Author Archives: Yoav @ Whisky Gospel

Balvenie “The Sweet Toast of American Oak” 12 Year Old Review

Last month Balvenie Distillery launched a new whisky range – the Balvenie Stories series. Initially there are three releases with the entry level and the introduction to the range is the 12 Year Old The Sweet Toast of American Oak.

The whisky was aged in the customary ex-bourbon casks and then finished in heavily toasted (at the distillery’s cooperagev of course) virgin oak barrels from Kentucky.

It’s quite interesting and refreshing to see a new permanent 12 Year Old whisky from Balvenie which isn’t the Double Wood (No, those single barrels doesn’t count!).

Balvenie 12 Year Old – The Sweet Toast of American Oak (43%, £43.95/€47,95)

Nose: Soft and creamy, full of coconut, vanilla, and walnuts. Laid back heather honey. After a few minutes it develops some greenish pineapple and eventually more tropical fruit sweetness. Continue reading


Glenmorangie 19 Year Old Finest Reserve

The Travel Retail market is flooded with many NAS whiskies from different distilleries and Glenmorangie isn’t the exception. We’ve seen Tarlogan, Tayne, Cadboll and other releases to this market but in late 2017 we’ve seen an exception – Glenmorangie 19 Year Old Finest Reserve.

Initially the 19 Year Old was a Travel Retail exclusive but recently you can find it in many web shops, so it’s about time I’ll check it out.

This whisky spent its entire life (19 Years) in American white oak barrels, so you could say it’s the Original 10 Year Old casks forgotten for another 9 years before bottled.

Glenmorangie 19 Year Old Finest Reserve (43%, £99.99/€94.99)

Nose: Soft , vert soft and very Glenmorangie with honey and nuttiness as they usually go with. Fruity, with green fruits (almost tropical) such as kiwi and papaya leads the way along with peaches. Soft oak spice, more nuttiness and then white pepper. After a few minutes, more spices and honey. Continue reading

Octomore 8.4 Masterclass Review

It’s a very slow Sunday here so I think it’s a good time to review a punchy whisky to wake up the spirit and eventually I settled on some heavily peated whisky. Yes you guessed right – an Octomore. I have a few of those ready to be published so let’s review Octomore 8.4 today. I know it’s not a recent release (we already have the 9.x series out there for a while and the 10.x series coming soon) but since it’s still available out there for purchase, why not?

It’s the x.4 designation and it means that Otomore 8.4 is matured in virgin oak casks. But it’s not so simple or straight forward. Pay attention: 20% were matured in virgin oak casks and 80% were matured in first-fill ex-bourbon casks and then finished in second-fill virgin oak but those second-fill casks are in fact the Octomore 7.4 virgin oak casks! So even if it’s 8 years old, it should retain some of the Phenols as the barley was peated to 170ppm and we don’t have 100% turbo charged casks to suck all the Phenols.

Octomore 8.4 (Masterclass) (58.7%, £150/€148)

Nose: Vanilla and lemon, very sweet. Coconut and sweet oak extracts, sweet peat, even a bit aggressive peat. seaside air and saltiness. After a few minutes there’s also sweet smoke, brine, vinegar and spiciness led by cloves and cinnamon. Continue reading

Mortlach 16 Year Old (Distiller’s Dram) Review

After reviewing last week the new entry level Mortlach 12 Year Old, it’s time to tackle the next step on the Mortlach ladder – the new Mortlach 16 Year Old.

The new Mortlach 16 Year Old is the litmus test of the new line up as Inevitably it’s compared to the classic Flora & Fauna Mortlach 16 Year Old which was a loved whisky (even I liked it) and then became a cult and sought after bottle when it was dropped from production in favor of the older (and failed) line up.

Unlike the 12 Year Old which is from ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, the 16 Year Old is from first-fill and refill sherry casks – far more promising combo when looking for the old glory of Mortlach.

Mortlach 16 Year Old (Distiller’s Dram) (43.4%, £81.75/67.95)

Nose: The exclusive sherry casks usage is very noticeable here with depth and complexity of sweet dried fruit, red apples peels, baked cinnamon, milk chocolate followed by dark bitter chocolate. After a few minutes in the glass it’s getting nutty and more ‘Mortlach-y’. Meaty, extra depth and darker and sweeter shades of berries, chocolate and meat. Continue reading

Mortlach 12 Year Old (The Wee Witchie) Review

Many words were written and many pixels were darkened discussing and dissecting Diageo change of heart with Mortlach and rebooting the entire line up after the move towards premiumization of the distillery failed.

The new line up is back to basics with 700 ml bottles, age statements and using more sherry casks to restore some of the glory Mortlach achieved with their meaty and sherry whiskies.

The entry level in this new line up is the 12 Year Old which employ both ex-bourbon casks and ex-sherry casks. It’s named ‘The Wee Witchie‘ after the smallest Mortlach pot still (must be because it’s the youngest offering in the new line up).

Mortlach 12 Year Old (The Wee Witchie) (43.4%, £50.75/€46.95)

Nose: Bright, fresh and sweet with vanilla and sweet berries, strawberry, raspberry and gooseberry – lightly jammy. Cinnamon and cloves, cereals almost cake-y, oak spice, all-spice and nutmeg. After a few minutes lovely red apples peels and meatiness. Continue reading

Caroni Rum 1998 21 Year Old (The Duchess) Review

It’s been a while since we had a non-whisky review and once again I turn to a Rum bottled by The Duchess, this time their recent 21 Year Old Caroni.

This Caroni was distilled 02/1998, then matured for 21 years in cask #20 before finally being bottled on 05/03/2019, yielding 245 bottles from the cask (so not 100% tropical weather maturation).

This is a sister cask to the 20 Year Old Caroni The Duchess released last year and I loved it so let’s see how this one with extra year fares:

Caroni 1998 21 Year Old (The Duchess) (64.1%, €199)

Nose: Rich nose! Mahogany furniture, brown sugar, fermented banana, mint freshness, sweet olives, fresh sawed oak, the expected petrol and diesel, plums. After a few minutes it’s getting sweeter with sweet oak extracts, caramel, some burnt wood and eventually perfume-y – balanced and fun! With a few drops of water it’s lively with gentler oakiness. Continue reading

Compass Box No Name No. 2 Review

Yesterday we reviewed Compass Box Affinity, their Whisky and Calvados spirit and today we’re checking out their latest (and very peated) release: No Name No. 2,

No Name 1 was released late 2017 and it caught on like fire also because it contained a large portion of Ardbeg malt which we rarely see outside (expensive) single malts (at least back then). I reviewed No Name and didn’t like it much thinking it was a bit one dimensional and peat focused without depth. Seems like Compass Box somewhat agreed with this assessment (even though I’m sure they liked it), as we can see from their description on the second release:

Still very smoky indeed, there is a new depth and delicacy. To borrow a musical analogy, No Name was peat as power chord; No Name, No. 2 has brought some harmonics to the party.

This time, the ingredients are different with the majority coming from refill sherry casks from Caol Ila, along with malts coming from Talisker and Clynelish (and the usual CB blend):

No doubt this is an interesting recipe, full of potential. Let’s check it out.

Compass Box No Name No. 2 (48.9%, €123,95, 8802 bottles)

Nose: Peaty and sweet, beach bonfire, cherry orchard, a bit of wax underneath, sugar iclings, coastal. After a few minutes the nose develops dried red berries and chimney smoke. I can nose this for real long time.

Palate: Sweet and sugary, peat, smoke, dried berries and cherries, again a dry waxy note underneath, sprinkle of salt, sea breeze, peppery and coastal.

Finish: Medium long length, coastal, peat smoke, subtle red berries sweetness and dry waxiness.

Thoughts: This edition totally blows out the 1st edition. There are depth and complexity that were so sorely missed from the first edition. This edition provides a tasty combination of peat, slightly sherry impact, waxiness and coastal-ness. Recommended!