Apr 29, 2016

Benriach 12yo...

Benriach 12yo (46.0%): Damn time difference (again)..! Wednesday morning when I woke up and opened my laptop I knew right away that I was late for another heated discussion. Apparently all hell broke loose when Brown Forman's acquisition of BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd in a £285 million ($416 million) deal hit the news when I was asleep. The massive deal includes all three distilleries; BenRiach, Glendronach and Glenglassough as well as the maturing stocks in the warehouses, bottling plant and the headquarters in Edinburgh. Well, I am not going to hide that I felt pretty sad to see another influential independent distillery company go down in history but I keep my hopes high that Brown Forman will take good care of the brands... To be honest the last thing we need to see these days is another whisky brand relaunched in an overpriced perfume bottle filled with immature and rushed whisky... Anyway, long story short that's how I ended up uncorking this long time discontinued Benriach 12yo bottle tonight. The distillery stopped bottling this whisky right after they introduced their NAS expression Heart of Speyside and before the launch of the current 10yo expression which is blended using only post resurrection distillate. But Benriach 12yo was the introduction of the brand for me when they first started to export their whiskies to this side of Atlantic after the distillery reopened in 2004. We all liked it back then, both the juice in the bottle and its independent spirit around it... I will fill my glass now and raise it to celebrate BenRiach's new chapter and wish them the best under the new ownership. Color: Medium - Light amber... Yellow gold. Nose: Honey syrup and vanilla. Pear and apple compote. Kiwi, Granny Smith apple slices and green tobacco leaves. A very inviting nose, I barely can keep myself from tasting it right away. After giving it some time to air I get now fresh rosemary leaves, toffee, grilled pineapple slices and toasted pine. Now I don't want to let it go... It's getting better and better also thicker: PX vinegar, beef stew and poached quinces. A few drops of water add a few extra green notes: Fresh cut grass, asparagus and dandelion leaves. Palate: Way more sherry cask influenced than I was prepared for after what I got from the nose. Creamy, almost silky texture and full bodied. Cinnamon, nutmeg and spiced rum. Toffee brittles, salted almonds and roasted hazelnuts. The palate is way nuttier which caught me by surprise after a very fruity nose. Adding water makes it sweeter, it now tastes like a rum cask finish: Brown sugar, molasses and ginger snap cookies. Finish: Sweet and malty. Medium long and slightly peppery. Lemon peel and orange wedges. Overall: Ok... This is not even close to what I remember about this dram. It was a pleasant surprise actually... Somehow I was remembering a dram carrying mostly bourbon cask notes (maybe wishful thinking...) but on the contrary this is a proper sherry cask influenced whisky. Well, it is not a secret that lack of bourbon casks always makes me less happy but this is a very solid Speyside single malt nobody can complain about. Especially with it's price tag about $40. You might still spot them on dusty shelves around. Definitely grab one if you see one. It's a no brainer and a nice bottle to have in your whisky cabinet from the old times of Benriach.

Apr 16, 2016

Tullamore D.E.W. Original...

Tullamore D.E.W. Original (40.0%): Not even a decade ago Tullamore D.E.W. wasn't a brand that whiskey drinkers particularly cared about. But now with the worldwide boom of Irish Whiskey and William Grant & Sons' massive financial investment it is a rising star in the industry again. The story of Tullamore D.E.W. goes all the way back to the town of Tullamore where a gentleman named Michael Molloy founded the distillery in 1829.  Later with Daniel E. Williams taking over the management the brand started to be recognized and Williams' initials got added to the label. Unfortunately the distillery silenced the stills in 1953 and moved its business to the city of Cork under the umbrella of New Midleton Distillery. Like I mentioned before William Grant & Sons purchased the brand later and soon after brought Tullamore D.E.W. back to its home town and opened the doors of their brand new distillery in September 2104. Since then the line-up expanded with single malt expressions and other wood finishes but Original stayed as the flagship blend of the brand. It is a triple distilled blend aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. Color: Light yellow gold with thin legs around the glass. Nose: Sweet, citrusy and doughy. Lemon juice, cookie dough and malt. Unsalted butter and green wood bark. When I close my eyes I see myself walking along a swimming pool: Chlorine, wet leaves and fiberglass. Even a touch of water released alcohol and young grain whiskey aromas. Palate: First comes the burn of young alcohol then slowly some honey syrup notes build up. Toasted white bread and butter. Very thin and fragile... Vanilla ice cream, lemon meringue pie and green wood. Its texture kinda fell apart after adding water unfortunately. Finish: Short but pretty vegetal. Bitter greens, green asparagus and Granny Smith Apples. Overall: Quite easy going everyday whiskey you can consume without bothering about tasting notes, nosing glasses or any other fancy stuff... Not blended for that purpose. It is a dram to drink one after another... It would make great highballs with any combination or pair your favorite pint of beer. Well, with a price tag less than $25 it is definitely a good bang for your buck...

Apr 13, 2016

The Glenlivet 15yo...

The Glenlivet 15yo "The French Oak Reserve" (40.0%): After Pernod Ricard launched Founder's Reserve last year and announced the discontinuation of 12 year old in most markets suddenly in those countries 15 year old became the youngest bottling of The Glenlivet line-up with an age statement. Although my personal favorite has been always ex-bourbon cask matured Nadurra bottlings, The French Oak Reserve undeniably has a very loyal fan base. It is a blend of whisky aged in American oak and sherry casks which went through an additional maturation of three years in French Limousin oak casks. A little French touch courtesy of Pernod Ricard paired tonight with some Charles Lloyd recordings from 60's... Color: Orange blossom honey, medium amber. Nose: Fruity, floral and malty. It noses like contemporary Irish single malt bottlings with the addition of some beautiful rose petals and rose water aromas. Cherry juice, fruit punch, fresh table grapes and mixed berry sorbet. Cherry Danish and morning bun. A few drops of water pulls the conversation to a greener corner rather than red. Banana cream pie, ripe apples and Anjou pears now. Palate: Cherries on the palate as well... This time like a diner style cherry pie topped with whipped cream, Snapple Mango Madness, orange Gummi Bears. Juicy and extremely easy going but thin in texture at the same time. Green malt, cinnamon dusting and nutmeg. Star anise and ground white pepper. Although it completely destroyed its texture I kinda liked the addition of a few drops of water. It got dusty and a little old school... Finish: Peppery like all other Glenlivet distillates but on the shorter side. Some creme caramel and toasted oak. Overall: It is a decent and tasty dram, no doubt about it but somehow it doesn't deliver like a 15 year old whisky. It's thin and not layered mostly because of its low abv. There is absolutely nothing offensive about it from nose to finish and maybe that's why it is bugging me that much. It is too lovely so to speak... It doesn't have distinct notes I can pick, record to my memory bank and remember later when tasting another dram to say: "Hey, it reminds me The Glenlivet The French Oak Reserve..!". For my two cents there are many other exciting whiskies to purchase in this price category instead. But it's a matter of taste... It would be a great choice to bring to a party and I don't see anybody possibly complaining about it. It is a crowd pleaser... A perfect dram to drink more than a few glasses while you are listening to some great music like I do now and socializing. At the end this wee bottle was an excellent pairing with Charles Lloyd's music and that's probably how I came up with the bottle to bring to the party idea to begin with...