Category Archives: Whisky Reviews

Octomore Trios Part 2 (Octomore 9.2, Octomore 10.2 & Octomore 11.2)

Time for the next Octomore Trio. Last week we reviewed the 9.1/10.1/11.1 trio and we’re moving on to the x.2 series.

Octomore x.2 series incorporates wine casks usage and used to be available exclusively at Travel Retail stores . Due to Covid19 pandemic, the last one, Octomore 11.2, is available exclusively at Bruichladdich distillery webshop as TR venues weren’t a viable distribution channel. So what wine casks were used for this trio? Have a look at this list:

  • Octomore 9.2 is 5 Year Old: 4 Years in American Oak and 1 Year in Bordeaux, peated to 156ppm.
  • Octomore 10.2 is 8 Year Old: 4 Year in First Fill American oak and 4 Years in Sauternes wine casks, peated to a extremely lower level of ‘just’ 96.9ppm.
  • Octomore 11.2 is peated to 139.6 ppm, part was fully matured in Pauillac  ex-red wine casks and part was matured in a combination of ex-American whiskey casks and St Julien ex-red wine casks.

Octomore 9.2 5 Year Old (58.2%, 156ppm,139.50)

Nose: Started weird (for an Octomore), it’s smoky and not peated, at first at least. Chimney and cigar smoke, dry tannins. But then the Bordeaux takes over with peat smoke in the background, red berries, nuts, raspberry and strawberry – and staying gentle and airy all the time. One of the least intense Octomore noses I encountered.

Palate: Sour sweet red berries, cherries, hard candies, and then peat and smoke, honey, BBQ meat, brine, cigar smoke, long espresso, very creamy and harmonious, kind like everything is in backseat and not overpowering.

Finish: Medium long length, lingering sweet peat and red berries with cherries, smoke, again very laid back.

In a nutshell: Bordeaux casks tamed the smoke.

Octomore 10.2 8 Year Old (56.9%, 96.9ppm, €124.50)

Nose: Sweet, smoky, fruity with raspberries and cranberries, jammy and sugary, richer and thicker than 9.2. Purple plums, wood smoke, floral sweetness, sweet wood extracts (Because it’s 8 yo, reminds me rums). With a few drops of water it’s fruitier, less intense, more red berries (of the fresh kind) and less smoke, keep the floral tinge.

Palate: Sweet burnt wood, peat smoke paste, raspberries and cherries jam, oak spice. With water more or less the same but less intense, burnt wood, fresh red berries, sweet wood extracts and chocolate.

Finish: Medium long length, sweet, wood, smoke, paste, raspberry. With water, more smoke and more fresh berries and some chocolate.

In a nutshell: Good but comes with extra wood driven flavours due to the extra years.

Octomore 11.2 5 Year Old (58.6%, 139.6ppm, £140)

Nose: Winey with tannins, red berries, mostly strawberry with some raspberries, soft smoke, brine, cured meat, smoke/peat almost docile, soft nose with structure not far off 9.2 with the gentle and airy feeling. After a while there’s a fixture of smoked meat in strawberry and milk chocolate sauce – smells tasty.

Palate: Smoky and soft, then cured meat, ashes and tar, getting more intense by the second, strawberries with a spoon of black raspberry jam, honey, more meat and ashes.

Finish: Medium long length, soft ashes, honey, strawberries and raspberries, sweetened meat scraps.

In a nutshell: Truly an ex-red wine Octomore.

 

Thoughts: This time the differences were noticeable as expected from using different wine casks. Octomore 10.2 is also a bit aged comparing to the other two and the (sweet) wood  impact is strong, a bit strong for my taste, But if you like that kind of flavor, look no further as it’s a beast. The other two (9.2 and 11.2) are more similar, both sporting ex-red wine casks. The 9.2 with merely a year in Bordeaux casks while 11.2 spent more time in wine casks. Hard to decide which one is better but I think I’ll go with 9.2 due to the gentle and laid back approach but I may be splitting hairs here as tomorrow I may go with 11.2.

Octomore Trios Part 1 (Octomore 9.1, Octomore 10.1 & Octomore 11.1)

Working on the stockpile of bottles and notes I’ve accumulated and not published (mostly in the last year, “thanks” to Covid19) and noticed I’m seriously lagging behind with Bruichladdich – I have tons of them waiting to be published. So here’s to a few Laddie posts but to make it interesting, let’s start with some head to head (to head) Octomore comparisons while we’re at it – should be interesting to see the differences between them, no?

Let’s start with the Octomore x.1 series. A wee reminder: the x.1 series is the Scottish barley matured in American Oak casks (A.K.A bourbon casks). There could be differences between the releases as we don’t know the ratio between 1st fill and refill casks. Today we have the three to compare today but the only surefire difference we can gleam from the official data sheets is the PPM level:

  • Octomore 9.1 is peated to 156ppm
  • Octomore 10.1 is peated to a lower level of ‘just’ 107ppm
  • Octomore 11.1 is peated to 139.6 ppm (seriously? not a rounded number?)

They are all 5 Year Old whiskies and the ABV is very similar between the releases, on the range between 59.1% and 59.8%. For Octomore 9.1 and Octomore 10.1 there were 42,000 bottles and for Octomore 11.1 “only” 30,000 bottles were produced.

OK, that’s enough foreplay, lets go ahead and try that trio:

Octomore 9.1 5 Year Old (59.1%, 156ppm, £125.95/€124.99)

Nose: It starts a bit on the spirity side, then explodes with sweet peat, honey and floral side, also some tar in the background, pears. smooth and very rich. After a while there’s a floral edge to the nose, initially a bit soapy but thankfully it went away, the floral edge become perfumed and there’s Lavender and Patchouli as well and eventually cured meat and smoked meat with green melon. Continue reading

Miltonduff 2008 12 Year Old Sherry Finished (Blackadder)

Following the Blackadder Benrinnes review here’s another Blackadder whisky review.

We’re staying in the Speyside region and check out a whisky from Miltonduff Distillery. This whisky was distilled back in 05.03.2008, was filled into a bourbon cask and then was finished in a Sherry hogshead before being bottled last September.

This Hogshead (#1001) yielded 287 bottles at 58.2%

Blackadder Miltonduff 2008 12 Year Old (58.2%)

Photo: clydesdale.se

Nose: Clean and fresh nose, dried red berries with mainly raspberries and strawberries, berries marmalade, then the bourbon cask comes to play: intense, and honey (reminds me the Benrinnes reviewed yesterday). The sherry cask then replies back with dark chocolate, cinnamon and nutmeg. Continue reading

Benrinnes 2010 10 Year Old (Blackadder)

Benrinnes is a distillery more known to whisky geeks and afficionados as most of their whisky goes into blends. Their whisky is big and muscular and I usually enjoy my Benrinnes when it’s far more older then this specimen bottled by Backadder.

This is a 10 Year Old Benrinnes distilled 21.06.2010 and bottled in August 2020 after maturing in a straightforward ex-bourbon cask (number #306695).

This hogshead yielded 321 bottles at 58.1% and now it’s time to see how this whisky fares even at this tender age.

Blackadder Benrinnes 2010 10 Year Old  (58.1%)

Photo: whiskybase.com

Nose: It’s a young Benrinnes and the toughness is on display. Straw, honey, rocks dust and green pears. Then it gets herbal with lavender, a touch of soap, herbal perfume. Cereals, bread, bakery fresh dough, kiwi and papaya, vanilla pods and all this time the tough backbone is there. This is not a soft whisky, it’s one with bulging muscles. Continue reading

Golani ‘Out of the blue’ by Mashing

An independent Golan Heights Distllery whisky. Didn’t think it will happen anytime soon, but there it is – the first indie Golani is out there by a Mashing, a new independent bottler (disclosure: I know one of the founders and we’re in the same whisky groups and circles).

This 3 Year Old two grains Golani (3 years and 10 months so almost 4 Year Old), is their first release and also the first one in a planned experiment cask series. How experimental is this whisky? Take a deep breath:

It started out its life in a high-end Cabernet Sauvignon red wine case from Golan Height Winery. After 3 years it was finished for 10 months in a 110 liter cask nicknamed “Unicorn cask” that started as a Tchelet wine cask (a naturally fermented wine) from Tanya winery and was used once to age very lightly peated singe mat Golani whisky before being put to use here (so basically it’s a finish in a refill Unicorn cask).

Complex setup? Indeed it is. Was is worth it?

Golani ‘Out of the blue’ by Mashing (66.2%, Cask #25)

Nose: Powerful, red wine, here comes the Golani trademark of dirt and licorice, a wee touch of grain, marmalade, berries filled chocolate and tannins. After a few minutes, dried berries, espresso, chocolate (familiar notes from the previous usage of this unicorn cask), fresh berries of raspberry, cherries, gooseberry and cranberries, at this stage I barely notice the grain.

Palate: The unicorn cask is dominant here with very strong chocolate and espresso impact, dried berries, licorice, oak and mint freshness. Then it recedes to reveal more gentle oak spice, tannins, mint leftovers and drying sensation.

Finish: Long finish, not as powerful as on the Palate but lingering chocolate, espresso and dried berries.

Thoughts: This dram easily rocked up to the top 2 Golani I ever tasted (and the 2nd one was a single malt). It’s powerful, packing lots of favors – fruits, chocolate and espresso with a touch of Golani licorice and mint. It’s an excellent whisky, always a good sign to start a new business like that.

Caol Ila 13 Year Old Koval Cask Finish (For Northern Whisky Society)

Caol Ila is the big distillery on Islay and we see many releases in the market from various independent bottlers and we love it!

Today’s review is on a Caol Ila 13 Year Old bottling from The Single Cask Ltd. which was bottled for Northern Whisky Society which I’m member of it since it was founded and also helps managing. As a co-admin I of course was involved in the process of selecting and approving this cask but trust me – the notes are accurate and good thing I don’t dish out marks for whiskies.

This Caol Ila was distilled 28.02.2007 and then matured in Bourbon cask for over 12 years before being finished in Koval cask (From Koval Distillery in Chicago, USA) which probably held Rye whisky and then also briefly held Peated Glenturret (Ruadh Maor) before it was used for this Caol Ila finish process. It was eventually bottled on 16.10.2020 and this 100 Liter cask yielded 137 bottles at 55.7%

Caol Ila 13 Year Old For NWS (55.7%, Cask #303472B)

Nose: Sweet peat smoke combined with herbal smoke and wet peat smoke. Also some coastal side with sea breeze, brine, seashore and shells and seafood. Smoked meat, vanilla and honey, green herbs perfume, lemony, velvety and caressing. Continue reading

Ardnamurchan AD/09.20:01

In late 2020, Ardnamurchan distillery had finally released their first legal whisky after a few batches of previews (AD/2016 to AD/2019) and it’s always exciting to have a new distillery reviewed here.

I tasted the two kinds of new make from Ardnamurchan – one peated and one unpeated and liked them very much. Therefor it’s no surprise I was eager to taste their proper whisky and seems like I wasn’t alone as the first batch flew off the shelves and now there’s a new batch AD/01.21:01.

But let’s focus on the first batch, AD/09.20:01. It was distilled in 2014/2015 and was bottled on 22/09/2020, so basically it’s a 5 year old whisky. It’s a 50:50 mix of peated and unpeated spirit matured in bourbon and sherry casks – 65% in Bourbon & 35% in PX & Oloroso Sherry Casks.

Those batches are bottled at 46.8% and their retail price is about £45-£50 (if you manage to get one when they come out that is).

Ardnamurchan AD/09.20:01 (46.8%, 15978 bottles)

Photo: thewhiskyexchange.com

Nose: Oily with the expected honey and vanilla notes of a young whisky, very gentle earthy peat. There’s a very shy side for the sherry casks, with restrained red fruitiness that strengthen over time, also some soursweet berries (raspberry) and more vanilla. Continue reading

Glenmorangie a Tale of Cake (Tokaji Wine Casks Finish)

After 10 years of Private Editions, Glenmorangie are taking a break from the series (maybe even for good) and instead we have this limited edition called “Glenmorangie a Tale of Cake” which in short is a whisky that started like the Glenmorangie 10 Traditional and then took a twist with Tokaji wine casks finish.

Tokaji is a dessert wine style from Hungary (and neighbor Slovakia) and we don’t see many whiskies finished in such casks as it’s considered hard to master and get a good taste profile.

The reasoning behind this whisky was to reflect a cake in a bottle:

Dr Bill, found himself musing over how some of his most joyful memories came from cake — from the pineapple upside down cake his daughter made for his birthday to baking with his Granny in her kitchen.

He devised this whisky to conjure the magic of a cake moment, finishing his favourite Glenmorangie Single Malt in the finest Tokaji dessert wine casks.

Glenmorangie a Tale of Cake (46%, £75)

Photo credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Nose: If the 10yo starts with vanilla, honey and nuts spices, here the nose starts with pears, subtle oak spice, dessert white wine (duh!) which then laces with late coming Glenmorangie classic features of soft honey, vanilla and nuttiness. After a few minutes boom! a bowl of white chocolate, more nuttiness and white pepper. Then some unripe fruits and green melon, ripe pears, sweet grapes and even more honey and spice. Continue reading

Bunnahabhain 2002 Madeira Finish Fèis Ìle 2020

After a long hiatus due to COVID-19 mood and because things got busy at work it’s time to resume some whisky writing besides posting some news on the Facebook page.

I was in the midst of writing the second Bunnahabhain Feis Ie 2020 review so let’s complete it and then resume normal bog operation (with the Laphroaig bottling waiting for a future special Laphroaig project).

This Bunnahabhain was the older (and more expensive) botting available before the open day (when the distillery released a third whisky, expensive and super premium). It’s a 17-18 Year old unpeated whisky, finished in Madeira casks.

Bunnahabhain 2002 Madeira Finish Fèis Ìle 2020 (53%, £199, 1164 bottles)

Nose: Oily, sweet pungent, dunnage warehouse, honey and flower petals, milk chocolate, cranberries and peaches, almonds, cookies dough, clearly distinct roses petal, oily did we say? also quite heavy, marzipan. After a while there’s more chocolate, the floral side get stronger, darker honeyed fruits and pastries. There’s depth and complexity here. Continue reading

Bunnahabhain Mòine 2010 Amontillado Finish Fèis Ìle 2020

The Kilchoman Fèis Ìle 2020 festival bottling was good – can we continue this trend with the Bunnahabhain festival bottlings? There were 3 festival bottlings this year, two were announced before the festival and one was released as a surprise during the virtual open day.

The more accessible festival bottle, just like previous years, was a Bunnahabhain Moine. This time it was a 2010 vintage finished in Amontillado sherry casks.

Let’s check it out:

Bunnahabhain Mòine 2010 Amontillado Fèis Ìle 2020 (56.9%, £99, 1658 bottles)

Nose: soft smoke, sweet grapes, fermented grapes, oily, slightly toasted nuts, a bit of salted fish carpaccio, grapes peels (yeah, a lot of grapes related notes), tobacco smoke behind, fresh, dough, cereals, fresh with some sour sweet juice, vanilla, green fruits, artificial canned tropical juice, apricots, whiffs of char and well defined smoke. Continue reading