Whisky Reviews

Whisky Review #28 – Yamazaki 18 Years Old

Credits: WhiskyGeeks

Yamazaki 18 Years Old is released in 1994, 10 years after the success of Yamazaki 12 year old. It was received with much anticipation by the industry. This legendary whisky is a classic and up till today, it is highly praised for its complexity and flavours. Yamazaki 18 years old has received numerous awards, but the most prominent ones are a gold award in the World Whiskies Awards in both 2014 and 2016 as well as Best Japanese Single Malt in 2015.

The price and rarity of Yamazaki 18 years old has steadily increased with the number of awards it won. It is no longer a bottle that you can easily find in duty-free stores, not even in Japan. You can find it on the secondary markets, but at a crazy price.

Awards

(1) San Francisco World Spirit Compeition 2005 – Double Gold
(2) International Spirit Challenge 2007 – Gold
(3) World Whiskies Awards 2014 – Gold for Japanese Single Malt 13 – 20 years
(4) World Whiskies Awards 2015 – Best Japanese Single Malt
(5) World Whiskies Awards 2016 – Gold for Japanese Single Malt 13 – 20 years

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Copper
ABV: 43%

Nose: Rich fruit cake on Christmas Day comes to mind as you take in the nose. Raisins, apples and cinnamon sticks coupled with dried dates are mixed with woody oakiness, some sulphur and a pleasant smokiness. (17 points)

Palate: Smooth and mellow, with strong raisins and red fruits on the palate before the oakiness and smoke comes in to balance it off. Hint of a rich, sinful chocolate cakes comes in towards the end. A perfect mix of sweet and spice. (17 points)

Body: It is a well rounded whisky that is rich and flavourful. The smooth velvety feel in the mouth feesl luxurious. (30 points)

Finish: Long, lingering finish of a luxuriously rich chocolate cake, raisins, light peat and some wood. (16 points)

Total Grade: 80 points

Comments:
Geek Flora: “I love the Yamazaki 18 years old because of its rich fruity notes. The hints of chocolate adds appeal. Even the wood and light peat is pleasant. Nonetheless, it is still another whisky that I can live without, especially when the price  has risen considerably since it started bagging numerous awards.”

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    Whisky Review #27 – Yamazaki 12 Years Old

    Credits: WhiskyGeeks

    The Yamazaki 12 years old is the flagship single malt whisky of the Yamazaki Distillery. Released in 1984, it remains the best selling whisky in the distillery. Due to the shortage of aged whisky in recent years, the Yamazaki 12 years old is getting harder and harder to find in retail shops or duty-free stores. Most of the time, you can only find it in the secondary market.

    Despite the popularity of the Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask (the winner of the Best Whisky in the Year in 2015), the 12 years old is still a great choice for most whisky drinkers. Its relatively mellow notes makes it a pleasant drink on most occasions.

    Tasting Notes:

    Colour: Gold
    ABV: 43%

    Nose: Rich tropical fruits with hints of orange hits first before butter cookies and honey toast makes an entrance. Makes a pleasant nose. Feels like a breakfast cereal. (15 points)

    Palate: Tropical fruits and buttery cookies melt on the palate as you chew on the whisky. Citrus notes mix with vanilla and a dollap of honey softens the spice that comes in shortly after. (16 points)

    Body: A decent balance with a light body and a velvety feel (29 points)

    Finish: Medium finish, notes of sweet malt accompanied by toast, tropical fruits and a slight spice. (14 points)

    Total Grade: 74 points

    Comment:
    Geek Flora: “I drink the Yamazaki 12 years old for some years now. It is getting harder to find, but I can live without it. I enjoyed it as a simple drink that is great for after dinner or a gathering with friends.”

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      Whisky Review #26 – The Single Cask Glenrothes 19 Years Old

      We have kept the rarest whisky as the last bottle from The Single Cask Masterclass. The Glenrothes 19 Years Old is a dark sherry whisky – generally considered as an expensive and hard to find whisky in the industry due to the lack of sherry casks. Bottled at cask strength in Speyside, Scotland, it is also a single malt Scotch. There is only 86 bottles produced because the guys behind The Single Cask has only bought 60 litres of this whisky (roughly about 10% of a whole cask). Imagine how unique this is! Moreover, this bottle is not for sale. You can only taste it if you head over to The Single Cask for a dram or two.

      This dark sherry is from Glenrothes. The oldest distillery in Speyside, it was founded in 1775 and is still a functioning distillery today. It is owned by the Edrington Group today. The distillery started out as a blending house, supplying both the Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark. They use mainly bourbon casks, but kept some special sherry casks as well. 50 of these special sherry casks was released by Glenrothes in late 2016 for purchase, and that is how The Single Cask got their hands on this!

      Tasting Notes:

      Colour: Dark Red Sherry
      ABV: 58%

      Nose: Aeration of minimum 30 minutes is needed. After 30 minutes: sherried notes of rich Christmas fruit cake engulfs the nose completely, with no other companions. 40 minutes later: dark stone cherries start to develop, pushing the fruit cake to the background. 50 minutes and counting: the oaky notes start coming out, softening the overpowering sweetness. Now the dark stone cherries complement the rich Christmas fruit cake to present a pleasant sweetness that feels really pleasant. (17 points)

      Palate: Rich dark sherry, dark fruits like red grapes and berries fills the palate like a Christmas fruit cake in a glass. Black pepper, nutmeg and clove stay in the background with hints of spices but overpowered by the sweetness. Paired with a 70% dark chocolate, the palate changes. Sweetness is reduced to allow the spices to come out. Nutmeg is especially pronounced after the chocolate pairing. (17 points)

      Body: Well-balanced whisky that needs a lot of aeration. The nose, palate and finish of dark fruits and Christmas fruit cake is exceptional. (33 points)

      Finish: Very long finish with dark fruits and Christmas fruit cake leading the way from the start to the end. Tingles of spices accompanied at the side of the palate, making it a very pleasant finish. (16 points)

      Total Grade: 83 points

      Comments:
      Geek Choc: “It is a little too sweet for my liking (I prefer the Islay peats) but it is a pleasant and well-balanced drink. Due to its exclusivity and uniqueness, I would recommend that you go for a try to judge it for yourself.”

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        Whisky Review #25 – The Single Cask American Sour Mash 5 Years Old

        The America Sour Mash is a unique Tennessee whisky from George Dickel. Tennessee whisky is normally called straight whisky and must be produced only in Tennessee. Sour mash is a special technique that uses leftovers from a previous fermentation process to add a certain “sourness” to the current batch of fermentation. Bottled at cask strength, the America Sour Mash looks nothing like a 5 years old whisky. In fact, it looks more like an 18 years old! This unique 5 years old can easily be misunderstood as a whisky with added colours, but due to the US mandate that no colouring can be added to any whisky made on its land, you can be assured that the colour of the sour mash is certainly genuine.

        Tasting Note:

        Colour: Caramel
        ABV: 59.7%

        Nose: Nail polish removal on the high! Glue alert! Strong, creamy vanilla tries to cover the acid but succeeds only partially. Caramel popcorns with leather come in shortly, with herbal or tobacco leaves. It feels sharp on the nose, likely to need some water. Gradually, it releases notes of chrysanthemum flowers with acetone. (17/20 points)

        Palate: Aggressive and spicy even as the rich sweetness of corn syrup engulfs the palate, almost like burnt plastic. The hint of sourness mixes with sweet peppercorn and bitter orange chocolate as you keep the liquid in the mouth. Vanilla fades in and out just like the typical American bourbon with hints of salted caramel. (16/20 points)

        Body: A Relatively balanced whisky with overpowering sweet corn and malt. Aggressive and spicy but yet sweet on the palate. (31/40 points)

        Finish: A long finish of over-boiled sweets lingers on the palate with hints of sourness and a sharp spiciness. The overpowering sweetness lingers on your palate long after the drink is gone. (16/20 points)

        Total Grade: 80/100 points

        Comments:
        Geek Choc: “I did not like this very much due to the sweetness of caramel and vanilla. However, I’ve got to admit that the finish is great even if I do not completely agree with it. I think it will be an enjoyable drink for those who like sweet long finishes.”

         

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          Whisky Review #24 – The Single Cask Tobermory 22 Years Old

           

          The Tobermory 22 Years Old is an exclusive single malt Scotch whisky bottled by The Single Cask at cask strength. With only 86 bottles available in the market, this whisky is special. The Tobermory distillery is located on the Island of Mor, and to make this whisky, they employed a very special technique. The distillery obtained ex-sherry butts to make this whisky, but instead of using the ex-sherry butts directly, they sent it to a cooperage, had them scraped the inside of the cask, recharred them and put in white sherry. After some time, they removed the white sherry and put in the new spirit and matured it for 22 years. They literally created a whisky out of a second fill sherry butt.

          The result of this unique method is a whisky with a light golden hue instead of a dark red that is typical of a sherry cask. It is nonetheless a whisky made from ex-sherry butts, making it special in its own ways.

          Tasting Notes:

          Colour: Light Golden
          ABV: 59.1%

          Nose: White pepper rushes into the nose with hints of flint and gunpowder with fruity sweetness at the background. After aeration of 10 minutes, the fruity sweetness comes forward to soften the spiciness of the whisky. (15 points)

          Palate: The fruity sweetness greets the palate for a very short while before the peppery spice commands a complete takeover. The spice tingles and burns the tongue slightly but not in an unpleasant way. I had a chance to taste this whisky again after 1.5 months and the palate changes significantly. Now, the entry is brine, pepper and sweet fruits. The spice no longer overwhelms but mix nicely with the slightly salty notes and sweet fruits. It becomes very pleasant indeed! (17 points)

          Body: Generally a balanced whisky that sorts itself out nicely between sweetness and spice. Might be a little spicy for some but those who like a strongly flavoured whisky should like the whisky. (33 points)

          Finish: Unique, long and dry finish with some spiciness to lead the way. Fruity sweetness takes over the spice and after some time, hints of bitter oranges can be felt at the tip of the tongue. (17 points)

          Total Grade: 82 points

          Comments:

          Geek Flora: “Overly spicy for my liking but I do like the finish of the Tobermory. I find the unique long finish pleasant even with the spiciness leading the way because it is softened by the sweetness towards the end. I must say that I like the bitter oranges that came in right at the end.” – 13 August 2017

          Geek Flora: “It has been 1.5 months since I last tried the Tobermory 22 Years Old and I had a chance to taste it again in the masterclass collaboration between TSC and Whisky Butler. The change in the palate of the whisky is amazing! I like the whisky more now. The brine, pepper and sweet fruits mix really well now, and the balance is just fantastic!” – 30 September 2017

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            Whisky Review #23 – The Single Cask Macduff 19 Years Old

            The Single Cask Macduff 19 Years Old is a single malt from Scotland Speyside. As a Scotch, it has a certain reputation to uphold. Featuring the similar sweet notes that are typical in a Speyside Scotch, the Macduff 19 Years Old is bottled at cask strength. Despite the high alcohol contents, the whisky is surprisingly mellow and an extremely pleasant drink.

            The Macduff distillery is considered as an unfashionable distillery in Speyside because much of its whiskies go to Dewar for the making of the Dewar whisky. Macduff does not have a lot of single malts to its name, but the two that are known are Glen Deveron and The Deveron. The Glen Deveron can be found in DFS in Singapore. Currently owned by Bacardi, the distillery still provide whisky to blending houses, but has developed a range of its own single malts.

            The bottle from TSC is distilled in 1997, and matured in bourbon casks for 19 years before it was bottled in 4 May 2017.

            Tasting Notes:

            Colour: Dark Gold
            ABV: 53.5%

            Nose: Floral with some fruity and citrus sweetness are the first to meet the nose. Hints of oak floats in soon after. Slight tints of vanilla at the background. Surprisingly mellow with hardly any hint of spice despite the high ABV. (16 points)

            Palate: Sweet and malty at the first sip; flowery oak notes greets you before spiciness hits the side of the palate. Vanilla notes lingers in the back. After aeration of a few minutes, the palate changes with the vanilla notes taking a stronger hold. The spiciness also follows with a stronger bite. After aeration of 10 minutes, the spice mellows and takes a back seat and citrus notes overpowers everything else. (18 points)

            Body: An extremely well-balanced whisky with some surprise up its sleeves. The mellowness is not expected but it made the drink pleasant and easy. Aeration of the whisky also brings out more flavours to add complexity to the drink. (34 points)

            Finish: Medium to long finish with the sweet and citrus notes lingering for a time. (16 points)

            Total Grade: 84 points

            Comments:
            Geek Flora: “This is a pleasant drink that caught my attention from the first sip. The surprising mellowness and the balance between sweet and spice makes this a wonderful drink for any occassion.” 

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              Whisky Review #22 – The Single Cask Diamond Rum 12 Years Old

               

              Rum is of course, very different from whisky and it might not sit well with whisky lovers, especially those who are Scotch fans. The Diamond Rum 12 Years Old is bottled at 57% but the original cask strength of this rum is a crazy 71%! Shocking for whisky fans perhaps, but this is a rum that is worth exploring. It needs some time for aeration, allowing the air to mix with the alcohol so that the flavours and characteristics of the rum can fully be developed for enjoyment. Every 10 minutes of aeration creates something new in the rum.

              Tasting Notes:

              Colour: Dark Red
              ABV: 57%

              Nose: At the first nose, you can only think of brand new sticky tape or perhaps nail polish remover. The sticky acidity is high and it burns your nose with it. As you allow it to aerate, some whiffs of cane sugar float in, followed by molasses towards the end. (15 points)

              Palate: Acetone engulfs the mouth immediately; the tingle of spiciness hits right after the acids begins to fade. Rock sugar sweetness comes after, with hints of lemons and oranges. Rock sugar overwhelms the citrus zest soon after and sweetness is all you get. Aeration after 10 minutes will bring you new flavours. Now, cane sugar takes centre stage, and the rum becomes even sweeter, reducing the acetone into the background. The citrus notes become stronger and sit well together with the cane sugar. (17 points)

              Body: A relatively well-balanced rum that is sweet acid. With such high ABV, it is reasonable to have the burn. The cane sugar softens the acidity and makes the rum a relatively easy drink.  (34 points)

              Finish: The finish was short at first, with the sweetness evaporating almost immediately after you swallow. After aeration, the finish becomes longer, the citrus and cane sugar lingers for a while. (15 points)

              Total Grade: 81 points

              Comments:
              Geek Choc: “The overpowering spiciness overwhelms me almost immediately. The waves of acidity further burn the tongue and throat to prevent further enjoyment for me at the first try. However, after patiently waiting for the aeration to take place, the rum becomes more pleasant as the sweetness gets stronger and I acknowledge that it can be a pleasant drink for some. For me, I just prefer whisky.”

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                Whisky Review #21 – The Macallan 1824 Master Series – The Macallan M

                 

                The Macallan M sits at the top of the 1824 Master Series. Second to none, it is considered the most exquisite whisky that has been made by The Macallan so far. The M was sold at an auction in Hong Kong back in 2014 for a whooping USD$628,205, making it the most expensive whisky ever sold. It was thus entered into the Guinness Book of Records afterwards as the most expensive whisky in the world.

                The M is born of a collaboration between 3 different masters – Fabien Baron, the legendary designer, Lalique, the world’s finest crystal maker and of course, The Macallan, a master in luxury spirits. The ultimate objective is to create the most sophisticated whisky in the world contained in an beautifully-designed crystal decanter that is exclusive to a lucky few.

                Made with spirits that reached far back into the history of The Macallan, it is a luxury whisky that has its roots in the sherry casks that The Macallan favours. These casks are hidden in the deep ends of the Macallan warehouse, maturing for years before they were used for the M. Decidedly different from the rest, the M stood out as the pinnacle of the 1824 Master Series.

                Here’s a video from Edrington Group for the M

                Tasting Notes: Not available

                Comments:
                Geek Flora: “Due to the exclusivity of this whisky, we have not been able to obtain a proper sampling for the M. Reviews for the Macallan M were rather mixed, with reasonably trashy comments such as the M tasting like a smoky Johnny Walker Red Label, to fantastic comments of the M as a perfect whisky. We will try it next time and update when possible!”

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                  Whisky Review #20 – The Macallan 1824 Master Series – No. 6

                  The Macallan No. 6 is the second highest tier of the Macallan 1824 Master Series, and also the last to be released in early 2015. Its rarity only second to the Macallan M, the No. 6 is highly valued and considered to be a highly desirable expression in the Macallan 1824 Master Series.

                  The Macallan No. 6 combine the art of Bob Dalgarno, Macallan’s Master Distiller, and the talented craftmen of Lalique, the makers of exquisite crystal decanters. The result – an amazing whisky encaused in a stunning, most stylish crystal decanter make with the finest materials.

                  This rich and complex whisky expression is matured in first fill sherry seasoned oak casks that were handcrafted by the master craftmen of Jerez de la Frontera, the cooperage that creates exclusive sherried Spanish oak casks. All the casks that were used in this expression were ordered from this single cooperage in order to create a whisky that is unique and rich in flavour and character. The result is the perfect balance of the quality and character of a classic Macallan.

                  Here’s a video from Edrington Group on the Macallan No. 6

                  Tasting Notes:

                  Colour: Spanish Sunset
                  ABV: 43%

                  Nose: Raisins, figs and dates march right in at the first sniff, while sultana and toffee apples add texture and depth to this whisky. The flavours of raisins are dominates – dark and rich with great viscosity. Ginger and cinnamon dances at the edges gently. The ginger is slightly dry but the cinnamon is soft. The complexity of the nose is further enhanced by dark chocolate, slightly bitter-sweet but not overpowering as sweet vanilla lingers in the background to complete the sweet profile. (16 points)

                  Palate: Taste just like a rich and sumptuous fruit cake with raisins, dates, figs, apple, sultana and orange. Ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and the hints of clove follows after while the velvety oak notes softly mix into the palate. (15 points)

                  Body: Comforting and luxurious, the whisky envelopes you like a warm blanket. Well-balanced and full of character, the No. 6 feels just like family. (30 points)

                  Finish: A long and full finish that is like no other, it is silky smooth and rich. (15 points)

                  Total Grade: 76 points

                  Comments:
                  Geek Flora: “Its almost feminine character connects with me immediately, bringing to mind a warm security blanket. Well-balanced between sweet and spice, this whisky is a frisky lady. Definitely something that you would like to pick up if you have the means to!”

                   

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                    Whisky Review #19 – The Macallan 1824 Master Series – Reflexion

                    The Macallan Reflexion is the next in terms of rarity and price level in the 1824 Master Series. Originally the second bottle in terms of rarity after the Rare Cask, it has been “levelled-up” to the third most expensive bottle in this series after the Rare Cask Black has been introduced.

                    The Macallan Reflexion marries the natural colour and the beauty of The Macallan, reflecting the influence of first fill sherry seasoned oak casks. This exceptional expression draws its colour and flavours through maturation in smaller hogshead casks. The smaller capacity allows a greater surface interaction between the spirit and wood, creating an intricate character that is driven by both Spanish and American oak casks.

                    The colour of this magnificent whisky is further enhanced by the angular facets of the beautifully crafted decanter, making this bottle one of those precious collections that one would like to have displayed at home. Additionally, the complex flavour of The Macallan Reflexion, which is derived from the excellent casks that were selected by Macallan’s very own Whisky Maker, Bob Dalgarno, adds to the completeness of this expression.

                    Here’s a video from Edrington Group showcasing the Macallan Reflexion

                    Tasting Notes:

                    Colour: Blood Orange
                    ABV: 43%

                    Nose: Fresh orange and citrus fruits found in an open market meets the nose with fresh zest before fading to fresh green apples. The sweetness rush in afterwards – chocolate, thick fudge, boiled sweets; caramel toffees overwhelms the senses before you get hints of white chocolate truffles. A stunning hint of banana in fresh oak arrives at the end to create a wonderfully complex nose. (16 points)

                    Palate: Light citrus zest opens up the palate similar to what it does on the nose before the limelight is stolen by a juicy sweetness of lemon and orange. In the background, raisins, sultana and apples, coupled with a hint of cinnamon and ginger linger. (15 points)

                    Body: The complexity of the whisky give rise to a well-balanced and full-bodied whisky. The intense colour, flavour and character of the whisky makes this expression a very enjoyable drink. (30 points)

                    Finish: A medium to long soft finish with boiled sweets and a tint of toasted oak. (14 points)

                    Total Grade: 75 points

                    Comments:
                    Geek Flora: “Feels pretty much like the Rare Cask when I first tasted it, but the intense flavours started to come out as I allowed the liquor to linger in the mouth. That intense sweetness reflected the sherry wonderfully. The complexity of the whisky gave me a sense of pleasure as I swallowed, ending the drink with a wonderful sweetness as I finished. Quite a perfect whisky I think!”

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