Tasting Notes


IMG_0226 

This was our Friday Dram members intro bottle to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and is a 15 y.o. Altmore bottled in May 2008.

Color

Light gold, very bright. Reminds me of a clear tea.

Aroma

The first smell is very unusual, slightly medicinal and quite floral. It deepens out and becomes almost syrupy. Adding water softens the nose, and reduces the sweetness while bring out more of the floral notes. After tasting and getting familiar, the aroma becomes slightly dull.

Flavor

The first hit on the palette is very spicy which builds up into slight lemony caramel notes and finishes very slowly with a syrupy taste and an oily feel building back up to a peppery spice. Subsequent sips add a menthol minty flavour.

Rating

Great long finish, that continues and warms for many minutes even when tasted with water. I really like this, but it is also mostly typical of a highland too. I would be happy to drink this any time, but I think I’ll rate it a 7.5

Last week my family went on a short vacation to Florida, and whenever I am somewhere new I try to find something that is not available where I live. There were actually a few bottles of interest, but I eventually settled on the Bruichladdich Links edition “16th Hole, Augusta”.

While I do not normally fall for such marketing ploys, I have been impressed with every offering that I have tried from the Islay distillery and this 14 year old failed to disappoint.

This is a limited release, with only 18,000 bottles according to the Bruichladdich website. As is typical with any Bruichladdich, this is non-chill filtered and not coloured. It runs at 46% abv.

The first look showed a lighter colour than the photo on this page implies, and was more of an ochre colour than the golden tan seen here. First nose was very light – almost transparent – with soft florally notes and none of the impact you would typically expect. Adding a dash of water opened up the nose somewhat, with elements of citrus and a hint of the sherry cask used to age the whisky.

On tasting, the flavour builds up slowly and deliciously. It starts with a soft texture and slightly sweet flavour and builds to a more complex array of all the floral, citrus and ripe sherry notes found on the nose. Additional tastes bring out some of the oakiness, but there were never any of the typical Islay flavours (I barely detected any peatiness or smokiness).

The finish fades as deliciously as it built up and while not a long finish by any means, it definitely lingers enough to really enjoy the full and subtle flavours within.

All in all a very drinkable single malt that reminded me a lot of the 10yo Bruichladdich albeit with a little more complexity, fullness of flavour. All in all I’d rate this an 8 out of 10 with the recommendation to savour this as an aperitif or an early evening dram.

Very occasionally a sad event occurs when most bottles in my collection have dwindled to a few drams. This seems to occur every 3-4 months or so and at that point I try and build the collection back with a few different single malts. This has happened again, and the first new purchase is a newly available whisky here in NH – the Double Cask matured Aberlour 12y.o.

This is basically the regular 10 year old, with a portion of the maturation in sherry casks bringing the total aging to 12 years. First impressions are very good, although I think I do prefer the 10 year old.

Coloring is a dark caramel color, a much deeper reddishness than the basic Aberlour. The aroma is fairly simple, with a sweetness and fruitiness that strongly resembles a dark Sherry or even a good Port.

The first sip is confident and spicy. I mostly agree with the bottle notes, indicating hints of chocolate, spices (the heat of cinnamon?) above the warm sherried flavour.

As this whisky finishes, a slight dry smokiness comes out as the flavour tails off to a subtle warmth.

Overall I like this whisky, and it fits nicely into the Aberlour range. I would rate this at 7.5/10 as a great whisky for the price.

I purchased this bottle (among a few others) while on a recent trip to San Francisco. If you are in Northern California this small store,The Whisky Shop , is well worth checking out and alongside the more regularly available single malts are a number of rare malts.

I settled on a Tobermory and a Signitory Vintage 10y.o. unchill-filtered Edradour, specifically Bottle 263 (of337) from case #229. This bottle is marked as being distilled on 23rd May 1995 and bottled 24th Feb 2006.

 

Being unchill-filtered this Edradour has a wonderful warm nutty brown colour do it. In fact the colour is rich and suprising given the lack of caramel or other additives to enhance the appearance.

The aroma is complex and satisfying, with florals and heather alongside a faint touch of orange and vanilla.

The flavour is very robust with a rich comforting warmth. I get caramel toffee and a faint chocolate forthe initial flavour, and the finish is medium with a gently receding warmth and ending with caramel and a hint of orange.

 

Overall I rate this Edradour quite highly, and is one of the favourites in my collection (although it is almost gone too). I would probably rate this as a 8.5/10 and is a very sophisticated and well rounded single malt.

Now that my cold is receding (after 5 horrible days), I can move onto my next tasting.

I first tried Laphroaig (pronounced laff-roig) Quarter Cask a few months ago after it appeared in the local liquor store here.
The term “quarter cask” refers to the fact that it is matured in a second smaller (quarter sized) cask after the original maturation in a regular oak cask. This adds an extra depth of flavour and aroma to an already fine malt.

Laphroaig Quarter Cask Image

One feature I particularly appreciate is that it is non-chill filtered, allowing the whisky to retain more of its real characteristics along with the natural oils that cause the whisky to cloud up slightly when water is added. Note that I recommend the addition of water for this particular single malt given the bottled alcohol strength of 48%.

1. First impressions: Appearance and aroma

The color of Laphroaig Quarter Cask is deeper from my recollection of the regular Laphroaig, which is to be expected given the additional cask maturation. The actual tone and color reminds me a lot of an apple cider, with a nice golden orange hue. The aroma is also quite ‘woody’ with a sweet and subtle peaty smokiness. There is also a hint of English christmas cake.

2. Taste and Finish

The palate is sophisticated, and the peaty flavour is much more subtle than from the nose. I get hints of anise and cloves, finishing very long and getting sweeter as the flavour diminishes.

3. Overall Impression

This is an excellent single malt. When I first started getting into single malts I really didn’t like Laphroaig, but over time as my taste became more varied I really appreciated the depth of flavour in this producers offerings. The Quarter Cask is no exception, and is probably once of my favourite Islay whiskys. I would rate it an 8 out of 10.

Note, that this is the first time I have put tasting notes on ‘paper’, and I’ll revisit Oban in the future as i get more used to extracting the essential features out of a whisky.

Rather than using a whisky tumbler I always taste (and drink) my single malts from a small white wine class surpisingly similar to the tulip shape and size of the famous Glencairn tasting glass. This allows the aroma to remain contained, and easier to taste without getting overwhelmed by the scent of the whisky.

As I mentioned in my intro, I have visited the town of Oban and toured the distillery. Situated on the west coast of Scotland, the town of Oban is (if i remember correctly) the main port to Islay. There is a fun and busy vibe about the town, and a great pub near the port that has a spectacular array of whiskies to sample – or at least there was 15-16 years ago.

Anyway, onto the tasting:

1. First impressions: Appearance and aroma

Oban is mid toned in colour with a glossy golden amber appearance. To me the aroma is rather sweet, with notes of honey. I can detect some slight hints of marzipan and lemon. It also has a slightly earthy or peaty aroma.

2. Taste and Finish

The taste is robust and continues with the honey notes. It has a fairly dry but sparkly texture. There is also a slight level of saltiness, reminding you that the Oban distillery is a short walk from the sea off the west coast of Scotland.

The finish is smooth, but not too long as the flavour gradually recedes leaving a pleasant warmth and a butter toffee aftertaste.

3. Overall Impression

While not the most amazing single malt, it is very drinkable. I like the combination of the sweetness and dryness and Oban still deserves its place as one of the classic six malts.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate Oban as a 6.