Nose: Aniseed, coriander and a bouquet of other herbs.
Palate: Aniseed and hints of citrus. Also smooth and pleasant.
The initial flavour is short, but it quickly returns with lots of aniseed and citrus.
With water: Much more spicy and aggressive
Nose: Rich with oak, maple syrup, cloves and marzipan.
Palate: Lots of oak and cloves. Very smooth.
Overall Impression: Good but not impressive. Quite similar to an average cognac.
Nose: Wonderful rich wood, raisins and prunes.
Palate: Slow to start, but then faint raspberries very briefly coming through the oak, smoke and honey. The raspberries soon fade, leaving the oak and smoke.
With water: Spicy oak
Overall Impression: I think I just about prefer this with the 3 drops of water, but it's a close call.
I like this.
Nose: Gin, Juniper
Palate: Dry, juniper and cinnamon. Quite a distinct tingle on the front of the tongue.
With water: Juniper and much more spicy.
Overall Impression: This does have a strong gin-type flavour and one person on the tasting described at as a whisky with a shot of Bombay Sapphire.
Nose: Almost bonfire night again. Treacle toffee, dark fruits and a little Christmas pudding.
Palate: Rich and creamy, treacle toffee and dark fruits swimming in sherry.
Overall Impression: I like this one, very much.
8. Blanton's Gold Edition, single barrel No. 247, Warehouse H, rack 41, dumped 8.31.06
Nose: Rich and velvety with a slight perfume.
Palate: Wow, long lasting herbs and perfume. Gloriously smooth.
Finish: The finsh is akin to a good cognac.
Overall Impression: I am indeed impressed.
As usual I was driving on the vening of the tasting, so I tried the drams the night after at home.
On the tasting itself, the Amrut was voted favourite dram by a majority of people.
As for me, I am not a fan of aniseed, so it scored lower. My own ratings were as follows, in reverse order:
8th Place: Slyrs (maybe due to the rubber welly influence)
7th Place: Crown Royal (It was smooth and OK, but really not distinctive or special)
6th Place: Amrut (Just the aniseed put me off a little)
5th Place: Penderyn (Really quite good)
4th place: Blanton's Gold (Surprisingly good).
My top 3 were difficult to decide. All the three remaining drams were excellent. But I decided I had to make a choice, so ....
3rd Place: Redbreast 15y
2nd Place: Yamazaki 12y
1st Place: Milford 10y
Nose: Light perfume, slightly floral and almost citrus.
Palate: Initial cream, very smooth with some vanilla, lime and honey.
Overall Impression: Very pleasant, but not a great.
1. Bowmore 12y
Nose: Sweet with honey and fruit.
Palate: Light bitter chocolate and not quite ripe pears.
Edit: A second and later nosing / testing of this 12y showed the nose to be less sweet than my first impression. I also noted the palate to be creamy with vanilla, lime and honey.
2. Bowmore Dawn
Nose: New leather shoes on a beach. Slightly salty with hints of new leather.
Further nosing began to introduce some fruit elements.
Palate: A lovely tingle to the front of the tongue followed by raisins, currants, leaves and a little smoke.
Finish: Smooth and smoky with dark fruits and wet leaves.
3. Bowmore Dusk
Nose: Smoke and sea air without the new leather attributes of "Dawn".
Further nosing introduces some toffee and banana.
Palate: Chocolate, liquorice, a little peach and vanilla.
With water: Hints of celery suddenly appear with the water.
4. Bowmore Darkest
Nose: Banana and leather with some smoke.
Palate. Smooth and spicy at the same time, with some hints of liquorice and toffee.
The toffee builds quite quickly on the palate then fades equally quickly, promising much but delivering little. Although the liquorice finish is quite long.
Overall Impression and author's note: Since this tasting Bowmore have re-aligned their product range with Dawn & Dusk no longer being available. This particular Darkest had no age statement, but is the one to remain in the range, albeit now as a 15y version.
I find this a great shame as for me, the Darkest was rather one-dimensional and possibly my least favorite of the three.
I would also like to say that I found the 12y too indistinctive and I really prefer the "Legend" to this 12y.
1. Arran Trebbiano D'Abruzzo
Nose: Dried fruits with cheese
Palate: Spicy grass or meadow with white chocolate.
The flavour hits the palate, then recedes only to return once more before fading slowly.
Overall Impression: In the tasting, some people were not impressed with this dram, but if you like your whisky with a spicy tingle, slightly dry and a long finish, then go for it.
2. Auchentoshan 3 Wood
Nose: Treacle toffee, sherry, dark chocolate and a little citrus trying to break through.
Palate: Toffee, sherry, chocolate and dark fruit (dark cherries / bramble)
This has a long finish which fades slowly.
Overall Impression and author's note: This is an interesting whisky as it is a lowlander which is heavily sherried from three different types of cask. However, even through the sherry and wood, the typical lowland attributes of Auchentoshan can still be determined through all those dark, heavy flavours.
I have recently revisited this whisky and found the nose to be less distinctive, but the flavours exactly as noted here.
3. Bruichladdich 20y "Islands" (Edition 3)
Nose: Typical Bruichladdich passion fruit alongside a perfumed bouquet of Spring flowers, with a hint of a rural smoking chimney in Winter.
Palate. I have some difficulty in exactly identifying the individual flavours here. It'S good, very good, like a smooth concentrated version of the 14y offerings (Links & WMD).
The aftertaste begins as toffee, then turns into a smoky cross between Parma and Serrano ham.
Author's Note: The 20y Islands was the star of this particular tasting, with the Bowmore Dawn & Dusk in 2nd and 3rd places.
Nose: Crisp, clean, vanilla.
Palate: Initial fruit, rapidly turning into delicate and creamy white chocolate with a hint of apple.
With water: Just 2-3 drops of water turn this into pure vanilla.
Overall Impression: This is avery good Scapa, much better than the normal OB version. It is also an excellent accompaniment to a chocolate-based dessert.
Nose: Slightly medicinal hay with just a touch of soft and gentle smoke.
Palate: Smooth and creamy, very soft peat with a little wood smoke and flowery hay in the background.
The smoke and peat are more pronounced in the aftertaste where a hint of banana is also introduced.
Matching with food: You need a strong flavoured dish to accompany this one.
Overall Impresison: Excellent.
Nose: Liquorice, vanilla
Palate: Immediate faint liquorice turning into smoke and heather. Tingles on the centre of the tongue and leaves a long but dry aftertaste of toffee and liquorice.
Overall Impression: A good, solid whisky.
Nose: Rum or molasses, oak & raisins.
Palate: Initially sweet, then apricots marinated in a cocktail of rum and brandy.
Not a long finish, but very smooth and very pleasant.
Overall Impression and author's note: I like this. It is an easy whisky to drink, very smooth and quite more-ish, with a very good rich flavour.
Unfortunately, this is no longer available as Glenfiddich's largest export market has a trade embargo, banning any products supporting Cuban business.
So no more Cuban rum cask finishes.
Such a shame as the replacement "Gran Reserva" is not as good as this one.
Nose: Cloves, cardomom seeds and redberries
Palate: Incredibly smooth. Ribena over faint apricot and banana, with a little creamy toffee.
Overall Impression: A wonderfully smooth Glenmorangie. Very good, but not a great.
Willie JJ wrote:Just for a minute there I thought you had tasted that lot this morning.
Firstly, a Masterclass from D. Laing, hosted by Stewart Laing.
1. Ardbeg 15y, OMC, Oct 1991, one of 358 bottles
Nose: Gentle and soft, with sea and a little peat. Slightly sweet. This is not so pungent on the nose as a typical Ardbeg. (I understand it was 50ppm).
Palate: Much more power than the subtle nose, with smoke, peat, salt and iodine. The finish is long and dry.
With water: Softer with hints of heather and flowers.
Overall Impression: A good bottling.
Nose: Slight heather, herbs and a very faint touch of liquorice.
Palate: Immediate spice, liquorice and citrus (lemon). I also described this on the day as "penetrating" on the palate.
Overall Impression: A very surprising whisky.
3. Tactical, 25y, Dec. 1980, one of 418 bottles
Nose: Smoke, pepper and a faint mix of ginger and peat with a bouquet of flowers thrown in.
Palate: Honey, smoke, oats and malt.
Overall Impression: Excellent, the star of this Masterclass.
Nose: A little hard to fully identify. (maybe due to my palate and nose being overdone on that day).
Palate: Spicy with citrus (orange), but in the forefront is the smoke of a Yorkshire Dales farmhouse chimney in Winter.
Overall Impression: Deceptively good.
5. Port Ellen, 26y, Nov. 1979, OMC
Nose: Herbs, salt and slight peat.
Palate: Sea, smoke and slight iodine making it just a little pungent.
Overall Impression: Very good, especially ass when nosing this one, my mind was immediately transported onto an Islay jetty on a clear Spring day.
6. Macallan, 1975, 30y, Platinum Selection
Nose: Sherry, oats and malt
Palate: Light sherry. Definitely not a typical Macallan, but certainly a good one.
Overall Impression: As I mentioned, not typical as it was lighter than I would have expected, especially for a 30y version. But it certainly was good.
Jura 16y: Smooth, round and good.
JWWW 'Auld' series - Laphroaig 10y: Not as medicinal as the OB, but still an excellent Laphroaig.
Glenlivet 15y French Oak: Fruity and quite dry with some citrus and a little wood.
Glenlivet 18y: Soft, smooth and fruity.
1. Dalmore 1973, Cabernet Sauvignon, 50.2%
Nose: Dark fruits with brambles, black cherries, blackcurrant and cedar.
Palate: Christams Pudding! Dark fruits, liquorice, plums and marzipan.
Overall Impression: Very smooth, rich and elegant with wine and dark fruits.
This was the 50% version but we were told it would be reduced to 45% for bottling.
2. Dalmore 12y, Madeira, 59%
Nose: Floral, slightly citrus and with aniseed.
Palate: Sweet and initially quite powerful, but softer on second taste as it then offers a flavour of rose petals.
With water: Softer and very smooth with more petals and not so fiery.
Overall Impression: Too imposing without water, but very good with a few drops.
3. Jura 1988, sherry, Festival bottling, 60.3%
Nose: Burning, then strong raisins and currants.
Palate: Nuts, marzipan and rich fruit cake.
Waith water: Opens up to release more defined flavours and much better when reduced from that 60%.
Overall Impression and author's note: We were told that this was an exclusive. Only Richard himself and the distillery managers had tried this so far.
It certainly was good and had a very long finish. But better with just a few drops of water.
I arrived at the Munich Whisky Fair just in time to book on a vertical tasting (does that mean we have to stand throughout? As it turned out, thankfully not! ) of drams from one of my favourite distilleries; Caol Ila.
Five drams, one distillery:
1. 8y Unpeated, 59.8%
2. 12y 43%
3. 18y 43%
4. DE, Moscatel finish, 43%
5. 25y 58.4%
It looks like today could be a good day!
1. 8y Unpeated
Nose: Clean and fresh, almost swimming pool with bio apples and a faint hint of leather.
Palate: Initially fierce with lots of alcohol burn. Sharp apple and malt flavour.
With water: Spicy malt.
More water: Now a much more floral nose. Fresh air, malt and still spicy. Also dried apples.
Yet more water: No longer fiery (spicy), now very smooth, but quite bland.
Overall Impression: I always say that I like my CIs to be as near to 60% as possible, but this one really disappointed. There was always something missing (PEAT!!!) and it never really caught the imagination.
2. 12y, 43%
Nose: A peat smoking chimney in Winter
Palate: Smoky, peaty almonds. Slightly oily.
Overall Impression: As I say, CIs should be CS, around 60% ABV. This had all the right direction, but it was just too weak and watery.
3. 18y 43%
Nose: Not so smoky and peaty, this was fresh with grass and straw, plus a little wood.
Edit: After the 3rd & 4th nosing, a little more smoke started to appear.
Palate: Sea air, oak, pears, a little grass, hay, straw and malt.
Overall Impression: A good whisky, but again it would have benefitted from being a little stronger. This one actually reminded me of a Scottish jetty in Autumn.
4. DE 43%, Moscatel, 1993-2006
Nose: Warm fire with wood and a little merlot. Then some leather and oak started to become apparent.
Palate. Initial peaty wine is followed by spicy liquorice and then fades to grainy hay.
Overall Impression: A good wood finish with a very interesting character.
5. 25y, 58.4%
Nose: Malt, smoke and new paint. Eventually, after further nosing, the floral aroma of an alpine meadow begins to come through. This eventually turns to oak.
Palate: Smoke and malt with a nutty cereal and pungent dark fruits.
With 3 drops of water per 1cl: Magic! A smooth, gentle Caol Ila.
Overall Impression of the tasting: This was a good tasting / masterclass for a few different reasons; it was an excellent chance to compare five quite different Caol Ilas and also to include a couple fo the rarer / more expensive ones. This confirmed my own impresison that CIs should be CS, as they are often just a little character-less or weak at under 50%.
However, what made this a really good event was that it was quite early in the afternoon, not long after opening time and there were only 14 people present. The speaker also didn't want to play waiter, so he just passed the bottles around saying "Help yourselves, I don't need to take any back at the end"
1. JWWW (Jack Wieber) 'Auld' series, Bladnoch 16y, 50.1%, one of 120 bottles
Nose: Liquorice and vanilla with a strong scented bouquet of flowers
Palate: Vanilla, honey and cereal
With water: Much more honey. Almost lemon sponge cake with custard.
Overall Impression: I like it.
2. An old Italian Import; Bladnoch 8y, P. Mackenzie & Co. Ltd, Gradi 43%
Nose: Rose petals, hay and sea air
Palate: Oily, hydrangea (sp?) petals making a floral statement in a bed of sea air, malt and light toffee.
Overall Impresison: very good, but very different.
The main hall had really quietened, many people had gone for the day and I was wandering around looking for perhaps a last dram (or two) before going home.
As I passed the Dalmore / Jura stand I noticed Richard Paterson on his own, behind the desk. At that moment he looked up and saw me, greeting me with "Hello Keith, I forgot, you live here don't you ..."
The conversation continued along the lines of how I like Munich and Bavaria for some time. He had finished at the festival and was awaiting his lift to the airport.
During the conversation he pulled an unmarked bottle from under the desk and poured me a very generous amount. Probably 4-5cl.
Just one quick nose told me exactly what I had suspected, or hoped!
Colour: Rich, dark sherry.
Nose: Strong dark fruits, sligthly citrus with marzipan and a faint hint of smoke.
Palate: Christmas pudding. All those rich dark fruits (blackcurrant, blackberry, dark cherries), marzipan and nuts.
Finish: Long, but dry.
What was it? Well, the previous year I first met Richard at WL Glasgow and his Masterclass included the best whisky I tasted that year, the 40y Dalmore. When we sampled it at WL he said it was still cask strength but he would reduce it for bottling the following Spring.
He also expected the official bottling to run out around 1800 GBP per bottle
This dram at MWF was the 'official' one at 40% and really was excellent, still one of my favourite drams ever tasted, but I feel so priveleged to have tried the CS version as it was even better.
Nose: Horse stables, nuts, sweet exotic fruits
Palate: Creamy ice cream, apricots and plums
Overall Impresison: A lovely dram which I also think would work at one of my gourmet evenings, served with a dessert of ice cream, apricots and peach sauce.
Nose: Fresh, mint, apple crumble and a slightly floral perfume.
Palate: Spicy apple crumble with pears and custard.
Overall Impression: I like it.
Rather than concentrate on the typical,. I chose some slightly different drams, OK, maybe not so diferent to us, but this was a tasting for a few people without a wide experience of single malts.
1. Bowmore 12y OB
Nose: Fruit and honey, but not overly sweet.
Palate: Vanilla, lime and honey
Overall Impression: OK, but not exceptional. I still think I prefer 'legend' to the 12y.
2. Bunnahabhain 17y, OMC, 1989-2006
Nose: Salt, sea-air, seaweed and malt. With a little kelp and even a hint of rubber dingy.
Palate: Another Islay jetty! Sea, smoke, sand. Slightly oily and woody.
With water: More salty with a hint of aniseed.
Overall Impression: Very nice and a very long, salty finish when a drop of water is added.
3. Caol Ila, JWWW 'Scottish castles' series, 15y 58.1%
Nose: Peat and smoke, that famous Yorkshire Dales chimney in Winter.
Palate: Deliciously smooth. Smoke, peat, leaves, moss and kippers.
With water: Even more smoke, getting smoother with a second drop or two.
Overall Impression: Istill say this is my favourite Caol Ila. It has everything I look for and hope for in a CI. In fact, this is the one which first reminded me of my beloved Yorkshire Dales in Winter! Just imagine, walking through the dales from Pen-y-Ghent to Ingleborough. Nothing! Desolation! Then you come over the brow of a hill and see one row of cottages, chimney smoking as they burn wood and peat. That one smell of fresh countryside, smoke and peat is exactly what is in this bottle!
I always say that I don't 'Score' whiskies. But if I did, this would get 11 out of 10.
4. Laphroaig 12y, 1992, OMC
Nose: Typical Laphroaig, peat, smoke and sea-air. But not in a medicinal way. In fcat, furhter nosing even identifies a little blue cheese.
Palate: Tingling peat and smoke, but less pungent than the OB 10y.
Overall Impression: A good Laphroaig which, as the age suggests, lies in taste between the OB 10y & 15y.
This is not a comprehensive list of all that I have tasted, but it is a history of those whose notes I can now read whilst sober
From now on I will add as I taste.
Talisker 1955, 38y, G&M
Colour: Dark, liquid raisins
Nose: Raisins, prunes, rich old oak and a hint of molasses.
Palate: Wow! This is rich and smooth. It has everything promised by the nose, rich dark fruits like raisins, prunes and currants. It then expands into an unbelievable Christmas Pudding flavour. I want to say it also has nuts and marzipan, but not quite. Those can be delicate flavours but there is nothing delicate about this dram. It is FULL POWER, in your face and totally UN-subtle.
If I were given this blind, I would probably never guess it was a Talisker, but I would say it was old, maybe older than the 38y that it is. I have tried the 40y Dalmore and I may suggest this were a similar dram, but even older.
With water: Just a few drops of water in about 2cl brings out more oak on the nose. As for flavour; possibly even more intense, but smoother. It is almost burnt raisins!
Overall Impression: A real experience. Powerful flavour overload which fits the bill if you are not looking for subtlety, gentle floral flavours and delicacy.
In fact, when compared to rum, I would liken this to 'Wood's old Navy 100%', it's dark, rich and unbelievably powerful in flavour.
A bottle of this would currently cost around â‚¬400-â‚¬500 and although I have adored tasting this dram, there is no way I would pay that kind of price to enjoy it again. When I bought a bottle of this in 1993-4 the 35cl version was 50 GBP and if it were still available at that price, I may buy one to try again.
Ardbeg 17y, 40%, OB
Nose: Slightly peated oranges and peaches with a tiny dash of sulphur.
Palate: An initial oily sensation quickly turning spicy (tingly and peppery) then fading back to an oily feel after a burst of citrus.
Finish: Quite long and oily.
Overall Impression: I love the Ardbeg 10 and earlier this year I had the pleasure of trying the 30y. This really does lie somewhere in the middle.
The typically pungent peat of the 10y is hardly detectable, although there is a hint of it in the background. The wonderful smooth fruit of the 30y is, maybe, just beginning to develop, but it has much yet to do.
As I type this I take another sip and suddenly feel an almost nutty sensation. Somewhere between almonds and chestnuts. Very nice.
Meanwhile, these bottles are now collectors' items and sell for around â‚¬200. A price I would not wish to pay if I were to open and drink a bottle.
But it is nice, I like it, but not to the point of â‚¬200.
Ardbeg Uigeadail, 54.2%
Nose: Peat and slightly smoked rubber wellies with just a hint of manure-coated raspberry.
(Sorry Ardbeg, it isn't unpleasant, but that's exactly what my nose tells me.)
Palate: Rich earth and peat. I do detect that slight element I called raspberry in the nose, but on the palate it isn't quite raspberry.
Or maybe it is, almost.
With Water: 5 drops of water in almost 5cl begins to open the nose, the peat and smoke are coming through much better now.
As for the palate, it's deliciously smooth, but a little more spicy and smokey.
Five more drops opens it further and the peaty smoke really comes through now.
This is getting more fierce with each addition of water.
Although it gets spicier (more peppery) with water, it also gets smoother on the tongue.
This is not a complex Ardbeg, but it is a jolly good one.
I came home today with three samples; an old 1980's bottling of Glen Garioch, Glenesk 26y, Bruichladdie X4 +1
On hearing about the release of Ardbeg Blasda I was really hoping for something along the lines of Kildalton.
I remember Kildalton to be almost totally unpeated, extremely floral, quite complex and a wonderful treat.
As Kildalton was supposed to be lightly peated, I was hoping that this 'lightly peated' Blasda would be a similar experience.
Unfortunately, it wasn't.
I sampled the Blasda a couple of days ago and found it to be much more peated than expected.
Yes, it has some floral pretensions, but these are always over-ridden by the peatier notes making it neither a well-peated Ardbeg, nor a truly floral one.
It is as if it can't make up its mind what it wants to be, so sits on the fence somewhere inbetween as a failed compromise.
Sometime in the next week or so I will get another sample and give you the full tasting notes here.
A very good dram, full of flavours which included violets.
I knw todays GG's as being full of toffee and smooth rich flavours, this one was much lighter, more complex and an absolute delight.
I still have a large sample which I shall re-visit and post full tasting notes from.
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