Apr 29, 2015

Laphroaig 15yo (old release)...

Laphroaig 15 yo (old release) (43.0%): Perfect timing..! Right when Laphroaig officially announced their limited-time only new 15yo expression as part of their 200. anniversary I pulled out my sample of long-time gone but never forgotten old Laphroaig 15yo. Soon enough everybody will start to discuss how the old and the new releases compare to each other anyway. It is a comparison that most probably will end up in a familiar, sad and nostalgic contest where "the new release" has no chance to win whatsoever... Let's try to be fair, objective and definitely not nostalgic (which I feel that it is getting considerably harder and harder when I am aging but...) and taste this dram before I have a chance to taste the new release. My 50cl sample is saved from a bottle Dave Russo graciously shared with us in one of our tastings a few months ago. Color: Medium amber, orange blossom honey with visible slow moving legs. Nose: Green asparagus stalks on the grill and charcoal. Diving mask and snorkel dried under sizzling sun with dried sea salt stains all over and salted kippers. Iodine tincture and Belgian endives. Hint of sulphur... If I had a dog and if we had a long walk at the beach on a cold Fall morning I think it would most likely smell like this. With water it gets sweeter. More sulphur and iodine. Now I can feel that medical cabinet I was talking about before wide open in front of my face. Palate: Oily and mouth covering... Bitter notes first: fresh walnut halves with their skins on, pipe tobacco and dry hard wood. Cinnamon sticks and allspice. Burnt matches, cigarette ash. Water thinned the mouthfeel but didn't add a lot to the palate. Maybe some bananas and pineapple at a distance. Finish: Woody and dry. Soot and black pepper notes. One of those +90% super bitter dark chocolate bars. Overall: Hmmm, mixed feelings... It tastes like an odd single cask. Interesting for sure and I would definitely be more indulgent if it was a single cask from an independent bottler we never heard of (Aren't we all?) but it is a little out of phase I have to admit. I remember this whisky being a favorite of mine but now I sure didn't go crazy about it, weird... I think in years we gradually got more and more spoiled with every new release of Laphroaig: Quarter Cask, PX Cask, Triple Wood, 18yo, Select... Actually it's the same case with any other distillery nowadays. Whisky industry changed for sure and transcended immensely within the last decade. And we as consumers got used to it pretty easy. Our expectations are higher than ever and we always want to be amazed with every new release. I am not quite sure if it is a healthy thing or even fair but that's how it is. Now of course I am more curious than ever how the new 15yo will be like. Cannot wait to taste it very soon. Bring it on Laphroaig..! Thanks again to Dave Russo for the sample.

Laphroaig Distillery // Still Room, November 2009

Apr 27, 2015

Kilchoman Machir Bay (2014)...

Kilchoman Machir Bay (2014) (46.0%): Tonight I am visiting one of the samples I saved from a tasting we put together among friends almost two months ago. It is Islay's youngest distillery Kilchoman's Machir Bay expression. This young distillery is one of the few in Scotland which has its own floor maltings. Almost 25% of their barley is sourced from the fields surrounding the distillery and they also have their own bottling plant on site. Despite their small capacity of only 150.000 liters per year and very young whisky stocks they come up every year amazingly impressive expressions. Machir Bay 2014 release is a vatting of five and six year old whiskies matured in ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry butts. Color: Pale lemon chiffon, straw like. Nose: Oh, my... Where to start: Sweet peat, ocean spray and olive brine. Grapefruit gratin, yellow gummy bears and diesel fuel. Seaweed, soot and cigar ash. Mixed smell of engine oil, fuel soaked hemp ropes, wet cork and fresh caught fish in the air on your way back from a successful fishing trip on a lovely Sunday afternoon. Adding a few drops of water shifted it to an even sweeter side: Rock candies, ginger ale and honey roasted almonds. Palate: Unexpectedly smooth and sweet but still quite peaty. Caramelized brown sugar, warm chestnut honey and lemon juice. Wet sand at the beach, white peppercorns, white grape juice and chili pepper flavored dark chocolate. Water made all these notes work together like a blended whisky. Very approachable but a little one dimensional now. Finish: Medium long with some plastic food container notes, chipotles and black pepper. Overall: Instead of the usual grassy and earthy notes of Kilchoman this expression has a more coastal and fruity character. Well, that's why it is named after the gorgeous beach of Machir Bay I guess... It is smooth, sweet and dangerously drinkable. Maybe a little too sweet for my palate but it is damn tasty folks... The small amount of the Oloroso butts worked perfect in the vat to round the peaty edges. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about its price in the beginning but it's a remarkable whisky nevertheless. Especially nowadays in a market swarmed by no age statement whiskies with price tags around $100 this bottle is definitely worth the $60 - $70 you will spend.

Apr 26, 2015

The Maltman Glentauchers 17yo...

The Maltman Glentauchers 17yo (49.5%): It's been quite a while. Samples piled up and I am behind, way behind... I have a list of excuses but I will cut to the chase instead. What I have on my desk today is a 17yo. Glentauchers release from the Maltman line-up. The whisky is distilled in July 1997 and bottled in August 2014. It is aged in an ex-bourbon cask which yielded 396 bottles. Glentauchers is owned by Pernod Ricard and in spite of its very limited availability as single malt it is actually a decent size distillery with a capacity of 4.2 million liters per year. Most of the production goes into Ballantine's blends. Color: Oak aged Chardonnay. Nose: Fresh cut pineapple slices, passion fruit and guava. Cold pear compote, kumquat and pine needles. Butter and crispy dried malt. Rubber bands and old glossy magazines. Water brings up some earthy aromas: wine cellar mold, black garden soil and wool. Palate: Sea salt, oatmeal cookies and wool scarf. Warming and spicy. Honey, marzipan and nutmeg. Adding water kind of made the texture a little too thin for my palate but added some nice piney notes though: pine resin, tree bark and pine cones. Finish: Perfect amount of wood tannins lingering as long as you can tell; tongue tingling. Subtle allspice, cinnamon and dried lemon zest. Overall: Well, I liked it of course since I am a fan of ex-bourbon only matured drams. It is fruity, citrusy and warming. Clean, refreshing, simple and tasty. Anything I can ask for... A bottle you would like to have home for the times when you don't want to be adventurous and just sip a good whisky. I have to say in general I really appreciate the barrel choices of The Maltman team. Thanks to Brad Jarvis a.k.a The Whisky Professor for the sample.