Whisky 1 – Glen Marnoch 18YO (Aldi Special) - £25
Whisky 2 – Tomintoul 21YO - £55
Whisky 3 – Ben Riach 15YO - £39
Whisky 4 – Tobermory 10YO - £29
Whisky 5 – Talisker 10YO - £35
The March meeting was a ‘blind tasting’ of whiskies carefully selected by Tom. On arrival we were greeted by a place setting for each of us with five carefully arranged glasses of whisky identified 1 to 5. The only hint given was that they were all Scottish Single Malts and they all hailed from somewhere above Glasgow and below the Shetland Isles – so that narrowed it down to the 4 Scottish regions and around 100 distilleries!
Whisky 1 – A bright copper colour with some vanilla honey and young spirit on the nose. Some sweetness in the taste – banana maybe, slight saltiness, slight aniseed. A short and uncomplicated finish.
Whisky 2- A warm amber colour with oak, some orange and sweetness on the nose. A distinct sherry/caramel taste with a long lasting finish leaving a slight saltiness.
Whisky 3 – Very dark, strong aromas of sherry, wood, dark fruits, leather, Christmas pudding. Honey sweetness and spice to the palate with a long spiced finish.
Whisky 4 – Very light straw in colour, floral, peppery, salty aromas with vanilla notes. Taste - some saltiness, slightly buttery, spirit burn. A shortish, unremarkable finish.
Whisky 5 – A light golden colour with grass, slightly medicinal and some smoke to the nose. Reasonably long salt and pepper finish.
Various guesstimates (some very close and some well off the mark!) were made as to the region of each whisky, the age and the approximate cost and each of us then ranked the whiskies in order of personal preference before all was revealed.
The whiskies were:
Whisky 1 – Glen Marnoch 18YO (Aldi Special) - £25
Whisky 2 – Tomintoul 21YO - £55
Whisky 3 – Ben Riach 15YO - £39
Whisky 4 – Tobermory 10YO - £29
Whisky 5 – Talisker 10YO - £35
Interestingly, although we had some wide ranging estimates of age and value, when individual preferences were aggregated the Tomintoul came out top with 33 points, followed by Ben Riach with 26 points, Talisker with 21 points and the two cheaper whiskies Glen Marnoch and Tobermory trailing with 16 and 12 points respectively.
This blog was written by Sean McCarrick - SWC Member.
Thanks to Steve (@TheWhiskyWire), Andrew (@Ardbaggie), Heather (@Xcaliper) and Johanne (@Whiskylassie), all people I've never met, I've had the opportunity over the last few months, to taste some amazing whisky and find some whiskies that I don't like!
Back in Dec 2013, I took part in the #Festive Drams tweet tasting. This was a blind tasting, so I didn't quite know what to expect, apart from a few surprises!
Dram 1: N - fresh and fruity, green apples and honey. P - fresh, with citrus and sherbet notes. F - pleasantly fizzy. I didn't think this was an amazing whisky, but it was very nice and drinkable. I guessed it wasn't a Scotch, which was true, as it turned out to be a HIKIBI 12 yr Japanese blend at 43% ABV.
Dram 2: N - creamy toffee (Werther's Originals), with a hint of marzipan. P - balanced tropical fruits and sherry. F – spicy. This got it a VERY NICE in my notes! It was the PENDERYN Sherrywood, 46% ABV.
Dram 3: In complete contrast to the Penderyn, with a YUCK!!, was the GLENDRONACH 15 yr old Speyside single malt, 46%. The Penderyn sherry was smooth and subtle, whereas I found the GlenDronach harsh and slightly bitter. Needless to say, I didn't finish this sample.
Dram 4: N - full of fruit and spice, oranges, cloves and sea salt. P - subtly smokey. F - quite rounded. This was a very nice expression from AMRUT Indian whisky 'Kadhambam', 50%ABV.
Dram 5: N - creamy, sweet nougat, marzipan, butterscotch nose with just a hint of iodine and seaside. P - strong, but not overpowering, with just the right balance of butterscotch sweetness and spice. F - zingy, peppery. Was really pleased to have guessed Canadian or Australian, when it turned out to be HEARTWOOD Release the Beast from Tasmania, 65.4%ABV. This was definitely my favourite of the night.
At the end of Jan 2014, Andrew Purslow, UK brand ambassador, sent me some LIMEBURNERS samples to try.
Dram 1: M76, 43%. N – oak, marzipan, cherries, tropical fruit and rum notes. P – spicy, tannins, slightly drying with water, with a touch of honey at the end, rich. F – smooth and long. Not as complex taste as nose. Nice, but I preferred it without water.
Dram 2: M92, 43%. N – honey, soaked dried fruit, marzipan, lime, citrus. P – citurs, spice. F – spicy. Light and very pleasant, an easy drinking whisky.
Dram 3: M61, 60% NCF, CS. Silver medal at IWSC 2013. N – dried fruit, acetone, buttery. P – mouth filling, explosive, but smooth with buttery caramel. F – tongue tingling. WOW! Really liked this. Hope it eventually becomes available in the UK.
Feb 7th 2014, HIGHLAND PARK secret tweet tasting. 3 single malts, distinguished by a different coloured spot on each bottle.
Red dram: N – citrus, floral. P – rich orange marmalade, followed by smokey bacon. F – nice and spicy. Thor, 52.1%ABV, 16 yr old. Very nice.
Green dram: N – salty sea air, creamy. P – peat, with some peppery spice. F – long and mellow, with creamy notes. Loki, 47.8%ABV, 15 yr old. Smokey and sweet.
Blue dram: N – peaty, acetone notes, followed by fruit. P – smooth, fruity, butterscotch, with a nice amount of smoke. F – long and lovely. Freya, 51.2%, 15 yr old. What a lovely lady. My favourite of 3 very nice whiskies.
A few days later, some Canadian FORTY CREEK samples, arrived in the post, from Heather McBriarty.
Portwood Reserve, 45%. N – port, mellow fruit. P – citrus, smooth, fruity. F – long and warm. Really nice. Very easy drinking.
Barrel Select Premium, 40%. N – vanilla, freshly baked biscuits. P – vanilla, tropical fruits. F – long and smooth. Nice, but not outstanding.
Heart of Gold, 43%. I didn't really like this and have just written down 'Harsh'!
These 3 drams show what an individual drink whisky is, as Heather had advised me to save the Heart of Gold to last, as it is her favourite!
22nd Feb and more whisky arrives from Canada, this time courtesy of Johanne McInnis.
FORTY CREEK Confederation Oak Reserve, 40%ABV. N – marzipan, green apples, fresh cut grass, caramel. P – citrus, crisp, vanilla, brown sugar. F – smooth, but short. This is an amazing whisky and I would highly recommend you try it.
WRITER'S TEARS, Irish Pot Still, 40%ABV. N – butter, fresh fruit, floral. P – peppery, light buttery. F – pleasant and light. Nice.
STALK & BARREL, single malt, Cask 5, Bottle 169, 60.3%ABV. N – dried fruit, apples, pears. P – nice, crisp, but not harsh. F – long and warm. This is a real cockle-warmer of a winter whisky.
Johanne also sent a MONKEY SHOULDER Batch 27, that I haven't yet opened, plus a RED BREAST 12 yr old and an HIKIBI 12. As I've tried both of these last 2, I'm going to pass them on to Stroud Whisky Club members, who haven't.
17 new whiskies in 3 months, quite a few from countries new to me, Japan, Canada, Australia and Tazmania. Just goes to show what you can find, if you broaden your whisky horizons!
February 2014 - Battle of Britain
Our February Meeting celebrated the diversity of these Isles of ours by sampling one bottle from England, Ireland, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
The contenders were...
Scotland - The Dalmore 12
Matured for an initial nine years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks before being carefully divided. One half continues its maturation in bourbon barrels, the other half is transferred to 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry casks. Complex.
I love the 12 point stag on the bottle. It appeals to me and looks great (strange maybe but I thought I'd mention it).. It's been on my "to try" list for ages so I was pleased when this finally made its debut at SWC.
Honestly, the nose is a bit odd. It doesn't scream drink me. It's musty, strong sense of raisins and dark fruits. I also get a big hit of (believe it or not) pancake batter. Not bad but it's a little bit weird.
The flavour is better than the nose. Rich, raisins, sherry and vanilla.
The finish is medium to long with sweet raisins an spicy tang.
Verdict. Worth the wait.
Review by TJB. Scored 85/100
Wales - Penderyn Madiera
The only Welsh Distillery is based near the Brecon Beacons. It has won many accolades and awards and has a first rate visitor centre.
They produce just one cask per day of spirit. The majority of the spirit goes into casks for ageing.
This expression is matured in bourbon barrels and finished in Madeira casks to impart a rich flavour and a level of complexity.
bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose is rich, caramel, sticky dark fruits, butter and vanilla.
The palate gives cereal, honey, fruity dates and figs. Well rounded and fairly big. It gives a good full mouth feel and and a medium finish which is extremely pleasant.
Reviewed by TJB Score 84/100
England - The English Whisky Co.
St. Georges Distillery
This was the dark horse of the evening. I and a couple of others had sampled this before. However, with the extra time in the glass to breath this bottle delivered more than before. It won joint first place on the evenings vote along with The Dalmore 12.
This chapter 6 I have is cask 248 - 252 and is 3 years, 1 month old. It is pale in the glass like Sauternes and bottled at 46%. The nose is grassy, citrus, musty banana sweets and vanilla.
Upon tasting you wouldn't guess its age. It is clean, soft and not harsh. You get honey, oak, slightly spices with oak and citrus. It is pleasantly fruity.
The finish carries this on with a peppery tingle, light spice and smooth.
Water closes the nose slightly at first but then brings out more fruit notes and it softens and mellows beautifully.
Really worth trying. They are doing all the right things so whilst it's not Highland Park 40, it isn't trying to be and for the money it is competing with older and better established scotches.
A wonderful fruity Summer dram.
Reviewed by TJB scored 85/100
Bushmills 10 yr Signle Malt
Bushmills 10 yr is from the only distillery in Northern Ireland. With history stretching back to 1608 they have a heritage to be proud of.
This is an easy to drink crowd pleaser. It is simple, light and goes down very easily. Whilst that is all good, it means it lacks depth and complexity if that it what you seek.
Nose is light, fruity, sweet with banana. On the palate it is clean, fruity and smooth. Floral and easy drinking. You can tell it has been triple distilled. The finish is short but moreish.
On a summers evening you could go through a bottle with friends very easily.
Reviewed by TJB Score 78/100
Only 1200 bottles of this Irish single pot still Whiskey are released each year. The nose offers butterscotch, grass, sweet light fruits and a floral hint. The palate gives honey, oak, a tiny whiff of smoke which leaves with a Medium/short sweet and slightly peppery finish.
A lovely drop, not challenging but easy to drink.
Reviewed by TJB Scored 82/100
January 2014 - World Whisky
For our first meeting back after the New Year we decided to set off with a bang! We brought in some wonderful Whiskies from the 4 corners of the world.
South Africa, India, Taiwan and Sweden.
Mackmyra BruksWhisky - Sweden
Mackmyra is a Swedish distillery with a cool back story. In 1998, 8 friends went on a skiing trip. Each of them took a bottle of malt Whisky for the host. They drank and talked and discussed why there wasn't a Swedish Whisky distillery. This question led them to start exploring the possibilities of making their own Swedish whisky.
One year later the company was founded and a pilot distillery was started. By the end of the year they had distilled their first drops.
These 8 pioneers produced 170 different recipes and then selected ambassadors to help decide which two recipes would be used going forwards.
In 2002 they released 2 expressions, Mackmyra Elegant and Mackmyra Smoke. These were an immediate hit and by 2008 there were two more expressions ready for market (First Edition and Mackmyra Brukswhisky).
Matured primarily in first fill bourbon casks and also including both Whisky aged in sherry and Swedish oak as well as a smokey malt. This adds complexity and makes it very interesting.
It is very pale and bottled at 41.4%.
The nose is fragrant with vanilla, fruity, citrus, spices. You get a grain and floral undertone.
In the mouth it feels creamy with oak, mild spices, summer fruits. It is fresh and crisp which complements the creamy nature in a pleasant way. It is well made and is a definite summer classic.
The finish is short to medium, sweet, fruity with a mid tongue tingle. This is very easy drinking and goes down very well.
Reviewed by TJB. Scored 86/100
Paul John - Brilliance - India
From those who are familiar with this blog you will know this is the 2nd bottle we have tried of Paul John Brilliance. We were lucky enough to host a tasting evening in September 2013.
While many Whisky drinkers in the UK are becoming increasingly accustomed to world whiskies, not many are familiar with the quality of Indian single malt. Paul John Whisky will be a pleasant surprise to many people who are both new to Whisky as well as those who been enjoying Whisky for years but have only ever drunk Scotch.
The company, John Distilleries, is based in Bangalore, but the single malt distillery is located in Goa in southern India. The spirit produced for Paul John single malt is been made using 100% Indian barley and is distilled twice in traditional copper pot stills. The whisky matures very quickly in the casks due to the high temperatures and has an evaporation rate (the angel’s share) of approximately 12% per year. In fact, the peat imported from Islay is the only non-Indian component used in production. Using first-fill American oak ex-bourbon barrels (from distilleries such as Jack Daniels and Buffalo Trace, which help to add a lot of colour and sweetness to the Whisky) the casks are then stored at sea level. Age is not a question to ask of Paul John. They will say judge on flavour not age…and they are quite right. That being said, it is between 4 - 5 years which n this climate is plenty.
Understanding intricacies of using six-row Barley (from the Himalayan foothills) rather than the traditional two-row used by Scottish distilleries they have made a wonderful Single Malt. This is non chill filtered.
So, enough preamble, what's it like?
The nose gives cereal, honey, sea salt, dark fruit and cherries. There is a hint of cinnamon and a grassy note.
The Palate is rich and full of malty cereals with pleasant sweetness honey, vanilla, sea salt and some sweet fruits. There is a gentle spice tingle with a hint oak.
The finish is extremely pleasant and medium long. You are left with a tingle right in the middle of the tongue.
This is a must try bottle. Give it time to breathe and sit back and savour. I wouldn't call it overly complex but Brilliance is Brilliant. It is well rounded, thoughtfully made and simply drinkable. For the money it is a banker.
Review by TJB Score 93/100
Three Ships 10yr - South Africa
I have been very impressed with a lot of the "new world" Whisky and Three Ships was one we were keen to get a bottle of. Good marks for presentation, it comes in a lovely tin. The Bottle is a stubby shape and is well presented.
First released in 2003, Three Ships is a South African single malt whisky.
Nose: plums, raisins, peat, toffee, salt and leather.
Palate offers oak, spices, burnt caramel and vanilla
It's a really good effort. I feel that whilst it's nicely rounded you need to remember it is a 10 yr so with that in mind it stands up well to the competition.
Reviewed by TJB and scored at 81/100.
This is my first experience with Taiwanese Whisky. It is finished on Portugese port casks, both Ruby, Tawny and Vintage Port. It has a golden tawny colour but there is no E150 added, it's all natural.
The nose is sweet, rich and fruity. Sticky dates, plums and dark fruits.
The palate offers toffee and is gently warming. There are rich fruits including mango and berries. There is a strong port influence which you would expect.
The finish it short and sweet. It has a freshness and ends with a slightly bitter spiced tang.
It's nice but it's not rounded enough. The idea is good, the execution is not quite there. Worth trying.
Review by TJB scored 80/100
This blog is from a tweet tasting vertical arranged by Steve @TheWhiskyWire and Tweeddale's very own Alasdair Day. Alasdair's great grandfather started it all off by first commercially trading as the Tweeddale blend in 1899.
They traded right up until 1940 when World War II caused production to be ceased and all casks to be sold.
The original recipe was recorded in Richard Day’s cellar book from this time, and resurrected in 2010 by Alasdair as the Tweeddale blend batch 1.
During this tasting session we tried this batch plus the 3 following batches. The recipe is altered slightly each time to include a different grain and to swap out one of the malts. These malts are tapped from the same casks for each batch and are therefore aged for one extra year.
Alasdair talked us through some of the history and production methods from the different blends.
"Every batch of The Tweeddale is unique as it was when my Great Grandfather and J&A Davidson blended it before me. There are nine whiskies from nine distilleries in the blend. So for batch one I went out and bought 9 casks of aged Scotch Whisky; a single grain and 8 single malts (Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside and Islay).
Tweeddale Batch 1 – 10 years old
Each malt whisky in the blend is drawn from a single cask. The grain whisky is 10 years old, the eight malt whiskies range from 10 years old to 21 years old. Predominantly lowland Scotch Whisky it also contains Highland, Speyside and Islay malts. 1200 bottles of this were released.
Nose – nicely balanced with spiced apple pie, honey, citrus, vanilla, grain, and floral notes.
Palate - smooth with the freshness that comes from younger Whisky. A nice balance which delivers what was promised on the nose. Grain, vanilla, apples, spices, honey, oak.
Finish – Medium - short, spice fades with a slight oak tang which underlies the fruity sweetness.
Tweeddale Batch 2 – 12 years old
In batch 2 seven of the eight malts are from the same casks as batch 1. The eighth malt is from a new cask and it is the same grain from a sherry butt again but 15 years old instead of 10 years old as it was in batch 1. The malts are aged from 12 years old to 21 years old. One of the malts in batch 2 is 14 years old from a different cask. 1600 bottles have been released.
Nose - Creamy grain, honey, nutty, earthy honey.
Palate - Sweet and rich nice and creamy. Some peat, sweet fudge, banana, spicy fizz.
Finish – Medium - Long and sweet finish, with sherry and mild oak.
Tweeddale Batch 3 – 13 years old
In batch three the same single grain is 18 years old from two different refill sherry butts. Seven of the malts are from the same casks as batch 1 & 2 but a year older (13 to 21 years old). The core malt is 14 years old from different casks. Still with 2% Islay but a wee bit more subtle than the hint of smoke evident in batch 1.This release has natural colour and is non-chill filtered. 2700 bottles released.
Nose – Sherried oak, apples, plums and sweet sticky dates. This evolves nicely with a drop of water.
Palate – Smooth honey and melon. Rich, creamy grain with ginger, sweet apples and peat.
Finish – Long, sweet and well balanced finish. The best so far.
Tweeddale Batch 4 – 14 years old
In this final batch (4), the core malt is a Lowland aged 14 yrs old and was matured in an Islay cask. The grain is 16 yrs from a refill hogshead (not an ex sherry butt as with the first 3 batches. Only 1420 bottles were released of this batch.
Nose – This shows it's Islay credentials right away. Coastal nose of sea salt, peat, smoke and vanilla.
Palate – beautifully balanced, slightly restrained in a good way. Salted caramel, prunes, figs, sherry, spices, peat and smoke.
Finish – Long and slightly drying. Peppery bite.
These are all great blends and my preferences are 4, 3, 1 and then 2. I await batch 5 with interest. The quality of the malts used is without question. I would like to thank Alasdair for arranging the tasting and inviting us to learn so much about the intriguing Tweeddale blends. Thanks for bringing the legend back to life.
If you are interested in finding out more check out @robbiesdrams and @tweeddaleblend on twitter or visit www.tweeddalewhisky.com/
This blog post has been submitted by Jo Lawson (one of our founder members) and highlights an evenings Tweet Tasting with the Teeling Whiskey Co.
I've only been drinking whisky, regularly, for about a year. This was my first tweet tasting and also, apart from Redbreast, my first taste of Irish whiskey, so these notes are musings of a very amateur whisky enthusiast!
The hardest part, of the whole thing, was that the samples arrived about 5 days before the event, so a lot of self-restraint was needed, not to open them and take a sniff, beforehand!
We spent about ½ an hour on each whiskey, 15 minutes nosing, then 15 minutes tasting. This gave us plenty of time, to fully appreciate the complexities of each one.
46% ABV. Double distilled from maize and full matured in Californian Cabarnet Sauvignon casks.
Nose: spicy, citrus start, that warmed to a very pleasant buttery, vanilla and cherry.
Palate: spicy citrusness, rounded out by creamy toffee flavours and a slight sweetness.
Finish: long and pleasant.
A well balanced mix of subtle flavours, this would be a good introductory dram, into the world of
46% ABV. Hand selected casks of grain and malt, left to mature together in ex-Flor de Cana casks
for over 6 months.
Nose: acidic, salt & vinegar crisps, mellowing to a rum & raisin ice cream sweetness.
Palate: fizzy fruit, Refresher sweets, with a softer, more buttery finish
Finish: pleasant and zesty
Another very nice 'sipping whiskey', very easy drinking.
21yr old single malt, Silver Reserve:
46% ABV. Small batch bottling of only 5,000 bottles. Matured first in ex-Bourbon casks, then
finished in Sauterne wine casks.
Nose: initial whiff of smelly socks, developed into smokey bacon, pear drops and apricot.
Palate: apricots, smooth, creamy toffee, with a pipe smoke finish at the back of the mouth.
Finish: long and smooth
Definitely a whiskey to be savoured, as you contemplate the meaning of life, by a roaring fire!
26yr old single malt, Gold Reserve:
Not released until 2014. 1000 bottles only, which will retail for about €500 (£415). Finished in
White Burgundy casks.
Nose: seaside pebble, salt and a slight undertone of acetone, develop into caramel and fruit.
Palate: taste explosion! fruit, spice, jelly sweets, mixed fruit jam, slight wood shavings finish.
Finish: long and smooth
I could easily drink any of these again, but the 21yr old was definitely my favourite. For more information about these whiskies, go to www.teelingwhiskey.com
Stroud Whisky Club
November was The first Bourbon night. Most members would be the first to admit they were not hugely experienced with Bourbon and so it set the scene for an interesting night.
We were lucky to be able to welcome a representative from Buffalo Trace to come over to Woodchester to talk us through the history, production and tasting notes for 3 of the nights bottles (thanks to Jay for a Job well done).
As we learned throughout the evening, in the US the distilleries release many different brands under one umbrella so Buffalo Trace not only have a name same but many other brands and bottles all from the same distillery.
Buffalo Trace is the flagship expression from the distillery of the same name. This is made from Buffalo Rye Mash #1 which consists of 80% corn, 10% rye & 10% malted barley. Then it is aged for around 8 yrs in Virgin charred oak casks that are sourced from sustainable oak trees over 70 years old.
The end result is caramel golden and really oily. It stocks to the glass beautifully and has a wonderful nose. Big waves of vanilla, sweet grain and nuts.
In the mouth the vanilla is as present as promised. Sweetness, dark fruits, light spices and rye.
The finish is long, spicy, drying and tangy.
This is a quality drop for the price. On the night this was voted the bottle people were most likely to buy.
Eagle Rare 10 yr Single Barrel.
From Buffalo Trace comes the bigger brother Eagle Rare 10 yr single barrel. Just like its little brother (Buffalo Trace) it is made from Buffalo Rye Mash #1 which consists of 80% corn, 10% rye & 10% malted barley. Then it is aged for around 10 yrs in Virgin oak casks and each barrel is carefully selected and bottled.
In the glass it is rich, dark, golden caramel colour.
The nose is sweet, rich with grain and ripe cherries.
On the palate there is a punchy oak tang, sweet vanilla, allspice, dark fruits and grain.
It is well balanced and has a long spicy finish.
This is another great bottle from Buffalo Trace. Voted the favourite bottle on the night but being priced at around £35 per bottle it wasn't deemed twice as good as the £20 Buffalo Trace.
Old Weller Antique 107
Barrel proof 53.5% ABV
This is the 3rd from Buffalo Trace and came with a solid recommendation. This is a Wheated Bourbon and was a "first" for the whole group. I wasn't sure what to expect flavour wise.
The Colour is dark caramel brown and looks thick, sticky and oily in the glass.
The nose gives you Corn, honey, very sweet ripe plums, toffee, floral and grassy notes.
Rich and smooth on the palate. Ripe figs, sticky dates, Oak, honey, corn.
Finish is pleasant peppery, fairly long and slightly drying.
As my first Wheated bourbon it is a success. Very pleasant and interesting. Definitely worth trying if you haven't already.
Continuing with my theme of Bourbons this was one that was supposedly a real bargain. Bourbons can be very expensive in the UK and this one is at an entry level price point along with Buffalo Trace at £20.
This is fairly pale for a bourbon which makes it look young in the glass. Oily and a golden straw colour.
The nose gives aniseed, corn, spices and sweet. Lots of vanilla and a little citrus.
Palate is smooth, lots of vanilla, honey, a little liquorice, corn. It has a mouth feel that is slightly thinner than the Weller and the finish is fairly short. Nice but not as good as the Buffalo Trace considering they are the same price. Very easy drinking but it doesn't set the world alight.
Bottled in bond at 100 proof / 50% ABV.
This is a straight Rye Whiskey which means the mash bill must contain at least 51% rye. When we drank this bottle on the night it was slightly closed off and whilst nice, wasn't amazing. I was recommended to let it air for a while before trying it again so I did. After being open for 3 weeks I tried a small glass and it is a different beast. The review below is the 2nd tasting note having been open for 3 weeks.
The colour is golden caramel and it has good legs and a nice oily sheen.
The nose is punchy with cherries, aniseed, vanilla, citrus and a floral hint. Adding a tiny drop of water brings sticky dates and develops the aniseed slightly.
Lovely on the palate. Spicy, vanilla, dark chocolate, rye, dark fruits. It's sweet, quite rich and full bodied.
The finish tingles the gums and tongue with sweet yet peppery aniseed that is slightly drying at first before then making me salivate quite a lot. Long and lingering and extremely pleasant. A great example of good rye.
I was a lot more impressed with it the 2nd time around than the first. This is a bottle that needs to breathe. If it had been this good on the night I would have thought it would have given the Eagle Rare a run for it's money as "best bottle"
This was the club's first dabble with blended Whiskies. Up until know we had only been tasting Single Malts so this was a nice break from the norm. The line up had good variety of style and price point.
On the menu was a Vatted (Blended) Malt, Blended Grain and 3 different Blended (Malt and Grain) Whiskies.
The first bottle on the agenda was Ballantine’s Finest. Highly recommended by the famous Jim Murray this £15 bottle seemed like a good starting point.
The blend’s light gold colour and unmistakable taste come from a complex mix of carefully selected malt and grain whiskies — all aged for many a year in high quality casks.
Nose - Heather honey aromas with a hint of spice. Not hugely complex but blends tend not to always give everything up on the nose.
Palate - Well balanced subtle flavours with tones of milk chocolate, apple and vanilla. I fell like the corners have been knocked of fso many times it leaves it slightly bland… nothing stands out.
Finish - Short.
For £15 quid it is good value and worth the try.
This is made from 3 diffeent single malts hence the “blended malt” or vatted malt tag.
Nose: Marmalade, cocoa and malt. Some winter spice (nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon) and hint of aniseed.
Palate: Very malty, creamy delivery which offers juicy toasted barley, cloves and butterscotch. Honey and apricot develop.
Finish: Medium length with oranges and vanilla.
In my mind for the money this was the best value of the night. Interesting, well put together, good flavours and honest.
Chivas Regal 18 Yr
This is what Chivas Regal have to say about their own 18 year old Blended Whisky…
Chivas 18 is a uniquely rich and multi-layered blend that includes over twenty of Scotland’s rarest single malt Scotch whiskies. With 85 flavour notes in every drop, each sip is a new discovery.
It is a multi-award winner…
What did we think.
Nose: Balanced. Orange peel, malted barley. Vanilla fudge, touch of spice.
Palate: Medium body, marmalade, touch of wood.
Finish: Medium, slightly oaky and peppery but fades.
Verdict: Not as “special” as I was hoping for. Very nice but there certainly was not 85 flavour notes for me. Maybe I was expecting too much from this as I did have high hopes being a fan of the 12.
Compass Box - Hedonism
Compass Box, the self proclaimed "artisan Whisky makers" and all around marketing gurus love to tantalise us with different kinds of offerings. Hedonism is their Blended Grain Whisky.
Batches vary and are made from a combination of 8 - 15 casks from a variety of distilleries.
this batch is limited release bottling number: HE18MMXI.
The beautiful smoked bottle disguises the palest of Whiskies that it hides within. This oily blend has good legs indicating some age in there. At this stage you should be getting excited. The box, the bottle, the appearance all indicate class.
The nose is light, creamy, plenty of vanilla and fudge.
It is soft, creamy, silky on the palate. The vanilla is there along with mild spices, nicely peppery.
The finish is creamy, a tang of fresh ginger, sweet but short.
Initially this bottle seems much more classy that the American Grain Whiskies. The creamy, silkiness oozes quality on the nose and initially on the palate but it fades away and leaves me feeling unfulfilled.
It is interesting, clearly a well made and nicely balanced product but it lacks a suitable ending. I wanted more rolling flavours that unfolded into a climatic finish and after the initial flavours I got a slow drift into... Mmm, quite nice.
I don't regret buying this Whisky, it's easy drinking, well put together but not the show stopper I had hoped it might be. Worth trying as it is very different from most of the single malts out there.
Highland Black 8
Here is the blurb…Highland Black is a blend of the finest grain and malt whiskies from Scotland all aged for a minimum of 8 years. The blend contains a high percentage of single malt whiskies from the Highlands and Speyside regions of Scotland. These malt whiskies are then blended with the purest grain whisky from the Lowlands.
This is a triple award winning blend which for the money is excellent value.
• IWSC Gold 2013
• The Spirits Business 2013 Gold
• International Spirits Challenge 2013 Gold
This was the Aldi bottle for £12. Bargain basement.
Verdict –Tastes like a simple blended Whisky. Not offensive, good value and does what it says on the tin. Perfect for a simple dram or even to use in cooking.
September 2013 saw our first hosted tasting session. We had the 'Vice President of Overseas operations' from the worlds 7th largest Whisky producer in Woodchester for the evening.
We enjoyed it so much we gave them a full page of the very own. Click here to find out more.
In August we looked for the more mature dram. We tasted 3 bottles of different 18 year old Scotch from 3 different regions. These were Highland, Island and Speyside.
Well, actually, if you are being picky Highland Park which is based on Orkney could be considered part of the Highland region but that is another conversation for another day. We brought out The Glenlivet 18 again and added 2 big hitters.
We were also lucky enough to have the following bottles to add some breadth to our line up.
This 18 yr old has had 15 years of maturation in Bourbon hogsheads, Makers Mark to be specific. It is then finished for the final 3 years in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks.
This combination gives this 18 yr a sweet, woody nose that is rich in fruit, spiced berries, cinnamon and puffs of smoke.
It has good legs.
On the palate it is smooth and sweet. You can taste the bourbon influence right off. There is a low level dry spiciness and subtle smoke. I expected more oak on the palate as promised by the nose but it is pleasingly subtle and not as strong as expected. There is an hint of citrus and a lovely honey finish which is long and sherried.
It is not as complex as some but this is a great well rounded expression which is really worth trying. Good stuff!
Highland Park 18
This bottle was the star of the show!!! Gold in a glass.
The nose gives you oak, honey, heather, smoke. It smells wonderfully complex and inviting.
On the palate it is rich and full. Honey, a bit of peat, oak, smoke, warming sweet dark fruits.
The finish is soft and yet long.
A beautifully balanced bottle. Truly worth every penny.
This is a big hitting Islay malt with massive flavours!
The nose is soft yet full, Smokey, salty sea spray with a whiff of burnt bacon. There is a lemon undertone which is covered by a powerful peat aroma.
Your first taste brings strong Smoke, fruit, sweet spices with a smooth oily texture. This is a rich peaty punch with a sales caramel flavour. It has a long finish which leaves the tongue tingling and the mouth wanting more.
As an experience it is something you want to last. If you haven't tried it buy a bottle! Pound for pound this is a serious contender. I can't think of anything for the same money that delivers such flavour, quality, complexity and class.
Redbreast 12 Cask Strength (Thanks to Andy & Jenny :)
This is an award winning Irish Whiskey with real class.
The nose is sweet like chantilly cream and sherry trifle. Rich and thick and full of promise.
It is smooth and very creamy with vanilla, citrus, ripe fruits and sherry and a long finish.
Adding a drop of water doesn’t reduce the punch but does release more flavours.
What a great find! This is a bargain and to my mind and I really love it. If you haven't tried it, add it to your wish list now.
Laphroaig Cairdeas Origin
This is the 2012 limited edition release from the Laphroaig distillery. Now no longer available in the shops so if you see a bottle grab it.
On the nose at first I get a hint of zesty lemon. The peatiness is more subtle than the 10yo but complements the lemon nicely.
Cigar smoke dominates the palate but there's definitely a strong fresh citrus edge underlying this.
With a touch of water the peat is more pronounced on the nose with a mellower lemon edge. It's actually like a peatier-than-average Bowmore. I get a more orange flavoured palate now, like orange and lemon peel dragged through charcoal. I can also detect a hint of caramel too.
The finish is lingering cigar smoke with a bit of zest.
Delicious stuff - if there is such a thing as a subtle and calm Laphroaig then this is it.
Old Pulteney WK217
Another bottle you cant buy in the shops. This is a “Travel Exclusive” which means it is only on sale in Duty Free. This has no age statement and is non chill filtered.
Old Pultney is a bit of an odd distillery for me as I am not a huge fan of 12yo at all but there are many who love it. The 17yo is amazing though - I don't know what happens in those 5 years but it seems supernatural. And as for the 21yo - Amazing! So here we have a limited and slightly obscure release from them......
The nose is bursting with sea spray and brine. Underneath that we have toffee and slight floral hints. Seaweed and very slight peatiness evident, (but not what I'd call smoky). I also get a touch of citrus, marzipan with vanilla becoming more evident as it opens up.
Lovely thick rich mouthfeel with sweet caramel, toffee and saltiness. Slightly spicy. I can detect vanilla and sultanas too but only slightly.
Medium finish which ends on a drying note with a very slight hint of bitterness which is not at all unpleasant.
Not bad at all. Think I rate this somewhere between the 17 and 21yo expressions.
Stroud Whisky Club will be writing about the Whiskies we try as well as general points of interest about the drink we love.