It’s already episode 2 of my new monthly “sample clearance” series – and what a great month it was on the liquid sunshine planet ! 🙂
Here’s what I received, purchased and tasted this past month:
/ = I’ll pass ♥ = enjoyable ♥♥ = great ♥♥♥ = awesome
Criteria include my personal taste but also the value for money, experimentation in distillation/maturation techniques, packaging and overall impression.
Bunnahabhain 2004 Moine Brandy Finish ♥♥♥
A “new” (launched in 2017 but then announced as a “new release” last month) expression of Bunnahabhain finished for three years in French brandy casks (a first for Bunnahabhain). A nicely balanced dram with gracious peat wrapped up in a delicious fruit salad – the coastal influence of Bunnahabhain and the fruitiness of the brandy finish did work pretty well together for me!
Bunnahabhain 2003 PX Finish ♥♥
“Ooh, a limited edition Bunnahabhain – very exciting stuff indeed! Their Moine Oloroso expression was drawn from seven Oloroso Sherry casks and has been bottled at cask strength without any chill-filtration or additional colours. A great combination of well-Sherried malt and peat smoke richness.”
Yoichi Rum Cask & Miyagikyo Rum Cask ♥
“This set from legendary Japanese whisky producers Nikka features two 70cl bottles of Japanese single malt whisky – one from the Yoichi distillery, and one from the Miyagikyo distillery. Both of these whiskies have enjoyed a finishing period in rum casks for up to 12 months before being bottled at 46% ABV in 2017. An intriguing pair of expressions and a generally awesome set for Japanese whisky enthusiasts…”
Still surfing on the Japanese whisky hype wave, both expressions are very nice to be honest, but the value for money isn’t there.
Compass Box Hedonism The Muse ♥♥♥♥ –> THIS MONTH HIGHLIGHT!
“To celebrate the fact that women now make up the majority of our team here at Compass Box, this special limited edition bottling reimagines the image of the woman portrayed at the centre of all our Hedonism labels – the first woman, as far as we know, ever to feature on a Scotch whisky label.
Hedonism, The Muse combines this single cask with other rare and remarkable grain whiskies of varying ages to create a whisky that has all the flavour hallmarks of the classic Hedonism, with even greater depth and intensity.”
A splendid whisky, Compass Box at its best.
Aberlour Casg Annamh Batch 1 ♥♥
“The first release in Aberlour’s Casg Annamh series! This expression (named after the Gaelic for “rare cask”) is matured in a trio of cask types, including European oak sherry casks and two sorts of American oak cask. Presented in similar livery to their very popular A’Bunadh expression, and with a sherry-dominated flavour profile too, we expect big things from Casg Annamh!”
I did expect big things as well, and with a RRP of around 45/50€, one must admit that the whisky is well worth the purchase!
Jura 18 ♥♥♥
You’re not without knowing that Jura recently revamped its whole range, releasing 5 new expressions. I had the chance to taste them all last month during a special event in Paris hosted by LMDW and Jura 18 definitely stood out amongst its brothers and sisters! A rich, complex dram with a full array of delicious flavours 😀
Jura Seven Wood ♥♥
“Single malt whisky crafted in seven select French oak and first fill American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels. Mahogany gold with a rare tropical richness and a hint of smoke. Aroma of peach; candied orange to taste; subtle smoke to finish. RRP: £59.00”
Oh well it’s a very nice dram indeed, I just feel that those days the quest for 167878 different woods sometimes goes a bit too far. I mean, 7 woods, really.
Bladnoch 29 – Bicentennial Release ♥
“The Bladnoch Bicentennial Release is a celebration of the Lowland distillery’s history and a toast to its new chapter. In 2015, Bladnoch Distillery restarted production after the site was acquired by Australian businessman David Prior.
Limited to 200 bottles, the expression is made from two casks of whisky distilled in 1988. Initially matured in oloroso Sherry casks, the 41.2% abv whisky has been finished for the last 18 months in Moscatel casks”
There’s probably something I missed here, I mean, the whisky was just fine, but a £5000 pricetag? Wh.. Wha.. How?! I get the rarity factor, especially as I’m in the auction business, but I just can’t figure why would someone pay the price of a luxury 2-weeks vacations on a remote Caribbean island for a 29yo whisky which isn’t astonishingly good.
“Following on from the intriguing Alpha and Cipher expressions, Glenlivet Code is another mysterious (and delicious) single malt Scotch whisky from the legendary distillery. Once again, they have presented the whisky in an opaque black bottle and kept their lips sealed with regards to any cask information, meaning you can taste the whisky without any potential preconceived notions about its flavour profile.”
I’ve never been very comfortable with this idea of making non-transparency a thing. But then, I was invited to the global online launch event and actually found it funny and cool. When you think about it, whisky is still very much a beverage of enjoyment, and should remain its main prupose, and The Glenlivet Code is just that. So of course, I won’t let you with any of my personal tasting notes here, because you may as well want to try deciphering its flavours yourself 😉
Inchmurrin 2008 Single Cask (exclusive to World Duty Free) ♥
This Inchmurrin 2008 single cask is exclusively available from World Duty Free in terminal 5 of London Heathrow airport. I have been really amazed by many Inchmurrin releases lately but this one wasn’t unfortunately one of them. Although it’s a nice fruity dram and the pricetag for an exclusive single cask bottling is more than fair!
Hakushu Rye – The Essence of Suntory ♥♥
Disclaimer: the price of this bottling has almost doubled in the past month, it was approx. £180 when I purchased it before its official release back in January.
“Part of the new Suntory whisky range, “The Essence of Suntory”. The new range features fresh, new bottle designs and gorgeous labels showcasing modern Japanese art. Three expressions have been announced so far, one by Yamazaki, one by the Hakushu distillery, and one from Suntory’s grain distillery, Chita.
A single grain, rye whisky from Hakushu? Now, that’s new. This 4 year-old expression is expected to deliver rich, deep spice, borne through the use of rye.”
Of course it is rather expensive for a 4yo whisky, but it’s definitely worth trying if you can put your hands on a bottle. I do believe it’s the only Japanese Rye whisky ever released, so for the sake of innovation (and the quality of the spirit), I thought it deserved a double ♥ !
“Made with millet, a grain not often used in distilled spirits, sourced from a local organic farmer collective. Koval also use millet in their bourbon.”
I’m a huge fan of Koval’s work and values. Yet I was a bit disappointed with the result of this Millet Whiskey, too much on the spicy side with not much balance and complexity. I love the experimentation approach behind the product, trying new grains for making whiskey is exciting and sometimes work pretty well, but my palate weren’t too excited by this one. +1 for the pricetag though!
“Motörhead whisky! This Mackmyra Swedish single malt, released in collaboration with Brands For Fans, was first released to mark “40 years of eardrum crushing”. Matured for five years in new American oak barrels for a bourbon character, a small portion was also finished in Oloroso casks for six months. It’s been described as “immediate”, which should be music to fans’ ears.
The band, including the one and only Lemmy Kilmister, Motörhead’s legendary bass playing front man (who the world sadly lost at the end of 2015) helped choose the casks. As Motörhead’s drummer Mikkey Dee explains, “We think it’s great fun to launch a whisky in collaboration with a Swedish, world-famous distillery, Mackmyra. The whisky is incredibly good, with full character and fully flavoured with a superb bourbon touch, as it’s been aged in bourbon casks. All of us in the band have been active in the production process and are very proud over the result, and are happy to now launch such a great, characteristic whisky, Motörhead-style.”
As a die-hard metalhead, I was more than looking forward to try this one… And while the whisky is enjoyable and would maybe even deserve a double ♥ if it was released as a classic Mackmyra bottling, I simply thought the sweet vanilla-forward profile of this dram didn’t match at all with what Motörhead represents as a band. Where’s the damn rock’n’roll approach here?!
“Quercus is a range from Box Distillery where we try to explore the tastes that different species of oak give to the whisky. The second edition is named Alba after the American White Oak, Quercus alba in Latin. Quercus alba is common in eastern and central North America where it is widely used in the whiskey- and wine industry. Quercus alba contains lower levels of tannins and higher levels of lactones (coconut flavor) compared to the European oak species.”
I particularly love the transparency approach behind all Box (which is now renamed High Coast btw!) recipes and the amount of details they make public – It may seem too geeky for some, but when you’re really willing to know what you are actually drinking, those information matter, so yes, I’d rather have too much intel than not enough! So when Box (High Coast) releases a fantastic whisky following a fantastic approach with so much transparency, it can only deserve a triple ♥ from me 😀
“A blended malt Scotch whisky named after a little piece of kit used once upon a time by distillery workers to covertly sneak whisky home. Eight different whiskies from Speyside were combined to create this well-balanced blend, which was designed to be well-suited for enjoying in cocktails and mixed drinks.”
Easy-drinking but definitely most suitable for cocktails or long drinks than tasted neat – Although, one must admit the packaging and pricetag are great.