Feb 6, 2016

Glenmorangie Milsean...

Glenmorangie Milsean (46.0%): So, here is the seventh release of Glenmorangie's Private Edition range. This time Dr. Bill Lumsden took the idea from his childhood memories of sweetshops, and confectioneries. He wanted to create a Glenmorangie which will bring back the sweetness of pear drops, parma violets and candy floss of 1960s and 70s. He started to think how to create that flavor profile, sat down also with Jim Swan to share ideas and to pow wow so to say. After a while he wanted to give a try by giving the whisky which was initially aged in ex-bourbon casks an extra amount of maturation by putting them for two and a half years in red wine casks previously held red wine from Douro Valley, Portugal. But the key trick here was re-toasting these Portuguese red wine casks without scraping off the inside of the barrels and allowing the residue of the wine and all the sugar to caramelize into the wood. Gosh, it sounds so mouth watering already... Let's pour some into the glass and taste it. Milsean is Gaelic for "sweet things". The whisky is non chill-filtered and bottled at 46% abv. Color: Light amber, crystal clear with very distinct and persistent legs. Nose: Well, it noses like a candy shop indeed: Rock candies, candy canes, hard candies and cotton candy. Burnt sugar, caramel fudge, fresh mint leaves and fresh malt. White peaches, dried apricots, Granny Smith apples and pomegranate. After airing a little it gets grassy: dried grass, hay and wet clay. Light, perfumy and sweet. Adding water erased all the grassy aromas though and shifted the nose to an even more sweet side. Palate: Nice beautiful Glenmorangie backbone topped with tons of red fruits: Pomegranate, dried cranberries, dried strawberries and red plums. Some spiciness, mostly as cinnamon, ground ginger and peppermint. Tart red fruit sorbet, candied lemon peels and again Granny Smith apples. Despite the loss of aromas at the nose adding water works actually pretty good at the palate. It highlights the citrusy and spicy notes: Pink grapefruit, kumquat and nutmeg. Finish: Short... Sweet with ginger, ground cloves and cake batter. Overall: Looks like Dr. nailed it... He wanted to create the candy shop whisky and here it is. I don't know maybe because of the whole backstory and the press release it was almost impossible to think anything else but this is the most candy notes you can get from a non-flavored whisky I believe. Actually I was prepared for something way sweeter and viscous but all the caramelized sugar and candy notes are pretty well balanced with citrusy and grassy notes throughout the ride. I wish the finish was a little longer so it could linger a little more though... Anyway a special whisky for people with sweet tooth and a great dram to finish the night with your dessert. I don't think this bottle will last too long in this household since we actually already made a big dent on the bottle...


Jan 26, 2016

Talisker 25yo (2005 release)...

Talisker 25yo 2005 release (57.2%): It's been many years since this bottle found its way to my whisky cabinet. Too long for any whisky to stay uncorked in this household. So, Robert Burns Night it is... Let's pop open this beauty... Actually this is the second distillery edition Talisker 25yo release I will be reviewing on tire-bouchon.  The first one was a 2004 release. The whisky is bottled in 2005 at full cask strength. It is matured in refill casks and the batch yielded 15600 bottles. My bottle carries the bottle number 12682. Ooops, serious cork mishap... Bummer, it literally crumbled all over the place. Got to deal with this first before I start. Well, lesson learned: Don't wait too long to open your bottles folks... Color: Light amber, sage honey. Very thin legs around the glass. Nose: Moldy and musty first... Like entering a dunnage warehouse in a distillery filled with seriously old casks. It opens up later: Raw honeycomb, beeswax candles, cold ocean spray and just a hint of peat. Campfire, pineapple, guava and ripe Comice pears. Every time I sniff the glass I am getting something else, airing improves the whisky immensely... Vanilla and candied lemon zest now. A healthy portion of water lifts up citrusy and sweet aromas even more: Sweet and fresh orange slices, burnt sugar and wet soot. Cardboard boxes and bitter greens. Palate: Gosh... Stun gun shot..! A good old slap in the face with intense freshly cracked black peppercorns, salt and cigar ash burn. Hot... Water needed. Ok, a little better now: Thick woolen scarf bundled around your neck, sometimes in your mouth. Licking big rock salt crystals and toasted old oak staves. Sizzling... Still mouth numbing with black pepper and salt notes dominating. Beef stew, bonfire on the beach, wet sand, dry seaweed and old magazines. The longer you air the less peppery it gets. Finish: Very long... Black pepper, salt but also with some refreshing cold pear slices now.


Overall: A very powerful old style whisky. Muscular, bold and big. And wow, it is hot... Talisker on steroids, maybe a little too peppery for my taste. Interesting to see how those refill casks kept all the sharp and peppery notes like it is still a young Talisker but allowed the peaty notes to take the back seat throughout all those years. Well, actually you miss that peat balancing the strong the peppery notes in this case. On a different note every time I taste an old Talisker (distilled before mid-eighties) I am getting these waxy notes we usually identify with Brora or Clynelish. I don't get them in later and contemporary bottlings from the distillery whatsoever... Anyway after double-checking my old tasting notes from last spring I think it is safe to say that I would definitely prefer the 2004 release over this one but let's be real now: It is a 25yo Talisker and I have the full bottle in my cabinet. No complaints here... I will be sipping this bad boy for a long time and we better get used to each other. Speaking of keeping it around long I have to find a way to take that cork piece out of the bottle though. Bottom half of it fell into the bottle while I was trying to negotiate with the broken cork cap. Well, it looks like an impossible task now but I will need to try again pretty soon. Let me know if you know a good trick for that...

Jan 20, 2016

Chancellor's Hardscrabble Applejack...

Chancellor's Hardscrabble Applejack (40.0%): And here is the third and last post about the odd bottles we brought back from our Upstate New York distilleries tour last month. It's an applejack distilled by Hudson Valley Distillers and named after Chancellor Robert Livingston who was one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence and an entrepreneur. He once owned the land on which Hudson Valley Distillery is located now. The brandy in the bottle is distilled from apples sourced from Hudson Valley area only. Many thanks to the founders of Hudson Valley Distillers Chris Moyer and Tom Yozzo for opening the distillery on a snowy and cold Holiday morning just to show us around and to give a full tasting of their entire line-up... Much appreciated... Color: Medium amber with a healthy dose of cloudiness which actually settles when you leave the bottle untouched a few days. Nose: Sour and flat Normandian style apple cider nose in your face..! Pretty powerful. After letting the glass to air a good minute or two it gets a little sweeter: Honeycrisp apples, dill pickles and young Calvados. It is perfumy and floral with hyacinth and jonquil aromas. Irish Spring soap bars, coriander leaves and clay dust. Palate: Although we had almost none on the nose toasted oak notes cover the palate entirely right away... Followed by sweet cider, apple puree and compote notes. Some hard caramel candies, sour gummy worms and celery stalks. Still has that soapiness... More greens: Asparagus, dandelion leaves and bitter greens. Finish: Medium long with oak tannins, pickle brine and green olives. Apple butter... Overall: Well, this was such a joyful ride... Odd, interesting and unusual but definitely fun. I am so glad that I didn't pick a bottle of their rye or gin (which were also very good...) to bring back but this applejack. I always had a big soft spot for mouth pursing sour European ciders. This bottle only suggest the style but enough to make it interesting. It is incredibly young to tell the truth but I am glad that it didn't spend more time in the barrel actually. The wood influence is just right, the spirit is still vibrant. For my two cents it is hefty enough for a hot toddy in winter months but still refreshing to use it in summer cocktails. Good job guys... I wonder if they have any plans to put them in bigger barrels just to be able to age them a little longer. That would be something to look forward to...


Hudson Valley Distillers, Clermont NY
line-up

casks aging