The Laphroaig Brothers

The best selling Islay export I hear. I could go for a Laphy anytime but it’s not at the top of my personal Islay list. Today I will compare the original 10 year old to a 15 year old bottling by Clan Denny for Divo. Let’s see if they can change my mind…

laphroaig10Laphroaig 10 , 40% vol., 2017
S: 3 G: 3 P: 5 / Color: light amber / Score: 85

Noses quite dense and thick, brine and seaweed give way to some citrus fruits. All of that is of course smothered with cold smoke, ashes and iodine bandages. Some, wet tarry ropes are present and if you manage to get past all those hefty aromas you could find some vanilla hiding in a corner. The mouthfeel is oily, which I like a lot. Some anise, liquorice and a just a hint of Demerara sweetness. Good, light wood influence and of course ash, tar and a gulp of ocean water. Not overly complex but good Laphroaig the way we know and like it.

LaphyLaphroaig 15, The Clan Denny, 54.6% vol., 2016
S: 5 G: 2 P: 4 / Color: white wine / Score: 87

A lot fresher and brighter on the nose with lots of freshly made tablets (Scotch caramel, you should try it). Ripe, juicy lemons and surprisingly the peat is not to obvious on the nose. Interesting! Tastes sweet, thick and almost chewy. After this unusual start come signature the ashes and spices. Again anise, liquorice and additional cardamom and chilli for good mesure. Medicinal sweetness;) This is Laphroaig alright! Not as coastal as the 10 year old but really a great perspective. I suspect a good first-fill bourbon barrel had something to say. Like this!

The Clan Denny is somehow more intriguing. I will try to find a track to accompany this wee dram. Will publish shortly…

Whisky Castle Vertigo

For Christmas I received these three Whisky samples from my son. What a wonderful boy he is… They came from the Whisky Castle in Switzerland. It is actually just around the corner from where I live and yet I have never tried their wares before. Well, over the holidays was the time to do so. There where three different expressions in the gift set:
Family Reserve, Double Wood and Smoke Barley.

Family Reserve, 43% vol., Cask Nr. 17
S:1  G:1  P:1  / Color: amber / Score: 59

Starts with a hint of raisins, possibly ? A little whiney and quite a  lot of new make spirit on the nose, there is also a little metallic note which could come from the youthfulness of the distillate. There is also something rubbery but this time not in a good way. On the palate it is dry with some oak, cardboard, sawdust and you can really feel the that the whisky is young and spirity. Quite thin and bland. Finishes medium but on a sour note.

Double Wood, 43% vol., Cask Nr. 462
S:1 G:1 P:1 / Color: light amber / Score: 59

Similar nose (sadly), rubbery raisins, spirit and maybe a tiny hint of vanilla. Tastes flat, bland and the spirit shows with a little oak. I am trying hard to get something more out of this but there isn’t. The finish is medium and sour just as above. Seems to me like it’s the same stuff just a tad younger.

Smoke Barley, 43% vol., Cask Nr. 502
S:2 G:1 P:1 / Color: light gold / Score: 60

Vanilla and an off-putting vegetal note, could be broccoli with cheese… New make and a little lemon to be fair but smoke? Nope. Tastes a little sweeter, thin with a little oak. And that’s all folks! It’s almost an art to make a Whisky this unexpressive. Ends medium but a little less sour, so that’s an improvement I guess. I am missing the smoke here. Maybe the name is a question: Smoke Barley? Yes, please!

Well, I am a quite disappointed. What to do with this?
I have an idea: Let’s compare these with the spirit we made in 2015 (earlier post DIY-Whisky) and see how we fare…

Mean Amar

MEAN AMAR, around 53% vol.
10L ex-bourbon micro cask
S:3 G:2 P:1 / Color: amber / Score: 65

Vanilla, spirity with hints of fruit schnapps (I think the distiller didn’t clean out the still properly) and after a while some rising bread. Some barley sugar and a slight hint of something umami. Taste wise: Sweet with some good oak (big THANK YOU to the cooper) and of course some spirit feels (it is only one year old we don’t claim this to be Whisky) but it has a nice chewy texture. Finishes medium long and gets drying with a little oak.

Well, this is motivating. Even though the Whisky Castle has not been a huge success it makes me think of doing some more of our own experiments. Maybe we should look into getting ourselves a license…

Mystery-Tasting 6

This flight will conclude the Mystery-Tasting Series for 2016. I hope we can finish this year with a bang. From Speyside we will have Glenfarclas 18 year old. From the Highlands a Clynelish with the working title “Waffles and Ice Cream” and from Islay a Bunnahabhain from our friends at Adelphi. We should be able to find some gems here. Let’s see…

IMG_1111Glenfarclas 18, Original Bottling, 43% vol.
S:5 G:3 P:1, Colour: dark amber, Score: 83

The Glenfarclas-sherry-arrival, just the way I like it. Christmas cake (how appropriate) and spices with almonds. Some over ripe pears and some orange peel, or make that candied orange peel since the Pannetone is just around the corner. On the palate it starts with spicy oak then becomes medium sweet and creamy. Really quite dry and with compliments from the cask. Not as fruity as the nose would suggest but well balanced. By adding water the whole gets younger and lighter. The concept is lost and the oak feels more. Don’t do it. A higher strength would have helped. Finishes medium long and drying, could this be European oak?😋

imageClynelish, Wemyss Malts, 54.2% vol.
“Waffles and Cream”, 1997-2015
S:5 G:3 P:1, Colour: gold, Score: 88

On the nose I get vanilla, floral notes and some yeast. As weird as it sounds I do get something creamy. Could be the ice cream they are talking about. Peaches, Apricots and minimal oak. Also pencil shavings and old school shoe polish. There is a savoury note in there and just a whisp of smoke. It tastes sweet and round with a wonderful creamy mouth feel. I don’t find any waffles but maybe it should rather be “Peaches and Cream”. With water it gets fresher, more lemons but the general profile remains. Lots of tinned fruit and and cream. Looses some depth but it’s worth playing with water. The finish is long with good lingering oak. Quality liquid from Wemyss.

IMG_1059Bunnahabhain 11, Adelphi Selection, 56.4% vol.
S:3 G:4 P:4, Colour: light amber, Score: 85

Mmm bonfire, brine and juicy lemons. I like! There is something nutty and definitely umami. A tiny floral note and maybe some green tomatoes. Quite strong nosing at 56.4. Taste: Spicy and dense arrival, sweet but drying. Quite oily and savory with well balanced peat. Some quality oak, ash and lemons. Easy drinking, even at full strength. But just for fun: Water please! Lemons in brine, that’s it for the nose. Less immediate but still oily and dense. Less spicy but the oak remains present. Holds up to a lot of dilution. Long and warming finish with some tingling in the cheeks. Some dunnage taste arriving late. Once again Adelphi delivers…

Mystery-Tasting 5

We are getting towards the end of this Endeavour. Interesting Flight today. Some surprises and a no brainer. We have a Glen Order from the Highlands a Bowmore from Islay and a Springbank representing Campeltown. We will have them in this order. Lets go!

imageGlen Ord, Clydesdale, 57.2% vol., 2006-2013
S:5 G:3 P:1, Colour: white wine, Score: 82

Starts fresh and floral with some grassy notes as well. Peaches and cream emerge in the follow-up. Some good oak, leather and some shoe polish. Possibly some artichokes and certainly an umami taste. How about artichoke stock. Creamy mouthfeel with a sweet and fizzy introduction. Vanilla, Lemons, limes and again the flavours from a quality cask. Quite singular but most definitely a new perspective. Long finish with a lot of oak. Great work by Clydsdale (Blackadder) which have surprised me more than once with some excellent bottlings.

Bowmore, Malts of Scotland, 46% vol., 2001-2015IMG_1056  S:2 G:3 P:4, Colour: white wine, Score: 81

Fresh lemony beginning which moves right on to the coal smoke. A walk on Islay with kelp and seaweed and the remains of a bonfire. Some green branches and after the first taste I get some peaches and raw asparagus from the garden. On the palate: Fizzy and sweet with a great creamy mouthfeel. Surprisingly I find some peaches and apricots. The whole thing gets a bit thin after a while but its well balanced. Medium to long finish with hints of oak and rancio ( thanks to Alex Bruce I now know the “professional” word for a dunnage flavour). A few more years and it might have been a lot more complex. Whisky needs time…

IMG_1108Springbank 12 CS, Original Bottling, 54.1% vol.
S:4 G:3 P:2, Colour: gold, Score: 90

Oh…quite different here. Caramel, stock, brine and oranges on the nose. Really dense and heavy nose with lots of layers. Take your time… After the firs taste I get barley sugar, pineapple, ripe peaches, marmalade, cured ham with cantaloupes (how nice is that ;)) I’m not done yet: caramelised chestnuts and a wisp of smoke. Initially sweet with a lovely peppery oak. Oily mouthfeel with blackcurrant, ripe cantaloupe, candied ginger, grated orange peel and premium shoe polish (if that exists). Wonderful mouthfeel! Long and smooth finish with some great rancio. So nice to see that some distilleries don’t change their style just to make an extra buck. Consistency wins in the long run especially if the whisky is this good. Keep up the good work…

Musical Dram: Benromach

A worthy winner. Solid performance, classic appeal and just right for any time of the day… (…after Lunch, we’re not alcoholics! Are we?). I know just the song to match this profile. Mind you, the boys in the clip are not performing quite like our Whisky here but I am sure they would feel alot better after having one 😂

Artist: Dire Straits
Track: Walk Of Life




Mystery-Tasting 4

Here we go with the fourth session for October. A flight with quite some differences.  Hailing from the Highlands we have a Glen Garioch. They have recently re-branded their range. We’ll check what the spirit thinks of that. Our Speysider is a Benromach which is always pleasant in my books. Scapa, from the island of Orkney, is not very common and I have yet to try one myself. Lets start with that one!

IMG_1062Scapa, Gordon&McPhail, 43% vol., 2001-2016
S:3 G:3 P:1, Colour: white wine, Score: 78

Starts with lots of fresh fruit: I find ripe lemons, pears and kiwi accompanied by some vanilla. Sugar cookies and some yeast. Also a slight mineral accent, wet rocks by the sea. Smell the ocean breeze? Initial oak attack on the palate, medium sweet anf drying, lemons again. A stack of drying hay some Marzipan and oddly, sweet Mustard. The finish is rather short with lots of tannins from the wood. Some rebellious 3rd fill…😂

IMG_1113Benromach 15, Original Bottling, 43% vol.
S:5 G: 5 P:2, Colour: amber, Score: 87

Off the bat it’s quite sweet and full, some barley sugar followed by brine. Sweet and salty is always a favorite! Beeswax, a little new leather and moss in the forest. I find all sorts of jams as well: Apricot, peach and my beloved orange marmalade. The mouth feel is creamy and start with a peppery catch. Good wood and lots of it. Medium sweet a little drying, compliments to the oak. Malted barley and some candied oranges. This one gets smoother and more palatable the second time around. Once in a while I encounter a Whisky that seems to improve with every sip, I do think that’s an asset. Slight hint of smoke and a salty breeze from the ocean…How poetic! Finishes long and leaves your mouth wanting more. What I always enjoy with Benromach is the lingering aftertaste of a traditional dunnage warehouse. Quite spectacular, as expected. G&M are doing what I would like to see more often: Single malt with character produced the traditional way! Big thums-up from me.

IMG_1109Glen Garioch 12, Original Bottling, 48% vol.
S:4 G:3 P:2, Colour: light copper, Score: 86

The nose is intense and somewhat heavy. Full and spicy. Dark fruits abound: Plums, figs maybe some forest berries, some rising bread in the background. After a few minutes the fruit disappears and I get much more substantial aromas. Some game stock and cured bacon from a backwoods butchery. This nose is a meal! Could I order a side of curly fries?  😂 …back to work! Tastes sweet and spicy. There is a zippy and quite peppery oak but that remains pleasant. Dried apricots and seaweed. There’s something to try! In the background there is a trace of strong Ethiopian coffee. The finish is medium long and getting dryer.

I like this heavy nose a lot too bad the palate doesn’t deliver. Still, very solid uncommercial style…