Thursday, 16 July 2015

Big Peat

Oh aye, I've been wanting to review this for a while now and now I have a full bottle, well two thirds now, and after spending a few evenings researching it thoroughly just for you I am now able to let you know my opinions of this belter.

Big Peat is part of a four pronged attack by Douglas Laing which includes Scallywag, Rock Oyster, Timorous Beastie and Big Peat. All are non chill filtered, 46% Vatted or pure blends meaning they are made up from different distilleries but contain no grain whisky.

Big Peat contains whisky from Islay distilleries of Bowmore, Ardbeg, Port Ellen and Caol ila, so there you go.

On the nose I get peat, it takes a while for this to settle but stay with me, brine, a little TCP, like hospitals used to smell, a little dried apricot and a new nosing note and that's strawberry bon bons which have been set on fire and it lovely, it tastes young to me, there are light floral notes too but it takes a good wee while for them to come out, I'm no expert on Port Ellen but I'd say that's where the floral notes are coming from.

Taste wise and the peat and brine hit you again, a little apricot jam and rose water, TCP again but a lovely sweetness which will be coming from the Bowmore, a nice heat, it's full of flavour and I know many of you might not be able to get past the peat and power but give it some time and it really comes out.

The finish is more peat and brine, heat and smoke, it's not for the faint hearted but come on, give it a try.

I don't give scores on my reviews but one thing I do sometimes do is mention if I'll buy this again and the answer is yes I'll be buying this again.

The Captain.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Benromach Twitter Tasting 10 and 15 year old Single Malt Scotland Whisky

The Benromach Twitter tasting held on the 6th July has concluded and here are my notes on both the Ten Year Old Single Malt and the Fifteen.

Benromach 10 Year Old Single Malt.

I first get a spirit note along with wood and smokey tea. After having the dram poured for a while I started to get sherried fruit and a little truffle with burnt sugar.

Tasting and more smoke, a little bitterness more sherry and raw Christmas cake.

The finish lasted well with more smoke, black tea, a nice warmth and more of the burnt sugar.

Benromach 15 Year Old Single Malt.

On the nose I got a good whiff of sherry, some rum and orange rind and my special nosing note of the evening was plum duff.

Taste wise rich dark chocolate, rum and Aged Maple syrup the dark stuff you cook with rather put on pancakes with a warm feeling of honey on buttered toast.

Finish was smoother than the 10 chocolate and a touch of smoke, more plums and rum.

Both were excellent drams and I'm a big fan of what Benromach are trying to do with their whisky, it's an honest whisky with little in the way of heavy marketing, you very much get what it says on the tin so to speak, it's also a throw back whisky, it tastes like whisky tasted thirty years ago, which is a good thing, I assume this is as much from the quality of the wood used in their barrels as from the actual making of the spirit so well played there, both of these whiskies are well priced among their peers.

The Captain.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Black Bottle Old Style

Yes I know I've said before that I am not looking at whiskies not readily available but I have a few blends on the go just now which are worth talking about and are available if you know where to look.

Black Bottle is a traditional blend from Grahams and recently they changed the make up of this old favourite and removed the Peat based whisky and frankly ruined it but if you look at auction or some of the online retailers you'll find the old version for not much more than the current version.

On the nose and there is sweetness along with the smoke, salt and the peat smoke hits but perhaps in a more gentle way, like a fist wrapped in silk. 

Taste wise, smoke from the peat but then honey and lemon and oak lingers.

The finish and I always think of a smokey hot toddy, honey, lemon and smoke.

This is a whisky I go back to all the time, I've been lucky that I've found the odd bottle here and there is something more happening here and Black Bottle isn't the only blend to have suffered.

Blends will always be the most popular form of whisky but that doesn't mean that giants who own our favourite blends put the best whisky in them. White Horse, Teacher's and Black Bottle are three blends which have lost their peat core (Teacher's have added more Peat and I will grab a bottle and get back to you on this) and that is nothing compared to the destruction Johnnie Walker have wrought on Red Label. 

As good whisky gets rarer and whilst whisky remains hugely popular this will only get worse meaning those who drink sub twenty pound bottles of whisky will feel more and more short changed and that just doesn't seem right.

The Captain.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

White Horse 1970s-80s

This is part two of however many parts I feel like doing on old expressions of classic Blended whiskies, it really boils down to how many of my old bottles I feel like opening.

Everyone will know how much I enjoy White Horse, the standard modern blend is my favourite below twenty quid blends and I have no idea why it's not sold in supermarkets along sides Teacher's, Whyte and Mackay or Famous Grouse.

This however is a bottle for the Japanese market bottled at 43% either from the late 70s or early 80s and is a totally different whisky and like all older versions of White Horse is well worth hunting down at auction or at some specialist whisky shops.

Nosing this and you get the feeling there is a lot more Malt happening here, chocolate and coffee, orange, clove and ginger and a little smoke from Islay, lovely heat.

Taste and again we have baked fruit, toast, black tea, a touch of Islay peat but not loads, pickled Ginger, little bit of all spice after I've got through a quarter of the bottle, the bottle has now had some chance to breath and it releases far more warmth.

Finish and we have more spice and a little heat, All Spice again and a lengthy finish rare for blends these days.

So another wee review but I'm going to chuck out a few warnings, as with all older blends you'll see these sell at auction but the prices are going up, I'm seeing bottles of Johnnie Walker Red label selling for over fifty pounds and to the point it's probably not worth it, personal choice of course but I would be wary.

The Captain.

Glen Marnoch 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

Okay so after I've given you some Bourbon, Blended and Blended Malt let's move onto the Single Malt's this time with the 12 year old Highland Single Malt from Aldi.

The Glen Marnoch 12 is from the same stable as the Islay Single Malt reviewed here and I was a big fan of the Islay and as it brings with it a 12 year age statement I was expecting big things and I'm pleased to report that it holds up well.

On the nose. What you'd expect from a 12 year old Highland which is sitting at 40%, a touch of heather here a little oak, some baked apple and sultana. After the bottle was a third of the way down, I hope you appreciate how much I do for you lot, I get pear and nectarine and some All Spice in the background, lovely stuff.

From the second the whisky touches my lips I taste sweet fruits, vanilla and oak, I get some marzipan and those pears make another appearance all very welcome, there is a nice warm to the whisky too not heat but a gentle spice, cinnamon, honey and rich creamy mouthful.

The Twelve has a surprisingly rich and long lasting finish, honey and oak with that gentle spice note lasting forever and after the bottle has aired a while the finish is top drawer.

This is another excellent example of what Supermarket whisky can be, yes I'd lose the colour and yes I'd bring it up to 43% maybe even 46% but I also understand they need to make a balanced drink and for under £20 I really don't think people can complain too much.

With the endless argument over NAS whisky rumbling on it's great to see a Supermarket giving us a good quality age statement whisky which has been matured well in decent wood something which is becoming rarer even from some of the big Single Malt producers.

So there you have it folks my Aldi adventure has drawn to a close, I've not done the full range as I still have the older age statement stuff to buy, which I'll do over the course of the year when brought out, as well as a Bourbon Cask Finish I've just noticed online which looks pretty interesting.

A couple of things though, I do wish Aldi would drop all the smoke and mirrors, everyone knows Glen Marnoch isn't real and I don't think anyone is going to mind seeing Aldi branded whisky on their shelves at home, they should be prouder of their product but it is miles ahead of the other supermarkets, only Waitrose is close when offering range and quality.

The Captain.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Lagavulin Pedro Ximenez Cask Finish Distillers Edition

Okay okay, I know I'm not one for blogging about stuff you can't really get hold of but there are three distilleries I really like and Lagavulin is one of them, I seek it out in older bottles of White Horse and the 16 is one of my all time favourites so when I was given a couple of drams worth by a friend I had a dram then another and then went to bar and found it on a shelve and finished off my notes so here we go.

On the Nose I get smoke and heat and it takes a while for those to relax, I get Germoline, Pear drops, sherry and rum and, and those who know me might laugh at this, White Horse.

Taste wise and yeah I'll admit it's perhaps not for beginners, Smoke, salt and chilli, chocolate, nuttiness, smoked fish or Cullen Skink perhaps, it's magic, it's like eating a piece of smoked haddock with a poached egg and smoked crispy bacon.

Finish wise and it's rum and sherry again with some wonderful heat, dark chocolate and smoke.

It's a beautiful drink and if you can find it then snap it up or if paying over eighty pounds for a bottle of whisky then search out the normal Distilleries Edition or try and grab a dram at your local whisky bar.

Oh and a quick note, it's bottled at 43% and doesn't take water at all well.

The Captain.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Glen Orrin Blended Malt Whisky

Another one from the Aldi stable, don't worry only another one to go, unless of course you're loving these, if you are drop me a line and I'll keep going.

The Glen Orrin Blended Malt is a five year Blended or vatted Malt and I'll be honest it took a while for me to like this, I'd go so far as to say that I wasn't even going to review it at all after a few drams, I don't like doing reviews of whisky I don't like I just feel I'm trolling plus whisky is a personal taste thing, I'll review what I like, in both senses of that phrase and I'll leave the insults to others.

When drinking whisky either for the purpose of review or for simple pleasure I always take a few steps as part of my whisky ritual, do you have one of these? Let me know if you do. I have a video here of what I like to do, check it out.

Anyway the other thing I do is try a whisky over a week or two, some whiskies don't like being in a bottle and don't taste great from the off and never in the hundreds of whiskies I've tried over the years has a whisky changed so much as the Glen Orrin Blended Malt.

I only persevered with this because it's won awards and the first few goes of this for me tasted like a young harsh spirit, like a grappa and I was annoyed that I was missing something so I left it a week and hummed and hawed over it, finding the odd review and talking to people who had tried it on a few forums, everyone liked it, maybe it just wasn't for me?

A week after opening and a quarter of the bottle gone and finally the whisky opens up, the harsh nose and taste has disappeared and the whisky has become what I hoped it could become.

On the nose, light, a touch of caramel and wood, I'd say bourbon casks are in play here as I get a little Vanilla, burnt sugar, coconut ice and some faint whiff of pipe tobacco.

Taste wise I'm getting the usual suspects from both Bourbon and Sherry barrels, a rich textured whisky which if it was another few years older would be a truly excellent dram. Nutmeg, raisins soaked in sherry and buttered toast are the flavours which come to fore.

It's a fairly quick finish, rich and with a hint of Lavender and chilli oil, there is some heat there, sometimes that young spirit comes back and bites you but I dare say with ice this would be a very smooth dram indeed.

For me this isn't a mixer it's a sipping whisky meaning it needs to stand above the standard Aldi whiskies and it does although I would recommend opening the bottle a few days before you plan on drinking it.

The Captain.

The Captain

The Captain