Lakes Distillery Cask Sample

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 09.53.24Distillery: Lakes Distillery
Age: 1 year
ABV: 63.4%
Cask: First-Fill Bourbon (Heaven Hill)
Cask Number: 2015/#23

Now this is a proper treat – a preview taster of the Lakes Distillery’s malt spirit after a year or so in the barrel!

Founded by Paul Currie (who also co-founded the Isle of Arran distillery) the Lakes Distillery at Bassenthwaite first ran spirit off their stills in late 2014 to much local fanfare.

Let’s see how it’s coming on…

Colour: White wine

Nose: Delicate and floral with apple blossom and sweet hay. Soft, creamy egg custard and sliced banana. A whiff of salty lime skin. With water it opens up with: poached pear, choux pastry, hazelnuts and sultanas. After some time, mineral rich white wine akin to Chablis.

Palate: Perfectly drinkable at cask strength. Very creamy with old fashioned barley sugar boiled sweets. With water, apple and pear flesh – very clean and light – then a rising menthol spice with bitter grapefruit.

Finish: Creamy oak, more hazelnuts, and a touch of white chocolate.

This is a really fabulous spirit. It has a lot of unsherried Speyside character to it: floral, clean, and creamy. At only a year old, this bodes very well for older expressions.

If you’re planning a holiday to the lakes (or just fancy a detour from the monotony of the M6) then it’s well worth a visit.

Thanks very much to John Drake for the sample.

Tweet Tasting: The Dram Team

dramteam

Another Tweet Tasting is upon us, and this time it’s the inaugural tasting pack from The Dram Team.

Each tasting pack produced will contain six drams sent by post and you can buy them one-off or subscribe to one per month. The first pack is a tasting tour of the six whisky regions of Scotland.

Up first, the contender for The Highlands…

 


Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 09.08.43Inchmurrin 18 Year Old

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Age: 18
ABV: 46%
Cask: Bourbon 1st fill, refill, and re-charred
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Toffee, heather honey and cereal with green bananas and Ester-rich pear drops. Rum-soaked raisins and a malty beeriness. There’s a lot of funky notes incongruous with the style: pickled onions, soy sauce, Manzanilla, sulphur, and fermenting fruit.

Palate: Sour cider apples and green peppercorns. Beery malt and hops. Sourdough bread and grappa. Very young and new-make-ish for an 18 year old.

Finish: Short and chalky.

Frankly, for eighty pounds a bottle I know plenty of other 18 year old expressions I’d prefer to buy. This is a flawed whisky, full of new-make character and off notes. I’m a fan of unusual flavours (in fact I prefer whiskies that surprise me) but this isn’t the kind of surprise I enjoy…

Next up, the Lowlander…

Auchentoshan Three Wood

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 09.17.30Distillery: Auchentoshan
Age: NAS
ABV: 43%
Cask: Bourbon, Oloroso and PX
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Oloroso sherry notes, nutty and sweet. Hot cross buns. Cough mixture and cola cubes.

Palate: Looks viscous in the glass but it’s lighter on the tongue. Gentle barley sugar sweets, old fashioned cough mixture, and a rising pepper spice. Dusty sherry.

Finish: Oaky vanilla and rum raisin ice cream.

This isn’t bad, though it is somewhat over engineered. I prefer Auchentoshan as it comes out of the cask, without watering down, chill filtering, or caramel. This just tastes like whisky-flavoured whisky.

From Campbeltown now…

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 15.11.17Glen Scotia Double Cask

Distillery: Glen Scotia
Age: NAS
ABV: 46%
Cask: 1st Fill Bourbon and PX
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Soft cotton, like sheets out of the dryer. Freshly sliced banana. Dark sugar and cracked black pepper.

Palate: Thick and resinous. Bourbon barrel spice with vanilla, cinder toffee, and caramel sauce. Sweet and tasty.

Finish: Lipsmacking with gingerbread.

Amazing nose! Really impressed all round, for an affordable NAS this is eminently quaffable.

I’m definitely getting a bottle of this on pay day!

And weighing in from Islay, we have…

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 15.11.33

Bowmore Darkest

Distillery: Bowmore
Age: 15
ABV: 43%
Cask: Oloroso Sherry
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Leathery and coastal, like a wax jacket on a clifftop walk. Dark chocolate with prunes and dates. A little marzipan with tangy marmalade.

Palate: Sumptuous sherry with juicy raisins and figs giving way to that signature Bowmore floral peat.

Finish: Dry oak and flower petals.

A classic! One of the better sherried peaty whiskies on the market. If you like this, I also recommend a bottle of its cask strength cousin, Laimrig.

Up next, the Speyside candidate…

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 15.11.57Glenfarclas 105

Distillery: Glenfarclas
Age: NAS
ABV: 60%
Cask: Oloroso Sherry
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Fierce! That ABV packs a punch. A drop of water reveals ripe apple flesh, and soft toffee. Really dark bitter cocoa and burnt treacle with a touch of rubber plimsol.

Palate: Café mocha with dark berries and orange peel. Creamy and spicy, like nutmeg in rice pudding.

Finish: Warm oaky chocolate.

Great value for the ABV. This is in the same league as A’Bunadh, a sherry bomb fresh from the barrel. Both need water in my opnion, so they’re almost like a whisky cordial. The ‘farclas is a more subtle and complex beast though, some great dark low notes in it.

Finally, we go to the Islands for the sixth dram of the night…

Highland Park 21 Year Old

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 15.12.14Distillery: Highland Park
Age: 21
ABV: 47.5%
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Calm and gentle, soft and delicate. Chamois leather with a hint of clifftop sea breeze petrichor. Fresh blossoms. There’s an ice cream van in the distance.

Palate: Divinely balanced. Smoky grilled pineapple with black pepper. Vanilla cream and condensed milk with a handful of baking spices and waxy fruit skin.

Finish: Peat smoke reveals itself with gentle wafts that stay with you long after your last sip.

Oh, wow. I love old Highland Park and this does not disappoint. Classy, balanced, delicious. Absolute heaven.

Bowmore Tempest (Batch 5)

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 20.46.47Distillery: Bowmore
Bottled: 2014
Age: 10 years old
ABV: 55.9%
Cask: 1st Fill Bourbon
More Info: WhiskyBase

I’m a massive Islay fan but Bowmore’s always sat apart from the other distilleries on the island for me.

Sure, it’s the oldest and so probably has the biggest claim to being the epitome of whisky from the region but something about it for me puts it in a different category.

The older Bowmores I’ve tried have tended to be stunning but so spectacularly expensive that they’re beyond the reach of us mere mortals. The younger, well, didn’t stand out much at all.

This bottling piqued my curiosity since it ticks a lot of boxes: It’s lightly peated, cask strength, small batch, cheap, NCF, colouring free, and matured for ten years in first fill Bourbon. Can’t knock any of that!

So how is it in the glass?

Nose: Massively citrus. Orange sherbet, tangerines, and lemons. A good whiff of coastal salt, bonfire ash, and chalky rocks. After a while, a little coconut ice and lime skin.

Palate: Rich, sweet, and malty with metallic tinned pineapple. More citrus, juicy and sweet: satsumas and bitter grapefruit. Tingly peat builds with numbing red pepper and an Opal-Fruits-esque synthetic fruit flavour.

Finish: Bowmore signature parma violets with a touch of earthy oaky peat and bitter lemon.

Mmmmmm. We have a winner.

That tropical citrus core character works well with the 1st fill Bourbon characteristics and the Bowmore smoke. This is absolutely worth buying a whole bottle of and I’m now keen to see how the other batches compare.

Thank you, Bowmore, for releasing a whisky that’s interesting, characterful and (most importantly) affordable.

At £45 per bottle on Master of Malt, this is cracking value and a perfect Summer dram for a warm evening as the sun sets.