Springbank 16 year old Local Barley Review

expectations

Expectation is an interesting notion. It can bring excitement, worry or joy, amongst other things. However, when we expect something of someone, then it shows that they have given us a reason to believe in them. I have high expectations of Springbank as a distillery. High, but fair expectations. They produce beautifully crafted whiskies year in year out, don’t scream and shout about what they’re doing, whilst never seeming to succumb to the pressure of “certain trends” in the whisky industry.

When the news came out that there was to be a new special release of a local barley Springbank. My head was definitely turned. Only last year had I been lucky enough to taste a 14yo Springbank Local Barley which was a Society special release. 9016 It blew my mind. The perfect mix of light peat, spices, dark fruits and light sherry.
This news however was not only dangerous for my expectations, but also my wallet. £90 for a bottle of 16yo whisky isn’t shocking by any means in this market, but when parting with close to £100, you want to make sure you are more than happy with the contents. More pricey than last years 17yo sherry-wood, but with the wonderful provenance behind this new whisky, you can understand the slight price hike. I hope to see more in regards to provenance over the coming years, what with distilleries such as Springbank and Bruichladdich taking the lead.

 

When this new release hit certain online whisky retailers yesterday, many of the bottle stocks had sold out before people had a chance to say “Ooo I love Springbank”. There may only be 9000 bottles of this in the world, but it also shows that it’s not just me who has high expectations. Let’s hope that we don’t see too many of these appearing on auction sites over the coming months. However, how was this going to live up to my expectations? I expected it to be brilliant when ordering it yesterday. I expected it to be brilliant when it arrived on my doorstep less than 24 hours later. I expected it to be brilliant when I saw the classy and classic bottle design. It was Shakespeare who wrote “I am giddy; expectation whirls me around!” in his play Troilus and Cressida. I’m not whirling, but pretty close to giddy. What did I think?

Springbank 16yo Local Barley (54.3%)
1454162438SpringbankLocalBarley16yo54.3Jan2016 N: One of those beguiling Springbank noses. Deep sweetness, light peat, hint of floral tones and pepper. Giving it some time in the glass opens up aromas of wet rope and engine oil. Interestingly wine like. Some spice, stewed apples and raisins. It is like walking through a crop field on a damp summer day. Water opens the nose more, playing with the sweetness. Perfection of a Springbank nose.

P: Gristly on first arrival, before quickly alternating to a velvety delivery. Wow that was impressive. Pepper, toffee, earthy and full of depth, yet incredibly easy on the tongue and palate in general. This is oily, has a hint of rose petal and incredibly smooth for 54.3%. The gentle peat sits on the edge of the tongue. Each drop of water intensifies all of these flavours.

F: Long. The oil lingers before leaving a shred of salt water and apple peal. Peat disappears gently. A splash of water brought out the pepper on the finish.

Comments: This is one heck of a 90’s Springbank. This isn’t only the exact balance of fruit, peat and oil I was looking for; but it is complex and juicy with a finish that goes on for hours.

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This is a whisky that not only makes you sit up and question what some other distilleries are doing with their time, but most importantly puts a smile on your face. I would call this a near perfect Springbank in my book. Of course it is slightly rough around the edges, but that is what makes this distillery wonderful for me. Would I recommend you try to taste this whisky? It is beautifully made, delivers brilliantly and is without a doubt worth the money. Enjoy picking this apart, playing with drops of water and letting it draw our your smile. You can’t go wrong.

Alexander Pope once wrote “Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed”. I shall however keep expecting only the best from Springbank. I know I won’t be disappointed.

 

 

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

Springbank 28yo (1974) : Day 23 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calendar

Having visited Springbank distillery in the summer of 2014, I have come to love more and more of their special liquid. What’s even more fascinating though is the whisky produced in their stills back in the 70’s and 80’s. Even now, Springbank feels like a traditional distillery. By that I mean, everything there seems classic, aged and how it would have been done 30, 40 or 50 years ago. They are a friendly bunch and they are without a doubt up their as one of the strongest distilleries (you very rarely get a week whisky… let along a NAS!). So when I was offered a sample of this 28yo Springbank from Phil Storry, I was intrigued to see what it offered.

Springbank 28yo ‘Chieftains’ (46%)

DSC_0065N: Waxy, white pepper, wood shavings, crayola crayons and apples. Pretty malty with hints of polished wood. There is a smidgen of peat hidden in there somewhere. But after some time apricot jam and wax dominated. I found this difficulty complex. Not necessarily a fun one to nose.

P: Quite spicy. Some strong oaky notes with a dull sweetness like week old fizzy drink.. I found it quite earthy throughout the tasting. Metallic, waxy and weirdly vibrant considering its age. A certain char taste reminded me of elements of Ardbeg Alligator.

F: Medium. Cinnamon, dirty peat, smoked kippers, crayons and the remains of burnt wood. Quite bitter and drying right at the very end.

Comments: I think the bottle was open for a while, but it was still very interesting. Not only old, but weirdly complex, constantly changing without the minute hand. I wasn’t sure at first as it was a bit of a struggle, but after giving it time, it became more enjoyable and layered. Great to try. 90 (mostly down to it’s aged quality).

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Thank you Phil for all your special whiskies. Without you, this calendar would not have had the weird and wacky edge! Please go and visit Phil’s site here. He regularly has reviews of the latest SMWS bottlings and to be honest… he knows his stuff!

Brora 25yo : Day 22 #Whiskyfabric Advent Calender

Now things have started getting rather special, and that isn’t down to christmas being 3 days away. I knew this sample was in there somewhere and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited. Before this I have only had the chance to taste one or two Brora’s, with the 30yo particularly standing out. This enticing whisky has again come from my good friend Franck. Please check out his blog here.

Brora 25yo (56.3%)

Brora-25-years-old-june-2014-1N: Complex from the offset. A balanced blend of dry sherry, compact smoke, elegant sweetness and cured meats. Some fresh hay, bbq sauce and a slight sharpness similar to white wine. It felt somewhat closed, and a drop of water helped to open up the fruity, menthol and smoky flavours.

P: Granny Smith apples, conference pears and lemon sherbets. Peppered meat on the bbq, with some hay bails also. I found this quite earthy in glass. Water brought out the power of the fruit and made it even more vibrant.

F: Long. Love the lingering woody notes towards the end. Continues with the freshness of the palate, with some stewed apples and a hint of maritime salt air. This is where the smoke appears (not as much as the 30yo though).

Comments: Powerful, balanced and majestic. I’m not going to lie. The fact that this is Brora most probably sways my decision, but this really is tasty. I think I preferred the 30yo as it had a touch more smoke. 92.

Thank you again goes to Franck for his incredible generosity.

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.

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.