We’ve welcomed Connemara Turf Mór a couple of weeks ago. In the same small batch series, there was a predecessor called Connemara Sherry finish. It comprises whiskey aged between five and fifteen years, with a second maturation in ex-sherry wood for approximately 18 months.
Connemara Sherry finish
(40%, OB 2009, 10.000 btl.)
Nose: smokey but not (heavily) peated. Hints of red candy, berries and raisins. Not classic sherry though, rather a vague sweetness. Something that reminds me of freshly cured leather. Rubber boots as well. Some forest notes. Rather unique and very pleasantly coated with sweet, sugary aromas. Mouth: more peat and smoke now, still rounded by toffee, sweet citrus and really soft spices. Nice interplay with the creamy sherry. Faint hints of tar. Finish: long, with dry peat, citrus flavours and a little liquorice.
A very enjoyable whisky which finds the right balance of peat and sherry sweetness. Much more gentle than Turf Mór, with added candied notes. Still available alongside the new expression. Around € 50.
Springbank C.V. is a vatting of 7, 10 and 14 years old whisky from different casks (bourbon, sherry and port wine), all specially selected by Director of Production Frank McHardy and Distillery Manager Stuart Robertson.
Springbank CV (46%, OB 2010)
Nose: quite a whirlpool of different aromas. I detected at least three layers. One has grainy notes, oatmeal, sesame oil and sour yoghurt. For me, these notes are a little ungraceful. A second one shows nice soot and subtle peat. A final layer has some sweet sherry notes, almonds and eucalyptus (unfortunately all quite subdued). Too bad the layers are not very integrated – there’s a lot going on but in the end nothing stands out in a nice way. Mouth: quite some sweetness with dark caramel (the Port casks?) as a common thread for the whole profile. Pepper and other spices. Again subtle peat. A briney hint of liquorice with a distinct bitter tang in the end. Finish: more liquorice and caramel with a hint of smoke.
If C.V. stands for Curriculum Vitae, then this employee seems to have done a bunch of things in his career, but nothing really well. Not exactly harmonious and not my kind of dram. Springbank has many better choices in its current range. Around € 35.
This Caol Ila 1982 was part of the second wave of Perfect Dram bottlings by The Whisky Agency. A couple of months before, there was another Caol Ila 1982 in the same series.
Caol Ila 27 yo 1982 (62,4%, The Whisky Agency 2009, Perfect Dram II, bourbon hogshead, 108 btl.)
Nose: very kippery, with smoked fish and oysters. Camphor and bandages (you know the kind of iodine impregnated gauze used for skin burn? that’s what I mean). Clean peat and quite a lot of pepper. Some farmy hints underneath. A few fruity notes are noticeable on a second level (apple pie, vanilla. sweet ginger). Mouth: big impact, nice mouthfeel, tarry and smokey. Again a faint (citrus) sweetness in the background. A few herbal notes, nutmeg and pepper. Finish: loooong and peaty.
A great Caol Ila, one of the best I’ve had from The Whisky Agency. Complex, exemplary and very intense. Around € 130 at the time, but I’m afraid all bottles are gone.
Balblair 2000 is the replacement for the previous Balblair 1997 which I scored 81. It’s still matured in first fill American oak.
Balblair 2000 (43%, OB 2010)
Nose: full of pear drops and grainy aromas which give away its young age. It seems hints of new-make are becoming popular these days (yet in a more sophisticated way than actual new-make). A more tropical note as well (banana, some mango, coconut maybe). Very fruity and lively with just a touch of vanilla. I really like this nose. Mouth: quite light, sweet and fruity with some muesli, peaches, pineapple and white grapes. A light spicy edge (soft pepper and sweet ginger). Finish: still fruity, but it takes the vanilla and spices a bit further.
Balblair 2000 plays around with notes of youngish whisky, but in a smooth and entertaining way. One to revisit when the summer returns!
Around € 40.
Cocktails at Nine is a cocktail bar in the city of Antwerp, owned by a retired tv presenter. Their range of whiskies is not exceptional but they have an interesting focus on Japanese brands.
Location: Lijnwaadmarkt 9, 2000 Antwerpen (Belgium) Range: +/- 10 single malts Price: € 6 to € 16
(€ 16 for a Highland Park 18yo)
What I’ve had: Blood & Sand
cocktail (€ 12) Glass: martini
Pros: professional staff,
good selection of Japanese whisky, nice atmosphere with fireplaces Cons: cocktails are more interesting than their single malts
Blood and Sand cocktail (with Laphroaig)
This Blood & Sand cocktail was quite a revelation because I hadn’t seen many cocktails based on Laphroaig 10yo (although it can be made with any kind of Scotch whisky). It’s a slightly hazy drink with an impressive red colour.
The smokiness of Laphroaig complements nicely with the sweetness of the Heering cherry liqueur and the bitter edge of the vermouth.
If you’re interested, mix 3 parts of Laphroaig, 3 parts of fresh orange juice, 2 parts of sweet red Vermouth and 2 parts of Cherry Heering. Shake over ice cubes, strain into a chilled martini glass and serve.
As you know, Laphroaig is now bottling its 10yo Cask Strength in small numbered batches that seem to last about one year. I’m late with this one – it was bottled in January 2010 so batch #003 is probably on its way to be released.
Laphroaig 10 yo Cask Strength
(58,3%, OB 2010, batch #002)
Nose: fruitier than the 10yo CS Batch 001, right from the start, with berries and peach syrup. Also more notes of butter toffee and sweet vanilla latte. Still enough smoke to satisfy any Islay freak I guess. Earthy peat and some iodine as well. Mouth: very deep smoke which keeps growing. Quite dry with a lot of smoked bacon. Roasted coffee. Sweet liquorice that fades to big peppery notes. Nicely developing. Again more vanilla and fruit. Finish: long, smokey and medicinal – slowly drying out.
Even though the complexity is still not up to the standards of the old (no-batch) 10 year-old, I think the mixture of powerful smoke and added sweetness is still uniquely Laphroaig.
Hmm, I like the nose of batch 2 better than
batch 1, but on the palate it’s the other way around. Peatheads may prefer batch #001, but
for me #002 gets one extra point. Around € 45.
Linlithgow is just another name for the Lowlands distillery St. Magdalene – the name of the village where the distillery is located.
This 26 year-old expression was distilled in October 1982 and bottled in June 2009. It was matured in a wine treated butt (see this Ardmore 1990 review for more information). A sister cask #2201 was bottled in 2008 for La Maison du Whisky in France.
Nose: expressive and quite fresh. Quite fruity at first (white peach, lemon, apples) and then showing more uncommon notes like straw, a little soot, paper and Schweppes tonic. Enough sweetness to make sure it’s not too unsexy. Lovely waxy notes as well. Uncommon but very good. Mouth: oily delivery, high strength of course. Again a fruitiness that comes and goes (this time pear and pineapple candy), some honey as well. Adding water makes it even more candied. Sugared lemon juice. Overall a little mono-dimensional. Finish: medium length, with yellow apple and lemon.
A very enjoyable and uncommon dram, yet a little narrow. No wine influence at all if you ask me. A little expensive, but you’re buying rare whisky of course: around € 155.
ps/ Does anyone know why some are called Linlithgow and others St. Magdalene, even when from the same year and bottler? There doesn’t seem to be a logical explanation.
I wish everyone a happy 2011 full of interesting whisky releases!
Traditionally, I have a look at my Google Analytics data to reveal some trends. In general the number of visitors has more than doubled this year (around 23.000 a month now). A big thank you to all you loyal visitors.
Ardbeg and Laphroaig are still the most visited brands, but Port Ellen has overtaken Highland Park in third place. Port Ellen is less rare than bottlers want us to think, so expressions are seen more regularly on the shelves than a lot of active distilleries.