Category Archives: Whisky Reviews

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

Kilchoman 12 Year Old Fèis Ìle 2020

After getting disappointed from Ardbeg BlaaacK, it’s time to move on to another Fèis Ìle 2020 festival bottling, hoping it will be better and today’s candidate to improve the mood is the Kilchoman bottling.

This year Anthony Wills has selected a few Ex-Bourbon Barrels to be bottled as the festival offering and so we got a Kilchoman 12 Year Old limited edition (2,630 bottles) for the festival.

After a failed first try to sell the bottle online where the website couldn’t cope with the load, it got sold out within 15 minutes on the second try.

Kilchoman 12 Year Old Fèis Ìle 2020 (54.2%, £108, 2630 bottles)

Nose: Rich and sweet, smoke and peat, honey, vanilla, rich and pungent. And at first it smells lightly peated instead of a heavy peat bomb. After all it’s a 12 Year Old Kilchoman. Pears and peaches, somewhat unripe tropical fruits and kiwi. After a few minutes of swirling the glass more pronounced and sharper peat smoke. Eventually a bit of honeyed fruits perfume and buttery dough. Really good and enchanting nose. Continue reading

Ardbeg BlaaacK (Ardbeg Day 2020)

The next Fèis Ìle 2020 bottling we review actually doesn’t mention the festival name  on the whisky label or the box. Instead, Ardbeg continue their tradition of only mentioning (and celebrating) their Ardbeg Day event which is traditionally the last day of the festival.

So it’s Ardbeg BlaaacK (for Ardbeg Day 2020) which we check out today. It’s called Blaaack which is a brilliant marketing stroke, celebrating the Committee 20th anniversary and saluting to the Islay sheeps using New Zealand Pinot Noir wine casks (because you know, New Zealand and sheeps…).

The bottle is of course black and the entire box/label design is beautiful. While the committee version was bottled at 50.7%, the Ardbeg Day version was bottled at 46% and was widely available around the festival time.

Ardbeg BlaaacK (Ardbeg Day 2020) (46%, £94)

Photo: whiskyinternationalonline.com

Nose: Sweet red berries, a bowl full of raspberries and gooseberries, gentle peat smoke, vanilla. After a few minutes in the glass more sour-sweet berries and cherries, kelp seaweed, seaside breeze, lemon zest, honeyed fruits and more vanilla and eventually also tobacco and cocoa. Not bad at all and in fact, I find it quite good. Continue reading

Lagavulin 20 Year Old Fèis Ìle 2020

Lagavulin is the 2nd Islay distillery owned by Diageo. Yesterday we covered Caol Ila Festival bottlingCaol Ila 16 Year Old Fèis Ìle 2020 and today it’s the Lagavulin festival bottling turn.

Last Year we had a 19 Year Old Lagavulin in Sherry Treated casks which was fantastic as the festival bottling and this  year we have a 20 Year Old Lagavulin initially matured in refill casks (ex-bourbon) and then finished in PX and Oloroso treated Hogsheads.

PX finish and Lagavulin? You’re right, we’re already familiar with this concept with the Lagavulin Distillers Edition. But here not all casks were finished in PX and the whisky is older. Let’s check it out.

Lagavulin 20 Year Old Fèis Ìle 2020 (54%, 6000 bottles)

Photo credit: whiskybase.com

Nose: Starts with gentle sweet dried fruits. Also getting some vanilla at first but it disappear (or just gets overrun) later on. Berries, purple plums, the expected peat smoke and ashes are here but currently playing 2nd violin. Then suddenly some flickers of Lagavulin DNA fruitiness and peat, raisins and caramel. After 30 minutes here comes the PX with thick syrup, dark chocolate, fruits cake with chocolate topping. And it’s very balanced and in harmony all through that time. Continue reading

Caol Ila 16 Year Old Fèis Ìle 2020

Fèis Ìle 2020 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak and like many other events and festivals it was moved to an online format. One big aspect of a whisky festival is the festival bottlings and many festivals and distilleries retained their plans for a special bottling. Some replaced the original bottling with a different one like Bruichladdich, some didn’t release a bottling like Bowmore and some took their time to offer a festival bottling like the Diageo Islay based distilleries of Caol Ila and Lagavulin.

We don’t know what were the original plans for the 2020 festival bottling from Caol Ila but eventually it was revealed it’s a 16 Year Old Caol Ila finished in Amoroso sherry casks.

It was initially matured in Refill ex-bourbon casks and then finished in Amoroso treated Hogsheads, all personally selected by Pierrick Guillaume the Distillery manager.

We’ve seen Amaroso finished whisky from Diageo in the form of Talisker Distillers Edition but it’s not too common out there.

Caol Ila 16 Year Old for Fèis Ìle 2020 (53.9%, 3000 bottles, £120)

Nose: Strong and a bit sour vanilla – almost lactic. Sour sweet bright berries. yellow plums and gooseberries, maritime with  gentle smoke, sugared lemon peels, more vanilla, ripe yellow green grapes. After a long time in the glass it becomes sweeter with almonds and nuttiness. Continue reading

Milk & Honey Elements Series (Red Wine Cask, Sherry Cask, Peated)

Earlier this month, Milk & Honey Distillery launched the entire Elements series. The Sherry Cask was already available in select markets but the other two Elements were released in tandem due to COVID-19 impact and they should reach markets in the coming month or two.

The M&H Elements series is exploring different casks (and more specifically – their previous content) impact on M&H spirit. There are three elements in the series which is part of the core range and will be available on a regular basis in all markets carrying M&H wares:

  • Red Wine Cask – The M&H whisky was matured in Israeli Red Wine casks
  • Sherry Cask – The M&H whisky was matured in Kosher sherry casks (Oloroso and PX) made in a Jerez Bodega especially for the distillery.
  • Peated – The Whisky was matured in ex-bourbon and ex-Islay casks for a gentle peated whisky.

M&H Elements Red Wine Cask (46%, 249)

Nose: At first you do feel the M&H Classic DNA here as it starts with a fresh bourbony notes of honey and vanilla and gentle wine notes but then you get flooded by a strong red wine influence, strongly fortified with extra wine beyond the STR casks used for the Classic. Oak spice, cinnamon, tannins, raspberries and cranberries with a floral side, licorice. After a few minutes it gets more red fruits and sweeter with a touch of sourness. A fresh and luscious nose. Continue reading

Springbank 24 Year Old Sherry Cask UK Exclusive

Sometimes there are bottles you eye but know you won’t buy them due to their high price tag and you hope you’ll have the chance to taste them somehow. This Springbank 24 Year Old is such one.

It’s an aged Springbank from a sherry butt so it came with a high price tag (£420 RRP but now cost is around £900) and outside my budget. But thank to a virtual tasting organized by Ian and the It’s all about Springbank Facebook group, I had the opportunity to try it.

Before we duck into the tasting some technical facts: It was distilled back in December 1994, matured in a fresh sherry hogshead for 24 years before being bottled May 2019. 294 bottles were released, bottled at 46.2%

Springbank 24 Year Old Sherry Cask UK Exclusive (46.2% £899.90)

Nose: Oak spice, sweet dried stone fruits, oak extracts so quite intense (but not too dominant) oakiness, oily, wood polish, chocolate, sweet espresso, peat smoke and tool shed, jammy with raspberry, gooseberries and some cranberries. Continue reading

Talisker Neist Point

Today we have under the limelight the expensive of all Talisker NAS releases of the last decade. Most of those releases are reviewed in the blog (except Dark Storm, not sure why it’s missing tho!) but Talisker Neist Point is the one that I couldn’t bother to grab for a review, until now.

Talisker Neist Point is named after the Neist Point Lighthouse in the western most point on Skye Island. It was released as a Travel Retail exclusive, although now you do can get it in some stores, which is a good thing as this market is suffering a lot at the moment due to Covid-19.

As you can see from the links below, It’s not a cheap release. Is this price tag justified?

Talisker Neist Point (45.8%, £90.90/€76.90)

Photo credit: whiskybase.com

Nose: Quite fruity with large dose of tropical fruits, pineapple, kiwi, passion fruits. There’s gentle smoke, honey and vanilla. After a while it becomes very buttery, there’s also some cookie dough. Continue reading

Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength Early Teen Batches (010, 011 & 012)

It’s not a secret that I like Laphroaig (despite a few disappointing releases in the last few years) but the annual 10 Year Old Cask Strength is always exciting and almost every single time a fantastic whisky.

2.5 years ago, I went through an epic tasting of all the Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength releases from green stripe all the way up to batch 009 and it was quite a memorable one. But since then we’ve moved into the early teen batches of the series – 010, 011 and the recently released 012 batch.

So, head to head tasting? sure thing! Not as epic and lengthy as the previous tasting, but still a good and satisfying evening going back and forth between them.

Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength Batch 010 (58%)

credit: thewhiskyworld.com

Nose: Sweet smoke, honey and vanilla, chimney smoke, tarry, after a while also fruits with pears and peaches, a bit of disinfectant and a pack of band-aids, getting more lively. With a few drops of water (but not a lot) more honey and vanilla, more medicinal and with extra TCP. Continue reading

Glen Garioch 8 Year Old ex-Bielle Rum Finish (Asta Morris)

I have a few friends with a very high affinity to Glen Garioch Distillery so naturally I tend to be quite up o date with the distillery (sometimes against my futile efforts to avoid it 😉 ).

But when an IB bottling of Glen Garioch is imported and is available locally, you can’t really avoid noticing and tasting it, and this was my fate with this Glen Garioch 2011 8 Year Old bottled by Asta Morris.

While it’s a young Glen Garioch it’s not a boring whisky as it may sound. It was matured in ex-Bourbon and then finished in ex-Bielle Rum casks that Asta Morris Rum bottled under their Rasta Morris brand – so ex-Bourbon and then Agricole rum casks.

272 bottles were produced from the ex-Rum cask at 49.7%.

Glen Garioch 8 Year Old ex-Bielle Rum Finish (Asta Morris) (49.7%, €62/335NIS)

Nose: Despite the relatively low ABV there’s a good punch here, some youth and muscular nose, malty with cereals, brown sugar and that Agricole grassiness, also some pineapple. Spices with ginger (of course as it’s a Glen Garioch after all) and white pepper.

Palate: Malty, cereals, honey and brown sugar sweetness, quite spicy with ginger, nutmeg and white pepper. Then we have some pineapple juice and grapefruit juice and the white rind bitterness.

Finish: Medium length, spicy, brown sugar, pineapple juice, grapefruits and the Agricole grassiness.

Thoughts: At first it felt a bit too young and incoherent but once it settled in the glass and got a bit oxidized it blossomed nicely. The nose got some good Rum influence to balance the youth and spiciness of Glen Garioch and in the mouth it’s more spicy and fruity with a minuscule Agricole influence that makes a cameo in the finish. A lovely summertime whisky.