Aberlour 18 yo Single Malt 43% The Matabele ants are on the march again but this time the queen is with them. PX (Pedro Ximenez) sherry in all its saturated, sweetened glory! Again, like the 16 yo, the barley is the backbone, then rich toffee and orange marmalade. Woah! Flavour fireworks as you sip this one…. PX dominates initially and then Aberlour’s classic sherry-soaked spice and pepper take over, lingering for about a decade, leaving the finest, sweetest Spanish oak. A dash of water thickens this dram to a velvety, syrupy mouthfeel convincing me that this is the perfectly balanced Aberlour. 92 Aberlour a’bunadh Single Malt Cask Strength Batch No:26 60.6% Rich buttery fudge and toffee made with copious quantities of oloroso sherry laced with garden mint and despite the abv, the malted barley still shows off. The tongue experiences treacle and molasses. So sweet, you would think a few PX casks were thrown into the marriage, the signature spicy pepper on the finish with a hint of salt this time. The gorgeous heavy richness of sherried Spanish oak lingering indefinitely. Simply exquisite. 93
Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Batch 27 43%A vatted malt of three single malts Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie. Monkey shoulder derives its name from a strain condition that malt men used to develop while turning the malted barley with a large wooden shovel known as a shiel. The pain was most likely eased with “three whites and a goldie”, a traditional staff benefit that comprised three drams of new make spirit and one single malt! Malted barley is immediately evident awash with vanilla and orange cordial. There is also an oaky spice of cardamom and ripe banana. Intensely sweet vanilla on the tongue, then a mid-palate of seville marmalade drying to a sweet chilli finish with lingering sherry and oak. Water adds to the citrus notes then pineapple emerges, now oily and velvety on the palate giving an exotically honeyed mouth feel with the barley adding character to the long finish. 86 Available in South Africa to taste and purchase at Wild About Whisky in Dullstroom.
more vanilla and oak supporting the rich mocha. Outstanding! 88Locke’s Irish Blend 40% Intense vanilla, then menthol and garden mint, a touch of peat smoke and sweet grain. Smooth and velvety on the palate, the dense vanillins balanced nicely with the peat in the background. The finish lingers with apple sweetness and smoke. 85 Kilbeggan Irish Blend 43% Layers and layers of sweetness, then vanilla, caramel and condensed milk..a golden dram. The palate is oily and smooth-bodied, the vanilla balanced perfectly with the grain and malts. Water just boosts all of the above. 82
Powers Gold Label Irish Blend 43% Slightly solvent and acetone initially, then vanilla and toffee break through, then fruit gums and mocha. A smooth and oily delivery on the tongue with cherry vanilla, grain on the mid-palate and a dry finish. Water improves more of the grain element and a cherry toffee develops. 77 Jameson Irish Blend 43% A metallic off-note initially, then a vanilla and grapey note appears, developing into icing sugar,mocha and malt, sweet grain and iced lollies. Despite the complexity of the congeners on the nose the palate offers very little but the strawberry lolly which then dries to nothing. Water intoduces a distinct coppery note along with more vanillins. The palate now a touch sweeter and the finish has pink sweets and chardonnay. Fascinating nose but the palate has very little character. 76 Tullamore Dew Irish Blend 43% Metallic initially, then syrupy guavas. Fruity vanilla with a guava twist on the tongue, the finish is dry and coppery. Water helps sweeten this dram tenfold but still remains too dry and thin on the finish. 75 Bushmills Original Irish Blend 43% Grain and barley with light coating of vanilla…knock, knock..is anybody there?…light, soft fuzzy cereal….mmmm…that’s it? The palate has snatched whatever character remains after I smelt most of it out of the glass. Smooth, soft vanillas and then a chilli-bite finish…much ado about nothing. 74O’briens Irish Blend 43% The signature Cooley Connemara elastoplast Irish peat smoke (Doom) note is evident but softer here with toffee and the malts trying to make this dram a little more respectable. However the palate, despitethe vanilla sweetness is bitter and dry on the finish. 57 Millars Special Reserve Irish Blend 0L8194 40% Another Cooley special. I think they lost the plot with these last three. This would kill any mosquito within a three mile radius with so much chemical and elastoplast on the nose. A touch of vanilla on very young grain….unpalatable. This dram is just so plain awful I wouldn’t even put it in my Turkish coffee. 55
Glenmorangie Signet Single Malt 46%Using an innovative and secret recipe that includes 20% “chocolate” roasted malted barley and combinations of old and rare malts from the Glenmorangie warehouses, this is an exotically rich offering….Cherry liqueur chocolates, orange segments soaked in PX sherry, and a rich honeyed stew of cranberries and blueberries.The palate is full-bodied, oily, sultry, silkily smooth, rich oloroso, oaky with a delightfully soft bitter finish reminiscent of a Guiness.A dash of water blows all the molecules apart offering vanilla and mocha on the nose, while the sweet dark berries soak the tongue leaving a finish of iced coffee and a lingering sherried oak.Unorthodox, a flavour sensation and simply…a masterpiece. 95
Jura Single Malt 10 yo 43%Orange dark chocolate, musty oak, rich honeyed sherry, a hint of smoke (horse sweat) and complex dark fruits. Exraordinary aromas on so many levels.As this dram develops, the smoke becomes more prevalent, rising on a spicy wave of the sweetest barley.One of the most complex noses I have experienced.The palate has an oily, full-bodied mouthfeel of oloroso sherry, drying to a charred smoky sherried finish.Water introduces toffee and a stunning orange caramel sauce, musty wood and the smoke pulsing underneath.The palate becomes oilier with the oloroso lingering. 90Jura Superstition Single Malt 43%Rum and raisin, orange zest, spiced barley, cardamom and a touch of peat.There is vanilla and cinammon sticks on the palate with a bitter dryness on the finish.Water brings out more of the smoke and a nutty toffee but the palate retains the charred cinammon stick finish. 82Jura 16 yo Single Malt 43%Rich oloroso sherry, walnuts, Terry’s chocolate orange, a smudge of peat smoke in the depths, then honey drenched barley, toffee, fudge, rich dark fruit stew in a sherry marinade with a vanilla pod thrown in for good measure…gorgeous!The palate experiences a smooth rich rumtopf mouthfeel, spiked with honey and vanilla with a sublime oloroso finish.Water shifts this dram up a gear and reveals more smoke, sherried barley and Spanish oak.Exquisite! 92Jura 21 yo Single Malt 43%Rich sherry, dark toffee, spicy inkwell, Liquorice Allsorts, Matabele Ant(furniture polish?), Seville marmalade and in time a hint of smoke develops.A thick, oily coating on the palate as the oloroso dominates with the bitter dark marmalade close behind. The finish is dry and woody,Despite the stunning nose the palate disappoints. 86Jura Elements “Earth” Single Malt 1999 Bottled 2008 46%Islay style – sherry and smoke but rich and voluptuous, medicinal and inky, the sherry just managing to mask some of the younger elements in this dram.The palate however is exotic and hypnotic, the mouthfeel so oily and silky soft.The balance between the sweet sherry and peat smoke truly works with this one, sublimely smooth through the finish of oloroso, medicinal tarry ropes and wow!.. the sherried medicinal smoke lingers on and on and on and on….A magnificent classic Mr. Paterson. Thank you! 94
Benromach Traditional 6 yo Single Malt 43%Intensely sweet vanilla and woodsmoke, the barley drenched in honey.Cloyingly sweet on the tongue with a mid palate of burning leaves that finishes abruptly.The palate is a reflection of the nose but there is a lack of balance as the vanilla icing and smoke seem wholly at odds with one another both competing for dominance.Water enhances the stunning nose with sweet pine emerging but despite the honeyed silkiness on the tongue, the burnt smoke is still too disparate and too thin, making this dram difficult to swallow. 79
Benromach 10 yo Single Malt 43%Vanilla and malt with the gentle hum of peat in the background.The sweetness of the vanilla is intense on the tongue, eventually making way for the peat smoke that follows with just a hint of rubber on the finish.This is definitely the “Traditional” mellowed out with age. A better balanced, uncomplicated, no-frills dram. 84Benromach Organic Single Malt 43%Warmed honey, ripe orange segments, malt ‘n oak in barrel loads, freshly cut grass and sweet rich barley sugar.This astounding combination of honeyed barley and new wood creates a massive hit of flavour on the palate. Deliciously rich and sensuous on the tongue with toffee, a touch of orange and a hint of bourbon on the finish.A drop of water sweetens and richens the pot…exquisite! 90Benromach Organic Special Edition Single Malt 43%Young Islay comes to mind immediately. Gentle peat smoke, briny barley with ribbons of vanilla interlaced with seaweed, salty sweet with a sniff of rubber in the air.Orangey sweetness initially, the mouthfeel rich and packed with Islay flavours, then gorgeous peat smoke with a hint of tyre rubber on the finish.A dash of water boosts the honey sweetness, tempering the peat a little, the barley chugging along beautifully…perfectly balanced. 90Benromach Peat Smoke 6 yo Single Malt 46%Light, airy, the smoke is there but more earthy in essence, sweet rubber as the vanilla kicks in.This dram claims peat but begs finesse…Ahhhhh…the palate suddenely boots the door open with a tubful of smoky vanilla ice cream, a la Ardbeg, belying the delicate nature of the nose.Gorgeous and so Islay-like, the palate is dramatically balanced.Benromach have got this one spot-on…92Benromach 25 yo Single Malt 43% Warm aromatic spice, golden buttery icing, the barley is there but subdued under the weight of oak and vanilla, then lemon custard creams. Spicey, silky smooth with lemon icing on the palate and creme brulee. This is a touch of class, dessert wine style in its purest, yummiest form. WOW! 93