Nose: well yes, a bit weird, but not foul or anything. Malty notes and something metallic. Vegetal oils. Hay and dried flowers. Maybe a little plastic. Mouth: totally wrecked now. Holds the middle between a jawbreaker candy aroma, parma violets, lavender soap, cologne and fabric softener. I’m tempted to find out whether this whisky would make my laundry easy to iron. Finish: way too long, way too bizarre.
In terms of distillation errors (specifically FWP scents) this is a perfectly educational bottling. Otherwise: avoid at all cost. One of the worst whiskies I’ve ever tried. Don’t even think of tasting something else the same day.
Svenska Eldvatten is an independent bottler in Sweden, run by Tommy Andersen and Peter Sjögren. Their bottlings (whisky and rum), with nice minimalist labels, have a decent reputation in Sweden and start getting noticed abroad.
Today we’re trying a 1979 single cask blend. That means the malt and grain components were blended at birth in November 1979, and matured together in a sherry butt for over 33 years.
Vintage 1979 – 33 yo blend (52,2%, Svenska Eldvatten 2013, 197 btl.)
Nose: very nuanced. Subtle plums and raisins, as well as some redcurrants / blueberries. Some nutty notes and very soft vanilla. A nice sense of oldness too: precious woods and wax candles. The grains are hardly noticeable, or rather very well integrated (a very subtle pineapple / coconut combination). All very subtle but very good. Mouth: great, that subtle tropical side comes out even more now. A little mango and passion fruit (Irish style). Apricots. Oranges and banana. Definitely less sherried than on the nose. Some green tea, gingery heat and a few zesty notes, but no excessive dryness or woody notes. Pink grapefruit, a little vanilla and honey. Finish: long, with a fruity sweetness, chocolate and soft hints of walnuts.
Whisky-Doris is 11 years old – an event the shop is celebrating with this Anniversary Malt bottling. It’s a blended malt whisky, made up of one 2001 cask and some others that were significantly older. They were blended and then married for a couple of years in a refill sherry butt.
For what it’s worth, there have been similar bottlings (casks #113 and 114) that were said to contain Glenrothes, Tamdhu, Glengoyne and Glenfarclas.
Nose: inviting scents. Lots of berries and stewed fruits. Yellow raisins and greengages. Tinned apricots. Sweet oranges. Nicely fruity and honeyed, with soft vanilla and aromatic rose pepper. Mouth: definitely older than 2001. Less fruity now, although the apricots and stewed plums are still present. More on spicy notes (pepper, clove, liquorice) with some oaky hints and zesty citrus towards the end. A few leafy notes too. Finish: medium long, zesty fruits and red apple peelings, alongside the older oaky notes.
A really nice, rich blend of different profiles. In a way this feels like an entry-level Balvenie Tun 1401. Great value for money at € 60 a bottle. Available from Whisky-Doris.
Master of Malt / Maverick Drinks has a new sub-brand called Darkness! It’s a range of sherry finished whiskies, “sherry monsters” if you like.
To get this dark sherry profile, the whiskies are finished for three months in 50-litre Octave casks.
Some of them, like the Ardbeg 21yo PX or the Macallan 15yo PX, are actually not very dark at all, but they’re said to have taken over the typical sherry profile nonetheless. Of course it depends on the type of maturation it received before the finishing period.
We’ll start with the darkest of all, a Benrinnes 15 Year Old that is available in an Oloroso version and a Pedro Ximénez version. I’m not entirely sure, but I hope the base whisky was the same for both versions, so that we can really see the effect of the sherry.
Darkness! Benrinnes 15 yo (52,9%, Master of Malt 2014, Oloroso finish, 50 cl.)
Nose: very jammy, fruity sherry. Plum and blackberry jams, cherry preserve. Sultanas. Fruitcake and chocolate. Big sherry indeed. There’s also a hint of burnt bread crust and peppercorn. A bright top note of sourish fruits and mint as well. Very good. Mouth: punchy. Slightly winey as well, with some grape skin and peach pits. Raisins. Some dry woody notes. Aniseed and nutty notes. Feels a little “high pressure cooked”. Finish: long, quite dry and slightly sour.
On the nose: great, pretty much what we’re looking for in a sherried dram. On the palate: very modern, slightly winey, less to our liking. Around € 75.
Darkness! Benrinnes 15 yo (53,3%, Master of Malt 2014, P.X. finish, 50 cl.)
Nose: on first sight, just as jammy and juicy. But it feels slightly capped by a little more dusty oak and a few matchstick notes. At the same time slightly more candied as well (cherry candy). Fudge and hints of burnt sugar. It misses some of the brightness of the Oloroso version. Mouth: same effect. There’s a sharp, winey side to it, which may seem quite contradictory with the sticky, overly sweet character of PX. Same dried fruits, raisins, walnuts and liquorice. Big wood influence already, with a bittersweet tang. Finish: long and fairly dry, on pepper, clove, wood and lingering dark fruits
I do think it’s the same whisky finished in different cask. But not all that different – after all it was only three months. The Oloroso version wins because of the nicer nose. Around € 75.
Auchentoshan 15 yo 1998 (52,2%, Kintra 2014, bourbon hogshead #102347)
Nose: starts light and clean, citrusy with barley notes. Hay. Lowlands, right. Becomes creamier and sweeter after a while, with added notes of strawberries and pineapple candy. Hints of marshmallows. There’s also a dusty note, slightly grassy, with some smoky undertones. Mouth: sweetness up front (fruit jellies) but some grassy notes and lemon zest take over quite soon. Then some bitterness comes out as well as a certain herbalness. Ginger, aniseed and liquorice roots. Briny notes and stranger hints of rubber gloves as well. Finish: medium long, on apple peel and herbal notes. Still some bitterness.
Maybe not my favourite Auchentoshan, but still a nice one. The smoky hints and herbal notes make it quite interesting. Around € 85.
Beside the nog! gin, Asta Morris also has a new whisky coming up: an Imperial 1995 sourced from the Signatory stocks.
Imperial 18 yo 1995 (52,4%, Signatory Vintage for Asta Morris 2014, bourbon cask #50147)
Nose: nice entrance on aromatic orange peel, which unfolds towards tangerines and lime. Apples, mint. After a while also hints of marzipan and vanilla. Some honey. After some time it adds marshmallows and waxy notes as a bonus to an already convincing nose. Mouth: while you could say the nose showed a rather generic bourbonny Speyside profile, this definitely takes it up a notch. Sweet and rounded, with a slightly tropical side and plenty of fruit liqueurs. Coconut and pineapple, tangerine, pink grapefruit. Tinned apricots. These waxy notes again and a few gingery touches. Cinnamon. Maybe a chalky note. Lovely, and it goes down way too easily. Finish: medium long, still fruity with some green oak and a hint of fruit tea.
Simply a very good Imperial and certainly the best 1995 I’ve had so far. On the palate this is really 90+ material. If only the nose were a little less predictable. One of my favourite Asta Morris releases so far – recommended. Arriving in stores over the next few weeks. Around € 100.
Johnnie WalkerGold Label Reserve sits more or less in the middle of the Johnnie Walker range: after Red Label and Black Label it’s the first of the precious medals that represent the upper regions.
It used to be called Johnnie Walker Gold Label 18 Year Old, but the age statement was dropped when the Platinum Label was introduced (with the same age). Now they’ve added Reserve to the name – I guess there’s a marketing rule that every expression should have something unique. I’m afraid losing the age statement also means it has become younger?
The base malts for Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve are Clynelish and Cardhu.
Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve
(40%, OB 2013)
Nose: quite fresh, with lots of peaches and oranges and hints of vanilla ice cream. Honey. Hints of banana. Not much grainy notes, but a soft hint of white bread. In the background there are oak spices (nutmeg, cinnamon). Some mineral and flinty notes as well, I guess that must be the Clynelish. Lacks a bit of punch, but its profile is quite nice. Mouth: very soft (why would you even add ice to this?) and rather thin. Sweet raisins, cinnamon, butterscotch and toffee. Plenty of honey. Vanilla. The nicest part is certainly the soft minerality and waxiness in the background. Finish: still sweet with a light touch of smoke now.
The added minerality makes this Johnnie Walker Gold Label a balanced dram. I’d say this is the smoothest, least grainy of all Johnnie Walker blends. Too bad it lacks some punch, at a higher volume this could have been my favourite. Around € 45.
Among the new releases from The Nectar of the Daily Drams, there is this Aultmore 2007. A six years old bourbon cask with such an intense colour and so many red hues. A miracle?
Aultmore 6 yo 2007 (50,3%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams 2014, bourbon cask)
Nose: very aromatic, with some red berries (strawberries and redcurrant) and aromatic citrus (lime, bergamot). Aromatic and slightly bubblegummy. Cotton candy. Juicy malt. A lot of vanilla (marshmallows), leather and hints of white chocolate. Traces of American bourbon indeed. Some pencil shavings as well. Very attractive and easy-drinking. Mouth: sweet and fairly modern – perfectly planned oak trickery. Apricots in syrup and fruit liqueurs. Coconut and vanilla. Cotton candy again. Maple syrup. Chocolate. Noticeable oak again, as well as mint and something strange that I can’t really put my finger on. Something metallic maybe. Finish: long, very sweet, all kinds of fruit candy and oak spices like ginger.
Very sweet, modern whisky. Nice to see this is possible after only six years. I would have sworn this was made outside of Scotland (Disneyland?). Good stuff though and very affordable. Around € 50.