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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#BushmillsMB Flash Mob Tasting

20130317_150609A while ago, Johanne came with an idea to try a flash mob tasting which would take place on Saint Patricks Day (today) and off course it would have to be a review of an Irish whiskey.  As you might know, I am always in for such events, albeit a weekend filled with whisky so far. I did have a tasting with Jan Beckers last Friday (7 Provenance/OMC) and a friend came to visit last night and off course we had some whisky ;-) . I hope my taste buds will still work. So let us see.

The whiskey to be tasted is the Bushmills Black Bush “matured to perfection in sherry casks”. Bottled at 40% and off course triple distilled. Colour looks nice, but doesn’t say a thing (it has colouring). It is a blended whisky (supposed to have an 80% Single Malt content)

Nose:

I did make some samples for friends earlier so I did sniff the whisky one time before today and I must say it was pleasant.  The nose starts quite sweet and is a bit held back. It has quite a lot of honey and citrus on the nose. It isn’t that grainy. The grain whisky is present with a slight gluey hint in the back. But in all it is fruity, reasonable warm, but also a bit closed.

Taste:

Quite gentle, sweetness, a bit cereal.  A pleasant amount of raisins combined with honeycomb and again that orange. It is as a gentle fruitcake. Not overwhelming but simply a pleasant companion on a spring day. A bit later some bubblegum (I getting a bit Hubba Bubba style sweetness) with a hint of some red fruits.

Finish:

A bit sharper than expected, probably due to the grain. After the sharpness fade there is some orange filled milk chocolate feel, if you let the chocolate slowly melt in your mouth. At the very end it becomes a bit toasty.

Conclusion:

Not much wrong with this blended whisky. In my opinion it would be a good companion with friends on a patio or a party or something like that. It isn’t that deep in flavour layers and quite soft, but there is really nothing wrong with it and it is really pleasantly priced also.

 

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Glenmorangie Ealanta

glenmorangie-ealantaThe new 2013 edition within the Private Edition Range and in this range the fourth edition. After the great Artein in 2012, this one is “ a rare limited edition, aged in the finest virgin oak casks, made from slow growth American white oak sourced from the northern slopes of the Missouri Mark Twain forest” . So this is a 1993 vintage (bottled 2012 so 19 years old) matured in heavily charred white oak. It comes at a pity low 46% ABV especially for a limited release. Not quite sure about colouring, but hey it is NCF…..  Let us see.

Nose:

A bit closed at first, quite sweet with ripe peach and apricot. A bit almond oil flavour behind the initial nose.  After a while a gentle spiciness of cinnamon and still more tropical fruits appears. It lets me think oriental. Quite a bit of honeyed sweetness on the nose too. But still it isn’t that powerful, it keeps it gentle. The heavy charring not displaying itself so far. Almost going into the bourbon territory with some coconut and some mint influence. Pleasant, but very gentle.

Taste:

Starts of silky, smooth and very (bourbon like) sweetness, but then the spicy woodnotes interfere. It gets very woody and spicy if you let it linger in your mouth longer, again some oriental influence appears, a combination of Cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and oriental five spices (especially the fennel seeds and star anise is getting there). The fruitiness is more backed out, but still the normal Glenmorangie fruits of Peach, Apricot and Tangerine are still present. Talking a small sip this time, it is more overly sweet with some charred apple.

Finish:

One word: Woody. And a bit too much for my liking this tasting. It is overwhelming with lot of oak, and ending in quite a bitter tone (and I did experience that I usually don’t like that). Still need to figure out if the bitter nutty and woody finish is good for me. Overall the finish is unbalanced. The fruits could have benefit from a higher ABV (low 50’s I guess).

Conclusion:

The nose is what you expect from Glenmorangie, a bit gentle, smooth and quite sweet almost like they arrange that. The taste is quite moving to the oriental tasting palate, which I like, but don’t take a too great sip or the extreme powerful wood destroys your taste. The finish is simply too woody. Do I like this dram, well yes and no. There are certain good things but there are some faults for my taste also. Luckily it never gets that unbalanced overall to not enjoy it, but I have had better Glenmorangie’s (although not reviewed, please believe my I did). Scoring is difficult and not sure about it, well…. I would say 79 points.

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Littlemill Cask samples cask 32 and 34 1990

LittlemillThe first time I ever did get the opportunity to taste cask samples of a closed distiller before anyone else. These two samples are subject to a tasting for the Casqueteers tomorrow. During that tasting there will be decided if they buy one of the casks. Before I start I want to thank Adri for let me taste them before anyone else did! The subjects are cask 32 and cask 34, both distilled 20 December 1990, matured on Hogsheads and both cask strength. Not bottled yet. It will be the first time for me to taste two sister cask filled with whisky distilled on the same day. Nice lesson in wood influence also. Seemingly no difference in colour to be detected.

Cask 34 55,6%

Nose:  Outgoing nose, buttery, glue-ish (as in An old grain whisky) at first with a slight hint of cereals. Changing rapidly to lots of fruits. Getting vanilla, peach, pear and citrus notes. Also some oak notes and a slight hint of sweet smoke. Develops nicely with every time more to discover. Getting some pineapple and juniper now. Bourbon like style with a bite.

Taste: Fierce taste for a lowlander. Oily and lots of pepper and a bit of cinnamon. A bit oaky and fruit cereal like. Bit dried banana, with fresh ripe peach, grapefruit and some bitterness.  Mouthcoating waxy but alcoholic.

Finish: Lots of bitter woody aftertaste, mid long. A bit nuttiness. Still that peppery bite when you swallow.

Conclusion : Nose is by far the best part of the dram.

Cask 32 55,2%

Nose: Much more restricted then cask 34. Soft and gentle vanilla, citrus combined with honey melon and some golden kiwis. Needs time. Also again a bit glue-ish. Fresh, vibrant but a bit playful shyness. After some time hints of fresh sawdust, hay and a bit farmy (no animal farm though).

Taste : Gentle sweetness no problem, easy to play around in your mouth. Crème Brule.  More fruits as in green banana, kiwi and melon. Honey delight!

Finish : Very pleasant mouth coating waxy, lemon with hints of oak and slightly toasted nuts. A very little touch of fleur de sel. A more balanced bitterness (woodiness) with cardamom and a tiny tiny bit of cloves.

Conclusion : Much more restrained, but very playfull. More a lowlander type of style for me than cask 34. Extremly enjoyable.

Overall

Two casks filled with spirit distilled on the same day, but boy what a difference between them.  The fierce outgoing but a bit hefty cask 34 opposed to the more shy but more balanced and enjoyable cask 32.  Yesterday I smelled them both before tasting and I had a preference for cask 34 but now my preference has undergone a severe change in favour of cask 32. Points for cask 34 : 84 and for cask 32 : 88.  

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