Highland Park 25yo (2004) : Day 16 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

We’re going to stay with the 25 year olds and move from Islay up to The Highlands. Highland Park was never a distillery that grabbed me. When I first got into whisky I tasted their 12 year old at a whisky shop whilst on holiday in Scotland and I found it brash, spirity and unappealing. Three years later, I bought a bottle of this 12 year old help my education, and it was one of the worst bottles I ever purchased. I am hoping that there was something wrong with that bottle, it was sulphured, off and simply disappointing. I didn’t enjoy it one bit and never actually finished it.

I mentioned the fact that I was not a Highland Park fan to some of my friends from the whisky fabric, and yet again it was the man from France, Franck Debernardi that persuaded me to try a greater range of their spirit, sending this little surprise to encourage me. Since then I have tried a plethora of OBs and single casks, and my perceptions of this distillery have definitely changed.

Highland Park 25yo (50.7%)

hlpob.25yov1 N: Stunning nose with so much going on right from the word go and a real thickness of complexity. Forrest fruits coupled with a floral character, whilst no being overly fresh. Woody, old waxed wooden furniture with some fresh polish. Vanilla and hazelnut chocolate with some menthol and mint towards the end. Water brings the gentle sherry into play with a splash of sea breeze towards the end.

P: A spirity arrival. Sherried fruits, christmas and coffee cake with some burnt toast. Fizzy on the tongue like refreshers, with the alcohol quite active for 50%. A real creamy texture with dollops on chocolate orange and vanilla ice cream. Manuka honey, lemon sherbets and bold apples towards the end.

F: Very long. Slightly sweet , zesty, dry and woody. I got some salt and pepper towards the end also.

Comments: This was a thinker with some huge flavours. Very easily the best Highland Park I’ve had in the pleasure of trying, offering so much complexity and balance throughout, showing its age beautifully. Solid 90.

Thank you Franck, you have turned me into a HP lover.

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.

Review: Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old

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Dalwhinnie 15 year old – 43%

I was thinking through what whisky should feature in this first review. It then occurred to me that the first whisky I ever bought would be a great one to start, and it helped that it’s a complete cracker. Don’t be swayed by the fact that this is part of Diageo’s Classic Malts range… it is there for a reason!

Since buying the Dalwhinnie 15 three years ago, it has become a staple whisky in my collection. I remember buying it before even trying it, something I probably wouldn’t usually do now, but I loved its classic look…and would later discover that I would love its classic taste.

Dalwhinnie, Scotland’s highest and most remote distillery uses water from the highest mountain source of any malt. So you would usually expect something a bit special. Luckily, they don’t disappoint. Now, what do I think?

Nose: This is such a cracking nose. Big first smell, and it is always incredibly floral and fruity. Honey and toffee are entwined in some real smooth malty notes. There is a dry, crisp heathery scent that I find in many highland whiskies too. I seem to have thoughts of walking through a flower garden with plenty of apple trees present. After some time in the glass a small hint of smoke teases the nostrils.

Palate: Without a doubt this is an incredibly smooth, malty dram. I wouldn’t say this is light or heavy, but includes some strong flavours. Vanilla, honey and a sweet nuttiness are all present. These are all balanced with smidgens of smoke and gentle peppered spiciness. It glides down the tongue effortlessly.

Finish: This is one silky smooth finish. Long, lingering and malty with small wafts of coffee. The honeyed sweetness is still present, now slightly more bitter than before. Relatively intense, but gives way to hints of gentle smoke and malt.

Overall, this is a solid and quality whisky. Some may say the flavours are relatively simple, but they are pretty flawless nonetheless. Compared to other whiskies of similar age, it is a complete steal for the price (especially if you can get it on offer). With some time it can be quite complex too. I always want to make sure I have this beauty in my whisky collection…and it’s made even easier due it’s availability in numerous supermarkets up and down the country. It is the perfect single malt to turn anyone into a whisky lover…. Come to think of it…. it turned me into one!