A Pair of Indy Strathmills

Strathmill isn’t a name you see on the single malt market very often.

Another Diageo-owned blending malt, you’ll find this one in the popular J&B blended Scotch. Known for a delicate flavoured distillate, I’m hoping these two independent bottlings will showcase the distillery character without too much cask influence.

Cadenhead Strathmill 1995

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 14.28.46Distillery: Strathmill
Bottled: 2014, Distilled: 1995
Age: 18 years old
ABV: 54.4%
Cask: Bourbon Hogshead
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Fiery pepper but fruity – peach fizz sweets, unpasteurised yoghurt, strawberry ice cream, kaffir lime leaves, sage, cinnamon and caramel. A whiff of aromatic permanent marker pen.

Palate: Simple sweet malt toffee, barley malt, vanilla. Water reveals a touch of banana. Smooth to start, becoming spicy and numbing with Szechuan pepper, cinnammon, and cloves.

Finish: Tingly with allspice, ginger root and cardamom.

This is a pretty solid old-school style Speyside hoggy malt.

Sweet shop notes with esters and fruit. It’s quite unbalanced and fiery, but a great nose on it. I’d say the cask was a tad too active here with the palate starting off well and gradually cranking up the spices further than I’d like on an unpeated malt.

It’s a good whisky overall, but I wouldn’t buy it.

WhiskyBroker Strathmill 1990

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 14.27.59Distillery: Strathmill
Bottled: 2012, Distilled: 1990
Age: 22 years old
ABV: 51.9%
Cask: Refill Bourbon Hogshead
More Info: WhiskyBase

This is four years older than the Cadenhead’s bottling, but quite a bit paler. I’m hoping the refill cask here has been kinder to the spirit.

Nose: Green fruit – apples, kiwis, limes. Spicy crème brûlée, salted fudge, lavender honey, cloudy cider, and barley grass. Some green chillies too.

Palate: Buttery fudge, cinder toffee, cheap cola, rum-raisin ice cream, sweet malt, and another rising, numbing pepper note that comes to dominate the palate.

Finish: The fire calms down to leave Bourbon barrel spices – cinnamon, sweetened hazelnuts, creamy oak.

A lot in common with the Cadenhead – fruity Speyside character coming through, but different notes and more depth of flavour and complexity. It still has that rising spice, but it’s not as harsh as the 18 and dies down to reveal more flavours on the finish.

Thanks to Andy for this sample!

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Port Charlotte 2002 (Whisky Broker)

IMG_20150528_100205345Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottled: 2015, Distilled: 2002
ABV: 55.8%
Cask: Gran Callejo wine cask
Bottler: Whisky Broker
More Info: WhiskyBase

An absolute treat tonight! Whiskybroker have released a single cask Port Charlotte aged for twelve years in a Gran Callejo (Spanish) wine cask.

Nose: Salty and herbaceous, with dry earthy peat mud. Well-seasoned roast potatoes and sweet fried cabbage. Ready-salted crisps. Waxy jelly beans. Red apples, and juicy plum flesh. Fruit-flavoured rolling tobacco.

Palate: A sweet-yet-salty malt biscuit flavour starts, with a pronounced peppery peaty tang. Orange candy and citrus pith. Dry savoury notes of old bitter tobacco, leaf litter, and hazelnuts. With water the peat calms right down, the texture becomes soft and silky, and sweet white wine grape flavours come through.

Finish: Long, tingly and salty with a chewy mouth-coating peat residue, and a little cigarette ash. A touch of soap foam at the very end.

Mmmm, very more-ish! Another lovely wine-matured Port Charlotte with all those earthy, salty, sweet tobacco-rich notes.

These were £55 but snapped up within about 36 hours of release – sorry, but it’s all gone! 😦 Keep an eye on Whisky Broker’s website, Twitter and Facebook for details of releases. The good ones do tend to go fast.

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.