A Small Collection Of Cadenheads

Last week I made my monthly trip up to London to taste the new outturn from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. If you’re a whisky fan but you aren’t a member, then I think you should try and sort that out. But we aren’t here to talk about SMWS. Before getting to the society I decided to make a quick stop at Baker Street. Cadenheads to be more precise. Cadenheads is Scotlands oldest independent bottler running since 1842. They buy many different casks from around the world, bottling them when they think right (at great prices too). I have tasted some stunning expressions from them over the last few years and I’m continually excited by what they are releasing. They have three stores in the UK; Campbeltown, Edinburgh and my “local”, London.

Stopping in just to browse their fantastic range, I was met by Stephen the manager who I always enjoying chatting with. He encouraged me to try a selection of what they had in store. How could I say no? Here are the six drams I tried on that Saturday afternoon.

 

William Cadenhead 13yo Irish Malt (46%)
WMCadenhead IRISH 13-cr-400x600 N: Interesting. Can’t quite gauge this one. A sweet shop after the school rush. Creamy, fruity and malty with lots of marshmallows. Freshly polished metal.

P: Fresh, warm and vibrant. Clean cut grass and raisins. Honey and custard creams. Fresh fruit salad. Not overly malty as the nose suggests.

F: Medium. Smooth and slightly spicy. Menthol. Pretty elegant though. Very quirky and very nice. Don’t know when I would turn to it, but definitely one when you fancy something different. Only £47 though and pretty good value/fun ratio (still available here)

 

 

William Cadenhead 12yo Blended (46%)
(Contains 65% malt and 35% grain and is matured in a sherry solera system).
WMCadenhead 12 sherrywood -cr-400x600N: Slightly withheld. Dark chocolate gateaux. I got vanilla ice cream and sherry notes after a few minutes, but in general the nose didn’t do too much for me.

P: Pretty smooth delivery. Palate definitely better than the nose. Caramel sauce, malt and burnt wood. Dark fruits and chocolate.

F: Medium. Grainy notes on the finish with the sherried sweetness like christmas cake. This is a dangerously drinkable blend. £34 some would argue is good value for this. It is in the realm of cheaper single malts though…not that it’s a competition.

 

William Cadenhead 7yo Islay Malt (59.1%)
(This is a single cask)
WMCadenhead ISLAY 59.1-cr-400x600 N: Nice fresh and vibrant peat. Young in age and young in character. Nice briny notes though. Like freshly cooked mackerel on the bbq. The iodine and smoke don’t die down one bit.

P: Warm arrival of huge mouth smashing peat. Crashes around leaving no prisoners, but interestingly softens on the tongue. Salty, briny and accessible.

F: Long, lingering and smokey. What you want from a young and peaty Islay malt. This is a bruiser. If you want a peat bomb at a high strength then this is a good choice (still available here). Now this is definitely not Lagavulin. No seriously not Lagavulin at all. Definitely not. Nope. *cough*

 

Cadenhead Mortlach 26yo (56.1%)
N: Beautifully rich, Burnt toffee, malty and meaty. Candy-floss, cured ham and cherry bakewell. Like sitting on a bail of hay.Mortlach-26-cr-400x600

P: Dark toffee. The sweetness of the sherry is there along with the dryness too. Quite oily, meaty with some chilli flakes too.

F: Long and smooth. Rich syrup and cocoa. Very moorish. This tempts you. Plays with you. Complex and beguiling. For £115 it’s yours right here.

 

 

Cadenhead Craigellachie 21yo Wine Cask (53.1%)
(This spent half its life in a Sauternes cask from 2006)
W197_54081N: Pretty sweet with a real darkness. At the start pretty damp and withheld; it needs 10 minutes to compose itself. You get the wine tannins quickly with new packs of haribo and vanilla. Plums, honeyed sweetness and blackcurrent jam. Water brought out some spices and oiliness.

P: Thick arrival with some fizz on the tongue. The wine is powerful and drying, but not overstated. Dark, nutty and slightly bitter. Lemon sherbets, manuka honey and dark fruits. Water brought out the sawdust and chocolate orange.

F: Long, sweet, oak driven and drying. Rum and raisin ice-cream. Really oily and jammy. This was nicely crafted wine cask whisky. It complemented the malt well and brought out its qualities. I bought one of the last ones in the shop as it was great value for money.

 

Cadenhead Dumbarton 27yo (53.9%)
N: Beautiful grainy wafts of vanilla, honey and gentle sweetness. No rough edges on this one. Sweet shops, freshly cut wood and cake mixture. Intricate and delicate, you could nose this for hours.Dumbarton 27-cr-400x600

P: Powerful compared to the nose, whilst maintaining a beautiful smoothness. Grassy, woody and pretty fresh and vibrant for its age. Hints of custard and strawberries, make me think of jam roly-poly.

F: Long, delicate, drying, smooth and 100% moorish. Some people might call this breakfast whisky. I don’t care what you call it, it’s simply brilliant. This type of dram is for reminiscing. Probably one of the best Lowlanders I’ve ever tasted.

 

 

A great few hours spent in a wonderful shop. If you are near any of the Cadenhead stores, I would implore you to pop in. You won’t regret it.

 

 

Feis Ile Special Releases Tasting

Once a year, the alluring west coast island of Islay welcomes thousands of visitors to its shores to help celebrate the Feis Ile. A week of distillery tours, music, celebration and you guessed it – whisky. Each distillery holds an open day, welcoming the hordes of passionate followers through their doors for tastings and special releases. Some might call it a pilgrimage for whisky fans and aficionados, and they’re not wrong.

I’ve only been to Islay once and it sadly wasn’t during the Feis Ile. In fact it was only two weeks post festival season. This meant that we got to visit the distilleries and try many of the special bottlings without having to battle through swarms of other whisky fans. (Saying that, I am desperate to make it Feis Ile some point in the near future). This leads nicely onto the Feis Ile Bottlings. As previously mentioned, each distillery releases a number of special bottles to celebrate the occasion each year and I was lucky enough to get my hands on five of the eight different distillery bottles, plus one extra one to finish with. So how did they do?

Laphroaig Cairdeas 200th Anniversary (51.2%)

laphroaig-cairdeas-2015N: Withheld start. Wet wood, uncooked peppered steak. Iodine and chlorine. Peat seems slightly astringent, but there’s a nice cigar box note. Relatively old style Laphroaig it seems, but less intense than many OB’s. You won’t find much TCP, unless you add water.

P: Dark, dirty and earthy from the word go. The Laphroaig character is somewhat hidden under layers of dark fruit. Anise, salt water and cigar leaf. Quite a sticky undertone before the sweetness rolls around palate. Water brings our cherries.

F: Medium. Very drying, fizzy and pretty briny with some dust and diesel. This is interesting. I think with time in the bottle it become an easy drinker. Different and nice. Won’t blow you mind like some Laphroaigs though! 86.

Kilchoman 10th Anniversary (57.2%)

kilchoman-10th-anniversaryN: Wow, a pretty intense blend of flavours there. Barley, wood, vanilla and bourbon come through first. Wide splashings of peat with car tyres and dark sherried fruits. Slightly fragrant though with some menthol, especially with water. It is like a freshly valeted car. Polish and wax!

P: Powerful and dark with prickly peat – but less than the nose suggests. Nice balance of the peat with the sweet sherry and oaky dryness. Raisins and sticky toffee pudding swirls a nice sweetness around the palate, with it staying just shy of cloying.

F: Long, menthol, barley and fruits. Astringent spearmint chewing gum. This was a really solid dram. One that I would have bought if it had been available. Moorish and lingers beautifully. 87/88.

Caol Ila 17yo (1998) Feis Ile 2015 (57.3%)

caol-ila-feis-ile-2015N: Full nose, lots of big is lay peat and warm oaky tones. Wine tannins, dark cherry and hoisin sauce. Fiery and amazingly powerful. Water opens this a bit, with more salt water and lovely iodine like peat. I could nose this for quite a while.

P: Huge, peppery yet creamy peat. Strong yet still remaining delicate. The peat integrates so well the tannins. Dark forrest fruits, burnt treacle. Some really good casks seem to have been used here. Water dulls everything down, especially the fruit. I prefer it neat.

F: Medium. Brown sugar, dull sweetness and fizz. Peat lingers nicely. Water actually prolongs the finish and adds peppered sausages. Nice choice of cask for this. Another cracking bottle. My favourite so far. 89.

Ardbeg Perpetuum Distillery Release (49.2%)

AA-JW-3N: Honeycombe, banana split and lavender. These seems like quite a light nose to start with. Evoked memories of swimming pool changing rooms with dull chlorine. After giving time to open up, there was some prickly petrol notes. Sweet notes dominate the nose with the peat masked by bitter sweetness. Sticky BBQ ribs towards the end.

P: I prefer the palate to the nose. A bit of Ardbeg character starts to shine through. All the warm peat I wanted on the nose appears, but it brings some pepper, grit and sweet rose petals. Slight brine. Lacks power and intensity I like in Ardbeg. Hints of sweet oak and sherry at times.

F: Short, drying and slightly bitter. Flavours disappear leaving some ashen wood and brine. It’s easy to drink, but lacks flavour and integration. Considering it’s an NAS, it shows its youth sadly. This just didn’t do much for me. Shame. A bottle of their 10 year old or Uigeadail is half the price and twice the whisky. 83

Lagavulin 24yo (1991) Feis Ile 2015 (59.9%)

lagavulin-1991-2015-feis-ile-2015N: Beautiful start. I’m transported to the Lagavulin warehouse. You can tell this is a more mature whisky. Light woody flavours, sticky toffee pudding, dusty sawdust. Leather, gentle peat balances beautifully with the sweet PX sherry. Raspberries, wood polish and chocolate.

P: Fantastic balance of peat, engine oil and ashen woodiness. Sherried fruits, slightly briny and cake mixture. Quite leathery and vibrant considering its age. Salty and sweet popcorn. Finally some BBQ mackerel. A palate that keeps on giving. Incredibly enjoyable.

F: Long, delicate and aged to perfection. Hint of bitter lemons on the end. Perfectly balanced with hints of tobacco leaf, minty chewing gum, cold meat and leather wax. This was awesome. Not quite as epic as the 2014 release. But that had a special place in my heart. It’s not far off though. 91 and best of the bunch (I’m glad I got a bottle).

And the final bottle is from my independent bottler, The SMWS. It’s a 17 year old Bowmore and big thank you to them for sending me a sample to review.

SMWS 3.243 ‘Dark, Smouldering Flamenco Gypsy) (57.1%)
Bowmore 17yo

img_3958N: Pretty dark and dusty with some big sherry from the offset. Much better with some time in the glass. The is a bed of smoke and mint leaves here, upon that plenty of chocolate and caramel. Sweet sherry soaked christmas pudding also. Towards the end the Bowmore Character appears above the sherried nose. Water definitely softens everything, bringing with it calm, nuttiness and some parma violets (oh hello older Bowmore).

P: So there *might* be some sherry here. It’s slightly overpowering to start with, before the briny and meaty notes appear, giving it more substance. Delightfully playful between the light and dark though and I really enjoyed the mix between the tar and leather. Brown sugar and the Bowmore character shines through toward the end.

F: Long and drying. Dark sherry, rough sweetness, dark berries and raisins. Slightly too sweet for me, although I’m sure many would appreciate this. Sad to see so many bottles on this on auction sites before the official release. I guess that’s the same with most special releases nowadays. Solid 86.

If you haven’t got them now, then you probably won’t…unless you’re happy to pay over the odds at auction. The Lagavulin and the Caol Ila were top tasters for me, so well done Diageo. The Kilchoman was strong too. Bring on next year.

Port Ellen 30yo (1979) : Day 24 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

Wow. What a journey the last 24 days have been. I have tasted some wonderful whiskies given to me by some incredibly generous souls. It shows that the #whiskyfabric is a strong community of people that want to share their love of the water of life. I have been lucky to have met most of the “contributors” and I’ve been humbled by their generosity. I know that my #whiskyfabric journey has only just started. Whisky is for sharing guys! What better way to finish, than with the infamous Port Ellen. Again, I tip my hat to Frenchman Franck for this awesome little sample. Here we go…

Port Ellen 30yo (1979) 9th Release (57.7%)

pe1979N: Seems withheld at first, but give it a few minutes and POW! The gristly warm peat leads the way with its best Islay foot forward. It seems soft and harmonious…nothing too brash about it. Salty, coastal, slightly medicinal. Similarities to the nose of older Lagavulins. Sweet honey, dried apricots and orchard fruits. After 15 minutes there is menthol mouthwash upon a bed of zesty notes. Complex, bold, refined, mature, yet completely accessible.

P: Fantastic arrival, full on, powerful and graceful. Really coats the tongue and mouth. Rich smoke, brown sugared sweetness, peppery – rough, rugged and ready. Some nutmeg along with other gentle spices. Hint of custard cream and lemon fizz. Smoke dominates after a while, with some old sweets, oak and smoked salmon on the BBQ.

F: Very long. Lingering spices with some sweetness and a hint of liquorice. Pretty dry with smoke hanging around the mouth. I can still taste this an hour later. Balanced beautifully.

Comments: Amazing. I simply love it. Does the fact that it’s a Port Ellen play a factor? Maybe. But quite simply if I tasted this blind, I would have found it just a delightfully tasty and moorish as I do now. There is a perfect level of peat, earthiness and smoke. It is refined, not over complex and the height of beautifully matured whisky. A solid 93, and easily my favourite whisky of the calendar for me. Well done Franck…as usual.

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Well there we are. 24 whiskies tasted. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. If you have followed this, then thank you. If you have contributed to this, then an even bigger than you. I think I might take a break for a bit. Not from whisky, but from writing about it. I need to spend more time enjoying it without pen and paper to hand. I’ll be back later next year. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

Matt

Caol Ila 25yo : Day 15 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

Why don’t we stick with the Islay whiskies and move from the south of the island to the north. I’ve always thought that Caol Ila is an underrated distillery, producing some fantastically tasty single malt whisky. Their 12yo is one of the best in its category and balances peat, oil and brine beautifully. So I was somewhat excited when Mr Johnny Stumbler sent me some of their 25yo. Let’s give this a go on my Dads birthday.

Caol Ila 25yo (43%)
caol-ila-25 N: A somewhat gentle start to this nose, with a character like a soft Bowmore. You get the smoke pretty quickly, but it’s then taken over by the linseed oil. Lots of toffee, vanilla, liquorice and some peat reek. After some time it completely changes, with lots of grassy and floral qualities along with some citrus. A real sense of the coastal qualities this distillery displays with wet rope, fresh seafood and sea salt.

P: Pretty thin on the mouth. I was expecting a bigger arrival. Very different from the younger bottlings. Peppery, slightly rich, toffee and lots of caramel. Not too much peat on this palate as it seems hidden behind the briny and salty front.

F: Medium. Oaky, warm leather and citrus again. Less floral than the nose suggested. Very drying.

Comments: This is weird. It’s rather light and somewhat delicate for a Caol Ila and seems much younger than it is. Pretty elegant though, with a sadly disappointing finish. Quite like a white wine finished whisky… maybe I’ve been spoilt by some of the recent samples. The younger bottles are definitely more interesting. Maybe this had just been opened for quite a while. Mid 80’s for this.

Thanks AGAIN to Mr S!

Lagavulin Feis Ile 2010 : Day 14 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

A big round of applause goes to Nick Bird, who not only shares my love of all things whisky, but is a bit of Islay nut too and must have known how much I enjoy a Lagavulin or two. This dram is from the 2010 ‘Islay Feis Ile’, so a nice special edition from this marvellous distillery (yes it’s Diageo, but I can confirm after visiting it earlier in 2014 that it still makes incredible whisky). I immensely enjoyed 2014’s Feis Ile bottling, having bought two myself, so I have high hopes for this.

Lagavulin Feis Ile 2010, 16yo 1994 (52.7%)
Untitled2 N: Similar nose to the standard 16yo but slightly meatier with some more earth and brininess. Beautifully sweet with a nice amount of balanced peat. I also enjoyed the dried fruit flavours with some apricots and pears. Salty seaweed with some peppered squid and creamy chocolate edges too. Quite a dirty Laga this one.

P: Ashy, coffee, pepper and sea salt. The peat is integrated nicely, with quite a feisty gristle to it. Some nice smooth dark chocolate notes with some hazelnut latte too. Ice cream, iodine and slight lemon zest.

F: Long, doughy and slightly dry too. Dark chocolate hanging around with some wet mud and strong woody notes.

Comments: This is a darker, more complex and gristly version of the 16yo you can buy in the shops. I enjoyed the peat level here and though everything hung together nicely. A solid 90.

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Big thanks to Nick. I’ll repay you with some of this years Lagavulin Feis…. you lucky thing.

SMWS 3.79 : Day 13 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

Another one from Phil Story’s marvellous collection. Can I stop for a minute and just say that  this is the 79th cask to come from distillery number 3 (Bowmore cough cough) for the SMWS. We are now on 3.234, so the 234th cask…. and this is just the 79th. Nice work Phil! I’m a big fan of society Bowmore’s, so let’s check this one out.

SMWS 3.79 14yo (1989) [name unknown] (53.3%)
DSC_0066 N: Very different from some of the modern Bowmore’s. Fragrant and oily with quite a bit of peat reek. Doesn’t have the restrained noses that most OB Bowmore’s seem to have, in fact this opens right up into some deep floral tones with honey, heather and quite a bright fruitiness. After some time, I got pepper, chilli and some brine. It stuck to the typical 80’s Bowmore profile, with parma violets and a bit of FWP. Peat subdues over time in the glass, smelling quite like a highland whisky towards the end.

P: Certainly tastes more like a Bowmore than it noses. Pepptery, anise, slightly hot on the tongue with some chilli. I found it quite meaty and briny with some gristly peat appearing just after arrival. Quite sandy too; it’s like drinking seawater.

F: Very long. Peppery, tingly and lingers very nicely. Peat provides a bed for some bitterness and salty seafood along with the parma violets.

Comments: Pretty straight forward mid-teen Bowmore. Not the most balanced SMWS dram I’ve had and seems to lack character, whilst remaining robust and full of flavour. Being distilled in 1989 gives some good strong aged qualities and it’s lovely to try a bottle an SMWS bottling  from  2003.

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Thanks again to the mischievous Phil Story.

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!

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

 

 

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!