Mystery-Tasting 2

This is the second part of our series, where we explore three Malts from different Regions.

This months picks are: From the Highlands a Fettercairn (formerly “Old”) then a Kilkerran from Campeltown (the first standard 12 year old should come out this month) and last but not least a Ledaig (from Tobermory distillery) representing the Islands. Sounds like a good variety! Let’s get dramming…

imageFettercairn Fior, Original Bottling, 42% vol., 2016
S:4 G:3 P:1 / Color: light amber / Score:76
The nose starts quite floral with some Vanilla and a little Lemon. Dried Apricots and some classic Sherry notes. Then I get a salty breeze on a rocky beach, on the east coast of Scotland. 😉 The arrival is rather oaky and sweet-ish, a lot more simple then the nose would suggest. I also find some malt cookies (if that exists) in there. With water it gets a tad fruitier, some Oranges and a few Pears on the nose. Taste wise it gets a little sour and less sweet in the process. The feel of the oak has almost disappeared. The finish is medium long and a little drying. Could be better composed, if the owners would really care. Oh well…

IMG_1060 Kilkerran “WIP 7”, Original Bottling, 46% vol.
S:5 G:3 P:2 / Color: gold / Score:85
Big Sherry nose with a hint of old wood cask. This is starting good. Love this straight-forwardness. A handful of raisins and dried figs. Orange marmalade and some Grandmas toffee. Behind all that is a whisp of smoke woven in, beautiful. The arrival is sweet and some good oak is there as well. I like this mouthfeel, kind of like melting a piece of milk chocolate in your mouth (a Swiss one). Good solid composition, not complex but well done. When I add water I get some dried Grass, a smoking fire in the distance and some candied fruit. Remember the smell of sitting in an old leather chair? …Yes, thats it. It’s in there! The water has unbalaced the taste, still nice but less intergrated. Sweet and a little oak is present. The finish is medium, staying sweet with a nice aftertaste of dunnage warehouse, just lovely!
Can’t wait to try the first standard bottle.

IMG_1057Ledaig, Gordon&McPhail, 46% vol., 1998-2014
S:4 G:4 P:3 / Color: white whine / Score:84
Interesting farmy nose, not as intense as the Kilchoman we had in this spot earlier. Cow stable, straw and hay. A little cold smoke (just faint), some ham, pears and unripe pineapples. I also find a whiff of salty Seabreeze by the ocean (could this be on the Island of Mull?). Taste: WOW!!! Ever had a farm in your mouth? Incredible. Me like… 🙂 Quite unique profile. Very smooth but a little thin. Some wet wood, cold smoke and bonfire ashes. Any fruits you ask? Well…Gooseberries! Water tones down the nose a lot, some citrus notes come out though. On the palate we get more smoke. A coal pile and more cold ashes. Not many animals left but interestingly the texture gets chewy! Definitely worth exploring this with water. Ends medium long and a little dry, nice lingering aftertaste of musty warehouse. Well done Gordon. Well done McPhail. A Whisky that will give you a new experience every time…

The Mystery-Tasting

cropped-The-Whisky-Agents_Logo.pngThis post will be in German, since it only applies to residents of Switzerland. Sorry, rest of the the world…

Vor kurzem haben wir mit einem aufregenden, neuen Format gestartet: Die Mystery-Tasting Serie: Es handelt sich dabei um ein exklusives Tasting-Erlebnis das auf sechs Monate ausgelegt ist. Jedem Teilnehmer wird monatlich ein “Flight” (Tasting-Runde) mit drei Whiskysamples zur Verkostung zugeschickt. Diese kann jeder individuell verkosten und danach auf dem entsprechenden Post diskutiert werden. Interaktives Whisky-Tasting!

Wenn Ihr euch dafür interessiert, schickt mir doch ein email an: andy@thewhiskyagents.com  Ich lasse euch dann gerne weitere Infos zukommen. Es handelt sich um eine private Gruppe, welche die Welt des Whiskys genauer erforschen möchte.

Ich freue mich auf reges Interesse.
Aber Vorsicht! Die Teilnehmerzahl ist limitiert.

Liebe Grüsse

Andy aka “The Whisky Agent”

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.