Benromach 10yo new 2014 edition

A while ago I received two official samples from Benromach. One is the new 10 year old edition and the second one is the 1976 Vintage edition. The package did go with a nice letter from the managing director (Michael Urquhart) explaining the meaning of this combination in a single phrase “A Fingerprint to connect the old with the new”. The samples are from the same distillery, but different eras and by different owners (Present owner Gordon & Macphail, since 1993). Let start with the new edition of the Benromach 10. It is a combination of 80% Bourbon Barrel and 20% Sherry casks before the spirits are combined for a final year in Oloroso casks. Bottled at 43%. A nice amber colour is the result (no colouring added).

benromach-10-pack-shot-high-res-emailNose:

Very aromatic nose with an instant hint of smoke. Quite a bit of oak combined with a sweet fruitiness. Honeyed apple (stewed apple comes in mind with cinnamon and vanilla sugar), peach and raisins combined with a dark tone of spice, perhaps some other wood spices in the background.  All combined with a chocolate and smoky topping. Surprisingly complex.

Taste:

Quite some power, despite the ABV of 43%, initially the smoke comes first and plays with the sweet influence of sherried notes (a bit vinegar, raisins, honey, peach, apple) also a bit oaky. Again there is also an influence of cinnamon (ginger or even some pepper also present). Very waxy also, very coating and extremely pleasant.

Finish:

Surprisingly loooooong… a tad bitterness at the end, but mouth coating and –watering greatness….very warming sherry notes, combined with a vanilla freshness from the bourbon casks and again that fruit stewed in sugar and honey to give it a complex and very enjoyable finish.

Conclusion:

Very pleasant surprise, it is a joy to enjoy this whisky, which never feel his age (much older), nor has the feel it could use more ABV.  And now the most stunning part, it only sets you back a 35-40 euro!  How’s that! You certainly should try this! Benromach keep up the good work!

Also thank you Jan Beek for the help for receiving these samples, looking forward to taste the 1976!

 

 

 

 

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Ardbeg Auriverdes

I know it is a bit late for reviewing this release as there are a lot of reviews online already, but I don’t want to keep my ramblings about this new yearly Ardbeg Day Release private, so here we go. This year’s release is inspired by the World championship soccer which to me isn’t appealing at all (I don’t like soccer) so let’s hope the dram is better enjoyable than a watching a soccer match. It comes at a quite relaxed 49,9%. Some say only 6660 bottles are around; others go as far as 50.000. One thing for sure it is continuing the rise in euro’s to be paid to get your hands on this one (Dutch retail around 90 euro, now already selling for much more). I hope it will stop and not getting above the 100 quid for a nas whisky. Enough about the background, time to taste.

Ardbeg AuriverdesNose:  Arbeggian nose. At first a bit restraint but followed by intense smokiness and peat.  In the background some different lighter notes, seems a bit like vanilla pods and a hint of citrus. Third nosing shows somewhat chalkiness followed by the smell of hot smoked fish. Some light peppery notes also. Pleasant but relatively gentle (the lower ABV perhaps) and very well balanced.

Taste: A bit sweet/creamy at first. Quite easy to keep rolling it around your mouth for a longer time until the heat and smoke is burning on your tongue. Quite medicinal taste. Lots of ash and charcoal grilled meats.  Also a balanced amount of oakiness. Quite a bit eastern style spiced due to the cinnamon.

Finish:  Powerful peated and spicy finish, but never unbalanced, just giving enough power to wait for a next sip if you can restrain yourself because at the same time you want more. Enslaving. A touch of espresso bitterness at the final part of the finish to keep the balance with a sort of creamy, lightly sweetened background. Like it!

Conclusion: This dram is good, very good and way betters then the Galileo. But in my mind I prefer the original Ardbeg Day just a tad more. Balanced is the keyword with this new release and it is extremely well balanced and a very pleasant drinkable whisky. The price?  Hmmm can’t get over it that it is somewhat or more likely quite a bit overpriced, but I am still happy that I have some of it in the collection. Scoring it? Hmmm guess it will be just short of the 90 so let’s say 89 points ?

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#Whisky Experience by World of Drinks Zierikzee

Glassaugh 19This post is more about the experience then giving you tastings notes, so don’t expect long notes…. ;-) . My hometown liquor store is organising whisky tastings in a different form. It is named “whiskyexperience”. A very informal tasting. About ten to fifteen people attend these evenings at a regular base (monthly) and it is a lot of fun. For the entrance fee of only ten euro’s the people of World of Drinks select several new editions to taste, but after that it’s a more or less free tasting of the 150 plus open bottles of whisky present in the tasting room. It is a low profile tasting, everyone can join (starter, but also the more experienced whisky enthousiast) Due to the amount of open bottles the evenings can go every way in the learning progress about whisky… But the main reason to go: It’s a great evening out with a super fun atmosphere.

TurretThe last tasting last Friday was all about the stores whisky of the month The Glenturret 10 and the Glenglassaugh Torfa so we were told.  Glenturret I never tasted before and the Torfa I was quite curious about it, so off course I visited this evening (as I try to do every time). Well as a surprise Erik Jan (EJ) from the store put another new whisky on display and this was the new Arran Lochranza.. (this is showing off how surprisingly these evenings can be, if EJ is having a good time with the people attending, he opens up a different bottle then announced as an extra).

The Glenturret 10 year old was surprisingly pleasant, not complex, very fruity and light.  Lots of orange, ginger and strawberry going on smelling this dram. The taste and finish, well pleasant but short and not much going on, even a bit watery (dammed 40% abv). A quite simple, but very good drinkable dram of whisky for a summer day and for a price somewhat below 30 euro’s reasonably priced. Again unfortunately also coloured…..

LochranzaAfter the Glenturret EJ opens up the new Arran Lochranza, at 43% a bit higher in abv. This one is much more closed and more complex the Turret. Darker flavours of toffee and chocolate are present, more oak influence. Much more herbal/spice combined with apple and barley ( a bit like fruit muesli). Honeyed apples and creamy. An entry level Arran with a superb price/quality ratio. Very pleasant to simply enjoy.

Then the Glenglassaugh Torfa.. Immediately more power (50%abv kicks in) and on the nose a very elegant somewhat fruity peated tone. Not as pungent as the usual Islay peated drams, but then it hits you, with quite some smokiness and also some coastal notes…. Then I stopped writing and started just enjoying this dram…. And decided to upgrade this to a must have status….. also very reasonable priced…

TorfaAfter that the evening went several ways for the people attending… At one point we were also watching Mark Dermul’s whisky ramblings about the Torfa and more….

After the announced subjest it continues in a free exploring the open bottles present in the tasting room. For me some nice drams followed including a Adelphi Macallan 19yo, a Royal Lochnagar 12 and then EJ came with an old Glenglassaugh 19yo (1986) from before the closing and I went silent……… very pleasant sherried dram at only 40% and more the six year standing there opened it still displaying a lot of flavour layers, just in the finish you get the effect of the long period opened and the 40%…. and now, well….. I am searching for one!.

Again this was an extremely pleasant, informal  evening in great company with again a great surprise… at such a evening in the past I had the opportunity to taste a Brora, Breath of Islay, Breath of Island and so on…..

Thank you EJ (and Mariette) for yet another great evening!

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Kilkerran W.i.p. 5 Sherry Wood 2013

Kilkerran-Work-in-Progress-5-Sherry-Wood-9-years.5415aTo continue my Campbeltown mood after last Friday’s Campbeltown tasting (which included the W.i.p. 3 (no notes)) at my whisky club, I thought to give it a go with one of the latest releases. The Work In Progress yearly releases of 2013 contains of two versions, one a Bourbon wood and the other a Sherry Wood Matured version. I do own the Sherry Wood Matured so it was quite easy to select that one for a further review.  It comes at an ABV of 46% Non Chill Filtered and not coloured.

Nose: At thirst there is a lot of orange and honey present. After a while opening up to an array of delightful fruitiness covered with a sherried and honey sweetness (albeit rather lightly sherried). Picking up sultanas (duh), apples (the hot filling of a great apple pie) and mango. The nose is quite rich and buttery. A bit restraint and shy but nice to fiddle around with.

Taste: A bit spicier then the nose. Again quite a big amount of honey and orange (now it turns more to the zest or marmalade). Next to the fruits as mentioned there is a distinct influence of wood spices. Picking up some ginger, cloves and cinnamon giving the dram a somewhat darker, warmer feel then the somewhat distinct nose.

Finish: Evolving more and more to an oaky finish. Lots of wood. A bit burnt nuts, honeyed coated almonds and quite a distinct bitter orange, dark chocolate finish.

The distillery is in production since 2004 so this is still young with a maximum of 8 or 9 years. There is no statement how old this version is or how long it matured on sherry wood.  But I like it although in my mind the bourbon w.i.p.3 was still a bit better, might have to

 I am certainly looking forward to the next release which will be on the market soon.

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Bunnahabhain 1997 heavily peated times 2

The restart of my blog after quite some silence. No better way to be challenged by a friend (Jeroen van Gaalen) to compare my Bunnahabhain against his… Wait that is nothing new… well in this case the fun part is that they are both distilled on 11/12/1997,  both heavily peated and both from the Signatory Vintage range. Aren’t there any differences? Yes off course, mine is dual cask and almost 16 years , Jeroens is single cask and over 14 years old. Interesting difference is the ABV. Now enough small talk let’s get started…

Bunna gjBunnahabhain 1997 11/12/1997 – 08/11/2013, hogsheads 5513+5514 bottle no 20 of 527 51,3% ABV

Nose: A bit restraint, almost shy at first. Aromatic with mild but growing smoke. Gentle coastal campfire. Nice balanced spice blend including fresh herbs (basil, cilantro) combined with ginger and black pepper. Slight citrus note of lemon combined with anise.

Taste: Also restraint, starting a bit fresh with the citrus and anise and then it hits you. Quite strong smoke, but still the coastal campfire, but now combined with grilled salmon and smoked mackerel, even a bit oyster. A bit buttery and oily.

Finish: Does it ever stop…. It is long and pungent. Bit peppery and somewhat burnt nuts, but very smoky and peaty. Now I know why this is called heavily peated.

Bunna JeroenBunnahabhain 1997 11/12/1997 -28/03/2012, hogshead 5526 bottle 97 of 292 54,6%

Nose: Outgoing, but again a lighter, fresher type of smoke at first. Very similar to the previous one, but a tad sweeter, with vanilla and liquorice. Hints of citrus fruits, red grapefruit and orange. Again the ginger and the black pepper are present, but the fresh herbs are absent.

Taste: starts sweeter, darker with quite a bit of oaky influence, lots of roasted nuts and grilled meat with a spicy bbq rub with cloves, cinnamon. Also a strange note, bit vinegar like but it isn’t that I guess. Casks feel much more charred then with the previous one.

Finish: Again very long, but also quite a bit of tannins which leaves a bitter tone pushing the smoke and peat backwards. Feels less peated than the previous one.

Conclusion

Two brothers who start quite similar if you get passed the 3% abv difference, but then they evolve in opposite directions. The first being gentle, fresh but pungent, the second being dark, strong but also a bit bitter (and I am a bit sensitive to bitterness I learnt in the past) … A great comparison, but for me I am happy with my dual cask as it wins this dual for me…

Jeroen, Thank you for the sample and looking forward to your notes!

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Mortlach 2002 Cask Sample cask 5604

As stated this is a cask sample derived from a cask which I partly own. The Mortlach is distilled 21 may 2002 and is maturing in a hogshead. The sample I have (thanks to co-owners from TheCasQueteers) is from January 2013. At that time the abv was 59%. The colour is quite pale.

Nose:

Immediately very fruity and floral. Fresh but honeyed. Quite some citrusy, but more the tropical kind, Cactus fruit comes into mind, also lemongrass which leads to slight freshly mown grass smell. The floral notes are not easy to determine (my fault, lack of knowledge).Vanilla sweetness.

Taste:

Quite punchy and darker then the nose. Very oily, I could easily blind see this as a Clynelish.  Wood influence is quite present and showing ginger, cloves and cardamom. Fruitiness is shifted to the background. Still a nice balanced sweetness after the initial taste. A bit meaty, but also, and this is something I don’t easily say, it needs some water at this time. Then it opens up and the fruity goodness from the nose is back, but shifting once more to tropical fruits. I even get a bit of Lychee which is good.

Finish:

Strong and long. Very oily, but balanced between fruits, spices and sweetness.

Conclusion:

At almost eleven years old it is very promising. I would like to get the ABV a bit more down naturally for letting the fruit shine. Now without water added (3-4 drops) it is a bit to overpowering.  Looking forward to taste this one soon again to see its progress. Probably to be bottled around 2017.

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#Balblair Twitter Tasting

Yesterday I got involved in a Balblair twitter tasting organised by Lukasz (Alembic Communications ltd) for the Balblair whisky company. Balblair is in the Netherlands a brand that isn’t that common, mostly due to an importer who doesn’t market this brand very well. So this was a great opportunity to taste some editions again (tasted the Balblair 2001 earlier (youngest version of Balblair). This night the youngest whisky to taste was 15 years old and the oldest 36-37 year old (!). What did we taste?

Balblair 1997 2nd release 2012 1st refill American oak ex-bourbon 46%

Wow! Directly at the first sniff lots of tropical fruits, very summerlike dram. Getting orange, apricot, lemon, green apple, pineapple and a hint of coconut. The fruit cocktail is balanced with layers of vanilla and light floral honey (orange blossom honey). Superb nose.

Then the taste, the fruit turns darker and some spiciness appears (a touch of ginger perhaps). Tasted it blind you would get a confused while there is appearing a Waxiness in your mouth that a lot of Clynelishes have.

The finish is lengthy, and very oily with a hint of grasses.

A greatly balanced dram for temperatures above 20 degree’s. Nose is superb, taste is a bit less interesting but very very pleasant.  Not found in shops in the Netherlands, price around 65 Euros according Master of Malt.

Balblair 1975Balblair 1990 (cask 1466) Single Cask 2013 release, American Oak ex-bourbon 50,4%

This one is different. First it is a Single Cask, second it has been sitting in a used Islay cask and it is only available at Master of Malt. Residual Peatiness to be expected.

The first sniff displays Islay a bit different. The trademark of Balblair, the fruit cocktail style, blends it very nicely together. Again lots of fruits, but now more in a wintery edition. The lemon and citrus notes are present, but I am getting a more baked fruit pie smell. Also combined with a somewhat coastal smell as you get with Coal Ila (bit salty, seaweed) and quite a bit of cinnamon and star anise, turning is a bit into the Asian direction.

The taste gives more of the residual peat. Distinct smoke, dried fruits, charcoaled grilled banana/mango/pineapple and quite spicy (ginger/white pepper). Suddenly some herbal notes come playing with you (rosemary, flat leaf parsley).

The finish is quite waxy again and long. A slight bitterness at the end from the longer cask influence and even some iodine which is getting back at you.

Difficult to choose. The first one is summery, this one is more autumn like and they are both stunning. Only available at Master of Malt for about 148 euro’s

Balblair 1975 2nd release 2012 American oak ex-Fino Sherry cask 46%

Hmmm, wow! Needs some time but then…….. Excellent balanced influence of the Fino Sherry cask. Old library feel with old bee wax polished leather furniture, but again the distinct fruitiness shining and lingering around. Quite a lot more oak and cereals present. And then the Sherry influence, more dried sultana´s and surprisingly peat (peated malt was used for this whisky). Superb nose. Bringing a lot and could keep you busy an entire evening when it gets your full attention.

The taste shows some more of the sherry influence. A bit dry, oaky feel with a hint of balsamic vinegar. Chocolate nuts and honey candied fruits.

The finish is very long.

The last notes are a bit short; I was lingering in the playfulness of this beautiful lady of age, but still reacting as if she is much more younger.  A dram to forget everything around you and would be enjoyed solely without any distractions around. Stunning!  Not found in Dutch shops. Master of Malt price 245 euro’s.

 Conclusion

A kick ass tasting with whisky from a distillery which isn’t getting enough attention over here. While the younger 2002 version a tasted before was good, these older ones are excellent to superb. Definitely a brand to look out for, certainly if you like finely balanced fruit cocktails. Thanks guys for organizing this tasting and let me participate!

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