Whisky Review & Tasting Notes – A trio of whiskies from New Zealand

I believe I said it before, but I’ll say it again – I love tasting world whiskies. It’s fascinating to see various people in different places around the world, who love whisky and produce it. In my short whisky journey I was lucky enough to taste whisky from Scotland (doh), Europe, South Africa, Australia and more but it’s time to get to the southern-est place where whisky was produced – New Zealand.


The sad fact is that currently there’s no active and working distillery in New Zealand. The last active distillery was Willowbank Distillery on the southern island in New Zealand and it was closed down in 1997 and mothballed in 1999. Luckily, the New Zealand Whisky Company bought in 2010 the remaining casks and all those New Zealand whiskies are sourced from those barrels, and so it will stay, until a new distillery will be setup there (or barrels emptied).

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Whisky Review & Tasting Notes – Highland Park Dark Origins

So what happens when a distillery releases another pricey NAS whisky? One that you could imagine as competition and maybe future replacement? For most distilleries or bottlers, we’ll explode with rage and angry words but in the case of Highland Park distillery it was met with curiosity and very little anger. We shouldn’t forget that HP aren’t strangers to expensive and pricey NAS whiskies, as evident from their high-end Warriors whiskies so maybe this is why Dark Origins wasn’t receiving such a harsh treatment as others did?

Or maybe because Dark Origins fills another niche in their core portfolio, allowing them to sell (and earn) more?

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Whisky Review & Tasting Notes – Tomatin Cù Bòcan Sherry cask 46%

I visited Tomatin distillery a month ago and I still owe you a detailed post on it but in the meanwhile here’s a review of one of their latest offering, the Cù Bòcan  – The Sherry Edition.

You probably wonder what is it, so here’s what we were told in the official press release:

With the standard edition comprising Sherry, Virgin Oak and Bourbon casks, this is the first of three limited editions highlighting the flavours derived from each cask type.

Fully matured in first fill Sherry butts, the Sherry edition is rich and fruity with hints of smoke and paprika. There are only 6000 bottles available and it is expected to retail at £49.99 in specialist retailers.

This is a not a new concept in the industry, as previous limited editions were already produced (like Balantines 17) but it’s always a great idea to showcase the stronger impact of specific cask time.

Side note: I know that different glasses will expose different notes, but It’s been a while since the difference was so substantial. I’ve sniffed this whisky in both a Glencairn and the official Tomatin nosing glass and it was so different a whisky. Do you ask yourself which glass was used for the notes below? Go ahead and try both glasses and you’ll see :-)

Tomatin Cu Bocan Sherry cask (46%, 6000 bottles, £42.15)

cubocan sherryNose: It’s young and kicking at first sniff. There are new make notes, lots of malt and of course lots of peat although it’s not sharp but it smells like more than 15 ppm. Buy then the peat recedes and there are all those fortified tropical fruits – Melon, Ananas, Mango. very Tomatin-like but with extra sweetness.

Palate: starts with peat but less so than what I felt on the nose at first, light influence of sherry with pastry, demerara sugar, chocolate, spice, all laced with tropical juice

Finish: short-medium length with nutmeg spice, sweet light sherry and lingering peat.

Toughts: This one felt very young at first (is it younger then the standard Cu Bocan?), then get balanced with some air breathing making it lightly peated with extra sweet tropical fruits. Very tomatin-like whisky with the peat. Real solid offering from Tomatin for those who like the dash of peat in their whisky.

(Official sample was received from Tomatin Distillery)

Whisky Review & Tasting Notes – Douglas Laing Old Particular Aultmore XO

Today I’ll be reviewing a whisky which I consider as a controversial one. If there was a dictionary entry for this definition, it’d have a picture of this whisky – the Douglas Laing Old Particular Aultmore XO.


It all started few months ago, when 4 new and exclusive whiskies arrived to our not-so-whisky-central duty free shop in the local airport (TLV, in case you wonder). You should understand, the chance of that happening is equal to winning the national lottery. Yeah, it’s pretty rare.

I recall discussing those 4 whiskies with my friend and fellow blogger, Michael (of Malt & Oak blog) and there was one whisky that piqued our whisky geek senses, yeah, this one – the OP Aultmore XO. After all, how could it not? It’s a pricey sherried Aultmore, a single cask bottling yet there’s no age statement. Instead, it’s titled with XO on the label. However, XO is not a legal age according to SWA, so it falls under the NAS category. but using XO in the whisky name? Nowadays, it’s rarely used in the whisky industry (was used sporadically in the past) and is a term much more recognized from the brandy/cognac sector. Continue reading

Whisky Review – Port Charlotte 11 Eòrna Na h-Alba (Travel Retail Exclusive)

I have something to tell you: I love Port Charlotte whisky. When Bruichladdich announced that Octomore 6.2 & PC11 will be travel retail exclusive I was quite disappointed at first but then I found out it’s heading toward our local duty free shop in TLV!

Well, as you can imagine, most of the local peat lovers grabbed a bottle (or two) and even I managed to get part of a bottle (shared with friends) :-)

Back to the whisky itself – it’s the 7th release in Bruichladdich PC series (started with PC5), it’s heavily peated and in cask strength, so enough words and lets taste it, OK?

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte PC11 (11 YO, 59,5%, $150 in TLV Airport)

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Whisky Review – Arran 17 Year old

My previous experience with Arran whisky isn’t extensive – I did taste a few Arran whiskies in stores and even SMWS one (which I blogged here and I have heard lots of good things on other indie bottlings) and the quality is very good and improving with time, so when Arran 17 yo went on sale, I picked it and hoped it will be as good as expected.

Bear in mind that Arran distillery is young. It only celebrated 19 year old 1-2 months ago and as such it has a long way to go, catch our eyes and build up their reputation. so every release is important on this road. Continue reading

Whisky News – Tomatin Cuatro & CuBocan Sherry, AnCnonc Cutter, Ardbeg Supernova 2014, BenRiach Single Casks bottlings Batch 11

Hello there, I’m back! Did you miss me? :)

It’s been a long and busy summer, but now I’m back from summer holidays, recovered from the post-vacation blues (and virus) and it’s time to get in a high gear again.

Here’s a round up of the latest whisky releases, and this time I’m trying a different format for the whisky news roundup posts: We’ll start with headlines and Whisky gospel take on the release and only then we’ll provide the full PR. So, here’s take #1:

  • Tomatin Releases Cuarto limited edition series and Cù Bòcan Sherry edition

WG_iconWhisky Gospel: Kudos to Tomatin to release a limited edition of 4 whiskies and keep the age statement on. Even the new Cù Bòcan is a refreshing addition (even if in a limited mode). oh, and the price is decent, very decent.

  • An Cnoc adds Cutter to their peaty collection

WG_iconWhisky Gospel: Even more peatier! 20.5 ppm may not sound as much, but remember it’s post-distillation value so good chance it stands up to Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Port Charlotte when it comes to peatiness. Should be an interesting dram.

  • Ardbeg releases Supernova 2014

WG_iconWhisky Gospel: oh boy, I do understand the ‘need’ to release another community release (been a while since the last one, Alligator) but tie it with the space experiment? and dress Dr Bill Lumsden in Astronaut suit? I bet the supernova will be a solid dram (early review already confirm that), but the price is again ardbeg-y and the hype is there. Sigh.

  • BenRiach Releases Batch 11 of its Single Cask Bottlings

WG_iconWhisky Gospel: Like a clock, as expected, on the heels of the Glendronach releases, here comes the BenRiach. Not much to see here except that it’s probably good (very good) whisky, some more affordable and some less. If you can afford it, go on and buy one – it’s probably worth it.

And now for the full press releases. Enjoy! Continue reading