Bruichladdich 10yo (Single Cask) : Day 10 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

I mentioned in my last post just how much I enjoy bottlings from the marvellous Bruichladdich, and out of the distilleries I have been privileged to visit, I would have to say that they are currently my favourite. So it seems right that Day 10 brought me another one of their delicious whiskies. However, this time I am treated to a private single cask of a 10 year old Bruichladdich.

Every time I meet another member of the #whiskyfabric, I find the conversation flows, along with the whisky. Andy Purslow (@Ardbaggie) is not an exception to the rule. Andy is a whisky investor, chairman of the Wet We Whistle Whisky Society, Limburners brand ambassador and a mad West Brom fan. After meeting for the first time in February, we spent hours chatting over everything from Ardbeg (did I mention he is an impressive collector too?) to jazz. It’s always exciting when he’s around and whenever we meet, I know we are going to have a fun filled evening filled with laughter and catch ups. Along with his vast knowledge of all things whisky, he has proven himself to be more than generous (randomly giving me half a bottle of single cask Port Charlotte as a gift back in October). I look forward to heading up to his in the near future, and when I do… I will update you!

Bruichladdich 10yo Single Cask (1st fill sherry) (56.3%)
(A 1st fill sherry with a wonderful colour)
B3uBTddIYAEn2q_N: The first thing that jumps out is the heavy sherry – dark fruits, cherries and blackcurrant jam. Thick, dark, old leather and freshly cut wood. Little Islay character, perhaps more of a Glendronach feel to this. Then a slight briny note appears with a small layer of sweat peat smoke. When opening up it brings some gentle sweetness some peppery spices. Water brings cured meat with some sulphur.

P: Intense arrival here with a strong taste of alcohol. There is quite a powerful sherry hit too. Strongly sweet with raisins, sour fruit, dark chocolate and saltiness. Hard to pick out any particular laddie notes until a slight maritime taste with seaweed towards the end. Water makes it saltier and calms down sherry, becoming earthier and fruitier.

F: Long and lingering. Pretty dry with lots of sherry still. Wine like tannins too. Some spices right at the end with hints of peat.

Comments: Very interesting Laddie here. Profile seemed hidden behind the sherry. Meaty and peppery. Water calms it down but looses complexity slightly. A fun experience. (Think I prefer the Port Charlotte he gave me…. watch this space!)

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Thanks again to my good friend Andy!

Port Charlotte PC10 Tro Na Linntean : Day 9 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

If you had to push me for my current favourite whisky or distillery, I would currently be torn between two: Springbank and Bruichladdich. That that know these kind of things would tell me off for cheating as most people know that both these distilleries produce three different whiskies. Springbank produces the standard Springbank, triple distilled Hazelburn and peated Longrow and Bruichladdich producing the unpeated Bruichladdich, heavily peated Port Charlotte and the crazy smack me in the face peated Octomore. Having visited both these distilleries in the summer, my love for them continued to grow. Bruichladdich was incredibly welcoming and gave us some simply stunning whisky. Port Charlotte has quickly become my go to whisky as its such a great mix of peat, smoke and power without it being a one dimensional peat bomb.

I’ve tasted a large amount of Port Charlottes recently (well, the few that are available) and I haven’t tasted a poor one yet. I’ve been wanting to taste the flagship PC10 for quite a while now, but it’s been rather difficult to get my hands on some. Luckily a lovely gent by the name of Steve Prentice came to my rescue. Steve (@steveprentice) has become a good buddy of mine, and we spend most of our time teasing each other. He’s a top chap, great reviewer at the SomersetWhiskyBlog and it’s always great when we get to meet.

PC10 ‘Tro Na Linntean’ (59.8%)
Port-Charlotte-mainN
: Raw, earthy and gritty. There is quite a bit of peat here, but in the classic Port Charlotte way. It in no way seems overbearing. Having nosed a large amount of PCs & Octomore recently this, although peaty, has an elegant style. Soot, ash, tar and slightly medicinal. The slight baby vomit note sometimes found in the Laddie 10 is there too. Quite oily (linseed oil) with some strong bright woody notes too. Sugared sweetness towards the end with some iodine. Lovely whiffs of smoke. Immense.

P: Wow, huge arrival. Peat jumps straight out hammering around the mouth, more so than the nose. This is coupled with some ashen smoke and harsh peppery notes. Tar again, reminds me of newly laid road. Rather oily this, gliding all over the tongue. It’s like smoking cuban cigar in an old leather armchair. When the peat widens it opens up some vanilla and ripe squashed berries. Awesome.

F: Long, very warming and beautifully lingering. End of a peat BBQ (which I had on Islay in July – I’d highly recommend it). Slightly bitter, salty and coastal.

Comments: Such a perfect Port Charlotte. I’ve had a number of single casks recently, and this is just as good. Power, precision and perfection! 91.5
A big thanks again to Steve for this brilliant sample!

Forty Creek Confederation Oak : Day 8 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

Today’s dram is extra special. Not only is this the single whisky I’ll be tasting from outside of Europe, but I wouldn’t be writing on here about whisky at all if it wasn’t for the generous soul who sent it to me. Forty Creek is from Canada, as is Johanne McInnis (what an awesome segue). If you haven’t come across Johanne, or @whiskylassie as shes more commonly known, then sort yourself out. Not only does she write fantastically poignant posts, reviews and musings on her blog, she is also pretty much the pioneer of the mighty #whiskyfabric. Passionate, insightful and simply lovely, Joanne is one of those people that you really know would do anything for you. She was the first person I talked to about whisky online, the first to welcome me into the #whiskyfabric community and one of the first to generously send me samples from her collection. A lot of my passion for whisky has been encouraged by her or her writing. The pleasure was all mine when we met this summer, becoming the “Son she never wanted”, and I look forward to hopefully sharing a dram with her again in the future. This sample has been hidden away for the last year, waiting for its moment to shine. So here we go:

Forty Creek Confederation Oak (40%)
imageN: Pretty clean cut to start with, doesn’t seem willing to give too much away. Very bourbon-esq nose with warm vanilla and wide woody notes. There is a fair amount of spice here, a really nice level actually, backed up with a smooth sweetness. Some honey, maple syrup (I’m not just saying that!), bananas and some fresh sawdust. After some time in the glass it became quite nutty and slightly metallic.

P: Smooth and gentle arrival. Incredibly light mouthfeel, it just glides in and evaporates off the tongue quickly. Holding it in the mouth for longer brings vanilla, sugared sweetness, and syrup (I can’t get maple syrup out of my mind, but I might have made myself think of that). Strong oaky notes and some vanilla pipe tobacco which I have at home. Hint of spices towards the end with gingerbread men and rum soaked raisins.

F: Short/medium. More sweetness, brown sugar, sour sweets, vanilla and the tobacco still hanging around. Drying right towards the end.

Comments: Flip me, this is an easy drinker. Too easy, if that is a thing! I enjoyed so many of the elements to this; with so many beautiful and distinguishable flavours, how can you not? Sadly I just found it a tad too weak and watery on delivery which is such a shame. I’m really torn by this dram. I keep flicking between low or high 80’s due to the different factors. Due to the flavours, I think I’ll say 86 (but on another day it could easily be higher or lower). I’m very lucky to have tried this.

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Myself and the Lassie (I apologise for my stupid mouth)

 

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Meeting Johanne and a few others at the SMWS

Massive thank you to my wonderful “whisky big sis” Johanne!

Ardbeg 18yo (Master of Malt) : Day 7 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

I’m not gonna lie. I’m quite a fan of peaty and smokey whiskies. It was a Lagavulin 16 that made me realise how truly amazing whisky could be, and since then I can’t stop myself from buying strong peaty goodness (as you can imagine, I was in my element on my recent trip to Islay). So when Day 8 of this journey revealed an 18yo cask strength Ardbeg, I was pretty happy. Having visited Ardbeg recently, I had been able to try a few of their older expressions, but this bottling from Master of Malt had evaded me when it was released (at a very good price) a few years ago. The sample was given to me by Danny Williamson (@Dramstats) of the blog Dramstats – You don’t see him around Twitter that much anymore, but he was generous enough to send me this sample out of the blue.

Ardbeg 18yo (bottled by Master of Malt) (56.3%)
IMG_0033N: Part of me wants to say that this is a classic Ardbeg-y nose, but I think I would be lying. I get lots of lemon citrus and fruit, all on a bed of creamy butter and light wood smoke. The gentle warming peat evolves in the glass, but is a component rather a clear leader. Fruitiest Ardbeg I’ve had with pears, melons and green grapes. Some chocolate orange, chilli and earthy notes too. Not half as medicinal as i expected, but water brings out smoke and tropical fruit…even a slight meaty aspect.

P: Great delivery. Peat arrives head on, showing its involvement. Peppery, salty, maritime style. Not masses of smoke, but it’s definitely there enveloped by a warming sweetness on the tongue. Quite oily and ashy with a slight bitter grapefruit note. Oatcakes, tinned pineapples, & the sherry appears at the end with some dark fruits. Gorgeous stuff.

F: Long, ashy, fresh, dry and sweet. The layer of smoke sits on the tongue coupled well with a slight citrus bitterness. Ashen and lingering with a cigar like aftertaste.

Comments: Brilliantly ashy, robust yet vibrant Ardbeg which has been nicely aged. I wish all new releases of Ardbeg had this kind of quality. I simply enjoyed drinking this and wish I had a bottle (or four). The spirit worked well with the cask over the 18 years and the marriage with the refill sherry was really successful. Similarities to the Uigeadail. 91.

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Thanks to Danny for this cracking Dram

 

 

Balblair 1978 : Day 6 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

Sticking with the Highlands, I found this old Balblair in today’s spot. This will be the oldest Balblair I’ve tasted to date and I heard that the 1975 was spectacular, so I’m looking forward to this. This was sent nearly a year ago by the duo which bring us WhiskyCorner. Stewart and Kirsty are a Scottish couple who constantly show their passion for whisky (not just Laphroaig!) again and again online. Now the couple write reviews, interviews and news for their ever expanding website. I met the couple very briefly at Whisky Live last year and I’m sure I’ll bump into them again at some point. I know I’m not the only member of the #whiskyfabric who they have generously donated special drams to; we are all very grateful.

Balblair 1978 (46%)
IMG_0024N: This has such a grassy hay like quality to it, clumpy and thick, reminding me of picking wet grass out of the lawnmower. Really fresh and fruity with lots of green apples – there are similarities to the Tomatin 30yo I tasted a few days ago. There’s quite a waxy quality, with a slight nuttiness and some salt. With time in the glass it gets slightly more meaty and coastal with the fruits taking a back seat. Quite a gentle easy going nose.

P: This glides down easily whilst retaining a thick mouthfeel. Pears, grass again and some orange zest. Strong oaky flavours with a few rough and ready edges. Pretty smooth this and towards the end I got some dried fruit. No huge complexity here, but some nice notes.

F: Medium. Some forest fruits along with a minty toothpaste edge. Quite a bit of bourbony flavours at the end, and quite a dryness too.

Comments: This is an easy drinker for its age (30/35 years?!) Fruity, fresh and ripe, whilst retaining an edge of maturity. I wouldn’t have guessed it’s age though as it felt like there was less interaction with the wood than a lot of 30+ year old I’ve tried. It does lack a bit of complexity and it’s not the most balanced Balblair I’ve tasted, but it’s their oldest expression I’ve tried and I still thought it was quite nice…. Just not blown away! 86

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Thanks again to Kirsty and Stewart

 

 

Glenmorangie Companta: Day 5 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

It’s harder to sit down, taste a new whisky, take notes and then write a blog about each day, than I thought! I’m a few days behind already, but luckily I’ve been having some special whiskies to help me through.

Trying another highland whisky today – Glenmorangie to be precise. A lot of “serious whisky drinkers” (whatever that means) write this distillery off rather quickly. I do understand why, but they can’t have got to where they are now without producing solid whisky. Today’s Glenmorangie Companta followed the previous Ealanta in their range of experimental releases. It was initially matured in American oak ex-bourbon barrels before spending time in Burgundy wine casks and Rhône Valley casks which previously held Rasteau. There was a lot of chatter about this last year, even scooping a top place in Jim Murrays 2014 Whisky Bible (the prices weren’t as crazy as the current Yamazaki Sherry Cask).
The man that made all this possible is the brilliantly funny Jon Webb, or @dvdbloke as many know him. I first met Jon at last years Whisky Live where we spent a good few hours towards the end trying many great That Boutique-y Whisky Company samplings, it was a great day. Since then, we have participated in a few sample swaps and this Glenmorangie cropped up one day, thanks Jon. Go check out Jons reviews at Scotchandscifi.

Glenmorangie Companta (46%)

IMG_0023N: Automatically get those wine notes I was expecting. Orange zest appears followed by strawberries and raspberry infused chocolate. Quite a juicy and penetrating nose with a real thick sweetness. Floral notes with some tropical fruit and spiced pears. There is quite a woody aspect to this nose too, very much old wine barrels. The wiOne really does seem to dominate, at times, it is right on the verge of smelling like whisky. Very elegant though.

P: Very spicy start followed by some sweetness. Feels relatively thick and syrupy. A real zestyness to this, but not in a light and vibrant way. Vanilla, raspberry jam and cherries. Deep, dark chocolate, liquorice and peppered meat. A sense of charred wood or burnt toast. Strong and tannic.

F: long, sugary sweet and slightly woody. Tannins seem to bring out the dryness too. Lingering dark fruits upon a base of notes.

Comments: Loads of wine character here, which some would love, others maybe not so much. The chocolate and spices hold it together somewhat. It verges on too much wine influence, but I have to say that I really like this. I’m a big fan of wine finishes and this one works for me. Although not to everyone’s taste, I would snap it up if it was still available. 89.

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Thanks again to Jon for this.

Tomatin 30yo: Day 4 of #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

Tomatin is one of those distilleries that slipped my radar when I first got into single malts. This was a huge mistake as they produce some fantastic whisky. Over the past year I have been pointed towards some lovely expressions from a number of #whiskyfabric friends including a certain Ben Cops. A blogger who writes very regular reviews on Benswhisky.com, Ben has opened my eyes to a number of new distilleries, is incredibly persuasive when it comes to bottle shares and an all round good chap. We don’t meet up enough, but when we do, he is always a bad influence good fun. Not to forget he is a generous sharer of his fabulous whisky collection (I don’t know how he has space in his study!) This sample was given to me a number of months ago and has been sitting with a few others, waiting to be enjoyed and reviewed, so here we go.

Tomatin 30yo (46%)
IMG_0017N: A really full and rounded nose which noses stronger than the ABV suggests. Sweet and waxy to start. I get sour apple Hubba Bubba chewing gum straight away with huge juicy fruits, in fact very fruity without being overbearing. Apples, pears, pineapple and mangos. Old fashioned sweets such as pear drops, marshmallows and gummy bears. After some time in the glass, lots of honey and a herbal note towards the end. Quite an enticing nose this one. Enjoyable.

P: Oaky…. Very oaky in fact. Fresh and vibrant on the tongue with freshly cut grass and fresh fruits again; Bananas, apples and mangos. Lots of penny sweets, particularly Fruit Salad sweets. Victoria sponge cake with vanilla icing sugar. Hint of honey again.

F: Long, oaky finish with a soft fizzle of spice. Well balanced. Fruits still hanging on with some rich tea biscuits too.

Comments: Robust and fresh fruit bomb. Nice and vibrant for a 30yo, I would have guessed at it being a 21yo. Sweetness leads this one, but doesn’t dominate. 88.

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Thanks again to Mr Cops for the sample. Go check out his site!

Mosstowie 33yo (1979) : Day 3 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

My second 33yo in three days, and again this is a new distillery discovery for me too. Well I say that, but Mosstowie was never really a distillery. It is actually just whisky made at Miltonduff distillery with the help of ‘Lomond Stills’ between 1964-81. So you can understand why it’s hard to get hold of bottles of this stuff. Mosstowie has never really been on my radar until I tried some single cask Miltonduff last year that really excited me and I started doing some research. So I’m glad this bottle found its way into my sample box.

This whisky came in a sample swap with the gentleman that is @Jihmmiestumbler from The Nosing Arse Blog. We bonded over a love for whisky, cigars and sardonic humour (he’s a funny man!) which led us to swap samples of some of our most interesting bottles. I would highly recommend this as it’s a great way of being able to try as much different whisky as possible without having to constantly buy new bottles. I’m sad to say that we have never met, but I look forward to the day that we sit in the SMWS with a dram in hand and put the world to right.

Mosstowie 33yo (1979) (48%)
IMG_0014N: Sweetly aromatic nose. It’s light, playful, clean cut and very well balanced. This has similarities to certain older grain whiskies including certain Invergordons I’ve tasted from the 70s/80s. Grassy, lots of vanilla and pink marshmallows. Hint of citrus to start with before taking over as one of the main aromas. Delicate spices and some menthol toothpaste too. Pretty summery, intricate, mature and smooth. Like older grain, this is very enjoyable to nose.

P: Grass and hay like quality. Lightly fruits with a faint taste of green apples. It arrives incredibly gently before exploding with powered sweetness round the mouth. I’m in a sweet shop; marshmallows, penny sweets, red liquorice and mint imperials. Quite a menthol edge to this one too, but it integrates really well. Rounded off nicely with some cinnamon and gentle spices.

F: Long, creamy and increasingly tasty. Lots of vanilla and oakiness towards the end with more spices. Lingers beautifully.

Comments: This was one delicious dram. Brilliantly put together, beautifully balanced and very moorish. Held up well with age taking lots of varied flavours from the bourbon cask. Worked really well at 48% too. Perfect for a summers evening on the decking, but that’s not to say it wasn’t fantastic on this cold winter night by the fire either. Seems like a rare distillery to come across, so I’m really glad I have.

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Thanks again to Mr Stumbler for the sample

 

 

 

Banff 21yo (1982) Rare Malts : Day 2 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

Day 2 revealed not only a closed distillery, but for my palate, a new one too. Never having coming across anything from this now silent distiller, I did wonder when and if I would be able to try some of their whiskies as it’s not necessarily a brand you come across that often. Thankfully for me, a top class Frenchman stepped in to help me out. Franck Debernardi (@LaCaveDeCobalt) from lacavecobalt.com is a top man who has proved to many of the #whiskyfabric that not only is he knowledgable, but also incredibly friendly and generous. A few months back Franck saw that I had mentioned that I wasn’t too fond of the Highland Park bottlings I had recently tried, and took it upon himself to send me a sample from a very nice bottle from his Highland Park collection; all without me mentioning anything. Generosity right there. I’m really glad that we met at this years Whisky Exchange Show and had a great time chatting over some exquisite Balvenie (that’s a story for another time!) This sample was from a special batch of goodies he handed over to me then.

Banff 21yo (1982) (57.1%)
unnamed-3N: Scrumptiously rich this one. Clean and full bodied. Switched between orchard fruits with grass to dark chocolate with hazelnuts. Quite a nutty quality overall actually. Going deeper into the glass brings block palate paints from primary school and a slight metallic note. Hints of citrus and warm spices, with the fresh oak and apples dominating towards the end. Still seems pretty delicate for 57%.

P: Huge hit of fruits upfront, nearly overwhelmingly so as it’s slightly aggressive. Sharp green apples and orange zest. Some strong maltiness here with lots of oak. Sultanas, coconut and lots of thick sherry. The spices really dominate after a while and give a real zingy quality. With water, the sharp fruits simmer down and brings some hay and freshly cut grass.

F: Long. Lingering wood, spices and a slight bitterness. On some sips, even a faint hint of smoke. Quite earthy actually. I found the finish less balanced than the general body here and it had quite a peppery and bitter finish.

Comments: Incredibly fruity, spicy and oaky. It’s always good to try different distilleries, especially closed ones and for my first try of Banff, it wasn’t a let down at all. I was impressed by the chameleon like character of the nose and the fullness of the palate, even if the fruits slightly overwhelmed me. It felt slightly younger than a 21yo due to its vibrant nature, but it’s always a pleasure to try whiskies distilled in the early 80s.

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Myself and Franck at TWE Show 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks again goes to Franck.

Bunnahabhain 33yo : Day 1 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

The temperature is dropping, the general public have gone retail crazy and you can’t go anywhere without hearing “I wish it could be Christmas every day”. It must be December. This means that it’s time to start the #whiskyfabric advent calendar. The first sample kicking off this ADVENTure (sorry I had to do it) was a whisky I did not know much about: A 33 year old Bunnahabhain bottled by Royal Mile Whiskies. Given to me by a new and generous friend – Philip Storry (@Philipstorry). Those of you around the London whisky scene, or the SMWS will most probably know Phil. An insightful, welcoming and fun drinking pal. Happy to share his tales and wares with folk like me. He threw this sample at me randomly last month when meeting at the SMWS tasting room in London. I was incredibly grateful as you can imagine.

Day 1: Bunnahabhain 33yo (45.5%)
Attachment-1N: Delicate and beguiling with a fragrant like quality. Bolder when in glass for 10/15 minutes. Strong whiffs of smoke from the onset. I found this quite fresh, but with a slightly withered edge. Ginger covered in chewy toffee. Slightly sour apples with old grapes. After a while the character transforms to bring more spices, whilst maintaining gentle and buttery. Can’t shake the peppered notes either. Right towards the end some coal smoke. Complex stuff this, needs time to be enjoyed.
P: Definite Bunnahabhain profile. Sweet upfront from the onset, rather fruity with dark berries, but retains a dustiness in character too. Confusing as it’s sweet to begin with before a slight sourness appears. Spices rush to greet the palate and fill the mouth gently. Old sweets, chewy nougat and even a slight hint of Parma violets (not as much as 80’s Bowmore though). Vanilla, dark sherry notes and strong tannins too. Feels old and fragile.
F: Waxy towards the end with the sweetness dying to leave cinnamon and the peppered note. Tannins also dominate the finish but I’m not put off by this. There seems to have been quite a bit of interaction with the wood as some dark oaky notes appear towards the end too.

Comments: This was interesting. I haven’t had to focus on a dram quite like this for a while. It’s a good thing I was in my music room listening to Brad Mehldau at the time as it cleared my mind quite a bit. It is very nicely matured and really does show its old age. Slightly smooth, intricate and enjoyable but highly complex. The tannins could put some people off. One when you have lots of time. Very high 80s.

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So glad I got to try this. Thanks Phil!