Category Archives: Whisky Reviews

Cardhu 14 Year Old (Special Release 2019)

Since 2001 Diageo are showcasing their enormous portfolio of distilleries in their Special Releases series. In the coming weeks we’ll cover here a few of the 2019 releases, starting today with this Cardhu 14 Year Old.

We don’t get to see too many Cardhus out there. There are the staple 12 Year Old and the Gold Reserve but outside these it’s quite rare, especially Cask Strength offerings where the last tone was released back in 2013.

This 14 Year Old Cardhu was matured in Amontillado sherry casks, 4,872 bottles were produced and bottled at 55% and the art work for it and the entire series is magnificent!

Cardhu 14 Year Old (Special Release 2019) (55%, £120/€139)

Nose: Sour fruits with a touch of nuttiness, honey, sweet barley, caramel and toffee. Then a bowl of fruits – pears, peaches and apples with sweet berries sauce, After a few minutes it develops a more nutty profile with cinnamon, cashew and almonds and eventually becoming herbal. Continue reading

Arran Master of Distilling II (The Man with the Golden Glass)

After reviewing Arran Sherry Cask which is a core range offering, we move on to a limited edition expression – Arran Master of Distilling 2 which is a 12 year old whisky finished in Palo Cortado sherry casks picked by James MacTaggart, Arran’s Master Distiller, in Spain.

James MacTaggart has over 40 years’ experience in whisky production. In 2017 we had Arran 10 Year Old (Master of Distilling I) to celebrate a decade since he joined Arran in 2007 and now we have this second edition (released in 2019) to celebrate a dozen years.

12,000 bottles were produced, each bottled at 51.8%.

Arran 12 Year Old – Master of Distilling II (51.8%, £65.00/€64.99)

Nose: Sweet, honeyed fruit, minerality, nutty with nutmeg and hazelnut – love that effect of Palo Cortado casks), limestone and green grape peels. After a few minutes there’s a floral side to the nose with white roses petals and citrus blossoms and eventually also getting tropical fruitiness. Very rich, enticing and balanced Palo Cortado influence. Continue reading

Arran Sherry Cask The Bodega

This week we’ll cover a trio of (relatively) recently released Arran whiskies. The first one we’ll cover is a member of the revamped line up Arran launched late 2019 – Arran Sherry Cask which is a cask strength with no age statement whisky – Another addition to the jammed collection of young Sherry bombs on the shelves.

Arran Sherry Cask The Bodega (55.8%, £53.95/€42.50)

Nose: Dates, raisins, the mineral-y side of Arran shows up in force. toffee, raspberry filled milk chocolate, almonds croissant, marzipan and hazelnuts.

Palate: Far sweeter and fruitier with red berries and blueberry, mandarins, ginger, minerals and rock dust, chocolate and it’s all quite drying. With a few drops of water it becomes a bit woody and there’s espresso, bitter cinnamon, dark chocolate and less fruitiness.

Finish: Medium long length, lingering sweet berries, drying minerality, white pepper and oak spice.

Thoughts: I quite love it. The fresh fruitiness offers a different look at the genre and the minerality adds a lovely depth and it offers a refreshing and different flavors profile comparing to other CS NAS sherried offerings.

Kilkerran 8 Year Old Re-charred Oloroso Sherry Casks

Kilkerran 8 Year Old is the young cask strength offering from Glengyle distillery. So far there have been 4 batches of this whisky (first batch was checked back in 2017 here).

But the last batch (No. 4) deviated from the road paved by the first 3 batches and offers a sherry matured Kilkerran 8 Year Old instead of the Bourbon casks used in the previous three batches.

And it’s not just regular sherry casks but Re-charred Oloroso Sherry casks, making the wood a bit more (or maybe a lot more) active. 15,000 bottles were produced at 57.1%. Let’s check it out!

Kilkerran 8 Year Old Re-charred Oloroso Sherry Casks (57.1%, €74,48)

Nose: Cherries and raspberry chocolate, greenery leaning towards vegetal/farmy side, a bit of wood smoke, cranberries. After a few minutes more dark chocolate (with high cocoa content) and cherries, a minuscule herbal/floral side show up yet still have the dirt and peat in the background to complement and balance the sherry influence. Quite an intense nose! Continue reading

Tomatin 2006 Amontillado Finish

After reviewing Tomatin 2009 Caribbean Rum and finding it very lackluster, it’s time to move on and check out his big brother, the Tomatin 2006 Amontillado Finish.

It was distilled in 2006 and then moved to Amontillado Sherry Butts in 2015 so it was finished for 3 years before being bottled at the tender age of 12. 5,400 bottles at 46% were produced and like its young sibling it’s non chill-filtered and is natural colored.

The longer finish and higher age are encouraging signs and nurture my hopes that it will be better than the 2009 vintage.

Tomatin 2006 Amontillado Finish (46%, £56.95/€58.0)

Nose: Very nutty, cereals, sultanas, sour-sweet plums, almonds croissant cinnamon buns, muffins, bakery, dark chocolate. Very nice even if a bit single minded.

Palate: Nutty! nutmeg, cinnamon galore, cooked cinnamon, cinnamon buns, spices, honey, sultanas, coffee beans dark chocolate and as I stated in the beginning – strongly nutty.

Finish: Medium length, nutty, nutmeg, cooked cinnamon and paste , espresso, chocolate, peppery warmth, tingling spices bitterness.

Thoughts: Yes, mucho mucho better than the 2009 vintage. Very pleasant and tasty although it’s quite straightforward with strong amontillado influence of nuts with some chocolate and coffee thrown in.

 

Tomatin 2009 Caribbean Rum Finish

Last fall, Tomatin distillery released 2 new expressions focusing on the finishes. The younger one is Caribbean Rum finished and the other one was finished in Amontillado finished.

Today we’ll check out the Rum finished one. This Tomatin was distilled in 2009, moved to Caribbean Rum Barrels in 2018 after nine years and then it spent another in 1st fill Caribbean Rum Barrels.

7,200 bottles at 46% were produced and it’s non chill-filtered and at natural color.

Tomatin 2009 Caribbean Rum Finish (46%, £46.95/€48)

Nose: Smells young and spirity, Green banana leaves, honey, soft and gentle whiffs of funk and Esters. a lot of cereals, butterscotch, shortbread, green fruits and white pepper lurks deep below. Continue reading

Mortlach 21 Year Old (Goren’s Whisky)

Today we have something special for you: An indie matured sherried Mortlach. In the last few years it was very very rare to see new sherried Mortlachs coming to market and those that did came were quite pricey.

I’ve been keeping eyes on this cask since the moment Tomer told me about it a few years. While I was disappointed it took a while to realize and bring it to the shelves, I’m glad it finally happened earlier this year.

This Mortlach was distilled in 1995 and bottled in 2017 (and released in 2019!), matured in a second fill PX Sherry Butt that yielded 258 bottles with abv of 51.8%

Mortlach 21 Year Old (Goren’s Whisky) (51.8%, 690₪)

Photo Credit: whiskybase.com

Nose: Sweet dried fruit, dried dates, toffee and caramel, plums, followed by leather and meatiness. Then it’s replaced by dark chocolate, roses water, dried cranberries, cherries and grapefruit and it’s stabilized to fresh sour fruit with leather and chocolate combo. Continue reading

Kingsbarns Dream to Dram

Just before the year and decade are over, lets have another first for the blog: the first review of whisky from Kingsbarns Distillery – Dream to Dram.

Kingsbarns is a new distillery – working and producing for just 4 years old or so. It’s located in Fife in what I’d call the Golf country and is classified as a Lowlands distillery and is owned by Wemyess Malts.

Their first whisky, Kingsbarns Dream to Dram, was distilled in 2015 and bottled in 2018. 1st Fill Ex-Bourbon & 1st Fill Ex-Wine (Actually STR casks – Shaved Toasted Recharred) were used to mature it for the short period. Thankfully Wemyss Malts and Kingsbarns didn’t go the Lets-Bottle-First-Whisky-For-Million-Dollars route so we can all go ahead and try it…

Kingsbarns Dream to Dram (46%, £44.95/€39.00)

Nose: The STR casks has a clear and strong presence here with subtle winey tannins and a bit of red berries, honey and sweet vanilla coming from the active casks, barley sugar, cereals, and after a few minutes there’s lemon, pineapple, banana and soft herbal edge. Continue reading

Bunnahabhain 1988 30 Year Old Marsala Finish

Earlier this year many of special editions in Distell 2019 Collection were covered here but some avid readers noticed I didn’t post reviews for some of them for some reason.

The headline of the collection is Bunnahabhain 1988 30 Year Old that was finished in Marsala casks. I skipped reviewing it back then as it wasn’t yet available in shops, but now that it did hit the shelves, here are my impressions of it:

Bunnahabhain 1988 30 Year Old Marsala Finish (47.4%, £450/€489,95)

Nose: Soft, there’s nice depth here, tropical fruits, pineapple, kiwi. Meshes well with the Marsala impact of soursweet red fruit and tingling spice, roses petals and cinnamon. Continue reading

M&H Classic

Recently I reviewed the M&H Founders Edition and remarked at the first official core line-up whisky will be here before 2019 ends. And here it is – M&H Classic has already hit the shelves locally in Israel and will be available in Europe next month and in the USA later in 2020.

The distillery also plans to release a new series of whiskies called Elements with the first member being M&H Elements Sherry Cask to be released in Q2 2020 and future members (Red wine cask and Peated cask) to be released in Q3 2020.

But let’s get back to the M&H Classic – Based on the plans set up years ago by the Distillery team (led by Tomer Goren the master distiller) and the late Dr. Jim Swan, the selected recipe for the Classic edition is a combination of Ex-Bourbon casks with Red Wine STR (Stripped, Toasted and Recharred) Casks.

M&H Classic is bottled at 46% and costs 199NIS (Although I’ve seen it for 189NIS in some shops) and should cost around €50 in Europe and $65 for 750ml version in the USA once it hits the shelves there.

M&H Classic (46%, 199NIS/€50/$65)

Nose: Clean, fresh and subtly sweet. There’s honey, gentle red grapes and red wine tannins, a hefty dose of vanilla, some earthy tone (dry earth and a touch of nutmeg) that adds some surprising depth, white pepper, – all in all a very rich nose despite the young age. After a few minutes there are some fresh floral side (floral wine) to the sweetness, quite a good balance between the Ex-Bourbon and STR casks.

Palate: Mildly sweet, spicy with white pepper and earthy nuttiness, soft cereals notes of bread bakery, caramel, vanilla and honey, soft wine tannins and red fruits in the background, good texture and body.

Finish: Short medium length. A very pleasant sweetness, lingering soft pepper spice, caramel, honey and red wine tannins.

Thoughts: For a first whisky it’s a very good expression. The combination of Ex-Bourbon and STR Wine casks at Tel-Aviv hot and humid weather delivers here a nice and pleasant whisky even at 3 years old. It’s an easy drinker and I’m sure many will like it.