation or region based, but Waterford takes it to some extreme levels with their transparency to nearly the point of silliness. Read this for more details: https://www.whiskymo … ng-the-whisky-game/
So back to the Gaia 1.1… It is an Irish single malt whiskey grown and produced locally and it comes in a fairly cool glass bottle with glass stopper. So their marketing team is on point here. Let’s hope the contents measure and and dig in. On the nose thick rick malt and vanilla cookies and lemon custard and a tiny bit of ammonia sharpness. Slightly oily and mouth-coating on the palate, more vanilla custard with cloves and nutmeg not very sweet, but more of a mellow yet nutty spiciness covered by oak and malt, slight salinity too. Long long aftertaste with citrus, vanilla and sichuan peppers. I really wish it was a little older than 4 years on average as there’s not a whole lot of secondary flavors that had a chance to develop. Really lovely overall and I quite appreciate the above and beyond on transparency… Seriously they got ‘Sounds of the countryside’ and every single barrel used… It’s nuts. Value: This is MSRP circa $100 and I’d say it’s worth it for the story but not when consumed blindly or at a bar… So that pushes it towards ‘average value’. As per my guidelines, price is not factored into score.
https://beta.waterfo … ir/organic-gaia-1-1/
Score: B

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