#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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Bunnahabhain 1986 for The Casqueteers

It has been a while since there was a new review published. Due to several circumstances I had a lack of inspiration for writing some reviews. Mind you I didn’t stop tasting whisky at all. I will be starting my blog again, but at a fairly irregular basis. So keep your eyes open for the reviews and thank you for not forgetting me!

 To start with after the absence period I selected a dram which is specially selected by and bottled for a The Casqueteers. The Caqueteers consists of a small group of people which select their own casks and bottle it. While a friend of mine, Adrie Hoogvliet is one of these people I follow them and their quest to select whisky. This one is the first bottled one for this group and is older Bunnahabhain. Distilled in 1986 it has aged most part of its live in a normal cask (not mentioned which type) to be released end 2011 I guess in a smaller Octave barrel to mature in for a short period of 8 months in reconstructed ex sherrywood octave cask which the colour by looking at the bottle fully reflect. Cask number is 382893 and there are only 71 bottles at 54,3% ABV around (very scarce bottle). So let us start.

Nose: Quite a bit of almond sweetness (marzipan) combined with several layers of wood. The notes you would suspect from sherry wood, raisins, some peeled orange, quite a bit of light honey and roasted nuts. Slumbering notes at the back are coastal and grassy or even farm like (no not the stables). Nice hints of saltiness. Layer after layer it displays more, getting some light smoke, grilled fruit or baked banana, but also showing age, some old furniture wax is present as is old leather.

Taste: Starting quite sweet with lots of fruits and again that marzipan. Followed by some bitterness form I guess the tannins of the small wooden barrel. Not unpleasant, just enough. The sweetness is overwhelming at first, but imagine a glass filled with various fresh fruits (berry’s in all forms) in a nice creamy, honey sweeted custard … Hmmm would do great as an after dinner dram! The Island influence is definitely present but more positioned at the background of this fruit delight. There is a hint of smoke or slightly toasted bread and some seaweed saltiness present. Even the oak is presented in a sweet and fruity way. Superb!

Finish: Looooooooooooooooooooooooooong …. Starting quite sweet, but then turning quickly in a more bitter fruitiness (orangemarmelade, dried figs or dates). And then a whiff of smoke from smouldering fresh oak is present. A bit spicy too and at the end it is fruit all over again with hints of orange, peach, banana and lychee. And when you finally swallow, there is that creamy mouth coating feeling with a warm glow.

Conclusion: A dram that doesn’t display its age at once, feeling fresh and powerful. It keeps your senses active by giving you then this and than that, which is very pleasant. It thus is multilayered with an excellent balance. It will be difficult for the Casqueteers to top this one in the next ones to be bottled (I know they have a Mortlach from 2002 waiting and are planning to buy a Littlemill cask), but keep your eyes open for new editions of them albeit they are very scarce. Points : 94 still available at whiskybase shop for 138 Euros.

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Dailuaine 1983 Archives range

Most of the whisky lovers are familiar with the whiskybase site to keep track of your whisky collection. Since some time the guys behind the site also run a shop situated in Rotterdam and releasing whisky under their own label. The label is called Archives and the subject of this post is a proud member of their first release. It also is going to be my first Dailuaine ever, so I am very curious about this one. It is a single cask, distilled 23.02.1983 and bottled on 04.01.2012 so it is 28 year old. It matured in a Hogshead numbered 865. The cask delivered 265 bottles at a strength of 47, 3% and is still available at their shop for 85 euro’s. Let me see what this whisky will bring.

Nose:

Starts of a bit buttery, opening up with citrus freshly cut wet grass and vanilla. The nose is giving different layers at each sniff which is off course very enjoyable. A next sniff gives me fresh cut apple, grapefruit, but also something dessert like. Very creamy but also very fruity. Even some flowery hints seem to be appearing in the background also some furniture polish (in a good way). Very pleasant and enjoyable nose.

Taste:

Very buttery/waxy, with a nice sweetness combined with the citrus notes, again the feeling of a dessert like taste. Fruitiness develops to more red grapefruit and mandarin. Also the grasses also appear. Again there is a lot going on in a pleasant way, once you think you pinpoint one flavour another comes into play. A bit of sweet stone fruit (cherries) appearing also, combined with some woody oiliness. A little bit spicy also which fade away reasonably quick but returns in short whiffs. Like it!

Finish

Pleasant soft with a tad of bitterness and sweetness. Again a fruit basket but also more wood spices (cloves) and just a pinch of ginger.  Nicely warming and playful.

Balance

Nicely balanced complexity. Gently letting you explore this whisky, not exploding in our face but letting you peel layer for layer. Like the warming finish which fits the autumns like weather. ABV gives enough punch, you don’t need to water it down, but you also am not wishing it wasn’t bottled at a higher ABV if this was possible (think this one is at natural cask strength).

Conclusion

Don’t know if this Dailuaine shows what a bottle of this distillery delivers, but I really like this one. Wish I had some budget left, but unfortunately I have to cut down the buying of whisky for a while, overspent a bit this year.  Scoring it will be at 88 points!

 

 

 

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Maltstock Weekend 2012

This time not so much a whisky review of a dram, but a review of a whisky event. Last weekend it was Maltstock Time. For me the first time I visited this event so I was very curious about what was all the fuzz about this event. There were 11 nationalities present, form Dutch to Japanese.

So last Friday it was finally there, time to drive from my hometown, after a slight detour to pick up my friend Giovanni Masseti, to Overasselt. Located in an area which I don’t visit much, so instructed the GPS to lead me there. After a very nice trip, it took us about 2 hours, but it went very fast, discussing several things in the car, we arrived a little early at the Maltstock venue. And there it started, we were welcomed with open arms at the front door and after receiving the name tag and getting the bedlinnen, I went to find my dorm for these days. When opening the door of the dorm, you immediately know you are here for the whisky: At the table I found a bottle of Tomintoul from the Single Malt of Schotland, to enjoy with your roommates. After settling in I went for the gathering area to meet the arriving people and very important to collect my whisky glass.

The gathering area is the most important area I think of the hole event, everyone was asked to bring a bottle and they were all gathered at several tables in this area, so there were a couple of hundred whisky’s present, ranging from a Black Grouse to Blue Hangers and several very old whisky’s all of them to be shared with the fellow enthusiasts and giving enough to talk about it.

During the two days there were several activities: 9 Master classes, a fire alarm which didn’t shut up (false alarm), Chinese/Indonesian Buffet, Detox walk, a Raffle with lot of prices (fun part there where prices left at the table while all of the tickets were sold, so not all winners picked up there prices), a food market, a whisky quiz, a whisky barrel race, a bbq and a campfire.

Between these activities lots of time to enjoy together the brought whisky’s from the visitors or the importers (tasted at the industry section a great Archives 1974 Strathmill, a Wilson and Morgan Tomatin 1976). In that section I did meet up with Jock Shaw and together we blended my own Compass box (Port Dundas, Clynelish, Laphroaig and Ardmore) which resulted in a very nice dram, but I have to say it isn’t easy to don that so I was lucky that Jock helped me out to get a balanced dram.

Want one!!The master classes I attended were initially a Nosing Academy, Aberfeldy (was unfortunately cancelled) and Benriach/Glendronach. The nosing academy was great fun, there wasn’t any whisky involved but we were to detect which aroma we nosed using a 24 whisky aroma kit. When the most people think they do now how peat smells, we all didn’t get that as an isolated aroma. Learned a lot of that mc.

At the late afternoon after a lot of whisky and fun at a table with some friends there was the Glendronach/Benriach master class. Tasted 5 excellent whisky’s including the Benriach 17yo, the Benriach 18yo, the brand new Glendronach PX 1993 (Excellent dram, high on the wish list), the Benriach 1971 (wow my birth year and a superb dram, unfortunately priced at 400 GBP) and the stunner the Glendronach 1972 PX (wow what a powerful sherried, chocolate coated dram this is, but again at prices around 400 GBP not fun to buy).

In between I did meet a lot of interesting people and made a lot of new friends. I had good time with Anki and Lennert which came from Sweden (they also gave me a present before departure a Mackmyra Special 07 whisky, many many thanks for that you guys) and of course meeting my fellow whisky bloggers Sjoerd de Haan and Gal Granov and many more!

It is impossible to describe the atmosphere I encountered. You have to see that for yourself. It is greatly relaxing with a lot of whisky enthusiasts talking and enjoying our mutual hobby and seeing the several people from within the whisky industry as Tatsuya Minagawa from Suntory, Billy Abott (speciality drinks), George Cairns (the journeyman whisky), Kat and Joel from Master of Malt, Dr Whisky (Sam Simmons) the Balvenie and many more to enjoy themselves around the whisky tables.

Did try to keep notes, but I find browsing the whisky and enjoying the great weather and the good company more fun. Some other whisky’s I tasted which remained pinned down in my head were:

–          Ardbeg Master of Malt new released range

–          Port Ellen Master of Malt new released range

–          Kavalam with Japanese Merlot finish

–          Hibiki 12 and 17

–          Port Dundas 38 yo grain whisky Duncan Taylor

–        Kininvie 17 year old (very special dram, the last single malt they brought onto the market)

I did publish a photo-album on my facebook which I guess tell you more than words.

To show you how I enjoyed myself I already bought a ticket for Malstock 2013, I guess when you visited this event once you are hooked forever !

Stuff I brought home with meI want to thank all the organising people and off course the volunteers for this very special event, but especially Teun and Eline which kindly answered all my questions and solved problems so that I was able to go to this event without having to doubt the wheelchair accessibility of the venue (which isn’t 100%, but enough for me to enjoy the event! !

Oh no review without scoring : 100 points!!

See you all next year!!

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