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.
Yamazaki 12 Year Old is a small step up from the 10yo which used to be the youngest expression in the core range of this pioneering Japanese distillery, until they launched a no-age Distiller’s Reserve last year and discontinued the 10.
Back in 1984, when this 12yo first hit the market, it was actually the first truly commercial Japanese whisky. Look where they are today…
Yamazaki 12 yo (43%, OB 2013)
Nose: starts oily, even quite dusty. Malty and grainy core that slowly grows fruitier. Peach and apple with light vanilla. Dried flowers and hay. A faint minty edge too. Mouth: relatively thick and creamy but a little middle-of-the-road. Some fruits (apples) and honey, with delicate sweet spices (cinnamon mostly). Hints of dried coconut. Maybe the lightest hint of peat. Finish: medium length, slightly biscuity with cinnamon, sweet wood and honey.
This Yamazaki 12 Years is a fine malt, but not one that will stick with me. Of course the 18 Year Old is easily twice as expensive nowadays, but I’d save my money for that one any time. Around € 80.
Tamdhu Batch Strength is the latest high-strength addition to the core range, which complements the existing Tamdhu 10 Year Old. It was matured in a combination of American and European oak sherry casks (a large proportion being first-fill) and bottled at a generous 58,8% alcohol.
Tamdhu Batch Strength
(58,8%, OB 2015, Batch #001)
Nose: folds open nicely. Juicy fruits (red apples, sultanas and berries) and lots of nutty notes (hazelnuts and walnuts). Rose pepper. Malty sweetness and a whiff of vanilla. Finish: rich and sweet, but increasingly peppery and spiced. Cinnamon buns and vanilla cake. Oranges and berries again. Heavy caramel / sticky toffee pudding in the background. Coffee beans and chocolate. Some light (spirit) sulphur as well. Finish: long, spicy, with roasted notes and hints of dried apricots.
This is an intense, spiced up version of the regular Ten. A similarly bloated, slightly sulphury style with much more punch this time. Around € 70.
A Linkwood 1987, bottled by The Whisky Agency in October 2014. Reviews are rare, so it’s still available in stores.
Linkwood 27 yo 1987 (47,3%, The Whisky Agency ‘Perfect Dram’ 2014, rum finish, 179 btl.)
Nose: holding the middle between mildly fruity notes (overripe apple and banana) and grassy notes (hay, wet leaves). Dried herbs and a slight mustiness. Eucalyptus tea. Light pepper. Mouth: again mildly fruity (melon, apple) with herbal honey and different kinds of tea. A bit of salted caramel. Eucalyptus again, a little ginger as well, bringing a gentle bitterness. Finish: long, even more herbal, with aniseed and grapefruit zest.
Good Linkwood, but not great. Totally outclassed by the Linkwood 1984 that was presented by the same bottler simultaneously. Around € 175.
The Whisky Experience in Edinburgh released this 21 years old blend commemorating the opening of the new visitor experience. It was quite expensive (£ 100) so it was still available until recently. They also had a 25 years old version (blue label).
I’ve read somewhere that it is made up of 60% grain whisky (mainly Girvan) and 40% malt whiskies from Mortlach, Balvenie, Aberfeldy and Bowmore. Not sure how reliable this information is though.
Nose: a pleasant nose with no harsh notes whatsoever. Sweetish notes (stewed fruits and a little toffee) with a hint of sherry. Also leafy notes, eucalyptus and oily touches. Nicely old-style, almost a recreation of common 1960’s blends, only fresher. Mouth: similar style, quite sweet, fruity and creamy, with some floral hints and a whiff of smoke. Serge seems to think this has FWP – maybe his glass wasn’t rinsed properly. Finish: medium long, slightly grainier now, but pleasantly fruity again.
A very decent blend, with nice hints of what blends were like 50 years earlier. Thanks, Jelle.
Benromach Organic is made from biological barley and matured in new American oak barrels from sustainable forests. It meets the rigorous UK Soil Association standards for growing the ingredients, distillation, maturation and bottling – hence Organic.
This concept was unique in 2006 when it was launched. Nowadays it’s still rare – few distilleries manage to certify entirely. We’re trying the latest Benromach Organic 2008 edition, matured in virgin American oak casks.
Benromach Organic 2008 (43%, OB 2014)
Nose: still clearly a member of the family, but less un-modern than the 10 yo. Malty sweetness, vanilla and citrus (oranges mainly). Banana. Just a hint of dust and peat. A little mint, clove and liquorice, as well as a clear green touch (wet grass). Mouth: grainy and surprisingly oaked (virgin oak!). Quite earthy and spicy: nutmeg, pepper, liquorice. Green tea. Some melon. Hints of peat again, but very subtle. Finish: long and earthy, pleasantly dry, with some medicinal notes, ginger and herbs.
A nicely ‘green’ whisky, slightly less unique than the 10yo or even the 5yo, but nonetheless a great style. The Ten still wins hands down, especially since you’re paying a premium for the certificates and all that. Around € 65.