New Laphroaig expression to be launched in Spring 2016: Laphroaig Lore

It was only last week when the members of Laphroaig maling list received a letter from John Campbell, the distillery manager, with a full summary of what happened in Laphroaig during 2015, the 200th anniversary year. In addition, in the letter John wrote we can expect a new expression to hit the shelves in Spring 2016, and and a few details were already revealed.

The new expression will be called Laphroaig Lore, and will it be bottled at 48%.

laph lore front

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Whisky Review: Longrow RED 12 Year Old (Pinot Noir Cask Finish)

Longrow RED 12 is the 4th installment in the Longrow RED series. I had reviewed the first one on the blog (right here) and liked it a lot. I also happened to taste the 3rd one (full maturation in port casks) and here comes the new one which deviate from the 11 years formula with additional one year as it’s 12 Year old.

But it’s not the only noteworthy change. Previous editions were fully matured (port cask) or finished for a couple of years (4 years for Cabernet Sauvignon and 5 years for the Australian Shiraz) and this 2015 edition is finished in Pinot Noir for only 1 year. How much influence can the cask impart on the whisky during a single year?

Longrow RED 12 Year Old (Pinot Noir Cask Finish) (52.9%, £65/€75/$109.99)

longrow-red-12-pinot-noirNose: Light smoke and sweet peat but the wine shine through with sweet fruit notes at first and then it incorporates some sour red berries, earthy red wine notes. Not many wine tannins here probably because of the short finish period. With additional time and air exposure, it’s getting sherry-like spiciness with nutmeg and cinnamon. With water: smoke is gone, but it’s sweeter with added spiciness. Continue reading

Whisky Review: Connoisseurs Choice Speyburn 1991 (The Wood Makes the Whisky)

After two peated whiskies that were matured in sherry casks, the third whisky from Gordon and Macphail “The Wood Makes the Whisky” campaign is a straightforward ex-bourbon matured whisky from Speyburn distillery.

We’re not used to see many Speyburn indie bottlings out there. In fact, there aren’t many official bottlings, but G&M have longtime relationships and connections with various distilleries and whisky producers and so they stocked a few casks from Speyburn, released under the “Connoisseurs Choice” brand. The latest one, which was part of the package is a 1991 vintage but we don’t know when was it bottled so it’s probably 22-23 year old.

Connoisseurs Choice Speyburn 1991 (46%, £68.84)

speyburn-1991-connoisseurs-choiceNose: Bread dough, cereals, sourdough, grapefruits, honey, white pepper, gentle wet wood note. After 2-3 minutes it’s sweeter with added honey and then some traces of vanilla, gentle flowery and spearmint notes, not perfumed but hints at it and still lots of grapefruits Continue reading

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