Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ardbeg Day 2014

Today is the annual international Ardbeg Day. Last year this special occasion was called the Ardbog Day, but I recon that was just a sidestep in a history and a short break in time and space continuum that was corrected after..beforewards.

This year's Ardbeg Day dram is the Auriverdes - which I did not unfortunately had a pleasure to get to know today nor earlier. I'll get back to that whisky when I have it in my glencairn.

Enjoy your Ardbeg - and let it take to the new experiences and unravel stories of smoke and tar covered legends!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Blackadder Peat Reek Raw Cask will take you beyond any event horizon .. with a cunning plan

20140526-20140526162053-IMG_4251_small Blackadder. The name rings a bell. He was the man who sold you this map – for a good price. He was the one, he just couldn’t take the easy journey because of his lungs and heart. “it is easy coin. Just equip for a two week hike and find the lair. It would be a shame to left all the treasure just to wait for anybody random average peasant”. Yes, I did buy the story. It cost me all my accumulated wealth – but he was kind enough to sell me some gear with a lower price. So what do I have now. I have a sword, that is not made of steel. The first hit made it break – it was a decoration. I have a shield, that seems to be sturdy enough. My rations were old and wormy. I should have realized to turn back, before it was too late. But I was too greedy. I followed the map, starting to believe there is nothing. I was wrong. There is a treasure. Lots of it. But the bad side, is that I walked in smiling. There is, of course, a guardian. A huge dragon who has played with me and lured me into a corner. I am afraid, this one is not as easily fooled as the Smaug was. This one will have a hot fire breath that has some acid in it too. One last breath and a the final spell in my pocket is about to do it’s “here comes nothing”.

The raw punch with gentle rage

This is not the first Blackadder Raw Cask I’ve tasted. There has been a few earlier and one thing is very common with these: they all bite and spit peatfire like a ancient dragon of old tales. This one’s nose is not an exception. It is filled with peatfire, fueled with rage and administrated kindly like a Gozilla’s smash – with claws. No wonder, it is strong (60.5%) and most likely it is untamed Caol Ila. Bottle is 114 out of 259 but I have no idea of the cask number. Ref is PR2013-5. Single Oak Hoghshead.

Oily taste hits you before you even realize it

The taste is – of course – strong but it is less furious as the nose. It is just a full salvo of English bowmen at the Agincourt – all hitting the same unfortunate French squad. Oil gets poured off the wall, and it will set itself on fire while making it’s way down towards the unfortunate. It burns hot, it releases lots of smoke and it will make you feel alive again – once you survive the first hit. A truly massive experience again! Oiliness, vanilla, spices and peatfire with smoke clearly are the four tactics used to build this dram of mass devouring.


The Finish.. 

once you live through it all.. is pleasant and oily. There is peat and smoke, lingering fire that yet burns for a long time. It is indeed to my liking – on a certain mood for something that provides a lasting experience.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Nameless One walks again in the name of the Mystery

“What can change the nature of the man?” was the question whispered to the infinity a long time ago. The Nameless One was trapped on a eternal quest to find out who he was. Traveling through realities, discovering unbelievable events and creatures he went on. Fighting his way from the lowest of hells into highest of planes, he looked and seek for the answer. Amongst his journeys, he happened to pick up a bottle that was out of his world. There was no known origin, no known training nor relationship. It was like he was, without a past and future, without a history. Just existing in the moment and providing experiences. The world changes around these two travelers. There is a dram and a man. They have characteristics that will make them live again and again. This is more than just a bottle, it has a story waiting to be told..

20140526-20140526163315-IMG_4288_small The Nameless One is a true mystery. It seems that even it’s bottlers don’t know the distillery where the cask came from. It has no markings, it has no origins. It just floats through time and lets us taste it’s wonders. What is known, however, is that it is of 18 years old and it was distilled 1995 and bottled 2014. It was matured in a sherry cask and it comes from the Speyside. And it bears the strength score of 46.8%. I grant, some of the mystery veil was just lifted and portions of the origin revealed. However, sweeping through the layers it is like a descend into a Abyss..

The nose is sweet and floral. However, it is not too sweet – a surprise for me! Very pleasant and charming. A bits of spice and a long quest lingers there. Answers that are hidden.

The taste is very smooth and surprisingly oily. Spices are stronger than sweetness. Pepper and more fruits are there as well as floral summer fields. On a second take, the portals open to another planes again and the step is well oiled and slick. Sweetness accompanies this one very nicely. There is no harsh bite of sherry nor unpleasant side encounters.

However, this road is not too long either. It squirms into a dead end sooner than expected. There should be more into it, but I just can’t find the door. Perhaps it is yet hidden of me. But it was a nice journey so far, this has provided me that it has potential and secrets yet to be open to the light. It is the best Speyside for me so far – at least of what I can recall right now.

And of course, the name and the label do really add to the story with inspiration! Final note that ends the song: oily pepper.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2014 makes it’s first appearance..

There are of course many drams I do await with anticipation. As you know, I am keen towards new smokes and peatfires and not too keen about too sherryfied experiences. I was really suspicious about the first Kilchoman Sherry Cask that I did skip that totally for a while. It was so dark, looked so sherry filled that it cannot be any good. That is, until I eventually tasted it in a bar. I was blown away how good it was – and of course by that time it was way too expensive to get a bottle. That’s when the first Loch Gorm (renamed Sherry cask) came to rescue. The sharp blade and wits got me away from the deadly darkness of ignorance and got my hands onto Loch Gorm 2013 as soon as possible.

20140515-20140515180708-IMG_4211_smallNow that the 2014 version of Loch Gorm has landed, it is a good moment to see how it does and compare it to the previous years version a bit. According to Kilchoman’s site information, the Loch Gorm is the only all sherry cask-matured Kilchoman. First it has been distilled in 2009, then put to Oloroso sherry butts for over five years and then bottled 2014. The 2013 version was finished in Oloroso sherry hogsheads for six weeks – but I don’t know if this the case this year.

The nose does have smoke. It also has toffee-kind of experience. Some spice and perhaps a bit of peat too. I do like it, it is soft and promises a lots of taste.

Palate starts with peat and fruits. It continues with spicy experience and adds more smoke afterwards. This is a very soft dram, with some bite in there. Fruity, but not too much. Sweet, but not too much. There is enough Kilchoman fire and peat in it to make it a very pleasant dram. And the finish goes on for a nice amount of time, leaving enjoyable sensations tingling inside a mouth.

So how does this do? Loch Gorm 2014 (46% btw) is a nice dram. It does not blow me away, it does not inspire too much stories (sorry about that, I’ll get back to those!) but in fact it is a nice whisky that will find it’s place either in tastings, or as a dram enjoyed in a terrace at sundown. It has enough taste to make it work as it is, but it does not create worlds. Easy to play with but you need to be careful in tastings so that it does not suffer from a bad position. Actually, if your tasting series has real strong tastes and experiences, this might just be the one to get it started.

Compared to 2013 version, this one is more smooth, has more depth and less character. This is a Mr Upper Manager jr who just got his position and works his way inside a company so that he makes no mistakes, nor raises his voice. There are no spotlights where this one gets to shine, instead the show runs and works because of him. 2013 version had more bite, more smoke and peatfire and thus it had much more dings in it. But while it made a impression, the taste wasn’t as long in the finish as this one. The dram was more single-minded, but this one is more open to option. The downside is, that the compromise will be a pleasant dram for most of people, but I would love to get this one in cask strength for extra facet. Keep on experimenting, Kilchoman! I hear that there will be a Port finish Kilchoman and a Cask Strength versions coming out late summer/early autumn!

Here is a less edited photo and also the 2013 Loch Gorm. Since there isn’t much difference in color or labeling I think I can reuse the last year’s excellent alien world photo again and again!



Friday, May 9, 2014

Bowmore 100 degrees proof kicks without mercy

There hasn’t been too many Bowmores in my blog lately. Nor during it’s years. A few. I must admit, that Bowmore is not often my the most favorate smoky dram – but it the one I started the journey with. Perhaps I should revisit them a bit more often and find out it’s secrets.

Bowmore is mostly about citrus/lemon pepper and smoke, accompanied too often with some sherry infused fruits. Some time ago ( a while, actually) I got myself this 100 degrees proof travel bottling of Bowmore. Of course it is time to write about it. Finally.

It has a very spiky and stingy nose. While I did enjoy Tempests, this one is way more raw and untamed. This is not about it’s roaring personality, but being inexperienced and unfinished. It is cask strength, 57.1% which is actually what 100 degrees proof mean.

Even after being in a glass for a while, the alcohol is really strongly present. I usually enjoy cask strength drams, but it is very difficult to get any other characteristics out of this. Some dry fruit, yes, some smokiness but overall it is a real bully. A short eternity spent with breathing it’s proof away, finally gives out more. Some vanilla oak, more smoke and .. yes. the sea is finally present.

20140322-20140322121048-IMG_3861_smallThe taste is very Bowmorish. It is actually Bow-and-more with steroids. It is really close to what I recall it’s 12 YO normal version to be, but this one kicks with giant soccer player’s feet that wear iron boots. Citrus, check. Smoke, check. Also some vanilla oak and lots of sherry sweetness. Contrasting with it’s breath it is more easier to taste than I was afraid of. Seconds and thirds are even more easier but sip by sip there is more and more sherry present. While it is sweet, the result is really filled with dry fruits.

The finish is burning. This one feels like it’s ripping your skin away while making it’s way down. Use small sips, don’t try to get it all in at once.
It was certainly different than what I recalled. It is not my style of dram, since I guess I’ve gotten to get very fond of peat these days, but it is still ok. It has a strong character, it does not savior other dimensions but one, but it is clear in what it is doing. It is meant to test people. Test the will.

Actually this would do nicely in a tasting. It is good to have different kinds of drams in the journey. This one would also do very nicely outside, where weaker tastes fade to the nature. Bowmore has strong, overwhelming, experience that can compete with pinetar smoke and yet it can have some fruits in the taste.