Kilkerran 12 Year Old Review – Whisky of the Year 2016

This post was sitting in the drafts folder for a while and it’s about time I’ll finish it as it discuss a whisky which was the whisky of the year 2016 for me, the Kilkerran 12 Year Old and it will be best if I get it published before end of February 🙂

Before we go down to the tasting notes, let’s talk about titles and what a big difference adding or omitting a word means. I was reading the two-parts interview with Jim Murray on The Whisky Exchange Blog that followed the 2017 book release, and yes, just like so many of my friends I did roll my eyes at his attitude and antics but I also noticed that unlike previous years his infamous awards which previously I just couldn’t fathom now kinda made sense to me.

Now, don’t be too shocked from this revelation. I myself was shocked enough for all of us, but it’s really a simple matter of understanding that his awards doesn’t go to the BEST whisky of the year 2017 but to a whisky that he crown as “whisky of the year”. Do you notice the omission here? In case you didn’t noticed the bold and capital word before, the word BEST is missing out there.

So what is the best whisky of the year? Truthfully, I have no idea as it’s a very subjective choice and depends on what you tasted in the last year. I will offer a theory that for most of us it will usually be one of old-aged whiskies or perhaps a special single cask (a la those Kavalan solists that won MMA awards). If so, the play-field is narrower than what we think and any choice from those whiskies will likely be acceptable as a proper choice even if not exactly your choice. But when it comes to straight and simple “whisky of the year”, the rule set is broader and even more subjective as it doesn’t relay on taste only and involves other factors. So i tried to compile my own rule set for such a selection:

  • It should be a good whisky – I mean, come on, we won’t select a bad or mediocre whisky (even if it’s over hyped) as whisky of the year, right?
  • Accessibility – A single cask or low count of bottles, bottling for a specific market are striked-out. What’s the point of hailing a whisky that most of us won’t have a chance to taste it because we can’t lay our hands on it?
  • Affordability – a brother clause to the previous one. Lagavulin 25yo 200th anniversary? 8000 bottles but it comes with an abhorring price tag. So it won’t be my selection

So I followed the rules above and eventually selected the whisky I review today as my whisky of the year – it’s affordable, accessible, it’s pretty good and isn’t riding a huge PR hype wave. It’s a whisky to drink and enjoy

Kilkerran 12 Year Old (46%, £49.50/€49.61/$59.99)

kilkerran-12-year-oldNose: Starts with gentle wafts of smoke and Campbeltown funk. There’s leather, tobacco leaves, engine fumes and oils, all accompanied by sweet red dried fruit. Farmy with grass, hey and green tomatoes. After it opens up a bit there is honey and the red fruits show up again. Continue reading

Glenmorangie Bacalta (Glenmorangie Private Edition #8) Review

Yesterday I wrote I was happy due to the Glenlivet single cask that was released exclusively to the Israeli market but earlier this month there was another sign that we’re getting noticed in the whisky industry: The annual Glenmorangie Private Edition launch events around the globe included Israel as well with a proper launch event by the local Glenmorangie importer (Y.D 1986) and with actual bottles available to purchase on the same day for the same price as most European countries. Another first time happenstance in our whisky history and a good sign to Israeli whisky aficionados.

Now I have to admit that I have a soft spot for this series. Ever since I bought and tried the Glenmorangie Finealta, I’ve been following this series closely and buying a bottle every year for the last few years and so I did purchase a bottle from a local web shop – what a refreshing change, buying and getting it in the same day instead of waiting for the bottle for 3-4 weeks.

However, the review was delayed because after tasting it and checking my notes against the official notes I found out that a major note I found (chalk and rocks) wasn’t anywhere in the official notes nor any note that can be considered as an alternative. That got me worried at first but since I did taste it directly from a new bottle, I thought maybe it needs some time and so I did re-taste it this week and now I was more satisfied as the rocks/chalk note disappeared 🙂

I won’t bother much with the information and story of the bottling, suffice to note it’s around 12 year old – spent ten years as the standard Glenmorangie Original and then around 2 years in those special Madeira casks Dr. Lumsden picked up.

Glenmorangie Bacalta (46%, ÂŁ77.95)

glenmorangie-private-edition-8-bacaltaNose: Oranges and mandarins, soft nuttiness, baked pears pie with strong pastry note, strong and rounded baking spices and hints of canned peaches after a few minutes in the glass. And there’s no doubt it’s a Glenmorangie. When I first nosed it, the first image that pop up in my mind was sitting on warm rocks on a cliff in a hot spring day because there was a strong warm rocks and chalk note that was noticed after a few minutes.  Continue reading

Two 15 Year Old Single Casks from Glenlivet – Pristinus & Carn Ealasaid

Earlier this week I participated in an Glenlivet event that brings Tal Brody’s (ex-basketball player here in Israel) immortal words “We’re on the map and we’ll stay on the map” to mind. And you probably ask why and the answer is: We (the Israeli market) has grown up. We buy and drink more single malt than ever and we were finally noticed enough in Scotland to garner an exclusive single cask from Glenlivet – the first ever distillery single malt official bottling that was bottled exclusively to our market – the Glenlivet Single Cask Edition “Carn Ealasaid” 15 Year Old.

Rani Cohen (Senior Executive of Glenlivet importer, Tempo) led a series of 3 tasting events in Tel-Aviv to launch this exclusive bottling and using the occasion to educate and promote single malt whisky in Israel. I was also delighted to hear that the current Nadurra bottlings (Oloroso, First Fill, etc) are finally coming to our shores – expect them in stores from May 2017.

But why review this single cask alone? Let’s review also the “Pristinus”, another 15 year old single cask that arrived to our market a year and a half ago and was also a big star in those events.

Glenlivet Single Cask Edition “Pristinus” 15 Year Old (59.7%)

glenlivet-single-cask-edition-pristinus-15-yoNose: Oh a barrage of green apples, feels almost like an applies cider with bubbles-like feeling due to the high ABV, vanilla and lemon, very fruity with tropical edge. With water it’s getting spicier and a pineapple note is added. It has a rich, crisp and bold – really an excellent nose. Continue reading

Whisky News: Laphroaig Announces Two New Expressions Exclusively for Duty-Free

Winter is still with us but we’re inching closer to spring time and the whisky market is waking up: the Glenmorangie Bacalta was launched and now we have two new Laphroaigs for Travel Retail – Four Oak, available now and The 1815 Legacy Edition, available from April 2017.

laphroaig-four-oak laphroaig-the-1815-legacy-edition








Michael Cockram, Global Marketing Director, Travel Retail at Beam Suntory, comments: “Peated Malts are having their moment in the spotlight, currently leading growth globally in the total malt category. This growth is being driven by European and GTR powerhouse markets, where there is a preference for quality products and heritage cues. We are launching these two exceptional new products exclusively in global travel retail to meet this demand; Laphroaig is a brand with a rich history and both releases appeal to consumers’ desire for a compelling story.”

Whisky Gospel Take: I’m wary of those expressions. Last time they tried such a thing of rich smoke and/or multiple casks, we ended up with the Select and QA expressions. I hope this time they got their act together and bring us something drinking worthy (and not too expensive)


laphroaig-four-oakAged in four different hand-selected casks; ex-bourbon barrels, quarter casks, virgin American oak barrels and European oak hogsheads, vigilance and craftsmanship hold the key to this complex Islay malt. Bright golden in colour, Laphroaig Four Oak has aromas of peat smoke with stewed fruit and warm, toasted vanilla. With hints of sandalwood, pine, fir and willow, experience oak embers and seaweed with smooth buttercream on the palette and a salted liquorice and peaty finish.


laphroaig-the-1815-legacy-editionFor two centuries, Laphroaig master craftsmen have worked to shape the most richly flavoured of all Scotch whiskies. This exceptional edition was created by current Laphroaig Distillery Manager, John Campbell, to honour those who have gone before him. Left to rest in first-fill, ex-bourbon barrels before further maturing in large, new European oak hogsheads maturation occurs slowly, resulting in a whisky of great depth.

Deep sunset orange in colour, with aromas of burnt apricot and raisin, Laphroaig The 1815 Legacy Edition combines the signature peat smoke of Laphroaig with soft oak and notes of rich caramelised dark fruit and a dried fruit, nut, peat and oiled-wood finish.


Bruichladdich Micro Provenance 5 #LaddieMP5 Review

I know it’s been a while since my last post on the blog, but it’s not a paying gig and there were other things that were occupying my free time. I’ll try to get back to posting on a more regular basis and I’ll start with a recap and review of the #LaddieMP5 event held by Bruichladdich last Thursday.

In case you aren’t familiar with the MP term, MP means Micro Provenance as Bruichladdich are keen on testing and exploring the impact of terroir, barley and casks on the final result and last Thursday was the 5th public MP event (hence the #LaddieMP5 hashtag) where multitude of people around the world were tasting 3 whiskies chosen especially for the events. You can see the full live broadcast right here:

This time it was all Port Charlotte whiskies, peated to 40 ppm (as is the usual rate for PC whiskies), all of the same age (+/- few months).

Here are the notes I gathered on the #LaddieMP5 drams:

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 Year Old (Fresh Bourbon cask) (56.9%, cask #1999)

laddiemp5-pc-10-year-old-cask-1999Nose: starts malty and intense with promises of spices with pepper and freshly sawed oak wood. Now the peat shows up and there’s a strong feel of freshness and sweetness despite strong note of salt. A few whiffs of fish sauce like being on the beach near the fishermen with their fresh haul, honey and vanilla pudding, I did say fresh, right? Getting sweeter over time, more vanilla pudding and the peat can’t rise farther and stays relaxed with a bit of perfume and peaches. Continue reading

Springbank 12 Year Old Burgundy Review

Whenever a new “Limited Edition” whisky expression is released to the market you can hear the rising “oh no” cries from the casual drinkers and distillery fans mixed with their excitement and the glee of whisky investors and flippers. Too often, those limited editions are either too expensive for their age and/or quality and their circulation is too small to sate the market demand and so they are hard to find or get sold out very quickly.

But there are exceptions. Some expressions and some distilleries do manage to find a proper balance of price and bottles count, making sure even late comers can fetch a bottle and Springbank 12 Year Old Burgundy wood is a good example. Initially released in May/June 2016 for £65 (€95-€99), it’s still available out there in Europe and across the USA albeit with some price markup in some countries. The secret? A larger than usual edition of 10260 bottles of 12 year old springbank whisky that was matured in fresh Burgundy wine casks.

Springbank 12 Year Old Burgundy (53.5%, €109.95/$119.99)

springbank-12-burgundyNose: What a rich nose! A very heavy wine influence, sour red fruits, peat, motor oils and the Campbeltown funk just behind it, rich on the front but hints at dryness, nuts, tannins and fruits glazed with brown sugar. Great combo of funk and sweet fruity wine. Continue reading

Benromach Hermitage 2007 Review

Benromach keeps pumping out young wine finishes expressions and today we’ll review their latest such release, the Benromach Hermitage 2007.

It’s the forth Benromach Hermitage release. The previous one was released in 2015 and is a 2005 vintage whisky. This time around it’s the 2007 vintage that was bottled earlier in 2016 (9 years old give or take a few months). It has been initially matured in bourbon casks for 6 years, before being finished in casks which previously held wine from the Hermitage Appellation d’Origine ContrĂ´lĂ©e for 31 months.

Interesting enough, the finish time here, 31 months, is much longer than the finish time used for the previous release which was finished for mere 18 months. Mind you, 13 months can make a lot of difference when it comes to active wine casks.

Benromach Hermitage 2007 (45%, £39.36/€54.99)

benromach-hermitage-2007-2016-webNose: Sweet and with pungy edge which I can attribute to smoke, rich, full and creamy, sweet red wine, red fruit, nuttiness, fudge. After a long time getting soursweet red berries. It’s not a complex nose and the wine impact is very strong here. Continue reading