Sunday, December 26, 2021

Bruichladdich Islay Barley, Milk & Honey, Omar Sherry, Kavalan ex-Bourbon; 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

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Glenrothes, Royal Lochnagar, Amrut, Tullibardine, Tomintoul; Vintage Minis!

Got my hands on some old mini bottles with distillation times mostly in mid-90s… While my record with minis has not been great… Why not try something different. Full disclaimer… In my limited exposure these seem to easily go bad or just not be great to begin with…

Glenrothes 1992, Sample Room Mini. 43%
Bottled in 2004 this makes a 12 year old sample. The time not been kind to it either with perhaps 1/6th gone to the angels. It’s also either (by design) not filtered… or the bottle cap deteriorated. Visual inspection suggests unfiltered spirit though as cap isn’t nearly as bad as the cloudy contents leads me to suspect. WIth the angels taking their share this is whiskey flavored water mostly and low proof really isn’t helping. Very little true malt remains though nutty and somewhat tasty long aftertaste suggests it could have been great when it was just bottled. Do not recommend this though. I wouldn’t wish this onto anyone… but being a unique and direct from tasting room… it gets a reluctant pass on grading.
Score: N/A (D-)

Royal Lochnagar 12, 40%
I cannot quite figure out the bottling date, but let’s assume sometime in early-mid 2000s. Quite malty on the nose and palate it’s is reminiscent of the dry cigarette and coffee funk I got in the sherry cask I have reviewed earlier but without the sherry… Sweet, nutty, malty and long aftertaste. This is highly flavorful despite the low proof, and the flavor is really almost better without the excessive sherry. I quite like it, it tastes very slightly peated (nutty smoke) and somewhat reminds me of Loch Lomond 12 I have. Plenty of better things out there… but this is really not that terrible and I’d enjoy it at a bar or @work.
Score: B-

Amrut (NAS) bottled in 2004, 40%
No age stated Amrut bottled in 2004… You know… I now get why nobody likes older bottlings of Indian whiskeys… The nose and palate are basically swamp water while the aftertaste is quite malty and pleasant, if mercifully short. The Indian malts have come a very VERY long way since then. Even that Glenrothes above tastes better, if barely.
Score: F

Tullibardine 1988, 46%
Unclear when this was bottled with laser code on the back reading “09078”… Nutty, slightly acrid and heavily malted, with what I suspect a slight tinge of peat. It’s not too bad… but it’s also all that great for me. It’s got everything going for it
with the year, region and proof… yet not quite hitting the spot. Probably worth a try but I’m skipping a bottle decision here.
Score: C

Tomintoul 10, 40%
Tomintoul 10, bottled circa 2005. Oh finally something drinkable in this samples set. Yes it’s a 10 year old but… Honey. malt, nuttiness and ex-bourbon cask. This is actually reasonably tasty. Slightly sulfuric but almost un-noticeably so. Really enjoyable for a 10 year old 40% single malt.
Score: B

Tomintoul 16, 40%
Now a 16 year old from the same gift set as the 10 above… likely bottled in 2004. More honey and better definition vs the 10. I quite like it in fact. Only real detriment is the low proof here. Nutty, vanilla, some light honey, well balanced and less ‘funky’ vs the 10. Long aftertaste of fruits and mellow bourbon spices. I’d probably be down for a bottle of this. It’s still more of a sharing/guests/@work stuff but it’s certain to be a cloud pleaser (sans sherry).
Score: B+

Tomintoul 27, 40%
Also bottled in late 2004. Some sherry in this one at least in the color and the nose. Dried fruits, lots of malt sweetness and vanilla. The back is warming bourbon spice primarily. More nutty than sweet this got some tobacco leather notes to balance out the old vanilla bomb. Enjoyable certainly but for 27 years I expected more. The low proof is really a distraction here. I’m so glad that no respectable distillery puts a 40% abv on their flagship bottles in the recent times.
Score: B+

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

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

A mix of things: Tagalong, Dewar’s 32, Linkwood 37, WhiskyFest

Some Samples Ahoy!

Booker’s ‘Tagalong Batch’ 2021-02, 63.95%
It’s been a while since I wrote about Beam. And perhaps I didn’t need to, but gotta get back into the habit of writing these once again. You know what… It’s a Booker’s. A pecan pie with cinnamon and vanilla Booker’s. A good one, actually. I tried it SbS with 2018 batches to compare and those are a lot hotter and cinnamon-forward, with Tagalong being nuttier, with less cinnamon. The typical Beam stuff is there but subdued. A well balanced, if a different take on a familiar spirit that should have fans wanting for more… unless the fans really want Red Hots… Then, it’s not your thing. Vanilla, some cherry and so many pecans, slightly changing between sips on the balance without becoming overwhelming. The typical Beam cinnamon aftertaste lasts a long time. This may not be a perfect ‘bourbon’ but it’s certainly a one of the best ‘Beams’.
Score: A-

Dewar’s Double Double 32, 46%
Some sort of Dewar’s brand-owned scotch blend finished in Pedro Ximenez Sherry Casks. Supposedly only two distilleries in the mix (thus the Double). The color is rich chestnut. The nose positively reeks of PX characteristic sweet figs. It’s going to be awesome! It’s very very good if you like sweet syrup whiskeys. Fortunately… I do indeed like those. The palate is sweet nutty fig syrup that’s for sure, sliding into spicy ex-bourbon (nearly metallic) secondary notes. Long aftertaste is clear mix of ex bourbon cask spice notes and sherry sweetness. Overall I really like it… but… This is PX finish so bourbon notes and sherry notes aren’t really well integrated so there’s a flavor canyon between primary flavors and aftertaste that feels like it’s missing something. This also got a lot of sherry in it that will mask any number of minor flaws. One of the easier ones to score at that age… Extremely easy drinker and worth seeking out to try… yet not quite enough to be amazing. It’s a little hard to describe, but basically for a heavily sherried pour there’s no body substance to it, some describe it as ’smooth’. It could be an 18 year old Alexander Murray and I’d struggle to tell the difference.
Also I’m not the only one that liked it: https://www.insideho … h-whisky-of-the-year
Score: A-

Linkwood 37, Distilled in 1978, Bottled in 2016, 50.3%
An official (Limited Edition) bottling of Linkwood at 37 years old… Cask proof… Celebration time! Omg! The nose… may just get this a high score before I even taste it. Ex-bourbon… Holy cow! Orchard fruits, mellow spices on the nose. Apples, pears, peaches! The nose is spectacular! You know what? I give up on ever bothering to review it. This is just straight up spectacular stuff. Top 3 non-sherried and non-peated scotch I’ve tried. Ex-bourbon and malt nuts must apply. Nuff said.
https://forwhiskeylo … od-37-year-old-750ml
Score: A+

WhiskyFest 2021 Special Report:
Super quick report in no specific order…
Michter’s ‘21 Rye is not that great, everything else was not available anymore
Paul John Mithuna is freaking AMAZING (but also EXPENSIVE)
Benromach 21 is fantastic & so are most of Gordon & McPhail casks at the show
Frey Ranch is great for grain-forward, young American stuff, not to mention weird 100% oat whiskey bottling which is… oat-forward
Courage & Conviction is middle of the road
Widow Jane is all over the place with Decadence being amazing and the rest being a Hit and Miss
Heaven’s Door regular is passable, but Redbreast edition is actually great (though probably still won’t buy)
Peerless is junk for everything that’s been poured
Bardstown stuff ain’t too special
Fuji whiskey was okay I guess, yet again no buy there.
Westward is alright at cask proof, though a little hot without substance
Overall: See you again in a few years

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