Apr 15, 2018

Springbank Society 9yo Fresh Sauternes Hogsheads...

Springbank Society 9yo Fresh Sauternes Hogsheads (57.1%): Today I have a Springbank Society bottling on my desk. It is bottled from a vat of fresh Sauternes hogheads filled in November 2007 and bottled in May 2017. And it is the first society bottle in my cabinet signed by the distillery's fairly new General Manager Findlay Ross. The batch yielded 1,128 bottles... I have to admit though that I actually opened this bottle way back as our New Year's bottle at midnight, December 31st, 2017 but unfortunately had to let it sit for quite a while in the cabinet since it was extremely sulphury and pretty hard to enjoy at that time... I kept sampling it since and started to observe that it was getting better and better in time. Very slowly but definitely better... Finally this week I decided that it is time to pour it again, spend some time with it and post a review. So, here it is...

Color: Dark amber, chestnut honey with thin legs.

Nose: Passion fruit... Also some freshly picked wild mushrooms, damp gardening soil and fertilizer. White port, mineral water and Irish Spring soap bars. But mainly passion fruit. Adding water makes it more soapy but not in a bad way, it's kinda refreshing... Lipton iced tea tropical and rubber band balls.

Palate: Oddly enough I have passion fruit on the palate as well. Sour cherry juice, black soil and a little soot. Four berries jam and dried strawberries. Gherkins... Water works great here. Guava, papaya and mango slices, brewed green tea and dry oak staves.

Finish: Long, sweet and syrupy. Dark brown Muscovado sugar, sweet grape molasses and christmas cake.

Overall: I am pretty happy about how this whisky came back to life in time... In this case oxidation was our best friend. Now it is fruity, juicy and refreshing. I probably would have guessed it as a Longrow instead of a Springbank because of the rubbery and plasticky peat on the palate if I tasted it blind. Nevertheless it is a great batch...

Price: $65

Apr 1, 2018

Lagavulin 12yo (1980s bottling)...

Lagavulin 12yo (1980s bottling) (43.0%): A few months ago one of my colleagues walked into my room with this mini in his hand saying: "Hey, look what I found at home... I don't know if it is any good but I thought it might interest you.." I almost burst my coffee in his face. It is a Lagavulin 12yo from 1980s carrying a White Horse Distillers Ltd. label. I really hope that the whisky is still in good shape since the bottle was open for a long time and a sizable amount of the liquid is missing. According to my colleague after being tasted many years ago it was returned back immediately to the cabinet because it was too "strong" to drink. I simply cannot wait...

Color: Dark amber, bourbon-like with thin legs. It is actually suspiciously dark suggesting a very hefty dose of caramel coloring.

Nose: Hints of serious oxidation: Wet cardboard boxes, stainless steel Sigg water bottles and damp gardening soil. Cooked raisins and Zante currants... Beef stew, rotting salad mix forgotten in your fridge and very old brandy. Hint of peat but way back in the distance.

Palate: Unfortunately oxygen did its work... Long gone. Mostly old newspapers, plastic food containers and harsh mouth covering alcohol. Very hard to believe that I am tasting something 43% abv. Somehow being exposed to oxygen in so many years stripped all the other flavors and left alcohol alone in the bottle. I can tell that it is peatier on the palate than the nose suggested but the alcohol burn is so numbing it's very hard to pick anything else. Maybe some molasses, burnt caramel and raisins but even those are not so pleasant notes. Everything tastes syrupy sweet, artificial and chemical... Very sad...

Finish: Mostly sweet with molasses and burnt sugar with massive alcohol burn.

Overall: Well, very hard to hide my disappointment... The whisky is long gone. I was very excited to taste a Lagavulin from that era but it sadly didn't happen. Well, at least we know now that they were using quite an amount of caramel coloring back then as well. 

Price: N/A

Mar 31, 2018

Highland Park 12yo...

Highland Park 12yo (43.0%): I thought I reviewed Highland Park 12yo years ago on this blog but apparently I was wrong... Well, let's do it right now then. By the way what in the world does "Viking Honour" mean? Is it something new? I checked their website right away and it looks like 10yo and 18yo received a new name as well. Must be something they added after they revamped the core range... Anyway, although I lost track of their limited releases and one offs at this point I like Highland Park's core range in general. 18yo is still one of the best official distillery bottlings in the market. I do miss the old 21yo but I have to admit that I never could afford a full bottle anyway. On the other hand Highland Park 12yo has been always one of my favorites since early 2000s with its price/value ratio and today thanks to a dear friend and colleague I have a brand new bottle on my desk to celebrate a very successful opening of a show we both worked on very hard and for a very long time.

Color: Deep gold with impressive legs.

Nose: Grassy, citrusy and tart. Fresh lemon juice, lemongrass and orange pound cake. Touch of smoke, touch of sulphur... Airing helps a lot to get rid of some sulphury off notes. Cookie dough, jonquils and dried papaya slices. That's about it... Adding water doesn't change a lot just thins out the texture.

Palate: It is usually opposite but in this case I am enjoying the palate way more than the nose right now. Pineapple slices, slightly more pronounced peat and wet thick wool. Cookie dough, jasmine tea and peach..! Yes, very dominant peach notes all over the palate... Canned peach halves, peach iced tea and cold apricot compote. Some very young malt whisky notes which I kinda liked but also surprised by. I wonder if they have some second fill barrels in the vat.

Finish: Long with mixed stone fruit compote and green malt.

Overall: First of all it is quite different than I remember... Less peaty and floral but more fruity and young... I doubt that they would change the profile that much; probably we got so used to all kind of peat monsters lately and having hard time to detect and appreciate low peat levels like this one. But these peach and apricot notes on the palate and the young whisky influence in general are quite new to me in this whisky. I liked them though... Thanks again for the present Jeremy...

Price: $45


Sunset in Kirkwall, Mainland Orkney  // August 2010