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.   

Glenlivet Founders Reserve

Glenlivet Founders Reserve 4

Rating: ★★★

Recommendation: Consider it

Type: Single malt Scotch whisky

Origin: Speyside, Scotland

ABV: 40%

Reaction: 😐

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. 

Glenlivet Founders Reserve 1
The Glenlivet Founders Reserve joins the range

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. 

Glenlivet Founders Reserve 3
A bartender pours the liquid sunshine into a glass

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. 

Eyes:

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.

Nose: 

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.

Taste:

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.

Finish: 

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.

Bottom line: 

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.

Ardbeg Perpetuum

ardbeg_spirits_perpetuum_1068003

Rating: ★★★★

Recommendation: Consider it

Type: Single malt Scotch whisky

Origin: Islay, Scotland

ABV: 47.4%

Reaction:  😀

Ardbeg Perpetuum is a single malt that was released to celebrate Ardbeg’s 200th anniversary. It is comprised of whiskies of different ages, that have been matured in both bourbon and sherry barrels, and then combined to create Ardbeg Perpetuum.

Eyes:

The whisky has a very pale white wine colour, similar to the pale yellow of a Pinot Gris. When swirled in the glass, this whisky forms a thin oily film that clings to the inside of the glass and as the film begins to recede evenly dispersed legs take form around most of the circumference of the glass. The legs stick to the glass long after the whisky is swirled around.

Nose:

Sweet toffee apple, sticky caramel, milk chocolate and luscious waves of vanilla soften the bite of peat and the sting of a ground peppercorn medley, which tease the nostrils with salty cubes of lean prosciutto. Ripe and browning peach, pear and nectarine develop with orange and lemon peel, with chocolate brownies and honey glazed pecans. This dram reminds me of a fresh cake of coal tar soap and a pecan pie… no, wait… make that also smoky myrrh and cured meats. This is an exotic and interesting bouquet.

Taste:

The flavours on the entry are somewhat subdued, though by no means boring. Peat, dark chocolate and mandarin peel are suddenly interrupted with a salty spray, and the flavours merge with spices and lead into sweet picked ginger. The whisky then becomes peppery, as a soft bed of creamy vanilla supports the peat. The saltiness progressively develops, first as salted caramel and then into cured meats – first lean and then quite fatty, with a luscious creamy film starting to form on the base of the palate. All the while there is a wooded smokiness, which remains a constant theme.

Finish:

The spices linger, with bit of butter and dark chocolate coated ginger bread. The palate seems to sweeten into the finish, first with pear and then with caramels. There is a fatty film that remains on the palate, with peppercorns and salty pancetta.

Bottom line:

Consider it, if you are a fan of Islay whisky and you enjoy a drinkable peaty malt. To say that this whisky is moreish or drinkable is an understatement, as evidenced by the fact that as soon as my whisky glass is filled with this malt it is not long before the glass needs refilling. At Ardbeg Day, similarly, five drams of this malt vanished amidst talk and laughter without much thought – now that is the best test of a great whisky. The only drawback to this malt – apart from its price – is that, despite being very enjoyable, it seems to underwhelm at first. That aside, each sip of this malt makes me want to go back for more – probably why this whisky has become my Friday night malt.

It is perfect on a cold night paired with comfy pyjamas and a good movie.

Bruichladdich Islay Barley

2007 islay barley

Rating: ★★★★

Recommendation: Buy it! 

Type: Single malt

Origin: Islay, Scotland

ABV: 50%

Price: US$50-$70 (USA), AU$106.99 (Aus), £35-£45 (UK)

Reaction: 😀

Barley is one of the core ingredients of malt whisky. Barley grains are malted, dried and then steeped in very hot water. That water (which is called “wort”) becomes infused with the sugars and flavours from the barley. It is then allowed to cool. Once cooled to an appropriate temperature, yeast is added to that water. If the water is too hot, the yeast will die. If the water is too cold, the yeast will remain dormant. If, however, the water temperature is just right the yeast will ferment the wort, and convert the sugars in the wash into alcohol. Once fermented, the wort becomes something similar to a beer without hops. That beer is called a “wash”. To make whisky, the wash is distilled to extract the alcohol from it. That distilled liquid is often called “new make”, and it is as clear as water. Along with alcohol the new make will consist of water and flavour compounds from the fermentation, which include flaours from the barley (for a fuller explanation of distilling, see: The Life of Malt Whisky Part 1).

Reflecting on the importance of barley to whisky making, it comes as no surprise that Bruichladdich – those self-proclaimed progressive Hebridean distillers – push the boundaries of the whisky world by creating a whisky that is made from barley that has been grown on the isle of Islay in Scotland. They aptly call this creation Bruichladdich Islay Barley. The barley used for this whisky was grown for Bruichladdich by Mark and Rohaise French, in the Minister’s field at Rockside Farm.  

Emblazoned on the whisky’s bottle are the words “we believe terroir matters”. The world terroir comes from French, and is commonly used to describe the land and soil of a wine producing region. It is believed that the soil in which grapes grow can influence the flavour of wine which is made from those grapes, after the juice of those grapes is fermented. Cognac makers, who distil wine into brandy, have known the importance of terroir for centuries. The most coveted Cognac is from the Grande Champagne region of Cognac, because that region has chalky soil and this soil is believed to produce grapes that are perfect for making Cognac that has finesse. Bruichladdich, standing on the shoulders of wine and brandy making giants in France, have decided to employ this theory of terroir to whisky making. This means that  the barley grown in Islay is likely, once it is used to make a wash that is distilled, to give whisky a different flavour to barley that is grown in the mainland of Scotland (or elsewhere for that matter).

Malt Mileage has been very fortunate to be able to taste Bruichladdich “new make”, with tasting notes available in The Life of Malt Whisky Part 1. This includes Bruichladdich “new make” made from Islay barley, bere barley and organic barley. The Islay barley was quite earthy and full flavoured with oils and heavy congeners weighing down the ethanol. It had earthy, herbal and peppery flavours with a foundation of vanilla, caramel, honey, chocolate, saltiness and nuttiness.  

Bruichladdich put this “new make” into oak barrels which over time give the “new make” a golden straw colour, infuse it with oak flavours and alter some of the compounds in it (for a fuller discussion of the way oak matures whisky, see: The Life of Malt Whisky Part 2.1). Bruichladdich Islay barley is unpeated, presumably to ensure that the flavour of the barley is not lost to the peat, and bottled at a generous 50% alcohol by volume.  

Eyes:

Often in Cognac circles the way a brandy looks is part of its aesthetic pleasure – its colour, the way it catches the light and clings to the glass. The colour of Bruichladdich Islay Barley is a light golden wheat colour, but the way it hugs the glass – leaving thin legs that slope down as the oily film fades – is particularly impressive.

Nose:

The bouquet is immediately quite sweet and sumptuous, with nutty Argan oil, banana, raisin, porridge, honey, whipped cream, pineapple, banana and raisin bread with crushed nuts and soft vanillas. A mild earthiness sits beneath that lovely aroma, with soft hints of pepper, mixed olives, anchovies and the backbone of the “new make” untouched by the oak- chocolate, oily nuts, nut oils and shades of golden and dark honey.  

Taste:

On the palate find vanillas and a soft creaminess, through which shines pepper, spice, mild anchovy and earthiness. There is something salty and earthy about this whisky, like a lick of rock salt and a sip of a platinum tequila. 

Finish:

The finish offers lingering flavours of honey, chocolate, nuts and a mild salt/saline. That saline is interlaced with rock and minerality, like tasting a sodium rich natural sparkling water.

Bottom line:

Buy it. Bruichladdich Islay Barley is a fascinating malt that offers a very earthy, mineral and salty character, which can only be explained by the Islay barley. This malt showcases the Islay barley without letting the wood get in the way, and it is a delicious incarnation of Islay’s saltiness, earthiness and minerality in a bottle. The French have known for centuries that the soil which feeds grapes gives brandy made from those grapes important flavours and character. Glad to see the Scots have finally caught on, with a conscious attempt at bottling a piece of Scotland… literally.

Port Charlotte PC 12

PC12

Rating: stars 4

Type: Single malt

Origin: Islay, Scotland

ABV: 58.7%

Port Charlotte PC 12 is Bruichladdich’s eighth release of the PC series, which is a series of heavily peated cask strength malts. It has been aged in oak casks for 12 years. 

Nose:

Imagine going to a coast side farmer’s festival with a bunch of cigar smokers. This bouquet is packed with barnyard aromas, wood and dry hay, with beaming heart notes of a butter, toffee, nut nougat, bubble gum, sweet rose, cinnamon, cotton candy, citrus, sweet sappy wood, and sea salt. All the while, the aroma of burning matches and the chocolaty and woodsy scent of a fresh maduro cigar gently whispers… “drink me”. The smell of Neapolitan salami and taralli, packed with anise seed, is carried by citrusy notes of lemon cake and Cointreau.

Taste:

Immediately, the sweet nip of sherry strikes the palate. It succumbs to waves of peat smoke, woodsmoke, dates, and marshmallows over a campfire of twigs and hay. There is something spectacularly complex and woodsy about this malt. Then the palate dries, buoyed by cinnamon, lime, green toffee apple, and honey.  

Finish:

The finish is smoky, peaty, peppery, woodsy, drying, spicy, and, citrusy; particularly of lime, orange peel and mouth puckering lemon meringue. Fading notes of anise seed, raisin, sarsaparilla and licorice also intermingle with warming overtones of cinnamon and pickled ginger.

Overall

Buy it. Jack Nicholson’s face has never randomly come to my mind. For some reason, I can see his raised eyebrows, trade mark smile and dark sunglasses. It might be my subconscious calling. Maybe this whisky is “As Good As It Gets”. Whatever the reason, there is very little I would change about this malt. If potent and fiery peaty malts are your thing, with a bit of sherry oak and a guaranteed 12 years of age on the clock, this is your whisky!

Spirit of Hven Seven Stars No. 3 Phecda

spirit-of-hven-seven-stars-no-3-phecda-single-malt-whisky

Rating: ★★★★

Type: Single malt

Origin: Sweden

ABV: 45%

Reaction: 😀

Price: Approx. £90

Oak: Matured in American white chinkapin oak from Missouri and French Oak from Alliers

Spirit of Hven Seven Stars No. 3 Phecda is the third release in a series of whiskies produced by the Swedish distillery Spirit of Hven. As with the releases that came before it, the Phecda takes its name from the stars above; the Phecda being a star in the asterism (pattern of stars) Ursa Major. Phecda is described as being somewhat hotter and larger than the sun around which our planet circles.

An image of Supernova SN 1993J which occurred in galaxy M81, which is located in Ursa Major 10,000 light years away. Image: NASA

The whisky itself is a medium peated malt which is crafted, from barley to bottle, by the family owned Spirit of Hven on the island of Hven in Sweden.  After the wash (similar to beer without hops) is distilled, the spirit is placed in barrels made from Quercus Muehlenbergii (American white oak known as chinkapin oak) from Missouri and Quercus Petraea (French oak) from Allier. Over the course of whisky’s maturation, during which the spirit soaks up flavours from the oak, the oak seems to have infused the whisky with some very distinct aromas and flavours; the most interesting of which are a fiery spice and a winy base note of fortified wine and brandy over which floats a thin smokiness.

Nose:

Soft waves of vanilla are immediately noticeable, and the bouquet quickly develops into Panettone soaked in brandy and a dash of Sambuca, ground coffee, tobacco, new leather, stewed dark berries, banana, fragrant woodsmoke, scorching charcoals and peppermint Fisherman’s Friend.

Taste:

The taste of fortified wine is followed by a fiery spice, which is peppery with a mildly burning jalapeño bite, dark chocolate,  tobacco and pencil shavings. The peat is there, but it tastes more of tobacco. As the burning spice recedes, the fortified wine morphs into young style “hot” brandy, similar to Spanish brandy matured in sherry casks. There is the constant taste of rock salt underlying the winy sweetness, and an oily film coats the tongue and emits flavours of butter and caramel.

Finish:

The finish is somewhat smoky, with the aftertaste of prunes, sweet Pedro Ximenez sherry interwoven with more drier fortified wine, brandy filled chocolates and the faint kiss of lapsang souchong. Oily and buttery undertones linger on the base of the tongue, with salted caramel and coffee lollies.

Match with:

This whisky pairs impeccably with a fine mild-medium cigar, such as a Macanudo Estate Reserve or a Romeo y Julieta No 1; cigars that seem to appeal to the mass market for their smoothness, which ensures they will not dominate over the malt. This whisky was also delicious with chocolate, especially coffee or hazelnut truffles, and spicy cured meats.

Bottom line:

Buy it, if you enjoy a spicy whisky with a fortified wine/brandy base note and mild undertones of peat that resemble tobacco. Spirit of Hven Seven Stars No. 3 Phecda is a creative and balanced malt, with a mouthwatering kick of flavour. It is also smooth and quaffable, and coincidentally the perfect accompaniment for a night of star gazing. Bra gjort Spirit of Hven! Bra gjort.

Puni Alba

Puni Alba

Rating: ★★

Type: Spirit

Origin: Italy

ABV: 43%

Reaction: 😦

Italy, the heartland of cheeky carb rich food and the pursuit of pleasure, is now scene to another one of life’s guilty pleasure’s – whisky. The Puni distillery in picturesque Glorenza  in northern Italy – with its rolling hills dotted along the countryside – is home to Italy’s very first malt whisky. The whisky itself is crafted in the Scottish tradition, but matured in Marsala casks from Sicily to give it an Italian edge. The first release by Puni distillery, in addition to a new make, is the Puni “Alba”.

“Alba” means sunrise in Italian, which is a suitable name considering that this spirit marks the birth of whisky production in Italy – a county that has mostly been known for grappa and brandy, not whisky. Puni Alba, which has matured for 18 months in Marsala and Pinot Noir casks, is not legally “whisky” because the spirit has matured in oak for less than three years.

As the below tasting notes indicate, Puni Alba is a young whisky that showcases the nagging punch of new make and Puni’s distillery character with only mild flickers of oak driven flavour. Do not expect a complex tapestry of oak, as the spirit is far too young for that. This is, it is clear to me, a work in progress and a glimpse into Puni’s whisky in its infancy. 

Nose:

As the whisky hits the base of the glass for the first time, it is clear this is a young whisky. The whiff of new make spirit is entangled with the smell of lady fingers, icing sugar, vanilla, caramel, honey, pepper, spiced rum, apricot crumble and sliced plums, and while it is clear the oak still has some more work to do this whisky’s bouquet is pleasant. This Italian single malt seems to follow a trend in some European whisky – whether from Denmark or France – to keep the whisky young but it is fascinating to experience the variation of character between these European whiskies; a variation which is emblematic not necessary of the oak that was used but more of the differences in distillery character. This single malt from the Puni distillery in Italy showcases an interesting malt profile which is fairly clean, light and fruity and it integrates nicely with the oak influence. There is a slight alcoholic burn, and some fly spray cutting through the center.

Taste:

While this spirit has an impressive nose for such a young bambino, on the palate the daggers come out with ruthless style. The taste of new make dominates at first, with hints of spice, sugary sweet malt, and fresh rosemary with lavender interlaced with vanilla sponge and just as the hint of Marsala begins to emerge it fades as quickly as it came.

Finish:

The finish offers spice and pepper, with lingering fresh rosemary and floral-herbal notes hovering over the sweetness of the malt. 

Bottom line:

Consider it, if you are itching to try an Italian (soon to be) “whisky” in its infancy which has been matured – albeit for 18 months – in ex-Marsala and ex-Pinot Noir casks. Puni Alba seems to need more time in oak to iron out some ripples in the new make and infuse it with some more complex flavour. The nose is complex, but on the palate the whisky is overridden with the overpowering taste of spirit and whatever oak driven flavours are present die out as quickly as they flicker into life.  I look forward to seeing how this young spirit matures in the years to come. 

BenRiach 17 year old “Septendecim”

benriach 17

Score: ★★★

Type: Single malt whisky

Origin: Speyside, Scotland

ABV: 46%

Overall reaction: 🙂

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.

Nose:

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.

Palate:

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.  

Finish:

The finish presents with vanilla, cracked pepper, caramel and peat, with the taste of dried chili skins and grilled peppers lingering.  

Bottom line:

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.  

Glengoyne 12 year old

Glengoyne 12 yo

Rating: ★★★★
Type: Single malt
Origin: Highlands, Scotland
Reaction: 🙂

Glengoyne is a Scottish whisky distillery located in the southern Highlands of Scotland, about half an hour drive north of Glasgow. It adopts a practice of air drying barley, rather than using peat, which tends to result in a clean fruity flavour profile. The Glengoyne 12 year old is comprised of whiskies that have matured in sherry casks.

Nose: 

Oranges, tea cake, Earl Grey tea and mild hints of licorice are all buoyed by chocolate, dried dates, lychee skins, nuts, cinnamon and citrus oils.

Palate:

On the entry the whisky is balanced, with flavours of vanilla, red toffee apple, spice (especially cinnamon), orange cake and a gradually intensifying Italian hot chocolate. The flavour profile then morphs into gooey caramel and melting orange and Champagne truffles. Despite these sweet sounding descriptors, the whisky is not what I would describe as sweet and it is nicely balanced.

Finish:

The finish is mildly warming, with the lingering taste of a wedge of lemon doused in lager (think Corona and a lemon wedge), cinnamon spice, caramels, honey, coffee lollies and chocolate.

Bottom line: 

Buy it, if you want an easy drinking but complex Highland single malt with a very fair price tag. I have tasted Glengoyne 12 year old a few times in bars and at Whisky Live, but its intricate flavours did not leap out as they do when I taste it at home. This is a dram that can be easily under-appreciated, and while it is not very challenging, it is a supremely drinkable whisky.  It is a fruity whisky with a toffee apple/citrus theme and soft hues of vanilla, spice and chocolate from the oak – delicious, if you are in the mood for something elegant and poised

Match with: 

Pair this whisky with a mild-medium cigar with zesty undertones, such as a Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne cigar or a Romeo y Julieta Habana Reserve, the latter of which set my palate abuzz with spice when puffed alongside Glengoyne 12 year old – find a curious chilli flake burn and cinnamon spiced chocolate entanged in the tobacco smoke, smoothed by the vanilla and toffee in the whisky.

Dalwhinnie Distiller’s Edition (Distilled 1995)

dalwhinnie 1995Rating: ★★★★

Origin: Highlands, Scotland

Type: Single malt whisky

ABV: 43%

Dalwhinnie single malt whisky is produced in the village of Dalwhinnie in Scotland, which sits at an altitude of 351 meters. As you can probably imagine, Dalwhinnie is a very cold place up high in the lush green countryside of Scotland and the whisky produced in the little village by the Diageo owned Dalwhinnie distillery is consistently in tune with this pristine image – a fresh, crisp and clean single malt. While much of the whisky that the Dalwhinnie distillery produces is used to make blended whisky Diageo also releases Dalwhinnie single malt whisky,  a 15 year old and a “Distiller’s Edition”. The “Distiller’s Edition” is a peated malt whisky that has been finished in Oloroso sherry casks.

Nose:

Soft peat sits beneath juicy barley, vanilla, honey, peach, orange peel, lime, wilted roses and overtones of wafting Oloroso dryness. The peat is very subtle. Forget Islay or a big smoky malt. The peat in this whisky adds a grassy and hay-like dimension to the whisky. The alcohols are somewhat piercing, as the vapours grind and scratch in the otherwise fragrant bouquet. 

Taste:

The peat is more prominent on the palate than the nose suggests but it is counterbalanced by sugars – honey especially – cinnamon, nutmeg and cocoa dusted orange segments. Floral and grassy notes emerge at mid-palate, and linger into the finish. The presence of sherry is soft, but certainly noticeable.    

Finish:

The finish is astringent and drying, the fading grassy/floral notes are slowly replaced by more crystalline sugars, liquor filled dark chocolates, spice and cooked steaming hot rhubarb.   

Bottom line:

Consider it. This whisky was very easy to drink, but it did not impress me any more than any other easy drinking whisky. The use of peated barley to make this whisky and having finished the whisky’s maturation in Oloroso sherry casks gives it an added complexity, grassiness and dryness that the standard Dalwhinnie offering simply does not have, but despite the added bells and whistles the whisky did not put a big fat smile on my face. It kept me content. The whisky did seem to change once opened, and the honeyed cream undertones that once jumped out in this whisky now flicker much more dimly.

Match with:

The Dalwhinnie “Distiller’s Reserve” paired with a honey infused cigar, such as a Drew’s Estate ACID 1400CC. The honey infused tobacco smoke in the ACID cigar complimented the peat and honey notes in the whisky.

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