Category Archives: Whisky Reviews

Benromach Sassicaia 2009 Review

The success story continues with another vintage release of Benromach Sassicaia, this time a 2009 vintage that more then doubled the bottles count (to 8000 from 3500) of the previous release in 2016, the Sassicaia 2007 which I reviewed before and liked.

The concept stays the same as you don’t mess with a successful and working recipe, first maturing in 1st fill bourbon casks and then finished for 28 months in Sassicaia wine casks from the region of Bolgheri in Tuscany. But it’s interesting to note that previous releases were 8-9 years old while this new Sassicaia 2009 is only 7-8 year old – It might more or less of the same age (8 year old), but we can’t tell from the information we have. Let’s check how the 2009 vintage fares comparing to the older releases.

Benromach Sassicaia 2009 (45%, £39.99)

Nose: Initial notes: sweet wine and smoke but lets dig deeper: chimney smoke, rich like a pipe smoke, but it mostly dissipate leaving a gentle smoky backbone, maltiness lurks behind, red fruit and berries, feeling wine tannins but it ain’t dry as the wine is rich and powerful. With time there are spices: ginger and baking spices. Continue reading

Cadenheads Bunnahabhain 16 Year Old Review

One more Bunnahabhain review in the mini series, this time it’s a youngster, only 16 years distilled in 1999 and bottled by Cadenead in 2016. However, this is isn’t your run of the mill Bunna bottling as it was aged in two different casks over its lifespan. Originally matured in ex-bourbon casks and then finished in a sherry hogshead for almost 3 years.

Let’s check who won here, the bourbon cask or the sherry cask:

Cadenheads Bunnahabhain 16 Year Old (49.7%, €99.99)

Nose: Feels mature for its age, gentle sherry impact with sour-sweet dried fruit, a strong vanilla and cream notes, fresh fruit sweetness with classic dried fruit and berries lurking behind. There’s a constant back and forth game between the vanilla and the sherry fruitiness here. Believe me it’s not getting boring. Continue reading

Bunnahabhain 1988 28 Year Old (The Single Malts of Scotland) Review

Following the very good and tasty duo from yesterday, here’s another old and well matured Bunnahabhain and it will be a sandwich vintage to the due (from 1988) but since it was the last to be bottled, it carries the 28 year old sign on the label.

It was bottled by Speciality Drinks Ltd (sister company to The Whisky Exchange), 344 bottles were produced from cask 100229 and I have high hopes from it.

Bunnahabhain 1988 28 Year Old (The Single Malts of Scotland) (46.8%, £150/€209,00)

Nose: Heavy and oily nose (definitely more than the duo from yesterday), strong honey note at first with cream and then the fruit joins the party with pears, apples and a few apricots and but the real surprise (for me) is the strong waxiness that popped up here along with a wee salt note that balance the the sweet fruit. After a few minutes there’s gentle spiciness with white pepper and oak spices along with vanilla pudding and soft cereals. With a few drops of water the waxiness is almost gone but the nose gets ultra creamy, A very delicate and beautiful nose. Continue reading

Bunnahabhain 1989 26 Year Old ( & Bunnahabhain 1987 26 Year Old (Liquid Sun) Review

It’s time for some Bunnahabhain love. Our local whisky club had a Bunnahabhain evening last week and there are a few more bottlings waiting for a review so I think it’s time for a mini series of Bunnahabhain reviews to start the week, it bounds to be spirit lifting!

First up – review of a duo of 26 Year Old bottlings!

The first one is a recent bottling from last November, done by It’s cask 7730, one of three casks filled with spirit distilled on 22nd December 1989 and bottled on 18th November 2016.

Bunnahabhain 1989-2016 26 Year Old WhB (48.1%, £97)

Nose: Starts with a classic Bunnahabhain bourbon cask profile. There’s honey, and sweet fruit notes that slowly develops into a huge tropical fruit attack and I don’t mind getting attacked like that! Pineapple, ripe banana and passionfruit (passiflora). There’s a dash of peppermint and vanilla pudding. After a while there’s also a slight old bookshop feeling and dark sweet honey. Continue reading

Springbank 12 Year Old Cask Strength Batch 12 Review

Last few weeks I’ve been very busy hunting down a bottle of Springbank Local Barley 11 Year Old (after totally missing out acquiring one of the 16 year old the previous year), so in honor of this pursuit let’s review one of Springbank distillery popular line up anchors – The Springbank 12 Year Old.

Unlike the other members of the core range which are bottled at 46%, the 12 Year Old is bottled in Cask strength with 14 different batches so far and Batch 12 is the one reviewed here today thanks to a friend who supplied me a hefty sample.

This batch was bottled in 2016 and unlike most of the batches, it’s a vatting of 65% Sherry casks and 35% Bourbon casks instead of usual 70/30 rate and was bottled at a whopping 54.1%

Springbank 12 Year Old Cask Strength Batch 12 (54.1%, €64,99 )

Nose: Starts with a big bouquet of fruitiness with strong flavor of sweet red berries and then there’s some Campeltown funk, diesel fumes, oils, some greenery and a dash of green herbals. Blood oranges, toffee, funk spices and nuttiness shows up too. after a while the fruitiness is back and is beautifully balanced with the Campbeltown funk. Full body, very smooth and gentle for its age and ABV.

Palate: Here’s the dirty Springbank notes with that funk, spices, oak, peat and smoke, but also kept in check with strong fruitiness, yes again those red fruit mix leads the way but there are strong strawberries notes, oils and green tomatoes, classic!

Finish: Overall I’d say it’s medium length with fruitiness, warm spices and oak, fresh sweet ripe red fruit but it has a very long and lingering funky peat and greenery. Continue reading

Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe Review

Last week I posted my Whisky Of the Year 2016 review (Kilkerran 12) but I think that 2016 deserves a little more. While not a full year review or recap, here are a few points on 2016 whisky market:

  • 2016 was not the year that the whisky bubble burst. In fact, I’m not so sure we’re close to this point as I thought a year ago.
  • World (AKA non Scotch) whisky is rising steady, headed by the Irish whisky boom.
  • Volatile Markets has somewhat stabilized (Surprise!), providing boost to the earnings of Scotch industry.
  • Transparency movement gained a lot of momentum but lost most of it to the Brexit surprise.
  • The Younger and Pricier whisky movement gained a strong traction especially with the indie bottlers (and now we see 3 year old single casks bottlings from independent bottlers in 2017)
  • Prices are still on the rise, especially for high-end whiskies and indie bottlers from popular distilleries such as Laphroaig, Springbank, etc.
  • We see more premium/high-end whisky releases with price tags that keeps them outside the reach of regular whisky connoisseurs
  • Because Single Malt is so expensive, the Single grain releases are getting more popular (and pricier).

The whisky reviewed here today is Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe and I choose it because I think it’s the epitome of the current whisky market state. Don’t you believe me, follow this logic:

  1. Compass box is spearheading the transparency movement (along with Bruichladdich). It did hit a snag with Brexit but still they went ahead with a brilliant move: they interpreted SWA rules as “we can’t publish whisky age but you can ask privately” and so they implemented a mechanism where you can ask for the whisky age info via a simple form and you get back an email with all the details within a few seconds. All automated of course! Try it for you self: go to the Three Year Old Deluxe page here and press the “Request Age Info” link, fill in your email and voila!
  2. Now that you know the ages of the different whiskies composing this blend (if you don’t know, go back to #1 and follow the instruction there!) and understand this whisky is Compass Box way of doing the finger at SWA, you’ll notice it covers the Younger and Pricier movement (It’s a 3 year old officially after all) and the High price for older whiskies item as well (now that you know the age of each whisky in it).

But how’s the whisky? Is Mr Glaser magic working here?

Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe  (49.2%, 3,282 bottles, £185/€199.90)

compass-box-3-year-old-deluxeNose: Sweet and waxy at first and it’s not surprising with over 90% Clynelish in the mix. Some very gentle peat and smoke fly-by, honey, lots of vanilla. Funnily enough it doesn’t feel mature to its age (You did look up the components age by now, right?) A few minutes later, spices show up. Very talisker-y with pepper, also beeswax, dust and minerals. Green herbals, a touch of perfume and deeper sweet apples and pears. Continue reading

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