Jun 23, 2018

BenRiach Cask Strength Batch 2...

BenRiach Cask Strength Batch 2 (60.6%): Benriach Cask Strength's Batch 2 hit the shelves almost two years after the first release which was originally introduced in 2016 following Brown Forman's acquisition of Benriach, Glendronach and Glenglassaugh distilleries. It is an NAS bottling like the previous one and blended with whiskies matured in Oloroso sherry casks, ex-bourbon barrels and virgin oak hogsheads filled in 2006, 2007 and 2008. It is non-chill filtered and bottled in its natural color... This batch is the first one carrying master blender Rachel Barrie's signature after her move from Beam Suntory to Brown Forman in 2017.

Color: Bright polished copper with big, long and slow legs.

Nose: Stainless steel water bottle, fresh coconut and strawberry jam. Oloroso sherry, honey roasted cashews and honey-cinnamon syrup. Artificial vanilla extract and old hardwood furniture. Adding a few drops of water amplifies the metallic aromas but minimize the alcohol burn on the nose. Furniture polish and Aunt Jemima syrup.

Palate: Chili pepper flakes and prunes and dry dates. Very satisfying mouth covering creamy texture... Roasted peanuts and almonds. Cashew butter... Water adds custardy notes: Mexican flan, Portuguese custard tarts and fresh walnuts. Cracked white peppercorns, apple strudel and cinnamon dusting. White chocolate...

Finish: Long and nutty with toasted almonds and walnuts. Nutmeg and steamed milk. Dry with hint bergamot peel and custard.

Overall: It's an incredibly nutty and custardy batch balanced with spicy and savory notes. I might be wrong since I don't have reliable notes but so far I remember Batch 1 was more summery and fresher compared to this batch. Surprisingly drinkable at bottling strength but opens up beautifully with a few drops of water. A very good batch from Rachel Barrie and as expected bold, syrupy and thick. Grab a bottle while you can... I very much liked it.

Price: $90

Jun 17, 2018

Springbank 15yo Campbeltown Malts Festival'17 bottling...

Springbank 15yo Rum Cask Campbeltown Malts Festival'17 bottling (50.0%): Last year in May we traveled all the way from Los Angeles California to Campbeltown Scotland to be a part of the Campbeltown Malts Festival 2017... The reason wasn't only to drink all kind of marvelous whisky for five days in a row, which we did anyhow, it was really more of a family reunion for us. We spent our entire week with the extended family of Springbank and Glen Scotia and came back with unforgettable memories. Well, and a few special bottles of course including this one. It is a 15 year old single cask Springbank aged in a Guadeloupe Rum barrel bottled exclusively for the Springbank Open Day 2017. The cask was filled in November 2001 and yielded only 218 bottles when bottled on May 25th, 2017... Although we sadly had to miss the festival this year we will be there next year..! Hope to see you all there folks..!

Color: Unoaked Chardonnay with a very faint green hue.
Very slow moving legs around the glass.

Nose: The smell of the field the morning after a stubble burning. Latex gloves and gauze pads. Olive brine, fresh rosemary leaves and spoiled milk. Canned peaches and canned pears. Fruity, briny and a little tart... Adding water freshens it up: Spearmint leaves, sea breeze and fresh pineapple rings. I really liked the nose with a few drops of water.

Palate: Straws, roasted pine nuts and strawberries. Sea salt, freshly squeezed lemon juice and chalk. Reminds me very much cask strength Kilkerrans actually... Gets floral in time: Honeysuckles and hyacinth flowers. Water amplifies the floral notes and also adds the stone fruits to the palate which I had at the nose before. Apricot and peach compote, lightly brewed jasmine tea and white pepper.

Finish: Long with white pepper, green wood and apricot pit notes.

Overall: It is not your usual Springbank but also not exactly what you would expect from a whisky matured for 15 years in a rum cask. In a blind tasting I would bet on this whisky being an ex-bourbon matured below ten years old cask strength whisky. Maybe that's why it reminded me so much a cask strength Kilkerran... It is incredibly vibrant, fresh and raw. Glad to have a bottle but I know it won't last long...

Price: $100

89/100

Campbeltown Malts Festival // June 2017

Jun 14, 2018

Stolen Overproof Rum 6yo...

Stolen Overproof Rum 6yo (61.5%): Another random sample pick from the growing mess of vial bottles slowly but surely taking over my desk... This one is a six year old pot still distilled rum sourced from Hampden Distillery in Jamaica and bottled by Stolen an independent bottling company based in Auckland, New Zealand. Let's get right into it...

Color: Light bronze with a green hue... Very slow moving thick and oily legs.

Nose: Wow... Did somebody say funk..? Wild mushroom stew simmering on the stove, decaying plantains and dried chili mango slices. Mole sauce, red pepper flakes and brand new car tires. Unsalted butter and bunsenbrenner hose. Water adds caramel, damp black gardening soil and glowing fireplace wood. Intense but beautiful...

Palate: Really hot at this abv... Melted butter, latex gloves and black pepper. Sigg water bottles and struck matches. Adding water changes the scene quite a bit: Over-brewed green tea, black pepper and ashtray. Town gas smell, rubber sole shoes and cooked prunes.

Finish: Long... Incredibly long... Rubber eraser, rubber tubes and burnt plastic.

Overall: This is the definition of funk in Jamaican rum. It is as rubbery, peppery and as dirty as it gets... Even if you are not a fan you should try this one just to experience and learn. Although it is a great example of its kind I kinda admit that it might be challenging to sip it neat. If I only had more of this gem I would love to mix it with a very sharp ginger beer in a large highball glass, top it with ice, garnish it with a lime wedge and find myself a seat somewhere outside to enjoy... Thanks to Josh Hodas for this sample.

Price: $19 (375ml bottle)