Category Archives: Whisky Reviews

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2021 Pedro Ximenez Casks

After publishing my review on Laphroaig 10 Year Old Sherry Oak Finish I was asked how does is stand up to Laphroaig PX Cask and the answer was cut and clear that the Sherry Oak Finish is better.

But then someone asked: “And how does it compare to the Cairdeas 2021 Pedro Ximenez?”. Now, those whiskies aren’t exactly competing one with the other – the better question (and competition) would ask how does it compare to the Laphroaig PX Cask. But nevertheless, it’s an interesting comparison between two recent official Laphroaig releases both finished in sherry casks.

The Cairdeas PX started its life in ex-Bourbon barrels, followed by quarter casks before a finish in European oak PX hogsheads. So it’s sherry finished but it’s a different kind of sherry (PX Vs. Oloroso).

As I couldn’t answer the question immediately, although I did tast the Cairdeas at the distillery last month I didn’t analyze it or tried to compare it to the Sherry Oak finish, meaning I had to sit down and taste it again properly with this comparison in mind.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2021 Pedro Ximenez Casks (58.9%)

Nose: Sweet peat smoke, sticky toffee, sultanas and dates, cinnamon and milk chocolate. The dry smoke is there but held in check, smoked meat, iodine and seaweed. After a few minutes in the glass there is more dry smoke and also of the burning wood smoke, pine needles, getting jammy with sweet blackberries and blueberries, TCP and disinfectant, dark chocolate, more toffee and raisins. Continue reading

Laphroaig 10 Year Old Sherry Oak Finish

If you follow the blog for a while, you probably know by now I have a very sweet spot for Laphroaig. I have to tell you that a few years ago there was a rough patch in our relationships but in the last 2-3 years things are far better, thanks for asking!

This 10 Year Old Sherry Oak finish release is not just a limited edition but it’s a new addition to the core line up of Laphroaig, so a very encouraging and refreshing addition if you ask me – kind of a counterbalance to the Quarter cask which is also bottled at 48%

This whisky was aged for ten years in refill sherry and ex-Bourbon barrels and then finished in European oak Oloroso sherry casks for unspecified time period. So basically we should get here the classic 10 Year Old profile with extra sherry goodness and added oomph. Let’s check out if it fulfil the promise and potential.

Laphroaig 10 Year Old Oak Finish (48%, £59.95/€68.50)

photo credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Nose: Sweet dried red fruits and berries with raspberries, cranberries and strawberries in the lead. Semi dry smoke, TCP and iodine, smoked meat, soot, tar, gentle ashiness and leather. After a few minutes (or lots of minutes in my case), it feels more like old school Laphroaig. Continue reading

Holyrood Distillery Tour

It’s been a while since I last visited Scotland and with the added of Covid-19 pandemic, the return to the motherland was delayed even further but eventually I got there!

In addition to visiting some old favorite distilleries, I used the opportunity to visit a new distillery that didn’t exist last time I visit Scotland – Holyrood Distillery in Edinburgh.

Continue reading

Octomore Trios Part 3 (Octomore 9.3, Octomore 10.3 & Octomore 11.3)

I had drifted again but still there’s time for a review of the next Octomore trio. We reviewed the 9.1/10.1/11.1 trio and 9.2/10.2/11.2 trio and now it’s the x.3 series turn.

Octomore x.3 series is more similar to the x.1 series but it focus on local barley grown in the Octomore farm. Like x.1 series it’s all ex-bourbon casks with slightly different age and PPM:

  • Octomore 9.3 is 5 Year Old, peated to 133ppm.
  • Octomore 10.3 is 6 Year Old, peated to 114ppm.
  • Octomore 11.3 is 5 Year Old and is peated to 194 ppm.

Octomore 9.3 5 Year Old (58.2%, 133ppm, 160)

Nose: Sweet smoke, perfume, farmy, hay, fields, cattle, honey, coals smoke, wildfire smoke, fumes, peaches and melon, vanilla. Continue reading

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