Benromach 30

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 18.24.23Distillery: Benromach
Age: 30 years old
ABV: 43%
Cask: 1st Fill and Refill Sherry
More Info: WhiskyBase

Here’s one of my 30th birthday treats! I was lucky enough to win the bottle from Aston’s of Manchester. Time to crack it open…

Nose: Rich cereal tones, blended with honey and dark orange marmalade. Sweet ripe fruits – apples, blackberries, lychees. Big Red cinnamon chewing gum. Earthy, mossy and mineral-rich with a touch of coastal rocks. Good whiff of oak, too.

Palate: Thick and oily on the tongue. Rich and malty with tangy lime, grapefruit, and blood oranges. A soft touch of tart raspberry, too. More cinnamon and honey melding into dark, rich coffee and cocoa solids with a slab of marzipan.

Finish: Long and oaky with peppercorns and a savoury wisp of drying, gravelly smoke.

Mmmmm, thirty years well spent. Benromach core Speyside character shining through, with that lovely mix of sweet barley with a touch of savoury smoke.

This one’s readily available online for about £250-£300. Not cheap, but not horrendously expensive for a thirty year old single malt.

Benromach 15 Tweet Tasting

Benromach TT2 Wide Banner

Benromach have always sought to produce a Speyside whisky that’s in keeping with the true historic way of making whisky in the region.

As a result, their whiskies are all non chill filtered and colouring free; and, unusually for Speyside, their whiskies are made with a lightly peated barley since historically the distilleries of the region used peat in the drying process as it’s so readily available in Scotland.

Tonight we celebrate the release of a 15 year old into their fixed line up! The distillery have kindly sent out a pair of samples: the entry-level 10 year old, and the brand new 15.

Let’s taste!

The 10 Year Old

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 19.50.18

Distillery: Benromach
Bottled: 2014
Age: 10 years old
ABV: 43%
Cask: Bourbon and sherry
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Lots of fresh Bourbon notes to start: vanilla custard, varnish, cinnamon and spicy ginger. Fragrant spices: cardamom and turmeric stirred into golden syrup. Chocolatey sherry notes once it’s had a bit of time to breathe… There’s a wood-smoked honeycomb thing going on too, becoming salty and mineral-rich.

Palate: Definitely get some smoke on the palate! Builds slowly among those rich, malt caramel notes. Little bit of hard orange-flavoured candy in there too with caramel wafer and more ginger spice.

Finish: Spicy oak develops through the sweet smoke with lots of black pepper and dark cocoa at the end.

Lovely solid dram this, really rich and well-rounded with plenty going on. All you want from a Speyside, plus a bit extra on top.

You can pick this up online for a mere £35 – absolute bargain!

The 15 Year Old

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 19.53.17Distillery: Benromach
Bottled: 2014
Age: 15 years old
ABV: 43%
Cask: Bourbon and sherry
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Opens with wood smoke, some ester-rich pear, and a heap of sea salt! Wax pastels and acrylic paints. Salty peat smoke and chocolate covered raisins.

Palate: A spoonful of Muscavado sugar mixed with dark rum, cinnamon and ginger. Progresses to sticky sultanas, banana bread, malt loaf and a little woodsmoke kiss on the tail. Bitter peppermint and dark chocolate. Like a fancier version of Viennetta ice cream.

Finish: Lovely dry chocolatey ashiness on the finish of the 15 year old.

A much more refined character than the 10 year old – more pronounced chocolatey sherry character and a drying oakiness. This is absolutely lovely and definitely on my shopping list.

A bit more expensive, the 15 year old goes for about £50 online.

All In All

This is a really solid pair of drams. I’m not very familiar with Benromach whisky but I’ll be endeavouring to try a lot more of it!

Thanks so much to Benromach and to Steve Rush for organising the tasting ❤

Glen Moray Tweet Tasting

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 07.56.22Wednesday night and time for another Tweet tasting!

This time we’ve got five drams lined up from that quiet gem of Speyside, Glen Moray. The distillery’s been in business since 1897 and produces a fairly classic Speyside style of spirit but without heavy sherry maturation to detract from the light, fruity distillate. All standard releases are matured full term in Bourbon casks and generally bottled at 40% ABV with chill filtering and caramel colouring.

We’ve got the Classic, Peated Classic, and the Port Cask Finish as well as peated and unpeated new make spirit. It’s very rare to be able to try new make so this really is a pleasure.

All the drams we’re trying are on sale in the UK (except the new makes, of course) for £25 or less per bottle so the distillery core range is really aimed at the low budget end of the market.

Let’s try them!

Dram 1: Glen Moray New Make

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 07.41.55Distillery: Glen Moray
ABV: 69%
Age: N/A
Cask: N/A
More Info: N/A

Nose: Very, very creamy. Brandy butter and icing sugar. Dried banana chips in thick custard. Juicy sultanas, with a good waft of grappa. Bubblegum.

Palate: Oof! It’s smooth but it packs a wallop at 69%. Needs water. Fermented fruit – sweet cider apples. Sweet shop flavours of pear drops and rhubarb and custard. White rum. Waxy, like eating a Crayola. Not that I know from experience, of course…

Finish: Tingly and numbing, with the strength. But the fruit notes linger and settle nicely. Stewed rhubarb crumble at the end.

This definitely needs the water adding, but once you bring it down to around the 50% mark it becomes very drinkable with a lot of those lovely Ester-rich sweet shop flavours you expect from Speyside spirit.

Dram 2: Classic Glen Moray

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 07.42.03Distillery: Glen Moray
ABV: 40%
Age: NAS
Cask: Bourbon
Color/Chill Filter: Yes/Yes
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Hard fruit candy. Barley sugar sweets. White wine. Apple blossom. Juicy fruit gum. Pineapple cube sweets and fruit salads. Green apples.

Palate: Very clean and light. Oodles of vanilla bean. Fermented apples, again. Sweet cider. Malty barley and honey.

Finish: Middle length and smooth. Slightly peppery with lots of oak.

I have to confess, chill filtered whisky at 40% is usually a “Thanks, but no thanks” from me, being more of a “straight from the cask” kind of whisky drinker. However, for the price (around the £20 mark in supermarkets), this actually delivers a lot of very nice fruity and barley notes and is a perfect easy-going sipping dram.

You can pick this up for £21.95 at Master Of Malt or a similar price in your local supermarket.

Dram 3: Port Cask Finish

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 07.42.09Distillery: Glen Moray
ABV: 40%
Age: NAS
Cask: Bourbon + 8 months in Tawny Port
Color/Chill Filter: Yes/Yes
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Cherry and lime skins. Muscavado sugar and ripe banana. Egg custard tarts and Jammy Dodgers. Marzipan-rich wedding cake. Calvados and blackberries. Yankee candle.

Palate: Oily and soft on the tongue. Jammy with red wine gums. Soft toffee leading to oaky red wine notes. Tart and tangy.

Finish: Oaky red wine lingers – reminiscent of Beaujolais.

Here’s a port finish that definitely complements the spirit. It gives it a heavier, plummier profile but without being overpowering. Well worth a taste if you like your lighter style red wine flavours.

You can pick this up for £26.95 on Master Of Malt, or cheaper still at your local supermarket. Keep an eye out for the Chardonnay finish as well.

Dram 4: Peated New Make

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 07.42.15Distillery: Glen Moray
ABV: 69%
Age: N/A
Cask: N/A
More Info: N/A

Nose: Salty and starchy – like a packet of ready salted crisps. Strong breathmints. Smoky cured ham. Sourdough toasting over oily barbecue charcoal.

Palate: Holy moly that’s hot! Needs water. It’s smoky but also thick, sweet and syrupy. More peardrop but with coal tar and wood ash. American cream soda. More grappa again. A hint of wet dog, but that’s not a bad thing. Mossy.

Finish: Drying and ashy – a little chewy, to the point where you feel you could pick bits of peat from out of your teeth.

This is really very nice indeed. You need water, of course, but it’s packed with barbecued bread flavours and an oily, sticky peat that’s dry and wood-smoky, rather than medicinal.

Dram 5: Peated Classic

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 07.42.20Distillery: Glen Moray
ABV: 40%
Age: NAS
Cask: Bourbon
Color/Chill Filter: Yes/Yes
More Info: Distillery Shop

Nose: Wet paint, marker pens and coal dust. Salty sea air and fresh straw. A little lemon drizzle cake. A bit more of that ready-salted crisp smell from the new make.

Palate: Pear drops and salted caramel with a zingy lemon meringue kick. Cardomoms and liqourice.

Finish: Salty charcoal

Calmer than the new make, with more fruity and ester-rich aromas making their way through the peat bog. I’d say it has a lot in common with Caol Ila – that lightly peated yet fruity flavour, except very firmly from Speyside and not Islay.

This seems to just be available on the distillery website’s shop – a bargain at £25!

Thoughts

When drinking whisky, it’s important to keep an open mind. It’s the common wisdom among whisky-philes to steer clear of drams that are released with chill-filtering, added colouring, and no age statement. I’d normally do the same, but I was curious about Glen Moray having been lucky enough to try a 1960 vintage at a whisky festival – a truly beautiful dram that was.

And I’m very glad I have. These whiskies, for the price, represent very good value for money. I’d recommend them as good introductory drams for whisky newbies, or as an easy sipping weeknight dram.

It may not fit their business plan of being a budget whisky, but I hope the distillery considers releasing higher ABV versions without colouring and filtering. Having tried the new makes, it’s clear that they have very good stills that produce a high quality distillate. It’d be a pleasure to see what the whisky’s like when cranked up a gear or two…

Thanks very much to Steve Rush and the folks at the Glen Moray distillery.

Andy’s Pick ‘n’ Mix

Thanks to Andy for these samples. I drained these ages ago but I’ve finally typed up my tasting notes…!

Producer: Hamish Robertson & Co
ABV: 43%
Age: 5 years old
More Info: Master of Malt

These are always fun – a blended whisky from the 1960s. You can find bottles like this on a lot of auction sites and they tend to sell for a lot less than you might imagine, taking a backseat to all the high flying single malts.

Nose: Malty caramel, candle wax,  menthol, and pears. A gentle floral edge develops after a while.

Palate: Syrupy! Very rich and rounded malty flavour with more menthol and a little pepper mint.

Finish: Quite short with black pepper.

This, as with many blends, is all about the core malt flavour. It’s soft and sweet, like nectar with no hard edges or dominating notes. Very drinkable and smooth, much moreso than modern low-end blends where the malt content has dropped dramatically since the 1960s.

 

Royal Culross 8 year old Blended Malt 1972

Distillery: Glen Scotia
ABV: 43%
Distilled: 1972
Age: 8 years old
More Info: WhiskyBase

Don’t know a great deal about what’s in this, besides it being put together by the Glen Scotia distillery in Campbeltown in the seventies…

Nose: Orchard smells of ripe apples and pears, with desserty notes of custard. There’s a dessert-wine character to the aroma too – sweet juicy grapes.

Palate: Very appley. Tart and crisp cider, with cinnamon spice and ripe barley grain. Reminiscent of Irish whiskey, with a gristy, unmalted barley note.

Finish: Toasted nuts and warm oak with a lingering apple edge and a touch of pepper spice.

I wonder if there’s any Macallan in this… Very nice malt, and quite three dimensional for a blend.

 

Longmorn 20 Year Old Single Cask

Distillery: Longmorn
Bottler: Whisky Broker
Bottled: 2012, Distilled: 1992
ABV: 55%
Age: 20 years old
Cask: Sherry Hogshead
More Info: WhiskyBase

Good old Whiskybroker. You can get some very nice whiskies (by the cask, as well as by the bottle) at very reasonable prices indeed. This one’s a sherried Longmorn.

Nose: Orange candy, pine resin, pencils, barley mash, freshly ground hazelnuts and a pinch of ginger.

Palate: Crystalised white grape sugar, malty bread, and toasted oak with rising nutmeg and anise spices. Becomes drying and fruitier with water – a plummy note comes through.

Finish: Tingly and peppery.

Great nose on this, and the palate gets better with water. At 55% ABV it’s a little too fierce but maybe watered down to 45%-50% and it’s perfect.

 

Springbank 19 year old (Master of Malt)

Distillery: Springbank
Bottler: Master of Malt
Bottled: 2012, Distilled: 1993
ABV: 55.2%
Age: 19 years old
More Info: WhiskyBase

I love an indy bottling of Springbank! MoM’s single cask bottlings usually sell out quickly and have a good reputation for quality cask choice.

Nose: Sticking plasters, cough syrup, and leather with smoked caramel and pebble beach.

Palate: Oily, sweet, and salty with rich malt and cinder toffee. Cinnamon in custard, with a slow-rising, lip-tingling chilli oil burn.

Finish: Oak and smoke, with hazelnuts.

Balls to salted caramel latté – if you want an oily, malty, coastal zing then this is the whisky for you. My word, do they know how to do whisky at Springbank. Another cask well chosen, chaps!

 

Caol Ila G&M 2001 Cask Strength

Distillery: Caol Ila
Bottled: 2013, Distilled: 2001
Bottler: Gordon & Macphail
ABV: 59.2%
Age: 12 years old
Cask: Refill sherry butts
More Info: WhiskyBase

Gordon & Macphail have a ridiculously large catalog of whiskies. One of Scotland’s oldest independent bottlers, they’re still owned and managed by the Urquhart Family. Well worth a look at their offerings, and the prices are usually very reasonable.

Nose: Beach bonfire, salty clifftops, sawdust, motor oil, buttery kippers.

Palate: Coal dust, cough drops, with custard creams and sweet milky fudge.

Finish: Salty black liquorice.

Yummy – great coastal peat notes here. No citrus, which is unusual for Caol Ila. Tasting blind I think I’d have pegged this as an Ardbeg – that coal dust flavour’s really full-on, like you’ve actually licked a coal scuttle.

 

All done! Thanks again, Andy – some cracking drams there.

Linkwood 30 (Rare Malts)

Distillery: Linkwood
Bottled: 2005, Distilled: 1974
Age: 30 years old
Bottles: 6,000
ABV: 54.9%
More Info: WhiskyBase

Here’s one of those whiskies that makes you sit back, take in a breath, and sigh…

Some kind soul put a bottle out on the dram table at Dramboree 2014. Of the 200 bottles out on the table, I think I’m right in saying this one was the first to disappear*.

At an event like Dramboree, you can’t realistically take tasting notes. It’s more fun just to enjoy and chat to the other attendees about the whisky. So I’ve really looked forward to cracking open this sample and spending some quality time with it…

Nose: Lovely refined barley with sweet hay and a suggestion of tobacco. Underneath, there’s a host of fruity sweet shop aromas – stewed cooking apples, pear drops and candy with a cloud of sherbet in the air that tingles the nostrils.

Palate: Syrupy and sweet. Leads with barley candy and thick malty notes, like the core of a hearty stout ale. Gooseberry and pears, with a wonderful zesty sherbet edge. Cinnamon spices and milk chocolate.

Finish: Sweet oak and barley grass.

This is an elegant and graceful whisky that builds its character around simple but exquisitely well-balanced flavours of barley and oak.

Takes me right back to Loch Lomond.

Dramboree
Sublime…

You can get a 60ml sample of Linkwood 30 from WhiskySample.nl for €26.50.

* I have to say, they didn’t all get emptied! By the end of the three-day event most of the bottles people brought were at least half full. Only the really interesting ones disappeared.

The Macallan 24 (Single Cask)

Distillery: Macallan
Bottled: 2013, Distilled: 1989
ABV: 49.3%
Cask: Bourbon (refill Hogshead)
Bottler: Whisky Broker

Here’s a little bit of fun! A single cask bottling of Macallan at cask strength from WhiskyBroker.co.uk.

I have to confess that I don’t often drink Macallan. The good stuff’s expensive, and the affordable stuff is… a bit predictable and inoffensive for my taste. So it’s a treat to try a single cask at cask strength, with no smoothing the rough edges or cosmetic tweaking.

Nose: Apple flavoured NutriGrain bar. Rich tea biscuits. Sour apple sweets. Wheat flour.

Palate: More sour fruit flavours, like Granny Smith apples. Sweet malted barley. Quite hot (even at 49%). Mulled cider.

Finish: Charcoal and black pepper, becoming bitter at the end.

It’s like a fruity sour mash whiskey. But…. add some water (about 20%) and it transforms completely. The fruitiness is still there but the sour and bitter notes have softened, revealing the underlying malty, cereal notes. Still appley, but much smoother and cleaner.

Maybe it’s just this cask that’s a bit off, or perhaps Macallan really shines at lower ABV than other whiskies – either way, this one’s definitely better at 40% than 49%.

Interesting stuff from the Edrington chaps. People really go mad for sherried Macallan so it’s nice to have a Bourbon cask for a change. Those hallmark apple and pear flavours really shine through, particularly on the nose.