Coming soon…

Chemistry for Whisky nerds…

We have but a few Whiskies of our last bottling left and The Whisky Agents have been busy trying to find an adequate sequel to the great Whisky we got to deliver to you last time.

Last week we visited Stefans new warehouse and tasting room. He climbed around on the stacks of casks to gather up six samples of different Whiskies. Two from ex-bourbon, two from sherry and two from peaty casks that previously held Whisky from the famous Islay distillery Laphroaig. Now I am often a little weary about juice that has been matured in smoky casks because it can taste a little disjointed. But we decided to take the sherry and Laphroaig samples home for further studies (aka. sipping) since we just bottled a bourbon version last time around.

A week later we tried the samples at various strengths and did find the 8 year old ex-Laphroaig to be quite impressive. We did leave it at cask strength, which was only around 48% vol. anyway.

It tastes like a candy of Marder Whisky (sweet, malty, creamy and fudgey) with a wrapper of Laphroaig ashyness around it. Sounds good right. Well it is…

We will let you know as soon as the Agents Whisky 2.0 is for sale.

Whisky stash in the Alps

Deep in the Swiss alps there is a world famous Whisky-Bar called “Devils Place”, I know quite a silly name but thats what it is. It just happens to serve the largest selection of Whiskies in the world. Probably not surprising that the “Hotel Waldaus am See”, which houses the Bar, is located in St. Moritz. It doesn’t get more posh than that around here. Usually I would avoid places like this, but since I was invited to an event close by I couldn’t just leave without at least having a dram.

I must say the interior of the place was not particularly impressive, nor did it feel like a place where I would relax and spend time with my whisky. The bottles on the wall did the trick though. If you can name it and happen to be able to pay for it they will serve it to you.

Well, I CAN name and even¬†PRONOUNCE most distillery names but my budget is…well…lets say limited.

The smart way to go about this is to choose a Whisky that does not ring any bells. Avoid old Macallens, Port Ellens, Broras, Ardbegs and the likes and if they are not official bottlings you might just get away with a wonderful experience witout breaking the bank. I ended up ordering a Glenlochy 17 from Cadenheads. You might never have heard of Glenlochy which is probably because it has been closed since 1983. So I enjoyed a great Whisky straight from the history books for 24 CHF. That sounds quite reasonable to me. Especially since the waiter served me close to four cl for the price of 2. That is great customer service but both of us know that it might be a while until someone else orders a Glenlochy ūüėČ

The Agents Whisky

We proudly present our very own bottling of Single Malt Whisky. How this came about you ask? Remember a while back we dove into crafting a Whisky-Spirit. Back then we contacted Stefan, from the Marder Distillery, if he could give us his expertise on the matter. We hit it off quite well and have been in contact ever since. He is a great guy and when we approached him about bottling some of his Whisky for The Whisky Agents he was all in. For starters he equipped us with samples from three different casks which we then tasted in various strengths. One of them truly stood out to us. It was the content of an American oak cask which had been medium charred. The nose was wonderfully sweet and elegant. On the palette the fudgey sweetness persisted with barley sugar and a good touch of oak. But the most amazing part was the mouthfeel. It was oily and creamy, almost as if you could chew on this stuff. That texture was less apparent once we reduced the strength so we decided to bottle this beauty at cask strength. At a whopping 58.4% it delivers all the aromatic goodness coming out of this six year old cask. Enjoy

I am proud to name this our fist independent bottling and hope you enjoy it just as much as we do. It is available in very limited quantities at the Restaurant “Schl√∂ssle” in Laufenburg, DE.

Slàinte

Andy

Musical Dram: Glendronach

I am certainly not the first to call the Glendronach “Revival” a great Whisky. I might even be the last blogger to say so. At least about the Version discontinued in 2015. It seems that Brown-Foreman have now resurrected a “Re-Revival” of the 15 year old. There has been some positive reviews so far, but I have yet to try what Rachel Barrie has conjured up. If it is in any way close to the previous version I will happily restock my shelves.

For now I will enjoy the remainder of the bottle with a suitable song. As far as passion for their work goes, I think Mark Knopfler and Billy Walker have a lot in common. So the song i recommend while sipping on the Glendronach of your choice is a simple, yet meditative song about a guitar maker. Enjoy

Artist: Mark Knopfler

Track: Monteleone

Glendronach Still Bill

As you might have heard, Billy Walker sold Glendronach (Benriach and Glenglassaugh included) to the beverage giant Brown-Forman earlier this year. I find this quite sad, considering how he managed to elevate these distilleries to a new level. We can only hope that the new owners will not change too much in the way of production. Billy will, of course, not sit around twiddling ¬†his thumbs. In June he acquired Glenallachie from Chivas Brothers and I hope to see some promising Whisky flowing out of that distillery soon. Business aside. I have three Whiskies here from said Glendronach Distillery while Billy was still in charge: The 15 year old “Revival”, the 18 year old “Allardice” and Batch No.5 of the Cask Strength version.

Glendronach 15 Revival, 46% vol. 2015
S:6 G:4 P:1 / Color: amber / Score: 90

An elegant sherried start on raisins, dried apricots, figs and dates. Also a nice touch of wood spice from a good cask. I find some shortbread and toffee as well, some menthol and a whiff of balsamic vinegar. The taste is sweet and gets drier after a bit, displays a wonderful consistency which is creamy and full. Here too the premium casks show how important they are, well integrated and supporting the distillate with cinnamon, cloves and the whole “Christmas cake” works. Wet leaves in autumn are to be¬†¬†found as well. It feels like a classic Whisky and this gets backed up by the lovely aftertaste of a traditional dunnage warehouse. No need to say this is one of my favourite Whiskies to date. Marvellous.¬†The “Revival” has not been available since 2015 much to the regret of many a Whisky lover. But it was said to return in 2018.¬†We’ll see how Brown-Forman feels about that;)

Glendronach 18 Allardice, 46% vol., 2016
S:7 G:4 P:1 / Color: amber / Score: 89

Noses sweeter an more dense than the 15 but it is distinctly sherried as well. More on dried plums, raisins and home made berry jam. Again you can smell the casks (they where great if you where wondering). Interestingly I can smell a little sea spray, or maybe it’s some salty stock… Sweet and dense arrival with dark chocolate and marzipan, dark malt bread and a few bitter oranges. Make that bitter orange marmalade, please. The few more years in the cask have made quite a difference. A great dram but I prefer the younger version. The earthy notes from a proper warehouse reappear and complete the experience with a happy ending. By this while it lasts. Hint, Hint…

Glendronach CS Batch No. 5, 55.3% vol., 2016
S:5 G:4 P:1 Color: gold / Score: 82

This on starts on Grandmas stock, a little briny. Then come the Sherry guardians: dried figs and raisins. Quite a bit of oak on the nose, also some fruit chutney. Not the most complex of noses but quite nice. Powerful sweet arrival but also dries quickly. The oak is kicking about and doesn’t want to calm down. When swirling this around the mouth for a bit it becomes quite chewy. That is something I love in Whiskies. Also some canned peaches with honey develop. Not really in the same league as his older siblings, feels a little doctored. Nonetheless a fine tipple.

 

Musical Dram: Ben Nevis

Let me tell you: That Glencoe is a blast! If you can find it, snatch it up. You won’t regret it. Now, since today is the 44th anniversary of Hip-Hop, we will play the “Anthem” of Break-Beats. ¬†This¬†Track brings me just as much joy and satisfaction as the Whisky…and it was heavily played in the 80’s. Hope you can relate.

Artist: Grandmaster Flash (Incredible Bongo Band)

Track: Apache

Trailing Ben Nevis

 

I recently aquired a bottle of Mac Donald’s Glencoe at auction.
It intrigued me that it was, supposedly, bottled in the 80’s and bottled at a whopping 57% vol. Given that it is a Blended Malt (or Vatted Malt if you prefer) that is quite unusual. Knowing that a big proportion of this juice consists of Ben Nevis I had to get it and experience a taste from¬†the past. Alongside I have a rare bottle by Whisky Galore and the revamped (such an ugly word) 10 year old distillery version.
That should give us some perspective.

Ben Nevis 8, Whisky Galore, 46% vol. 1996-2005
S:6 G:3 P:2 / Color: white wine / Score: 82

Starts sweet with many ripe fruits. The basket offers: Melons, peaches, bananas, pears and apricots. Also some menthol freshness which might just be the young spirit. Then building materials ūüėČ Chalk, gravel and some wet concrete. See what I¬†mean? Tasting notes are fun. Eucalyptus, some bouillon in the background and after ten minutes F**** Mango.¬†Tastes sweet with just a little oak. Mind you it wasn’t in the cask very long. This bottle should be called fruits galore. Melon, mango (could be my brain now) and peaches. Something metallic that seems to belong there… Tin!!! It’s tinned fruit salad. Lovely. Over all not very¬†complex but quite fun. This is why we love our independent bottlers so much, they give us a different angle on the things we enjoy. Furthermore I respect the fact that they state the young age. Bravo

Ben Nevis 10, Original Bottling, 46% vol., 2016
S:3 G:3 P:2 / Color: light gold / Score: 84

Less sweet on the nose with eucalyptus and menthol again. Cold fruit pie made from peaches, apricots and blood oranges. Can you smell the crust? A grassy element like dried hay. And…oh…cinnamon! Nice. On the palate it’s drier but with a sweet backbone. Good mouthfeel, full and well balanced. Fruit compote with spices: Cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. The oak hardly feels at all, it’s there but just supports the overall concept. Well it does taste different than the old version but it is still great value for the price. The dunnage aftertaste is still present, good.¬†I salute original bottlings at 46% it’s so much more expressive. The new design is well in line with the old one and I do like that they didn’t overdo it: Ben Nevis you have my¬†loyal support.

MacDonald’s Glencoe, Blenden Malt, 57% vol., 80’s
S:6 G:3 P:3 / Color: gold / Score: 89

Noses light at first and totally on ripe honey dew melons. Then follow menthol and eucalyptus (there is a consistency here). Even at 57% it doesn’t feel much stronger than the others. Some wet gravel on a train track where a mechanic is repairing the breaks with an old tool box. Sound good? I’m serious! Tastes sweet and syrupy. It’s totally harmless ant full strength. Weird. Some oak for good measure. Menthol? Yes. Eucalyptus? Check. I love when the consistency gets almost chewy and it’s happening here. Melon sirup with tinned limes. Fun, fun, fun…

Tomatin Ranger

You might be surprised to hear that the Tomatin 36 year old has received¬†the ‘Best Scotch’ award at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition. With a¬†price tag¬†of 525¬£ it is just slightly out of my league but I could come up with about 8 really great whiskies that I would rather spend that ¬†money on. I don’t think this medal is going to influence our¬†decision whether or not to buy this distilleries juice. The rebranding of their range has definitely made them look more appealing. But as always, we care more about what inside the bottle. Lets see…

Tomatin 12 , 43% vol., 2017
S: 4 G: 5 P: 2 / Color: gold / Score: 76

Starts on vanilla and the scent of violets. There is some active oak involved which keeps it on the fresh side. I also detect¬†broken branches, unripe sour lemons and vegetable stock. It has a funny chalk and sawdust smell to it as well. On the palate: Sweet and soft with vanilla fudge and a prickle from the barrel. The mouthfeel is quite light. Some garden herbs, like mint and thyme, could be found as well. Any fruit you ask? Yes, some slightly unripe apricots and pineapples. Finishes on a medium length and gets a little drying. Not a bad Whisky, just doesn’t achieve total balance. Feels somewhat constructed.

Tomatin 14, Port Cask, 46% vol., 2017
S: 6 G: 5 P: 2 / Color: amber / Score: 79

Sweet and dense nose. Vanilla, chewy caramel and a hand full of raisins. Broken branches again, the chalk and the violets are a little more in the background. Seem to be signature notes here? Quite sharp when nosing. Sawdust, sap and brine are also to be noted. A rounder and richer mouthfeel (higher strength my good friend) with sweet juicy forest berries. The oak is well integrated, not very complex but balance is achieved. Nice lingering oak in the longer finish. The nose is just as odd as the 12 but the taste is significantly more enjoyable.

Tomatin CS, Bourbon& Sherry, 57.5 % vol., 2017
 S: 6 G:4 P: 2 / Color: gold / Score: 82

Honey sweetness, vanilla and caramelised nuts open the experience. A lot more substantial. The obligatory violets, green branches and chalk are all here. The CS version has the least amount of bite, how does that work? I can taste sweet vanilla toffee with a rich, oily texture. Here come the fruits: Peaches, apricot (Jam), oranges all nice and ripe. Some malt sugar and bread dough in the background. The finish is long and sweet with just the slightest bit of oak clinging to your cheeks. Really a nice, pleasant surprise and kind of what I would expect the 12 year old to taste like.

Cu Bocan NAS, 46% vol., 2017
S: 5 G:5 P:4 / Color: gold / Score 83

Opens sweet and smoky with vanilla and caramel. Pears, lemons and some brine follow. Balsamic vinegar, hay, liquorice and smoked ham. Interesting combination. Of course we couldn’t do without the branches. The smoke is never overpowering, just a wisp of highland smoke in the background. Tastes of sweet peat, very smooth (could that be a good thing?). Pears again balanced with some oak. Simple but well put together. Finishes long, sweet and warming. It is almost as if this distillate likes to be peated. I seems so much more fused. Makes me wonder if not all Tomatin would have been dried over peat smoke,¬†traditionally. I am glad we had the Cu Bocan for reference. It’s really remarkable¬†how many similarities¬†these Whiskies show. A defined house style at least. Noteworthy is also that the higher the strength the better they seem to keep their composure. The branding might be done well but the Range needs some work!