Compass Box Hedonism Quindecimus

HedonismQuindecimus

Rating: ★★★★

Recommendation: Buy it

Type: Single grain whisky

Origin: Scotland

ABV: 57%

Reaction: :)

Nose:

Wood vanilla, varnished pine, white paint and plaster, gooey salted caramel, coconut, cherry ripe, cinnamon, a bag of oranges, and, rum and raisin. 

Taste:

Salted caramel, chocolate, warming spices, cinnamon, pepper and lots of zesty orange. The taste is also strikes me as quite rummy and brandy-like, the initial taste of Cognac fades into sugar rum notes. It is a little drying, more of an English style rum than Spanish or Navy style. 

Finish: 

Candied orange zest, date and cinnamon scone linger with butter, warming spices and clove. After these flavours fade, find cracked pepper and lemon. 

Bottom line: 

Buy it. This is a warming and spice filled single grain whisky bursting with character, especially salted caramel and candied orange zest. My immediate temptation is to smuggle a sample of this fine dram into a chocolate shop, unbuckle my belt, and endevaour to find  its chocolaty soul mate.  A superb product. 

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Benromach 10 year old 100 proof 57%

Benromach-100-Proof-10-Year

Rating: ★★★★★

Recommendation: Buy it! 

Type: Single malt whisky

Origin: Speyside, Scotland

ABV: 57%

Reaction: :D

Nose:

Chocolate and stewed fruits, cooked strawberries, drying grapefruit, nuts and balsamic; this a lusciously sweet and yet drying bouquet with waves of Oloroso sherry and wood dominating over mild smokiness. 

Taste:

Sweet sherry, dried fruit (dates, raisin), wood and undercurrents of honey unleash on the palate with a medicinal and herbal eucalyptus/menthol hue that is interlaced with peat smoke. The malt becomes more potent towards the finish. This is a serious flavour packed malt with an angry slugger’s punch – Kapow! 

With time it becomes clear that the peat is the backbone, supporting sherry, dark chocolate and the herbal eucalyptus/menthol

Finish:

The finish is slightly drying with underlying creaminess, dark dried fruit and wisps of smoke remaining on the palate.

Bottom line:  

Buy it! This is a complex malt with a big sherry nose and palate that seems to inspire a wrestling match between the dry notes and sweet notes, as they vie for supremacy on the palate amidst mild peat smoke and a herbal hue. Tasting this whisky is almost as phenomenal as watching Hulk Hogan and the Macho Man Randy Savage, back in the – *ahem* – “olden days”. Oooohhh yeahhhh!   

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Benromach 10 year old

brmob.10yov1

Rating: ★★★★

Recommendation: Buy it

Type: Single malt whisky

Origin: Speyside, Scotland

ABV: 43%

Reaction:  :)

Nose:

Vanilla, milk chocolate, fruit mice pie, matches and warm fabric taken out of the drier.

Taste:

There is a surge of apple with wave after wave of milk chocolate softening the whack of peat, which then quickly softens and accompanies a slight herbal menthol and licorice note. Towards the finish, this malt reminds me of a white Russian with a splash of grenadine. The sherry notes, while there, resemble more of a sweet red raspberry candy or grenadine.

Finish:

The finish is creamy, with stewed red berries and lingering cocoa notes. Big malt notes become noticeable, with sweet barley sugar and spicy ginger bread.

Bottom line:

Buy it – this is a very drinkable Speysider with cream, mild peat, malt, mild herbal notes and a hint of sherry. This malt becomes very luscious and creamy, with so much milk chocolate you’ll start to wonder whether you are drinking a whisky spiked Big M chocolate milk. Now I feel like watching The Big Lebowski… with a bottle of this malt in hand; it won’t last very long.   

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The Top Shelf Show 2015, Melbourne

Malt Mileage attended the Top Shelf Show in Melbourne on 8 August 2015. The Top Shelf Show is an alcoholic drinks show which showcases alcoholic drinks from various producers, such as distilleries and bars.

There were various spirits available for tasting including Scotch single malt (Glen Grant, Laphroaig, Glenrothes), Australian single malt (Sullivans Cove), bourbon (Russell’s Reserve), Australian white rye (Archie Rose, Belgrove), rum (Appleton Estate, Beenleigh) brandy (Camus, St Agnes) and the list continues. There were also some premium spirits available for tasting, such as the St Agnes XO Grand Reserve 40 year old which retails for about AUD$750! 

The list of whiskies on offer was by no means as large as in other shows, such as Whisky Live or The Whisky Show, but the experience at Top Shelf was far more enjoyable than these other shows – at Top Shelf the venue was not crowded, the “pop up” bars were carefully decorated and they provided a great ambiance, and, cocktails were available for tasting and it was fantastic to chat with the various “mixologists” at the event. To be honest, having drank my fill on the night the number of spirits available for tasting proved more than enough. The cocktails on offer were a refreshing change to the usual boring offerings in whisky shows (i.e: the usual high selling whiskies you’ve tried before served neat), and they were a hit with my partner. 

Apart from spirits there was cider, beer, liqueur and cheese available for tasting. The Laphroaig pop up bar also had oysters available for tasting, which were splashed with a bit of peaty malt: delicious!! 

Towards the end of the show it became apparent that The Top Shelf Show is in need of only one thing for next year: spittoons!! It would have been fantastic to be able to taste more product by having the option to spit out the product into spittoons. That said, as the show wore on numerous smiling faces stumbled their way down the aisles with their eyes lit up as they wavered around and happily chatted the day away; myself included. The crowd was very well behaved despite the free flowing alcohol.

If there is one drinks show that the Melbourne based spirits aficionado needs to attend, it is the Top Shelf Show – the work each exhibitor put into decorating the “pop up” bars and the mixed drinks/cocktails available for tasting are reason enough to attend, in addition to the abundance of alcohol on tasting.  

Standout single malt: Laphroaig 15 year old – clearly a mature tasting single malt, the peat was softened from the aging process and the oak influence provided a long lasting and delicious finish.

Standout rum: Appleton Estate 12 year old – a vibrant and spicy Jamaican rum, with drying qualities on the palate and superb balance of flavours.

Standout brandy: Camus Borderies – a floral Cognac with flavours exploding on the palate; this batch was noticeably better than previous batches I have tasted.

Standout bourbon: Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – big, bold, and balanced with a punchy 55% alcohol by volume.

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Penny Blue XO Batch #2 Single Estate Mauritian Rum

Penny Blue XO

Rating: ★★★

Recommendation: Consider it

Type: Rum

Origin: Mauritius 

ABV: 43.2%

Reaction:  :|

Nose: 

Green banana and raw sugar seem to dominate the bouquet, with undercurrents of  wood vanilla and the faint vaporous burn of ethanol. Descent, but flat and somewhat boring. The aromas sit lazily in the glass, and do not really jump out or put on much of a show. There is some menthol on the nose, with tea tree oil.

Taste:

Sharp, rough, sugary, sweet and a little herbal with hints of creaminess and mandarin. That herbal note is similar to menthol/eucalyptus cough drops.

Finish:

The sugars remain on the palate, with a layer of creaminess and a haze of medicinal and herbal notes. The taste of mandarin remains, but it increasingly becomes zesty.

Bottom line:

Consider it. This rum strikes me as a mediocre spirit which showcases sugar (the raw material from which rum is made) and an interesting herbal/medicinal twist. There is better rum out there, mateys, but this one isn’t all that bad… it is not all that good, either.

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Blue Hanger 9th release (Berry Bros. & Rudd)

bluehanger

Rating: 

Recommendation: Don’t bother

Type: Blended malt Scotch whisky

Origin: Scotland

ABV: 45.6%

Reaction: :(

Nose:

On first nosing the whisky, it smells cheap. There are lots of vanillas and caramels, and that estery grain note that tends to develop as a distillation run gets into the tail end of hearts and into tails. It is a sweet, light and very well mannered dram. By no means impressive, though; and youngish. Truth be told, I get a lot of new make (newly distilled spirit) from the bouquet of this whisky – an estery grain, in particular. You can read more about distilling by clicking here: Malt Mileage on the birth of malt whisky

Taste:

Sharp, granular, jaggered and rough. The mouth-feel is not even worth mentioning, as the consistency of the whisky feels watery and thin on the palate. The alcohols are there, vaporous and lashing the palate. Behind the assault of alcohol, there is some apple, soft but noticeable peat and chocolate with hints of vanilla and caramel.  It strikes me as a very chemical and medicinal tasting dram. 

Finish:

The apple notes remain, with burning alcohols and a deep breath of nail polish. 

Bottom line: 

Don’t bother. This whisky goes from bad to worse; the nose seems to wreak of immaturity, the palate is rough and jaggered and whatever flavours are in the whisky hide behind a veil of sharp alcohol, and, the palate fades as quickly as you can say “this is s%#t!”… or “shite” for our friends in the United Kingdom. I just don’t jive with this whisky. 

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Johnnie Walker Swing

JW Swing

Rating: ★★★★

Recommendation: Buy it! 

Type: Blended Scotch whisky

Origin: Scotland

ABV: 40%

Reaction: :D

The Johnnie Walker Swing is a blend of whiskies from the Highlands and Speyside region of the mainland of Scotland, and the Isle of Islay.

Nose:

Soft vanillas, with an aroma that is similar to melting vanilla ice cream, fill the glass. Mild notes of grass and hay – which seem to be flickers of the peat influence in this whisky – sit beneath shades of fruit; find orange zest, apple cores and a backbone of sherry. Impressive.

Taste:

Smooth and full of flavour, the whisky has a lovely mouth-feel that is slightly viscous. The taste of soft peat sits beneath buttery shortbread and almond croissant. There is wave after wave of orange zest, vanilla, cream, chocolate, coffee beans, wood and butter. It is sweet and teases, ever so gently, with Islay peat and the mild spray of salt. The peat seems to increasingly get more noticeable with each dram.

Finish: 

The finish presents with the aftertaste of avocado, as it leaves a fatty and oily film on the palate. The oak come out more, as the taste of wood and dark chocolate merges with cracked coffee beans. Oyster shells, just removed from a bed of rock salt, lingers.

Bottom Line: 

Buy it! Johnnie Walker Swing is full of flavour and yet extremely smooth and quaffable.  Its price, whether you are in the United States or Australia, is very reasonable for a whisky of this quality – there is no semblance of overly immature whisky as far as I can tell; a far cry from other no age statement whisky on the market.

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