Showing posts with label peat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label peat. Show all posts

Monday, August 1, 2022

Tomintoul With a Peaty Tang Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 



Some people are not fans of peated whiskies. I’ve been there myself. It took me years to wander into the land of smoke after I was introduced far too early to Lagavulin 16 as an entry point. But, once I was ready, I did things slowly – the right way – and fell in love with smoky peat.

 

I’m at the point where I see a peated whisky I’ve never tried, and it cuts to the front of the line of everything else I’ve queued. One such whisky is Tomintoul With a Peaty Tang single malt Scotch.

 

Tomintoul calls itself The Gentle Dram. It is a Speyside distillery founded in 1964 and is located on The Ballantruan Spring which runs through the Glenlivet Estate. The name comes from the highest village of the Scottish Highlands. Like most Speyside distilleries, Tomintoul is known for unpeated whisky. However, twice a year, it uses peated malt. It is owned by Angus Dundee.

 

“Pure ingredients and the natural environment add to smooth and mellow character of our award-winning Tomintoul Speyside Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whisky, “the gentle dram”.

Tomintoul “With A Peaty Tang” has been made with peated malt barley to give it a deep smoky flavour. This makes “Peaty Tang” very unusual, most distilleries in the Speyside region do not use peat.” – Tomintoul Distillery

 

With a Peaty Tang is a marriage of peated whisky that’s been aged between four and five years with unpeated whisky aged eight. Ex-Bourbon casks were used for both. This is a fairly new whisky for this young distillery – it was introduced in 2017.

 

Despite knowing the ages, it carries no age statement. It is bottled at 40% ABV (80°), and you can expect to pay about $41.99 for a 750ml package. I found a 50ml taster for a couple of bucks.

 

How’s this one fare? The only way to find out, of course, is to #DrinkCurious. Let’s do this!

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch looked the color of light gold. A thicker rim created slow, sticky droplets. I couldn’t really call them legs.

 

Nose:  I could smell the peat the second I cracked the bottle. I let this one sit for almost 20 minutes as campfire smoke filled the room. Once I determined it rested enough, I brought the glass to my face, which usually results in an ability to get through the peat (because at that point I’m used to it). Nope. Campfire smoke was still dominating. Eventually, my olfactory sense cut through it and found citrus, apple, honey, and caramel. I then inhaled through my lips and smoky vanilla rolled across my tongue.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin and airy and, despite the alcohol content, warming. The front featured heavy peat, brine, and malted barley. The middle became earthy and fruity with mushroom, pear, and vanilla. The back got super spicy with clove, black pepper and a big blast of burnt oak.

 

Finish:  Medium and dry, barrel char, clove, dry oak, and vanilla stayed for the encore. And then, without warning, a wave of astringent.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Tomintoul With a Peaty Tang was similar to a low-end Islay, except with less complexity. I can usually find something nice in those Islay whiskies, I struggled with this Speyside. I initially didn’t find the Band-Aid flavor until after my fourth sip, then couldn’t get it out of my mouth. Some astringent is fine. Bold astringent is not (but it does have its fans). There was nothing gentle about this dram. I am willing to try other things from Tomintoul. I would never drink its With a Peaty Tang again. This takes a Bust. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Highland Park 12 Year Viking Honour Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes


Photo courtesy of Highland Park



There are several storied, well-loved Scotch distilleries out there, and one of those is Highland Park, a Highland distillery in Orkney. Orkney is off on its own, way up north, and consists of 70 islands, 20 of which are inhabited. The primary industry in Orkney is agriculture, with only 4% of that dedicated to cultivating cereal grains. The average temperature in Orkney is about 46°F, with an average summer temperature of only 54°F, meaning there isn't a lot of room for whiskey to pull flavor from a barrel. 


The islands have been part of human history going back about 8500 years. There is a rich Viking history in Orkney due to its historical ownership by Norway. As such, it should come as no surprise the distillery, established in 1798, names its various expressions after Viking mythology and culture. Their 12-year expression is Viking Honour, a single malt, natural colored Scotch bottled at 43% ABV. Retail on Viking Honour is $59.99.


Is Viking Honour a worthy namesake of the brave Vikings? The way to find out is to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Viking Honour presents as a dull gold. Creating a thick rim on the wall, thick, fast legs dropped back to the pool of this icy liquid sunshine. 


Nose:  Floral aromas, mixed with sherry and light peat, greeted my olfactory senses. Underneath those were bright orange citrus.  When I inhaled through my lips, there was a grassy quality that ran across my tongue. 


Palate:  Passing my lips, the mouthfeel was watery and thin.  That light peat from the nosing crossed onto the front palate along with rich honey. Mid-palate, it transformed into a blend of coffee, clove, and orange peel. On the back, there was a combination of dry sherry, mace, and cinnamon. 


Finish: A concise finish left dry leather, dark chocolate, and oak behind, but it required several sips to pick them out. It became a chore to discern them because nothing stayed behind long enough to allow me to enjoy it.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I know there are a lot of Highland Park fans out there, and everyone's palate is different. I found Viking Honour to be unexciting, and a disappointing finish made it even more so. I would, at the very least, have preferred more peat both on the nose and palate.  But fans of Highland Park definitely need to try this one.  As such, Viking Honour will earn a Bar rating. Cheers!



My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System:
  • Bottle = Buy it
  • Bar = Try it first
  • Bust = Leave it 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs that you do so responsibly.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Amrut Peated Cask Strength Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes

 


Have I been on an Indian single malt whisky kick lately? Yes. For the most part, I’ve been stunned by how well the subcontinent handles single malt whisky, especially in light of almost no regulation.

 

Amrut is the original, single malt distillery of India. Founded in Bengaluru in 1948, it didn’t produce its first single malt whisky until 2004 and grabbed worldwide attention when Jim Murray gave Amrut Fusion a 97 rating in 2010. Bengaluru is about 3000 feet above sea level, with temperatures between 61°F and 94°F, while the average humidity is 66%. The climate causes whisky to age about 3.5 times each year compared to what Scotland experiences, translating to about 12% loss annually to the angels.

 

Today I’m sipping on Amrut Indian Peated Single Malt Cask Strength. Unlike many Indian single malts, including those from Amrut, this version is distilled from 100% peated barley sourced from Scotland. Although it carries no age statement, it spent between four and six years in former Bourbon barrels and new, charred oak. It is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and weighs in at a hefty 62.8% ABV (125.6°). You can expect to pay around $105.99 for a 750ml package.

 

Before I get to my tasting notes, I want to thank Glass Revolution Imports (Amrut's US importer) for providing me a sample of this whisky in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance: Poured neat into my trusty Glencairn glass, this single malt presented as gold bullion. A fragile rim released a colossal curtain that crashed into the pool, leaving tiny, sticky droplets.

 

Nose: As you might guess, the first aroma picked out was peat. It was more sweet than smoky, although the latter was easy to discern. What followed was salted chocolate, brown sugar, apricot, date, orange, and, finally, fresh pastry. When I pulled the air into my mouth, it was as if a vanilla bomb went off with date as the aftermath.

 

Palate:  An oily, heavy texture greeted my tongue. The front of my palate tasted vanilla, cooked plantains, and date. As it transitioned to the middle, I could imagine biting into brisket straight off the smoker, accompanied by toffee, orange peel, and lemon peel. The back featured salted caramel, clove, and charred oak.

 

Finish: A long-lasting, spicy finish consisting of dry oak, smoke, clove, slightly tempered by salted caramel and cooked plantains. My tongue sizzled for just under five minutes.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve had several peated Indian single malts and expected more of a peated punch than what I experienced. Oh, it is there, but it steps aside easily enough to make the other flavors shine. I have to admit, this cask-strength version Amrut Peated Single Malt wowed me. Personally, I found this to be a hell of a deal, and it would be a mistake to pass it up. A Bottle rating for sure, cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 


Thursday, December 30, 2021

Octomore 12.3 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


Transparency is important. If there’s a possible conflict of interest, you need to know about it. For the last two years, I’ve been part of a group of influencers selected to launch Octomore to the US market. Last year, it was series 11, this year, series 12. Bruichladdich compensated me to write content for the release of each. It also provided me with samples of 12.1, 12.2, and 12.3. Bruichladdich tasked me with putting together tasting notes for 12.2. That left me with samples of 12.1 and 12.3 to review above and beyond my now-completed assignment. You can read my review of 12.1 here, and today I’m sipping 12.3, and this is my final review of 2021.

 

If you’re curious about the numbering system, that’s pretty easy to explain. The first number refers to the series release number. In this case, it is 12, meaning the 12th release of Octomore. The other numbers are slightly less indicative:  x.1, x.2, x.3, and x.4. What do they mean?

 

  • The first is the standard for the release, the core whisky, if you will. It always starts with 100% Scottish barley and is typically aged in first-fill Bourbon casks.
  • The next, x.2, follows the same base as x.1 but is aged in some variation of European oak.
  • The third, x.3, is a single vintage, single field, single malt expression. It is 100% Islay malted barley grown on the Octomore farm. They’re typically aged in a combination of American and European oak.   
  • The last, x.4, is released every other year and matures in virgin oak or a combination of virgin and vintage oak. When x.4 is off-year, it is replaced by Octomore 10-Year.


For the 12th edition, 12.3 starts with a 2014 harvested crop of concerto barley from Church Field on Octomore farm, which was distilled in 2015. The PPM of phenol is 118.1. The distillate aged in first-fill Bourbon casks (75%) and first-fill Pedro Ximenez sherry butts.

 

Those sherry butts are essential. In this case, they came from the Fernando de Castilla bodega in Juarez. These are retired from its solera system, so you’re getting a real sherry influence versus a sherry seasoned one.

 

“THE DNA OF THIS SPIRIT AND THE UNIQUE SOUL OF THIS WHISKY IS OPEN FOR ALL TO SEE. TO HEAR THE STORY AND TO TASTE THE WHISKY IS TO IMMERSE YOURSELF IN A SINGLE VINTAGE FROM A SINGLE HARVEST, RAISED IN ONE FIELD.”Adam Hannett, Head Distiller

 

While 12.3 carries no age statement, it rested in its cooperage for five years. Once dumped, the only thing added was a quick splash of Octomore spring water. Nothing that would have even a negligible impact on proof. Octomore is naturally-colored and non-chill filtered. Bottled at 62.1% ABV (124.2°), you can expect to pay about $289.00 for a 750ml package. That is if you can find it.

 

Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch appeared as brilliant gold. It formed a medium rim that created thick, speedy legs.

 

Nose:  I let this whisky sit in the glass for about 15 minutes before I approached it. At that time, the air in my whiskey library filled with sweet barbeque smoke. When I brought the glass to my face, I smelled brine, lemon and orange peel, pineapple, apricot, and malt. As I drew the aroma into my mouth, it was like a vanilla bomb exploded.

 

Palate:  You’ve heard of Big Oil, right? Well, that pretty much describes the mouthfeel. It was full-bodied for sure! The front of the palate featured citrus, pineapple, honey barbeque sauce, and dry smoke. Following were brine, caramel, and malt. The back offered flavors of English toffee, apple, pear, vanilla, and oak.

 

Finish: Here’s where things really got interesting. The finish was dry and very long. Barbeque smoke, pimento wood, honey, citrus, caramel, and brine remained.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I say the finish was interesting because there were a lot of bold qualities competing with one another, yet none overpowered. Instead, they were complimentary. Look, I’ve been fascinated with the Octomore line, and 12.3 doesn’t disappoint. In fact, this one is my favorite between 12.1, 12.2, and 12.3. Is it worth the price? If you’re a fan of peat and of Octomore, this is a slam-dunk Bottle. However, this may be too big of a whisky at too high of a price for the casual drinker. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 


 

Friday, December 10, 2021

The English Whisky Co. Ltd. Peated Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


I spend a lot of time in liquor stores when I'm traveling, probably more than I should. But, liquor store runs can be eye-opening because you can come across things that you'd never otherwise see (thanks to our arcane distribution system). On this last trip to Colorado, I visited a store called Daveco, which is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest liquor store in the world. As you can imagine, I took my time perusing the whiskey section of the store.


And then, something caught my eye. Something I've never seen before. Something I'm guessing many folks, at least in the United States, haven't. There was a bottle of English whisky!  Would it be like Scotch? Would it be like Irish whiskey? Or would it be something entirely on its own? Well, the $31.99 price tag made it an attractive risk, and, if nothing else, it would be a new experience for me.


The English Whisky Co. Ltd. owns the St. George's Distillery in Norfolk, England. The story starts about 600 years ago with William Nelstroppe, a farmer in Yorkshire who grew and milled grain. Take a quick trip to 1608, and one of his descendants, Rowland, was on the ship Phoenix, which carried the first colonists to Jamestown, America. Fast-forward to the 21st century, and Andrew Nelstroppe, whose family is still farming and milling grain, was determined to bring back whisky distilling to England after more than a 100-year absence. From there, the St. George's Distillery was built. The goal was to do this the right way:


"We were fortunate that Iain Henderson a distiller of some note from Laphroaig, although ready to retire, was talked into coming along to help get us going. In December 2006 we were able to make the first 29 barrels of English whisky and by August 2007 we opened to the public with a visitor centre, fantastic whisky shop, and tours.


Iain soon retired again, but before he did, he spent 16 weeks training David Fitt, a brewer from Greene King to take over. David has been our chief whisky maker since 2008 and as well as overseeing all the production, also ensures the maturation and bottling run smoothly." - The English Whisky Co. Ltd.


What I wound up buying was its English Peated Single Malt. It is made from 100% malted barley. It is non-chill filtered and naturally colored, then aged for an undisclosed period in oak casks. Was it virgin oak? Probably not. Was it former Bourbon casks? Potentially. But that's undisclosed as well. For $31.99, I got a 200ml bottle. 


All this research is fun, but I'm really interested in what this tastes like. It is time to #DrinkCurious and find out!


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, looking at this whisky reminded me of an unoaked Chardonnay. It also left the heaviest rim I've ever seen on the wall, which led to fat, fast legs that crashed into the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  I have no idea what the phenol count was, but this was no wuss in that department. The smoke was heavy, reminiscent of something from Islay, with apple, pear, ginger, oak, and vanilla. As I drew the air in my mouth, the vanilla remained.


Palate:  A creamy, full-bodied texture filled every crevice of my mouth. Interestingly enough, peat wasn't the first thing I tasted. Oh, it was there, but the first flavors I identified were vanilla and malted barley, and then the peat, which was softer than I'd guess based on the nose. The middle was citrus, pineapple, and some tropical fruit I couldn't identify (side note, I'm allergic to several tropical fruits, and as such, have no frame of reference beyond tropical). The back was a combination of oak, white pepper, and spicy ginger. 


Finish:  This was one of those freight train finishes that would not give up while featuring smoky peat, oak, white pepper, and ginger. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This was my introduction to English whisky, and it certainly wasn't shy. If you told me this was an Islay Scotch, I don't think I'd be able to pin down which one, but I also wouldn't doubt you. While the math for a 750ml makes this one pricy, the 200ml is absolutely worth drinking and takes my Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Octomore 12.1 Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


 

Transparency is important. It is one of the reasons I respect Bruichladdich as much as I do. The distillery holds nearly nothing close to its vest and is happy to publish as much information as possible.

 

It is also what I owe you, the reader. If there’s a possible conflict of interest, you need to know about it. For the last two years, I’ve been part of a group of influencers selected to launch Octomore to the US market. Last year, it was series 11, this year, series 12. Bruichladdich compensated me to write content for the release of each. It also provided me with samples of 12.1, 12.2, and 12.3. Bruichladdich tasked me with putting together tasting notes for 12.2. That leaves me with samples of 12.1 and 12.3 to review above and beyond my now-completed assignment. Today, I’m sipping 12.1.

 

One thing that makes Octomore special is that the entire concept should not work. Taking massive peat levels and only aging it a handful of years and bottling it at near-cask strength should have disastrous results. Instead, it comes together, forming something unique.

 

The annual x.1 release is always the base whiskey. The other expressions are a variation of the x.1 theme. It begins with a 2014 harvest of Scottish-mainland concerto barley subjected to the heaviest phenol content of peat of any other Scotch on the market. That amount changes annually, and the 12th release is 130ppm. Octomore 12.1 rested five years in first-fill American oak on Islay. It is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and the only thing stopping it from being an authentic cask-strength whiskey is adding a dash of Octomore spring water. It weighs in at 59.9% ABV (119.8°), and you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $230.00 for a 750ml package.

 

Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious to explore what this is all about.

 

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Octomore 12.1 was pale gold. It formed an ultra-thin rim that released medium-weighted legs that crawled back to the pool.

 

Nose:  As soon as I cracked the seal, there was no mistaking that this is a super-heavily peated whisky. I might as well have shoved my face into a freshly-extinguished campfire. I also let this one rest for close to ten minutes before bringing the glass to my face. Shockingly, getting past the smoke was effortless. I found lemon zest, coconut, marzipan, toasted oak, and mushroom notes. Yes, the smoky peat was definitely there. When I drew the air into my open mouth, an explosion of vanilla rolled across my tongue.

 

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel carried a medium body. If I didn’t have previous experience with Octomore, I would have prepped myself for chewing on charcoal. That doesn’t happen, and smoke isn’t even the first note. Instead, the front featured dark-roast coffee, marzipan, and well-done bacon. The middle became fruity with orange zest, plum, and apricot. The back is where things came as you’d assume:  black pepper, burnt oak, and earthy peat.

 

Finish:  This may be one of the longest finishes I’ve experienced. I ran a stopwatch and clicked stop at 5:29!  Brine and orange zest were the first qualities I picked out, followed by English toffee and charred oak. Spicy ginger beer and peat smoke lingered, lasting the longest.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Octomore is unique, and I’ve yet to have one that isn’t just dazzling. I love how the published peat content is scary, and a whiskey that doesn’t work on paper performs gallantly in the glass. Yes, it is pricy, but it is also something you can’t substitute with another whisky.  Would I shell out $230.00 for it?  I wouldn’t even bat an eye. Grab a Bottle if you see it; it is well worth the cost of admission. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Octomore 12 is Here!

 


Octomore 12 is here! Not since Octomore 4.2 “Comus” has the x.2 expression been available at traditional retail outlets. However, 12.2 is hitting store shelves now. If you’re not familiar with 12.2, it is a wine-cask finished expression of this super-heavily peated Islay Scotch.

 

It has been a true honor to be part of such a great team – known as “The Octomore 12” as we put together this year’s Insider’s Guide for Bruichladdich. Four of us, including me, The Scotch NoobWhisky Monster, and Barrel Raised, put together the chapter on Octomore 12.2. The rest of the team, consisting of The Scotch GirlMarvel at WhiskyWhiskey LoreThe Whiskey JugDram DudeThe ScotchtressThe Charred Cask, and Whisky A Go Girl, handled their own respective chapters, and you can read all about this year’s Octomore on its website. Cheers!

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.  Must be 21+ to enjoy. This was sponsored content.

 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Kilchoman Machir Bay Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 


Lately, I seem to be craving peated whiskies. I can't explain why... I mean, I know I'm not pregnant, and I don't think that I'm missing anything in my diet... but that smoky quality is just something I'm gravitating to whenever I have a choice.


I've been blessed recently with incoming samples of Scotches I've never tried. Today, it is a distillery I've never tried:  Kilchoman.  This is one of nine working Islay distilleries and is located on the northwest coast. Founded in 2005 by former independent bottler Anthony Wells, this distillery has the smallest still of any on the island and one of the smallest in all of Scotland. It claims this gives it better contact with the copper and adds to the whisky's flavor.


Kilchoman is Scotland's first single-farm distillery (Rockside Farm) and uses only 100% Islay-grown barley.  Its best-known single malt is Machir Bay. With a peat level of 50ppm and a mashbill of 100% malted barley, it is non-chill filtered and naturally colored.


"Named after one of the most spectacular beaches in Islay, Machir Bay is the flagship of our range. Matured predominantly in bourbon barrels, it balances classic Islay peat character with caramel, vanilla, and citrus sweetness." - Kilchoman 


As indicated above, most of the cooperage is former Bourbon barrels, specifically from Buffalo Trace. The remainder is Oloroso sherry butts from Jose y Miguel Martin. It carries no age statement and is bottled at 46% ABV (92°).  You should expect to pay in the neighborhood of $59.00 for a 750ml package.


Before I get to the tasting notes and final verdict, I'd like to thank Impex Beverage for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. And now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Machir Bay was the color of golden straw. It established a rather thick rim and left weighty legs that quickly fell back to the pool.


Nose:  When I first poured the whisky into my glass, I could have cut the smoky peat with a knife. But, after allowing it to breathe for about ten minutes, that smokiness transformed to sweeter, mild peat. It was joined by honey, apple, pear, and citrus. When I breathed in through my mouth, I found thick vanilla.


Palate:  An oily, medium-bodied mouthfeel featured vanilla, honey, pineapple, and orange peel on the front of my palate. As it moved to the middle, rich butterscotch, cherry, tobacco leaf, and brine tangoed with one another. Then, on the back, I tasted a blast of charred oak from the Bourbon barrels, black pepper, clove, and a hint of leather. 


Finish:  The finish was long, long, long.  It commenced with deep smoke that went beyond char. Black pepper, clove, a certain earthiness, and something herbal joined it. The herbal portion lasted the longest, and when it finally fell off, there was one more kiss of smoke.  


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I'm not a big fan of the astringent flavor some Scotches have, and thankfully, Machir Bay lacks any of that Band-Aid quality. I also found this Islay whisky to be atypical. The herbal essence was the kicker. At first, I thought it was like tar, but after other sips, it became obvious it wasn't. 


I can't believe I've waited this long to try Kilchoman. Now I want to kick myself. I enjoyed this immensely, and when I take into account the affordability aspect, this becomes a very easy Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.




Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Port Askaig 110° Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 



I've talked about independent bottlers in the past. If you're unfamiliar with the term, that is a brand that does not distill but, instead, buys casks from working distilleries and packages them under their own label. They may do something unique once it takes possession of the whisky. An independent bottler may or may not disclose what distillery they acquire the casks from.  Independent bottling is commonplace in Scotland, it is done in the United States but we tend to talk about it in terms of sourcing


One such independent bottler is Elixir Distillers. Located in London, Elixir is a blender and bottler and owns a handful of brands, one of which is Port Askaig. Port Askaig is named for a port town on the island of Islay. While the source of the whisky is undisclosed, someone with a very talented palate can probably figure out which of Islay's nine distilleries is the source, and several have suggested Caol Ila

"Each expression within the range is bottled in limited batches. While recognising that each bottling will vary, the aim is to achieve a consistency of quality and character over time. To ensure each whisky maintains its original flavor and character, the whiskies are not chill-filtered and no colouring is added." - Elixir Distillers

Today I'm drinking Port Askaig 110°, a US-exclusive, non-age statement single malt. While we don't know much more about this Scotch, we do know that vintage Bourbon cooperage was used for aging, but the number of casks involved is another secret. Just like in the United States, small batch has no legal definition. You can expect to pay about $65.00 for a 750ml package.


Before I get to the tasting notes, I'd like to thank Impex Beverages for providing me a sample of Port Askaig 110° in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to #DrinkCurious! 


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky presented as the color of golden straw. It created a medium-thick rim that formed sticky little droplets. As they gained weight, they slowly dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  Aromas of peat, brine, toasted coconut and green apple caught my attention. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, the flavor of toasted coconut rolled across my hard palate.


Palate:  With an oily, medium-bodied mouthfeel, Port Askaig 110° started with sweeter fruit, smoke, and vanilla. On the middle was apple, and the back featured white pepper and smoked wood.


Finish:  Medium-long and warming, there was a blend of smoky and sweet peat, followed by apple, white pepper, and just as it falls off, clove. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Aside from proof, there's not a lot going on with Port Askaig 110°. And, despite that, it doesn't drink at its stated proof. This isn't a bad at all, but it does seem young. I can absolutely appreciate why the rumors point to Caol Ila as the distillery, there are reminiscent notes, but for about $5.00 more, I can pick up an excellent 12-year Caol Ila that has more depth, maturity, and flavor. Because of that, I'm going to suggest you try this one at a Bar. Cheers!



My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Ardbeg Corryvreckan Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


I'm almost embarrassed to write this review. You see, Ardbeg Corryvreckan is probably my favorite, readily accessible, reasonably-priced, peated Single Malt Scotches. But, about two weeks ago, when I was at an Ardbeg Day Event celebration, I discovered I've never reviewed this whisky! I have no idea how that happened, but it is time to fix that oversight right now.


If you're unfamiliar with Ardbeg, that's one of the nine working distilleries on Islay (and if you've ever wondered how that's pronounced, say Eye-Lah). Founded in 1815 by John Macdougall, it was also the first Scottish distillery run by women (Margaret and Flora Macdougall). Sold in 1977 to Hiram Walker, Ardbeg was shuttered in 1981 and remained so until 1987 when it was purchased by Allied Lyons. Ardbeg was used as a source for blends instead of bottling its own. That didn't last long, as in 1991 it was shuttered again.  Finally, in 1997, Glenmorangie purchased the distillery and resurrected it to its former glory.


So now you know about Ardbeg. What's a Corryvreckan? It is one of the largest permanent whirlpools (as in the ocean, not a tub) in the world and the largest in Europe. It located between the islands of Jura and Scarba in Scotland. 


Ardbeg chose to name its peatiest core Scotch after the storied maelstrom. There have been others with stronger peated flavor, but they're all limited edition offerings.


Corryvreckan begins with a mash of 100% malted barley, with between 50 and 55 PPM of peatiness. It is then aged in former Bourbon barrels, some first-fill, and others more vintage, plus French oak barrels, rumored to be a mix of virgin wood and former wine casks. It is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and bottled at 57.1% ABV (that's 114.2° for us Americans). It carries no age statement, and I'll explain later why that's important. You can expect to pay between $79.99 and $99.99 for a 750ml package.


What makes Corryvreckan special? I'll let my tasting notes explain that.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch is the color of golden honey. It presented a medium rim that formed long, wavy tears that fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  I smelled the smoky peat as it left the bottle and poured into the glass. As it sat for several minutes, it stuck around. Once I got the glass under my nose, aromas of toasted seaweed, brine, apple, pear, citrus, and French oak were evident. As I took the vapor into my mouth, pear was easy to pick out.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was slick and silky. The peat on the front was sweeter than you'd guess from the nose. That was offset by the darkest of chocolate, and the two were bridged by cherry and plum. Mid-palate flavors included coffee, almond, and hickory-smoked meat. Yeah, that's an actual flavor. The back tasted of old leather, sweet tobacco, and clove.


Finish:  The big finish was constructed of coffee, white pepper, leather, French oak, and that hickory-smoked meat that left my mouth and mind longing for more.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  As I stated at the beginning, this is probably my favorite, readily accessible Islay Scotch. That equals an obvious Bottle rating. But, why? It is amazingly complex from the nose to the finish. It has immense, bold flavors and drinks way under its stated proof. More importantly, it is one of the best explanations as to why an age statement is less important than many folks believe. This NAS whisky competes easily against its age-stated brethren, both within and outside of the Ardbeg family. If peated whisky is your jam, grab a bottle of Corryvreckan. You won't regret it. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Ardbeg #MonstersOfSmoke Tour Recap

 


Last week I told you about the #MonstersOfSmoke Tour that Ardbeg is putting on to celebrate Ardbeg Day, and highlight Wee Beastie and An Oa Single Malts. Well, on Saturday, I had a chance to check things out at its Menomonee Falls at Otto's Wine & Spirits venue.


First things first, you want to take part in this tour. To find a stop near you, head on over to the tour's official page. Tour dates on the north side of the Mason-Dixon line feature the Wee Beastie mega-truck and the south side has its twin An Oa truck. Tours run through mid-November, so there's plenty of time to get out and visit.


The Wee Beastie truck is above. I did get a peek inside, they had an amazing display of some lovelies...




As I wandered inside the store, I was greeted by these two nice Ardbeg ladies. They poured samples and handled the bottle engraving.



They also gave out some pretty cool Ardbeg swag. All you had to do was ask!




Once you decided which bottle of Ardbeg you wanted to bring home, that's when the engraving comes into play. Due to an amazing sale that Otto's ran during the event, I picked up a bottle of Ardbeg 10 for the stupid-low price of $42.88!  These sales are very common at Ardbeg events, so if nothing else, you have an opportunity to grab some amazing whiskies at a great price.


The engraving was quick and easy. The bottle is placed in a RayJet engraver. You can see my bottle on the left, the rest of the chamber is empty. But, they can do multiple engravings at once.




And then, voila!  It is done. As you can readily imagine, I had Whiskeyfellow engraved in mine.




Basically, they can do whatever you want as far as engraving goes. The only limitation is the number of characters... just look at these bottles just waiting to go home with someone (oh, yeah, that's Uigeadail on the left!).




In all, I had a great time. Social distancing is no longer required in Wisconsin, but the team is prepared if your area hasn't lifted restrictions. I put together some Facebook Live videos while I was there that you can feel free to peruse:


Let me know if you've been to one near you. I'd love to hear if your experience was similar. Cheers!




Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.