Whisky Review: Laphroaig 21 Year Old (200th Anniversary FoL bottling)

As I promised earlier this month in the Laphroaig 32 year old review, here’s the Laphroaig 21 Year Old review. The Laphroaig 21 is a Friends of Laphroaig (FoL) exclusive, that was distilled during 1993 and bottled earlier this year after spending all this time in 1st Fill Ex-Bourbon Barrels.

This combination means we can expect a matured (and perhaps a bit muted) peat profile with huge fruity side.

Laphroaig 21 (48.4%, 350 ml, £99 for FoL members)

laphroaig 21 FoLNose: Oh it’s indeed very sweet. whiff of vanilla and honey at first with some lemon. There’s sweet peat smoke with hints of medical notes. Slowly the first wave recedes a bit and we’re exposed to some fruity notes. Peaches, citrus (oranges and lime), pineapples, mango, quite tropical. Sweet smoke with a briny edge, a very rich nose. Continue reading

Holiday VFM Whisky Shopping: the soon to be gone (for a while), Glendronach 15

I’ve been contemplating writing a post on holidays whisky purchases and to be precise, a festive yet striking gold on the value for money scale whisky. When I started looking around for options I encountered the list of the new offers from Glendronach Batch 12 and the rising prices of said offers from a batch to a batch. So I thought to myself: if only the Glendronach 15yo was still available as it’s a perfect fit to my criteria – sherried, festive, complex for its age, rocking VFM.

Why did I think it’s not available? Because last summer it was announced that it will be not be produced for (at least) 3 years due to shortage of spirit of the fitting age. I really thought that following that announcement, all available bottles will be gone in a snap, but what do you know? It’s still available out there! Well, of course it’s not as available as it was in the past – sold out at most online UK shops but there’s still old stock out there in many European stores and across the USA, so I decided to jump ahead and publish the Glendronach 15 yo review now so you can see if it fits your holiday shopping requirements and order it before it’s truly out of stock.

Glendronach 15 (46%, €58.95/$79.29)

GlenDronach 15yo RevivalNose: Lovely sherry impact. No youth notes as I felt with the old 12 yo, big dried fruit  and soaked raisins. demerara sugar. I do get some whiffs of vanilla, orange chocolate, toffee and eventually a rich nutmeg note. Continue reading

Whisky Review: G&M Ardmore 1996 (The wood makes the whisky)

The next sample from Gordon & Macphail ‘The wood makes the whisky’ is Ardmore 1996. The sample didn’t have bottling date so we do not know the exact age, but if we go by the assumption it’s the latest release, then it was most likely bottled in 2013 so the age statement is 16yo, just double the age of the Bunna I reviewed on Thursday.

G&M the wood makes the whisky

The companion book of the campaign

The Ardmore was matured in Sherry Refill Hogsheads while the Bunnahabhain was matured in Refill Sherry Butts, so we have much more wood contact with the spirit and it spent double the time period so we should expect substantial increase in the sherry influence.

G&M Ardmore 1996 (43%, £53.99/€77.90)

G&M Ardmore 1996Nose: Sweet and rich sherry impact: dried berries, stewed fruit and prunes and it’s bordering fruit compote. The peat is very subdued with delicate tingling smoke in the background. After a few minutes in the glass, the sherry impact is getting lighter while the smokiness stays at a steady level and we get to sniff some grilled red apples and even some spicy menthol. further on it gets some perfume edge and citrus. Continue reading

Whisky Review: Macphail’s Collection Bunnahabhain 8 Year Old (The Wood Makes the Whisky)

Earlier this month, Gordon and Macphail, the Elgin based independent bottlers launched a campaign named ‘The wood makes the whisky’. The campaign focuses on the cask’s contribution to whisky flavor. It’s worth repeating here what I wrote numerous times in the past, that the whisky industry estimates cask’s impact on whisky flavor at 55-80% of the final result, making it the single largest factor (Yeah, I know my math ;-) )

The campaign launches with a a dedicated book and few selected whiskies to demonstrate and showcase G&M experience in matching spirit and cask. The book, written by Neil Ridley & Joel Harrison of World’s Best Spirits, is excellent reading and covers all the aspects of wood and casks relevance to whisky production: from the basics on different oak types (American vs European) and the expected flavors derived from those kinds of oak, cask sizes, previous liquid impact and how is it being managed in the warehouse (although I wish that part would be longer!).

The second part of the book concentrates on matching the distillery character (spirit profile) with the correct casks and the implications of such matches – maturation period, what is supposed to happen during that time, how the distillery character and casks counterbalance one each other until the desired flavor is reached and the whisky is bottled.

Along with the book I received a few samples of some of the selected whiskies for the campaign and today I’ll start with the younger one: 8 year old peated Bunnahabhain in a refill sherry casks.

The book tell us that Bunnahabhain distillery character is neither delicate nor heavy. The refill sherry casks means moderate sherry impact of spices, dried fruit. Let’s check it out then.

Macphail’s Collection Bunnahabhain 8 Year Old (43%, £28.80,€34.90)

gordon and macphail macphail's collection bunnahabhain 8Nose: Smoky, salty and fruity. One time cereals and then abundant of cured meat and fruit sweetness. There’s a great balance between the peat smoke and the sherry cask influence. The peat note is well rounded and is kept in check even over time when many young peated drams nose get overtaken by peat smoke. Getting fruitier over time: green melon and dried pears. Continue reading

Whisky Review – Hyde 10 Year Old No. 1 Presidents Cask

Today we’re going to Ireland. A new distillery is being set up in county Cork , Southern Ireland by Hibernia distillers. To celebrate the occasion, they sourced Irish single malt from an undisclosed source (Although I’d bet it’s from Cooly distillery), named it Hyde No 1 Presidents Cask to honor Douglas Hyde who was the first president of Ireland.

Hyde 10 yo is a proper Single Malt whisky that was matured in ex-bourbon casks before being finished in a different spirit cask and there are two variants: one finished in a first-fill Oloroso sherry casks which is the reason for the post today and the other variant was finished in rum casks.

Hyde 10yo is a limited edition with only 5,000 bottles available, it’s a non chill-filtered (yay!) and bottled at a respectable 46%.

Hyde 10 Year Old No. 1 Presidents Cask (46%, €69.99)

Hyde-10-Year-Old-Single-MaltNose: Malty and I also banana at first. Spicy but not your usual sherry spices but instead it’s more of the herbal spices side with eucalyptus, a touch of menthol and even a some junipers. The cask finish is noticeable but it’s not up front on the nose. Instead it’s light and it’s like the glass is 1 meter away. There are light dried fruit and cinnamon but after a few minutes it’s getting sweeter, fruit in syrup (like tinned fruit) and more sugary but still maintain that light and far away feeling. Continue reading

Whisky Review: Royal Brackla 12

Following Craigellachie and Aultmore, Royal Brackla disitllery are the next distillery being introduced into the market as part of the Last Great Malts series from Bacardi. Royal Brackla is one of two distilleries with the “Royal” word in their name (following a Royal warrant of course) but unlike the other Royal distillery (Lochnagar), Royal Brackla is not a small distillery. With a yearly production of 4,000,000 liter of alcohol, it’s a serious cog in Bacardi portfolio for blenders.

Royal Brackla aims for fruitiness and lightness by having a long fermenting stage of 80 hours comparing to the usual 60-65 hours across the industry, and a slow distillation process combined with tall stills means lots of reflux action with the copper, clearing away the sulphury notes. But Bacardi didn’t stop here and for for the entire new line up of official bottlings, the delicate and light spirit is finished in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks.

Royal Brackla 12 (40%, £41.75/€55.99)

royal brackla 12Nose: Light nose and it’s lightly perfumed. Dunno why but I immediately thought of a dancing floor at a spring garden party. Dried flowers, fruity with malt on the background, nuts and almonds, Semi dry. Despite spending most of the time in an ex-bourbon casks, the vanilla and honey are weak here. And then the sherry finish impact notes show up: cooked fruit with spices. cooked nutmeg, milk chocolate, hints of pepper. Despite being bottled at only 40%, it’s a pretty nice nose. Continue reading

Whisky Review: Arran 2000 Private Cask #1106

Following the sad and tragic events this weekend I thought of reviewing some good whisky to boost my mood. The choice fell on a bit sweet whisky to fight the sour and bitter taste in my mouth – a 14 year old single cask Arran, that was bottled for The Whisky Exchange.

Arran 2000 Private Cask #1106 (55.5%, 197 bottles ,£70.95)

arran 2000 private cask 1106Nose: Quite a bold and aggressive nose,  chalky, fruity, vanilla and honey, pears, peaches, pear drops, dark and deep hue fruit juice, whiffs of pineapple. Concentrated red apples juice, soursweet candies. A very rich and fabulous nose. My money here is on a 1st fill cask. Continue reading