Have you ever tried Compass Box Orangerie? It is a refreshing infusion of blended whisky with the hand-zested peel of Navelina oranges, cassia bark and clove. Instead of going towards orange liqueurs with lots of sugar, it was staying on the dry side.
When I read about Amrut Naarangi, I expected it would be in the same style as Orangerie, but it follows a slightly different route (and the end result is totally different). Amrut filled casks with Oloroso sherry and added orange peels to them. This mixture was left to season the wood for over two years. Afterwards, three years old malt whisky was put in the casks and it was left to mature for an extra period of three years.
It’s an interesting strategy. Whisky regulations in Europe say that adding anything to a whisky disqualifies it from being called whisky, but this way the orange flavours can still be transferred into the spirit.
Only 900 bottles of Naarangi were shipped to Europe, Asia and Canada but we can expect new batches in the future.
Amrut Naarangi (50%, OB 2015, 900 btl.)
Nose: very sweet and aromatic, although it certainly shows less oranges than expected. Instead it’s more on dried fruits (apricots, figs) and Spanish membrillo. Then it moves towards (subtle) Triple Sec (of course) with lemon zest and light pepper. Blood orange juice and sawdust too. Mouth: sweet (or rather sirupy) and spicy. Yes, more oranges now, both sweet juice and zesty notes. Pepper, hints of cloves, tangy oak. Finish: long, with the syrupy notes holding strong but also a lot of oak spices and a hint of mint.
This is an interesting but fairly simple dram, slightly different from what we expected. The oranges are not taking the lead – instead you get a sherried dram with plenty of spices and hints of oranges. Of course orange notes are pretty ‘classic’ in the sense that they commonly occur in non-flavoured whisky as well. I wonder how this technique would work with something that’s really off the map. Cherries, passion fruits, star anise, you name it. Around € 60-80.
Bowmore Black Rock is part of the distillery’s travel retail range. It was matured predominantly in Spanish ex-sherry casks.
Actually it’s part of a trilogy, alongside Bowmore Gold Reef and Bowmore White Sands, both ex-bourbon wood.
Bowmore Black Rock
(40%, OB 2014, travel retail)
Nose: not entirely fresh sherry, which luckily isn’t too loud. A bit of rubber, some organic notes as well. Toffee notes and pepper. Milk chocolate with hints of vanilla. Light smoke and seaweed. Mouth: oily, with some salty peat, a bit of iodine and stewed fruits. Caramel. Cocoa sweetness. Soft spices and an ever so light smoky note. Rather thin. Finish: not too long, with a focus on drying spices and bittersweet cocoa notes.
If you think how focused, clean and rewarding modern Bowmore can be, even at a younger age, then this is simply below par. It lacks punch and freshness. Another example of a tax free expression that is just so-so. Around € 45 for a litre bottle.
Recently Liquid Treasures selected two bottlings for their importer S.Y.C. Vino & Cigar Company in Taiwan. A Tullibardine 1990 and this Strathmill 1990. We had some really good Strathmill expressions in the past few years, especially those produced in 1974, but it’s still a rare and sometimes unreliable name.
Strathmill 23 yo 1990 (50,5%, Liquid Treasures for SYC Vino & Cigar Taiwan 2014, hogshead, 189 btl.)
Nose: an intensely… neutral whisky. I get some yellow apples and oranges, but mostly malt and grains. Bread, beer, these things. Faint vanilla. Also wet gravel and hay. Mouth: rounder at first, sweeter, slightly bubblegummy even, but still lots of cereal notes. Then it turns towards sweet liquorice and caramelized nuts. Herbal notes, a little cough syrup, increasing salty notes. More fruitiness with water, but I wouldn’t call this fruity whisky. Finish: medium long, malty, peppery, with a light touch of peat.
A bit of a strange one. On the whole it is a little too malty for my taste, although it goes in different – sometimes interesting – directions. Far away from the lovely Strathmill 1991 I tried – it seems Strathmill has all sorts of profiles.
Since 2009 The Glenturret distillery is regularly doing runs of peated whisky, mainly intended for use in the group’s Black Grouse blend.
The Whisky Shop managed to get three exclusive editions of The Glenturret in 2014: Glenturret Triple Wood, Glenturret Sherry Edition and Glenturret Peated Edition.
The Glenturret Peated Edition (40%, OB for The Whisky Shop 2014)
Nose: very creamy and lightly peated, I guess smoothness was a priority here. There’s a tarry note and corrugated cement board. Popcorn sweetness and apples. Sweet biscuity notes and a little chocolate. Mouth: again smooth and easy-going. Toffee, soft spices and a firmer hint of peat, including a slight acrid / grainy edge and a hint of salt. Finish: longer than expected, sweet and grainy with soft pepper.
Smooth and easy-going. It’s really okay, especially if you’re a blend drinker who wants to try a peated single malt but not the more intense Islay distilleries. Available from the distillery shop, sold out at The Whisky Shop (£ 47). Somehow they are now also available from a few Dutch and German retailers (€ 40).
There you have it, I was elected Best Whisky Blogger of the Year 2015, as part of this year’s International Whisky Competition which awards outstanding whiskies as well as bars, brand ambassadors and master distillers.
This was the first time there was a Best Whisky Blogger award. The organisation presented a shortlist of 20 candidates, from which the general public could pick their favourite by sending an e-mail. I came out in the top-5 – a sincere thank you to all of you who supported me.
We were then asked to send our best article of the past six months. I found this particularly difficult. I’m focused on daily reviews and rarely write opinion pieces, so which review is ‘the best review’? Not necessarily a review of the best whisky, I guess. Anyway the overall quality was taken into account, popularity, social media involvement, etc.
I will also be featured in the upcoming 2016 International Whisky Guide, due to be released this summer.
I have a sweet spot for old Ben Nevis, so I was very curious about the Whiskybroker’s latest offering.
It’s a vatting of six underproof hogsheads, all filled at Ben Nevis on 15th March 1966 and bottled 10th of April 2015, with just 29,5% of alcohol. Yes, that’s cask strength. It can’t be named whisky so it is ‘Spirit of the Highlands’.
Ben Nevis 49 yo 1966 (29,5%, WhiskyBroker 2015, 524 btl.)
Nose: interesting. Very oaked, with some hints of paint thinner, glue and the characteristic waxiness, like lipstick. Some floral notes, hints of facial creams as well (vetiver). It reminds me of very old grain whiskies in a way. After some time, there is a nice apricot sweetness and banana shining through, as well as some mint and eucalyptus tea. Mouth: oak juice really, with a certain sourness but – surprisingly – without the tannins. Mint, resinous notes, herbal teas and pepper. Lime. A bit of leather. Similar to what you get in really old bourbon, only without the sweetness. Finish: short, with pepper and a hint of cocoa.
Let’s face it, this is a curiosum. If you approach this as a whisky, you will be disappointed. But I think it’s highly entertaining and much better than the underproof Macallan from the same bottler. I won’t score it, but I can tell you I don’t regret buying a bottle for € 35.
This Bruichladdich 1966 is an original bottling from the early 1980’s, selected by the Italian distributor Moon Import. The name Riserva Veronelli refers to Luigi Veronelli, a highly influential gastronomic writer (mostly for wines but also distilled spirits) and one of the Italian pioneers when it comes to single malt whisky.
A few years later there was also a Bruichladdich 1965 ‘Riserva Veronelli’ imported by Rinaldi. That one is easier to come by but it’s said to be less interesting.
Nose: old-style sherry although with a big malty core. Lots of tobacco leaves, cinnamon sugar and nutty notes. A rather earthy style, with hints of smoke. Hazelnut cookies. Juicy fruits as well: baked apples, ripe melon and some lemon curd. Mouth: sweet pears, sultanas and more sherry. Walnuts, and cloves. Roasted nuts. Coastal notes and a salty tang. Lots of liquorice too, and a touch of eucalyptus. Finish: long, peppery and salty.
A highly enjoyable Bruichladdich, a style of sherried whisky that has disappeared. Around € 600 if you can find it.