Whisky Review & Tasting Notes: Aberfeldy 12 year old

Weekend is here (or almost here, depends on your time zone) and for the weekend we have a review of a classic whisky, the Aberfeldy 12.

Bacardi took over Aberfeldy back in 1998 and a year later released the 12 yo we We came to know and love, and still, most of their production goes toward the Dewars blend malt line.

Aberfeldy is one of five distilleries taking part in Bacardis’ “The Last Great Malts” series, so the Aberfeldy 12 yo has been repackaged with new label and since I haven’t review Aberfeldy yet on the blog, so there you go!

Aberfeldy 12 year old (40%, £31.95)

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Whisky Review – Bunnahabhain Ceòbanach

Bunnahabhain is the Islay distillery mostly known for the fact it’s main production is unpeated whisky. However, they do release some peated whisky and Toitech comes to mind as prime example. And now, here comes new peated whisky from Bunnahabhain: Ceòbanach, limited edition with no age statement (according to the label) but it’s known to be a 10 yo expression.

Ceòbanach (pronounced ‘Kyaw-bin-och’) means “Smoky Mist” and the ”excuse” behind this release (besides generating more sales and eyeing the holidays shoppers wallets) was to give an impression of the original peated Bunnahabhain profile from long time ago (think of end of the 19th century/start of 20th century period)

Ceòbanach is a limited edition release, but unlike previous limited editions isn’t geared toward Travel Retail so it means we all can go and buy it if we want to. Do we? Thanks to a sample from a friend (Thanks Manny!), it’s time to answer this question.

Bunnahabhain Ceobanach (46.3%, €55 / £42.5)

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Whisky Review – Compass Box Great King Street: Glasgow Blend

Along with the Lost Blend which I reviewed yesterday, Compass Box also introduced the second permanent whisky in their Great King Street range – The Glasgow Blend.

Mind you, it’s the second permanent whisky in this line but we had two  experimental releases during the summer of 2013 which the public was supposed to vote on which one it preferred to guide Compass Box toward the winning formula.

In my review of those experimental releases (see it here), I declared it was hard to choose between them; One was a peaty whisky and the other was sherried whisky but eventually I voted for the sherried one. But neither one match the description of Glasgow Blend, so I chatted with Chris Maybin of Compass Box on this subject.

What were the poll results on the experimental releases last year?

There was 16 votes between the two after around 3000 votes. The smoky version won but really the result was pretty much 50/50.

How did the experimental releases from last year impact this blend?

The Experimental releases impacted the make up of this blend a great deal. Tasting them and the feedback we received helped us realise that both smokey and sherry Experimental styles had a delicious character – indeed both were very well received – but both possibly lacked a little something. That got us thinking that perhaps we could combine them to get the best of both worlds!

Did you used one of them as the basis to the final Glasgow blend?

No, in concept, Glasgow Blend is very much a combination of both of them. The challenge was to find the right balance of smoke, sherry, fruity malt and sweetness from the grain. Despite the work we had done on the two Experimentals, it took a year and over 100 prototype recipes before we reached something we were happy with.

So here we are with the chosen blend formula, a smoky sherried blend to serve as a sibling to the original Great King Street blend. It is made from approximately 67% malt whisky from the regions of Islay, the Highlands and Speyside and 33% Lowland grain whisky from a Fife distillery (i.e. Cameronbridge). It is aged in a combination of first-fill Sherry casks, first-fill and refill ex-Bourbon barrels with a small portion of new French oak finishing.

Compass Box Great King Street: Glasgow Blend (43%, 50cl, £27.45)

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Whisky Review – Compass Box The Lost Blend

Xmas and new year is almost upon us and many new whiskies are being released to the market and even Compass Box and John Glaser joins the party with two new releases: The Lost Blend and The Great King st. Glasgow Blend so we’ll review them today and tomorrow, starting with The Lost Blend.

The Lost Blend name is inspired by the O. Henry story of the same name which features two business partners who try to recreate a blend of different spirits with close to supernatural properties. And what is the compass box blend which John Glaser was trying to recreate?

Here’s what John Glaser said on their own lost blend:

“In 2001, we created our first single malt blend which we called Eleuthera. It was an elegant marriage of approximately 80% unpeated Highland and 20% peaty Islay single malts. Alas, after 3 years, we were suddenly no longer able to obtain one of the key whiskies required for the recipe so, sadly, we retired Eleuthera in 2004. Quietly, I have been looking for whiskies that we could use to bring it back, even if temporarily, but without any luck. Until now.”

So John found what he was looking for and it was a combination of 80% of Clynelish and Allt-a-Bhainne and 20% Caol Ila. We don’t know how old are the spirits (no exact age was given) and what casks (although I guess it’s ex-bourbon casks judging by the whisky color) so lets hop directly to the tasting notes:

The Compass Box Lost Blend (46%, 12018 bottles, £77.54)

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Whisky Review & Tasting Notes – Benromach 10 Year Old 43%

Take a relatively lower profile and small Speyside distillery, pair it with owners who know a thing or two on whisky and what do you get? Right, Benromach Distillery.

The Benromach distillery was bought by Gordon & MacPhail in 1992 and re-started whisky production in 1998. In 2009 they started producting the BenRomach 10 Year Old which became a huge success and is the first Benromach whisky reviewed on this blog.

This timid looking Benromach is aged in 80% Bourbon barrels, 20% Sherry hogshead for nine years with a final year in first fill Oloroso casks which should give it a nice sherry and sweet touch, especially if it’s finished in good sherry casks.

Benromach 10 Year Old (43%, £29.28 / €41)

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Gin Review – The Lakes Gin

How about we take a break from Whisky this weekend? I mean, from reviewing, not from drinking mind you.

Despite this blog revolving around whisky, I do sin in reviewing some other spirits from time to time. (Hey, if Serge can do it, why can’t I?)

So it’s time for the first Gin review on the site – the newly releases The Lakes Gin from the Lakes Distillery.

The Lakes Distillery first whisky distillation run and cask filling is almost here as it’s planned for this upcoming week (with the first 100 casks goes toward their Founders’ Club program which looks like a great idea if you want to track their first whisky maturation and own a set of bottles along the way. see here). But just before they (and this blog as well) focus earnestly on their whisky, let’s review their Gin, after all it’s a good Sunday drink (like all other spirits ;-) )

At first I thought I’ll nose and taste it at room temperature but the folks at The Lakes Distillery told me to stick the gin in the freezer before I try it as it’s their recommended serving suggestion as it help to enhance the taste. It surprised me a lot as with single malt whisky, chilling it that way will shut out all the great flavors it has to offer us, so to be on the safe side I tried it both very chilled and at room temperature.

The Lakes Gin (43.7%, £29.95)

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Whisky Review and Tasting Notes – Edradour 1993 Sauternes

It’s quite a busy Friday here at Whisky Gospel so we’ll dip into the archive to get some sweet tasting notes for you – a Satuernes Edradour whisky.

It’s a 18 year old whisky from the Edradour distillery aged in a Sauternes wine cask from Chateau D’Yquem. It was distilled in December 1993 and bottled in April 2012.

Initially matured in plain hogsheads, this 1993 vintage Edradour was transferred to a fresh Sauternes cask after more than 14 years for a final 42 month finish, bringing out sweetness to complement the traditionally nutty distillery character.


Edradour 1993 Sauternes (52.7%, £180)

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