Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Handfilled Batch #47 (BTC 2017 Day 5)

Last night dram of the BTC 2017 was a nasty surprise from the organizers. Nasty as who would have think of a handfill (!!!) from Glenfiddich distillery (!!!!), no less and no more! As expected, nobody managed to guess the distillery. It was a good dram and it reaffirms my belief from my two last Glenfiddich reviews (here and here) that they should stop chill filtering and bottle in higher strength.

And how did I do with my guess? I got points for region as it was clearly a Speyside offering and totally missed on the ABV. I kind of screwed up on the age guess. I felt it’s low to mid teens offering (I have witnesses for this claim!), but I over thought it and thought maybe it’s younger cask with a mature profile, so guessed too low instead of getting another 30-40 points.

Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Handfilled Batch #47 (56.9%)

Pic of a similar batch. Credit: whiskybase.com

Nose: Smooth but also hides lots of energy below the surface, honey, quite a restrained nose. Then fruitiness shows up (still somewhat muted) with pears, apricot and peaches, citrus inner (bitter) peels, bubble gum (think bazooka), cinnamon and nuts. With time fruitier. Continue reading

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Ballechin 2004 12 Year Old Manzanilla Sherry Cask (BTC 2017 Day 4) Review

Day 4 of the BTC 2017 competition brought me the first Ballechin I tasted. For those who don’t know it, Ballechin is the peated whisky distilled in Edradour distillery. In our case it’s a 12 year old Ballechin, distilled in 2004 and matured in Manzanilla sherry cask #278 that was bottled in 28.10.2016 after yielding 495 bottles.

When I sniffed and tasted it, my first reaction was: this is no Islay peat. But then I recalled a virgin oak Octomore single cask which held a very similar profile so it was either peated laddie or product outside Islay. I went for young age (7 years) thinking of an overly active cask with ABV of 53%. For distillery, at the last minute I decided it’s not an Islay whisky so I went with something unexplored and ‘funky’ (at least for me), Ballechin and good thing I went this way because I was right on this and wrong on the rest. At least I got some points!

Ballechin 2004 12 Year Old Manzanilla Sherry Cask (55.6%, cask #278)

Nose: Smoky. sweet oak, tons of burnt wood smoke, ashes in the background, some special cask or maybe a heavily recharred/toasted cask? reminds me a single cask virgin oak Octomore. Continue reading

Benromach 2008 Single Cask #347 for whiskysite.nl (BTC 2017 Day 3) Review

Today I review a young single cask Benromach (from 2008) that was bottled earlier this year for whiskysite.nl shop. 231 Bottles were bottled from cask 347 at 59.5% and a few of those entertained us on the 3rd day of the BTC 2017 competition.

I didn’t have much free time to tackle this dram so wrote some quick notes and went with a gut feeling guess of a young Caol Ila. I got points for age but nothing else. Maybe if I could sit down with this dram properly I could (and should) recall those 2008 Benromach that flooded the market last year.

Benromach 2008 for whiskysite.nl (59.5%, €64,99)

Nose: Rich and oily, lots of sweet malt and vanilla along with fairy big earthy peat note. And after a while there’s also a distinctive smoky note, honey, salt, some tropical fruits. Continue reading

Wolfburn No. 128 (2017) (BTC 2017 Day 2) Review

After a decent start to the BTC 2017 competition, came day 2 and embarrassed me.

Wolfburn No. 128 was the blind sample for this day and unfortunately (for me) it is one of the few official Wolfburn releases I haven’t tasted, not that I’m sure it would help…

I immediately felt it’s some OB whisky and not independent bottler bottle with a 46% offering (which is where I scored my points), but it felt much older with a gentle offering (no rough and burning liquid here) and matured in some old/weak refill sherry cask so it threw me off the course complexity for age and distillery guesses. I debated between Highlands and Islands regions and finally settled on Highland Park so even though I didn’t get points for this selection,  at least I was very very close geographically!

Wolfburn No. 128  2017 (46%, £78.95/€55)

Nose: Sweet, some caramel and somewhat artificial sweetener sweetness at first that died with time, dried fruit and berries tends to sour, weak sour oak spices, smoke and peat after a while, red berries and cherries filled milk chocolate.

Palate: Gentle peat smoke yet more noticeable than on the nose, sweet red fruit and berries, sour oak spices, milk chocolate, weak nuttiness after some time.

Finish: Medium short length, oak wood sourness, lingering dried red berries.

Thoughts: At first I thought it’s a not good one. But after a while it became very decent with surprising flavors generated from half sized first fill bourbon casks. At £79 the VFM is almost non-existing, but for €55 it’s worth a punt.

Benrinnes 18 Year Old whiskybroker.co.uk (BTC 2017 Day 1) Review

Last night I’ve started my annual whisky torture, also known as the BTC (Blind Tasting Competition) in some circles. It’s my 4th year in the competition and it’s never getting easy.

Day 1 sample was a clear ex-bourbon whisky with cask strength ABV. After sniffing and tasting I went with a random Highlands distillery and high ABV of 56%. I wasn’t sure about the age, at first I thought it’s either 9-11 or 16-18 but the tropical fruits and the lack of malt notes made me go with 17 years.

Then the whisky was revealed, from Benrinnes distillery (speyside region so zero points), 50% (I overshoot so no points) and 18 year old so at least in this category I got some points.

This whisky was distilled in 15.08.1997 filled into cask #906 and bottled in 01.02.2016, yielding 216 bottles.

WhB Benrinnes 18 Year Old (50%)

Nose: Pears, very minerally (assuming it’s partially due to high ABV), honey, hints of greenery, green fruit and ginger. With water: more honey and pears and less minerals and slowly developing nuttiness. Continue reading

Big Peat Christmas 2017 Limited Edition Review

I’ve realized that once again life and work consumes most of my time in the last few weeks, leaving almost no free time to work on the blog. But I think that going for a quick and down to earth review mode may help building the momentum again.

Let’s get festive with the latest Douglas Laing Christmas Edition of Big Peat. This series has been going for a few years already and always provided a good value.

Big Peat Christmas 2017 (54.1%, £53.95/€52,95)

Nose: Young and malty. Then sweet peat with gentle smoke, honey, some Ardbeg fruitiness,  pears. Getting smokier after a while with newly developed ashes note. Continue reading

A Speyside Distillery 16 Year Old (TWE Black Friday Whisky) Review

Black Friday descends upon us and while it started as a pure brick and mortar retail event in USA, thanks to international commerce and online shops taking a hike on this day (in addition to Cyber Monday), we’re flooded with all kind of deals, including deals on whisky from reputable web shops around the world, including Scotland and England.

The Whisky Exchange shop took this one step forward and also released a special whisky to celebrate this day. A 16 year old whisky from single sherry butt hailing from a family owned distillery in the Speyside region which doesn’t allow independent bottlers to use its name (Glen *cough* *cough* as).

A total of 582 bottles were produced from this sherry butt, bottled at cask strength of 54.6% and on sale exclusively on TWE website.

A Speyside Distillery 16 Year Old (TWE Black Friday Whisky, 54.6%, 582 bottles, £59.95)

Nose: At first it smells young relatively to its age with strong malt, barley and vanilla notes. Then we some sherry notes joins the party in the form of a sweet dried fruit topping . After a few minutes the dried fruit gets stronger and are joined by mellow cinnamon, nutmeg, red currants and milk chocolate. With water: more vanilla and malt, milk chocolate, some ‘straight’ fruitiness with almost no dried fruit. Continue reading