Monday, 31 December 2012

Glenlossie 35 yo 1975/2010 Berry Bros. 49.7%

20 Dec 2012

Nose: Apples, pears, sherbet.
Mouth and Finish: Honey. Estery pear drops. Smooth.

Very lively; only the smoothness gives away the age. A very good malt, this.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Lidl 18 year old "Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky" 40%

An 18 year old for less than £20? Also, at mistaken first glance, from the "Speyside" distillery— who do quite a nice 12 year old. So of course I bought it.

Only it's not actually from the Speyside distillery, just a Speyside distillery. The best guess I can find via google is that it's a Tamnavulin, but Lidl and the mysterious Clydesdale Scotch Whisky Company (W&M?) are not telling.

Nose: Restrained, soft honey.
Mouth: Very smooth. Vanilla and wood.
Finish: Very very smooth. Oak and cinnamon.

Given the complete lack of spiritiness or harsh notes, there could be a fair amount of even older stuff in there. It's certainly more refined and quite a lot nicer than some much older (and more expensive) single malts— though not the most complex dram out there.

Definitely worth snapping up, though.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Bowmore 15 year old, Darkest. 43%

Nose: Sherry, salt and smoke.
Mouth: the same.
Finish: Warm, fruity, some salt.

Good. Not as punchy as the Feis Ile tasted at the same sitting (it's not a cask strength), but the same general idea.

Bowmore Tempest 10 year old, small batch 3. 55.6%

Nose: subdued vanilla, some smoke. A little underwhelming after the Feis Ile.
Mouth: Lively, zesty, a slight harshness. Salty.
Finish: Soft salt lingers in the back of the mouth. In a nice way.

Not bad at all. Seems like Bowmore whiskies are much more varied, and nicer, than I remember from before. "Before" mostly being a distillery tour and tasting 9 years ago.

Bowmore Feis Ile 2012 15 year old, 55.4%

The first offering at a recent Bowmore tasting.

Nose: Muscular. Sherry and fruit jostle with the smokiness.
Mouth: As above, but it starts to come together.
Finish: Warm, long, well balanced.

In the end, it pulls off the sherry/smoke integration rather well. Shame there isn't much/any of this left...

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Benrinnes 27 Year Old (1984). Carn Mor. Cask 2269, 57.6%

Strange are the ways of whisky. Had both a Benrinnes and a Carn Mor bottling quite recently and liked both. So turned to this, one of the samples brought back from the whisky festival, with high hopes.

Cereal/spirit on the nose, oaky mouth and finish, a bit of burn. Opens up slightly with a drop of water— just maybe there's some sherry in there too. Overall though: disappointing.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Tomatin 34 yo (1976). Liquid Sun 48.7%

Lots of sherry on the nose. Dried fruit: apricots.
Mouth— filling, warm, more raisins and dried fruit. Very sweet/liqueur-like.
Finish— like falling asleep in front of a log fire.

It's very good, but the overall effect is hardly unique. Probably suffered by coming immediately after the Carn Mor Caol Ila.

Caol Ila 31 yo (1981/2012) Carn Mor. 55.3%

Something special, this.

Incredibly lively and ester-y on the nose, for its age. Only a faint hint of smoke.

Mouth kicks in with various fruit flavours, including grapefruit and pineapple. There's surprising tropical-ness here: almost Um Bongo. Very little oakiness.

The finish is smooth and long, with the various tropical flavours jostling good-naturedly. The peat remains subdued.

On a second tasting the smoke comes through a little more noticeably, but nothing unpleasant or medicinal about it: fragrant applewood.

Generally I'm sceptical that any whisky is worth more than three figures— the decoupling of price from value at the higher end just becomes exponentially ridiculous. But it's whisky like this that necessitates use of the word 'generally'...

Forty Creek Barrel Select. 40%

Another miniature, and the first blended whisky to be reviewed on here.

Nose- fruity, vanilla fudge
Mouth- very sweet, mixed fruit (initially some citrus), warmer and smoother going into the finish.
Finish- warm, smooth and sweet.

An enjoyable easy drinker.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Dalwhinnie 15 yo. 43%

Nose: subtle. Honey and citrus. Maybe something a bit floral.
Mouth: smooth. Honey, citrus, and just a hint of smoke.
Finish: lengthens as you get through the glass. Warm and pleasant but no last minute surprises, good or bad.

Everything a good highland malt should be. 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Bladnoch 17 yo. 46%

One of the miniatures brought back from Scotland last month.

Nose: grassy meadows.
Mouth: citrus fruits, honey, grass, fizzy sherbert. Complex. There's a slight burn, though.
Finish: becomes smoother, warmer, more honey coming through.

Interesting and rather nice.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Slyrs 2009. 43%

A Bavarian whisky.

Very young, grainy and harsh. Not particularly pleasant.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Benromach Traditional (no age statement) 40%

Nose: elegant, restrained, faint meadows, a whiff of smoke. Tantalising.
Mouth:  honey, malt, oiliness, cereal/grasses, restrained peat. Just the very faintest hints of more... but it's getting beyond the limits of what my palate can detect.  Doesn't quite live up to the promise of the nose in terms of complexity, and there's a slight harshness, but still— it's interesting and pleasant.
Finish: There's warmth, and honey. Doesn't really linger, but no off notes either.

Actually, this is pretty good. For the price, it's really very good. I'll be coming back to this.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Bowmore 18 yo, 43%

Lots of peat/smoke on the nose, but then sherry and a surprising amount of fruit coming through on the palate, and a progressively smoother, longer, sweeter and warmer finish through the rest of the glass. Pulls off the smoke/sherry integration rather well. Balanced and complex.

A very nice whisky.

9 December 2012
Had this again at a recent Bowmore tasting. As above, really. There's definitely salt in there too. Mix of dried fruit and orchard fruits. The subtlety and complexity I think makes this my favourite of the evening— at least of the regular distillery bottlings on offer.

Benrinnes 15 yo. Flora and Fauna, 43%

Wow, this is good. Lots of sherry, with chocolate, toffee, dried fruits, but not nearly as filling/cloying as that sounds. Finish fades a little quickly, but still— I might just get a bottle of this.

Teaninich 10 yo. Flora and Fauna, 43%

Again, a standard measure wasn't really enough to get to grips with this. Spirity cereal, the sweetness builds, some subtler flavours coming through towards the end of the glass. Another grower I'll have to come back too.

Glendronach 15 Year Old Revival. 46%

Muscular. This is a sherry monster, for sure. Big tasting all round— thought it was cask strength at first. Suspect there's a lot more than sherry going on with this one, but I'll have to come back to it. One measure in the Whisky Club isn't enough, and it's a little overwhelming at first try.

Longrow 18 yo. 46%

1 October

Strong peaty nose melts into an inoffensive, pleasantly smooth mouth. Warm and sweet finish.

I think it's nice, but this was sampled towards the end of the 'dregs party' at the Dufftown Whisky Shop, when my tastebuds were getting thoroughly burnt out.

Auchentoshan Valinch. No age statement, cask strength. 57.5%

1 October

Intenser cask strength version of the rather nice entry level un-aged Auchentoshan. Honey, very smooth, dangerously easy to drink for a cask strength.

Bruichladdich Black Art

1 October

Interesting. Smoke, peat and grape admixture— though not particularly well integrated.

Bruichladdich 12 yo (2nd edition?) 46%

1 October

Grassy/spirity nose. Not very promising. Peat and fruit on the mouth. Redeemed by a warm sweet finish.

Bunnahabhain 12 yo 46.3%

1 Oct

Oak, salt, barley, and honey. Slightly prickly.

Glenfiddich 15 yo. 40%

1 October

Light, smooth, pleasant, forgettable. I've forgotten already.

Convalmore 1984/2010 G&M Connoisseurs Choice, 43%

1 October

Woody, cereal/barley, honey. There's supposed to be sherry in there, but it's quite subtle. And my discriminatory powers are fading towards the end of the dramble.

Kininvie 1992/2012. Duty paid sample cask number 7950. 50.2%

1 October

A 'dramble only' special bottling— generally, all of Kininvie's output goes into blends.

Interesting: grassy spirit, light cereal, and faint smoke. Not a typical Speysider.

Mortlach 16 yo. Flora and Fauna, 43%

1 October

Lovely all round. Sherry. Raisins and other dried fruit. Complex. Warm, lingering finish.

Singleton of Glendullan 12 yo. 40%

1 October

Like Singleton of Dufftown, but a little better. Longer finish, too.

Singleton of Duffown 12 yo. 40%

1 October

A by-the-numbers malt, this: easy to drink and easy to forget. Syrupy sweet and smooth sherry. Fades quickly.

Pittyvaich 18 yo 1993/2011. G&M Connoisseurs Choice 43%

1 October

Clean, light cereal. Vanilla and wood. Orchard fruits too.

Pretty good.

Longmorn 23 yo 1969/1993 Gordon and Macphail, 61.2% (?)

30 September

Nose: lovely clean vanilla, oak and honey.
Mouth: all the above, with extra wood and light orchard fruits. Very smooth.
Finish: it all mingles together amicably; long and warming.

Very, very good.

Bowmore 12 yo. Adelphi bottling, 56%

30 September

Smoke and seaweed dominate the nose. Gentler and sweeter on the mouth— there's sherry fruitiness. The sherry and peat fight a little on the finish, but overall it's good.

Lochside 46 yo. Adelphi 50/50 grain and malt 'blend at birth' 54.6%

30 September

Barley and honey on the nose. Very fresh for the age. Rum-like mouth.


Macallan 14 yo. Adelphi bottling, 51.6%

30 September

Subtle honey and sherry on the nose. Rich, warming, dried fruit— but not too heavy. Oily, smooth, fills the mouth. Long finish.

Very nice.

Tamdhu 17 yo. Adelphi bottling, 58.8%

30 September

Sherry-sweet nose. In the tasting room, people are saying things like treacle, toffee, nuts, and butterscotch. I'm not sure— though it's certainly sweet. Cloying, even. Something slightly harsh on the finish, though overall fairly smooth given the strength.

Longmorn 21 yo. Adelphi bottling, 55%

30 September

Malt and honey. Gentle, floral, dry on the palate. Fruitier and sweeter on the finish.

A good 'un.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Fettercairn 7 yo, peated 1/4 cask ?%

30 September

This was the 'mystery' malt in the White and Mackay tasting. It was also the last of seven in one sitting.

Sherry and peat- but the peat dominates. Smoky and smooth. A long finish, for the age. Interesting.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Isle of Jura 1993 Sherry JI finish. 54%

30 September

Nose: smoke, sherry and orange fight it out.
Mouth: complex. The fight continues.
Finish: some ginger and cloves enter the fray.

Complex and interesting, but hardly balanced.

Isle of Jura 21 year old. 43%

Spirity orange on the nose. Seaside salt/phenol comes through on the palate, though there's plenty of honey too. Slight harsh note on the finish.

Dalmore King Alexander III. 40%

30 September

Complex nose. Sherry, orange, oak, vanilla and honey. The sherry dominates the palate a little too much. Long, sweet and warming finish. Nice, but too sweet/sherried for me.

Dalmore Spey Dram. 40 %

30 September

Underwhelming nose- spirity. Clean orange and honey on the palate. Fruity. Short-ish finish, but overall, it's nice.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Balvenie Signature 12 yo, 40%

30 September

Much like the doublewood, but there's a bit more going on here.  Honey, vanilla, smooth oak, restrained sherry, but with more obvious spiciness. Very palatable, but fades quickly.

Balvenie Doublewood, 12 yo, 40%

30 September

Tasted in the cramped but friendly and appropriate surroundings of the Balvenie Castle ticket/souvenir booth.

Honey, vanilla and oak. That's about it, really. Oh, and a little sherry. Fine, as far as it goes.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Rosebank 21 yo Special Release 1990, 53.8%

29 September

Nose: clean honey, very alluring.
Mouth: incredible smoothness and complexity. Less obviously floral than the 12 yo Flora and Fauna, but there's still something remarkably fresh, clear and meadow-like about it.
Finish: long, lovely. Citrus and herbs.

A lot going on in this one; something different with each sip. Outstanding.

Craigellachie 20 yo Single Cask Berry Brothers. Bottled 1991. 55.8%

29 September

Grassy, unassuming nose. Cereal, cream, and a crisp sweetness on the palate. Very faint floral notes. Light and smooth-ish. Although geographically Speyside, this is much closer to a lowland style malt. Not a patch on Rosebank, though.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Hanyu 'King of Hearts' bottled 1986, 55.4%

Smoke and sherry on the nose- reminiscent of the Karuizawas.

Rich and hefty on the mouth; sweet toffee. Some peat lingering underneath. There's something a little harsh in there, too. But overall- it's good.

Glenrothes 21 yo. Whisky Castle Cask collection, 54%

Sherry, of course. Clean tasting, very smooth. A grower- the full orchard fruit complexity takes about a standard Highlander Inn measure to develop.

Very good.

Glendronach 12 yo 43%

Good news- the current bottling is more or less as I remember the circa 1995 bottling. This was the whisky that first hooked me into single malts.

There's barley and restrained sherry in pleasant, even harmony. Lovely peppery/gingery finish.

Even allowing for sentimental attachment, very nice indeed.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Autumn Speyside Whisky Festival 2012

This was my third dedicated 'whisky trip' to Scotland, but the first since I've started recording these notes, and the first time to a whisky 'festival'. Previous visits entailed driving around the countryside doing distillery tours. On the last trip there were three of us (one not particularly keen on whisky) and it was all interspersed with walking/kayaking and some general sightseeing. This time, just with A, it was a more serious whisky-focussed affair.

For now I've just listed all the whiskies I sampled, for which I made any kind of note- however brief- and where they were tasted. I'll gradually add new entries over the next few weeks as I transfer the notes across from my phone. Not everything is listed below: there were a handful that slipped the net and didn't get any kind of note, and I took away a bunch of sample bottles that I haven't broken into yet. The latter, at least, will get their own entries as and when they are tasted.

Frankly, by the end of the trip my never-particularly-discriminating palate was getting overloaded and the length and quality of the notes will likely diminish towards the bottom of the list.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Mortlach 18 yr old. The Wine Society, 2008 bottling. 55%

Another favourite distillery, this.

Nose: warm sherry and raisins.
Mouth: lots of sherry and dried fruit still, but nicely balanced with cleaner wood and barley.
Finish: long and warm.

A very good, well-balanced malt.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Glendronach single cask 1989 20 yrs old, cask no 3315, 53.2%

I believe they call this type of malt whisky a 'sherry monster'. And yes— it is. It's a very good one, too.

Besides sherry, there's black treacle, dried fruits, and sweet maltiness by the bucketload.

Right now, though, it's just a bit much— too rich, too intense, too filling. It doesn't help that I'm recently back from a holiday that involved way too much apple strudel, spent most of today indoors, and and had a big Sunday roast a few short hours ago. I think this would go down better in front of a log fire after a hearty-but-not-excessive supper, rounding off a long day of hiking across some bleak moorland somewhere in the frozen north.

In the mid-90s, the then-entry level Glendronach was one of the very first single malt whiskies I ever tried— perhaps the one that got me into malt whisky in the first place— and I've got a hankering to sample the current 12 year old to see if it brings those memories back (the label design, at least, looks very similar). I remember preferring it to the 15 year old that came out a little later, after the distillery was mothballed. Watch this space.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Caol Ila, distillery only. 58.4%

Well, it turns out you don't actually need to go to the distillery- just order a sample bottle from a well-known supplier.

Wow. The peat wafts across the table as you pour. The power of the nose is softened as earth, ash and smoke fill the mouth. Sweetness comes through on the finish. Well-balanced.

This one seems capable of winning over Islay doubters. While strongly peated, there's a lot else going on besides, and no harsh medicinal overlay. Goes down very well- easy to forget it's cask strength.

Very good indeed.

Glenugie "Dun Bheagan" 30 year old, 50%

Rich, warm and fruity nose. Smooth honey, fruit and oak on the mouth. Long warm finish, with just a slight harsh catch at the end.

Very pleasant, but not particularly characterful. Another closed distillery— but at least you can get similar stuff elsewhere.

Rosebank 12 year old (Flora and Fauna). 43%

Recently I had another opportunity to taste this. An old favourite.

Nose- first it's just spirit and cereal. It takes time for the floral, herbal complexity to come through.
Mouth- subtle, closely intermingled with the nose: summer meadows and a crisp, smooth (but not overwhelming) sweetness.
Finish- all the above, overlain with long drawn-out honey. The complexity lingers.

I have neither the palate nor the vocabulary to identify and describe all the subtleties in this malt whisky. It's just as lovely as always. One day I hope to find a malt that does something similar— only in production from a securely extant distillery.

Ledaig, no age statement. 42%

Very pale in colour.

Nose- not much. A little peat, some cereal, young spirit. Not particularly promising, at first sniff.
Mouth- getting better... Clean, sweet, some smoke and grass.
Finish- better still. Warm, long. Herbs, ginger and honey.

And it gets better again as you get through the glass- ginger, smoke and warm honey building and harmonising with every sip. An unexpectedly pleasant— and I should add, cost effective— surprise.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Deanston 12 year old, 46.3%

Bought this sample on a whim, because I'd never heard of the distillery.

Nose: oily, grainy.
Mouth: barley, spirit, grass. Some honey and lemon.
Finish: disappointing.

A big nothing special.

Redbreast 15 yr old, single pot still. 46%

Nose: vaguely fruity
Mouth: sherbert, fruit, honey. Clean and fun.
Finish: incredibly smooth.

Well, single pot stills are supposed to use less malted barley, or something. But I'm not sure I could reliably distinguish a "single pot" from, say, a clean tasting lowland Scottish "single malt".

I enjoyed the 12 year old Redbreast a while ago, and liked it. This one's good too.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Bunnahabhain (Single and Single) 1976 31 yrs 47.9%

Nose: sea and smoke, but lightly fragrant spices, fruit and grasses too.
Mouth: complex. All of the above, and more. The sherry is there but not overwhelming.
Finish: satisfying and long, the fruit and salt linger together nicely.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX 46%

Interesting tasting this not long after the Lasanta. It's sort of what the Lasanta wants to be: rich, heavily sherried on the nose, but honey and dried fruits also coming though on the mouth. There's a warming, smooth finish. No off-notes this time.

I suppose it's just another one of many good sherried Speyside malts: nothing particularly unique, and perhaps a little too sweet and sherried for an Olympic summer evening. But very nice nonetheless.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Glenmorangie "The Lasanta", 12 yr old, 46%

It's got a good nose, if you like sherry. Actually, it's all sherry, sherry, sherry, but slightly spoilt with a twist of something acrid on the mouth and finish.

On offer at the supermarket and only a half-sized bottle, so no harm done. It'll satisfy the occasional sherry craving and get finished, one day.

Glen Scotia 1992 (Berry Bros, bottled 2008) 55.7%

6 July

Nose: subtle smoke and peat.
Mouth: the smoke and peat get subtler still; light fruit, honey, wood, and grain come through in stages, dissolving into a curious burnt ash taste each time. This sounds unpleasant, but it's not at all.
Finish: long and warm.

A surprising and difficult-to-describe experience. Really very different, but in a good way. Certainly one of those unusual "I didn't know whisky could do this" malts. Highly recommended.

Balmenach 1975 (Connoiseur's Choice, bottled 2007) 43%

6 July

Nose: heavily sherried, dried fruits.
Mouth: sherry, fruit, rich and warming. Maybe toffee and chocolate (or else it's the the dark colour prompting synaesthesia)
Finish: pleasant, very filling.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Tullibardine, John Black cask 5. 1992 53.8%

Nose: sherried but not overwhelmingly so.
Palate: sherry, but good slugs of barley, oak and honey in the mix. It all works well together- a very balanced malt. Very smooth for a cask strength.
Finish: smooth, warming, sweet but not cloying.

A good 'un.

Boisdale Glen Grant 1972 46% (Berry Bros)

Wood, vanilla and barley. Mostly smooth but a slight catch on the finish. It's good, but can't help feeling slightly disappointed. It lacks distinction or character; maybe it's too old/over-oaked for the spirit.

The corporate types clogging up the bar didn't help.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Talisker 10 yr old 45.8%

Acquired this bottle from a fellow malt whisky drinker who received it as an unwanted gift— not a fan of this style. How many times do we have to explain to well-meaning non-whisky drinkers that it doesn't all taste the same?

Nose: Mostly smoke and peat. Indeed, probably enough to dissuade most active Islay/Island dislikers, but fine for an 'undecided' like me.
Mouth: Initially robust, but the smoky peatiness dissolves into something sweeter. It's a slightly jarring transition but not altogether unpleasant.
Finish: long, sweet and warming. Nice.

The elements don't quite gel, but I like this nonetheless. I swapped it for the dregs of my most recent bottle of Dun Leire and consider that a fair exchange.  A good winter warmer if nothing else.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Name change

'Taste of whisky' was such a bland title I couldn't even find my own blog on Google the other night. So it's now the more distinctive and hopefully identifiable 'Malt Teaser'. 

That is all.

Karuizawa 1990 cask 679 56.1%

A friend's new acquisition: tasted this 2012 bottling side by side with the 1981 Karuizawa.

Smooth, easy drinking leather and wood, sweet and sherried but less dried fruit, and certainly none of the smokiness of the 1981. Until recently, my only experience of Japanese whisky had been a 12 year old Yamazaki several years ago and the woodiness of the nose/initial mouth reminded me of that. It's still very nice, but not as exceptional as the 1981.

Bladnoch (Gordon and MacPhail) 1991 40%

Dug this out of the back of my cupboard while the Auchentoshan, another Lowland, is still fresh in the memory.

A harsh young spirit oily/graininess on the nose, light sweet wood and grassiness on the mouth. A hint of floral notes.

Nice, but no Rosebank. I think the entry level Auchentoshan is better than this, too.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Auchentoshan 'Classic' 40%

The entry level Auchentoshan. The nose is hardly inspiring, bland bourbon with hints of grain and oil— but it gets much better. Lots of vanilla on the palate, the characteristic overwhelming smoothness, and a nice warming finish.

The context certainly helped with this tasting, a crackling log fire (in June!) surrounded by family. I've had this many times before and always liked it, both in its current un-aged 'classic' bottling and the previous 10 year old. Although it's clearly changed, I couldn't choose between them without a side-by-side tasting. It still has that pleasant, easy-drinking quality, and a triple-distilled smoothness that offers something distinct from the Highland malts.

[I've also had the Triple Oak Auchentoshan before and remember not particularly liking it. Will try to taste again now I've got these notes to compare against.]

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Jura 'Origin' 10 yr old 40%

This is the entry level Jura. The nose is oily and underwhelming— just a hint of peat/smoke. Mouth gives lots of over-cloying sweetness. The finish redeems this malt a little, lots of honey. Not unpleasant, but not great.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Balvenie Tun 1401, Batch 2, 50.6%

Nose: Sherry, dried fruits. Is this going to be just another sherry monster?
Mouth: No! Orange and honey, and plenty of them. And lots more besides. Christmassy flavours. Fills the mouth.
Finish: Reverberates around the mouth and sinuses- long, warming, honeyed finish without being at all sickly or cloying. Incredibly more-ish.

The combination of accessible easy-drinking sweetness and well-integrated complexity demands constant sipping. It's the mouth and finish that makes this special. Some malts you can contentedly nose all evening, but not this one... you need to drink it, and keep drinking it.

Which is a shame, because this is another extremely good malt that's sadly way outside my price range.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Aberlour 10 yr old 40%

Tried this several times before in different contexts— indeed I'm sure I've had a bottle in my collection at various times— and always considered the entry level Aberlour a safe-but-boring option. Sherried, sweet, but a bit simple.

Actually on this tasting (one of the miniatures) I think it's better than that. No idea whether this represents my better honed palate, or an improvement in recent bottlings, but... it's not just sherry and sugar, there are spices and honey there too and a smoother, more complex finish than I remember. 

So: very pleasant. Also cheap and widely available.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Lochside 1981 The Whisky Exchange 57.5% (bottled 2010?)

One of A's collection- thanks again!

Restrained colour, tons of sherry on the nose, but a much more balanced mouth (if a little overpowering at first): the sherry is nicely countered with mixed fruits and honey. Lovely smooth and long finish.

Very nice.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Speyburn 10yrs 40%

Another miniature. Drinking alone, cold and rainy outside.

Flat, pear drops/ester chemical-y on nose, mouth not much better (a bit of honey maybe), something bitter/unpleasant on the finish.

Won't be going back.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Glenlivet 15 yr old French Oak Reserve 40%

One from the cupboard. Suspiciously rich, dark brown colour.

Nose: warm, rich, some lighter citrus fruit there too.
Mouth: warm, rich, heavier fruit- I don't think it's sherried but still got that familiar Speyside fruity fullness.
Finish: pleasant- warm and sweet- but not particularly complex or lingering.

In conclusion: rather nice.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dun Leire 8 yo (Sainsburys) 40%


Produced by the Irish distiller Cooley, for Sainsburys. I'm on my second, if not third, bottle since it came out a year or two ago and it's stayed consistently good. A really distinctive, light and flavoursome malt. And readily available from your friendly local supermarket. Would still be a great whisk(e)y at three or four times the price.

Nose: not much. A bit zesty.
Mouth: lovely- smooth, sweet honey, citrus fruits. Very smooth.
Finish: lingering, complex, not a hint of sharpness.

Malt whisky doesn't have to be expensive to be really very good indeed.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Karuizawa 1981/2011 57.5%

A friend's recent acquisition sampled in his company a few days ago. This is a recently issued bottling from a now-closed Japanese distillery: think it was the 1981 but I'll confirm the details and amend/add to the title at a later date.

A dark brown sherry monster.

Nose: Outstanding. Warm dried fruits, sherry. A hint of smoke but it fits right in.
Mouth: As above. A little overpowering at first sip, might try adding some water next time.
Finish: Awesome, complex, lingering. Too much going on to adequately describe here.

Many thanks A.

Drumguish, no age statement, 40%

March 2012

Another one of the miniatures.

Dull. Not actively unpleasant (though almost there).

Won't bother going back.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Speyside 12yo 40%

April 2012

One of the miniatures for my first entry. A solo tasting at home, and a pleasant surprise.

Nose: honey, warm, welcoming.
Mouth: much the same- honey and barley. Fills the mouth. Stays very pleasant.
Finish: warm, lingering flavours as above, nothing unwanted at the end.

OK, it's not the most complex malt out there. Never heard of the distillery before I got the gift set, and it's hardly a memorable experience, but still— it's nice. It's an example of one I would certainly forget about if I hadn't started this blog, which would be a shame, because it's a very reasonable find and one I'd happily revisit.

Tasting notes for the casual whisky drinker

I must have been drinking single malt whisky for seventeen years now. I love the stuff. But I'm a casual drinker. I don't have a big collection: currently it stands at two full sized bottles, one 35cl bottle, and a gift set of miniatures I got at Christmas. Usually I drink common-or-garden malts of the kind readily available in the larger supermarkets. But I'm lucky enough to have one or two friends who also like whisky and have decent collections of more interesting and obscure malts, and I live close enough to central London to attend the occasional tasting event or visit a well-stocked whisky bar. In short: over the years I've probably tasted a fair few. And now I'm getting tired of not remembering what a particular malt tastes like, or even whether I've tried it before. The great ones I remember of course, and the awful ones too— but there have certainly been some quirky inbetweeners that deserve to be acknowledged.

Hence these online notes.

I don't generally go in for long flowery descriptions or complex star diagrams— sometimes the most coherent thing I can say about a malt is "like" or "don't like." But at least that's something. Generally I'll try to stick to the nose, mouth and finish format, but reserve my right to go off on weird tangents, whisky-related or otherwise.

Another thing that I think is very important for casual whisky fans like me is context: whether the tasting is solo or with friends, at home or in a pub or bar, at a formal tasting, after a busy day at work, on a cold winter's evening or a warm summer afternoon. I believe my perception of a malt's qualities varies with mood and setting. So where relevant, I will make a note of the context of the tasting.

For now, these are my notes for my benefit. But if you want to read and comment, please feel free.