Mar 2, 2015

The Balvenie 12yo Triple Cask...

The Balvenie 12yo Triple Cask (40.0%): In spite of its little artisanal distillery fame (an amazing PR job I have to say...) The Balvenie is actually not a small distillery at all in terms of their volume of production. It annually produces a whopping 6.8 million liters (8th among all Scottish distilleries) of alcohol for William Grant and Sons and it's the 8th biggest selling single malt whisky in the world in terms of market share. What we have here tonight on my desk is their Triple Cask 12yo expression. Triple Cask is a travel retail only line launched in 2013 by. They are bottled at 12, 16 and 25 years and the whisky in the bottles is a vat of spirits matured in three different kinds of casks: first-fill ex-bourbon barrels, refill bourbon barrels and first-fill Oloroso sherry butts. After being married by David Stewart the whisky spends an additional six months in the marrying tun before it gets bottled. Color: Light amber, gold. Nose: Green Anjou pears, jonquils, peaches and lemon pound cake. Birch shavings, fresh pine nuts, apricots and banana cream pie. A little spring morning walk in the woods, honey comb, wet grass and candle wax. Palate: Salted whipped butter, brioche and allspice. Rosemary, cinnamon sticks and vanilla. Milk chocolate, spearmint drops and wax. Finish: Not loud but long. White pepper, hot chocolate with chili pepper, poached apples, candied orange zest and bitter lemon soda. Overall: I quite enjoyed to see a Balvenie expression with way less sherry influence. Those refill bourbon barrels really made a difference and I certainly appreciated it very much. Well it can get only better for me if I can find a single barrel bottling of Balvenie matured exclusively in an ex-bourbon barrel I guess. It's a fresh and vibrant whisky with an uneasy younger feeling. Only if it was a little cheaper and if I could find it around easier it would definitely replace my beloved Doublewood as my favorite entry level Balvenie expression. If you want to give a shot quite a few airports carry the 5cl bottles.

Mar 1, 2015

Bowmore 12yo...

Bowmore 12yo (40.0%): We had a fantastic time at Go! Whisk(e)y hosted by Julio's Liquor this week. I had the chance to see so many old friends and meet a bunch of new whisky people throughout the weekend. But I have to say that the seminars on Saturday were absolutely the highlights of the whole marathon. Later in the afternoon that day Gardner Dunn and Simon Brooking led a fantastic event called "Japan vs. Scotland". We blind tasted almost all the 12yo products of Beam Suntory line-up and Bowmore 12yo was one of them. At the end of the day when I was driving back home I found myself thinking how much I actually like and appreciate the classic Bowmore 12yo. When I arrived home I dug the wee bottle I had for a while and placed it on my desk before I went to sleep. Today I will enjoy sipping it, write a few lines about it and share them with you. Bowmore is the oldest distillery on Islay dating back to 1779 and produces 2 million liters of spirit per year. Color: Medium amber, orange blossom honey with visible legs on the glass. Nose: Ocean spray, wet beach sand and fresh lemon slices. Sun dried hay, coal dust and diesel fuel. Salted butter, glossy photo paper and unstruck matches. Funny, I remember the distillery smelling exactly the same. Palate: Thin heather honey, vanilla and green asparagus. Peat stays at the background. Thick magazine covers and tea towels (no idea how that image appeared in front of my eyes, but...). Sweet soot and some young grain whisky notes. Finish: Medium long and dry with green banana peppers, lemon zest, char and olive brine. Overall: I would be a regular if they had a cask strength version of this expression or if it was bottled at least at 46%. Balanced, easy to drink, not edgy, very pleasant but lacks in texture to be honest. Perfect every day dram and definitely a classic to visit back over and over again... Always a good idea to keep a bottle at home.

Bowmore Distillery, November 2009

Feb 26, 2015

Blend Project #19 Bell's...

Bell's (40.0%): Last week I had a chance to take a three days break from the New England Snowpocalype and managed to fly to London for some meetings. Last night I finally had some time to sneak out by myself for a wee pub crawl in Mayfair area (well, not the best neighborhood for a pub crawl, but...) where my hotel was located. It was so great to have a few pints of nice cask ales accompanied by a couple of drams of Bell's and chat with the locals. Next morning on my way back to home I grabbed a bottle of Bell's at Heathrow Airport for my ongoing Blend Project. Bell's is one of my go to blends in England. It is cheap, dependable, pairs great with British ales and almost every pub has a bottle waiting for you. The whisky was first blended by a gentleman called Arthur Bell in 1851 in Perth, Scotland. Soon his sons took over the business and formed the company Arthur Bell & Sons Ltd. They also added Blair Athol and Dufftown distilleries to their portfolio in 20th century. After becoming the best selling whisky in UK in 1970s by a large margin the company got sold to Guinness in 1985 and then eventually became a part of Diageo. It is still the highest selling whisky in UK. Blair Athol is the major component in Bell's but the recipe contains whiskies from Dufftown, Inchgower, Glenkinchie and Caol Ila distilleries as well. Color: Polished copper, medium amber. Nose: Soft, buttery and vegetal. Blondie cookie dough, fresh green asparagus and cornflakes. Subtle peat, honey syrup and fruit cake. Quite enjoyable nose for a low shelf blend. It is grainy indeed but in a good way. Challah bread, fresh mint and sea breeze. Palate: Allspice, furniture polish and charcoal. Sea salt, sweet banana peppers and butter cookies. It gets pretty malty but lacks a little bit in texture. Belgian beer yeast, green walnuts, banana cream pie and hint of anise. Finish: Short. Dried fruit and soot. I have to admit it makes you take another sip right away though. Overall: Yeah, I know I am a sucker for cheap blends but Bell's is definitely a good one. Every promise fulfilled for 25 bucks/1 liter. It's a great candidate for the top five of my blend project and I can pretty much guarantee that this bottle won't last too long in this household.