Sep 29, 2016

Glenmorangie The Original...

Glenmorangie The Original (43.0%): The Original is the entry level bottle of Glenmorangie line-up... The whisky in the bottle is where most of the other regular cask finish expressions of the distillery starts their journey from. It is a ten years old whisky which is matured in only ex-bourbon casks, first and second fills.

Color: Yellow gold, oaked Chardonnay.

Nose: Orange blossom honey, sweet malt and marzipan. Maple muffin, vanilla extract and peach compote. Lemon crystal candy, fresh blood orange wedges and ripe bosc pears. It's sweet, fruity and very pleasant...

Palate: A little thinner mouthfeel than the nose suggested and a tad watery but still rich with tons of fruits: Juicy red plums, concorde pears, white peaches and nectarines. Honeysuckle, vanilla and marzipan. Healthy dose of toasted oak. Starting to get a little bitter and tannic at the end.

Finish: It is definitely more bitter compared to the nose and the palate. Like all of a sudden you realize that everybody left the party and you are all alone on the dance floor drunk with the tannins and oak staves... Ok, there are maybe some honey, dried bitter orange peel and almond peel as well but they keep their distance. Medium long.

Overall: Well, there is no doubt that it is definitely one of the best deals in the market... Also needless to say it has an amazingly satisfying nose for a ten year old whisky and a very decent fruity and vibrant palate. But I wish that the finish wasn't that much of a let down for me... Anyway, at the end it is a great everyday whisky considering its price tag, wide availability and overall taste. One of the bottles you would like to keep in your whisky cabinet or in your bottom desk drawer at work...

Price: $30


Sep 19, 2016

Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky...

Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky (50.0%): And the last Amrut sample on my desk this month... Amrut Fusion is an expression from distillery's core range and is a vat of whiskies distilled from Indian malt and Scottish peated malt.

Color: Honey, dark yellow gold.

Nose: Thick and oily... Diesel fuel, ocean spray, brine and ash. Fuel soaked hemp, dirty oakum. New car tires, banana peppers on barbecue and iodine tincture. Cocoa powder, burnt flan, peppermint and cumin seeds. Now this is a nose you can spend a long time with... It is hard to believe that the whisky is so young after all.

Palate: Peat is as present as it was on the nose but more widespread and integrated now... More like a backbone. Nutmeg, milk chocolate, toasted cardamon pods and ground cloves. Slightly burnt peach and nectarine slices on the skillet pie you just took out of the oven... Crunchy malt, red plums and ripe apricots. Gently toasted oak notes you usually get from an old bourbon... Toasted coconut flakes and lightly roasted coffee beans. Seriously tasty palate... Layer after layer after layer. I am really enjoying every drop of this sample now.

Finish: Long and gentle. Peat, sweet fireplace ash, oak, burnt sugar and spiced hot cocoa.

Overall: This is a great whisky... Period... Hard not to be a fan of. A solid bed made of gentle but persistent peat with very elegant cocoa notes. Sweet spices and stone fruits. Now this is a bottle you want to keep in your whisky cabinet permanently. I didn't even think of adding water at 100 proof... Well, next time... I am definitely getting a bottle first time I see one on the shelves. Thanks again to Raj Sabharwal for the sample.

Price: $66

88/100

Sep 17, 2016

Amrut Single Malt Whisky...

Amrut Single Malt Whisky (46.0%): While I am typing these notes a brand new shipment of several Amrut bottlings are about to hit the shelves in stores across the States or maybe they already did. So it felt appropriate to post a couple of Amrut reviews this week: First the flagship of the line-up, Amrut Single Malt...

Color: Yellow gold.

Nose: Malted barley, freshly squeezed orange juice and lemon zest. Honey soap bar, bee wax and wet hay stack. Bitter greens, green almonds and green asparagus. Dried apricots and baby bananas. Young, malty and fruity. Very promising. Although I am not a fan of regional generalizations it really noses like a Lowland Single Malt now. Even just a few drops of water amplified all the citrusy aromas threefold. I kinda miss the honey and vegetal aromas. They got lost. You better skip adding water...

Palate: Pineapple slices, vanilla and lemon meringue pie. Granny Smith apples, white peaches and more barley waiting on the malting floor right after it got soaked in water. Sweet orange and buttered toast. Water didn't work very well on the palate as well. It thinned out the texture.

Finish: Where did this salt come from? Salty, just a little peppery with toasted oak and banana chips. Dry and medium long.

Overall: I like it... Absolutely nothing to complain about. I like how dominant the ex-bourbon cask notes are and I like how young and vibrant the whisky is. Perfect entry level dram for a distillery line-up and also fairly priced... It is a straight forward and honest dram, no gimmicks whatsoever. A good fit for ex-bourbon cask matured whisky lovers like myself. Thanks to Raj Sabharwal for the sample. Amrut Fusion coming next...

Price: 55$

84/100

Sep 14, 2016

Glenglassaugh 36yo...

Glenglassaugh 36yo (41.2%): Now this is a pretty special one... A thirty-six years old whisky from Glenglassaugh Rare Cask Releases. It is distilled in 1978 and bottled in 2015 specially for the 20th anniversary of Whiskyauction.Com from a PX puncheon (R2053/ #2344) which yielded 314 bottles in total.

Color: Dark amber, PX, clover honey.

Nose: Old rug, thick woolen turtleneck sweater that you pull its neck in front of your nose when its freezing cold out... A bowl of ripe fruits topped with thick and dark honey: Bosc pears, honeydew, cantaloupe and damson plums. Apple compote and salted caramel filling. After allowing the glass to air for a while some bourbon aromas evolve: Toasted oak, nutmeg, ground cloves and cinnamon. Definitely noses like it is higher proof.

Palate: A thin texture of whisky covers all your taste buts immediately. Initially tart and dry with fresh blackcurrants, cask aged cider and cooked prunes. Give it a little time in the glass... And all of a sudden voilá..! Ginger and fig jam, sage honey, baked peaches, golden raisins and red plums. Incredible... Wet tobacco, hint of sulphur and that beautiful subtle dry oakiness. Like it wasn't already a magical experience just a couple drops of water add white pepper, old leather garments and Pedro Ximenez vinegar.

Finish: Medium to short. Warming... Framboise Lambic, aged balsamic vinegar and molasses.

Overall: Marvelous whisky... Right when I was thinking that the nose was not delivering exactly 36 years worth of history the palate totally knocked the ball out of the park. Everything you can wish for from an old whisky: Fruity, spicy, oaky, tart and dry. Layers and layers full of goodness... Serene, mature and definitely one to remember for a long time. Stunning cask... Thanks again to Jens Fischer for the sample and for the bottle photo.

Price: €395

93/100

Sep 10, 2016

The English Whisky Co. Classic Single Malt...

The English Whisky Co. Classic Single Malt (46.0%): Starting today with the samples from a great world whiskies blind tasting I attended last week organized by Chris Uhde and Southern California Whiskey Club and led by one and only Raj Sabharwal. This one is the unpeated expression of The English Whisky Co. 

Color: Pale yellow, lemon Chiffon, straw. Nice legs around the glass.

Nose: Lemon peel, fresh pineapple and malt. Chalky... Toasted almonds, almond peel and warm oatmeal cookies. New make spirit, stainless steel flask and warm spent mash right after the wort is pulled out. Bitter greens and fertilized soil.

Palate: Very malt forward and vegetal... Grain crackers, cold and wet beach sand and sea salt. Nice mouth covering oiliness. Kinda raw... Must be the young age but it doesn't bother me at all. Dandelion leaves, green asparagus and vegetable stock. It certainly grows in me. Old school pencil eraser, inflatable sea bed and salted butter.

Finish: Medium long with crushed red pepper, bitter greens and lightly toasted oak.

Overall: My favorite part was the nose... So dry, green and dusty. Definitely my kinda whisky in the making. It is very distillate forward as it is now. Therefore I am really looking forward to taste the future releases with more cask influence. Only let down is the steep price tag attached to its neck I have to admit but hey... who doesn't carry one of those these days? Many thanks to Raj Sabharwal for the sample.

Price: $65


Sep 8, 2016

Mount Gay K&L Exclusive Black Barrel...

Mount Gay K&L Exclusive Custom Blend Black Barrel (43.0%): Black Barrel is added to the Mount Gay line-up in 2013... It is a blend of already aged double distilled pot rum and single column distilled rum finished in deeply charred ex-bourbon barrels. This particular bottle is from a batch blended in 2015 exclusively for K&L Wine Merchants but I honestly don't know exactly what the differences between this batch and regular releases might be.

Color: Medium amber, polished copper.

Nose: Musty garden soil... Molasses, empty stainless steel flask and cinnamon sticks. Lots of cinnamon sticks... Brown muscovado sugar, ground cloves and toasted oak staves. Very sweet like you would expect from a rum but also has a good level of spiciness on the nose like a high rye bourbon or rye whiskey. Promising... Grilled pineapples, purple figs, ripe damson plums and freshly scraped vanilla pods.

Palate: A thick layer of cinnamon dusting and powdered cloves on the palate. Almost at a level of being unpleasant... Honey, oak shavings, furniture polish and young alcohol.... It is oozing sweet despite the nice spiciness on the nose. Garam masala, allspice and cooked prunes. Burnt caramel and Werther's Original caramel hard candies... Like somebody tried to save a heavily burnt creme caramel by covering it with the entire jar of cinnamon. Fireball shots and cinnamon Altoids...

Finish: Long and warming with cinnamon, black pepper, burnt sugar and baklava syrup.

Overall: Although I appreciated the ex-bourbon barrel notes on the nose in the beginning they are not nearly strong enough to compete with the overall sweetness on the palate. The cinnamon and young alcohol notes are so overpowering, it is impossible to concentrate on anything else... Too sweet for my palate... I am sure that it will work great in cocktails and will blend great with cold coffee products over a lot of ice but I don't think that I will want to sip it neat or on the rocks.

Price: $25 (Although regular Black Barrel is widely available this batch can be purchased only from K&L Wine Merchant stores)

71/100

Sep 3, 2016

Amrut Herald...

Amrut Herald Cask #1271 (59.5%): This cask is aged in Bangalore for five years before got moved to the island Helgoland in the North Sea for an additional 18 months. It yielded 157 bottles only... There were a few sibling casks distributed in Europe, mainly in Germany and all of them are long gone. Obviously Amrut is looking for alternatives to age their whiskies longer by moving the casks to a colder climate and lower altitude and I wouldn't be surprised to see new releases in similar fashion in future.

Color: Amber, sage honey.

Nose: Strong alcohol, white wine vinegar and ground ginger. Airing clears alcohol, now all sweet: almond cookies, vanilla and flan. After adding water I get baklava syrup, cinnamon, and hard wood furniture. Toffifay candies, spiced rum and honey. One of the sweetest noses I remember lately.

Palate: Hot... Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Water needed. Caramel filled chocolate bars, molasses and Mexican hot chocolate. Oak is very dominant... Not exactly like an old Scotch but more like a small barrel aged bourbon. The longer it airs the more cocoa and pepper notes fill in. Red pepper flakes and milk chocolate. Hot chocolate is still there... And old school chewable vitamins C tablets.

Finish: Gosh... It is long with hot paprika, cocoa, burnt milk and toasted oak.

Overall: Don't be shy when adding water to this dram. The whisky also benefits from airing quite a lot. I personally would be more interested in a cask which spent less time in India but more time in Germany... Who knows, maybe we can see a release like this sometime later. It is a great whisky. All the Amrut sweetness and spiciness we would expect but even more concentrated. Well, like I said I hope we will see more Amrut bottlings from the island Helgoland. Thanks again to Jens Fischer for the sample and for the photograph you see above.

Price: €90

85/100

Sep 1, 2016

Springbank Local Barley 16yo...

Springbank Local Barley 16yo (54.3%): Long awaited resurrection of famous 1965 and 1966 local barley bottlings and apparently the first one of five annual releases planned. It is distilled in 1999 from prisma barley variety harvested from Low Machrimore Farm in Kintyre. Bottled from a vat of 80% ex-bourbon, 20% ex-sherry casks and only 9000 bottles have been made available worldwide.

Color: Bright yellow, yellow daisies under bright sunshine.

Nose: Dusty and moldy. Thick old woolen scarves coming out of the trunk with the first snow flakes of winter. Freshly milled malt, spilled diesel fuel, wet hemp rope soaked in engine oil and lemon zest. Unaged pear brandy, olive brine and sea salt... After allowing it to air the whisky gets more fruity and less peaty. And on top of it just a couple of drops of water and voila: Canned pineapple rings, white peaches, apricot compote and burnt apple pie. Saw dust... Nothing fancy though, pine or plywood. Dried hay stacks and candied lemon jelly. I could nose this for another hour but let's move on...

Palate: Hot and salty on the palate before adding water. I am still on that small wooden fishing boat in Mediterranean I started to dream while I was nosing... Brine, engine oil and fresh rosemaries. Sea salt dried on your skin, fresh caught fish smell on your hands and wet wood. Again a few drops of water works beautifully: Olive oil, dried herring and poached pears. Sweet tea biscuits and a very thin layer of orange blossom honey at the back of your tongue.

Finish: Long with darker and thicker honey, white pepper, salt, fireplace smoke and ash.

Overall: Well, I knew that it will be good but this is very good... It did justify the price tag surprisingly and I have to admit that I was a little skeptical in the beginning. The whisky is totally enjoyable at full strength but I have to say water works great if you can manage to keep it only a few drops. I should get a bottle when I had a chance... Well, too late now. Nevertheless huge thanks to the one and only Jens Fischer for sending me this sample all the way from Goosefeld, Germany and also for snapping the photo above. Cannot wait to share some drams with you in that beautiful garden of yours Jens..!

Price: $180

91/100