Monday, March 31, 2014

Ardbeg Auriverdes scores on the Ardbeg day 31.5.2014

The next Ardbeg day is approaching. If you recall, the last year it was named the Ardbog day but I guess it was not a lasting tradition. Now it is about Ardbeg again. The day is 31th of May. Around that time (or during that day) the next Ardbeg is released to hit the goals again. This time it is called Auriverdes, auri for the golden whisky and verde for the green bottle. Also, there seems to be a some kind of football theme present. As with Ardbeg, it is not just a ordinary soccer but the peated version of it: Peat Football. They will be arranging some such events around the globe. As for Finland, we are also known to swamp soccer, check this Google results for photos:

So, as usual with the Ardbeg, there should be a plenty of peat in the dram. Also Ardbeg tells about the toasted cask lids, that should result giving a mocha coffee flavor and some creamy vanilla. It does sound indeed strange, but of course – as with all Ardbegs – I do wait with anticipation to get to taste this one too. It also follows the rough strength of previous special editions: 49.9%.

Photo linked from site:

That site also has more info about this one. I especially like the tasting notes they already have:

Taste: Coffee grounds pass to smoked root vegetables, while maple-cured bacon collides with hot-smoked salmon

Finish:  A lingering, smoky vanilla note

Check their full article here:

Also some Dutch site has a label photo and their blog entry:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Blackadder Smoking Islay Raw Cask October/2013 sherry finish

20140314-20140314175817-IMG_3742_small This one is very similar to the one I blogged about a bit earlier. This is also a mystery dram, but some information about it is given out: This is 58.2%, from a single Oak Hogshead (cask BA2013/451) and it is a bottle 299/370. This one also has a lots of sediment present in the bottle and based on the previous one, expectations are rising again.
The color does not reveal it’s sherry finishing. It is very similarly pale as it’s brother. This dram needs to breath in a Glencairn for a while. It contains a lots of alcohol in it’s nose, but also plenty of sweet smoke is present. My nose is overwhelmed by these two characteristics, so there isn’t much need to keep on continuing the nosing.

Palate strikes with power, rawness, oiliness and sweet smokiness. There are knights and lords, maids and dominas, slaves and plenty of weapons of mass destruction. The sherry finishing adds to complexity, when compared to it’s brother but otherwise it is not much present here. There isn’t the big dragon smoke, but this time it is like the burning village. Still raw and harsh, but it will not slay you on the sight.

On the second mouthful the palate is much more oilier and the sherry fruits find their way to the surface. Strong and deadly, but very enjoyable like the waiting for the final battle just ended and the action commences. This is also a big experience. There is character, there is fear but also a extremely strong taste that abides will with the high voltage. 

20140314-20140314175518-IMG_3736_small Adding some water needs to be tested as well. After the all out attack, the result is much more easy. The oiliness walks in as a tidal wave and flushes through the mouth with a force. The oil burns with a thick smoke, that provides a great experience: smoky peaty Islay dram. It is great to see these whiskies to hold true to their name: Smoking Islay. They really are special and powerful. Something I enjoy enormously!

And yes, the added water works here. The base is a fiery ancient red dragon that needs some taming so you can ride it and enjoy it fully! Once the glass is empty, it is like there is a bonfire set in it!
20140314-20140314180529-IMG_3762_small I know Blackadder wants to keep this a mystery, but I’d love to know what this actually is. My guess is, that this would be Octomore, since the glass has similar scents in the end but this is much more raw than the Octomores usually..

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Irish Midleton Redbreast 12YO Single Pot Still 40%

20140316-20140316133519-IMG_3807_small I must admit, I have not been too keen about Irish whiskies. I’ve had my experiences with Jameson and some others too. But usually good Irish seldom walks onto my way. I do prefer to drink Irish coffee, but for that purpose you really don’t want to use anything special.

Now I got a sample of Redbreast from a friend. I had to find out a bit more about this whiskey and the distillery. Wikipedia article gives out some details and facts.

The nose is surprisingly soft and good! I might have thought this is a soft bourbon, had I not already searched for the information. There seems to be a lots of similarities towards bourbons, than towards Scottish drams. But not bad, not bad at all. Very pleasant nose, with nuts and spices.

The palate continues the experience. I am surprised, how easy this is to drink. There is enough complexity and taste, spices and citrus fruits which don’t attack on sight. Instead this has a long finish and taste remains good. There is some bitterness and hints that this is not a dram, but a whiskey.
This would be a nice whiskey to accompany for the evening. Easy, light, tasty and yet had enough body to carry on. You don’t get drained into too deep with this one, but there is enough character to keep it interesting for a longer period of time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wemyss “White Chocolate Torte” 24 YO Tormore 1988

Wemyss is a interesting independent bottler in Scotland. They have provided me with some interesting experiences, notably Peat Chimney (article yet pending) and Billowing Embers. I also had a chance to have a interesting talk with their representative at the Uisge 2014 in Helsinki. So based with all that, my expectations are high with 24YO whisky. I also like the way Wemyss creates stories and names their bottling. There are already some feelings involved, before you get to taste it the first time.


Does the naming affect the nose and the palate? I say yes, since when they have given some reference it is a lot easier to find that scent and taste in the dram. There is freshness present, and of course the while chocolate cake. Raisins and fruits. Very delicious cake that ought to be really sweet!
The palate.. It is like you just had a slice of that cake! I rarely have thing strong effects on the taste, but this is really the spot on! While chocolate is strongly present with fruits and sweetness. Yogurt raisins also describe some of tastes really well!

And the finish is long, lasting and filled with white chocolate andd more yogurt raisins.
I don’t think I’ve ever tasted Tormore, so I cannot compare this one for the normal range they have. This is not a smoky dram, instead this one draws it’s sources from the Speyside. But there is enough complexity and taste to make this one a really enjoyable whisky! Some bitterness and lack of really strong tastes can keep people at a distance, but this one would do really nicely in early phases of tastings.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Blackadder Smoking Islay Raw Cask July/2013

Blackadder Raw Cask is always something special. They are always nonfiltered and bottled at cask strength. On top of that, there are also some sediments of the cask inside bottle. What I also love, is that they usually choose very good and special hogsheads for bottling – so these are very often (if not always?) single casks. Oily and smoky, what is a better way to start tasting this one? Blackadder recommends adding some water drops into this dram, which I must test a bit later.

First, about the bottle. This is a mystery dram again. Blackadder does not reveal what distillery is used when making Smoking Islay. They don’t state the age either. Just that it is very smoky and very peaty malt dram. This has been bottled July 2013 (Cask BA2013/449, Oak Hogshead) and this is the bottle 133/318. The strength is pleasantly just under 60 (59.9%).

The Nose is raw and filled with alcohol. Strong alcohol. Once, or if, you get past that you will find there a peat burning. Smoky and peaty defines this very well.  I don’t expect very complicated world here, but instead something that does it’s business really good.

20140314-20140314180638-IMG_3767_smallThe taste takes me far away. There is a immense smokiness present immediately! It is a coal burning in a mouth, smoking and smoldering. Peatfire is strong and everywhere. For me, this is a delightful experience! Take a second small sip, let your mouth water it down and there is sweetness with the taste. Pepper, very much oil and lots of smoke. The oil carried the smoke and peat along the mouth, making this one a strong, powerful and a efficient dram! The taste is amazing, if you like this kind of dragon’s breath! There are no place for pixies or elves here, this is a dram drank by ancient beasts and wild sorcerers.

Just to experiment, let’s add a few drops of water to the remaining portion. The beast withdraws, but there is still a powerful army on the battlefield. But I must admit, I think the added water brings out more rangers and scouts to the open. It shows the diversity of the invading army, making it more complex and less scary in the process. In the end, you can hear the bards play flutes and sing about the victory.

Which one I do prefer? It really depends. I do love the kick, smoke and savageness the raw, non-watered, version produces. However, to get more out of this, water should be added.

This is an experience. An adventure. This is about confronting the huge dragon, and surviving to bolster about it!  I dare you to try it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

OMC Ardbeg 36YO: 60th Anniversary Bottling

I must say, it is not often when I get to taste more aged smoky Islay drams. And especially older Ardbegs are a rarity in my world. When I got a chance to acquire a sample of 36 years old Ardbeg, and the price was reasonable – relatively – so it was a straw I had to catch. I am a huge fan and enthusiast of smoky and peaty whisky, so the expectations are considerably high.
20140314-20140314175128-IMG_3728_small Small sample bottles are a two-way blade. Is 3cl enough for you to enjoy it? Purchasing a whole bottle would be a risky game, in case you don’t enjoy it. Has the sample gotten already a lots of oxygen? What if you want to share that with somebody? You do you get enough to get the real taste, or not? However, my conclusion is that I rather take a small sample, than forfeit it totally. When it comes to learning new tastes, getting to have some rarity in your Glencairn or just experimenting the samples are a great, and less expensive, way to move forward.
There is a lots of information in the label: The Old Malt Cask Commemorative bottling Ardbeg Aged 36 years, 60th Anniversary Bottling 43.5%. Searching around, I found that this has been distilled 1973 and bottled 2009. There has been only 94 bottles, and the price has been quite high.
But going down to the business. The nose. The nose is amazing. It is kind, aged, contains lots of wood, some fruits and sweetness. Thinking that these malts saw the daylight 1973, it is amazing to dig deep into the history. Very pleasant, very smooth and contains a classic manners. Nothing like Ardbegs these days, I would not recognize the distillery from the nose.

20140315-20140315143851-IMG_3783_small The first mouthful, reveals some Ardbeg elements but yet it is very far away from the modern version. It has spice, sweetness, absolutely no bitterness: this is extra smooth with smoothness on top of it! This is something you’d think an well aged whisky would taste like! There is no bite, just royal dignity and honor. The spice and the taste afterwards lingers in the mouth with style. Second and third mouthfuls only deepen the experience. This is a dram of Kings and rulers. While this is not Ardbeg as I have gotten to know it, this has a lots of story and history bound into it.

There is spice, fruits and lots of wood. Not wood like in those wood-whiskies (Darach-Ur, Triple-Wood etc) but this has much more in it. There is not just the oaken vanilla, but oak itself. Dark, ancient oak, that has seen wars and happiness. It has been bound to the barrels for years and eons, it has sailed the seas and came home. Finally it entered as a barrel that contained a excellent dram those Scottish wizards made.
20140315-20140315143934-IMG_3786_small In the after taste, the oak is strongly present with the spice. The taste lingers on the mouth for a long time and provides a pleasant feeling.There is nothing harsh in here, just pure whisky heaven. While I do love strong and hard whisky, this one gets a special mentioning in my books. One of the best I’ve tasted, showing me a totally different world in whisky tastes. The story adds to it, yes, but so it should. This is not a laboratory, this is the world of men.
I am very glad I got my hands onto this sample.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Big Smoke – more name than heavy dingdongs

20140106-20140106130824-IMG_2896_smallDuncan Taylor is a company that I have valued during my whisky hobby. They produce very nice bottlings, rare casks and delicious products like the NC2 series. So I was excited to see what this Big Smoke is. Unfortunately I did not remember, that this one’s big bother (60%) was in one tasting and it didn’t receive too many supporting votes. So this is the 40% version.

What they say, is that the Big Smoke is “a blend malt whiskies from some of the islands most
iconic distilleries, and then bottled at a relatively young age in its most rugged
form.” They also mention that Caol Ila, Bruichladdich and Ardbeg are present in this one.

The nose is surprisingly good! Perhaps it was the six isles that has tuned my nose into right compass direction, perhaps it is the air but it is a pleasant nose! Sweet, yes, smoky, no. Peat is present and yes, it is not a bad combination.

The taste is too watered down. There is some peat fire, some smoke and some character but I do feel it is kind mixed with too much water in here. There is sweetness and a bit of fire in there, but the taste disappears far too quickly, leaving only a burning alcohol behind. This one lacks body, dingdongs and force. Occasionally I do get a Ardbeg sensation in breathing, which is a good thing. But face it – the warrior got too many hits and it can’t stand on it’s own feet anymore.

This is one of the biggest disappointments I’ve had with whiskies. Had I gotten that as a gift, it would be ok – but when you buy it.. No, you want more to that price. It is far better than many of blends, but I find myself comparing it to the Six Isles and I do think it has more body than this one.

The bitterness is the taste that will stay on your mouth for a long time, after the last sip.

However, after I did write the article I let some time pass by. It was proven, that this was actually a ok scotch to be enjoyed in more larger quantities. So I must say, that this is actually a good drinking dram – just make sure you have doubles in your glass. Larger mouthfuls also do well with this one. When tasting whisky I usually use small sips, and it does not do any good for this one. A good highwayman portion will do nicely and you’ll get a nice mild smoky sensation much more present with this one.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kilchoman News: Loch Gorm 2014 coming out early April!

Kilchoman sent an email newsletter about upcoming Loch Gorm 2014. Photo is also by Kilchoman.

I was really fond of the Kilchoman 2013, so I am waiting to get this onto my Glencairn for tasting.

In the first week of April we will be releasing the next edition of Loch Gorm. This full ex-sherry cask matured release was filled into fresh Oloroso sherry butts in 2009 and bottled in spring 2014, which creates a unique balance of classic Kilchoman character and rich Oloroso sherry influence.
This is the second Loch Gorm Single Malt to be released and only a limited number will be available worldwide. Each release is differentiated by the distillation and bottling dates on the front of the bottle and carton.

As you may already know this range is named after the famously peaty loch in front of the distillery; Kilchoman draws the water for Loch Gorm from the burn that runs into the loch.

Nose: mixed preserved fruit, particularly lemon and rich peat smoke
Palate: dry cereal flavour develops in honey and biscuit with lingering peat
Finish: richly sweet and smoky