Bunnahabhain 1989 26 Year Old (WhiskyBroker.co.uk) & 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 WhiskyBroker.co.uk. 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

Islay Feis Ile Festival 2017 Bottles

feis-logo-newSpring is almost upon us (or already upon us as far as I’m concerned) and you know what does it mean, right? Yes, time for the annual post of the Feis Ile Festival bottles.

This year, the festival will run from late May into June 2017 (26st May to 3rd June 2017) and unlike the previous two years, there will be no special celebrations this year, just a “normal” festival but still it will be a exciting festival.

This post will detail all the available information on the festival bottles and I’ll update it each time more details will be revealed.

If you look for the full festival information, go to the Festival site at islayfestival.com and you can find the full Islay Festival Distillery Programmes 2017 here when it will be published.

It’s a safe bet that just like previous years, we will have more Feis Ile bottlings from other independent bottlers and other sources – all will be updated in the post when the information will be released.

So here’s the list of Feis Ile 2017 bottlings and the available information:

Lagavulin – Open day on Saturday 27th May 2017

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 http://www.compassboxwhisky.com/whiskies/index.php?id=19 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

Glenmorangie Bacalta (Glenmorangie Private Edition #8) Review

Yesterday I wrote I was happy due to the Glenlivet single cask that was released exclusively to the Israeli market but earlier this month there was another sign that we’re getting noticed in the whisky industry: The annual Glenmorangie Private Edition launch events around the globe included Israel as well with a proper launch event by the local Glenmorangie importer (Y.D 1986) and with actual bottles available to purchase on the same day for the same price as most European countries. Another first time happenstance in our whisky history and a good sign to Israeli whisky aficionados.

Now I have to admit that I have a soft spot for this series. Ever since I bought and tried the Glenmorangie Finealta, I’ve been following this series closely and buying a bottle every year for the last few years and so I did purchase a bottle from a local web shop – what a refreshing change, buying and getting it in the same day instead of waiting for the bottle for 3-4 weeks.

However, the review was delayed because after tasting it and checking my notes against the official notes I found out that a major note I found (chalk and rocks) wasn’t anywhere in the official notes nor any note that can be considered as an alternative. That got me worried at first but since I did taste it directly from a new bottle, I thought maybe it needs some time and so I did re-taste it this week and now I was more satisfied as the rocks/chalk note disappeared 🙂

I won’t bother much with the information and story of the bottling, suffice to note it’s around 12 year old – spent ten years as the standard Glenmorangie Original and then around 2 years in those special Madeira casks Dr. Lumsden picked up.

Glenmorangie Bacalta (46%, £77.95)

glenmorangie-private-edition-8-bacaltaNose: Oranges and mandarins, soft nuttiness, baked pears pie with strong pastry note, strong and rounded baking spices and hints of canned peaches after a few minutes in the glass. And there’s no doubt it’s a Glenmorangie. When I first nosed it, the first image that pop up in my mind was sitting on warm rocks on a cliff in a hot spring day because there was a strong warm rocks and chalk note that was noticed after a few minutes.  Continue reading

Two 15 Year Old Single Casks from Glenlivet – Pristinus & Carn Ealasaid

Earlier this week I participated in an Glenlivet event that brings Tal Brody’s (ex-basketball player here in Israel) immortal words “We’re on the map and we’ll stay on the map” to mind. And you probably ask why and the answer is: We (the Israeli market) has grown up. We buy and drink more single malt than ever and we were finally noticed enough in Scotland to garner an exclusive single cask from Glenlivet – the first ever distillery single malt official bottling that was bottled exclusively to our market – the Glenlivet Single Cask Edition “Carn Ealasaid” 15 Year Old.

Rani Cohen (Senior Executive of Glenlivet importer, Tempo) led a series of 3 tasting events in Tel-Aviv to launch this exclusive bottling and using the occasion to educate and promote single malt whisky in Israel. I was also delighted to hear that the current Nadurra bottlings (Oloroso, First Fill, etc) are finally coming to our shores – expect them in stores from May 2017.

But why review this single cask alone? Let’s review also the “Pristinus”, another 15 year old single cask that arrived to our market a year and a half ago and was also a big star in those events.

Glenlivet Single Cask Edition “Pristinus” 15 Year Old (59.7%)

glenlivet-single-cask-edition-pristinus-15-yoNose: Oh a barrage of green apples, feels almost like an applies cider with bubbles-like feeling due to the high ABV, vanilla and lemon, very fruity with tropical edge. With water it’s getting spicier and a pineapple note is added. It has a rich, crisp and bold – really an excellent nose. Continue reading