Musical Dram: Kilchoman

If you have a Kilchoman on hand, please pour yourself a glass. The “Sanaig” we just tried is a “dirty Whisky” and this calls for a “dirty” Soundtrack. So here you have it: RAW POWER meets RAW POWER
The below image is now linked to the song for your convenience…your welcome 🙂

ZZ_Top_-_ZZ_Top's_Greatest_HitsArtist: ZZ Top
Track: My head’s in Mississippi

 

Good fun and big shout out to “Ruudboy”.

Mystery-Tasting 1

In this series I will be reviewing three Whiskys from different regions at a time. A little unorthodox, agreed, but very educational and fun. This is the first of six parts of an exiting journey with fellow Malt-Heads.

So here come the Malts!

First up we have from the Lowlands, the only Vatted Malt in the bunch, Douglas Laings “The Epicurian”. Glen Scotia 15 year old will represent Campeltown this time and from Islay we have the “Sanaig” from my beloved Kilchoman Distillery.

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“The Epicurean”, Douglas Laing,  46.2% vol., 2016
S:3  G:4  P:1  / Color: white whine / Score:73 
Fresh nose with some zesty lime, some zwetschgen (ohne lutz), also williams-schnapps and hints of bergamot. Pear drops and a little maltiness. Lemon cake with “Glasur”(yes this is important) and also a floral note, resembling citrus flowers. On the palate its rather thin and a little fizzy (that would be the oak). Quite simple really and semi-sec. The pears are back followed by the lemon cake, this time no “Glasur” 🙂 After adding a few drops of water It looses the freshness. The pears are getting really ripe, there is also some wet hay, some malt and a floral touch. Tastewise there is really no point in adding Water (it’s only 46% anyway). The alcohol shows more now, there are obviously some young Whiskys in there (NAS). Not a good swimmer… A tiny hint of dunnage warehouse (I love that!). The finish is short with some oak.

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Glen Scotia 15 year old, 46% vol., 2016
S:6  G:5  P:2  / Color: light amber / Score:81 
Mucho more presente! Vanilla, honey, apricots, peaches, Parma ham (the good stuff), some boullion and maggikraut (a Herb). Also a salty breeze from the sea. On the palate: This has got some volume, spicy, a little sweet and some oak coats the inside of the cheeks. Fruit compote with cloves. Not quite as complex as the nose suggests. With water some fruits get lost but there is some caramel appearing. A floral note and some green bananas have been found. The taste has changed too, it’s lighter, looses volume and spiciness. More oak which makes it quite astringent. I would not advise adding water here. The finish is medium and on the dry side. A recommendable Whisky.

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Kilchoman “Sanaig” NAS, 43% vol., 2016
S:5  G:4  P:7  / Color: light amber / Score:88               Welcome to the farm!!! Huge nose with many things you would find in the country side. Horses, tack, leather saddles, wet gravel and very intense cold bonfire. Also smoked bacon, warm fruit compote and rock candy in there. After the first sip I get smoked figs (should try that) and some raisins. Taste: Eating an ashtray (yum;), a tad oily, sweet and a little oak. Malt porridge, brine and menthol cigarettes (in Whisky that’s ok). After adding water the whole is a lot more toned down. Just a hint of smoke and the horses have run away. All that’s left is the saddles in a far corner. A little bacon is left over as well. The ashtray is just half full this time and the oiliness  and the oak are gone. Nevertheless, the best swimmer so far. Finishes long and warming with an aftertaste of old cask and, you guessed it, smoke. Love this!!!

Doubling Wood

William Grant owns three distilleries in Dufftown: The famous Glenfiddich, the lesser known Kininvie and the Balvenie. Let’s try some of the latter…

doublewoodBalvenie 12 Doublewood, 40% vol., 2015
S: 3 G: 3 P: 1 / Color: light amber / Score: 73
Delicate nose with vanilla, toffee, dried apricots and dates. There is malty notes as well and a floral overtone. On the pallate it’s really quite thin, again some vanilla and toffee. No more fruits but there is a fizzyness from the oak. With water the Whisky noses similar but there is a grassy layer appearing now. A little like cut grass in the process of drying. Feels more astringent and there is even less deph now. Long and somewhat drying finish. I would not advise adding water, but I would recommend bottling at a higher ABV though!

doublewood17Balvenie 17 Doublewood, 43% vol., 2013
S: 4 G: 3 P: 1 / Color: dark amber / Score 75
More substantial nose, this time fresh apricots and their flowers. Vanilla and toffee have come to the party as well. There is a slight vegetal note, could be some Artichoke. The flavour is a lot more settled and balanced. A tad sweeter and the oak has mellowed significantly. On the palatte the apricots are slightly green, thus a little sour. Adding water brings it closer to the 12 year old. Water makes it younger! Why doesn’t that work with me? Not many changes in flavour. A lighter mouthfeel for sure and a long, drying finish. It makes me wonder if Balvenies generally don’t swim well?

No real winner today but lets see if I can find a Song that adds a new layer to the experience.

Ben 10 (not what you think;)

Now that we talked about the Un-Independant bottlers, let’s taste some recent Benromach.

Ben10.1Benromach 10, 43% vol., 2015
S:7 G: 3 P:3 / Color: gold / Score: 85

On the nose I get a little vanilla, loads of fudge and a whiff of peat smoke. There is also a meaty side that brings to mind Parma ham, I recall finding that in Clynelish as well. A flowery note lies underneath all that. The arrival is sweet, full bodied with an oily texture, almost chewy. A wonderful strain of smoke weaves through the other flavours. So well composed, the oak is there but just rounding everything off. With water it gets fruitier, forest fruits and raisins, honey and some lemon zest. The meaty note has developed into a vegetal one, lets call it cellery stock. The smoke is ever so slight now. The nose has certainly not improved with water, lets see what the pallet says? Still very viscous and quite sweet, some more oak as well. It has turned really flat now. I would not add water to this Whisky, mind you 43% is allready as low as I like to go for drinking strengh. Medium finish that leaves you with a taste of dunnage warehouse and camp fire.

Well done Gordon&Macphail (owners of Benromach since 1993) quite the statement for a 10 year old. I really like this style a lot. Can’t wait for whats coming…

Ben10.2Benromach 10 CS, 57% vol., 2015
S:7 G:4 P:2 / Color: gold / Score: 78

This version noses quite dense and concentrated in comparison (thanks Captain Obvious @57%). Starts with some honeyed barley, maple sirup and stewed fruit. The parma ham is present but not as strong, vegetable stock and umami. A light floral note as well. Again some sweet arrival and full body but the alcohol is a little strong to detect anything else. Let’s add some water. A lot lighter now with vanilla, fudge, mirabelles accompanied by their flowers. Honey on barley toast (seriously!!!), sunflower oil, asparagus stock this time and just a tiny bit of smoke left. The ham went back to Italy it seems… Almost gooey texture now (ahaa thats what they call waxy!!!), sweet, some more oak from the cask. Medium long finish with my beloved taste of dunnage warehouse (is it just me that loves this?) but hardly any smoke this time. Less complex than the regular 10 year old. I prefer that one in most aspects.

Un-Independant Bottlers

2015-04-16 17.24.24There is a lot happening in the Whisky Industry in the last little while. One thing I have been noticing is that independent bottlers have been purchasing distilleries. Now isn’t that an oxymoron? You can’t be independant and own a distillery! Well the thing is this: Many producers are not selling casks anymore since demand for their own Whisky is high. So independent bottlers are having a hard time finding a good selection of Whisky to bottle and, more importantly, sell to customers. By having their own distillery they can now also sell their own distillate to the consumer and keep bottling other Whiskies as well. Economists call that diversification. This is all nice and well, but how will this effect the whisky market? One thing I (and many other malt lovers) have noticed is that the protectors of the traditional distillery character seem to be the independent bottlers. And that is also the artisan approach they take while producing their own spirit. They try to recreate the “destillate of old” that used to flow through the spirit-receiver decades ago. Most of them do this quite successfully. So far I have been positively surprised by Benromach (Gordon & McPhail) and Edradour (Signatory). Ian Macleod owns Glengoyne and Tamdhu which seems to have inprooved lately. Adelphi has started up Ardnamurchan and Wemyss is well on the way with their Kingsbarns Distillery. I am looking forward to tasting their Single Malts once they have “come of age”. Lets hope that in turn, the big players will give the traditional approach to destilling some more thought again…

Musical Drams: Glenrothes

Get yourself a glass and pour a heavily sherried Glenrothes (Adelphi’s 6 year old is highly recommended). I must say, it was hard to fit this with a song! A lot of powerful songs just didn’t have suitable lyrics. So I ended up choosing an Instrumental track. No relaxing this time. Swash-buckle your seatbelt and get ready for take off…

284761746_c8ca9c48d3Artist: Klaus Badelt
Track: He’s a Pirate

Not the pace to enjoy a whisky at but it reflects the character of the Whisky really well, I think.

The Beauty in the Beast

This should be interesting. We have two independent bottlings at over 66% vol., one is 6 and the other 8 years old. I am not sure what is more frightening, the fact that they are so young or that they are both extremely high in strengh? Or maybe both…;)

There is quite some interresting stuff happening here: The newmake seems to be filled in the cask at unusually high volume, this in turn can suggest the following:

1. The cuts are made extra early to achieve a clean, round destillate.
2.  It is planned to age the Whisky for a long time, thus needing more margin for the Angels-Share.
3. They are planning to dilute the Whisky before bottling and will therefore have greater outturn.

I would like to commend Adelphi and A.D.Rattray for the boldness to state the age of these bottles. As we will see later, there is no reason to hide behind an NAS. If the Whisky is ready, for peat sake, bottle it at F***ing 3 years. I would just like to know!
Well lets have a wee tasting…shall we?

Glenrothes, 6 years, 2013, Sherry Butt, 66.7% vol., Adelphi Selection
S: 7 G: 4 P: 1 / Color: mahogany / Score: 92

On the nose I get big Sherry, lots of dried fruit, raisins, prunes and some cherries (ever had dried cherries? delicious). Sherry-Monster in da House! Quite sweet with a nice touch of marzipan also some roasted nuts, perhaps even caramelized almonds. Some hay followed the appropriate farmy notes. Lovely! Taste: WoW, stunning arrival, huge volume (66.7%?), cherries and a nice round touch of oak. Very mellow considering the strengh, drinking this one neat is no problem at all! With water I get more Sherry on the nose but the punch in the arrival is gone. Noses quite flat now. On the palatte it turns more oaky and the youth becomes more obvious. There is also a sourness appearing in the arrival. Please do not water this baby, if you are scared of the strengh, let someone else try this amazing dram!

Glenrothes, 8 years, 2015, Sherry Butt, 66.1% vol., Cask Nr. 10238, A.D. Rattray,     S: 4 G: 2 P: 1 / Color: Pale Gold / Score: 50 (max.)

Oh no, this is far from similar. Spirity with a off-putting note of acetone (?) Where could that come from? …I can’t put my finger on it. Ha, possibly some foreshots! This one is extremely hard to nose at full strengh…boah… I can’ find anything pleasent in this nose. Unfortunately. The taste is sweet but with a sharp arrival, a tiny bit of sherry (5th fill?) and some barley coming through. There is an oaky dryness as well. Very light body. All to simple. Medium finish just do to the strengh. This cask was a waste of destillate 🙁 Lets hope it swimms at least. With water I get some lemon, some hay but the rest is so far off, I don’ even want to nose this any longer. On the palatte it is a little less sharp with a tad more Sherry and some oak. Its a lot more settled now but far from anything I would recommend. I can only hope it will improve with oxydization (low hopes;) Sorry A.D.Rattray. Try again…

Wow! That was quite the experience. Adelphi wins this one hands down. Maybe it’s my own age (or lack therove) that makes me like this style of malt. And now, as we do it here at The Whisky Agents: Music please! What powerful song will we match this baby up with?

DIY-Whisky Part II

IMG_0777With our 200L of wort that had fermented nicely, we made our way to a local farm distillery. He had never distilled whisky before but seemed quite exited to try. Obviously he had no clue to where to make the cuts and at what temperature the still had to be set at. Also, he had never heard of the concept of double distilling. I had jotted down all the information I got at the destilleries we visited and some info I collected from the web. The first run went exactly as planned with the spirit having an acohol content of ~25 % vol. It wasn’t until the second run when things got a little odd. Usually the forshots come in at the highest strengh (~80% vol.) and then there is a gradual drop until you cut off the faints at around 50% vol. The first bit coming out of the still was just a little over 58% vol. and the final output was around 51% vol.  Even the destiller had never seen that happen before and could not make any sense of it. So in the end we filled the barrel with newmake of 53% vol. We had purchased a 10L barrel rebuilt from an ex-bourbon cask. The cooper did an amazing job, the only problem is that we can not age it any longer than a year in the baby-barrel. There is just to much contact with the wood and the whisky would taste gross. So after all, we will not hold our own Whisky in hands but merely a Spirit, since it will not have aged the necessary three years in an oak cask. Not really a big deal, since the goal was to go through the process of making Whisky and that we did. Our cask is now resting in my cellar and we have sampled it twice now. The color has darkened significantly but the destillate is very young (obviously;) As soon as we decide to bottle the spirit I will publish some tasting notes. If I’m lucky I will find something to compare it to (possibly it would be better not to find something too similar…if you know what I mean).

I highly recommend trying  this at home! You will be rewarded with insight that very few people have been able to experience. Make sure to check legal recuirements in your country of residence. Have fun!