Category Archives: Reviews

Trio of Golan Heights Golani (Two Grain) Whisky Review

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the 2nd single malt (and single cask) release from Golan Heights Distillery, the brainchild of David Zibell. However, the bread and butter of the distillery is Golani, the two grain (wheat and malted barley) sour mash whisky offering. Golani releases were used to be a one year whisky offering but recently the line up was revamped and now consists of three different Golani products, all carrying a 3 year old age tag:

  • Golani Black – matured for three years in new charred American
  • Golani Vino – matured in European oak Cabernet cask (from Golan Heights Winery)
  • Golani Double Wood – a vatting of part casks from the Black and Vino offerings

Let’s check them out!

Golan Heights Golani Black 3 Year Old Cask #18 (58.6%)

Nose: Sweet resin, pine needles and then a big bomb of liquorice. Haven’t felt that much liquorice since I last ate a liquorice candy, butterscotch, werther’s original candies, pencil shavings and a bit of glue. Continue reading

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Reviewing the Whisky Club 28/10, Zurich Airport

Today we have a guest post from a Shai, a friend who gets to travel around way more than me or the average person (or a dozen of them). If you have ever been looking for a decent whisky in an airport lounge, you know it’s hard to get by, but a whole whisky club in a lounge? That’s unique. Shai has visited the club is happy to report back to you all:

As part of their recent overhaul of the Terminal E lounges, Swiss Airlines recently opened a whisky bar called Whisky Club 28/10 in their Senator lounge at Zurich Airport.  On a recent long layover at ZRH, I was able to check it out. The club is named for a runway at Zurich Airport- runway numbers are always compass directions, so 28/10 means it’s 100 degrees from one direction and 280 degrees from the other.

Where: Terminal E (long-haul international flights area)
How to get there: Take the mooing Heidi train.  Tell the passport control people you want to use the E lounges, 99% of the time they send you right through even if you don’t have an international flight. Follow signs for Senator Lounge, then in the lounge turn left.
Who has access: Swiss/Lufthansa/Star Alliance First Class, Lufthansa Senators, Star Alliance Gold
Minimum required layover time: Based on past experiences with this airport, I think you’ll need about 45 minutes for flights departing from E gates and 70-90 minutes for flights departing from A/B/D gates.
Price: Free, of course!

 

Although there were a few bottom shelf bottles more typical of airport lounges (Johnny Walker Red, and the like), the vast majority of the 100 or so bottles on offer seemed to be standard but top shelf single malts and blends.  I was pleasantly surprised to see bottles like Balblair 2005, Clynelish 14 year old, the whole standard range of Compass Box, and all manner of others, even a few single cask Signatory bottles and world whiskies like Amrut and Kavalan.  More than that, the bartenders seem to be very well-educated and excited about whisky, and have a vast knowledge of their products, which I was told change regularly.

 

 

This being Switzerland, I decided to try a few of the Swiss whiskies on offer, and the lovely Jasmina was only too pleased to oblige.

Fohn Sturm, 46%

A NAS from the Appenzell region.  Aged in both beer and wine casks, it has a very distinct yeasty sweetness, reminiscent of breakfast sweet rolls.  Very pleasant.

Bergsturz 10 year old, 40%

Blindfolded, I would guess this to be any 10-12 year old ex-bourbon highland Scotch.  Heather and butter on the nose with a very fruity palate: fresh cut peaches, some citrus.  Very nice.

Heimat, 40%

This tasted like a very young ex-bourbon Highland. The nose was dominated by spirit, the palate by wood tannin.  However, when I returned to this after a half hour in the glass, it had greatly improved, with citrus notes in the nose.

Macardo 2009, 42%

This whisky aged in new American oak, and new American oak is what’s on offer in the nose and palate.  I would have guessed this to be some kind of budget rye.  Let’s be generous and simply call it “bracing,” shall we?  Avoid, or buy some bottles for your enemies.

Langatun Old Bear, 6 years old, 40%

Aged in ex-Chateauneuf-du-Pape casks. This was my favorite of the bunch. Nice complexity and richness that belies both its age and ABV. On the nose: definitely some wine cask going on here. Stone fruits and sweet candies, with some gentle smoke.  On the palate: rich, slightly smokey chataigne honey and plums.  Exceptional.

Langatun Old Deer, 6 years old, 40%

Keeping with the geriatric animal theme, Langatun produced this delicious number using sherry and chardonnay casks.  On the nose: could there be some peat in here? Sweet red fruits and berries. Palate: Gentle smoke, almost too gentle.  Maybe it’s not even there?  The BTC messed with my brain. Very rich raisin from the sherry, and gentle nuttiness from the chardonnay. Excellent dram indeed, reminiscent of some of the gentler Bowmores I’ve had.

Conclusion:

What a great place to spend a layover.  Great selection of constantly changing single malts, exceptional service from knowledgeable staff, and all the small touches we whisky nerds love (like small water pitchers on the side, and being able to choose between Zwiesel and Spiegelau nosing glasses- I’m a Zwiesel man, myself). I highly recommend stopping in if you’re stuck in Zurich for a few hours.

 

P.S. If you happen to also have access to the new Swiss First Class Lounge (connected to the Whisky Club by an outdoor veranda), you can augment your whisky experience with some more expensive (but not necessarily better) whiskies.  These include the various Macallan duty free NAS bottles, some Laddies and Port Charlotte, a few entry level Japanese whiskies, and, perhaps best of all, Highland Park 18 year old. But you’re probably better off trying one of their hundreds of wines instead.

Douglas Laing Yula Trilogy (20, 21 & 22 Year Old) Review

Yula, a Norse Goddess (according to Douglas Laing), was the character that sprang to life a trilogy of aged blended malt whiskies releases over the span of 3 years. This is what we’re told on Yula:

Ancient Islay legend has it that a beautiful Norse goddess – Yula – embarked on a long
journey searching for her long lost love with an apron full of pebbles. The stones fell out as
she travelled, forming a string of islands and leaving behind a trail of her thankless pursuit.
Tragic Yula never did find her love, but perished in the turbulent seas surrounding Islay
which was the last jewel-shaped stone to fall from her apron. It’s here on Islay, which in old
Norse means “Yula’s Isle”, that Douglas Laing’s heroine is buried, her final resting place
marked by two standing stones that can still be seen to this day.

The first edition, Yula 20 Years Old was launched back in October 2015. The second chapter, Yula 21 Years Old was launched in September 2016 and the latest and last chapter, Yula 22 Years Old was released last September and now it’s the time to review them all.

Each edition has 900 bottles, wasn’t chill filtered nor colored and bottled at natural cask strength that went down a bit during the last two years from 52.6% for the first chapter to 51.2% of the third and last chapter.

 Douglas Laing Yula 20 Year Old (Chapter 1) (52.6%)

Nose: Gentle sweet smoke, lemony spiciness, peaches and apricots, dusty & mineraly, weak smoldering coals smoke, pastry dough.
Continue reading

Golan Heights Distillery Cask #10 (Ex Golani-Black) Review

David Zibell of Golan Heights Distillery is bottling today the second single malt release, another three years old whisky, but unlike the first cask which was an ex-red wine cask, this time it’s an ex-Golani Black cask, a charred American Oak cask that previously held the distillery Golani Black whisky (two grain whisky) for a couple of months (so it’s almost an ex-bourbon cask).

Just like with the first release, there will be 40 bottles at natural cask strength of 62.1%, and 295 bottles bottled at 46%.

Golan Heights Distillery Cask #10 (Ex Golani-Black) (62.1%, 480NIS)

Nose: Velvety butterscotch, in fact – a lot of butterscotch! Wood logs (not wood spices but cut logs), toffee, dark bread. With water it opens up and is much more lively with herbs, menthol (just like the first cask) and gentle spices oak spices. Continue reading

Deanston 8 Year Old Handfill (BTC 2017 Day 8)

Last night we had a very interesting whisky at the BTC 2017 event. For the 8th day we had an 8 year old whisky matured in wine cask from Deanston distillery.

This young handfill (bottled on 23.09.2017) whisky was quite whacky, delivering a leathery profile I’d usually associate with old mature whiskies and this is how I tried to guess. I also whiffed on the ABV as it carried a far higher ABV statement then what I felt. Thankfully I did get the region correctly, phew!

Deanston 8 Year Old Handfill (57.8%)

Nose: Sweet red fruit, sour wood spices, honey and vanilla lurking behind. Slowly some funk is showing up with diesel oils, black olives, and stronger sweet sticky red fruit and chocolate but it still retains that fruit sourness. After a while it’s getting very leathery and chocolaty mingled with some fresh sour yellow plums. Continue reading

Glenburgie 1995 21 Year Old Archives (BTC 2017 Day 7)

And on the seventh day of BTC 2017 we had a Speyside whisky: Glenburgie 1995 21 Year Old bottled by the whiskybase.com folks under their Archives brand.

Upon smelling and tasting it I knew we’re probably in the Speyside region but I had some doubts because of the strong honey which could hints at Highlands region and the salt which could lead to Islands region (like Arran). But eventually I played the odds and selected a random Speyside distillery, just too bad I didn’t pick up Glenburgie.

I had suspicions it may be 20+ year old whisky but eventually I played it conservatively and settled for 18 years. While I didn’t get so many points from the age guess, I made some of it back from the ABV guess – missed it by only 0.1%!

Glenburgie 1995 21 Year Old Archives (54.1%)

Nose: At first it has some unsavory notes with must, artificial sweet and rotten wood (turning into damp wood) but thankfully it disappeared for good after a few minutes. revealing a real nice and rich floral whisky. There’s cut grass and flowers petals, floral herbs perfume and eventually a growing wave of dryness, white pepper and hot spice. Continue reading

Springbank 14 Year Old Bourbon Wood (BTC 2017 Day 6) Review

Last night at the BTC 2017 competition we had Springbank 14 Year Old Bourbon Wood that was bottled last August and it was quite an infuriating experience. I tasted it, took notes, filled in my guess and continued to drink a few more drams with a friend and one of those drams was also this Springbank 14 Bourbon. So I had the same whisky twice in a single night, just a few drams apart but oh what different notes did I take for each of them. Luckily I got points for age and ABV (12yo and 55%) but if I’d had any resemblence between the notes, I could get more points. Bah!

Here are the notes I had for the blind dram:

Nose: A bit floral and green, salty, honey, white pepper, hard candies and pears, dusty, malt and cereals.
Palate: salt, greenery, honey, white pepper and gentle oak spices.
Finish: medium-long length, gentle fruit sweetness, pepper heat.

Would you guess a Springbank whisky based on those notes? Well, I didn’t. And here are the notes I had for the bottle I tasted later:

Springbank 14 Year Old Bourbon Wood (55.8%, €94,99)

Nose: Restrained, tons of sweet honey and the Springbank funk is there right behind the sweetness with dirt, oils, green vines and exhaust fumes. Very dominant cask influence. Continue reading