May 19, 2015

Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist...

Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist (2007 release) (46.0%): Believe or not, not so long ago, there was a time when people didn't have to rob a bank or put their home on a second mortgage to afford a 17yo Ardbeg. I know it sounds like hogwash, but it's completely true..! Airigh Nam Beast is right from that magical era. Almost a Gaelic fairy tale... Before I begin with the review let's learn the first rule: Do not even try to pronounce the name... There is a line on the bottle trying to help but it's simply unpronounceable. You will make a joke of yourself. We used to call it simply "The Beast" back then... It was making it even more mystical... The whisky in the bottle is distilled in 1990 and got bottled in three different batches between 2006 and 2008 as basically 16, 17 and 18yo expressions. The sample I got is from a 2007 release. Color: Bright yellow gold, like oak aged Chardonnay. Thin but nice legs. Nose: Thick and oily peat. More like diesel fuel. Quince jam, soot and car tire. Salted feta cheese brine, Kalamata olive oil and sea spray. Cooked mushrooms and beef stew. I can smell the oiliness and viscosity of the liquid in my glass. A few drops of water brought the nose to perfection: Bosc pears, milk chocolate and thyme. So balanced and harmonious now. Palate: Warm, sweet and salty. Beautiful mouth covering velvety texture. Prunes, rosemary and perfect amount of oak. Corn flakes in milk, roasted salted almonds and cream soda. Water adds sweeter notes: Milk chocolate with hazelnuts, sea weed and mint leaves. Finish: Medium long with almonds, chocolate and oak. Creamy and sweet. Overall: Well, that was pretty much awesome... Great whisky. Amazingly well balanced with a great texture on the tongue. What can I say? Those were the days folks... Only if I knew what was about to happen to whisky industry, especially to Ardbeg products, I could save a case of this beauty somewhere safe. You still might end up seeing the bottle covered with dust in some bars or liquor stores. If you see it don't even think twice. It may be your chance there...

Ardbeg Distillery // November 2009

May 17, 2015

Ardbeg Supernova (2010 release)...

Ardbeg Supernova (2010 release) (60.1%): Yeah, I know... I am awfully late with these Supernova releases. I reviewed the 2009 release only a year ago and I will try to deal with the 2010 release tonight. Although I still have a decent amount of whisky left in my 2009 bottle this one is only a sample I managed to save from our peaty whiskies tasting earlier this year. I still enjoy my 2009 Supernova very much, I like how young, grassy and restless it is and cannot wait to see how it compares to the 2010 edition. Ok, now it's time to take a deep breath and dive right in. Let's see how hard this monster can punch in my face. Color: Pale straw. Nose: Dry red clay, decaying grass and kumquat. Engine oil, hot paprika and a little bit of tequila reposado. Lime, tonic water and olive brine. Where are the peat punches I was getting ready for? With water it gets perfumy and floral: rose petals, hyacinths and gin. Speaking of devil; peat is driving the bus now. Intense bonfire, charcoal and hot cigar ash... Oh, boy... Palate: It's peaty indeed... Grassy, young and sweet but damn peaty. It's mute without water first. Chipotle, tar, soot and new make. It definitely taste like new spirit running through the spirits safe. My tongue is kinda numb... With water it gets green and grassy: green asparagus, rocket leaves, anise crackers and pine nuts. Herbal bitters, lavender and more gin. Finish:  Long fade out with dried sour cherries, unsweetened cranberries, dried malt and more ash. Overall: Well, it was the Tasmanian Devil itself... It came with a dust devil and left with a dust devil. It's still young (might be even younger in average than the 2009 release in spite of older malts in the vat), punchy, intense and quite yummy. I have to admit here that I like the 2009 release slightly better but maybe only because I am more forgiving of very young malts for a first release. I expected that this one would be a little more mature and more layered but instead I believe Dr. Bill Lumsden had to use even younger whiskies to create a second batch that soon and large enough to satisfy the hunger of Ardbeg's marketing department. No wonder why they took a break till 2014 to release the third batch. If you are peat freak and/or want to experience a unique and intense peat ride here is your once in a lifetime chance: Take a seat and fasten your seat belts. But only if you can find a sample from a friend... Otherwise I wouldn't recommend to pay those crazy price tags collectors are asking nowadays for a bottle of Supernova. Thanks to Dave Russo for allowing me to fill a wee sample from his bottle...

Ardbeg Distillery // November 2009

May 15, 2015

Kilkerran Bourbon Wood 9yo WIP 5...

Kilkerran Bourbon Wood (9yo), Work in Progress Batch #5 (46.0%): Campbeltown Malt Festival is approaching and sadly I am not going to be able to do it... It's unbelievable how much I missed everybody in the distillery. I am sure it will be a blast and I cannot wait to see the photos and videos later online. But because of the occasion I wanted to choose an appropriate dram to taste tonight. And on top of everything it's World Whisky Day..! Let me introduce you Kilkerran Bourbon Wood from Glengyle distillery. Glenygyle distillery is purchased in year 2000 by Springbank Distillers basically as a decaying shell. The restoration of the site and the buildings started immediately after. It took almost two years for the distillery to take shape and the equipment start to be installed. Frank McHardy designed the entire distillery in every detail and sourced the equipment from all over Scotland. Pair of stills arrived from old Ben Wyvis Distillery and the mill from Craigellachie Distillery. Custom built stainless steel mash tun and four 30,000 liter larch washbacks delivered to the site later in 2003. March 7th, 2004 after years of planning, designing and hard work first drops of spirit ran into the spirits safe. In 2009 the distillery released their first work in progress bottling under Kilkerran brand and since then they continued to release new batches every year. The whisky I will taste tonight is the 5th work in progress release. It is bottled in 2013 and only 9000 bottles have been made available worldwide. Color: Yellow gold, Chardonnay. Nose: Candle wax and uncured leather. Almost like a vintage buckskin jacket you scored from your local Salvation Army Store. Cream soda, green moss and Granny Smith apples. A hint of musk and peat. Camembert cheese. Smells like a walk at seven in the morning in Wee Toon. So characteristic Campbeltown... Unbelievable. A few drops of water brings even more ocean notes. Now it smells like the return from a fishing trip. Salty, briny, covered with diesel fuel and oil. Palate: Orange zest jam, sea breeze, fresh pineapple slices. Cripps pink apple and lime juice. With water: East coast IPA, cigarillos, sweet soot and eucalyptus drops. Tangerines, wet germinating barley and salted butter on brioche buns. Finish: Medium - long with sea salt, black pepper and grilled green peppers. Fading charcoal fire. Overall: Oh, boy... My kinda dram for sure... Young, sizzling, salty, a little smoky and full of potential. Kilkerran releases make me so excited every year, Whole city of Campbeltown distilled and funneled in a glass. If I had a distillery anywhere in the world I would be praying for a spirit exactly like this aging in my barrels. It's full of potential and waiting for various wood finishing experiments coming in future. One of my favorite young whiskies all over Scotland.

Glengyle Distillery // June 2014
Glengyle Distillery // June 2014