Dec 30, 2016

tire-bouchon's top ten of 2016...

1. whisky of the year: Springbank Local Barley 16

Laphroaig Lore
Kilkerran 12 yo

2. distillery of the year: Glen Scotia Distillery

Wyoming Distillery
Paul John Distillery

3. "best bang for the buck" of the year: Lot No. 40

Great King Street Glasgow Blend by Compass Box
Faultline Blended Scotch Whisky by Douglas Laing & Co.

4. malternative of the year: Jaucoulot "L'Authentique" Marc de Bourgogne

Christian Drouin Blanc de Normandy
Chateau de Pellehaut Tenareze Armagnac 15yo (2001)

5. brew of the year: Rueuze by Bruery Terreux

Olde California Sunset by Craftsman Brewing Company
Aktien Zwick'l Kellerbier by Bayreuther Bierbrauerei

7. book of the year: "The Pub" by Pete Brown

"The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of an American Whiskey" by Fred Minnick
"Whisky" by Aeneas MacDonald with an appreciation by Ian Buxton (rerelease)

8. website of the year: The Whiskey Wash


9. retailer of the year: K&L Wine Merchants

"Day of the Dead Distilleries" by Los Angeles Scotch Club

*photo credit by Jens Fischer

Dec 22, 2016

Kilkerran 12yo...

Kilkerran 12yo (46.0%): After seven different releases which started all the way back in 2009 Glengyle Distillery finally released their first not work in progress bottling, Kilkerran 12yo this year. The distillery started to distill in 2004 after being purchased and renovated by Springbank Distillers in 2000, designed entirely by Frank McHardy. It runs on two stills sourced from old Ben Wyvis Distillery. Kilkerran 12yo is bottled at 46% abv. and blended from 70% ex-bourbon and 30% ex-sherry casks.

Color: Yellow gold, oaked Chardonnay.

Nose: Beeswax, diner style lemon meringue pie, limoncello. Warm sea breeze... Not like the beaches of Scotland though, more like a beach at Mediterranean in summer... Charcoal... Briny and resiny. Rosemaries, seaweed, dried flowers and cookie dough. 

Palate: Sweet paprika, rich tea biscuits and raw honey. Slightly metallic: Sigg water bottles, sea salt and wet sand. Catalan flan, slowly evolving soot and charcoal. Dry oak, vanilla, orange twist and marzipan.

Finish: Medium long to long with candied lemon peel and touch of black pepper. Lingers with sweet citrus marmalade notes on both sides of the tongue.

Overall: I said it here before but will say it again: If I ever owned a distillery I would like it produce a juice exactly like this... Perfect combination of subtle peat, brine, sweet fruits, vanilla and honey notes. It is an old style whisky, aged properly and is ready to be the flagship expression of its distillery. Full of potential and ready for different finishes as well as being aged longer. I will definitely have a permanent place for this bottle in my whisky cabinet. One of the best new releases of 2016...

Price: $65


Frank McHardy // June 2014
Glengyle Distillery // June 2014

Dec 20, 2016

Lagavulin 8 yo...

Lagavulin 8yo (48.0%): Lagavulin 8yo is one of the limited releases Lagavulin distillery bottled within 2016 to celebrate their 200th anniversary. This particular one is a tribute to Alfred Barnard and his legendary book "The Whisky Distilleries of the UK" published in 1887. In that book Barnard talks about an 8 year old Lagavulin he tasted during his distillery visit and refers to it as "exceptionally fine" and basically that was the line inspired the creation of this 8 year old whisky sitting on my desk now. I liked the idea of releasing also an affordable expression for their anniversary among other expensive ones... Aged in refill American and European oak casks.

Color: Almost clear... Straw, very pale lemon chiffon.

Nose: Salted bonitos, kippers and charcoal. Cold sea spray, unripe Concorde pears and sliced Granny Smith apples. Everything I want to nose on an Islay whisky... Dried hay, Belgian endives and bitter greens. Gum resin, spruce and juniper berries. Diesel fuel, sweet soot and wet soaked hemp rope. Cigarette ash... Young and beautiful... Just a drop or two of water works great, amplifies the aromas and opens it up. Sour milk, inflatable armbands and WD40.

Palate: Ashtray, sea water, kippers in olive oil... Barbecued banana peppers, vanilla and pineapple rings. Campfire on the beach, wet sand and grilled fatty fish. Salted butter, Catalan flan and black peppercorns. Hint of fresh spearmint leaves, milk chocolate and lemon zest. Again just a couple of drops of water is a huge improvement: Wool scarves, ginger tea and dried sour cherries.

Finish: Long... Soot, charcoal, chili oil and resin.

Overall: I wish it was a permanent addition to the line-up... Everything I like about a young peaty whisky: Less to none sherry cask influence, vegetal, coastal, briny and resiny... It is vibrant, dusty and chalky. I see now why hardcore Lagavulin fans kept their distance to this expression but I think I loved it for the very same reasons. I should have bought another bottle when I had the chance because I don't see this bottle lasting too long in this household.

Price: $60

Dec 18, 2016

Paul John Brilliance...

Paul John Brilliance (46.0%): And the fourth and last sample from Paul John Distillery... It is called Brilliance, distilled from Indian six row barley and matured in ex-bourbon barrels.

Color: Yellow gold.

Nose: Pine nuts, kumquat and lemon. Sunflower seeds, malted barley and alfalfa sprouts. Dusty, chalky and nutty. Fresh cut grass, unsalted butter and plain cheesecake. A couple drops of water works great, less vegetal, sweeter and more nutty now: Hazelnuts, caramelized walnuts and bitter almond cookies.

Palate: Creamy, waxy and malty... Crunchy oatmeal cookies, raw honey and Clif Bar energy bars. Roasted hazelnuts and chocolate covered almonds. Nutmeg and milk foam. Less waxy after adding water but still holding its great creamy texture and way too easy to drink now.

Finish: Long with nutmeg dusting, cinnamon and toasted oak staves. Malted barley.

Overall: By now I shouldn't be surprised by another good whisky from Paul John but I still am somehow... Great texture, nicely layered and complex. At at the end I ended up tasting four different expressions from Paul John in less than a month. Although all of them were unique and characteristic I am gerenarlly impressed with the consistently nutty, waxy and creamy distillery profile at the core. I can say that my favorite among four was Edited but I enjoyed the entire line-up. Cannot wait to taste new releases from Paul John distillery in the future... All the samples generously supplied by Madhu Kanna and Ajay Bhoja. Thanks again..!

Price: $60

Dec 16, 2016

Inchmurrin Madeira Wood Finish...

Inchmurrin Madeira Wood Finish (46.0%): And I have the third and last sample from Loch Lomond Distillery sitting on my desk this evening and it is actually the first single malt I will taste as a part of their line-up. The whisky is aged initially in ex-bourbon barrels and then finished in ex Madeira wine casks. Inchmurrin line of Loch Lomond distillery is named after the largest island in Loch Lomond and carries also a 12 year old and an 18 year old expression besides this NAS bottling I am about to pour... It is launched in 2015.

Color: Medium amber, dark copper... Strong and thick legs around the glass.

Nose: Yellow grapefruit and orange wedges with young alcohol and plastic container aromas. Sliced Honeycrisp apples and Concorde pears. Musty and earthy... Damp basement and wet cardboard notes. Prunes and raisins. After airing quite a while and with the help of a couple of water drops young alcohol aromas clear. It gets chocolaty with marzipan and quince paste aromas.

Palate: Warming... Woolen blanket, heavy sweaters, walnut pieces and dry toasted wood. Burnt peach slices on a pie, chipotle peppers and dark raisins. Apple and pear slices are still there and lime juice. Butter... Although it is bottled at only 46% just a couple drops of water works great... The texture becomes more velvety and it adds warm savory pastry and almond paste notes. Fresh almond croissant...

Finish: Long... Longer than I expected. Red pepper flakes, salt and black tea.

Overall: Well, I have to admit here that it happened to be a way younger whisky than I thought... I also was expecting a sweeter one but instead we have a dram on the slightly saltier, more savory and more spicy side with some nice subtle fruity notes. Imagine walking in a pastry shop on a cold winter morning. The shelves are filled with savory and doughy pastries decorated with nuts on top and filled with fruit preserves. It smells heavenly... Actually thos whole picture fits to the holiday season kinda perfect. I know, the steep price tag is not helping very much but it is a nice winter warmer. Many thanks to Benito Quinonez and Kate Laufer Gorenstein for the official sample...

Price: $80

Dec 13, 2016

Paul John Peated Select Cask...

Paul John Peated Select Cask (55.5%): The third sample from Paul John's line-up is the Peated Select Cask. For this expression they used only their peated malt. As you will remember from earlier reviews Paul John is using six row barley grown in India but they are importing their peat from Scotland.

Color: Medium amber, honey...

Nose: Yep, definitely peat... More like a new make though: Burnt rubber, plastic lunch containers and the vintage bomber jacket you dug out from a pile of other leathery goods in the flea market. Over-roasted pine-nuts... Wild mushrooms, pork broth and iodine tincture. Even a few drops of water cleared the plasticky off notes very beautifully, much better now. Roasted sunflower seeds (again), roasted cashews and damp earth... Dried sour cherries, cumin and ripe baby bananas.

Palate: That's more like it... Bacon fat, burnt pineapple rings and dried spicy mango slices. Adding water works as good as it did on the nose. Balsamic vinegar, maple charcoal and dark and bitter chocolate bars. More bacon, smoked red meat, beef jerky and sizzling sweet sausages on barbecue.

Finish: Long with roasted red peppers, barbecue ash, bitter walnut pieces and other roasted nuts. Quite salty...

Overall: A very different peat experience... It started like a young, synthetic and harsh peat experiment but ended up with a sweet, mellow and ashy barbecue party. It sure benefits a lot from airing and a few drops of water and I have to say that it was one of the rare peaty whiskies I enjoyed more on the palate than on the nose. Another well crafted and unique whisky from Paul John... Well, I have to admit that this particular expression is kinda pricy but very worth to try. Official sample supplied by Madhu Kanna and Ajay Bhoja...

Price: $98


Dec 3, 2016

Paul John Edited...

Paul John Edited (46.0%): And the second sample from Paul John's line up... It is called Edited. It is a single malt whisky made by blending unpeated and peated whiskies both distilled from six row barley like in Classic Select Cask. Latter one is dried up to 20 - 25 ppm with peat imported from Scotland.

Color: Medium amber, orange blossom honey with persistent legs.

Nose: Peat is there but not very punchy... It is sweet and calm. I am getting roasted sunflower seeds on the nose again. Such a distinct distillery signature... Gauze pads and rubber bands. Roasted hazelnuts and roasted almonds. Incredibly sweet and vegetal on the nose. Celery sticks, dandelion leaves and brown sugar. With water it gets tad more grainy: Dried malt fresh out of the kiln, sandalwood and walnut shells.

Palate: Gosh... This is beautiful... Very delicate peat, dried malt and burnt oatmeal cookies. Sweet and doughy... Almost like a smoky rum if such a thing existed and sweet sausages on barbecue. A little too easy to drink with a dusty and chalky texture. A few drops of water add green apples, underripe pineapple slices, Asian pear some cocoa powder...

Finish: Not so long but very gentle with fireplace ash, barbecued banana peppers and rock salt.

Overall: Now this is a great whisky... Sweet, malty, dusty and just the right amount of peat. Easy to drink, balanced and very well crafted. It is a whisky you would wish to have a bottle of at home all around the year. I am seriously hooked... Cannot wait to taste the other two samples of the line-up. Thanks to Madhu Kanna and Ajay Bhoja for the official sample.

Price: $65

Dec 1, 2016

Blend Project #23 Loch Lomond Reserve...

Loch Lomond Reserve (40.0%): Second sample from Loch Lomond Distillery... It is a blend of single malt and grain whiskies all distilled under the same roof. If you would like to hear more about the distillery please take a look at my review of Loch Lomond Single Grain right below... Like I mentioned there this whisky can actually be called a "single blend". And on top of all with a price tag under $20 it definitely claimed a spot in my ongoing blend project as well. Entry number #23 it is...

Color: Amber with a greenish hue.

Nose: Need to allow it to breathe first to avoid the young and harsh grain whisky burn... That's better: white bread crumbs, old glossy paper magazines and furniture polish. Medical cabinet, old tin lunch box and stainless steel flask... Lemon rind and wet malt. After adding a few drops of water I get freshly squeezed lemon juice and more young alcohol burn... Funny, it noses like Cutty Sark now. Meh... Maybe it didn't need water.

Palate: Sweet and malty... Soft ginger candies, yellow gummi bears and rich tea biscuits. English bitter ale, orange zest jam and London dry gin... And herbs: dried lavender, sage and purple basil. Slowly but surely subtle peat notes surface, just enough to make you smile... Diesel fuel, rubber bands and latex gloves. The palate is way more interesting than the nose now I have to say. Even water works better here. It's doughy and a little nutty now: Green almonds, cookie dough and creamier in texture. I think I would take that splash of water in spite of the Cutty Sark effect on the nose.

Finish: Medium, mostly with young alcohol burn on both sides of the tongue.

Overall: I say it is a pretty solid blend for $17... I had many worse ones with a considerably higher price tag. Order a double with your daily pint at your favorite watering hole and you will be just fine... This whisky is meant to be a cheap every day blend and all I see here is a job well done... Hard to discuss anything further. Thanks to Benito Quinonez from Loch Lomond Group and Kate Laufer Gorenstein from KLG Public Relations for the sample...

Price: $17