Benromach Château Cissac is matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks and then finished for 20 months in hand selected ex-wine casks from Château Cissac, which is a winery in the Haut-Médoc appellation of the Bordeaux wine region of France. Continue reading “Benromach Château Cissac”→
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.
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
The finish is slightly drying with underlying creaminess, dark dried fruit and wisps of smoke remaining on the palate.
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!
Vanilla, milk chocolate, fruit mice pie, matches and warm fabric taken out of the drier.
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.
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.
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.
The Glenlivet Founders Reserve was first launched in March 2014 and in Australia on 1 July 2015, and it is poised to become the new permanent benchmark expression in The Glenlivet’s core range as rumors abound that it will replace the much loved Glenlivet 12 year old. This is a bold move indeed reflecting on comments of Pernod Ricard’s Marketing Director, Anne Martin, that The Glenlivet has a whopping 26% of the Australian single malt market. Clearly ignoring the odd adage, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, The Glenlivet seems to be rolling the proverbial dice by tampering with its incredibly successful core range. Only time will tell if the gamble will pay off.
The Glenlivet Founders Reserve will be available in approximately 60 of Pernod Ricard’s key markets around the world, but notable exceptions include South Africa, India, Russia, Taiwan, China, and, Global Travel Retail/Duty Free. Some markets, it seems, will stock both the Glenlivet 12 year old and the Founders Reserve but unfortunately Australia will not be one of those markets. The Glenlivet 12 year old will only be available in Australia until December 2015, so for Australian readers be sure to stock up on the product if it is your poison of choice.
In terms of the product itself, the Glenlivet Founders Reserve comprises of malts that have been matured in traditional and first fill American oak casks. It is a “no age statement” expression, which means that all we can be certain about is that the whisky in the bottle is at least 4 years old. Of course, in mature whisky markets consumers should be aware that in relation to whisky age does not always correlate with quality; a good whisky usually has a good balance between the whisky’s distillery character (from the distilled spirit) and the oak (from the flavours and aromas the spirit soaks up from the oak casks in which the spirit ages). Too long in the casks, and the distillery character may fade away and be dominated by wood. Too little time in the casks, and the distillery character may be too prominent and the whisky may smell and taste “immature”. It is about taking the whisky out of the oak casks when it is “ready”; just like knowing when to take a cake out of an oven or a steak off the barbecue. Steak is probably a better analogy because just as different people like their steak rare or well done (a travesty, I know), some people may like whisky young, old or base a preference on their mood or the occasion. It is not correct to dismiss “no age statement” whisky, without trying the whisky first and assessing where it might fit in the Scotch flavour spectrum; because if my cravings are anything to go by, sometimes I want a young bitey or simple malt and other times I want an old complex malt. Other times I might want sweet navy style rum or a drier English style pot still rum, an old elegant Cognac or a fiery young grappa. You get the point.
Fortunately, a bottle of The Glenlivet Founders Reserve has been warming my cold winter nights over the past couple of weeks and I am now in a good position to share my thoughts about this whisky in the below tasting notes.
The whisky is a pale gold with a tinge of amber and a mild reddish hue. When swirled around in the glass the liquid forms a thin film around the inside of the glass which recedes into thin, but short lived, legs.
Creamy vanilla dominates this whisky’s bouquet; not very surprising really, as vanilla is one of the main notes derived from maturing whisky in American oak. We know that The Glenlivet matures this malt in first fill American oak casks. “First fill”, as the name suggests, indicates a cask that has been filled with whisky for the first time. As you can probably guess, these casks have a lot of flavour to give whisky because they have not been used very much before, except perhaps for maturing bourbon or sherry in most cases.
Beneath the sumptuous layer of vanilla there is green apple, hay, spearmint gum, shavings of dark chocolate and sweet alcohol, scratching the nostrils with glued cardboard.
Somewhat dull at first, but it gets tasty. Dried apple, juicy pear and raisins meet spiced loaf, with hard red candy. Layers of honey begin to form on the palate as the initial bite of alcohol fades, and the mid-palate is warming and spicy; quite gingery and jaggered with licorice. After the smooth entry the whisky seems to become a little rough, with lashes of alcohol and spice. As the notes whiz around the palate, I cannot help but feel a bit confused about what The Glenlivet hopes to achieve with this malt. Some flavours clash, but for the most part it works… just.
Honey remains on the palate, with apple and pear. There is some vanilla, with lightly buttered sultana pastry. Soy sauce emerges on the finish, more umami than salty, with shades of Vegemite and sake – in short, the malt tastes estery and yeasty.
Consider it. The Glenlivet’s Founder’s Reserve is a tasty single malt malt that has a reasonable price tag, but the nagging bite of what seems to be young whisky disrupts my enjoyment of this malt. It tastes a little rough to bear The Glenlivet name, but at its price you could do worse.
The Glenlivet has, for a number of years now, produced cask strength expressions as part of its Nàdurra range (Nàdurra is Gaelic for “natural”). The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso Matured single malt whisky is one of the more recent additions to the Nàdurra range, being whisky that is matured in first fill Oloroso sherry casks from Jerez in Spain, non-chill filtered and bottled at a potent cask strength of 60.7% alcohol by volume. The fact this expression is made up of whisky matured in first fill Oloroso sherry casks is important for two main reasons. First, sherry casks are increasingly expensive for whisky distilleries to buy because they are in high demand as sherry matured whisky is all the rage, but as sherry consumption is lower than in the past they are in low supply. This is why the vast majority of Scotch whisky these days is matured in ex-bourbon wood. Sherry matured whisky is therefore something that is pretty special. Second, the fact the Oloroso sherry casks are “first fill” is likely to mean that you can expect an avalanche of medium-dry Oloroso sherry flavour from this whisky because – being filled with whisky for the first time – the sherry casks have been untouched and have a lot of sherry flavour to give the whisky, very quickly.
From arms length the whisky releases a vinegary and winy aroma and initial nosing reveals notes of sweet balsamic reduction, woody saffron, glazed cherry fruit cake, baklava and nuts, especially honey roasted cashews. The bouquet is steamy and vibrant, rekindling memories of sizzling sweet and sour bubbling away with pineapple, herbal anise, shaved green apple and sticky sugars. The Oloroso beams with all its glory, amid the wood and associated dusty wood spice.
With a dash of water licorice, raisins and dried apple emerge in the bouquet.
On the palate the whisky is initially sweet, glowing with all those lovely sugars suggested by the bouquet, and then it dries. Find chocolate, cherries, nuts, toasted coconut, red wine vinegar and the medium-dry woody kick of Oloroso – basically the hallmarks of a very Mediterranean fruit cake with a spicy snap about it! This is, without question, a fiery whisky that has soaked up quite a lot of Oloroso and oak notes from the casks; as expected of a whisky matured in “first fill” casks.
With a dash of water dark chocolate and citrus emerge, with Terry’s chocolate orange.
The finish presents with the lingering taste of red wine vinegar, not as sweet or tangy as balsamic but rather quite acidic and drying. The sweet sugars grapple with the drying effect of the wood and Oloroso, leaving spice and honey smoked leg ham with orange peel and chinotto.
Buy it. The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso Matured single malt is a flavour packed malt with a ferocious Oloroso drenched medium-dry bite. For the lovers of medium-dry sherry matured whisky out there, and I know there are plenty of you, this is a whisky that should hit the spot. It certainly made me a happy chap, and it passed the main test of a good whisky in my book: I keep going back for more!
BenRiach is a distillery that is located in the Speyside region of Scotland and it produces both unpeated and peated expressions. In this post Malt Mileage tastes the peated BenRiach 17 year old “Septendecim”. With a name that sounds more like a Harry Potter spell than a whisky, Septendecim (which is Latin for seventeen) is matured in ex-bourbon casks for seventeen years and once the oak gods have done their work infusing the spirit with flavour – abracadabra! – the whisky is non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% alcohol by volume.
The bouquet immediately strikes me as flat and lethargic, and while the whisky is certainly well balanced and its flavours are integrated there seems to be a lack of depth and flair – it just seems to keep me content, without heightening or drawing in my interest. The peat is entangled with vanilla custard, raisin, baked green apple, powdered chocolate, salted caramel macaroon and toasted coconut. Leather emerges with brittle flaky chocolate croissant, and a used coffee filter. The aromas are certainly there in spades, but they do not seem to be much of a presence in the glass and can be easily missed.
On the entry the whisky is as bland as the nose suggests, but then magic happens. The peat intensifies towards mid-palate, lifted by wood, honey, cinnamon, apricot crumble, dark chocolate, oak spice and the taste of fabric and rubber – it reminds of the spray of interior car treatment, and seat belts. Spectacular.
The finish presents with vanilla, cracked pepper, caramel and peat, with the taste of dried chili skins and grilled peppers lingering.
Consider it. This whisky seems to start slow but it really picks up some spark towards the finish, showcasing an array of vibrant spices buoyed by the American oak infused peaty malt.
Match with: 70% cocoa dark chocolate, which I found to have the ideal ratio of cocoa to really bring out the sherry wood influence in the whisky.
Tamdhu was established in 1897 and it produced whisky for about 113 years, and then it ceased production and fell silent. Ian Macleod distillers then acquired the distillery and picked up the baton in 2012, and it has decided to re-introduce Tamdhu into the market with the release the Tamdhu 10 year old.
On the nose caramel and vanilla chocolate fudge sit beneath honey, plump sultanas, honey nut crunch, sliced green apples, golden honey and dried Autumn leaves, as jelly beans (red, green, black and white in particular) cut through the underlying malt with hints of anise, mint leaves and freshly waterproofed suede and treated new leather – it reminds me very much of a red leather hand bag full of jelly beans, with notes of sugary anise, red berry, coconut, pear and mint accompanied by a “new car smell”. On the palate the whisky is immediately sweet, with brown pear nectar developing with dark chocolate, cherries and toasted coconut, cinnamon, dried paw paw and honey drizzled over toasted muesli as a drying vegetal and nutty bite is softened by layers of caramel and toffee apple. The finish presents with sugar dusted lemon rind and tropical fruit in syrup, as the sherry wood lingers on the tip of the tongue with notes of golden honey and toffee.
Overall, Tamdu 10 year old is a delicious sherry matured malt whisky that I have found far too easy to drink. It might take some seriously strict self-discipline to stop at one dram, especially where this whisky is paired with a 70% cocoa dark chocolate. On its own Tamdhu 10 year old is a delicious malt, but when paired with 70% cocoa dark chocolate the sherry wood influence in the whisky really comes to life on the palate. Lucky I went for an extra-long swim this evening, because without much thought I’ve just gleefully wolfed down half a block of Lindt dark chocolate and four drams of Tamdu 10 year old. This is the life.
Glenrothes (pronounced Glen-roth-EZ) is a distillery located in Speyside in Scotland, and at the idyllic part of the world in which they busily ply their trade ten large stills churn out an estimated 5 million litres of new make spirit annually. The new make spirit is then put in oak barrels to mature in one of Glenrothes’ 16 onsite warehouses. Years go by, and when the new make spirit becomes a whisky with a flavour profile Glenorthes wants to release into the market the distillery then bottles the whisky and marks the bottles with the particular vintage year of the whisky, rather than its age.
Glenrothes have released numerous different vintages over the last few years – the complex and mature 1988 vintage, rich and spicy 1995 vintage, and, the vibrant and zesty 1998 vintage are some delicious ones! Precisely why Glenrothes use vintage years is beyond me because unlike grapes for example which ripen in response to weather patterns in a particular year and therefore transfer resulting flavours into wine or brandy, the year of barley is harvested or a wash distilled to make whisky really has no bearing on the eventual flavour of the whisky all things being equal. In this review, Malt Mileage has the opportunity to review the Glenrothes 2001 vintage.
What matters most to the flavour of the Glenrothes 2001 vintage is not the year 2001, but the oak casks Glenrothes decided to fill with that new make spirit and how long they decided to leave it in those casks. The oak Glenrothes used seems to be a mystery and closely guarded secret, possibly because the 2001 vintage is made according to a recipe rather than taken from individual casks. The flavour profile suggests a variety of cask types were used. With a vintage year of 2001 and a bottling date of 2013 this Glenrothes is about 12 years old, which in my view is a great age for a Glenrothes because I particularly enjoy the distinctly spicy and zesty distillery character of Glenrothes. In this bottling, that distillery character continues to shine unabated in any significant way by the wood despite having spent about 12 years in oak.
The bouquet is rich, dense, oily and radiates the zesty and spicy magic that is the Glenrothes distillery character but encased within softening aromas of vanilla, prune, preserved cherries, honey, orange, glazed apricot, custard, pecan pie and some saw durst with digestive biscuits and walnut oil in the foreground. On the palate there is a burst of citrus (orange first and then increasingly lemony) accompanying dark chocolate, spice, raisin and glazed cherry based fruit cake, vanilla and some intriguing wood vanillins. The finish offers the spritz of lemon with the lingering aftertaste of a Vienna coffee topped with nuts and nutmeg, then the sweetness recedes and is slowly overtaken by soft oak and the most curious nip of pinot noir and the bite of a cigar.
Overall, the Glenrothes 2001 vintage is an easy drinking dram that beats with a Glenrothes heart of zest and spice, but at the same time showcases interesting layers of oak driven complexity. This bottle won’t last long! It is my favourite of the Glenrothes range for its beautifully integrated complex flavours – a must buy!