Thursday, May 26, 2022

Croftengea, Westport, Kavalan Vinho, Ardmore Samples

More samples than I know what to do with… other than review them as I consume them. As usual thanks for the samples to friends Logan and Shaun.

Croftengea 16, Single Cask Nation, 51.2%
This is one of the several brands that comes off Loch Lomond stills. This particular one was aged in a single Ex-bourbon cask and distilled in 2005. Nose is delectably ex-bourbon orchard fruits with a whiff of sweet and fruity smoke. Well spiced, fruity and slightly ashy mouthfeel that’s quite thick on it’s texture. It really is a bit of a liquid cigar as the best way to describe it. Lots of warming sichuan peppers in the aftertaste that are balanced off by malt sweetness and light smoke. Overall: It’s a liquid cigar pretty much. This is quite enjoyable if a bit dry and ashy at certain points. Doesn’t quite reach the awesomeness of Kilkerran but it sure tries. Extremely enjoyable situationally just like a cigar is enjoyable to a non-smoker sometimes. Value: As with most SCN’s likely about average.
Score: B+

Westport 16, Single Cask Nation, 50.6%
Westport is another name for Glenmorangie btw ;) not to dilute the brand name it’s most often used with independent bottlings or private labels. Distilled in 2005 this is aged in 2nd fill oloroso sherry cask. The nose is gloriously malty with a whiff of oloroso sherry funk and nutty spice. The palate is exactly the sugar-toasted and lightly spiced nuts that my palate goes nuts for, alternatively… it’s ‘charred orange’. Quite long aftertaste with more spice, some charred wood, malt and tons of sichuan peppers at some point lingering forever. Overall: This is rather good, especially if burnt orange zest if right for you as is the overall profile for Glenmorangie. The mid-palate is very slightly chopped off at the rise and but more than makes up for in the a cohesive experience. This reminds me of Glenmorangie 18 from early 2010s, with candied spiced walnuts all the way. Value: As with every Single Cask Nation, slightly above average.
Score: A-

Kavalan Solist, Vinho Barrique, 57.1%
A single cask Kavalan? One of the fancier casks? Hell yeah! Thank you, friend Logan! Obviously it’s wine cask and barrique is just it’s size. The nose is hot and full of wine notes and red fruits. Primarily red cherries and fresh plums mixed with prunes. The palate is scorchingly hot which is surprising for a single malt and being sub 60% avb, the baking spices, more red fruits, and healthy dose of sichuan peppers. The peppers continue into a medium length aftertaste and leave with a small tingle on the tongue. Overall: Very enjoyable… but… I wouldn’t call this cask amazing. It’s like a very peppery Starward single cask and those are quite findable… On the other hand, kavalan vinho… good luck. Value: Horrible awful no good value on these bottles. Kavalan single casks are already overpriced and the premium cask like Vinho carries an extra… Accept pours all night long. Don’t pay for these.
Score: B+

Mystery Sample…
Blinds are a great equalizer… A mystery sample from friend Logan… I wonder what can it be… So knowing a little bit about Logan’s… price range… this can be *literally anything* though there’s good chance it’s ‘fancy’ or at the very least different. Well; the nose… smells a lot like the French Malted Rye i got from DHG that was aged in Macvin (herbal wine) casks… it basically smells like aromatic dry herb mix or a very funky herbal tea. The palate… is flatter than a lot of cask proof stuff… suggesting 40-46% abv. The notes are quite complex with full of heavily roasted nuts and orange zest with some sweetness, yet again suggesting a mix of things. It’s definitely a malt though… The aftertaste is medium and a little drying; that dry sawdust sensation sticks around for a while now and is not unwelcome. Overall: This could be sherried but it also tastes a bit like a blend… What it could actually be… I have absolutely no idea, this doesn’t taste quite like anything else I’ve had other than the nose. That being said… If I had to guess I am getting a solid whiff of burnt orange here… which may suggest Glenmorangie thought it’s not anywhere near the concentration of single casks. Totally random guess: Glenmorangie 25.
After some talking… It’s this: https://www.whiskyan … dro-al-navile-ws0038 A 12 year old Speysider from the 90s bottled for Italian restaurant at 40% abv. While Logan thinks it could be Macallan, my personal guess based on more info and palate is Glenfiddich.
Score: N/A (Solid B+)

Ardmore 23, Single Cask Nation, Rechar Hogshead, 52.5%
An Ardmore from 1997 in a refreshed cask. There be peat in there but overall this seems good. Peat and salty vanilla on the nose with a good dose of fruitiness for bourbon hogshead, salty fruit compote basically. There’s smoky, salty, sweet, almost bubbly palate on this one. It reminds me somehow of a good and very dark smoked porter. Long aftertaste with lingering ashy smoke that lasts for a very long time though overall the aftertaste is quite subtle and fades quickly outside of the smoke notes. Focusing only on the aftertaste, it is rather ashy and drying and reminds of a ashtray which isn’t a good association. Overall: Interesting for peat folks and I really want to like it but it just doesn’t do it for me due to smoking association. That memory aside, it’s rather excellent drinking in its own way that’s full of flavor and would certainly please almost everyone that likes some peat in their glass. Value: As with every Single Cask Nation, slightly above average.
Score: B+

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

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Rums Rums Rums! (and a bit of Armagnac) Malternatives

Let there be rums! Thanks for Friends Charu and Shaun for the samples and SFWBSS/Holmes Cay for others.

TL;DR: Holmes Cay is a direct bottler of rums around the world. They are one of the few independent rum bottlers in US or almost certainly one of the first ones. They got plenty of good stuff that’s cask-to-bottle without any bull…

Armagnac notes:

Chateau de Pouchegu — awesome
Chateau de la Grangerie — isn’t my jam
L’Encantada Le Freche — great
L’Encantada Lous Pibous — fantastic

Holmes Cay samples, probably going to be little blurbs… but we’ll see:

Guyana 2010, Diamond Distillery; 11 years, 60.4%
Funky to the point of being nearly acrid. Bananas on the nose. Definitely has a lot of that weird rotting vegetable notes going on there. It’s worth mentioning again quite acrid bordering on smelling salts… Fried bananas galore hiding behind peppery front on the palate. Numbing peppers in the aftertaste that’s quite long. As soon as it hits my palate the acrid notes disappear or melt into the overall experience. Overall: Enjoyable on it’s own though I’d prefer this in a tropical drink.
Score: C+

Belize 2006, Traveller’s Liquors Distillery; 15 years, 61%
Burnt sugar candies on the nose, with a healthy dollop of alcohol. Toasted tropical fruits on the palate. Somewhat reminds of grilled pineapple that’s nearly burnt. Pleasantly sweet but forgettable aftertaste with complex and peppery spice. Overall: Tasty but uninspiring. Yet again I’d prefer it in a drink but would enjoy on its own in a tropical day. In other words… “It’s okay”
Score: B

Fiji 2014, South Pacific Distillers; 17 years, 58%
A 17 year rum, for real? Now we’re talking! Well the dry leather funk is back and the alcohol is quite sharp indeed. Bit of wood, leather, baking spices are all present. Oh… Oh. this is quite nice on the palate. Still sugary as rum can be.. there are tons and tons of spice notes, cinnamon, cloves, all spice, this is reminiscent of MGP bourbons (without the corn of course). Long, baking spice-laden and sweet aftertaste follows. Overall: Very enjoyable and quite nice indeed. I can see myself drinking this.
Score: B+

Barbados 2012, Foursquare Port Cask, 9 years, 55%
This smells great like a rye, some mint and eucalyptus on the nose. This is foursquare through and through basically a whiskey in rum form. Honestly kinda missing port cask notes other than it’s a little extra sweet. Aftertaste is light, rye like here. Overall: This is basically a high rye bourbon or high corn rye here. Enjoyable but not as good as official releases from foursquare.
Score: B+

End of Holmes Cay Samples!

Epris 10, Single Cask Nation, Brazilian Rum. 52.6%
This spent 10 years in first fill bourbon cask #113 and distilled in May of 2011. Brazilian rum? Okay Let’s try! Funky and spicy wood varnish on the nose, not quite licorice but more mastic, a smell I typically get out of 1st fill sherry malts, though there is no sherry in this bottle. Baking spices spiked candy basically. Salty sweet palate with some licorice and chocolate notes, pine needles or pine resin for sure, tobacco, somewhat grassy, salty green olives hiding under the spice. More licorice on the aftertaste that’s not nearly as sweet as you’d expect out of a rum. Overall: This is an interesting one for sure. Reminds of me of some sort of agricole rum that St George did few years back from green sugarcane which was basically olive juice. This seems like infinitely better version of that yet still retaining some of that juniper, salty and grassy complexity hiding under an admittedly great bourbon cask. This seems like a mix of a rum and a basic gin. Would be fantastic in a mixed drink but not going to be enjoying this further than the sample I got. The more I drink it the more confusing it gets at least for my whiskey-wanting palate… Reminds me of something out of Spirit Works stills which are all juniper-contaminated. This is enjoyable… yet it’s flawed in its own way.
Score: C+

Guyana 2003, Diamond Distillery; 16 years, 54.5%
A bottling by Gregarious Grump (Kris Hart of Prideful Goat and others fame) this is a 16 year old Guyana rum distilled in 2003 and bottled in 2020 from Diamond Distillers. Ohhh (pre-emptive yum!) this thing is *dark* chestnut color. Deep sugar caramel nose, dried fruit strips (fruit leather). The palate has vanilla coke, wood, some baking spice, coffee and more fruit leather notes. Those dried fruits really come forward in a long aftertaste that eventually fades into the distant sweetness. Overall: Enjoyable but for me it feels right on the edge of being too woody… Arguably it may have spent a little too long in the casks under tropical climate. I’ll equate this to a decent armagnac… It’s definitely got those fruit notes and wood spices going on. Enjoyable but isn’t mind-blowing for me.
Score: B+

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

Monday, May 16, 2022

Linkwood, Exclusive Malts, Benromach, HP “Victory”, Speymhor; The Three + Three

Three Samples… Three bottles… Thanks for samples to friends Charu and Logan where applicable.

Linkwood 22, Cadenhead 48.8%
Cadenhead bottling of Linkwood distilled in 1995. I do seem to enjoy Linkwood’s flavor palate profile but let’s double check. The nose is lemon curd pie, literal citrus and vanilla curd. It’s uncanny. Malty. somewhat mellow ex-bourbon palate with good balance between wood spice and sugar in the mouth. Reminds me of a very mellow pear/apple skins with a tiny bit of spice. Quite short, but typical aftertaste here leaving a whisper of baking spice on the tongue. Overall: Enjoyable but unremarkable… This cask’s character was mostly spent on it’s previous run… while not at the level of Old Malt Casks this is somewhere between that and Old Particulars on intensity. Value: N/A
Score: B+

Exclusive Malts 23, Blend Ex-Sherry, 50%
A blend from Exclusive Malts line from 1993 in ex-sherry casks. Interesting and complex, sherry nose that is somewhat sour but leans towards the cologne notes. Sherry, malt, spice on the palate, not too sherried not too spicy not too much alcohol, this is extremely well balanced. Quite ‘meaty’ palate actually or perhaps dark chocolate galore. Waves and waves of chili peppers in the solidly medium-long aftertaste that sticks around. Overall: Really enjoying this one actually I can totally have this as a daily drinker and it leans easily into the contemplative pours too if I pay attention to complexity. Value: At $139.99 this is a solid value nowadays, but was somewhat expensive when it was bottled.
Score: A

Exclusive Malts 40, Blend Ex-Sherry, 42.9%
Vatting of things from 1977… Sure, why not! Also my own age so don’t mind if I celebrate a bit. Nose is very funky sherry, bordering on wood shavings or heavily oaked Armagnacs (looking at you Pouchegu!) Actually this is quite reminds of those woody old armagnacs from Domaine De Pouchegu. Vanilla, very dark, very old wood, flowers and dried fruits. Whelp the palate delivers what nose promises covering it into layers and layers of milk chocolate. Long, initially slightly peppery, mouthwatering aftertaste follows leaving sweet vanilla leftovers in the mouth. Overall: Okay this is a Pouchegu in a malt bottle. I’m loving it. Unfortunately it’s ever so slightly under proofed… If this was 46% this would be a slam dunk. As it is, this is as solid of an A as I’ve given out… Value: N/A Only on auction though not too expensive based on the history from few years back. Good luck getting it for less than about 1k nowadays though.
https://www.whiskyba … usive-blend-1977-cwc
Score: A

Benromach 11, Batch 1, 58.2%
My first Benromach review here… This is batch 1 cask proof distilled in 2007 and bottled in 2018. A rare peated Speyside Single Malt Scotch whiskey. But highland peat here so think sweet wood smoke. Nose is lightly toasted nuts with small iodine addition or perhaps old campfire smoke. Palate is great, sweet & nutty, slightly savory flavors with a layer of lively wood smoke in the background. Think texas BBQ burnt bits, or dry brisket. It does lean towards drying leather a bit over time. Still easy drinking, cannot believe this is nearly 60% abv! Aftertaste… just like a good Texas bbq in my mouth. Almost uncanny. Overall: Situational but oh so delicious this is BBQ lover’s dream pour. A minor nit here that I would wish that the aftertaste was a little longer or a little more complex. Of note that this is quite enjoyable for me and I don’t actually like peated whiskeys. Just a smidgeon below A-range for here, I wish it was a tiny bit sweeter. Value: K&L been trying to get rid of these for $39.99. Probably best deal in Scotch in a while… At $80 regular.. is still a solid pickup for a cask proof bottle that’s no slouch.
https://www.klwines. … whisky-750ml/1452946
Score: B+

Highland Park 13, Victory, 64.5%
Another Highland Park (I seem to review a lot of these)… This time a Single Cask Series from Total Wine (at least it’s sitting on the shelf there nowadays)… Named Victory, this is one of 608 bottles, distilled in 2004 and bottled in 2018 from a refill sherry butt #6481 and of course with quite a fiery proof. The nose is sherry galore. I cannot believe this is a refill of sherry, smoke is almost un-noticeable from nosing it as it integrates into sherry so well. The palate is sweet and slightly smoked candies, the sherry wood really shines here. Aftertaste is spices galore, with the spices and little smoke hang out for a while reminiscent of a light cigar experience and finishing up with some vanilla creamer and coffee notes. Overall: I quite like this combination actually. The proof is a little fiery for some but otherwise the experience is solid. Sweet and smoky is the name of the game without much complication and it delivers. Value: I’ve gotten it in a trade for about $120 to my door which is super solid. Total Wine has these sitting on the shelf at $209 which is a horrible price for these… Get it on clearance or something hope they give up on actually selling these.
Score: A-

Speymhor 38, Blend, 46%
A blend from 1978, aged 38 years. I’ve opened it for the birthday special pour. There’s definitely some sherry in there though overall it’s light brown, almost reddish color. The nose is quite funky, somewhat sulfuric and nearly sour, yet full of perfume. The palate leaves me in a tough position because it’s really tough to describe. Meaty, salty, sweet, oaky, little bit of sherry spices and generally a bouquet of spices are fighting for dominance here. It’s kinda like a weird BBQ without the smoke notes. The aftertaste is very complex, finally with vanilla custard sweetness coming though followed by peppers and some very dark mocca notes, coffee beans and chocolate together and even some tobacco. Overall: I really want to enjoy it… and it is enjoyable but it’s not quite what I expected out of the bottle and neither does it hit that high note for me of ‘I want every bottle of this I’m willing to afford’. A solid and very complicated drinker that is perhaps too funky for a novice and is definitely one to subvert expectations even for someone that’s experienced with whisky. Value: This was $180 from K&L and honestly it’s worth it for the uniqueness. But likely not more than 1+backup.
Full story:
Score: A-

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

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Glenmorangie 10, Macallan #4, Compass Box Canvas & Artist’s Blend, Cameronbridge; Scotch Whisky

Mostly Samples. Thank you friends, Charu, Mike, Orpheus, Logan!

Glenmorangie 10, 1990s bottling. 40%
Something from dusty old archives of history. A sample of 1990s bottling of Glenmorangie, at 10 years old. I unfortunately don’t have a modern sample to compare with and it’s be a while since I’ve had Glenmo 10 last time. There’s an interesting minerality and somehow… ‘warm’ orchard fruits on the nose. Think bakes pears or green apples from the oven, not quite cooled yet. Yet more of those creamy vanilla ex-bourbon notes there. Sweet and malty and somewhat fruity palate yet somewhat flat and uncomplicated. Pleasant, slightly nutty aftertaste with some baking spices finally appearing, finishing with a light chili pepper tingle and some coffee. Overall: I’m pleased but not impressed with this. Since I cannot compare it to more modern iteration we’ll judge it in vacuum of perspective. A good daily drinking but what else would I expect out of age really? Value: This wasn’t ever expensive but due to the current age will probably fetch a small premium by someone curious.
Score: B

The Macallan Edition No. 4, 48.4%
Oh, this smells like good sherry funk. The palate is full on sherry, sweet, nutty, slightly spicy profile. Long finish with rising peppers while sherry drops off. Both sweet and savory this is mouth watering in the end. Overall: This is good stuff. More or less exactly what you’d want in a sherried speyside scotch. Interesting and not bland, this is definitely a ride for the palate. If i knew what i know now in 2018 I’d probably bought a handful of these to hide away. Value: In 2018 when this came out, the MSRP was $100, currently there’s no chance of finding it anywhere less than about $200-250, even if you’re lucky. Macallan prices are in stratosphere, being beaten only by the Springbank pricing at least for the ‘affordable’ bottles.
Score: A

Compass Box (CB) Canvas, 46%
More than half of the recipe is Tomatin (the Vino Naranja making up nearly 11%) and the other single malt whiskies came from Glenburgie, Glen Elgin and Imperial distilleries. They were all aged in American oak to highlight their fruitiness…
As usual CB bottles are supposed to evoke the name while drinking them… Light orchard fruits on the nose, not overwhelming as they could be, yet well balanced. Mineral forward palate with more white orchard fruits, this case towards light side of the spectrum, green apples, pears… green honeydew, etc. Not too long, malty and unremarkable aftertaste. Overall: This is a true blank ‘canvas’ with your imagination is there to paint something on it… but… this is a also a whiskey and having a blank canvas isn’t something that’s usually done or expected to be in a bottle. Kudos to John Glaser’s team for actually making it a ‘blank’… but IMHO this is a miss for Compass Box limited editions as this is also about as interesting as a white canvas. Very drinkable yet immediately forgettable. In short… It’s boring by itself! Value: Total Wine lists these at $124.99 and as pretty packages these come in; I’m going to give this an ‘bad value’ rating. Even if I’m a fan of Compass Box bottlings this one just doesn’t stand out.
Read the details here: https://www.compassb … .com/whiskies/canvas
Score: B

Compass Box (CB) Artist’s Blend, @SFWBSS SiB, 49%
A Compass Box Artist’s Blend whiskey aged in single cask from Clynelish distillery here. Single Cask picked by SFWBSS. Malty tropical fruits on the nose, bananas dominating. Slightly woody, an somewhat spicy for ex bourbon palate. Few charry notes in a medium-long aftertaste on top of the expected sweetness. Overall: This is a ‘better’ artist’s blend vs the regular even if it’s just proof that’s higher but there’s not much to write about it… it’s pleasant and easy drinking. Value: This was like $50. I’d say money well spent.
Score: B+

Cameronbridge 27, Single Grain Scotch, Old Particular K&L SiB 54.3%
Another single grain! Where do I stop? Actually I’ve finished one bottle and opened next one. Charred vanilla sugar on the nose. Hard candy basically, burnt orange zest. Wood notes with baking spices, cereal butter notes, more charred orange peels. Long ginger and pepper aftertaste with a touch of sweetness. Overall: Quite enjoyable in a single grain scotch way even if overshadowed by its malt brethren. Not too bitter, not too sweet… this is basically butter-orange cookies that are well toasted. Value: This was $80. A solid price for the bottle!
Score: B+

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