Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Fettercairn Distillery Established in 1824 Fettercairn has a unique still system of cascading waterfalls down their necks, which increases the reflux thereby creating a much lighter spirit, typical of the Fettercairn character, so a bottling like Fior was unexpected….. Fettercairn 1991 13yo Single Malt Refill Hogshead 50% OMC With the use of a refill hoggy, this is a muted version of the 1824 12yo with light honey and the grassy notes combining with the background barley. However the palate ups the ante with the sweet vanillas and spice dominating, then the chillis, hotter now with a nutty finish and a slight hint of rubber. A dash of aqua will boost the sweetness and tame the chilli a tad but this dram suffers from a lack of balance. 81 Fettercairn 1824 12yo Single Malt 40% Good, strong malted barley with an icing sugar coating of vanilla. A classic vanilla ‘n malt whisky, honey ‘n barley in shiel loads. This is a simple but well made 12 year old, light but balanced with the palate reflecting the nose, a mid-palate of sweet chilli and walnuts on the finish. Water sweetens the honey pot and there is a suggestion of peat. 84

Fettercairn Fior Single Malt 42% Firstly, the colour is astonishing – hot liquid amber! The nose is a mixed berry fruit salad with bite-size chunks of milk chocolate swimming in the sweetest rose’ marinade, then whiffs of peat smoke wafting through the fruit-juiced barley. With all that sweet juicy-fruit on the nose the palate does reflect a soft tender rose’ initially, then a surprising hot spicy pepper drying to a lingering, smoky, vinous finish. This dram is far from done…..a dash of water brings out more of the florally, fruity peat style reminiscent of Bowmore on the nose with the ever sweet berry cornucopia on the palate and a liquorice lingering finish. Romance in a bottle. 92

As a Glenfiddich spokesman describes it:

“Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix commemorates a moment of drama in the long history of the Glenfiddich Distillery! It all began in December 2009 when it started to snow – it kept snowing for several months. After weeks of record low temperatures and alternate freezing and thawing there were four feet of densely compacted snow on the distillery roofs.

On the evening of Thursday 7th January 2010, in the most remote part of the snow covered distillery, some of our warehouse roofs collapsed, ripped open by the sheer weight of snow, leaving maturing oak casks of Glenfiddich exposed to the winter sky. It was as if some of the distillery angels had finished their ‘share’ and had come back looking for more.

Brian Kinsman our Malt Master, selected a number of casks from the snow damaged warehouse, some of these casks had previously held Oloroso sherry and others were traditional whisky casks made of American oak.

This Glenfiddich is as we found it, a marriage of Glenfiddich single malt Scotch whiskies of different ages and finishes with the strength brought to 47.6% abv by the addition of the distillery’s Robbie Dhu spring water. It has not been chill filtered.”

Glenfiddich “Snow Phoenix” Limited Edition Single Malt 47.6% Rich honeycomb, stewed pears, thickly dripping honey onto a bed of drying malted barley, a vanilla pod dipped into Glenfiddich liqueur, then coated with a dusting of icing sugar and peppery allspice…you get the picture… It is thick, syrupy and liqueur-like on the tongue, impossibly sweet and a palate that reflects the nose in every nuance.. Oh Glenfiddich! Please, please can we have some more…please! 94

Bruichladdich Octomore 5 yo Single Malt Edition 03:1 ppm:152 59% Intense vanilla, medicinal, seaweed and despite the phenols the biscuity cereal notes of the barley are evident, then over ripe bananas. The tip of the tongue immediately detects the vanillas, then cigarette ash with aloe bitterness on the finish and hot salty tar lingering. Water accentuates the honey and brings out a Port Ellen-style new paint note reflected on the palate, softening the bitter phenols and allowing more of the sweet grilled smoke through. A little too one dimensional for me. 91 Bruichladdich Octomore 5yo Single Malt Orpheus Edition 02:2 ppm:140 61% Sweetly vinous and smoke laden, tarry ropes, hot wellies, butterscotch and over ripe plum. Deliciously sweet initially then a powerpunch of hot chilli and peppery spice, warm rubber with a touch of anise on the finish. 93

Bruichladdich Octomore 5yo Single Malt Edition 02:1 ppm:140 62.5% TCP, vanilla, salty seaweed, tar, oil rag and new paint. Chewing this dram for a few seconds, before swallowing, releases vanilla then a fizzy concoction of tar, burning peat embers and smoked seaweed. Water dampens the phenols but accentuates the sweetest vanillas with a long finish of sweetly smoking rubber. 95

Bruichladdich Octomore 5yo Single Malt Edition 04:1 ppm:167 62.5% Over ripe bananas, salt ‘n vanilla seaweed, a touch of burnt rubber, hot tar in a heatwave. Woah!! So much more vanilla on the palate in this grumbling, growling infant…THIS is what I have been looking for in an Octomore….enough intense sweetness to counteract and balance the heavy medicinal phenols that follow and the peppery sweet chilli on the finish. Perfect! 96

Glenfiddich 30yo Single Malt 40%

Rich rumtopf, stewed dark fruits, honeycomb with a sprinkling of sweet spice and after a minimum of 30 years in oak, the barley is still so evident…a stunning nose! Then apple crumble with raisins drizzled with honey develops, Christmas pudding and orange toffee emerge a little later. I had to restrain myself from tasting this dram too soon, waiting for it to develop as much as possible, as this nose is so moreish. However, the palate had initially a touch of vanilla, a mid-palate of Seville marmalade, then a peppery, slightly dry and vinous finish….so disappointing! I would rate the nose a 95 but the palate only a 77, giving an overall 86.

Macallan 30yo Single Malt 43% Mellow old oak and spicy Oloroso sherry. The palate has honey, garden mint and stewed raisins with a distinct anise finish. Not too complex but gorgeously balanced. Exquisite. 91 Famous Grouse 30yo Blended Malt (Blue Label) 43% Matabele ant predominates, with sweetened stewed prunes and PX soaked sherry trifle and a touch of floor polish. This dram is luscious, rich rumtopf, pineapple and a touch of smoke. The palate is rich, oily and tongue coating, molasses, prunes, salty with an Oloroso sherry finish. Water releases a battalion of matabele ants, rich spice and the pineapple now swamps the stewed prunes. An outstanding blended malt. 92 Famous Grouse 30yo Blended Malt (Purple Label) 43% Imagine cut pieces of pineapple and prunes dipped into a flaming PX fondue. The matabele ants have left this nest, leaving a more subdued, sherried, tropical fruit combo….a master blender’s dream concoction, an exquisite balance of sweet fruits, sherry, old smoked oak and creme brulee. The palate is a sublime mix of syrupy sweet tropical fruits, salt and a rich lingering Oloroso and woody smoke finish…a Caribbean sundae? Arguably the greatest blended malt ever. 94 Highland Park 30yo Single malt 48.1% Burnt sugar, tobacco, toasted barley, a rich cauldron of dark fruits that have been spiced and stewed in a vat of Oloroso sherry, barley sugar. Slowly, eventually the peat smoke emerges, giving the dram a more meaty character with toffee overtones and blackcurrant fruit gums. An oily, full bodied palate, this is a 30yo at its very best, reflecting the nose and thereby creating a beautifully crafted, elegantly balanced whisky. Initially Oloroso sweet, then the burnt sugars, peppery spice, molasses, a touch of treacle and sweet peat that lingers and just goes on lingering….awesome…a masterpiece! 95

I visited this distillery for the first time in June 2010 for a 7 hour tasting course that included the current distillery expressions along with three future bottlings of cask strength special releases, a blending experience in their exquisitely appointed tasting room and the highlight for me, a tasting of six sherries from Jerez in Spain that reflected the various styles of European oak casks that Glengoyne whisky is matured in.

Glengoyne Distillery Our host, the lovely Lauren Wylie Glengoyne’s still room Glengoyne’s spectacular tasting room Glengoyne Burnfoot Single Malt 40% Bags of barley, charred oak, vanilla, honey sweet and a little sulphury. Then sherry emerges with a little toffee. The intense sweetness and chilli mid-palate smacks of Glengoyne albeit a younger one with a slight vegetal note prevalent on the finish. Water is definitely an aid to this dram, soothing the chilli and calming the youthful character. 78

Glengoyne 10yo Single malt 43% Masses of sweet malted barley, dark roast coffee and mocha. Sweet as honey on the tongue, the chilli and chocolate drying on the finish. No water required. 84 Glengoyne 12yo Cask Strength Single Malt 57.2% Toffee in a Glengoyne marinade, butterscotch and barley. The honey on the palate incredibly overwhelms the abv with an intense luxurious sweetness. An exquisite dram, rich with a gorgeous mix of vanilla, a dark fruit stew of raisins and prunes coated with icing sugar and a mouth-watering walnut finish. Don’t add water to this precious dram. 90 Glengoyne 17yo Single Malt 43% Chocolate with a condensed milk centre sprinkled with mocha powder..WOW! What a nose, then the signature unpeated Glengoyne blasts through with the intense honeyed barley. The palate really shows what a class act this dram is, with initially the vanilla and barley, then a mid-palate of bitter chocolate, finishing with an apricot liqueur finish. A whisky of considerable finesse and balance. No dash of water required! 92

Glengoyne 1999 11yo Single Malt Cask No: 500781 46% Berry’s Own Selection. Vanilla pod with a little barley and spice. Recognizable as a Glengoyne on the palate with the intensely sweet honeyed barley and oak and the peppery mid-palate but this dram is rather thin in texture and watery on the finish. A cask strength version would probably have been more fun and interesting… 77
We arrived at Bruichladdich on a stunning spring day in 2009, met the iconic maverick Jim McEwan, the distillery’s production director, who raised more than two eyebrows at Steve’s Ardbeg jacket and informed us to prepare ourselves for the mother of all tours…….

Bruichladdich Distillery Equipped with our Bruichladdich glencairn glasses we followed our host into one of the dunnage warehouses. The entrance to the wizard’s lair. As we entered our nostrils were assailed by an atmosphere drenched in maturing whisky. These were not just Bruichladdich casks but whisky from many other distilleries that Murray McDavid, the current owners of Bruichladdich, might release as independent bottlings. Jim, Steve and Les investigating an 18yo Lagavulin with Eve recording the evidence. A little further into the warehouse Jim stopped next to a 100 litre cask dwarfed by the hoggies around it. Jim paused, looked at each one of us and in the musty silence that followed, released the stopper on the cask, dipped his valinch into the contents and with genuine reverence, dipped his finger into the liquid, then annointed each one of us with a cross on the forehead. Jim McEwan and the X4+3 He then announced that this was his X4+3, the original quadruple distilled new make from 2006 that had matured for three years in this small amontillado cask and had an abv of 83%. A dram was poured into each of our glasses and the response was a unanimous “Oh, my God!” Despite the strength, the whisky was explosive in the fruity velvet flavours that coated every inch of every sense, A superlative like ‘stunning’ doesn’t even come close…. Steve, Eve, Dave & Les post X4+3, taken by Jim McEwan. Bruichladdich X4+3 Perilous Spirit Quadruple Distilled & 3 Aged Years in Ex-Bourbon and Virgin Oak 63.5%”…from an original 1695 recipe” Vanilla custard and a hint of ripe marula, grapefruit and coconut. The palate has icing sugar sprinkled on vodka marinated grapefruit. A dash of water appears to morph the tropical fruits to tropical flowers with hints of frangipani, then the vanilla custard squeezes through in shiel loads. The palate now sweeter with a nod at its youth as notes of new make start to arrive and the grapefruit finishes less bitter. 83