Dec 26, 2012

top ten of my 2012...

1. best trip: London, England

2. best dram: Flaming Heart 2012 (4th release) by Compass Box

3. best brew: Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche Doppelbock

4. best bar: Witzli Poetzli, Antwerp

5. best restaurant: St. John Bread and Wine, London

6. best album: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

8. best website/blog: Love Scottish Islands by Lee Allen

9. best live performance: The Cinematic Orchestra at The Barbican, London

Dec 19, 2012

Auchentoshan Silveroak...

Auchentoshan Silveroak 1990, 21yo (51.5%): When I walked through the sliding doors of Edinburgh Airport the day after Thanksgiving it was 7AM in the morning, I had a long travel day ahead of me and I was miserably sick. All my plans to taste everything on the tasting table to pick one up to bring back home were down the drain. I was completely congested and had no sense of smell and/or taste whatsoever. After a few attempts I simply gave up and let Matt Cross the amazing whisky consultant of Edinburgh Airport Duty Free Shop choose a dram for me. And here we are: Auchentoshan Silveroak... It is a 21 years old whisky, distilled in 1990, aged in ex-bourbon and then in Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at a whopping abv of 51.5%. So, I have very high expectations for this dram. Color: Crystal clear. Clean, bright amber. Nose: Honeysuckle... Middle Eastern syrup and Greek thyme and flower honey. Cold unsweetened Jasmine flower tea and overripe green figs. This is a big nose. A few drops of water and beautiful grassy aromas fill in: germinated barley, freshly mowed lawn, shaved fennel and green almonds. Palate: It's pretty hot without the water addition. A big wave of spearmint and dark chocolate with banana fillings. Water opens it up and makes it more elegant: fresh bananas this time, pine nuts and rosemary. First time the whisky shows its age with creamy milk chocolate, lightly roasted Arabica beans and spicy toasted oak notes. The wood notes I am getting reminded me more of a fine but not so old armagnac. Finish: Long but not harsh... Fades out quietly with cooling peppermint and smooth chocolate notes. Overall: What a great Lowlander... A bottle that makes you feel good after carrying it all the way from the other side of the pond. Kudos to Matt Cross... Not drown in sherry casks and carries characteristics of both American and European oak barrels amazingly well in great balance. A perfect digestif with a cup of fine coffee, chocolaty dessert or a mellow cigar. Definitely a bottle to keep as long as I can. By the way I have to say that it was also pretty reasonably priced for a 21 year old whisky. If I remember correctly it costed me a little less than 90 Euro.

Dec 17, 2012

Jura Diuarachs' Own 16...

Jura Diuarachs' Own 16yo (40.0%): A Jura expression I didn't taste before... An unpeated dram named after the Diuarachs, locals of Isle of Jura. After witnessing the rise of Jura Single Malt range in recent years under Richard Paterson's supervision I have a good feeling about it. And I have to admit that chubby bottle looks even cuter in its 1 liter, duty free size. Color: Dark amber, bright polished copper. Nose: Big sherry cask nose... Concentrated sour cherry juice, dried cranberries, wet tobacco, zante currants and cooked raisins. Eucalyptus and lemon peel. Palate: Pipe tobacco and sweet, syrupy Greek baklava with cinnamon dusting. More sweet spices follow: cloves, garam masala and anise seeds. Orange blossom honey, light sticky toffee pudding, warm candied pecans and moist candied fruit cake. Finish: Medium long. Some chewed cigar stubs to start with and it fades out with crushed red hot chillies. Overall: A proper sherried autumn dram, not so adventurous but I wouldn't call it bland either. A little more like the old style Jura expressions I remember but with a Patterson touch. Actually to be honest it's very hard not to think how close to the Dalmore line its profile is. Anyway, I think a whisky with these qualities could definitely benefit from a higher abv. I would love to have this dram a little chewier.

Dec 9, 2012

The Macphail's Collection Tamdhu 8yo...

The Macphail's Collection Tamdhu 8yo (43.0%): This will be the second whisky from The Macphail's Collection range of Gordon & Macphail on tire-bouchon. The first one was an 8yo. Bunnahabhain and actually I remember Jason Debly from Jason's Scotch Whisky Reviews sending me a message right after I posted my review recommending this Tamdhu bottling of the same range but for some reason I couldn't have a chance to taste it that time. But this weekend when Joe Howell from Federal Wine and Spirits brought it up again I thought it's time to sample it and purchased the bottle. Better late than never... Tamdhu distillery was sadly mothballed in 2012 by The Edrington Group but luckily has been purchased by Ian Macleod Distillers in 2011 who also owns Glengoyne, Chieftain's range and Smokehead among other brands. There are no official plans announced yet but it wouldn't be too optimistic to think that the distillery will be up and running in near future. Color: Very pale. Crunchy, dry hay. Nose: I didn't even need to put my nose in the glass. Sweet green malt aromas overflow. It's very brisk, vibrant and young. New make spirit, honey comb, hard milk butter toffee candies. Pink grapefruit and blood orange. After allowing it air a little very distant faint smoke aromas show up with rubber band balls, vanilla and cardamom. Palate: Still very malty but a little roasted and dry this time on the palate. Table saw shavings and pine cones. Adding a few drops of water brings up green asparagus, caraway seeds and fresh cut bitter greens: dandelions, Belgian endives, radicchio. Some salty notes towards the end. Finish: Pretty long and unexpected from its age. Black pepper and malt with green wood and tree bark. Overall: I think this expression can be a little harsh to some drinkers. It's young, vegetal and malty but it is exactly what I was looking for: A perfect after work before dinner dram with a hard to believe price tag between $30 - $35.

Dec 3, 2012

Amrut 100...

Amrut 100 (57.1%): When I started to meet people in the whisky world years ago I remember somebody saying "You will be amazed how nice whisky people are...". And they are indeed, as simple as that. I met many amazing people; enthusiasts, bloggers, brand ambassadors, blenders, distillery staff... You name it. Peter De Decker is definitely one of those guys. I first met him almost three years ago when I walked in his shop Anverness in Antwerp. We became friends, kept contact online and I always tried to schedule some time to visit Anverness during my regular trips to Antwerp just to geek out about whisky together with Peter. For all these years he never lost his enthusiasm and he loves what he does. If you are into whisky and if you find yourself somewhere close to Antwerp in Europe trust me Anverness is worth the trip. Last week I was there again and Peter chose this dram for being the next whisky to be reviewed on tire-bouchon. So here we go...

Amrut 100 is released in 2010 if I am not mistaken. It's named "100" because it's matured for another year in relatively small 100 litre virgin oak barrels after being aged in standard ex-bourbon casks, bottled at 100 percent proof (British proof, 57.1% abv), sold in 100 cl. (1 litre) bottles and only 100 individually numbered bottles have been made available for each of five countries: Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and UK. Color: As orange as it gets. Like a jar of quince jam. Nose: Vibrant and nose tingling orange peel and eucalyptus aromas jump out of the glass. Dark chocolate, wet pipe tobacco, uncured buckskin leather, toasted malt and green wood. Remnants of a bonfire party at the beach: smoking wood, wet sand and caramelized marshmallows. With water it gets incredibly sweet: marzipan and milk chocolate covered raisins. Feels much younger than it is. Palate: A sudden, hot and powerful ashy and peppery attack. It covers your mouth and numbs your tongue. Quite sour with ginger, spearmint, dry soot and pine nuts. Definitely needs water. Sourness turns sweet and salty after adding a few drops of water. Salted caramels, chocolate coffee beans, cooked prunes, almond and sea salt chocolate bars and chili flavored dried mango slices. Finish: Goes forever with peppery eucalyptus, cigar smoke and heavy charred oak. Overall: I think it is my favorite Amrut so far... Loved it..! It's a big whisky. Actually a quite peaty one but peat blends with charred new barrel notes and creates a different kind of mellow, subtle ashy - smoky bed and stays at the background. Oaky, sweet and spicy qualities of virgin oak barrels are more dominant like new style young American rye whiskies. It's pretty great to watch the whisky turning sour, sweet and salty throughout the tasting. Quite a ride... I hope they will come out with other experiments like this in near future.