Category Archives: Reviews

Glenfiddich 21 Year Old Reserva Rum Cask Finish Review

When Struan Grant Ralph, Global Brand Ambassador for Glenfiddich, visited Israel last month, I had a rare glimpse into the Glenfiddich 21 Reserve Rum Cask making process. This expression is made from whisky that is matured in ex-bourbon casks for 21 years and then is finished in Rum casks for additional four months before being bottled to create the final result.

Struan brought with him a 21 year old whisky distilled back in 1996 and then matured in ex-bourbon cask (#201). This is one of the casks that is destined to get finished in Rum casks for the Reserva Rum Cask whisky.

Glenfiddich 1996 21 Year Old single cask (54.3%, #201)

Nose: Sweet honey, oak spices, damp wood, nutty, butterscotch, pears, butter and after a few minutes in the glass some fruit perfume.

Palate: Gentle spiciness, white pepper, sweet honey, oak, butterscotch, nutty, very rich and ends with oak spices and cooked pears.

Finish: Medium length, very soft, honey, oak spices, white pepper and nuts.

This is, just like the 19 year old single cask for Project XX tasted in the same sitting, is is the sort of whisky I wish Glenfiddich would release on a regular basis. So this lovely 21 year old whisky is emptied from casks and then finished in Caribbean Rum casks for another few months.

So far so good, but the final result is bottled at 40% and is chill filtered. I think this bodes ill.

Glenfiddich 21 Year Old Reserva Rum Cask Finish (40%, £110/$139.99/€147,50)

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Glendronach Peated Review

In the wake of the news that Glendronach Distillery are releasing a second peated whisky, finished in Port casks, I think it’s a good opportunity to review the first one, the Glendronach Peated.

A lot of eyebrows were raised when this one was released. Glendronach are known for something completely different – Sherried whisky and to lesser degree the whiskies finished in other type of casks (like Port, Madeira, etc). But jumping on the peated bandwagon somewhat seems contradicting to the Glendronach we know. Will it work for them?

Glendronach Peated (46%, £35.98/€36,49)

Nose: Nice maltiness but you can’t really hide the fact it’s young, there’s a lot of raw barley and some new make sweetness. Then comes the sweet peat along with a very gentle and mellow smoke. Continue reading

Timorous Beastie 18 Year Old Review

Today’s review is the forth and latest release under the ‘Timorous Beastie’ label from Douglas Laing, the Timorous Beastie 18 Year Old that was released last May. We’ll review this today and next week we’ll check out both the 21 year old and the 40 year old that were released last year.

Timorous Beastie is Douglas Laing label for highlands blended malt. In this case, It’s a vatting of whiskies from Blair Athol, Dalmore,  Glengoyne and Glen Garioch. A quite large batch of 7258 bottles was produced with a bit of an uneven pricing where it’s noticeably cheaper in mainland Europe than in UK. As usual with Douglas Laing, it’s non chill-filtered and without colouring.

Timorous Beastie 18 Year Old (46.8%, £74.50/€67,90)

Nose: Malty, damp wood shows up at first but is waved away later on, honey, pie dough and frankly, it’s quite bready. White pepper, subdued creamy fruitiness and apples and it developed a mineral edge after a few minutes Continue reading

The Gauldrons (Remarkable Regional Malts) Review

Last month Douglas Laing has released the last missing piece of their Remarkable Regional Malt series, The Gauldrons, representing the Campbeltown region.

The Gauldrons in Gaelic means “bay of storms” and this is the bay located west to Campbeltown. The legend says that Robert the Bruce was inspired there by a spider rebuilding his net to keep fighting, hence the golden web on the bottle label and tube.

Since there are only three distilleries in the region, I think we can quite safely assume that 99% (if not 100%) of this blend comes from Glen Scotia and Springbank due to the limited supply from Glengyle which is kept for internal usage. Let’s check just how Campbeltown-y is it.

The Gauldrons (46.2%, £49.99/€54,49)

Nose: Hits the nose with Campbeltown dirtiness with a big infusion of Springbank character, peat and oils but on the other hand is missing most of the greenery and the damp earthy peat (thanks to the Glen Scotia malt in this whisky). Malty with big dose of pastry dough, honey and lemon and a sprinkle of salt. After a few minutes, some of that missing greenery comes up (can’t stop that Springbank!). Continue reading

Glenfiddich Project XX (Experimental Series #2) In Depth Review

Last week, Struan Grant Ralph, Global Brand Ambassador for Glenfiddich stopped in our small country during one of his global tour for a series of events organized by the “Hacerem”, the local Glenfiddich Importer. The events focused on the Glenfiddich Experimental Series along with a bonus of rare view on the whisky making progress for Glenfiddich 21 Year Old Reserva Rum Cask Finish.

So it seemed like a good idea and timing to (finally) have an in-depth review of the Glenfiddich Project XX, so I sat down with Struan to discuss the experimental series, project XX and Glenfiddich in the hope to learn something new and indeed, at the end I came out wiser, impressed yet also wishing for a change in Glenfiddich.

Struan on the Experimental Series

As we all know by now, the first two expressions in the Experimental were very successful and the third one (Winter Storm), finished in ice wine casks is now hitting the shelves around the globe. Are you wondering what’s the next one in the series? I wondered too, so I bluntly asked him if he can tell me anything on the next one in the series and to my surprise he didn’t declined to answer and revealed it will be centered around PX casks. Continue reading

Bunnahabhain Stiùireadair Review

Today under the microscope is the latest official release from Bunnahabhain distillery. Bunnahabhain Stiuireadair is a No-Age-Statement whisky but is also a fully sherried whisky in 1st and 2nd fill Sherry casks although I assume it’s mostly 2nd fill casks. The reason it was born was to replace the staple 12 year old in some markets and to live side-by-side in other markets. All towards the goal of preserving the precious aged stocks despite the rising demand for single malt whisky.

Does it work? Can it truly replace the 12 yo as a daily sipper and help preserve the aged stock?

Bunnahabhain Stiùireadair (46.3%, £38.45/€31,50)

Nose: Malty, nice touch of sweet red fruit, there’s the Bunnahabhain heaviness and oiliness, After a while, more dried fruit, raspberries and strawberry and also getting them in the fresh form. Gentle dark chocolate and caramel.

Palate: Malt and oak spices, cereals porridge, bitter espresso and dark chocolate, prunes, sweet dried fruit towards the end but overall much less noticeable sherry impact on the palate.

Finish: Medium length, malty, lingering bittersweet coffee, chocolate and gentle oak spices.

Thoughts: All in all, I think that the Stiùireadair successfully does what it created to do. It’s a gentle young sherried Bunnahabhain (my guess? a mix of 7-10 year old casks) that can and does shoulder part of the heavy demand for a Bunnahabhain daily sipper. And the price is reasonable (especially in Europe). Personally I’ll still pick up the 12 yo over this one, but in the broader picture and long term goals of Bunnahabhain, it’s a ‘mission accomplished’ whisky.



Balvenie Peat Week 14 Year Old (2002 Vintage) Review

Until recently, the only peated Balvenie we had were the long gone limited edition Balvenie Peated Cask 17 Year Old (which I reviewed a few years ago) and the Islay Cask 17 Year Old. But states has changed recently with two new peated Balvenies, both 14 year old expressions, were released to markets. The first is a Triple Cask 14 Year Old for Travel Retail market and a globally released 14 year old named Peat Week as Balvenie produces peated whisky for one week a year (and not every year), naturally called named ‘Peat Week’.

Today I’m checking out the Peat Week 14 Year old that was distilled in 2002 and has been aged in American Bourbon oak for 14 years.

Balvenie Peat Week 14 yo 2002 Vintage (48.3%, £56.95/$99.99)

Nose: Like all Balvenies I had tasted to day, it has that soft nose I associate with Balvenie and this time it’s full of sweet honey and gentle peat, then sweet fruit – citrus, pears and peaches and finally soft nuttiness. Continue reading